Life Through the Lens

Greetings blog readers!  We thought, perhaps, you would enjoy a glimpse into some of the routines and sites we enjoy here at Rift Valley Academy (RVA), Kijabe.

Monkeys, oh the monkeys.  True story:

Monkeys and baboons are curious.  For the most part you observe them (perhaps even with interest) from a distance, but every now and again they become a big nuisance.  This past week we WATCHED monkeys climb a tree to the top branches, reach out, grasp and pull open a window that was slightly ajar, climb in AND… (YES, we ran up the steps and notified the people within that multiple monkeys were breaking bread in the upper room) trouble.  It just so happened to be the dorm for high school girls and (in their dorm dad’s words), “they trashed the place”.   Monkey droppings in the hall, trash cans dumped out, items missing etc.

Bongo dorm.  Home to the Unrau family and grade 9 boys.

Our view of the Great Rift Valley, it always gives us cause to stop and enjoy one of the wonders of God.

Meet Joseph.  We give him credit for caring for the creation around Bongo dorm.  The trees, bushes, flower beds and soil thrive under his tender loving care (Joseph also taught me how to make the perfect cup of Kenyan chai).

Chapel time.  Pictured here is Derek speaking to the student body (approximately 500 students).

Snack time.  Omelettes/Eggs are a dorm favourite.  We will usually crack a minimum of 3 dozen eggs.  Pizza is also a big hit.

Meet Joyce.  She runs one of the shops in Kijabe.  She is very creative and does excellent and intricate bead work. 

Making the trip back to campus after shopping at the market.

Enjoying Bongo boys at their soccer/football game.

This is our Caring Community Group.  It is similar to the idea of a Small Group.  Derek and I have the honour of hosting these 10th grade girls. 

No blog would be complete without a bit of Bongo Dorm craziness…


Settling In

Wow, the calendar indicates that we have been on African soil for over a month, and already, we have encountered adventure and blessing during our weeks of orientation.

Why don’t you grab a cup of coffee (or chai!) and let’s catch up…

We arrived at Rift Valley Academy (RVA) on the first day of August.  Since then, we have been making strides to familiarize ourselves with the culture and develop relationships with many folks both on and off of campus.  This is quite easy to do on campus because as the new comers to RVA, we accepted eight invitations to dine with other families during our first two weeks!  Our hosts do not hold back and serve fantastic cuisine.  Mind you, we are easy to please because we consider toast and eggs to be fine dining (throw in a good cup of coffee and we will likely remember you forever).  While off of campus, we seek friendship as we try out Swahili words and baby step our way to learn cultural greetings and basic phrases.  

Since students are scheduled to arrive during the last weekend of August, our current routine is intended to get us settled and learn the ropes.  For now, this bids us to walk down the hill to the market for fruits and vegetables once or twice a week.  While there, we stop by the Duka (sounds like DOO-kah; a small store) for sugar, flour, rice, beans and other staples.  We also purchase eggs:  30 eggs for 360 Kenyan shillings (right about now, many of you are wondering about the conversion for Kenyan shillings.  It is approximately 100 shillings per 1 US dollar.)  We also pick up our milk can twice a week to receive pasteurized milk.

Mornings begin with an overcast cloudiness that often lasts until mid-afternoon.  The daytime temperature hovers around 20 degrees celsius while the nighttime temperature drops between 12 – 15 degrees celsius.  It tends to stay quite cool within our home.  This is considered the remnant of winter/rainy season (though we are told that it is unusually dry and conditions are drought-like).

We heat our home with a wood fireplace and keep slippers or shoes on our feet at most times.  The concrete walls seem to maintain chill rather than disperse heat, and, while the sun may feel warm, living at 7500 ft brings a coolness that overrides the warmth for the time being.   

So far our encounters with baboons and monkeys have been pleasant.  However, we have heard that if you leave your windows open, you may need to keep an eye on those bananas sitting on the counter, and, if you happen to walk beneath a tree full of monkeys, don’t look up (and pray that any moisture you may feel on your head is rain).

One of the most enjoyable treats here is the local fruit.  Truly, the bananas and pineapples seem sweeter and are readily available (which make it the perfect excuse to use them for breakfast, snack, lunch and supper!). 

A highlight has been interacting with the local culture.  One of my favourite things to do is watch Kenyan’s in action.  Already our kitchen counter is topped with a wooden bowl crafted by one of the local men in town, and, just today I happened upon one of the ladies beading jewelry.  She stopped mid-weave to show me the colours of Kenya making its way around a bracelet.  What creativity!  We can be creative because God is creative!

Derek has had a dream come true because he was asked to roast coffee beans with our neighbour (while sipping coffee, no less!), Mason has found that campus holds a gymnasium and several outdoor basketball courts, and, Alexa is thrilled to be able to bake and share with so many people.

God is so good and we are so blessed and humbled that he has allowed us to see stamps of his handiwork, to meet his people, to encounter his creation.

As we transition, we thank you for your prayers which have sustained us.  God has been so abundant and gracious, we worship and thank our Great Provider for his beauty among all of our diversity.  May you seek him in your “everyday”, find him while you “do life” and praise him as you “go through the motions”.  Jesus Christ – the common ground that spans all cultures. 

Bwana asifiwe (sounds like BWAH-nah ah-see-FEE-way)!  Praise the Lord!

Please enjoy the photos below.  These are some of the beautiful sights of Kenya, Africa.

Mason & Alexa at the Duka.

Welcome to RVA!

Delivering muffins to the maternity staff at the AIC Kijabe Hospital.  Just down the hill from the RVA campus.

First attempt at roasting coffee beans.

One of the many Colobus monkeys in a tree on campus.

Outdoor basketball court on campus.

Walking the “Guard’s Trail” on campus.  The trail is used for security guards to walk the perimeter of the campus.  Some parts of it can be quite steep.  One of the pleasures of living on a hill.


Greetings from Nairobi, Kenya!

We have been so blessed by your prayers as we departed our Canadian home and arrived at our African one.  Your hugs and well wishes will be long lasting as we file those memories in our hearts.

Our travel experience went really well and all of our luggage arrived safely and *almost* soundly.

Alexa and Mason pre-departure.  

If you are a ‘first impression’ kind of person, you should know that Africa makes a good one.  Its people wear hospitality on their sleeve and nothing is too much trouble.

We are country/prairie folk by nature, so our eyes take in the soil, the foliage and the sky.  The ground favours red, trees and leaves are everything from tropical to pine-like, prey-bird silhouettes soar the sky and small birds of colour or long tails linger closer to the ground.

Though this is considered winter, the weather would be comparable to those first summer days on the prairie:  Really warm sun coupled with cool air.  It’s very refreshing.

The Mayfield Guesthouse received us after our arrival.  A lovely retreat, intended to provide reprieve to missionaries.  The staff here are all men and each one the servant of all.  The idea behind the Guesthouse is to allow for us to transition through the jet lag and prepare for Africa Based Orientation (ABO).  Since travel took us close to a grand total of 30 hours, with much luggage in tow, we couldn’t ask for a better gift than the rest this home provides.

Mayfield Guesthouse

One thing we have quickly become accustomed to is chai.  Mason is probably our most regular consumer of this African tea (who knew, right?!).

When the dinner triangle rings and we come upon the dining room, it feels like we are standing on Holy Ground.  It is an honour to be seated among so many missionaries.  All with call and purpose blazing the trail onto the mission field.

Today, after a few days of rest and mingling, we agreed to an impromptu field trip to the Giraffe Centre and the Baby Elephant Sanctuary.  Mason was the adventurous one and allowed the giraffe to pluck food right from his mouth.

Already, the Lord has raised friendship.  Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever is the solid rock and ultimate common ground that surpasses borders and boundaries.  From Canada, USA, and Brazil, our group will disperse throughout Kenya, to Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique following our ABO.

A perk to living in a home with so many others, is that Mason and Alexa always have companions ready to hang out.

Here is Mason with Nathan and Katie.  Their father is a Neurosurgeon.  We think that is so cool.  

That is not a tan line.  This is a picture of feet following a game of frisbee.

God is good.  We are humbled that He shares all of His goodness with us.

O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.

Psalm 104:24