4th of July….if we were out of school for every holiday of the countries represented at RVA, the kids would never learn! So July 4th was another day of school. MiKenna and Brody did do a couple special things in their classrooms, Michael headed up a student softball game, and then our family celebrated with another American family by having a good old-fashioned cook-out!
The funny thing about living at 7000ft above sea level in the Southern Hemisphere in July is that the weather is opposite what we are used to. While many of our friends and family members are putting on sunscreen and heading to the beach these days, we are cozied up by the fire and drinking hot cocoa. Instead of shorts and t-shirts, we resort to lots of fleece, flannel and sweats.
In America, Brody would have participated in the annual K4 Preschool Program at the end of this school year (which was really difficult for this Mama to accept). Instead, us moms helped put together a fairly elaborate (considering that it was planned in ONE day) preschool graduation for his class. It was a wonderful celebration of this milestone in Brody’s life.
Our previous school finished their year back in early June and RVA just completed their year this past week. Here, our breaks are spread fairly evenly over the course of the school year, so we have about a month off every 3 months. These breaks allow time for rest and rejuvenation, which is necessary in order to effectively serve the students when they return to campus.
We are experiencing a heavy transition period at RVA right now. Not only did the 75-member Senior Class just graduate and every boarding student went home for this vacation, but many staff are also in transition as we speak. Some are leaving for good, some for a school term, some for a few weeks. For some, God has called to a different ministry elsewhere in Africa, and others are on their way from their home countries to begin serving here at RVA for the first time. Though we have only been in Africa for 10 months, each of us has become close with and have been impacted by those who are leaving. It’s hard. For us as adults. For the students. For our own small children. We all sort of become family here, living day in and day out with one another. When speaking about this transition, our Staff Chaplain was given great advice which he passed on to us, “You have to have a soft heart….and thick skin.” So true.
There are certain things that, when you find them in the grocery store, you get LOTS of them, because they may not be there next time!!! For me, it’s canned green chiles. For our friend, Becky, it’s canned black beans. (found those for her yesterday…may have bought 20…)
Before coming to Africa, we heard stories of missionaries and were asked to pray for persecuted people who were halfway across the world, many with whom we had no personal connection. Now we are living halfway across the world and those people are our students, staff and their families. Last week we received a call at 10:30 pm from the prayer chain because the parents of one of our staff members were hearing gunshots, from recent civil unrest, outside their home in South Sudan. We dropped everything to cry out to God for His protection and for peace to come over the fighters. The next morning we received good news that the gunfire ceased and the family made it safely through the night. Many of our students’ families face similar situations and we consider it a privilege and honor to be able to mentor, support and pray for them.
I’m not afraid to cook something from scratch anymore. It used to intimidate me to have to do anything “homemade.” I was confident using boxed mixes, buying pre-shredded cheese (oh, how I miss Harris Teeter’s buy 2, get 3!), and using ready-made ingredients. Now, I don’t blink an eye if I have to knead a loaf of french bread, drain the whey from buttermilk to make sour cream, blend up some fresh salsa, whisk together alfredo sauce that beats any jarred kind we’ve ever had, or mix some molasses with white sugar to make brown sugar. And we have joined with other families to recreate favorite restaurant meals from places such as Outback, Bojangles, and Islands Fresh Mex.
Our family has been exposed to various types of ethnic foods (and we’ve actually liked them). Since arriving to Kenya, we have tried Korean, Ethiopian and, of course, lots of Kenyan. From kimchi to shiro-wat to samosas and chapatis, we have enjoyed connecting with different cultures through food. Pictured here is MiKenna eating Korean with some students.
Baseball is not Kenya’s favorite past time. But many of the students here at RVA enjoy it, and so does Michael. He organized this game with the Sophomore class and about 60 kids rotated playing softball on July 4th. It was a blast for all (especially for me as I watched my husband doing what he loves). We are thankful that God knows us so perfectly. And in the words of a mature 11th grade RVA student, “When we give up our passions to follow God, He somehow gives them back to us.”