16 October 2010

Under the Tree

Right now we're in the middle of a week of spiritual emphasis here at RVA.  The students have had chapel sessions every evening with a special speaker.  I (Jim) have been a good staff-member and have attended all the sessions until tonight.  I showed up, we had a great time of worship, and Tim (the speaker) began to share about grace and what an incredible gift we as Christians are given.  I'd already been thinking about that all afternoon, and I was having a really hard time focusing - I'm really tired - and I felt like I just needed to leave.  So I did.  Snuck out the back door and headed for home.  I happened to have the iPod with me, so I stuck the earphones in as I walked.  I was listening to Jars of Clay - the first song was 'Frail.'   Basically a song about grace.

I walked into our yard and felt the urge to lay down under the Jacaranda tree in the yard, still listening.  The next song was 'Worlds Apart.'  A prayer about grace.  And suddenly there under the tree, I felt a bit like the rich young ruler in Luke 18:18 who was so secure in his possessions he could not bear to leave them and follow Christ.  There I lay - in Kenya - a world away from Colorado, USA, but still a world away from really trusting my savior as I should.

I still worry about the future - and I shouldn't.

When I don't worry about the future, it's because I have confidence in our worldly possessions:
Enough money in the bank to fly the whole family anywhere in the world.
A house in our name in Woodland Park, CO.
A well-stocked pantry.

Edward, our yard worker, was ecstatic about Tuesday night's rain, because his garden would grow and his family would have food to eat - he says he doesn't worry about it, he just plants the garden, prays, and waits.  My thought was that Edward has it easy - he's got NOTHING ELSE to trust in!

So tonight, as I lay under the tree watching the moon with an iPod Edward would have to work two months to buy, I felt lousy.  Like the rich young ruler - wanting to trust HIM with all I am, but saddened because my 'possessions were great.'  Then it hit me:  How cheaply I view His Grace!!  Then the lyrics through the headphones:  "I look beyond the empty cross, Forgetting what my life has cost..."  So I laid there and listened to the song again, and again - in the rain - and prayed.  I still have a heaviness in my soul, but am feeling awed by His Grace.  May we grow to trust Him more!

(The links above are youtube versions of the songs, should you wish to listen.)

12 October 2010


      Four trips to Nairobi in five days.
Two 7 am departures.  (Moving to Africa did NOT make me a morning person.)
                            FURNITURE PURCHASED.
                                                          A street of fabric shops explored.
Meat market braved, tilapia and chicken purchased for two dollars a pound.
Immigration paperwork processed downtown.
        Fingerprinted by the Kenyan government.
             Family time at "the mall." 
Milkshakes for two precious little ones.
   And then ice cream for two precious little ones.
Groceries purchased.  Nine bags of flour will get us through one more month.
Rest of birthday money gleefully spent at Kitengela glassblowers.
Hamburger and french fries savored.

...And now it's good to be back HOME.

10 October 2010

It's midterm!

Well, we made it through the first half of first term here at RVA.  We are currently enjoying a 4-day break before the students return to campus Tuesday night.  Wednesday marks the beginning of spiritual emphasis week, during which RVA brings in an outside speaker and the students attend sessions every evening, as well as some extended chapel times during the week.

So what has life been like here?  We feel our pace of life has been about the same as our last year in Woodland Park when we kept up with teaching, MOPS ministry, and support raising.  (As well as Faith and Joel!)

Jim heads off to school at 7:30, in time for classes to start at 7:45.  Faith walks out the door at 7:53 and her class starts at 8, right behind our house.  (She walks all by herself and is loving it!)  Our helpers come at 8, by which time Joel is usually dressed and ready to start his day too.  Three times a week, I (Heather) walk around the guard trail with a friend for thirty minutes for a little exercise.  Joel sometimes tags along in the kid carrier.  He's a good 25 pound pack for weight training!  The other two days a week I watch one of Joel's friends for an hour or two while his mom teaches a class of Chemistry.  Later in the morning, we have playgroup on Tuesday, preschool on Wednesday, I attend a bible study on Thursdays and there's storytime in the Titchie (elementary) library on Friday.  When we can make it, Joel and I attend staff chai at 10:10 with Jim for thirty minutes.  The staff prays together and shares announcements before returning to classes.  The students also take a break at this time.  Faith has recess and snack with the titchies, and the junior and senior high students have chai and snacks outside.  After these activities, we wander on home, often chatting with other moms or staff who aren't teaching the next class period.  Faith gets finished with school at 11:55, Jim at 12:10.

Here, we get to do something differently as a family.  Something that happened only once in six years at Woodland Park.  We eat lunch together!  Hannah and Edward, our workers, leave at noon for their lunch, and we enjoy some moments together as a family.  Next year, Faith will be back at school by 1, so it won't feel as leisurely next year, but we are sure enjoying it right now!  This year, Jim has an open period right after lunch, so it makes for time together that isn't too rushed.  Joel naps after lunch, but Faith is often busy as a bee, even if she is "resting."  Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, we have Hannah and Edward in the afternoons, so at three o'clock, we share afternoon chai with them.  The kids already cannot go a day without chai, and have been deemed "Kenyan."  Hannah, Edward, and I often talk about culture, swahili, or the kids.  It is nice to take a break with them, laugh a little, and learn a lot.

During the week, there are other things to keep up with as well.  I keep up with the milk and eggs, and take a trip or two a week to the market and dukas here in town to get fruits, vegetables, and staples.  It is a nice 15 minute (or less) walk outside the RVA gate.  If I'm in a pinch, Hannah will also go to get things for me, but it is nice to get out a little bit every once in a while!

Jim gets home anywhere between 4 and 5.  In the afternoon there is chapel for the junior and senior high students, and then there is "8th period."  It can be used as detention time or time for questions and make up tests.  Jim if often at school for one or the other each day.  Around 4:15 on various days, RVA hosts athletic games.  This term, they are playing boys football (soccer), girls basketball, and tennis.  So the kids and I make the short walk to watch a few of the students we are getting to know.

In the evenings, we stay just about as busy.  Once a week, Jim sits in the library to supervise the study hall.  Which has quickly become a biology study hall... the students know he is there and they show up!  So it's not as productive for Jim as he thought it might be, but it's great to spend some more time with the students outside the classroom.  Thursday nights, Jim likes to take off and play soccer with staff or work on projects in the wood shop.  I like to have other women over for tea and a quiet chat.  We often have weekend activities as well.  Caring community meets once a month, we have eight sophomores (boys and girls) that will come over for food, games, and fellowship this year.  We've helped with the two variety nights (where the jr/sr high can chose from different activities after supper) that have happened so far, as well as a few of the titchie evening activities.  Faith had a "hayride and bonfire" night last weekend.  Unfortunately, it was a little rainy, so it was a hayride and bonfire night without the hayride and bonfire.  She had a great time, nonetheless.

The first Sunday of each month (and when school is not in session, like this weekend), we attend the AIC church, which is the local church.  All other Sundays, RVA holds its own church in our chapel, which is more like we were used to in Colorado.  We then eat lunch in the cafeteria (many staff choose to do this on Sundays for the fellowship time) and have a quiet afternoon.  We also supervise supper in the evenings (for a free meal) so I enjoy having a day off from cooking on Sundays (but again... only when school is in session, I'm out of luck today)!

So hopefully that gives you a glimpse of what life is like here at RVA.  There are plenty of other details that fill in the cracks, but that's that big picture.  And yes, it's often easy to forget that we are in Africa, especially when it's been a few days or weeks since we've walked off the campus.  But then again... that's the purpose of this school:  to help these kids get ready for a more western university setting.  We are slowly learning what it looks like to serve here, and are looking forward to feeling more settled and at home as time goes on!

01 October 2010

A tour of our house

We want to take some time in the next few posts to share a little more of the day-to-day life here at Rift Valley Academy.  We've already been here over a month, so I think it's time to share some pictures of our home!

This is our yard from the playhouse corner.  It is quite large.  And a hedge goes around most of it, so it is such a great place for the kids.  In another post, we'll give you a tour of the other surroundings.
Here's the front door, which enters into the dining room.  The cards in the window are thanks to many of you... mail is so special to get here!  We just bought some yellow paint, so soon this will be a bright cheery room.  

When you enter, on the right is the living room.  We just purchased the bookcase from another family, which has been fun to have.  The couches and rug are all rental (and all the other furniture you will see in this post) so we'll work on replacing those, slowly but surely.  That's our cozy fireplace, which we are grateful to have.  We miss the efficiency of our wood stove in Colorado, but this at least adds a few degrees of warmth! 

We brought a few pictures from home which are so nice to have.  These grace the fireplace wall.  The students get a pretty good kick out of the one of Jim and Joel on the tractor!

Through the door on the other side of the living room is the hallway which leads to the two bedrooms, the upstairs and the back room.  You can see the kids' beds are just platforms for the matresses.  Poor Joel has fallen out of bed a number of times, but seems to be getting the hang of it now.  Their window looks out to the front of the house, and is so nice and sunny in the afternoon.

This is the closet in their room.  The door goes to the bathroom that is shared with the master bedroom.  

Down the hall is our room.  It faces the backyard, and beyond that is the Titchie basketball court.  It can be loud when there are evening activities, so it is nice the kids are toward the front of the house.  Our walls are just painted stone.  I think we have the coldest room in the house as well.  Something I know we'll be thankful for when it warms up.  But lately it's been downright chilly!

This is our bathroom.  We've never had such a big bathroom!  Or even our own.  It's been very nice.  Much easier to keep clean when there's a place to put things.  The walls are a nice brown that match the shower curtain we brought!

Back out in the hallway, you can go upstairs.  We are using it as a play area (something else we've never had before!) and a guest bedroom (aka. YOUR room)!  It's a nice space.

Here's where the kids play.

This is the guest room, you can see the railing for the stairs out the door.  If our kiddos were older, it would make a fun bedroom.

This is our second bathroom, the "kids bathroom".  It's the size we were more accustomed to!

On around the back of the house is the "green room".  We are enjoying the paint colors that were already here, and thankful that we only have a few more rooms to paint if we want something other than white.  This might be Faith's room, but for now the kids are quite set on still sharing a room, which is fine with us.  So in the meantime, it can be an office or sewing room.

And on through that room is the kitchen, which is just off the dining room.  That window looks out to the side of the house.  Another fun paint match was in here.  The curtains in this window I made out of a tablecloth that I brought which I just loved.  The blues match perfectly!  You can see we have a microwave, oven and refrigerator.  The oven is full sized, the refrigerator is not.  
Not pictured, through a door to the right is our laundry/utility room.  It has a freezer which we purchased to cope with the less than full-size fridge, and our washing machine.  It's nice to have a freezer so that I can cook ahead a little more, and have the flexibility to make Africa-style cooking a little simpler.  For example, I cook up a whole kilo of dried beans at once and freeze them in "can-sized" portions for recipes.  Or I make large batches of pizza and spaghetti sauce.  That are painstakingly made from fresh tomatoes.  Delicious, but time consuming.  

Well, that's our house here.  We are looking forward to making it our home over the next two years!