Do you ever find yourself grinding through life with the intensity of a wood chipper? Not really looking up, taking a break or taking that all important breath to regain perspective? We certainly can find ourselves like that for three months at a time. Ninety days can fly by very quickly. This past school term was one of the tougher ones we have experienced in our time here. Students struggling and going home, staff struggling and going home, country struggling with security; it can make for a very stressful and difficult time. As we reflect on the past and the future it has come down to perspective. Here are a few things that we need wisdom in our own perspective that you might be able to relate to as well.Perspective of prayer. When a schedule like ours demands constant attention with constant “expectations” where does prayer fit in? We have been challenged these past several months to make this a much bigger priority – even bigger than what we might consider more important. Ministry can get in the way of time spent with God. Prayer is to be focused attention and time giving God the ability to work in us and through us. We are trying to spend an hour of our day praying. Can it really be done? It is challenging. Especially when there is “wood to chip”. We are not used to sitting for that long talking to God. It means that something else needs to be put aside for this to happen. We are working on this but not great at it yet.
Perspective of security. As many of you know there have been turbulent times in Kenya the past few years. We are safe and have not been in any direct danger. The school has security measures in place and procedures that we practice and follow with the hope that we will never have to use them. It is unsettling when attacks happen, especially against unarmed defenseless civilians, because of misguided beliefs and disturbing ideology. Will we ever be “safe” enough? Would it be better to go back to Canada until things settle down? Will it ever settle down? Fear can easily take over and force us to forget how God constantly protects us. Even driving in a car with other drivers on the road is a dangerous thing and yet many of us do not even think twice about the potential of losing control, security, and maybe even our lives. We need to keep the perspective that God is in control, that the country of Kenya has come a long way in the last few years, and that there is support from other countries against the threats that terrorists pose. We need to look past these horrible events to see the good things that are happening. A former ambassador to Kenya had this to say in a Time magazine article:
Terrorism can happen anywhere — New York, London, Paris, Madrid, Tunis, Mumbai, Nairobi. Terrorist acts and the media attention they receive often obscure the real story and stimulate overreactions. Kenya is more than the news story about terrorism and the images portrayed in overly cautious travel warnings.
Kenya is a country with a bright economic future; it has so much potential. Its citizens are smart, well educated, and hard working. Kenya has a great location with breath-taking landscapes, gorgeous beaches, and perfect weather. This country is blessed with magnificent mountains; beautiful valleys, rivers, and lakes; valuable natural resources; precious national treasures. It’s a paradise for tourists.
If the media coverage on Kenya is all about terrorism, the terrorists win. That is their objective.
–Scott Gration, April 3, 2015
Insecurity is constantly on the doorstep of living here in Kenya. It will be such a shock for us coming back to Canada – it will take a couple of months to be able to lose the internal level of alertness.
Perspective of home assignment. We are fast approaching the date that our house here is to be packed up and we board an airplane to come back to Canada. It has been four years. That is a long time to be away missing weddings, newborns, and deaths in our family and friend’s lives. We are looking forward to being back for the year to be reunited with our family and friends. There are so many things that we are having to think about. Can we be close to my dad and mom to support my dad with MS? Can we find a place to rent that we can afford? Where and what type of work is available? What about transportation for the year? How do we avoid the three year contracts that seem to be the only way to have a mobile phone? What in the world is Netflix? The two biggest needs we have are a place to live and transportation for the year. If you have any leads or contacts that we can pursue that would be appreciated.
Perspective of family. We are experiencing the joys of having our children getting older and going through different stages of life together with them. As many of you have experienced time gets short with children. Cassidy will be in grade ten next year in Canada. There are so many things that she will have to get up to speed with as she reenters Canadian culture. We hope that she will be able to have a good experience. Titus just completed a very difficult task of hiking up Mt. Kenya. The day we summit we climb just over 2,000 feet in 2.5 miles and took about three hours to accomplish this. On top of that the weather was changing rapidly to where we had the challenge of snow at the top as well. Ella is changing much as well. We can start to see how she loves life and interaction. What a great time for us all to be together. We want to be intentional parents using these times as training for our children.
The perspective of hope. We had introduced you to a Kenyan family in a past blog outlining their story of faith, struggles, and God’s provision. Well we had an amazing response to their situation that the school fees for all of the children were covered for the year and a monthly amount is given to them for their food bills. They are in awe of the response of generous giving that was shown. We are so thankful for the response as well.
One of the things that a supporter gave for was for Stephen’s parents house to have gutters installed. This required a little more hands on approach so our family and another family, the Hazards, who are good friends of ours, went down to their house to put up fascia boards and gutters along with a 1000L tank to collect rain water off of the roof. We were so encouraged to be able to provide in this very practical help for this family. They are now collecting water without the need of having to have water trucked in to be able to live where they are. It was also not too early as the rains had come and we got pretty stuck on our way to their house – always an adventure.We are blessed and praying that God will lead and direct our paths in the next several months as we make the transition back to Canada. We are looking forward to seeing many people when we are back and trying to reconnect with many whom we have not seen for several years now. We will be posting an itinerary in August as to where we are planning on being. It would be great to know where you are and if our paths will cross during our year back.