24 January 2011

Climbing Mountains

In the states, Heather and I used to love climbing mountains.  She'll probably be upset with me, but for laughs, here's a picture from when we climbed Pikes Peak when we were dating... just before she left for Kenya for a semester abroad program.
Here we don't have as many peaks as Colorado, but there are two volcanos we can see from our front yard.  At the very beginning of the term break, we climbed Mount Longonot.  It was a welcome reprieve, and while it was nearly two months ago, pictures keep.
One obvious difference from the Rockies: seeing giraffes along the trail.
 The hike up the outer rim of the crater was beautiful.
 And for me, this view into the crater was a totally unique and beautiful mountain experience.
 In the distance, we could see Lake Naivasha beyond a parasitic cinder cone.

 After reaching the crater rim and enjoying a picnic lunch, we followed the ridge around to the peak.

 Almost eight years older, we don't look so bad!
 As we headed down the opposite rim, the fog rolled in.

 The whole trip was a lot longer than we expected.  I brought along a GPS; it read 22 kilometers - we didn't believe it, but looking on a map, we actually did make it that far.  And just for a taste of amusing Kenyan culture - these made up the bulk of the litter near the top.  Fuel for champions!!

16 January 2011

Thanksgiving, Christmas and everything in between

Well, we didn't exactly keep up with all of the last two months on the blog, so here's a massive photo post that I can't promise you'll stay awake through!  Here goes nothing...

We shared Thanksgiving (which was the first day of our vacation) with four other families here on campus, two of which had extended family as well, so it was a wonderful time.  Here's just the kids table!

After lunch, the kids all went outside to play, and even went sledding.  Albeit with a suitcase lid on the green, grassy hill, but sledding all the same.  Faith decided she liked this version best.

And Joel decided that no lid was even needed!

Faith was disappointed to be out of school for so long, so Jim concocted some science projects for her to do over the break.  Here she is crafting the three different types of volcanoes out of play dough.  Just after school ended, we had a four-day conference with all the Kenya AIM missionaries, held here at RVA.  A church from the states came in to run a VBS-type program for the elementary students, which Faith absolutely loved.  That helped take away some of the disappointment as well!   

Once we had settled into the break a little more, Jim and I took off with some other staff members and climbed our local volcano, Mount Longonot.  We have some beautiful pictures from that trip, but I decided to save them for the next post.  So check back soon!

Soon after that, Jim took his infamous trip to Nakuru.  Here's some proof he was there, and enjoyed himself.  At least before that last night...

After Jim's trip, we headed off to the Mara as a family, and really enjoyed our time.

We returned for a week of Christmas festivities here on the mission station.  But it didn't exactly feel like Christmas.  It was really getting warm, so we had a little cookout that felt a little more like the Fourth of July!

All of first term, the Titchies collect an offering at Sunday school that will purchase hampers of food to distribute at Christmastime to local families.  We took off on Christmas eve morning to the town of Mbau-ini, just up the hill a short drive's distance.  This is where our inside helper, Hannah lives, and we had just visited her a few days previously, so it was fun for the kids to go back to the same place and know they were helping Hannah's neighbors.  

Joel chose some of his matchbox cars to give to some little boys.  It was funny, most of time time he didn't give them to the youngest boys, but chose some of the bigger kids!  He had a good time giving them, and it filled our hearts with joy to see his generous attitude.  

Faith brought a piece of candy for all the children we saw.  We visited five families, and there were between four and eight children (or grandchildren) in each home. 

What a blessing to hear each of the families praise God wholeheartedly, and to see the joy that a simple bag of food staples brought to each of them.  

The last house was quite a hike, and some of the Kenyan children joined us along the way.  Joel's hand (or foot) was held the entire time.  It was so sweet.  

We returned home, to our house of more-than-enough, and got ready to go down to a station family's Christmas open house.  After the dinner, we went on down to the hospital and caroled in the wards for quite a while.  Faith amazed us first by her willingness, and then by her desire, to shake hands with each and every patient in the hospital to wish them a Merry Christmas.  What smiles it brought to so many patients, and for a little girl that has been hesitant to participate in the important cultural greeting of hand shaking, it was such a wonderful moment as parents to watch her heart almost visibly grow in love towards her Kenyan neighbors (and their customs!).

Then Christmas morning came, complete with stockings made from Kenyan kanga fabric,

And the branch of a cedar tree, stuck in a bucket of dirt, decorated sparsely with Kenyan ornaments.

The stockings contained treats I found in Nairobi, some colored chalk, post-it notes, kit-kat bars and chips ahoy cookies, and even some Turkish pop rock candy!  

They each got a Kenyan present from us, Faith received beaded leather sandals, which were her shoe of choice for weeks to come...

Joel received a goat-skin drum.  It is now his constant companion.

From the one package that arrived BEFORE Christmas, the kids enjoyed a coloring book and a veggie tales movie.  Thanks Benjer and Jennifer!

We shared a noon meal with our good friends, the Mathisons, complete with turkey AND ham, green beans, stuffing, sweet potatoes, cranberries, and rolls.  It was absolutely delicious.  Eating like this costs significantly more here, but for our first Christmas away from home, it was completely worth it!

The Mathison's daughter, Gracie, is giving Faith plenty of big-sister practice lately, and Faith is doing wonderfully!  After our big meal, we walked over to our house for the kids to play and to enjoy some pies.

Soon after New Year's, the packages began to arrive, much to our delight.  Let's just say we've had a few Christmases again!

Two of the single gals here at the school came over for a New Years Day dinner, and the kids' "second Christmas".  The tree was still up so we did stockings and the works all over again, it was so much fun!  

Skype is a wonderful thing.  Grandma and Grandpa were able to watch "Christmas, part 2" that took place after the New Year's dinner with the contents of their box of gifts.  

The holidays sure were different around here, but it was a delight to watch our children make wonderful memories just the same, and have experiences that they wouldn't have anywhere else.  I am grateful for the developing character that God is molding in each one of us during the ups and downs of learning to live here in Kenya as a family.  And hey, we survived our first holiday season away from "it all".  Phew.

10 January 2011

Marks of Glory

I (Jim) was reading an excerpt of Thomas R. Kelly's "A Testament of Devotion" last night and ran across this quote:

"Marks of glory are upon all things and the marks are cruciform and blood-stained.  And one sighs, like the convinced Thomas, 'My Lord and my God.'  Dare one lift one's eyes and look? Nay, whither can one look and not see Him?  For field and stream and teeming streets are full of Him.  Yet as Moses knew, no man can look on God and live - live as his old self.  Death comes, blessed death, death of one's alienating will.  And one knows what Paul meant when he wrote, 'The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God.' (Gal. 2:20)"

I've lately felt reminders to enter in or re-enter that new life or at least to seek out 'my Lord and my God' everywhere.  This season, I've felt called to look on His face.  Field and stream are full of Him but so are the teeming streets, the hungry masses seeking life.  I will seek Him there.  So often my searching is crowded into cursory glances for His grace as I rush to the next task or engagement; my vision is dimmed by the bright glare of Facebook statuses, my hearing dulled by the incessant noise of my own prideful thoughts, my judgement clouded by fantasies of my intellect.

"It is the drama of the lost sheep wandering in the wilderness, restless and lonely, feebly searching, while over the hills comes the wiser Shepherd.  For His is a shepherd's heart, and He is restless until He holds His sheep in His arms."