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.
We will leave for Kenya in 2 weeks. We are enjoying America until then. Actually we enjoyed it already. Now for two weeks of packing. . . . I like the last picture. I imagine Allison is checking the internet to be sure we have everything in the bear box that should go there, but she is probably playing Sudoku.
First to my mother . . .
And then to the other, very important and special mother in our family’s life.
While we’ve been home this year, we decided to try to make life more “normal:” we put the kids in school, we travel on the weekends only occasionally, we got a Sam’s card and a library card, we go out to eat, but not in a “let’s eat this because we won’t have it for the next few years” way. One of my concessions to the “normal” US life was to join the local Richardson rec center so that I can exercise out of the weather. It is one of my quiet pleasures to go ride the stationary bike at “the gym” as I call it. I take my Kindle and I read Middlemarch (it’s so insightful) and I enjoy feeling the burn deep in my buns. There is one big room with gigantic ceiling fans, three recumbent bikes, one regular bike, three or four treadmills, and about six elliptical machines, plus a few weight machines and a set of free weights and benches. Soft eighties music floats through the air, or just the shush of the machines in action.
There is a group of mixed ages and ethnicities who get together for a class at about 8:45. They give each other gentle fist bumps and stretch and talk about politics and local news. There are several nice trainers who have advanced-in-years clients. They exude patience and encouragement. There are a couple of fit moms who come and sweat on the machines a bit. I can smell man or two as soon as they enter the room– time to wash those workout clothes! As I pick up my card and sweatshirt on the way out, I can see into the front room, where some elderly Asian men play fierce rounds of table tennis, joking as they bend to pick up the escaping ball.
It is a shame we have so few of these community meeting places any more. I’m pleased to be a part of such a beautiful slice of life, a holdout of days gone by.
Here is a video about where Allison will be teaching and where the kids will be attending classes.