30 October 2011


We've now been here at RVA for 15 months.  It's given us time to grieve our loss of 'home' in the states, get adjusted to a different lifestyle here in Kijabe (read: fight the differences with plenty of frustration), get to know students and let them get to know us, and settle in general as a family.

Learning to understand and incorporate the Kijabe station lifestyle was one of the challenges we didn't really anticipate when arriving at RVA.  We were thrilled that we could live within walking distance from school, friends, grocery, library, church, doctors, and pretty much everything else that we would need on a day-to-day basis.  But we didn't really think beyond that.  Pretty soon, we realized that whether we liked it (or them!) or not, we worked, played, worshiped, vacationed, shopped, and lived with everyone here.  The same people.  Everywhere.  ALL THE TIME.  We hadn't spent much time recognizing the fact that that in the states, we had church friends, work friends, ministry friends, mommy friends, camping friends, old friends and new friends, who were often in their own separate categories.  There was some overlap, but certainly not total overlap.

This difference in lifestyle is more of a subtle one.  Term starts off great, but by the end of the 12 or 13 weeks that we've all spent mostly here on our fenced-in little piece of land, you can tell we're all ready for some space, or peace and quiet, or a vacation on which we don't see anyone we know.  (Although that too, rarely happens.)

Obviously, for the school to function well for its students, and since this element of close community living is a given part of life here, it seems there are some important aspects of healthy relationships that are less-easily ignored here than in the more separated communities that we came from.

The one that stands out to me as I look back on our time here is the importance of an apology.  I can count three very specific, clear times that another staff member has come to the door of our house or called on the phone, asked for me (Heather) and proceeded to apologize for an event that happened that very day, or just the day before.  They admitted wrong, and asked for forgiveness.  It wasn't a big deal, it was just honest, humble, and open.

It has been an incredible lesson to me to see this aspect of our community live out Christ's calling to admit to wrongdoings and ask for forgiveness in a very consistent manner.  Instead of being ashamed or trying to forget or push aside wrongdoings, the vulnerability of a sincere apology has given many relationships a depth of trust, love, and forgiveness.

These events have made me think of my own actions.  I think in the past, when I have done wrong, I am easily shamed by my sin, and my energies and thoughts are directed towards not making mistakes in the same way again.  But the fact is, no matter how hard I try, I'm going to mess up again.  More than once.  Wouldn't it be better if I put my energies towards saying sorry, letting someone trust me, and I them, and accepting my ultimate freedom in Christ?

I'm thankful for this [sometimes messy] body of Christ here in Kijabe that strives to love one another, just as He has loved us.

23 October 2011

Under the (Broom)Tree

Almost exactly one year ago I (Jim) wrote some thoughts I had while lying under the Jacaranda tree in our yard playing hooky from one of the sessions during RVA's Spiritual Emphasis Week.  Most of my thoughts were reflections on God's grace and provision and my struggle to accept His gift and actually trust that God has my best interests in mind. You might want to read it here.

This year at Spiritual Emphasis Week I did not skip a single lesson.  I went to every session.  At one of the last, the speaker was talking about Elijah.  In 1 Kings 18, we hear the story of how Elijah, in great faith, prayed to God in front of the prophets of Baal and how God sent down fire on Elijah's offering, then Elijah killed all 450 prophets of Baal and finally God has Elijah end years of drought.  As if that weren't enough, Elijah is then overcome by the spirit and outruns the chariot of king Ahab to queen Jezebel.  I'm not sure what Elijah was expecting to happen next but apparently hearing Jezebel say that she'd have Elijah killed wasn't it.  Jezebel's threat freaks Elijah out and he begins running for his life - scared - like he's totally forgotten everything that happened that day.  The following day, he's sitting under a broom tree begging God to take his life.  

It's laughable, really.  Elijah has one unbelievably productive day spiritually and then he's caught totally off-guard by one unexpected hurdle and he runs off into the desert and gives up in despair.

I'm pretty sure this wasn't the speaker's point, but as I walked back home in a gentle rain remembering my time under the Jacaranda tree almost exactly one year earlier, I could see myself sitting under that broom tree.  It seems like the last year has been an incredible one - probably the richest of my life - with many lessons and examples of God's provision but spiritually, I feel like I'm in the same place!  I'm sitting there under my broom tree needing some special encouragement after having just witnessed God's provision for our family.  I guess it was just the sort of encouragement I needed at the time - I'm feeling better about things now.  Isn't it great how God provides for us?