Tuesday, October 31, 2017

What Do You Do When Life is Hard?

Without giving all the details, life is really hard right now. I am sure we have all been there at some point. Discouragement. Anxiety. Sadness. Longing. And some days I just want to pack my bags and head to greener pastures. The grass IS always greener on the other side, right? In my most desperate moments, I have found myself googling real estate back in Michigan and envisioning my "perfect life" over there.

But life isn't perfect in Michigan. Or Kenya. Or anywhere on this green earth. Trouble will find me wherever I go. Good thing I don't believe in the prosperity gospel or I would have given up long ago.  Truth is, we are told in scripture, "In this world you WILL have trouble..." Why am I so surprised when it happens then?

Why do I think I can run from it?  Somehow I need to find God in the midst of my trouble and allow Him to give me the peace that passes all understanding. I need to understand the theology of suffering - and realize that my suffering (as big or small as it may be) will produce in me perseverance and character. I can emerge from this time of hardship a better person if I allow suffering to do it's work.

So what am I doing? Well, here are a few things that I am trying to do (although I don't get it right all the time!):

  • Fill my mind with TRUTH. In moments of hardship, it is so easy to listen to Satan's lies. So I need to combat those lies with truth from God's Word.  I try to dwell on things that are "true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable..." (Phil. 4:8) 

  • Find someone to lift me up. Some days, I need someone else to do it for me. When I can't think of anything good, I go for a walk with a friend who can remind me of God's truth in my life. I need to surround myself with godly people who will point me to Jesus.

  • Get some fresh air. It is so easy to hole up and wallow when I am down. I feel so much better after I get out and do what I need to do. Sometimes it is just doing the next thing - my job, the laundry, .....or just taking a walk to clear my head.

  • Realize that this too shall pass. This hardship I am going through will not last forever. Hopefully someday (soon) I will be able to look back and see what God taught me through this rough patch in my life. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Breaking the Silence

It has been far too long since I have updated this blog. It is definitely time to break the silence and let you know what we are up to. As we serve here at Rift Valley Academy, we are well aware that we have many prayer warriors lifting us up and we are grateful. Thank you. 

We continue with our jobs of teaching and administration here at RVA. We have just started a new school year here - our 17th one. Hard to fathom we have been here that long! 

This year there has been a new goal presented to us: that each class “adopt” an unreached people group in Africa to pray for. As we progress through this first term of the new school year, we have already had students coming up on stage on Sunday mornings in church to share about their people group and how we can pray. It is so powerful. These kids get it. They understand the words of the gospel, “Go into all the world and preach the good news.” Making Jesus known among all nations and tribes is priority. It is beautiful to see. 

My third graders have adopted the Orma tribe. Hearing their simple, yet sincere prayers humble me. “God, help the Orma to come to know Jesus.” 

There are 13 tribes that have claimed a part of our hearts here on campus. From kindergarten to 12th grade, we are praying for each one - hoping that someday we will be at the throne of God, alongside brothers and sisters in Christ, worshipping God in every language. But to add perspective, there are nearly 1000 unreached people groups in Africa alone. 

In some ways, our prayer for these people is similar to my blog title - we want to break the silence. We want people to know there is hope. There is light. There is Jesus. 

This morning in church, our speaker shared from Psalm 67. When he shared about telling the nations about God’s saving power, he asked if anyone in the audience felt like God was leading them into missions someday. All around the room, I saw young people rise to their feet. These are kids who understood. Our greatest mission here on earth is to make God known. It was humbling and amazing.  To God be the Glory. 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Outreach Day

Today we participated in RVA's Outreach Day. Students and staff alike will do a variety of things - such as visiting employees on our own campus (guards, cafeteria workers, etc.) or in our community (visiting the hospital or the vendors who sell vegetables) but quite a few opportunities are off campus, such as visiting the IDP (internally displaced people's) camps in the valley, visiting orphanages, or prison.

Our family was split up today - Ian and his "big brother" (a senior boy who has adopted him for the year - a cool RVA program!) visited the guards and took them snacks and prayed with them. He didn't take a camera!

Lyndsey, who went with her "RVA big sister" will tell you in her own words about her outreach:

On my outreach, we went to the orphanage, Chariots of Hope. We played with frisbees, bubbles, hula hoops, balls, and a giant parachute. We also had a story time where we told Bible stories and translated them into Swahili. There were 30 or so kids there, and this little girl was named Princess. 

The rest of the family, along with some RVA students, visited the Bethany Kids ward at the Kijabe Hospital. We were met there by Mercy, the chaplain, who graciously walked us through the wards and introduced us to the children, their parents, and the nursing staff. Mercy has worked there for many years, has seen many a happy (and sad) story, yet her heart remains soft and passionate for her ministry. I was very touched by her love and care for these precious children and their families.

While there, we brought bubbles, face paint crayons, and coloring pages to share with the children. We were able to get a few smiles out of the kids, even though some of them were very ill. 




I was so proud of our students and how they bravely moved out of their comfort zones to greet, play with, and visit with the sick children. 



Sunday, November 8, 2015

Nearly a Year in Review - 2015 in pictures

As we near the end of 2015, I am reflecting on God's goodness to us. We are so privileged to serve here at Rift Valley Academy. We love being able to experience life in Kenya. We are so grateful for our ministry team here at RVA, as well as our team that sends us here - people who pray faithfully and give sacrificially to allow us to be here. Thank you!

Here is an overview of 2015 in pictures:

January - We were able to visit the House of Hope Home in Naivasha with students from RVA.

February - Joyellen coached Megan's field hockey team.

March - Jeff led a group of juniors and seniors on an educational trip to Loita Hills, where they learned more about Masai culture.

April - Megan completed one of her "12 tasks" when she climbed to the top of Mt. Kenya with Jeff.

May - we helped a family in our community put gutters on their home to catch rainwater in tanks.

June - Joyellen took her 5th grade class to a tea farm in Limuru to learn about plants.
Megan made the decision to be baptized!

July - RVA graduation! We sent off another fabulous group of seniors - one of them was our niece Laura.

August - We had a restful break as a family. In addition to some down time, we also welcomed many new families to our staff, including our neighbors, who we hosted. They are also from Michigan!

September - we started another school year here at RVA.

October - As a school, we celebrated my favorite day of the year - Multi-Cultural Day. There are 30 countries represented in our student body

We are nearing the end of 2015. We are looking forward to our AIM conference in November and welcoming family and a few new staff in December. This has been a blessed year. Thanks for being a part of it!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Here We Go!

We just finished a wonderful 6 week "summer" break and are now ready to embark upon a new school year. This will be our 13th school year to start at RVA (since we spent a couple of them back in Michigan too!). There is always a mixture of excitement, nerves, sadness, and celebration on this day. Our dusty roads are full today - with parents dropping off their students and school busses doing airport pick ups (that is where Jeff is right now!). Our family is excited and ready for this new year. We had a lovely break - complete with house projects, down time, some work in our classroom or office, and a little family get away to the coast. Now we are ready for our students to return and this place to fill up again with laughter, noise, and activity.

The kids really enjoyed playing in the sand when we got away. The favorite activity was chasing crabs.

The girls enjoyed getting "henna" painted on their hands. It only lasted about a week.

My favorite moments were in the early morning, watching the sun rise over the ocean. God's creation is breath-taking!

Here is my classroom door - all ready for the new class of fifth graders!

I will have all the fifth graders on my own this year. It is not a big enough class to have 2 sections, like last year, but still a good size - I will have 18 this term. 

Here are all the new families registering at the New Parent Orientation, which was held yesterday. We have 100 new students coming this year, representing 17 different countries - so cool! 

Please pray for us as we kick off a new school year. Pray for stamina, joy, and purpose as we teach, love and guide these precious kids.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Learning about American History in Kenya

This month, I have been teaching my fifth graders about American History - specifically, pioneers and the Civil War. It has been an exciting time, but I do have to laugh at some of my non-American students - "Why are we always learning about AMERICAN history? Why not _________ history?" (fill in the blank with their home country.  Or "Why do you keep saying us? I'm not American!" Of course, they will learn so many other histories as they go through school, but most Social Studies curriculums are not geared towards international students.

During the Pioneer Unit, we were able to do a Pioneer Simulation of buying goods at a general store to take on our journey West, keep a Pioneer journal, and make and eat pioneer stew and cornbread. Even the international students were quite happy to partake in the food!

We have been keeping a timeline of events in our classroom to keep straight ALL the names and dates of this time period.

One thing I have really enjoyed about being back in the classroom is being a learner again. History is so fascinating to me as an adult - even more than when I was a kid! I hope to make it come alive and be exciting for my students too.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Rain....a blessing and a curse

I awoke at 6:30 am yesterday morning to the sound of rain on the tin roof. I remembered hearing rain throughout the night as well. This was the day we were to head down to Samson and Mary's house to install rain gutters and a rain tank, and I was pretty sure the weather could affect our plans. The other family who we were joining with was the Dubber family and they had suggested this service project as they knew this Kenyan family well.

We decided to postpone our departure by a half hour, hoping the weather would improve. By 8:30 am, the skies were still cloudy, but the rain had stopped. We headed out in our two vehicles, towards Mary's house, which should have taken about 30 minutes.

About half way down the hill, we realized the roads were much worse than we expected. In fact, one of the vehicles got badly stuck in this mess.

 While the men sorted out the mess, the kids decided to have a little fun. (Note: Megan had signed up for a different service project at an orphanage, so she was not with us.)

We finally got out of the mud and inched slowly down the hill, fish-tailing this way and that. 

In the midst of the mud and mess, I was struck by God's beautiful creation springing forth from all this rain.

We finally reached Mary's house, only an hour and a half after we started out. :) We got right to work. Out came the saws, hammers, drills, and nails. Everyone pitched in and did a great job.

As you can from these pictures, more rain is on the way! We were hoping to get finished in time, so all the lovely rain would end up in the new rain barrel. 

The kids each found ways to pitch in.....Lyndsey was able to help install the faucet on the water tank....and Ian made some new friends with Mary's grandchildren.

And here are Mary and Samson....you will notice Mary recently broke her leg. We were happy to help them out in a tangible way. 

And....we went home by another route! We didn't want to mess with that mud a second time!