Tuesday, October 3, 2017

October Update and Prayer Requests

It is now October and our families in America are starting to enjoy the beauty of Autumn.  Here in Kijabi the days seem warmer as we wait for the short rains.  It is dry since we had little rain in September.

Mid-Term break begins this Friday after lunch and the students return on Tuesday, Oct. 10.  Our family is checking out one of the school's cars and traveling to Nairobi to stay at a missionary guest house for two nights.  Please pray that we will be safe while we travel (John's first time driving since he returned to Kenya) and that we will be able to rest over the break.

During Mid-Term the boarding students return to their families or spend time with their guardians off campus.  Please pray that the students' have a safe and positive break.  Some of the students may travel a great distance, so please pray for their safety while traveling.  As they return, please pray that their hearts will be guarded from homesickness.  This will be the only break before term ends on November 25.  Returning to school can be a tough transition for some of the students.

Next week (Oct. 11-15) is Spiritual Emphasis Week.  Please pray for the speakers, band, and students. 

The girls continue to attend preschool on Mondays and Fridays.  There were 14 kids in the class, so the class was split in two.  The groups take turns using the indoor classroom.  The other class meets in the elementary library and does other outdoor activities.  Becky will be teaching five times starting the end of October.  Please continue to pray for wisdom and patience for the teachers and growth for the preschoolers.

Our family is looking for a vehicle.  Please pray that we will have patience for God's timing and that we will have wisdom while making decisions. We want to find a car that will be safe and reliable for our family.

Thank you for your prayers and support!!
Please let us know how we can pray for you!!

In the love of the Savior we serve,
John, Becky, Ruthie, and Gracie
Ruthie and I made Bear a car.  I love how the girls use their imaginations!
We gets some interesting looks from the workers on campus when I'm pushing the girls.
 I don't think they are used to seeing a double stroller.
Girls are playing on a unique swing here on campus.
The seat from the swing has an incredible view!!
Playing in the leaves!
Autumn 2016

Monday, September 25, 2017

Having Courage to Face the Trials

Today at church the message was titled, "Solid Gold Faith".  The speaker, Ryan Murphy, focused on 1Peter 1:6-7 which says, "In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."

"Suffer grief in all kinds of trails" 
Could those be trials like moving and adjusting to life in a different country far from your family?!?  I feel like the topic for today's sermon was just what I needed to hear.  As I think about how quickly my husband and my daughters adjusted to life here, I am frustrated that I'm still struggling.  We knew it would be at least a month until we were able to settle into our new home since we went to African Based Orientation for three weeks.  Once we did move into our house on campus, I started getting headaches from the mold in the bathroom.  Then Gracie got sick and all of her bedding needed to be washed.  We didn't have any extra blankets so we had to use towels to keep her warm and to clean up after her.  I'm used to her blankets being clean after a quick wash and 40 minutes in a dryer.  Well, we don't have a clothes dryer here (or a dishwasher).  The electricity is expensive so it is cheaper to dry clothes on a line.  That takes longer to dry and her bedding wasn't ready until the next night.  Since that first week, Gracie and Ruthie have both ran fevers and have been sick for multiple days.  We know their bodies are being exposed to new germs and we are filtering our water to help.
We were thankful that RVA maintenance quickly removed the mold from our bathroom, but we had to stay in a guest house for three nights while the smelly paint dried.  Without a vehicle, we had to make several trips to relocate ourselves.  Once we were back into our home, I thought things would get easier.  But then I discovered the water heater was rusted out and was leaking on our floor.  Also, school started and I was now caring for the girls on my own and training a worker.  We are thankful to have Daddy come home for lunch each day and to have a worker to help with laundry, washing dishes, and cleaning the house.  I wasn't prepared for how challenging it would be for the girls and I to adjust to having an extra adult in the house three days a week.  We think highly of our worker, but at times the culture and language can be a barrier while explaining how we want our home to look, how we want our food to be prepared, and how we want our children cared for while I am away.  
Staying home with the girls is very different here.  In the States, when I needed a break or wanted to get out of the house, I would load the girls in our van and head to the grocery store (for free bananas for the girls), Target, Grandma's house, or meet a friend at the park.  How I miss our van and the girls' car seats!  We loved singing in the car and relaxing while driving around town.
Now, we meet friends at the park, walk to the cafo to drop off our milk containers to be filled, or meet Daddy for chai.  But without a vehicle, we stay close to home.  If I do need to go shopping for produce or staples, I leave the girls with our worker, Momma Mary, and walk down the hill to the visit the vegetable ladies or shop at the Super Duka, the local convenience store.  Now that John is teaching, I try to do my shopping while he is at school.  I will admit, I often have anxiety as I prepare to walk to town and work hard to find the courage to go.  Over time, I'm sure I will become more comfortable and it helps that most of the local people speak English.  I have to laugh at some of the mistakes I have made.  I get myself talked into buying things I don't need or spending too much money because of the differences in language and culture.  One day I came home with 70 limes (they are a little bigger than a golf ball) because I didn't want to tell the sweet vegetable lady no.  They only cost $6 and I know she needs the money more than I do.  I often buy a bouquet of flowers for $3 or $4 because I know Stephen is disabled and needs to pay his bills.  I care about the local people and can see how hard they work for very little money in return.  
Today, as I sat down to write this blog, I saw that my friend Sara had sent me an email.  She shared a blog post written by Jennifer Rothschild, a Christian writer.  In her blog, Jennifer writes that confidence and courage are two different things.  Confidence is a feeling and courage is a choice.  God doesn't expect us to feel confident.  God asks us to trust Him enough to decide to have courage.  You can read more by visiting Jennifer's blog at:  http://www.jenniferrothschild.com/confidence-and-courage-the-same/
I chose courage as I helped our family to raise support and pack up our house in preparation to move here.  I chose courage when I flew with two toddlers and my husband and traveled for over 25 hours.  I chose courage when I followed God's calling to be a missionary and serve at RVA.  
1Peter 1:7 says, "These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."
Our faith in God is worth more than GOLD and our faith is refined by fire.  In today's message I was reminded that the trials we go through grows our faith and makes us stronger.  Our struggles also result in praise, glory, and honor for God.  
This is a season of trials for me, but I will come out stronger.  I have faith that God has plans to use my trials to help others.  I will continue to be encouraged by God's word and faithfulness and will pray that I will have courage to continue to praise God and bring Him glory and honor as I work through these trials.  
Will you pray with me?   
Along with your prayers, God has provided a few new friends here that I have been able to confide in. They are encouraging to me! I also have my sister-in-law, Shelly, who understand since she moved here three different times with young children.  I'm thankful for her advice and willingness to hold my hand during these trials.  I can't forget to mention my family and African Prayer Group who I can send prayer requests to at any hour of the day and they lift me up in prayer.  

Thank you for your support through prayers and encouraging words.  
God is good!!!
In Christ,

Our Helpers!!

John and Ruthie at Titchie Field Day.
The girls' first day of preschool. 
They love going to school for two hours, two days a week!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The School Bells are Ringing

The school bells are ringing and the 2017-2018 school year has begun!  John is teaching four geometry classes and one 8th grade math class.  His classes are going well and his students take their first unit tests this week.

Teaching here at Rift Valley Academy is much different than in the states.  John is still out the door by 7 am, but now he walks to his classroom that is located just about 150 yards down the road from our house.
We live in a duplex.  Our door is on the left.

This picture was taken at the end of our driveway.
John's classroom is behind the building in the center.  
John walks home each day for lunch.  The girls and I love being able to see John during the day.  We also join him for chai a few days a week for about 20 min in the morning.  We are thankful to have the extra family time!
John's classroom is on the ground floor.  Such beautiful windows!
 The parking lot in the first picture is just outside his classroom.

John and I are sponsoring 8th grade.  This Friday is a class night.  I (Becky) will meet the class officers and another sponsor at lunch to plan the activities.  Then, in the evening, we will meet with the entire 8th grade class for 90 minutes of activities, fellowship, and snacks.  The snacks are very important!!  RVA has class nights for grades 7-12 a few times a month.

John and I are also teaching 5th grade Sunday School.  We have about 12 boys and meet with them in the elementary building.  Ruthie and Gracie love helping us teach!  They attend their class (Children's Church) during the sermon on the Sundays that we have church at RVA.  The first Sunday of the month the school attends the local African Inland Church.

Daddy and Ruthie walking to the church on campus.
Ruthie and Gracie are adapting well!  This week they started attending preschool for two hours twice a week.  They love playing outside and meeting their friends at the playground.  We take the milk jugs to the cafeteria several mornings a week.  We drop them off in the morning and pick up the filled containers in the afternoon.  
Above: Taking the milk jugs to the cafeteria to be filed.
Below: Ruthie and Gracie find a butterfly while exploring in our backyard.
We have started to adapt to our new routine and appreciate your prayers during these many months of transition.  We continue to ask for your prayers!  Here are some ways you can pray for us:

Johns teaching- Pray that he will have see the needs of his students and have the wisdom to help them.
Ruthie and Gracie- Pray that they will continue to adjust to sleeping in a new home and build strong relationships with the adults and children around them.
Becky- Pray that she will grow spiritually while attending Bible study and continue to adjust to being a stay at home mom in a new country. 
Students- This is the third week of school and is often a time when students begin to feel homesick.  Please pray that the students will be able to settle in and connect with adults and other students.
Elections: The Kenyan Supreme Court has nullified the results of its presidential election that was held in August.  The new election will be held in October.  Please continue to pray for a peaceful and safe election.

We thank you for your prayers!
In the love of the Savior we Serve,
John, Becky, Ruthie and Gracie

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Jambo from Africa!

Dear Friends, Supporters, and Prayer Partners,

We greet you in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Let us take Paul’s advice in Philippians 1:27 and live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.

We also greet you from a cool and dry Rift Valley Academy in Kijabe, Kenya. Becky, the girls, and I have settled into a nice little two story duplex on campus and have been busy preparing for the start of school.  The new students arrive with their parents for New Student and Parent Orientation tomorrow. The rest of the student body arrives over the weekend, with school starting on Monday.  The school will have over 500 students this school year, with about 350 students boarding each term. Please keep all of the RVA families in your prayers as they travel and as they go through the difficult process of saying good-byes this weekend.

Becky, the girls, and I have been settling well in Africa.  Our three weeks in Africa Based Orientation went very well.  We learned about the work of Africa Inland Mission across the continent, including information about different cultures, religions, and unreached people groups.  We met many fellow workers whose children we will serve or have served at Rift Valley Academy.
A family hike at Menengai Crater in Nakuru, Kenya.
This crater was close to our hotel for ABO. 
The girls quickly made new friends when we visited a church our first weekend in Nakuru.

New Teacher Orientation at RVA also went well also.  I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of progress RVA has made as a school.  The programs, facilities, and curriculum are well developed and ready for the students.  The returning staff is excellent and the new staff appears to be top-notch. Mark Kinzer, RVA’s new superintendent, has a passion for the students and his desire for them to know Christ is contagious.  Keep Mark and the staff in your prayers throughout this school year.   

I, John, have been enjoying seeing old friends and getting to know new staff members here at RVA.  I have been working hard to get ready for the school year. Although I have 30 years experience, teaching eighth grade math and Geometry will be new for me. Pray I am an effective math teacher for the children I will serve.

Becky has been working hard at setting up our home, learning to cook and shop in Africa, caring for the girls, and training a house helper.  Becky spent a week in language study and is working at using and improving her Swahili. Pray for Becky as she builds relationships among the staff, works with the preschool program, prepares to be an eighth grade class sponsor, and adjusts to living in Africa.

Ruthie and Gracie are adjusting well to Africa.  When we attended church during Africa Based Orientation, both girls jumped right in to the activities, and they have not slowed down. They are making friends around RVA, and love playing outdoors. The girls come in with skinned knees, bruised shins, and dirty smiling faces every night. They miss family and friends and talk about people at home often, but they are loving life in Africa.
Ruthie and Gracie found a butterfly!

Tomorrow, as we get up, the school year at RVA will begin.  Thank you for your partnership with us in this ministry.  Pray we will be effective in sharing the love of Christ with the students here at Rift Valley Academy.  Pray for the staff as we seek to know and serve Christ by serving these students. Pray the students will grow in their knowledge of Christ and in their desire to serve him. 

In the love of the Savior we serve,

John, Becky, Ruthie and Gracie

Our family received gifts from the church we visited in Nakuru during ABO.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Arriving in Nairobi

After more than 29 hours of travel time, we have safely arrived in Nairobi and are getting ready for bed at Mayfield Guest house.  We are tired, but feeling good about our travels.  The girls did great, even recieving complement for their behavior on two of the flights.  Everyone in customer relations was both kind and helpful all the way across the world.  So with feeling good about our travels and in the center of what God has for us now, we will be off to bed.  Pray the girls sleep long and hard!  They need it and so do we.

In the love of the Savior we serve,

John, Becky, Ruthie, and Gracie

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Finding your way Home

Our house is nearly bare tonight, with only a few assorted belongings left, including mattresses on the floor for sleeping. Yesterday we hauled several loads over to my mother's house for storage, with our washer, dryer, and refrigerator being the biggest items.  Moving all of these things has been unsettling for the girls, and we have noticed Ruthie and Gracie struggling some with their emotions.  Yesterday, Ruthie started a new game.  She came up to me and said, playfully, "Daddy, Daddy, I can't find my home! Can you help me find my way home?" I jumped up and said, "Why of course I can sweetheart. I can help you find your way home!" and away we went, searching through the mostly empty house, around the rooms and in and out of the bathroom until we arrived back in the living room where I announce, "We are here! We found it!" Ruthie jumped down and said, "My home!" and proceeded to go off and play contentedly, as a child would, while I was left to ponder the game. 

Ruthie has noticed everything leaving, and she is not quite sure what to make of it all. She knows we are moving to Kenya. She says to people all the time “We are moving to Africa”, but in her three-year-old mind, she does not know what moving to Africa really means.  She knows we are excited, and she is trying to be excited also, but at the same time, she is feeling a little lost. Now, even her home does not feel like home anymore. 

Do you ever feel that way, like you need to find home? For us believers, we are on a journey to our home, and we will not complete that journey until this life is over. But, as believers in Jesus Christ, we know where our home is located, heaven, and how to get there, by grace through faith in Jesus.  For the lost, they are like Ruthie, they can't find their home and they need some help.  

In the midst of the business and tiredness and emotions of packing and saying goodbyes and preparing to leave, these thoughts were comforting to me, good reminders of why we go to Africa. Some of us, the believers, know where home is and how to get there, we just haven't arrived yet.  Others are lost and do not yet know the way home, and they need help fining the narrow path. We go to help the lost find their way home... their way to the Savior... their way to peace with God and eternal rest. We are all on a journey to find our way home.  How are you doing on your journey home? 

In the love of the Savior we serve, 

John for Becky, Ruthie, and Gracie

Saying goodbye to our swings.

The Myricks and their seven 50 lb bags!
Shirts by Amy Downey.  We LOVE them!!!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Final Countdown!!

June has been a busy month!  We have been packing our 300+ lbs of luggage, packing up our home, and saying good-bye to friends and family.  We thank God for meeting our needs for financial support and for final clearance from AIM!  We have felt your prayers and can't wait to share our mission in Africa with you!! 
John has worked hard to pack each bag to weigh 50 lbs!
Here are some important dates coming up:

July 2- Commissioning Service at Lone Jack Baptist Church, EVERYONE IS INVITED!!  Church begins at 10 a.m.  

July 5 Leaving Day!  Once we arrive in Kenya we will spend several nights at a Missionary Guest House to adjust to the time change and recover from the 24+ hours of traveling.

July 11- August 1 African Based Orientation, We will attend ABO for three weeks.  We won't have access to reliable internet, so we may not be able to post updates while at training.

During the first week of August we will get settled into our new home at RVA. In August we will also have New Staff Orientation and Staff Inservices.  School starts on Aug. 28.

Once we arrive in Kenya, we will have a lot to learn while adjusting to our new home.  We would appreciate your prayers!  
Here are our specific prayer requests:

*Please pray for our hearts, attitudes, emotions, and patience as we pack our home, finish our "to do" list, and say good-bye to family and friends.
*Please pray for our family and friends as they say good-bye to us, learn to Skype, and wait for updates.
*Please pray for a smooth plane ride.  Pray that we will make our connecting flights, we will get rest on the plane, and our luggage will ALL arrive safely.  We are looking forward to flying with the girls.  It will be a long trip, but our girls love to travel.  We are excited to share this experience with them!  We have been reading books about planes and visited the KCI airport to help prepare them.
*Please pray for Ruthie and Gracie and their transition to orientation and our new home. As you can see from our schedule, it will be close to four weeks before we are settled in our home.  This may be challenging for our family.
*Please pray for our time at Orientation.  Pray that John and Becky will learn valuable information and the twins will enjoy their time with the child care workers and other children.
*Please pray for the leaders at ABO and other families attending.  Pray that everyone attending ABO will be safe while traveling and adjust to the time change and new environment.

If you would like to hear the sermon John shared at Lone Jack Baptist Church on April 9, then visit the website below.  John shares more about our mission in Africa   http://www.lonejackbaptist.org/index_files/LJBC_sermon_04092017.mp3

Thank you for being part of our team and for your prayers!!  Please send us your prayer requests!  We would love to pray for you and your family too!  If you would like to receive our email updates, then send us your email address via the contact us button on the right side of our blog.