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!
Our family arrived in Kenya nearly three months ago now. David started high school, Peter started junior high, Allison started full-time work, Will started a new language and work in a new hospital, Annie started playing soccer, and Sarah started ballet classes. We have a new house, new pets, new walks, new friends, new challenges, and new victories.
Will has entered hospital life. The administrators are happy to schedule him in the OB Departments, Family Medicine Clinic, and the ER Department; I know he is much needed and hopefully much appreciated.
Every day, we are grateful for those of you who are praying for us, who are standing with us in this new place. We have very much needed the prayers! Thank you for being part of our team. The Lord is doing many amazing things here and we are excited to be witnesses.
Here’s another part of the truth: it is more expensive in Kijabe than we anticipated. Food costs, schooling costs, and household expenses are higher than in Peru but we are receiving less money per month. We are doing a few things to our house, like installing curtain rods, making space for a dryer, buying a dryer, and buying a few pieces of furniture from leaving missionaries. We are hoping to buy a car when we have our work visas, although the cost of cars is surprisingly high.
This summer as we were preparing to leave, many of you asked us “How are you financially? Do you have what you need?” We knew our budget might have been a bit tight, but we thought we’d see how things looked once we got here. Three months in, it’s time to pass this prayer request along to you, our friends and supporters.
We are asking the Lord to provide one thousand dollars more per month. Would you pray with us? If you know someone who might like to join our team, would you pass this along to them? Mostly, would you ask the Father to work in us to will and to act according to His good pleasure? Thank you.
We live by the Great Rift Valley. On Saturday mornings it is a pleasure to get Allison, leave the kids behind, and walk 30 minutes out to the cliffs to look over one of the longest inhabited areas of the world. It is changing rapidly. Just 30 years ago there were zebras and other wildlife roaming through the valley behind us. They are still there, and you will see them sometimes when driving through it. But I do not think it is like it was. But I am glad we still have all the birds, monkeys, and baboons roaming through our neighborhood. On the very hike when this picture was taken, Allison and I found ourselves in the forest surrounded by a troop of 10-20 baboons. Luckily we had Chardonnay our dog going crazy barking at them to keep them at a distance. They can be aggressive, and it is wise to keep your distance. But they are so interesting, you cannot help but stop and look for awhile.
We have a super friendly garden guy named Isaac. As soon as he met us, he asked for permission to tear out a lot of the old growth on our property and plant some “contrast,” as he calls it, plants instead of bushes. He brought cuttings from different people’s yards and planted the most scraggly bits of plant all over. It looks pathetic. He has been faithfully watering, though, and some are starting to take root.
Friday morning I was walking to school and mildly shaking my head at the puny struggling plants when I realized, “This is us.” We just need time and we are going to be beautiful, flourishing, joy-giving. Right now we’ve been transplanted. God, like Isaac, has given us manure—not literally, but challenges, joys, new friends, His Holy Spirit, trials—in order to help us grow. He has faith that we will be lovely one day. Isaac says, “Just wait and see.”
But right now we feel a bit pathetic. We look like we are on our way through death to life. A passerby might see something a bit wilty.
Some of us are growing fine right alongside someone who needs a bit more time in order to flourish.
We meet people who have been here several years and they have lovely flowers, their family looks like it was meant to be planted right here, growing together. What is their secret? Mostly just more time. They are not as new a transplant as we are.
Please pray for quick-growing roots, for just the right fertilizer for each Caire, for God’s pruning and for patience until we sprout some new leaves.
Please pray for the students and families of Rift Valley Academy this weekend. Today was the new student and parent orientation and tomorrow is called “Arrival Day,” which means that the dorms will be filling up with our boarding students for the next school year. It also means lots of goodbyes, as parents drop off their kids and go back to the countries where they serve.
We are part of the new family group, so we’ve been at orientation also, getting tours of the school and learning about all the activities and programs the kids can be involved in. However, we got to walk down the gravel trail to our home with all four kids. Blessedly, at this time, all four kids have said that they are happy that they still live with us—ha!
I stood in my classroom for an hour this afternoon while new parents and students walked through their high school schedule. Ninth grade is a time when many families decide to make a change from homeschooling or local schooling to American schooling. RVA is their best option, even if means boarding their kids. I met so many wonderful parents who fell into three categories—totally chilled because this child is the second, third, or fourth in their family to start at RVA or happy for their kid and relieved not to be homeschooling anymore or nervous but making a peaceful truce with the situation. It was inspirational to hear about where they work and what they do. These people are spreading God’s love in some tough places. Please pray that I can be an excellent teacher to honor the trust they are placing in us. I can tell I’m really going to enjoy spending time with these kids.