These are a few of our favourite things

At this checkpoint in the school year, we have already found ourselves reflective of the journey.  While we bear the stretch marks that come with carrying culture shock, we also seek and find comfort while looking to God for his goodness and promises. 

To help fix our eyes on Jesus, we have had some fun listing some of our favourite things about African/RVA culture.  Please keep reading and enjoy God’s diversity!

Here’s our list:

  1. TREES, PLANTS and BIRDS (Ok, these are three things, but we needed to keep the list to 10 and this made the goal achievable) –  We are land loving, garden growing, field harvesting, bird watching, stop and smell the roses kind of people.  We cannot help ourselves.

  2. JUICE – A native Kenyan lady delivers pure fruit juice to RVA and we literally pick out our favourite juices from the trunk of her car (by the way, they do not call it a “trunk” here.  It is known as the “boot”).
  3. MR. DIXON’S ROASTING FORKS – Need we say more?  These are genius!
  4. AFRICAN HAIR – This has fascinated us.  Thanks to the guys and gals on campus, we have been learning about different textures, styles, extensions and general “how to care for” info.
  5. ACCENTS – Living on the RVA campus has afforded us the richness of encountering many cultures right out our front door.  Accents, accents, accents!  They’re diverse and beautiful.
  6. HAND CRAFTED ITEMS – This one gets us every time.  You will win us over with quality hand crafted items.  Wood carving, weaving, bead making, sewing… it never gets old!

  7. MAASAI BLANKETS – Literally you can find a Maasai blanket at almost any market, shop or store.  While the Maasai sport the traditional red, the blankets come in an array of colours.
  8. ROASTING COFFEE BEANS – Does this need an explanation?  It’s a little bit of heaven.
  9. THE HANDSHAKE – The louder the better.  Really.  The point is for the shake to commence with a loud clap and then proceed with all manner of hand shaking and movement.  It is most acceptable to greet African friends with a handshake every single time.  A wonderful gesture of friendship.
  10. THE VIEW OF THE GREAT RIFT VALLEY – Perhaps part of its wonder is the fact that we are prairie folk and the curves, rolls and folds of the hills that hug the valley intrigue us.  We love the layers and depth of the hills.  It’s one of those wonders that beckon us to enjoy our Creator.

    May you be inspired to enjoy God’s gifts and goodness around you! 

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.