I have been studying Swahili intensely for the past several months. It is an interesting language with hard consonants combined with a floating lyrical song of vowels. Imagine a combination of German consonants against Hawaiian vowels. The structure is not too difficult, but the language has noun families that change every word associated with the noun in the sentence which can then make things confusing, especially for a beginner. I have enjoyed my teachers who have taught me a lot about culture as they have taught me about the language. Gideon is my primary teacher, and Kelvin is in training with him. Gideon being from Tanzania is quite proud of his Swahili, and he will state that Swahili was born in Tanzania, got sick in Kenya, and died in Uganda. I hope that knowing some Swahili will help me as I try and serve my patients in the hospital. Gideon is also a musician, and he states that he has to express himself in his clothing as he expresses himself in song. You may see what he means in the picture below.
I think when there are times of stress and possibly discouragement, the blog updates become less frequent. This month has been a challenge as Allison has started working full-time at the school, Will has been taking Swahili classes (getting his mind blown daily), and the kids have started adjusting to new classes. In the mix of that is trying to make some changes to the house, learning to how to keep the family fed in a new environment, and going a little stir crazy without a car. It is during these times when we remind ourselves that these challenges will pass, that it will all become somewhat comfortable, and we will know who we are here as we know who we are in Peru and in the USA. And I am thankful that we are able to be here to do good work that is not always easy, not always fulfilling, but always helpful and good. Please pray for our family that we will each make a good friend, especially the kids, but also Will and Allison. And please pray that we can learn to live in our new place with joy. Also pray that we will learn what it is and how it is to serve God in this new mission.
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.
Thank you to God that school is starting and that our kids can continue in their education at Rift Valley Academy. They have moved around a lot, and they have been blessed to go to some great schools such as Scofield Christian School and Dallas Lutheran School in Dallas, Texas as well as Colegio Diospi Suyana in Curahuasi, Peru. We are hoping and praying for more great opportunities for learning here in Kijabe, Kenya. Also Allison starts here first day teaching 9th grade English!
At least once every day I shall look steadily up at the sky and remember that I, a consciousness with a conscience, am on a planet traveling in space with wonderfully mysterious things above and about me. . . . I shall open my eyes and ears. Once every day I shall simply stare at a tree, a flower, a cloud, or a person. I shall not then be concerned at all to ask what they are, but simply be glad that they are. I shall joyfully allow them the mystery of what Lewis calls their “divine, magical, terrifying, and ecstatic” existence.[ 23]
Alcorn, Randy. Happiness (p. 282). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
I have a friend April who goes on walks or runs or swims almost everyday, and she takes Instagram photos of what she sees giving some sort of fun quote or Bible verse that snaps the experience into focus. These images and quotes always encourage me, and they challenge me to pay attention to what is going on around me for which I can praise God.
We were having an “Ask Allison” time at dinner last night, and the question was posed to her “How do you stay optimistic and joyful?” And she mentioned that recently when she was tempted to dwell in discouragement as she was walking home from the school, thinking of all the lesson plans and teaching she had in front of her, she heard a bird sing, and she was reminded that God had made it all, and that the song of that bird was one of his gifts to us. And her worries lifted some, and her optimism and joy settled in again.
This morning I could hear the monkeys yelling as I read my Bible. What weird and wonderful animals they are!
And I found this quote, and I remembered April and Allison. I want to look around at what God has done and is doing in his creation for the sake of remembering the happiness I have in him!
Dogs are funny animals. Chardonnay is our new dog, and she came with the house. She seems to have her favorites already. Will wins with C always coming to him preferentially to all the others in the family. Next seems to come David or Allison and then she defers to individuals based on age. How she does that is not clear, but we wonder if it is how deep a voice a person has or their size. So Sarah likes to take C on walks by herself so the she can get all the dog love and attention given only to her. Two or three times a day she will come in and ask if she can take C for a walk. She puts on the leash so C knows it is OK to leave and off they go. Sarah seems to really be liking life here, although she has had some fears because of all the concerns of violence around the Kenyan presidential elections. She is outside all the time. She loves on the dog and the chickens. She loves collecting their eggs. She checks on the monkeys. She looks at all the birds. She is studying the flowers. I am glad she is here, and I especially like to see her smile next to her dog Chardonnay.
Peter took these pictures when he was carrying trash to the caged cans that are supposed to be "monkey proof". Instead he found the monkeys eating the trash.