It was a bit of a rough day in regards to mood in our house yesterday. I have been reading a little bit about exercise and mood enhancement, and the correlation is pretty strong that exercise is good for mental health. This is especially true in anxiety and depression. I would say those are the most common struggles of many of us, and especially those of us living in a different culture. I tend to be more optimistic if I find time to exercise, and I envy those who find it easy to do. I do not always want to exercise, much less do I find the time to do it. And this is despite knowing the positive effects. So with everyone a bit down yesterday, I decided we were going on a walk. We would go to the caves and then up to the railroad tracks. A few short steep uphill sections followed by a meandering downhill walk. We noted some clouds in the sky, but it seemed like there was more sun than clouds. The old Boy Scout in me recommended we take some jackets. It was good that we did, because just as we reached the cave, the rain came. We decided we would cross-country home, bush-wacking, avoiding steep drop-offs, spraining wrists, and ruining clothing. But we made it. And you can decide for yourself from the picture whether it had a positive affect.
Allison is working hard at Rift Valley Academy. This a completely volunteer position for which she is not paid. In fact, none of the teachers at RVA are paid. They are all missionary teachers working to support the work of the school, and they are supported by generous people and churches in their home countries. This year Allison is teaching Spanish 3 and Spanish 4 after spending the last year teaching 9th grade English. She is also serving as the head of the World Languages Department . Both she and Will enjoy serving as 10th grade class sponsors– that’s David’s class. She is busy, but she is also thriving as she loves her students and she loves her subject matter. She feels grateful for important work too, as RVA provides a way for families to serve in some of the most difficult and remote places in Africa without sacrificing their children’s educational needs. You can see some of the cool things going on at school by following Rift Valley Academy’s Facebook page or Instagram page.
Thank you Stan Kwan for the photo. I am taking advantage of standing uphill in this photo to maintain height advantage.
I’m taking a break from watching the monkeys play on the trees outside our kitchen window to write a bit about our crazy kids. This week we watched Coco as a family. The Spanish, the Spanglish, the painted concrete walls and big metal gates, the music, the way even the grandmother was drawn, with her apron and her tough square body type, made us all feel nostalgic for Peru, nostalgic for speaking Spanish and for our friends and our life in South America. Sarah reported the next morning that she had lain in bed “feeling very sad about missing Peru” afterward. Annie said watching the movie “made her feel like home.” We bought the soundtrack and sang along loudly in Spanish. A part of our hearts are with Latinos, and it made me remember again how important that has been and will be in our kids’ development.
Speaking of part of kids’ development, I’m teaching A Tale of Two Cities now, and as we discuss corrupt governments, wealthy people who don’t care, poverty, oppression, and worrying about providing food for your malnourished children, I see that most of my students understand. They have seen it firsthand. My students are, for the most part, grateful on a level that first world students will not experience. In a similar vein, Sarah had her birthday party last weekend and we played games with water, had chocolate cake and popcorn, and played some music for musical chairs. Her presents included a candy bar and a used stuffed animal. Every party participant expressed many thanks and enthusiasm for the simplest pleasures.
Annie’s birthday party, delayed a week because of Dad’s call schedule, was Friday night. Her friends came over to have pizza and outside games, but the rainy season may have arrived on March 1st, and it was raining like crazy. Annie and I went to the school gate to pick up her friends. On the way down, we saw many fluttering insects—I have heard them called flying termites—think dull brown, overgrown dragonflies. One girl squealed, “Ooh! The termites are here!” and squatted down to pick one up. Soon all six were holding a wriggling bug by the wings, watching it squirm. I smiled to myself, thinking “Only a group of missionary girls would react this way.” Then, one of the girls ate one. O.K. There you go. Wow. We got home and turned on some music while I finished preparing the pizza toppings. Every girl was dancing and singing unashamedly to Toby Mac. The third culture kid experience combined with a Christian family culture makes for a pretty awesome group of kids. We love getting to spend time with this unique group.
From our family to yours, we wish you the best Christmas Day. As we have focused during the Advent season on our sinfulness, desperation, and need for a savior, this Christmas seems especially sweet. God is very good, and a great light and hope are revealed by the birth of his son Jesus Christ whom we celebrate today. So Merry Christmas to all, and a Happy New Year to come!