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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Continued Prayers for Peace

On Monday, at over 30,000 polling stations across the country, Kenyans will vote in their presidential election.  I wrote briefly in January asking for you to pray for this country, the nominees, and the people of Kenya.  Your prayers for peace and unity among Kenyans are still greatly appreciated, as we long to see continued growth and development in this relatively stable country in East Africa. 

The above document comes directly from the US Embassy in Nairobi.  It lays out where we are as far as peaceful elections are concerned and is worth a read.  We are kept well-informed here at RVA through the Embassy and our Asst. Superintendent. 

And we are praising God already that the weeks prior to elections have gone remarkably well (especially in comparison to five years ago)!  As our Assistant Superintendent said in an email earlier this week, we have seen very little trouble around the country, the currency continues to be stable, and we’ve had no warning signs like food/fuel shortages.  People seem legitimately determined to have peace.  Continue to pray toward that end. Campaigning will officially end around the country on Saturday, things should be quiet on Sunday and voting happens on Monday.

That being said we are preparing for anything by having stocked up on a few weeks worth of groceries in case travel restrictions confine us to Kijabe.  Kijabe hospital is making preparations with extra supplies on hand to accommodate additional patients or in case supplies are unable to reach the hospital.

We do appreciate your prayers for peace in this season and your prayers for our family as always. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

A.N.T.S.

Pinching Ants.  Army Ants.  Safari Ants.  Siafu (kwa Kiswahili).  They go by a few names.  They march in lines, thousands at a time.  And you do not want to stand in their way or sit down on them (as Ethan found out).  

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They can usually be found on any given day in our yard or driveway and if you happen to get in their way, they attack.  They prefer to wait until they’re on soft thin skin to bite, so they crawl to places like your inner thigh or your armpits and bite, sometimes drawing blood.  But they’re also quick.  If you happen to put your flip-flopped foot in a line of siafu, you will instantly have 20+ starting up your ankles.   They hide in your clothes and will pull a sneak attack when you think you’ve gotten all of them off.  Really, the only remedy seems to be to shed all clothing and change, pick them all off of your skin, and then wash your clothes. 

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My kids have gotten into pinching ants so often that Evie now proclaims “Ants!” every time she has an itch, whether she’s been outside or not. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

On the Discipline of Memorization

I’ve always been interested in hiding the Word of God in my heart, but at the same time I’ve lacked the stamina and stick-to-it-ness that it takes to retain that Word.  In my quiet times during the spring of 2010, when I was preparing to go to Central African Republic, the Lord really laid on my heart memorizing Scripture and I was able to memorize Psalm 103 and Psalm 139 in that season.  I look back fondly on that time now as a time when I felt particularly close to the Lord. I don’t know how much the act of memorizing had to do with that closeness I felt, but I have often wanted Him to press me to take up that discipline again.  I’ve let a thousand things come before memorizing His Word in the years since that spring, and just recently He started pressing again.

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The women’s Bible Study I’m involved in (did you know I was involved in a Thursday morning study?) is doing Beth Moore’s study of James this term and next.  People returning from home assignment this December carried with them in their luggage 5 or 6 or 10 copies of James: Mercy Triumphs for the women of Kijabe station to do. In fact, that’s usually the way we receive Bible Studies here at RVA.  Supporting churches will donate studies and we will buy up books from abroad and send them in the luggage of returning staff! 

I confess that this is the first Beth Moore study I’ve ever been involved in, and its my understanding that this particular study is set-up differently than some of the other ones.  In it, she greatly encourages women to take on memorizing the entire book of James.  yep - the entire book.  you read that right.  She also encourages them to write out the entire book.  again, yes.  Write it out.  all of it. 

It sounds crazy and skeptic of skeptics, I thought so too.  It was work for me to memorize the 22 verses of Psalm 103 and the 24 verses of Psalm 139.  This is 5 whole chapters.  And who wants to write that all down?  Well I may try writing it out, but I can’t memorize that much…

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I have to say, I had no intention of enjoying writing out the book, but it really helps with retention when I put pen to paper and jot down James’ words.  The same strategy that works for grocery lists and to-do lists, reciting words as I scribble them on paper, burns the memory of those words in my mind. 

In the writing, the memorization began.  A gentle nudging by the Holy Spirit, no doubt.  It is possible.  I could tackle this discipline … and fall in love with the Word in the process. 

So far I am only through verse 15 of chapter one and currently working on verses 16-18.  I have a long way to go and I don’t know if I’ll get through it all or not, but I do know the Lord is calling to mind Scripture from James at all hours of the night and when I’m going about my day.  And for that I am thankful. The Holy Spirit helping me to memorize, when I get awake in the night, “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ…”

So far its been both encouraging and convicting, but isn’t that just how God’s Word is? 

I'd encourage you to listen to what Dr. Piper has to say about Scripture memorization.  

Maybe He’s prompting you as well to begin memorizing a verse or a chapter or a book. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Have a LOVE for teaching & a HEART for missions?

I shared this photo a few weeks ago on my facebook page and I’m sharing it again today.  Have you sensed the Lord leading you to be more involved in missions? Do you have a God-sized dream that involves helping the Gospel go forth to the ends of the Earth? 

Dan and I have been incredibly blessed to serve alongside this Godly staff of 100+ people in our 7 months at RVA.  If He is calling you, won’t you respond in unhesitating obedience, Yes Lord.

RVA add

From our Superintendent in an email to the staff:

We have people in the pipeline for every major need but two. It is getting late enough in the year that I am beginning to wonder what God has in mind for us in these two positions.

I would appreciate your prayers in this and any help you can provide by continuing to let your supporters and friends know that we still need a high school English teacher and a high school Spanish teacher for next year.

These are urgent needs as the window of time for processing them and getting them out to RVA in time for the beginning of the year is rapidly diminishing.

Maybe you’re not ready to jump into a long-term 2+ year position here.  No problem!  These needs can be filled in a short-term capacity, by committing to one year here at RVA.  Contact Stephanie in AIM’s Short Term Department at shortterm.us@aimint.net.

We are praying for you, as you discern the voice of God and His leading in your life.  Maybe we will see you here in 2013! 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Geneva Magazine Article

We were contacted around the time of our departure in July by the publication department at Geneva College {our Alma Mater} asking if we would be willing to write an article regarding our missionary journey for the Winter 2013 Issue of Geneva Magazine.  Fortunately the article didn’t need to be written until November, giving us time to move to Kenya and settle in a little. 

*Notice who made the cover?!  That’s Dan’s dad overlooking the Rift Valley, just a few miles from RVA, when he was here visiting in Nov/Dec.  Our article begins on page 16!

We are exceedingly grateful for the opportunity to share with the Geneva community (and anyone who will listen really) about our story and specifically about the need for ministry to missionary families.

The Lord continues to grow in us a passion and desire to see Christian missionary kids discipled and nurtured in their own faith and Non-Christian missionary kids (and yes, there are plenty of those too) come to the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

To find out more about what we do, check out one of the links to the right under Learn More!  And if you would like information on coming alongside us financially click on the Consider partnering with us? link at the top of the page.  It gives detailed instructions on how you can give. 

Thank you so much for your continued support & encouragement!  Your prayers and financial gifts are keeping missionaries on the field, reaching the unreached of Africa.  THANK YOU!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Mourn with those who Mourn

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She showed up at my door in her usual way, sweater draped over her arm, holding a canvas shopping bag with a tea-towel covered plate of tortillas.  It was around lunchtime, her usual time to visit.  The day of the week was all wrong though.  It was Monday, she usually came on Wednesdays. 

Ethan greeted her and came to get me.  I went outside and hugged my sweet Kenyan friend Elizabeth hello!  She sat down on the porch and apologized for not coming last Wednesday.  I said that was OK and asked about her mother, who I knew was in the hospital previously.  Her eyes welled right up and she explained that her mother had passed on Wednesday morning and that is why she couldn’t come last week. 

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The burial would be this coming Wednesday so she was bringing my tortillas today, a Monday (10 from the last week she missed and 10 for this coming week). In the midst of her grief, this aging widow herself, thought to bring me two week’s worth of tortillas. 

We sat on the porch bench together for two hours on Monday.  I listened as she told story after story of her mom, stories from her childhood and stories from her adulthood.  She cried.  We prayed. 

Her mom lived for 96 years on this earth.  They held a memorial service at her church on Sunday for her and over 200 people came.  Elizabeth said one at a time, people shared how her mother taught them to memorize God’s Word in Sunday School as little children and told of the lasting impact her mother made in their lives.  Elizabeth is confident her mother is in the arms of Jesus and she will see her again.  And we thanked God for that, for leaving a lasting legacy to her 7 daughters of whom Elizabeth is one and to those 200+ Kenyans she impacted as well. 

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As I sat there with her that afternoon, I just prayed God would let me leave that kind of legacy.  That God would take this broken, sinful heart of mine and mold and shape it in such a way that His plan and His purposes and His love shine through.  I don’t know about having 200 people impacted by anything God does through me, but it’s my prayer that the 3 little people in my life are drawn closer to their Heavenly Father because of His gracious work in my life. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Field trip, anyone?

What was the last field trip you went on?  While teaching in Pennsylvania, the last field trip I attended was a day at one of the performing arts centers in downtown Pittsburgh, watching a play about Math.  Exciting stuff.  (Cough)

The options here are a bit different.  Here’s the agenda of the field trip we took last weekend.  The 9th and 10th grade boys Sunday School class goes on a camping/boys-to-men trip every year. 

SATURDAY:
7:00am – load two buses with 72 9th and 10th grade boys and 10 men as chaperones.

8:00am – Arrive at a local primary school in the Rift Valley.  Begin working on the day’s service project – laying the foundation for a new school building.  350 students attend in the current facility that would fit easily inside half of RVA’s gymnasium.  Below is a picture of one of the classrooms.  Every day 47 students (26 girls and 21 boys) cram inside, hoping one day they’ll test high enough to proceed past grade 8. 

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DSCN6088My fellow teachers, next time you’re tempted to complain about the quality/age of your textbooks, maybe try counting your blessings instead!

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It was no small task to keep 72 high-schoolers busy, but with enough shovels and a few hours of training, they really seemed to get the hang of mixing, pouring and grading the concrete – by 3:30 in the afternoon we had accomplished our goal: a concrete slab about 20 by 40 feet.

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DSCN6096Boys becoming men, and getting dirty in the process!

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DSCN6078These boys will be too old by the time the new school building is finished.  Most are in year 7 or 8 already.

4:00pm – Head to camp.  The head security guard at RVA is from the Maasai tribe and his family owns a decent plot of land down in the valley, not far from the school where we worked.  We spread out our things in the vicinity of an acacia tree (hard to fit 82 people under the same tree), and then we got ready for the goats.

DSCN6117The closest I’ll come to a McDonald’s Egg McMuffin for a while is sleeping on a tarp that advertises one!

4:30pm – Goat slaughter.  Two had already been butchered earlier in the day and were being boiled in a stew we would enjoy later.  But three unlucky beasts had the displeasure of being chased down by a bunch of crazy teenagers and dragged to their execution.  It was quite a scene!

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DSCN6116Everyone wanted a front row seat for the spectacle.  Their only regret was that they were only allowed to kill three!

DSCN6120Nothing like goat cooking over a open fire :)  The boys made sure each goat-part was taste-tested.  Their own version of missionary peer pressure.  I didn’t get anymore adventurous than trying a slice of the heart – tasted like a well-prepared steak.

6:30pm – Eat!  A goat slaughter is a great community event in Kenya.  Nyama choma, it’s called, and everyone comes out to enjoy.  Chapatis (so good!), mashed potatoes, goat (grilled and stewed), and cabbage were on the menu.

8:00pm – PRESENTS!  Each of the guys (and leaders) got a Maasai blanket, called a shika, as a gift.  Very cool – lots of us wore it to school on Monday.

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8:30pm – Devotions.  One of the leaders shared from Nehemiah about building things for God that last, even amidst criticism or lack of support.

9:30pm – Spring hare hunting.  Although I didn’t partake in this activity, it consists of going out into the bush with flashlights and finding rabbits.  By blinding them with your lights, apparently you can stun them to the point where chasing them down is a small possibility.  It ended up providing one of the best stories of the weekend.  Being pitch-black out due to cloud cover all night, one unlucky 10th grader was in hot pursuit of a hare right over the side of a cliff (rumored to be anywhere from 30 to 100 feet tall, depending on who’s telling the story!)  Thankfully he was able to walk away with nothing more than a sore hip and an injured pride.

10:30pm – Lights out.  Except that there is no electricity anywhere near where we camped, so I guess “flashlights out” is better.

SUNDAY:
6:30am
– Wake-up!  Do your best to recover from sleeping on the ground and breath another “Thank you, Lord” for keeping the hyenas away and not allowing the local giraffe herd to walk too close during the night. 

8:30am – Chai and mandazis for breakfast.  Very good, but very little…HUNGRY!

9:30am – Pow-Wow with the Maasai elders.  These guys were the real deal.  They shared with us about many things from their culture:  becoming a man, family life and responsibilities, hunting for lions – all very interesting.  The boys were allowed to ask any question they wanted.  After all our questions, the elders had a few questions for us!

The funniest came from their confusion about our relationship to women.  “When your wife does something wrong, do you punish her?”  or  “Why do white men want to hold hands and kiss their women?”  Overall, it was a great and eye-opening experience for all :)

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11:30am – Depart for RVA.  All in all it was a great trip – had a lot of fun getting to know some of my students outside the gates of RVA.  It was fun remembering what its like to be a teenager, and experiencing the adventure of camping through their eyes and in Africa for the first time.  I look forward to taking my own boys someday on trips like this, maybe killing a few things, and risking our well-being together as we bond like men.  Should be a good time.

So the next time you’re looking into field trip opportunities for a class or youth group or whomever, drop me a line and I’ll see what we can arrange here in Africa for you!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

An Inside Look at Kijabe Hospital {well worth 11 minutes of your time}


Just underneath our header is a tab that describes the vital role that Kijabe station, which includes both RVA and Kijabe Hospital, plays in missions in Eastern Africa.  While we focus mainly on RVA on that page, that is not to underscore the amazing work the hospital does in the name of Jesus Christ.

This 11 minute video beautifully articulates some of the crucially important work that Kijabe Hospital does for the poor and the sick.   They truly are the hands and feet of Jesus to a lost and broken and desperate world.

I'd be remiss if I didn't add that we are privileged to know and serve many of these doctors by teaching their kids.

Produced by one of the General Surgeons, Peter Bird, this video is written from the lens of a surgeon and does contain a few surgical images BUT its completely worth 11 minutes of your time today.

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