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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Crafty things of late

I have not forgotten about the design challenge I put out there a few months ago.  Some of you have indeed taken me up on sending items of a crafty sort and I thank you for that!  I think I finally have enough done to warrant a short blog post on it. 

I’m finding more and more that there are things we just take for granted at being easily accessible in the states and they’re nearly impossible to find here in Africa.  Now on a more serious note, that can be things like clean drinking water and electricity or gas, and I have a post in the works about the conservation of such things and what that looks like here, but today I’m speaking of homemaking & decorating & all things crafty.

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Over the December break, I made an apron for Veronica, my friend & helper.   She was wearing an apron that was permanently stained and falling apart.  The striped fabric and the dark brown fabric of the pocket were both purchased at a missionary yard sale here in September.  I think the striped fabric was a shower curtain at one time.  The light brown fabric that lines the pocket came in a care package from Diane Mateer & l think compliments the browns and reds in the apron.  Thank you Diane!

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Moving right along – I finally have my kitchen somewhat together & working for me.  The fabric for my valances I found on Biashara Street in Nairobi (which is funny because it’s very American in style and not at all Kenyan so it stuck out like a sore thumb in the store).  The fabric circles are just that – fabric inside of embroidery hoops hung on the wall.

I removed the doors on my way upper cabinets, painted the insides the same color as my bottom cabinets and then decorated with {get this} wrapping paper!  The red print is a sell-by-the-sheet wrapping paper that I duct taped onto foam board.  I used a remnant of my valance material around foam board as well for depth. 

Ah, foam board.  It’s not available here and I contemplated using cut-up cardboard boxes, but thanks to my sis-in-law Rachel Meyers and Jill Wills {who, by the way, was packing her own family to move to Africa and managed to bring ME foam board from the states – what a friend!}, I had enough foam board to do my top cabinets! Yay! Thank you Ladies!!

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The little vignettes I started inside of my display cabinets are just repurposed cans and bottles.  The cans I wrapped in scrapbook paper (thank you Sarah Evans).  The bottle I wrapped in jute with a strip of fabric (both from my sister Bri) and tied a pretty bow with braided ribbon (also in that sweet crafty package from Sarah Evans)!

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This next one is truly a work in progress.  Out in the catch-all office and dining room, I hung a large {and I mean large} stretched fabric frame.  I purchased the wooden frame with a print that didn’t suit my space from a friend here, took off the printed fabric and stapled pieces of fabric that I liked better onto the frame. 

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The burlap with subway art began its life as a table runner. I cut that baby in half and stapled it on as well. To finish it off, I used the remaining burlap from the runner to create two flowers with rosette middles. All just scrap fabric that I purchased at a missionary yard sale. I got a large pile of remnants for about 200 shillings ($2.75) at that sale.

I think that’s all I have for now to share.  Although now that Veronica has a new apron, Ethan and Nate have been asking me to make them one so I think that project will be in the works soon…

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Rest & Retreat

I spent the weekend at Brackenhurst Conference Center in Limuru with about 75 other women from Africa Inland Mission at the 2013 AIM Ladies Retreat.  It was fabulous!  The grounds at Brackenhurst are just beautiful and make for such a relaxing, peaceful escape. 

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The theme of the sessions? Relationships. The speaker delved into our relationship with God, with others and with ourselves, highlighting issues with finding our identity in Christ (rather than in the approval of others, etc) and the process of forgiveness & reconciliation.  We concluded our sessions on Sunday morning by meditating on Isaiah 43:1-7 and celebrating Communion together. 

Several crafty options were available to participate in, as well as workshops on Scripture Memory and Journaling, among other things.  I’m hoping to post more on what the Lord is teaching me about these disciplines, but that’s for another day. 

Another valuable resource that was offered to us as missionary women was a free hour of counsel by AIM’s Tumaini Counseling Center.  Two counselors attended the retreat and were available to talk.  It was an optional sign-up, as were the workshops and crafts, but what a resource to have available!  I continue to be impressed at the care and concern that AIM has for its members: Tumaini being a major part of that.  You can find out more about their service to missionaries here.

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DSC_0084Roomies for the weekend,  photo by Jill Wills

As if those things weren’t enough, it turns out that two Pampered Chef parties were held in our honor back in the states a few months ago, where women could purchase items to be donated to us and all of the “host” earnings were also donated.  The speaker then brought with her (from the states) around 200 Pampered Chef items to be “given away” during the weekend.  I came home with a mix & scraper spatula and a set of flexible cutting mats!  So fun and thoughtful!!

It was a wonderfully refreshing and energizing ladies retreat and I’m so glad I could attend!  Dan did a great job at home with the kids all weekend, even without any internet connection (RVA’s internet went out on Friday afternoon and didn’t come back on until late morning on Monday).  He even hosted Caring Community on Saturday night and had lunch duty in the cafeteria on Sunday.  In fact, he did SUCH a good job, I may need to make retreats a more common practice. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The days are long but the years are fast

In this season of our lives, the days do seem long.  In fact, sometimes they seem longer now than ever before.  We are certainly busier now than ever before with most days and evenings scheduled for the next eight weeks of term.

I know people say that it goes by like a blink, that before your eyes children turn 10, then 18, and then 25 and wedding bells chime.  But in the midst of piles of legos and messy diapers and snotty noses and “mommy, I need this” and “please stop touching that,” some days seem never-ending. 

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Sometimes it seems trite and mundane to be blogging about the very same motherhood struggles and issues I would be if I were back in the states, as if I should only be posting on life-changing ministry happening here in Kenya.  But so much of what I do on a daily basis is struggle through this thing called motherhood and on some days, it really is a struggle. 

Christina Fox, over at The Gospel Coalition writes:

I want to speak the gospel into my son's heart. I want to show him Jesus and his need for a Savior. I want him to know that because of Jesus, he can come before God, messes and all. But so often my efforts at pointing him to the gospel fail in the midst of the heated moments and frustrating circumstances. I stumble through, feeling awkward and forced. And in his heightened emotional state, I don't know that he hears anything I say.  But God is gracious and fills in those gaps left by my imperfect parenting….

I would encourage you, especially if you find yourself in the same season of parenting that I am in, to read this post.  It did my soul good after a string of similar days.

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And you know how Ann speaks my heart over and over with her faithfulness and her giftedness at writing about the Truth.  I’ve read this post before and I read it again today and remember:

Motherhood is a hallowed place because children aren’t commonplace. Co-laboring over the sculpting of souls is a sacred vocation, a humbling privilege.  Never forget.

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Grace and peace to you today.  And may all you do be for His glory. And pray that for me as well,

 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Pray for Kenya

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The primaries for Kenya’s Presidential election are being held today.  After today, there can be no additional nominees for the presidency. Candidates can not simply switch parties and re-run as they’ve been allowed to in the past.  There is no indication currently that there will be trouble in the next few days, but if the past election is anything to go by, we can assume political rallies and demonstrations will take place.  Most will be uneventful, some may turn violent.

Of course, RVA has been through numerous election cycles, but many people have the most recent one in mind, five years ago.  Nearly half of the staff here at RVA served here during the 2008 post-election violence that rocked the nation of Kenya, leaving about 1,200 Kenyans dead and hundreds of thousands more displaced.  Though AIM enforced travel restrictions with concern for members’ safety and RVA delayed the start of second term by three weeks, Westerners were not a target and are not anticipated to be a target this time around. 

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Kenya is largely a more-stable nation in East Africa with an economy that has been doing reasonably well in recent years.  A lot of their stability and the stability of surrounding nations hinges on the legitimacy and success of this election on March 4th. 

So as you think of it, pray for Kenya.  Pray specifically for those in leadership here and pray for the grace of God to just pour on this country in the coming months.  Pray for our Kenyan friends mentioned here by name if you would.

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We count ourselves privileged to serve here with a mission organization who has been in Africa for over 100 years at a school with a 100+ year history as well.  Likewise, we count ourselves blessed to serve a risen Savior who has ordained everyday before one of them came to be. 

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And if you’re looking for more information, the council on foreign relations posted an article on the upcoming elections.  And a closer look at RVA life during the January 2008 situation can be found here, here, and here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

First Day of Preschool

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On Monday, the boys started preschool here at RVA. They were so excited – they were up & dressed by 7:30.  Ethan & Nate will go to preschool two days a week this term and next.  It will be run as a co-op, with the six moms taking turns teaching in teams of two.  We have nine 3-5 year olds.

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Starting preschool in January here in Kenya is a little different than starting preschool in January in Pennsylvania.  We slipped on shoes, grabbed our bags and set out to walk to school.  We didn’t have to bundle up, warm the car, load everyone & buckle carseats.  It was fabulous.  

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While they were at school, I swung by the Main Office and picked up a Kindergarten application for Ethan. We will have a school-age child come August.  Crazy.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

only at RVA

3 unique snapshots of the atmosphere on the campus here at RVA – all of which took place Friday morning.  Gotta love this place!  For other related observations, check out my recent teaching in Africa post.

1.  3rd period – Math 7:  A young lady walks into class slowly, holding something and approaches the front of the room where I am reading announcements for the day.  “Mr. Schmidt?”  “Yes, what is it, Abi?”  Certainly she forgot her homework or left her book in her locker – this would be a typical question right at the beginning of class, right?  Not here.  “Is it okay if I keep this here during class?”  “Keep what?”  She then proceeds to reveal what she’s holding – a lizard is sitting very still, presumably frozen in fear, in her hand.  It’s only about 2 inches long.  She caught it outside of her dorm shortly before class.  I can’t help but laugh.  “Sure, that’s fine – just keep it at your seat.”  Later that period, I was forced to relocate our guest to the back of the room due to distraction; it turns out when a lizard poops on the index card someone is holding, that student and several of her classmates think it’s pretty funny!

2.  4th period – Algebra 1:  I walk into my classroom after chai break.  On the board, a student has written something:

“Algebra, please stop asking us to find your x.  She isn’t coming back.”

Hilarious.  Laughed out loud and then proceeded to teach…how to find x.

3.  Then I was walking home for lunch.  As I proceeded up the steps and past one of my favorite trees on campus (it’s huge – the first branches don’t extend past the trunk until at least 12 feet up and the diameter at the base must be 7 or 8 feet), I am caught off guard briefly when it sounds like something just crashed to the ground behind me.  But in the next split second, I remember that Caleb (one of my 8th grade students) likes to eat his lunch while perched in that same tree and that Caleb also likes trying to get a rise out of his teachers by, for example, jumping out of a tree right behind them.  Turning around calmly, sure enough, I see his goofy grin and assure him, “Nice try, but I knew it was you!”

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Happy to share a little slice of life with you!

God bless,

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Renewal for this New Year

The second term of the school year began on Thursday the 3rd.  We were eased into the term by beginning with a two day school week.  I commented to Dan on Saturday that I feel a renewed sense of enthusiasm this January.  An enthusiasm I didn’t know in August when we began our first term here.

We were engulfed in traveling and speaking and support raising and moving and packing and moving again and good-byes from July of 2011 until we departed on July 9, 2012.  We went to Georgia, Chicago, Zurich, Nairobi and Machakos before landing at our home in Kijabe.  Once in Kijabe, we attended new staff orientation, language learning, and in-service before kicking off the first term, when 400+ students land here and all of campus is a flutter.  We had very little rest, very little advanced warning. 

Having one term under our belt, we better understand what to expect. We also had a five week break from the busyness and the schedules and the noise of term.  We were able to reflect on what went well and what went not-so-well for our family.  We relaxed, for the first time in over a year, really.  And it was SO restful. 

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The Lord really blessed the month of December for us as a family I think.  We expected December to be hard, our first Christmas in Africa, and we certainly would have preferred to be able to squeeze our loved ones and see our dear friends, but God did something unexpected this December. He covered us in peace.  He assured us of our place and our purpose here for this time.  He grew in us a love for this place and for people here.  And as a complete gift to us and to our families back home, we were able to communicate across the miles as if we were in the same room. 

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And so we come to January, the beginning of this new term, refreshed.  We come renewed and anticipating our roles. Dan has the same teaching schedule, and he will coach junior high boys basketball.  He will still cover Nyati dorm on Monday evenings as well.  I am taking on a few new responsibilities this term that I’m excited about.  I’m taking over as the Sunday School coordinator as well as helping the 10th grade sponsors with many class nights and activities.  This is quite a bit more than I took on first term, but I’m encouraged and excited about being able to serve in these capacities. 

He is certainly going before us and equipping us to serve and we are blessed by that.  

We appreciate your prayers and support and we really appreciated your generous feedback on our THANK-YOU video.  If you haven’t had a chance to watch it, please do. 

All of our love,

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy NEW Year!!

Would you take 6 minutes to watch a small thank-you video? We made it for you – Our friends, our family, our prayer warriors, our supporters! 

Though we would much prefer to say thanks in person (we miss so many of you immensely), consider this a big fat virtual group hug!

Praying God’s blessing on your family this year as we seek to Glorify Him in all we say & do. 

LOVE,

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