Dear friends and family,
It has been a while since we’ve updated you on our daily happenings – since we returned from the US for Maureen’s brother’s wedding. It has been a very busy but good time. I will try to give you a summary of what our life has been like for the last three months.
First of all, our time in the US was great! We had a wonderful time reuniting with family and friends and making new ones. My brother’s wedding brought family and friends from all over allowing us to meet up with close friends and relatives we haven’t seen in a while. Being able to spend some time with grandparents was a blast and a blessing to the kids. We got to visit some of our favorite restaurants and had our share of our favorite foods. :-)
Kate tired out at the end of the wedding…
Saying goodbye to a new friend…
Kate finally met Kaidy!
Luke and Kate ready for the wedding…
Generoso & Vicky’s wedding…our family
Our trip back to Kenya was smooth sailing except for a missing luggage.
Kate climbed up by herself!
So Luke had to do it too…
We made our 1 ½ hour drive to Kijabe after arriving around 10pm on a Friday night. It was a cold, drizzling night as we sat in a van with our luggage around us with the windows fogging up. We were tired but glad to be on our way home. However, remember we had moved before we left and had not unpacked anything, so we arrived at a house half painted and with everything we own in the middle of various rooms either in boxes or in bags. Thankfully, we had two beds set up and had asked our house helper to get it ready before we arrived. It was about 1am when we arrived home. We were so tired that all we had energy for was to change and get in bed. The house still smelled strongly of paint since our painter painted some while we were gone but had not finished.
The next morning, we woke up around noon (jetlag) and wandered around the house trying to find a cooking pan, a spatula and something to cook. We managed to fix lunch and did some more unpacking to survive the weekend. Tim and Luke were to start back in school on Monday, so we were trying to get ready for that. We were taking naps in the afternoon and waking up at 2am. This went on for the first two weeks before we finally got over jetlag. We were also having headaches and fatigue that was worse than we expected so we googled “effects of paint fumes.” Then we realized that not only were we battling jet lag, we were also feeling the effects of paint fumes! The painter came back to paint for another week, so we couldn’t really start setting up our new home until he was done. There were people in and out the first week or so, painters, repairmen, electrician, etc. that there was no privacy at all from 8-7pm. Our painter had left something unfinished in every room so it was so frustrating that we couldn’t even start cleaning up, let alone find a place without the smell of paint. So began our time back in Kenya. But by the grace of God, Tim started teaching and Luke started Kindergarten in spite of all that.
Titchie Swot is the Elementary school.
“Titchie” is a British word for little or brat. “Swot” means study.
So Titchie Swot is the place where little brats go to study!
Rift Valley Academy…view of Mt. Longonot
Fast forward a month later, Tim had stepped into his new role as Spiritual Life Director at Moffat as well as teaching three classes. He had a busy schedule with meetings, classes, mentoring time with students, and preparing for class in the background. Maureen had started back to working 3 days a week in addition to unpacking and setting up our new home. Luke was loving school so much that he would ask on a Friday when he could go back to school! Thankfully, RVA is a boarding school and had scheduled activities for the students even through the weekends. This is great for Luke since it develops more of his social skills, but it does eat up our weekend and nights shuttling him back and forth to these activities. Kate is happy to be home with Mommy or Daddy and just loves to play, go out for walks, sing songs from Annie, Frozen and Jesus Loves the Little Children, and watch Annie, Frozen and Anastasia. We made a trip back to Nairobi to restock our supplies three weeks after we arrived (now that we had a place to store them). :-)
Our little Kate loves to sing, and one day just created her own stage…
In the last week of September, the Maternal and Newborn Community Health Project of Kijabe Hospital, of which Maureen is a part, was invited by Moffat to speak at their Missions Day conference. Five members of our team spoke to the students, faculty, and staff about how God is allowing us to use community health as a platform for missions. Moffat has started a diploma program in community development this term and community health is an important aspect of it so we were invited. We spoke about how God is a missions-minded God, how he has a plan for bringing the nations to Himself, and that we as believers should join Him in His work. Members of our team shared their own experiences of how God gave them a burden for a certain people group after seeing their oppression and how blinded they were to the truth. We also talked about the training courses available to teach a community worker to do their job effectively. It was an encouragement and an eye opener to the students, but it was also a good exercise for the Community Health team since they don’t usually think of themselves as missionaries. This encouraged them and it made them realized that they are actually working to expand God’s kingdom even as they try to improve health in the communities.
Kate loves to wear dresses and look pretty
In October, we were still sorting through things and unpacking, but getting to the point where we could sit down and relax. The term was busy as there were usually activities during the weekends and some week nights for Luke at RVA. We also had the opportunity to connect with other families in Lower Station (Hospital and Moffat) by having them over for dinner. This is always a great time for us, even the kids, they love guests! It is so good to get to know the story of each family and how God led them to Kijabe to serve Him in missions. Luke got to go to a friend’s birthday party. These don’t come by very often and he always has a great time. We also celebrated Maureen’s birthday by having lunch at a nearby retreat and conference center 45 minute drive away – and we played soccer and Frisbee with the kids then ended with a picnic of their favorite snacks. We drove home tired but relaxed and happy. :-)
Luke finally biking on two wheels!
Luke and Kate with home-made playdough
Luke trying out his skates for Titchie Skating Party…first time on skates!
Luke also was paired up with a Big Brother at RVA and they have had several “Coke dates” together on a school night either watching a movie, playing some games, or kicking a soccer ball. His Big Brother is a 9th grade Korean boy named David. It’s funny how they are both quiet and reserved but they love to have fun together. We are also secondary guardians to another missionary’s child who attends RVA and we had the privilege of meeting him and getting to know him better during the last few months.
By November, we were pretty much settled in, and had started thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas. Here in Kenya people don’t have the luxury of spending money on Christmas trees and lights, but they do celebrate it by taking their annual leaves. The country pretty much shuts down in December as most people take leave and go visit parents and grandparents and travel long distances. Prices of fuel and food also go up as the demand increases. Most missionaries make their home as Christmassy as possible putting up a tree and lights. It’s also a time to invite friends over to celebrate and fellowship together. We still get homesick, but there are activities for the kids and it is really what you want to make out of it. In Kijabe, the lower station families have organized a rotation Advent activity, where families sign up for a day in December to open their home to other families to do a Christmas activity, whether it be singing carols, craft making, decorating cookies, or enjoying Christmas goodies. This is the second year they are doing this, and we hope to participate more this year. Last year we were busy packing and unpacking and had just moved to another house. Most Christmas trees were up in homes even before Thanksgiving, us included, due to pleas from Luke and Kate. Tim said his birthday (Thanksgiving Day) should come first before Christmas, but he lost this round :-) . We were able to get a full sized tree from a missionary leaving the field, so our kids are happy.
Luke by the fire on a cold night…
Luke made a Christmas tree from cookies at the Orners (Sunday school teachers)
The weekend before Thanksgiving, there is an annual event at RVA that brings kids, old and young together – Pinewood Derby! A month before race day, you can register to race a car you will build in the next month alongside you classmates. There is a woodworking shop at RVA that all high school students, yes, all, use as part of their class work. The students graduate from RVA knowing the basics of woodworking and sewing, whether you are male or female. Isn’t that neat? Well, everyone is welcome to work on their cars at the woodshop during the afternoon after school hours. There were strict rules and guidelines for the car and there are awards given in different categories. You are given a specific size of wood block, axles, and wheels and you design, cut, sand, paint, decorate, add weights and then turn in your car the day before the race. RVA has a track that is setup the day before the race and to qualify, your car has to be able to reach the finish line. Tim and Luke entered as a team in the adult men’s category. Students third grade and younger can’t enter the race by themselves, so they usually pair up with a parent. Tim and Luke started looking at designs online and finally settled on a sleek, thin car. It was Tim’s first time building a car so he had to learn how to use different equipments in the woodshop. It was a learning and interesting experience, especially when the car was dropped three days before the cars are to be turned in. The axle cracked right where the wheels were supposed to be attached. They were able to repair the car and still enter the race. They didn’t win but made it to the semi-finals!
Luke with his first Pinewood Derby car!
View from the back
Tim and Luke lined up on race day
November came to a close with a wonderful Thanksgiving meal with friends. We ate, talked, and celebrated our Lord and Savior. We will miss being with family for Christmas but are so very thankful for the many blessings God has given us here in Kijabe!
We hope you enjoyed the long update and wish we could talk to you about it face to face. There are still a lot of things we could share, and we will try to do that in the next month. We hope you are all enjoying the preparation to celebrate the birth of the King we serve. You are in our thoughts and prayers and know that we are so thankful for having you as part of our lives. Your prayers and support is what makes all that we do possible in Kenya. May God continue to bless you as you invest in our lives and ministry. Keep in touch! We would love to get a letter, anything in the mail, from friends and family back home!
Maureen for Tim, Luke and Kate