Goodbye Rift Valley Academy Buffalos! Come on Abilene Christian University Wildcats!! David managed to graduate well, avoiding too many demerits while being in National Honor Society and winning the award for the best Senior student in the Social Studies department which he demonstrated by being a part of the African Model United Nations, taking multiple AP history classes, and being enrolled in the most Social Studies classes of any student in his class. He was proud to have his first term late night boxing match (RVA legend making) mentioned by the school’s graduation speaker from the podium. Last week he went on his “Senior Safo” to the beach, and last night we ended the day with a small graduation party at our house.Today we will take him to his favorite restaurant in Nairobi right after we get our preflight COVID tests done. We are looking forward to his next steps at ACU? Do we have a future businessman, politician, or lawyer? Could we hope for a university professor? The next four years (maybe more) will sort it out!
It has been a weird four years. Moving to Kenya as a freshman and then all the losses COVID caused. David heads out on his Senior trip tomorrow. We are super happy for him! He graduates next Saturday. Hopefully we will have a trip to the our favorite restaurant in Nairobi to celebrate the following day, and then back to Dallas. The group in the picture above were the core of his friends. Not all of them made it through all four years as their families moved home or away, but they flew back this summer after they finished school in the US to have one last hurrah in Kijabe! I am thankful for each of them. We had barely arrived in Kenya in 2017, and on our first full day in town this group walked by the house and invited David to go up the hill with them for a bonfire. That was the beginning and they have been good friends since. God has been good to David with these loyal friends. Now we look forward to how God gives him friends at ACU!
RVA usually has quite a few trips planned during the year. Poor David has missed two big ones he was supposed to take because of the COVID pandemic. One was to Zanzibar, and the other was probably to Ethiopia. Sarah missed her sixth grade safari last year. We are hoping that the seniors get to go on their Senior Safo to the beach at the end of the year. Missing that will bring the entire last two years to a crashing, sad end. Most of the kids that we know will at that point be glad to have high school behind them and moving on to hopefully better things in college. My friend Matt tells his kids, and I echo “You don’t want to peak in high school!” No worries about that for this year’s RVA class. Below are some pictures of Sarah with the 7th and 8th graders at Hell’s Gate National Park. They did rock climbing, repelling, cycling, and hiking. The rock climbing and repelling were reported as fun, no one chose hiking, and the cycling was hot and tiring. However, the cycling had the climax of having giraffes and zebras running alongside at about 10 feet distance. That is pretty cool!
Every year the sophomores put on a dinner for staff and upper class students. Last year it did not occur. This year it looked different, as it had to be outside. Instead of serving tables, they delivered dinners to homes and a few brave souls ate outside the main administration building. We were one of them. This time of year in Kijabe it gets cool at night. So the students sat down on the outdoor basketball court around chimineas. We sat on the porch and shivered. We enjoyed watching the students try and make a go of it under tough circumstances, while we wondered why we were sitting in the cold instead of having it delivered to our house. The food was pretty good too.
Today, after multiple attempts, Allison and the kids flew out to Dallas toward Nairobi. Allison received her tourist visa this morning, and so we got up early and had the tickets changed and put everyone but me on a plane today at 3PM. I am so glad for them. It allows them to avoid sitting in a 2 week quarantine in Kijabe before they could attend school in person. So tomorrow around noon our time in Dallas, Allison and the kids should be landing in Nairobi. Yeah!
As of this writing, Kenya has all schools closed at all levels. Our hospital does not have its nursing school open. Medical schools are closed in the country along with theological schools, high schools, universities, and grade schools. Even most training programs are shut down, which means many of our Kijabe students in advanced areas such as anesthesia and critical care are not in classes. We still have our interns, but we cannot do large classes with them. So with all of that stopped, it is not a surprise that Rift Valley
Academy is closed as well. Our next term does not start until the very end of August, so you could propose that there is a chance it could possibly be open in the fall if the government changes its rules. However, schools are not scheduled to restart until September at the earliest, and then only in stages. And there is word that boarding schools may be some of the last to open. RVA is basically in an all or nothing situation. We open all the way with all or our grades and students, or we offer online classes. There is not the staffing to do it any other way. And so the school had to close for the fall. We are praying for the Spring. I want to get back to the hospital, and David, as a Senior next year, wants to be a graduate of RVA. Allison wants to teach her students in person, and the others want to see their friends and be back to their normal lives which are here in Kijabe.
We fly home tomorrow. I have been working in the ICU all week and Allison has been working on her online teaching and department evaluations. The kids are still in school because RVA does not end classes until mid July. So there is a lot of packing that has to happen tonight to prepare for a 6 month visit to the US! We are looking forward to being home for an unexpectedly long period of time. It gives David more chances to visit some colleges. Maybe the kids can be in marching bands (is that even possibly going to happen)? We can see our parents, grandparents, and cousins. We can happily see our friends! Maybe I can go snow skiing! Maybe Allison can do BSF in person? There is lots to look forward to even as we try to not look behind too much.