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Saturday, February 21, 2015

BQ

Each grade, 7-12, has a group of staff members called sponsors who help students to plan class activities.  A lot of planning and organization goes into sponsoring a class and usually sponsors stay with that class through graduation.  Near the end of our first year here, we attached ourselves to the fine class of 2016.

In 9th grade, classes begin fund-raising activities to cover the cost of their senior class trip.  Freshmen sell snack concessions during movie nights, Sophomores sell Valentines and put on a restaurant for staff, Juniors and Seniors sell breakfast and lunch concessions at major sports tournaments. 

In addition to this, most of their Junior year is spent designing and planning a Banquet in honor of the Seniors.  The Jr/Sr Banquet, called “BQ” around here, is one of many unique RVA traditions.  The Juniors pick a theme for BQ and based on that theme, they design an elaborate set & table decorations, prepare a five course meal, write and star in a play and perform live entertainment for the senior class and their sponsors.  It takes 4-6 months of planning, an immense amount of coordination and is a ton of work for both the juniors and their sponsors.

All of the planning and coordination for this event comes together during mid-term weekend, when, instead of retreating for a long weekend break, our juniors, along with many of their parents, descend upon this campus in order to build Banquet. 

Last weekend (mid-term) we had 79 junior students, 90 parents, and 10 sponsors take on this feat.  For three days, we hammered, drilled, constructed, paper-mached and painted, while others cooked, sewed, hot-glued, acted, and sang.  It was non-stop. 

Last night, we reaped the rewards of our hard work.  We got all dressed up, processed at dusk through a lantern-lit path to the cheers of underclassmen & staff, and enjoyed an extensive dinner theater along with the seniors and their sponsors. 

Our theme?   Narnia! 

Come along & see what BQ is all about:

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What a joy and a privilege to be part of this tradition here at RVA! 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

We are back

We are back to life in Kijabe – back to small town shopping at the Dukas, bringing our own baskets, shaking hands with and talking to the store owners, greeting each of the ladies who sell vegetables.

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We are back to life in Africa – where kind Kenyan women will take your filled-to-the-brim basket and hoist it on their backs to carry it to your car for you. 

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We are back to life at RVA, where Evelyn goes to story time on Mondays and preschool on Wednesdays, where Nate attends half-day kindergarten and Ethan is a full-day 1st grader.  

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We are back to life at RVA in all of its fullness – a math classroom full of Algebra and Statistics students, a JV basketball team to coach.  I am back in the Guidance office three mornings a week, and in and around our home most other times. 

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We are back to life at RVA and the myriad responsibilities that come with living 24/7 with the students we teach.  Things day schools don’t have like sponsoring an entire class of 79 juniors, like dorm cover Monday nights to give HS dorm parents an evening off, like staffing tournaments on the weekend or hosting them at your house. 

We are back to a full, fast-paced life during each term. 

We are back to life in Africa because we have a strong team of prayer and financial supporters, who allow us to live and serve here.  THANK YOU for your faithfulness in giving, in praying and in encouraging us. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Green Light!

We are thrilled to announce that our family has been officially cleared to return to Kenya!  I spoke on the phone yesterday with a good friend from our mission’s home office in Georgia, and she was pleased to give us the thumbs up.

green lightAs a faith-based and completely donor-supported ministry, we are required to have 100% of our financial support pledged before we return from home assignment.  This policy is in place so that people don’t return to the field and struggle to make ends meet. 

A financial target is set based on family size and ministry location (for us, it’s a family of 5 at Rift Valley Academy), and then our support raising goals are set around it.  When we arrived in the States in July, we were at about 88% of that magic number.  As of yesterday, we are at 106%!!  Praise the Lord for His abundant provision!  And a much deserved THANK YOU to those who have stayed with us, those newcomers who have jumped on board, and those who have pledged to continue once we get back.

Partnering with all of you in this venture has been a joy!  Watching God provide the exact amount we need, precisely when we need it has been a humbling, faith-building experience, allowing us to witness first hand that “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights…” (James 1:17) 

THANK YOU for your prayers.  THANK YOU for your partnership.  THANK YOU for your obedience as God has called you to walk by faith with us! 

In three short weeks we will board the plane for Kenya with this peace of mind: “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”  (Phil 4:19)  That is quite a promise!  Consider, just for a moment, what ‘the riches of his glory’ really means. This is the basis for being able to trust Him – His storehouse never runs out, His cattle are on a thousand hills, His people and resources span the globe…and this is OUR GOD!  Find encouragement today in that truth.  We certainly have!

Blessings to you as you celebrate the ultimate GIFT this Christmas season – the one we could never earn, pay back, or deserve.  The life of Jesus, given for us, while we were yet sinners!!

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

In their own [words]

What follows is a completely unprompted, unedited (from what my memory and scribbling notes can recall), and unsolicited (is that the same as unprompted?) response to tonight’s dinner topic of choice.  Courtney was with friends, so it was just me, the three kiddos, and an 18 inch pizza. 

As the oozing mozzarella and pepperoni settled swiftly to the bottoms of our welcoming tummies, Nate posed a suggestion:

“Let’s play, ‘What do you miss most about Africa?’”

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Ethan and Evelyn were clearly game.  I knew this could be gold, so I ran for a scrap of paper and a pen – our dining room table is a good spot for those.  It usually houses our family’s version of a haphazard, starving artist’s studio.  As I was about to grab a naked brown crayon, I spotted a ball-point hidden halfway under an unfinished coloring page.  Success.

Dashing back to the kitchen, I entered just as the negotiation of turns was ending.  It came as largely unchallenged that Nate should be allowed to answer first, since he came up with the idea.  This is standard procedure in the world of dinner conversation amongst our band of under 8’s. 

My attempt at narration below [italics inside of brackets, as here] follows no known protocol for recording conversation.  Do not attempt to match it to MLA or APA writing formats – you’ll be sorely disappointed.  I simply hope to provide the most accurate picture of what took place with a ‘minimal’ level of commentary for your comprehending pleasure.

NATE:  “I miss working with Jesse [our outside worker], I miss Tyler [Nate’s Kindergarten buddy], all my pet chameleons [‘pet’ is used here in the loosest sense of the word; he catches many and keeps none for longer than a day], my bunk-bed, my pre-schoolers, and my room.  Also my toys and Ben…”

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DAD: [interrupting for clarification] “Wait, Ben who?”

NATE and ETHAN: [almost in unison] “You know, big Ben?  Our neighbor with the trampoline?” [How could I overlook our 9th grade next-door neighbor?  Duh, Dad!]

NATE: [continuing] “…Titus [another buddy, Nate’s age], the trampoline, and Caroline [Ben’s 11th grade sister]…but mostly Tyler.”

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DAD:  “Ok.  Ethan’s turn.”

EVIE:  “No, my turn!”

DAD:  “Evie, let Ethan go first.”

EVIE: [ignoring me completely“I miss Haley and Elisey and my bed…”

DAD:  “Evie, let’s let Ethan go.  You can go next.”

ETHAN:  “I miss my toys, my room.  School… yeah, I guess I miss school. [pause] Oh!  Pinewood Derby!  Coke date, drive-in movie, carnival and corn flakes”

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NATE:  “Yeah, corn flakes!”

EVIE: [fed up with being the only girl, the youngest, and always getting the short end of the stick during turns negotiations, which aren’t really negotiations at all, but rather pre-determined conclusions that the boys will always go first]: “No, Nate, MY turn!”

DAD:  “Go ahead, Evie.”

EVIE:  “I miss Haley [Evie’s 11th grade ‘big sister’], Elisey [Titus’ younger sister], my bed, Veronica [our inside worker], Caroline, the trampoline, Africa, my kitchen…”

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DAD:  “Good.  What about when we go back?  What do you guys think you’ll miss most about America?”  [Referring back to my original claim of ‘unsolicited’ and ‘unprompted’ (which the more times I write, the less I’m convinced is even a word), this is the ONLY legitimate question I posed that wasn’t in direct line with the current vein of the discussion]

ETHAN, NATE, and EVIE:  “OOOH, me first, me first!”

DAD:  “Let’s let Evie go first this time.  [Justice delivered.  Excuse me while I reach awkwardly to pat myself on the backWhat are you going to miss about America when we go back to Kenya, honey?”

EVIE:  “Ice, Lydia…” [Lydia is a good family friend, about six years older than Evie, and represents to her everything good about knowing someone who ISN’T one of her older brothers]

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NATE:  [acting as though Evie’s answer was perfectly acceptable and within reason AND as if someone had clearly said, ‘OK, Nate’s turn’, which nobody had – this is not uncommon] “This house…”

ETHAN:  “Snow!” [at this point, I will refrain from interjecting a narrative note as each successive speaker steps to the front.  Suffice it to say that they were all answering at once, casting off their high view of turns and fairness.  I did my best to keep up]

EVIE:  “…this house…Daddy, can you draw it?

ETHAN:  “Don’t forget the chimney, Dad”

EVIE:  “Can you draw the big bad wolf?  And some people?”  [Here, I rattle off a quick sketch of a very generic house, with a chimney, the big bad wolf standing nearby, and some people.  Satisfied laughter follows from Evie and Ethan]

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NATE:  “Wait, let me see! [the paper is turned so Nate can see; he smilesCool, Dad.”

DAD:  “Ok guys.  Anything or anybody else you might miss?”

NATE:  “Grandpa, working with Grandpa, cousins…”

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ETHAN: [very excited“Dad!  Did you know that actually two days after we leave, someone else is going to be leaving to live somewhere a LOT closer to us while we’re in Africa?!  It’s Ben! [his best U.S. buddy moving to the U.A.E. for a few years]

DAD:  “Yeah, I know.  Are you going to miss Ben?”

ETHAN [less excited]: “Yeah.”

NATE:  “….Grandpa’s farm…”

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EVIE:  “Oma, Grandma…[pause, then with renewed enthusiasm] Africa!” [she had a tough time with the abstract concept of what she thinks she’ll miss when she gets to a place that she isn’t currently in…can hardly fault a 3-year old for that]

ETHAN:  “football games, trick or treat…”

NATE:  “I thought they had trick or treat in Africa.”

ETHAN:  “No, they have carnival, Nate.  Cottonball! [the lone surviving sheep on Grandpa’s farm]

NATE:  “Yeah, Cottonball!  And Milly and Billy.”

DAD:  “Who are Milly and Billy?”

ETHAN:  “Those are Grandpa’s goats”

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**Also Note:  Most of the animals in this picture WERE harmed, although not for the purposes of taking this picture, or writing this blog post, and completely on an unintentional level.  It turns out Grandpa wasn’t such a good sheep farmer.

DAD:  “Oh.”

ETHAN:  “…Raisin Bran Crunch, Life, Honey Bunches of Oats, Honey Nut Cheerios…”

EVIE:  “Haley…”

DAD:  “Evie, she’ll be IN Africa!  Any other people you’ll miss from America when we move back to Africa?

ETHAN:  “Mrs. Knapp…”

NATE and EVIE:  “Yeah, Mrs. Knapp!”

ETHAN:  “…Jason, Sabrina [also Knapps], and Bobbi [the Knapp’s blind and miraculously still living dog – not to be confused with Ethan’s long time favorite stuffed animal, Bobby the not-so-white-anymore dog]

EVIE:  “…Africa!”

DAD: “Oh my …”

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