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.
Last year was not my best year for blogging. But every year is new. I will try and do better. It was so great to see so many of our friends while we were back in the USA during the month of December. We laughed and cried with friends. We shared stories, and most of all we got to be in the presence of many of you for whom we care much. But we did not see everyone. That makes us a bit sad, and it makes us feel irresponsible for not connecting with everyone. I promise we try and do the best we can! We are thankful for all of you.
This year we are going to try and experience more joy! Happiness is a gift (and dare I add a command) of God, and I am praying that he will bring more and more of it to our family. Life in a different culture can be hard, missing friends and family is definitely difficult, and watching the “American Dream” (and I mean that in all of its positive aspects, not in a cynical manner) pass you by is challenging. And yet we have so much in life that can and should give us joy. We have our local family, our local friends, a good work to do, and great weather and scenery in which to do it. Thank you God for all of that!
So I hope to share some of our joy in our work and life here in Kenya. Let us all be joyful in 2019! I am starting the joy with this picture I took on a walk today. The Great Rift Valley which extends from the region of the Dead Sea to our south passes right outside out door. We see it every day.
I’m doing a lot of thinking about eyes lately. The most graphic reminder is our precious daughter, Sarah. Look at her poor eye!
This pitiful looking burn is brought to you by a bug, ironically named “Nairobi Eye.” If you crush them or even, as Sarah did, flick them off you, they release an acid that burns the skin. We have had a major infestation on campus, as well as a few around our house. I washed one down the shower drain the other morning, as I did not want to bathe with it. Sarah was playing outside with her friends, climbing on playground equipment, and one of these beetles dropped on her face.
Although I feel a wave of sympathy every time I look at her, I keep reminding myself to be so thankful that she did not get the acid inside her eye.
I am leading the ninth grade through The Chosen by Chaim Potok. I don’t want to spoil anything for those of you who have not read it (you should!), but in the first few chapters the narrator wonders if he might lose his eye. I was telling my classes that my mom lost her right eye and functioned very well for twenty years more! It is a brilliant metaphor in the book for the character’s awakening, for his experience of seeing things with new eyes, reconsidering all his assumptions. It makes me wonder what I need to re-see, what I assume is truth that needs to be upended. Living in another country will do that to you– challenge your assumptions, so that you can see better.
The best recreational activities in Kijabe, just as they were in Peru, are biking and hiking. Peter came on the 4×4 with a bike wrench so that I could put the screw back in and ride home. If it had not been for some school kids walking home from school along the road who found my screw and delivered it to me I would have been without a working bike until I could find a replacement part. I am thankful for honest Kenyan children. As I called home to get help, I felt them sneaking up behind me and touching my white skin. I hope they liked the way my sweaty white skin felt.