The rains have come and we are enjoying green grass, beautiful flowers, and huge lightening shows. Along with the rain comes muddy kids, stacks of wet laundry (we have to line dry everything), and lots of interesting bugs. As well, there have been a lot of monkeys and neat birds in our yard eating the fruit off our trees. The birds are beautiful but the monkeys are pests. We have especially been battling a persistent Sykes monkey that can open any window left open just a crack. He knows exactly where we keep the bananas and he seems to get more of them then we do.
The beginning of the school year in September brought in a large group of new, young, gifted staff to Rift Valley Academy. After being here for 12 years now – we are getting used to not being the young ones on staff anymore. With being “long term” staff members and Kylie being in her new role of dean of women our phone rings constantly with all sorts of questions. It is a blessing to be able to be there for students and staff and to be a part of their lives.
Todd is still teaching PE to grade nine through twelve students as well as heading up the PE department. This school year he has coached Varsity tennis and junior high field hockey. Varsity volleyball season starts up in couple weeks and he is excited to get back into the sport he loves most. Todd has also been sponsoring the junior class. Sponsoring involves working with a class alongside a few other staff – providing activities, work experience, skill training, etc. Our students do not get an opportunity to “work” in the traditional sense of summer or after school jobs. A couple of the projects that they do their junior year is Junior / Senior Banquet and Junior Store. Todd was involved in the construction side of banquet and teaching students how to plan amounts and order materials as well as the actual construction. With Junior Store they will be selling food during sports tournament days. We normally have hundreds of visitors and parents on sports tournament days so it is a big project. Todd will be working with several students to manage the actual store area. Todd is also teaching grade three Sunday School and mentoring a young couple along with Kylie.
Todd has also been involved in planning “Pinewood Derby” which is a lot like what Awana does with building cars out of wood and racing them down a track. It has become a full day event with lots of creativity and fun for the whole community. Todd also worked with a former staff member in the US to participate in the “One World Run” which raises money for AIDs orphanages in Kenya. The idea is that a 5K is run on every continent. We had almost 80% participation from staff and students here. It was a very fun day! Here are pictures of our favorite participants. Titus is running with his two “big brothers”. We have a big sister big / brother program at RVA so that every elementary age boarding or staff child has a big sister or brother looking out for them.
Kylie is working full time and missing the days of connecting with other moms at playgroup, Bible Study, etc. She is enjoying her new role very much though and feel so blessed to be able to do it. She oversees the girl’s dorm parents as well as all of the girls who are attending RVA. Working along with the dean of men we oversee student life at RVA – everything outside of the academic day. She is part of the administrative team and again feels so blessed to have been mentored by a godly women who she is taking over from and by godly men and leaders who she learns from daily. What a growing experiencing this has been. This past term brought with it preparations for the Kenyan elections which ended up going relatively smoothly. As you may remember from last time the elections brought mass unrest, rioting, and many lives lost. It was important for us to be prepared for anything. The most difficult thing for Kylie this term was when a student lost her father. He became ill and passed away within such a short period of time. We were so thankful that she was able to get home in time before he passed away. Kylie has also been mentoring three junior girls as well as a young couple with Todd. She just finished my Varsity Field Hockey season a month ago. God blessed her with a wonderful group of girls that really reached out to the other teams and referees in amazing ways. They won the sportsmanship award for the year.
We continue to enjoy the relationships that are being built with our community. Cassidy has been making regular visits to the IDP camps (Internally Displaced Persons) nearby in the valley as well as to an orphanage in our area. Most of the camps have now replaced Red Cross tents with permanent stone houses. One highlight was carrying on the tradition that my parents left of having the men who work in the school laundry for a big goat roast to celebrate Christmas and the New Year. Mary and Attah help me with the cooking and Peter and Simon help with the goat – all dear friends. Usually lots of laughter and singing ensue. It is an annual highlight for all of us.
We continue to love being here. More than that though, we feel so blessed to be a part of this place. The necessity of this school and ministry becomes greater and greater with a changing Africa and mission’s increasing focus on the unreached. More and more we are needing to support families working in increasingly difficult areas. Providing a place for their children to grow and thrive and working with parents in partnership and teamwork is just nothing more than a BLESSING!
Please keep coming back to our blog here at www.aimsites.org for more specifics. We try to keep it updated regularly.
Cassidy is 13 and in grade 7. She has been loving all the new activities open to her now that she is out of elementary school. She has been playing basketball, field hockey, and volleyball. As well she had a role in the junior high drama. She continues to love spending time with friends and organizing get togethers. We are so pleased to see her sweet and caring spirit towards all. Her big accomplishment this year was climbing Mt.Kenya with Todd. It is a grueling 4 days up and down. Mt.Kenya is a snow capped mountain on the equator. She was able to take many many photos – another thing that she loves to do.
Titus is 11 and in grade 4. He loves playing soccer all day every day. He also loves art and is becoming very good at drawing, painting, and pottery. He is very inquisitive and has been following the elections closely as well as issues facing Africa. It is amazing to see God working in his heart and giving him a passion for this continent at such a young age. We will see where God leads him in his future. A highlight in Titus’ week are Monday nights when the dorm boys in his class come spend the evening with us. We do homework, have a snack, do devotions, etc. to give their dorm parents one evening a week for a little break. After having spent so much time in a girl’s dorm – Titus loves having the boys around! The picture below is of Titus climbing a nearby dormant volcano – Mt.Longonot. As well as a picture of him with his Pinewood Derby car – covered in duct tape.
Ella and Kylie spent the new year in Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi. Ella had to go in for extensive testing and then surgery after struggling with UTIs for such a long time. Ella is 6 and in Kindergarten. We are so pleased that she has now been off of antibiotics for 3+ months. It seems that God lead us to exactly the doctors that we needed to see. We just have to say too that God can work through people no matter how young you are. Ella with her long blond curly hair stood out in the hospital like a sore thumb. The whole five days we were there God put a song in her heart and she sang worship songs the whole time without any prompting from me. She was a light and Kylie had many conversations about the Lord with other moms and nurses on the ward because of Ella’s singing. That is Ella – bubbly, enthusiastic, friendly, joyful, and yes, very mischievous. Ella’s latest accomplishment is riding a bike without training wheels. On a recent trip to a dairy farm in the valley she encountered some strange obstacles and was unsure what to do.
We were so happy to have Kylie’s brother and sister-in-law on staff with us for seven months. They have just returned to Canada and we are missing them a lot already. We were also thrilled to welcome our new nephews, Miles and August Kynsh into the family in March. Congratulations Nathan and Carrie on the birth of your twin boys.