Crescent Island

Crescent Island

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Obstacles for exercise

I'll be honest, I have slacked off on my regular running schedule since arriving in Kijabe. There are a few things that have held me back.
View of the valley from my run
The first is that the school is at almost 8,000 feet above sea level. And even just walking from one part of campus to another leaves me very much out of breath. I wanted to give myself time to get used to that. Unfortunately, everyone here told me that it will take me months to actually get used to the elevation.
View from the guards trail that I run on
Another view from where I run
Another excuse that I have used in avoiding exercise is that I've been "settling in and getting used to my schedule". Which is true, but that's not a real reason to avoid exercise. In fact, I should have gotten a jump on it sooner so that it would be a part of my regular schedule.

Then I had finally started to go on morning runs with a friend, when I was hit by a cold. We started to do three morning runs a week on the guards trail that is a 2 mile loop around campus. Then she got sick, and we went another week without regular exercise.

This is a colobus monkey
The good news is that I am finally feeling better, and wanted to get back into the rhythm of regular exercise. Especially since I just committed myself to hiking Mt. Longonot over mid-term. Sunday was so beautiful, I decided I would go for a late afternoon run. I was about halfway through the loop when I found another terrifying obstacle on my path. I first noticed a few colobus monkeys in a tree near the path, watching me run. Up ahead, I saw another tree moving - a clear sign that monkeys were there - and I expected to see more colobus monkeys. When I turned the corner near those trees, I saw several baboons on the path ahead. I quickly, and quietly, turned around and found another path to take to continue on the loop. No way was I going to run past those terrible primates.
A baboon - for reference
I did finish the loop, and enjoyed the scenery along the way. It is hard work, but worth it as long as I can get past all the obstacles. Please pray that I can keep up with my schedule and be prepared for the hike on Mt. Longonot.

Saturday, September 26, 2015


One thing I had wondered about when preparing to move out to Kenya was the community of friends that I would build here. Would I spend time with families? Would I be the only single person? Would there be anyone else my age?

Since getting here, I have been very lucky to meet several other single, female missionaries on campus that are around my age. It has been great to have a group of ladies to spend free nights and weekends with. They all understand what it means to be living this life, especially as a single woman.

Katie with Monte - Cassandra's great dane puppy
Emily, Katie, Liz and me at New Parent Orientation
Me and Cassandra being our regular selves
Cassandra and Emily on our way to the dukas (shops)
In this group we have 3 dorm moms, 1 student teacher, 1 photographer for Cure (which is just down the hill from RVA), a P.E. teacher/basketball coach, and me. We are all single women between 21 and 31 years old, and most of us are in our first year serving in Kijabe.

As a group we keep each other sane, sharing food, laughter and stories from our days. We have encouraged each other and supported each other as only single female missionaries can. On our nights off, we share left over food and watch fun movies together and talk about things we are struggling with and how God is working in us and through us.

I am so thankful to God for bringing these women into my life. Already, I know that they will be people that I keep in touch with for a long time after we all leave Kijabe. Unfortunately, three of them are only here for 1st term, and will be leaving in December. We are all aware that time is short, and we are taking advantage of the time we have here together.

In just two weeks we have our mid-term break, and we are looking at some fun day trips for us all to take together. We are planning on heading to Karen, a city just west of Nairobi, to check out the Giraffe Center, elephant orphanage and Kazuri beads. We also plan to do another day to Kitengela Glass and Amani Ya Juu. Hopefully we'll have some good adventures, and good rest over the break. And I plan on taking lots of pictures to share with you.

In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy my full schedule and productive class time with all of my students.

Prayer requests:

  • Campus has been hit pretty hard with a couple rounds of sickness so far this term. We would all love prayers for rest and good health for all of the students and staff. 
  • I also ask that I can continue to wisely plan my time, and not overwhelm myself by getting involved with too many things. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Missionary Kids say the darndest things

I have been here for a month and a week, and have been teaching for 2 1/2 weeks; and I am exhausted but absolutely loving it. The kids are amazing - hard working, thoughtful, and so fun - and the other staff and faculty here are so supportive and encouraging. My schedule is a little hectic, but I am starting to get into the rhythm of this life. And I am starting to learn what these missionary kids are like.

Since term has started, I have decided to keep a list in my notebook of all the things the kids here at RVA say to me. The Titchies (elementary school kids) say some really funny things, and if I don't have them written down somewhere I'll completely forget. Here are a few examples for your enjoyment:
"That lipstick is really bright! ...It's distracting." - 3rd grader
[after politely raising their hand] "Did you just have a baby?" - 1st grader
"Your face is really white." - 1st grader

The Junior High and High School students also catch me off guard with what they say, but in a very different way. As a few people have said to me, the kids here at RVA like to go deep right away. When my friend Cassandra and I had our first Caring Community - seven 9th-grade girls - we had a time where they could ask questions to get to know us. I was expecting questions like "what is your favorite color?", "where are you from?", "who's your celebrity crush?". That is not what we got - well, we had a few of those questions. However, the girls asked questions like "Do you vote Republican or Democrat?", "What you believe about abortion rights?", and "Do you think America is going to fall like the Roman Empire fell?". 9th grade girls asked these questions! To say this surprised me, is an understatement.

These girls are just trying to figure out their worldview, and they are searching for opinions from all the Christians around them. They are trying to find the "right answer", however, the world is too complicated to have one right answer, and these issues themselves are complicated.

My prayer is that I may be able to engage in conversations with the kids here honestly, but carefully, so that they are seeing my heart and my relationship with Christ at the center of my answers to these questions. This will probably be something that I am learning from and growing in the entire time I am here. I know it won't always be comfortable or easy, but God will be working in every one of those moments.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Feeding the Five Thousand

Hello all! I know it has been a little while since I have written an update about life here at RVA, but the beginning of the school year is a hectic time. The past couple of weeks have held class, and music, and many meetings. But so far, I am loving it here. 

This past weekend was especially busy, as we had variety night (a night where every student signs up to do a different activity at different staff memebers' houses), caring community (each staff member is assigned a group of around 8 students that they meet with throughout the year), and outreach. 

For Outreach, I signed up to be a part of the group that organized and held a thrift shop at the IDP camp just down in the valley from RVA. IDP stands for internally displaced person. The IDP camp was formed following the violence from the 2007-2008 elections here in Kenya. The people who live in these camps had to flee their homes, and many people lost their lives. They still do not have permanent residence outside of these kinds of camps. Below is a map I found on the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre website. It gives you some idea what I'm talking about and the estimate of IDPs here in Kenya. 

Here at RVA, we get a large store of "thrift" items donated by students and staff when they leave at the end of their time here. We had shoes, clothes, kitchen items, bath products, books, toys, and school supplies that we took down. Our group of about 15 went down early on Saturday morning to organize the items that had been taken the day before. We set up in the church at the camp. Then we escorted people through the church to pick their 10-15 items. It felt like Jesus feeding the five thousand. More and more people came and lined up, nearly pushing to get in the door, and somehow we never ran out of thrift items to give away. By the time we had to leave, there were still more people and more items to give. It was quite amazing to see. I loved meeting the women I walked through with, and trying to communicate. Many of them were focused on getting just the right things, but there were a couple who really touched my heart. 

One woman did not speak any English or much Kiswahili, and I did not speak any Kikuyu - her language. At one point, though she had something she had to ask me, and turned to a man nearby to interpret. He told me that she wanted a bible as one of her 10 items. I quickly searched a found two options for her to choose from. 

Another woman named Mary asked for my help looking through the books. She loves to read and wanted to make sure to get a new book as one of her items. I helped her pick out a Princess Diaries book to enjoy. She stopped me right before I left saying thank you, and that many people had already asked to borrow the book when she finished it. 

These interactions are things that I have been looking forward to about living here in Kenya. I love meeting the people and helping to meet their needs. It was an exhausting weekend, but completely fulfilling and worthwhile. I look forward to more opportunities to reach out to the people here in Kenya.

Prayer Requests:
  • I am starting to get sick - there has been a bug going around the school (especially in the dorms) and I think I may have caught it. My throat is very sore and my nose alternates between runny and plugged. I cannot afford to get sick right now because we have Titchie (elementary school) Sunday this weekend, and I am co-organizing the music. 
  • My phone is not working - I need to get a replacement and find a way to get it out here.