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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Baboons–FOUND!

DSCN4973It has been awhile since the kids and I have gone for our weekly baboon hunt -the reason being that a few weeks back we were finally successful!  It was just the four of us. Ethan and Nate were out in front with a stick or some other “weapon” designed to scare off or kill if necessary any overly aggressive animals.  Evie rode in the backpack.

To be honest, I hadn’t thought through what we would do if we ever actually encountered these animals.  And as it turned out, I had some quick thinking to do, because a whole troop landed right in front of us.  When I say right in front, I mean on the same side of the fence as we were, literally a few yards away.

Probably fifteen baboons altogether – it was easy to spot the alpha male since he was huge and we even got to see a mother with a tiny little baby riding on her back. 

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So, a little better than our first attempt in August when all we encountered was someone’s pet tortoise on the trail!

Since then, we’ve also spotted colobus monkeys, which basically look like skunks with long tails in trees.  They are really cool and are apparently endangered.  I haven’t had a chance to take any pictures of them. 

Maybe some other time.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

a few of my favorite things

Ann Voskamp.  Her blog still rocks my world and has since I found it a few years ago.  www.aholyexperience.com  This Canadian farmer’s wife and mother of six is a gifted thought-provoking writer whose little place on the web has been an immense blessing to me.  If you know me well, you know how highly I recommend Ann’s writing.  She is just a gift. 

If you’ve been in and around the Christian community for any length of time, you have probably already heard of her best-selling book One Thousand Gifts.  This book made the cut when packing our lives for Kenya and I’m just starting to read it a second time.  As I cracked open the cover and began again this morning, I knew I had to devote a blog post to the book, the site & to Ann. 

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When you simply get up every day and live life raw – you murmur the question soundlessly… Can there be a good God? … Where is God, really?

How can He be good when babies die, and marriages implode, and dreams blow away, dust in the wind? Where is grace bestowed when cancer gnaws and loneliness aches and nameless places in us soundlessly die, break off without reason, erode away. Where hides this joy of the Lord, this God who fills the earth with good things, and how do I fully live when life is full of hurt? How do I wake up to joy and grace and beauty and all that is the fullest life when I must stay numb to losses and crushed dreams and all that empties me out? …

Is this the toxic air of this world, this atmosphere we inhale, burning into our lungs, this No, God?

No, God we won’t take what you give.  No, God, your plans are a gutted, bleeding mess and I didn’t sign up for this and you really thought I’d go for this? No, God, this is ugly and this is a mess and can’t you get anything right and just haul this pain right out of here and I’ll take it from here, thanks… Doubting God’s goodness, distrusting His intent, discontented with that He’s given, we desire…

I live as though He stole what I consider rightly mine: happiest children, marriage of unending bliss… Our fall was, has always been, and always will be, that we aren’t satisfied in God and what He gives.  - One Thousand Gifts, pp. 11-15

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DSCN4925Her words pierce through like a knife and I am convicted of my sin again and am driven to the cross.  Who am I to question and who am I to think I deserve… Father, help my unbelief. 

If you haven’t read it or any of her stuff, do so, and let the Holy Spirit speak through her, His vessel. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

October at a glance …

We haven’t posted in awhile.  Our apologies.  Please don’t assume that the reason is due to lack of activity!  In fact, the reason is more due to over-activity.  Things have been very full here in the past few weeks.  A brief timeline:

First weekend in October:  Midterm break

Immediately following that:  Spiritual Emphasis Week

Closely on its heels:  Multi-cultural Day

In the midst of all that, we’ve been extremely busy parenting, teaching, coaching, communicating, and attempting to find time to see each other.  Just thinking back over the past few weeks is exhausting.  But God is good – and although He allows rough patches and trials to come, He commands us to have joy in the midst of them (James 1:2), lean heavily by abiding in Him (John 15:4), and be patient as He brings us through (Romans 12:12). 

Mid-Term Break

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The elephant orphanage in Nairobi was an up close and personal treat.  Lots of baby and juvenile elephants feeding and posing for a crowd of onlookers, just close enough to touch.  We were able to enjoy a day in town on Friday, the first day of midterm, seeing many animals, but the elephants were the highlight! 

A word of caution:  don’t drink from the water fountains! We get so spoiled being able to drink the water from the tap in Kijabe that we completely forgot not to drink from the fountains in town.  We spent the next few days recovering. Yuk!

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Midterm break is meant for exactly that – rest. 

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On the last of break, our neighbors set up a slip and slide next door, just a little bit of water, some dish soap & a good hill – the kids loved it :)

SEW (Spiritual Emphasis Week)

On the heels of a much needed and appreciated mid-term 5-day break, we plunged right into Spiritual Emphasis Week here at RVA. It’s as if we were given five days to quiet our hearts and prepare ourselves for the next five days of intense, hard-hitting theology presented this year by RVA alum & missionary Dick Brogden. The calm before the storm.

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Dick & Jen Brogden, photo credit: Live-Dead.org

The emphasis of SEW this year: the 40% of the world completely unreached by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the reality of Hell, and the significance of these two facts.  He challenged the students and staff alike to live lives surrendered to their Savior, no matter what that looks like or where that takes them.  He preached a message of abiding in Jesus, spending extravagant time with Him, and being prepared to lay down our lives for His purposes.

SEW ran Wednesday through Sunday, with mandatory chapels each morning as well as mandatory evening sessions. The students were also encouraged to attend the question/answer small groups with Dick that followed each evening session. Rounding out the chapel and evening services was a worship band here for the week from North Carolina. (We had the privilege of housing a couple from the band in our guest room!)

It proved to be a powerful week for students and staff alike as we heard about dying daily to ourselves, about a world that is in rebellion & is perishing and is desperately in need of the saving Grace of Jesus Christ. 

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Multi-Cultural Day

We celebrated RVA’s diverse population of students from 31 nations during the annual multi-cultural day this past Friday.  We began the day with presentations from students representing several countries.  Concluding the morning service was a flag ceremony, in which students from each nation carry their flag one at a time, to the sounds of cheers from the student/staff body.  It proved to be a little emotional at times, as we got a small glimpse of Heaven, with so many languages and tribes and nations represented. 

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Following the ceremony, runners/walkers took part in One World Run to raise money & awareness for AIDS orphans right in our backyard.  A willing participant, Dan ran in his first 5K that morning and finished quite well.  The kids and I cheered the runners on as the route went right past our driveway!!

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Later that day, we were able to host our second caring community group and had 6 students over for pizza and breadsticks before heading off to the staff vs. senior boys American football game.  By the time the game started, the sun was setting and the crisp evening air moved in, along with the rains.  It was a fun “fall” activity for Dan to participate in and it even felt like fall! 

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Right now it’s moving into the dry season here so the daily temperatures are starting to climb into the lower 80’s.  It was particularly special to have a cool, rainy evening for some Friday night football.

So there you have it, a re-cap of October for you. 

As always, thank you for your prayers!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Kiambethu Tea Farm

Last Sunday, I had the opportunity to visit a tea farm in Limuru, about a thirty minute drive from RVA towards Nairobi.  It was a very girly afternoon with fifty other women from Kijabe station.  We sampled tea and cookies, listened to the history of the tea farm, went on a walking tour of the remaining tea fields and indigenous forest, and ate a delicious lunch outside under umbrellas. 

When we look over at Mount Longonot and see the valley below on a hike here at RVA, the boys will often comment on how BIG God must be to have created all that we can see.  A simple child-like understanding of our Creator God, but I felt the exact same way that afternoon at the tea farm.  The absolute beauty of this place was awe-inspiring.  I will let the photos speak for themselves. 

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Let them praise the name of the Lord! For He commanded and they were created.  Psalm 148:5

You can learn more about Kiambethu Tea Farm by visiting their website.

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