Infinitely sweet.

It’s been Small Wildlife Month at Chez Owens, first with a tree frog in our bananas, then a mouse racing fat and terrified around the kitchen counter.

Now thousands of flying ants have descended upon campus, plague-like, fluttering out brief lives before doffing their oversized wings and seizing belly-up on the floor. Our guys left the dorm windows open last night to the tune of five hundred small visitors, which ended in a late-night snack of fried and buttered ants. Because, naturally.

wings

(Discarded ant wings)

In other news, I have not been able to exercise for like three days now, as my knee is inflamed or annoyed or something-or-othered, but the highlight of this story is I managed to tell my coworker about it in Swahili. Monday, I was running down there on Barn’s trail, and I fell and now I have pain in my knee. You have no idea how delighted I was to find I have the vocabulary to say this unfortunate thing.

On the less-delighted side, not exercising makes me itchy and restless and I am more or less grumping around the house right now. It’s really too bad you’re all not here to enjoy it.

:)

marching in

a dance

Friday Kenya Kids Can was invited to attend an academic celebration, and PEOPLE. That thing was so much fun.

They sat us front and center, guests of honor at this first-ever Longonot awards ceremony, and with all the stops pulled out: balloons, poetry, song calling, cascades of faux flowers. Hundreds of students packed the courtyard, whooping as their schools were announced and trophies bestowed. Highest performer. Best in the district.

It’s the kind of thing that makes you want to dance.

I’m guessing that not that many years back, when hunger numbed even our brightest minds and student performance lay frail and unmoving, it was hard to scrape up something to celebrate. But Friday the applause thrummed deep and those beautiful, capable kiddos bobbed and whirled and leapt like they’re made of so much light.

dancing with sticks

50 years

cheering

Mark was given the chance to speak, and he said it well, what he always says, what Steve always said before him: It’s not me. This is so much bigger than me; I’m standing here representing a whole bunch of people all over this earth who love God and love you and who find quiet joy in knowing you’re eating and learning. People who believe you have bright things to offer this world, and who’ll shoulder mountains aside to see that happen.

You should’ve seen these students dance, and this one gal in particular with her chin angled, eyes blazing, so proud to be Maasai and beautiful and strong and educated and ready. So absolutely ready.

dancing and songs

dance

sticks

I don’t know about everybody else, but the way I saw it, all that cheering and stomping aimed a straight shot to heaven. They were peals of glory thundered back to our Creator, rising hot from our dust to the One who is the Bread of Life, who meets our soul-hunger with nothing less than Himself.

I’ll be the first to tell you that not every day sings this bright. Some days feel flat and ordinary, or downright challenging, but in all the betweens God keeps our faith alive and trembling. He keeps us close. He keeps us.

And all the while He shows up true and infinitely sweet.

16. March 2014 by nic
Categories: Uncategorized | 6 comments

Valentine’s Day

kkc feb8
 
The road twisting down from campus to the valley floor cracks me up every time. We braved that bumpy guy again last Friday, a small crew of us riding out with Mark to visit a couple schools, and as our teeth rattled in place Mark joked, “You know, lots of people pay money for seats that shake.”

We arrived at the first school as the kids were washing up for lunch, scrubbing small hands under a ribbon of water poured from jerry cans. Kitchens here are wooden structures set apart from the bulk of the school, and this one featured a trio of pots boiling up heaps of githeri.

kkc feb9a

kkc feb16
 
I am in love with how the smallest folk line up, pressed belly to back in a human chain that keeps inching closer to the food. Nearly every child wielded a bowl, though the few without asked a friend to grab a double portion to share.

It’s a graceful thing, the choreography of lunch: a step forward, two hands extending, a lifted bowl, a happy scuttle off to the shade to eat.

kkc feb2

kkc feb27a
 
After lunch we rolled on out again into that dry sweep of grassland. It took us a while to find the second school, mostly because we spent a couple hours looping circles in the bush, pretending to not be lost. At one point we four-wheeled-it through a pond, and Mark and Rachel (one of our teachers) disembarked more than once to consult the directional expertise of several Maasai herdsmen.

kkc feb6
[Sidenote: The cows here are crazy cute. Forget the pony, I want this guy.]
 
The third herdsman we happened upon spoke with Rachel awhile, scrawling maps in the dirt with his stick. When that didn’t seem to un-lose us, he jetted off, inexplicably, into the scrub and acacia.

I’d picked out the words peleka and mbuzi and huko, so I asked Rachel: “Did he say something about delivering goats over there? Because this is what I’m getting out of the conversation.” She was kind enough to not answer.

We waited while our new herdsman-friend did some possible goat delivery, and a few minutes later he jogged back and hopped in the car to serve as our personal guide.

This time we found the school.

kkc feb5a

 
At Najile, Mark and Rachel checked supplies and handled the logistics of lunches and computer education while the rest of us trailed the students to an exercise field. The girls were up first, racing and skipping laps around the loose soccer pitch, then fanning out to play a match.

They have a distinctive style of play, these girls, jumping as they kick, the crowns of their heads nearly scraping blue from the sky.

It amazes me that these are the same kiddos who used to sit listless and drawn. Don’t ever doubt it, my friends: day after day of food can tip a world right again.

kkc feb3a
 

Do you have any idea how much fun it is to be your hands and feet and faces and solid shoulders and grins in this place?

My nine year old, she walks around the house humming Rend Collective, and there’s this bit that makes me think of all of you:

We seek Your kingdom first
we hunger and we thirst
refuse to waste our lives
for You’re our joy and prize
To see the captive hearts released
the hurt, the sick, the poor at peace,
we lay down our lives for Heaven’s cause
We are Your church
We pray revive
this Earth

Oh, friends. Thanks for loving just like this, and for giving us the best Valentine’s Day yet.

21. February 2014 by nic
Categories: Uncategorized | 5 comments

Unsinkable.

hello

 

The whole school has turned out to see us, kicking up dust as they dance and wave us in. We climb from the car into a river of children with smiles bleached white in the three o’clock sun.

It’s Wednesday, and Todd and I have tagged along with our friend Mark to open a solar-powered computer center at a school smack dab in what Kenyans call The Interior–undeveloped land, mile upon mile of scrub brush and dirt and sheep.

I’ve never known a warmer welcome, pressed in by kids half silly, half shy, all clamoring for a handshake. After several minutes of greetings and paperwork, we arrive at my favorite part–unboxing ten donated laptops and settling them into a steel classroom planted in a sun-parched square of the Great Rift Valley.

 

interior

warm

 

But let me back up a bit. This story began long before us with a fellow named Steve:

Once upon a time, in the wake of enormous personal loss, Steve moved his family to Africa to live and work at RVA for a year. As these stories often go, they fell in love with Kenya and her people, and one year swelled into fourteen. Early on he saw kids in a nearby school laid flat by hunger, so he started a simple lunch program: maize and beans boiled plump for every student, every day.

Kids started doing something new: they started showing up at school, armed with plastic bowls, not about to miss that sure-thing meal. And then they started learning.

 

shadows

githeri

 

Fast forward fourteen years and this lunch program feeds about twenty thousand students in our area’s poorest national schools. On top of that, Steve began a computer program with donated laptops and converted shipping container classrooms, because now that kids are eating and growing and graduating, we hope they just might need to type up a resume.

One might ask–in a setting too remote for power lines, why bother with computers? There are so many reasons, some lofty, some pragmatic, and they all whittle down to one thing: possibility. Many of these children hail from families fierce in their determination for them to grow beyond this dry boned existence, to someday secure employment in a town or city.

 

classroom

girls

 

As one grade seven student told Mark, “I have never touched a computer before.” But now she will; she’ll master keyboarding and the basics of Word, Excel, Power Point. She’ll be able to construct a business proposal, chart sales, maybe draft a medical report. And I have so much hope for her, that she can show up capable and competitive in this increasingly digital world; that she’ll know she’s a force to be reckoned with.

The smallish students seem more energized by an up-close encounter with us pale folk than the computer center itself, but then there’s class seven and eight. And the teachers and parents–their faces light with the laptop screens, reflecting back everything bold they dream for these kids.

 

 

It’s quite an afternoon: singing and pictures and children patient with my limping Swahili. Then tea with the school board and teachers. A prayer spoken still and warm, and the head teacher scraping back his chair to speak. First he references the lunch program: “I am so glad for the food so the children do not have the feeling of hunger in their stomachs. So even when they go home and maybe they do not eat, they can persevere until the next day.”

And then the chairman adds his part, his arms circling wide as he heaps blessings over all of us and especially you who give with joy and openness and care. I make a close study of my tea, blinking hard until my vision clears.

 

treasured

 

By the time we pack up it’s skimming early evening and the school stands empty, save for dust clouds blooming in the hot wind. And all I can think is thank You, God. I have little to do with the good that happened here, but thank You for a chance to bear witness to one simple, sturdy way to share this sweet life together. For allowing me this afternoon, the lively company of these kids. For the chance to plug into something bright and wild with possibility.

The valley slips into a bath of buttery light and we head home, caked in sweat and dirt and so much unsinkable hope.

16. January 2014 by nic
Categories: Uncategorized | 10 comments

Not in Kansas anymore.

First thing in the morning, we flick on lamps and part curtains to catch the sun’s waking. And never mind if it lets in birds and the occasional wayward monkey, we swing those glass panes wide to the rush of mountain wind.

morning

Morning is the best time here. I solemnly swear that if you visit me I will shake you alive at the crack of before-dawn, and you will briefly hate me (unless you are The Ununcle, who invented rising early), but then we’ll walk with the clouds at our feet and the earth soaking in color and I promise your insides will be liquid worship of the God who dreams up this life.

Our oldest boy turned sixteen this month, and I forced a birthday photo shoot on him because these are the things that cause me great joy. If he were in the states he’d be up to scary enterprises like driving an actual car, but here he has no license, no family vehicle to beg after, and nowhere to go. Living in Africa has its perks.

He’s a great kid, easy and half-shy and all about taking care of people. He’s the one who made us think, for a blessed two years, that we are mavens at this parenting thing. (And then our second child arrived on the scene, and we were all, Oh. Right. Carry on, then.)

When B was two we were wandering the aisles of a craft store and he was playing with a sponge cut into a starfish, which I made him return to the bin. He did it right away, though with profound sadness, and ten steps later I was like, Ohmyword, Nicki, it’s a quarter. Buy your kid the starfish sponge.

I’d give all the quarters I’ll ever own to see his face wash golden with delight like it did then.

sixteen

Last week we signed out the school car and drove to Nairobi for the first time, and it was Fun Times Everywhere. First off, all sides of the road feel equally wrong to me right now, which is actually okay because in Kenya your designated lane is the path around potholes. If that happens to coincide with the left side of the road, more power to you.

I feel like I spent the whole drive awarding Certificates of Crazy: Mr. Let’s-pass-two-trucks-on-a-blind-curve—you are crazy; and you, Sir, with the couch strapped to your piki are crazy; and you running your wheelbarrow across the highway: certifiable.

Also, intersections. We do not believe in traffic lights and stop signs in these here parts. Pretty much every intersection in the city looks like six and a half angles of traffic in an eighteen-foot square. The trick is to nose your way in so that oncoming vehicles are forced to either stop or hit you, and then you pray vehemently for the former.

This Christmas we didn’t have a tree or anything sparkly or blinking, but a friend of ours wove a wreath of greens, and we cut snowflakes and paper stars. Plus you know you’re not in Kansas anymore when you rejoice over Twix bars and gum and your fifth grader puts ‘a bag of carrots’ on his wish list.

indoors

We read from Luke 2 (For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel) and played games and piled up in the living room to watch a movie. It was a good day.

The highlight of this December was getting packages of sweet things from our church family back in the freezingest parts of Indiana, and Christmas cards from so many of our favorite folks. We have your smiling faces and notes on our computer screens and strung along our fireplace mantel.

One of our teens wrote Todd a card that still makes me laugh: “I hope you have seen an elephant and a lion and a cheetah. If you haven’t you’re living in Africa wrong.”

Goodness, I miss you people. We had no snow and no tinsel and no peppermint creamer (alas), but we positively had a Savior to celebrate. Hopefully we did Christmas right.

Come, O long-expected Jesus,
Born to set your people free;
From our fears and sins release us
By your death on Calvary.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope to all the earth impart,
dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
(Charles Wesley)

Love you all, so much. Merry Christmas.

26. December 2013 by nic
Categories: Uncategorized | 8 comments

today.

it’s been an odd day all around.

thanksgiving, for us, has generally involved family and peeling potatoes and too many hours + kids in a car. but this was just a normal day in africa, with its docket of classes, meetings, dorm scrubbing, and a campus in full-swing.

loquats

we’re nearing the end of term, and life has become the kind of frenetic where it’s best i operate about one hour into the future: i just need to worry about my walking my class through their final projects. then: i just need to survive my swahili final. nimesoma kiswahili kwa bidii kwa sababu ninajaribu kuweza kuongea na watu hapa.

(sidenote: it’s like that dream, where i’m back in high school and i can’t remember my locker combination and i JUST realized i haven’t gone to chemistry the whole semester, and i cannot for the life of me figure out where we keep the science building. except i never did wake up relieved from this one.)

then: i just need to figure out the menu for tonight’s smallish gathering. i just need to walk down to the dukas to grab last-minute flour and sugar. i just need to get dinner and dessert around. i just need to pull the laundry down and quick-clean the house. and so forth, edging forward in fits and starts until at last we fall into sleep.

(sidenote nambari mbili: so tonight i went to bed at the ripe hour of 9:30 because it was just that kind of day, and so now it is 2:36 ayem and i am spectacularly awake. this post is brought to you by the surprise gift of insomnia.)

but back to thanksgiving.

there’s so much that has caught me just right this past year. so much that is richer and clearer and more. and God keeps startling me with the chance to stretch beyond myself, to reach and be reached for, and it just never gets old, you know? He’s ever the best and hardest and most consuming love i’ve got, and he keeps me. in direct spite of my fickle and traitorous heart, he keeps me.

i’m so glad.

kiddos

praising Him in the small hours of the night:
for relentless grace
for electricity and plumbing in rural kenya
for folks to share life with
for eggs and chickens and milk
for you: your love, sacrifice, emails, praying, friendship
for redemption and life in Christ
for a crazy-wide african sky
for drinkable water
for our dorm kids, owens kids, student kids, mai mahiu kids
and for every last person who has wormed their way into our hearts when we weren’t even looking.

Mungu ni mwema. God is good.

ps dear family of mine: if i’d been in the states today, i would have totally made you eat this. (isn’t it beautiful?) i take my calling as the Personal Ambassador of the Brussel Sprout seriously. y’all missed/lucked out. :)

pps happiest thanksgiving.

29. November 2013 by nic
Categories: Uncategorized | 6 comments

our neighborhood.

last saturday, while the morning was sloughing its soft skin of sleep, braden and i headed out to photograph our haunts for you. i’ve shown you bits of campus, but i feel like you’ve been missing out on our larger neighborhood.

here we go.

when we head downhill from the main gate, this is the first little intersection we meet. (i used to look both ways before crossing the street, but i’ve since learned that anything large enough to do me damage will rattle and shudder from a quarter mile off.)

most days i turn left where the road spiders off toward the dukas (stores). by the time we work past those leggy pines, at least twenty people have said hello from the street. folks walk a lot here, and we’ve all got dust climbing our ankles.

this building with the flaming door is the place i buy produce for the week. it smells of must and earth. we were too early on this particular morning, but usually i circle the dim interior and pile up potatoes, blushing romas, green beans–purchasing an equal amount from each lady.

but back to the door for a sec. i love how this is a thing here, adorning cinder-block with an entrance the color of fire or sky.

walking on a bit, we hit the supa duka (first door in the red building), impeccably run by sarah and sammy. i mostly buy flour, sugar, blue band (margarine), and sometimes bread and red plum jam. sammy jokes with us about cannibals, and sarah tells me about the antics of her son, who turns two at the end of this month.

three shops down (green door, red umbrella) is mama chiku’s, a pint-sized eatery where we get samosas–some four dozen in one go–for our dorm guys. the samosas are savory with just the right chili kick, and mama chiku herself is about the sweetest person south of the equator.

if we circle back and head downhill, we pretty much trip over the post office. i have not yet braved the postal service, as i haven’t gotten a straight story on whether or not my mail will manage to find its way out of kenya.

but i’m determined to try it soon. possibly.

following the downward slip of dust and rock, we arrive at kijabe hospital, which for all its humble trappings harbors some of the finest medical staff in the nation.

also down this way but unphotographed–a children’s hospital that treats ambulatory needs, several schools, a college educating african pastors from a dozen countries.

i’m not sure when a place stops feeling new and starts being home. i’m not sure if we’re there yet. but the students look like mine and our dorm boys are mine and the neighborhood feels like we belong to it. this seems like a beginning, at least.

there’s so much to love here, and i find that’s true everywhere we’ve lived…that God is there too, bright and fierce and redeeming.

love you all. come see our neighborhood in person. :)

23. November 2013 by nic
Categories: Uncategorized | 9 comments

right at home

This morning I had this hearty half hour of stillness before the day cracked open. My middlest child joined me a bit before six, but for a while there it was just God and quiet and a bright cup of coffee.

laundry

PS I love laundry. I love the pinning and the looking up into all that wind and sky. I do not so much love the folding part, but still. We all start somewhere.

wind

Two weeks back Miss L turned nine. Thanks to a couple friends who let me tag along to Nairobi, we were able to snag a few gifts for her — watercolor paints, a journal and a cat umbrella. Nairobi is a tricksy little place: it boasts lots of Americanish stuff, but most of it costs a bazillion dollars and so you must search high and wide to ferret out the few price tags that don’t make your eyeballs walk out on you.

L had a great birthday, and we even pulled life together enough to have cupcakes and crafts under the tree out front. Or back. (I can never figure out what’s supposed to be the front/back/side of our dorm; there is one side that obviously isn’t the front, but the others are pretty equal. I think I shall start referring to them as Fronts #1, 2 and 3, and Not the Front. That’ll clear things up.)

Also: I do not know about these faces she is making. I try to get her talking to me when I snap pictures these days, because then we usually arrive at actual laughter + some exaggerated personality. She is undoubtedly blessed in the Department of Personality.

Yesterday was Multicultural Day here at RVA, which turned out to be a heap of fun. I tried to memorize the succession of nations as the flag bearers marched in, but I think we are familiar with the limitations of my brain. Here’s what I can still cobble together: we have students from Hong Kong, China, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, Canada, United States, Brazil, Burundi, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania, South Sudan, South Africa, Uganda, Rwanda, and Kenya.

Plus the ones I forget.

The place was rumbling when South Korea and USA walked in, but it positively came undone with the arrival of the Kenyan flag and several of our Kenyan students and staff members.

chai tree

The staff rigged up crafts and food and games (ie dart blowing contests, boomerang throwing), but sadly I have no pictures since the majority of my day was dedicated to the fine art of folding twelve million paper cranes.

Tip of the Week: If anyone ever brings up origami, do not idly mention, Oh I know how to do that. This sort of information is best left as classified, that’s all I’m saying.

And we haven’t even discussed Spiritual Emphasis Week, but I shall have to save that guy for another post, as pretty much only my mother is still reading this one. (See? This is why you’re my favorite mom.) But I need to say this, at least: God is redeeming some people here who mean the world to us.

‘Come set our hearts ablaze with hope like wildfire in our very souls.’ Amen. Bwana Asifiwe.

In case you are wondering.

This is our school chai tree. It is a rusting tangle of welded metal, from which students hang their marginally-clean chai mugs to dry. Some things here are just plain strange, and thus we find ourselves right at home.

We miss you.

Come see us.

x&o,
nic

22. October 2013 by nic
Categories: Uncategorized | 13 comments

favorites.

sundays are the kind of days i want to keep forever. they’re as big as summer and swarming with kids swinging from our forearms and begging to be looped in circles. since the start of school, we’ve gotten to tag along to mai mahiu, a ramshackle town trickling out from a truck stop on the valley floor, where a group of our students do street ministry every sunday morning.

razor wire

if you trace your finger along the transit routes webbing the african continent, you’ll find cities and families gutted by aids. but the children are just like everywhere: nine parts giggles and mischief, all parts reaching to be known. so we pray together, clap as we sing, share a story, and then play jump rope or rugby in the dirt.

to be honest, there’s nothing revolutionary about these mornings. i’m pale and out of place, and in my most shining swahili moments i can just ask my smallish friends if they want to play with me. and the kids, they sometimes bicker and scuffle over pocket toys, try out a few colorful words in english. but God has his sights set on each one of us, and so we sing.

* *

we’ve made it through four weeks of school now, and speaking of school, here we go. these shots are from the first day, a series i’ve titled, ‘mom can we please be done now.’

first day 2013

[the older four find these sorts of things painful, while my seven year old will happily center himself in front of any camera that walks his way. oy about all of them.]

* *

so the kids are playing soccer, which is super fun and also makes me wish there were an adult league going on.

[alright, so we do have an indoor night for staff, but those guys are good and also in shape. i tried to go a few weeks back and almost died. like twice, in fact: once from categorical embarrassment and once from hypoxia. as it turns out, i am looking for an adultish non-competitive it's-completely-cool-if-you-jog-to-the-ball and we-all-totally-believe-that-you-used-to-know-how-to-play sort of league. anyone?]

game with a view

but back to the young folk. so we’re in the thick of soccer season, and it’s one of my favorite things to sit at the top of the hill under a strand of pines and watch my kiddos and dorm guys chase after the ball.

z's game

there’s something about africa that sets loose my understanding of God. i’m only and ever catching glimpses, peering darkly through a glass, and there He is: so much wilder and sweeter than i’d known.

lifting up thanks today, for:

sun and wind in our hills, how it feels like lothlorien.

our students and their moms and dads and younger siblings held safe in the middle of the terrorist attack. there are some unbelievable accounts, y’all, and the stories are still raw and not mine to share, but let it be known: God authors miracles.

mornings that feel like autumn (even though it’s spring here). (i know. weird.)

a fellow staff member and friend whose life was preserved late sunday night.

far away friends with beautiful new babies.

loquat trees, potatoes, bananas, cherry tomatoes and rhubarb–all within picking distance.

a home full of guys who are funny and dear and all of my favorite people.

01. October 2013 by nic
Categories: Uncategorized | 8 comments

fits and starts.

six o clockish is such a nice time for a walk. the sun is doing its slanty thing and the whole campus washes over with wind and gold. right now it’s quiet here, the school breathing slow till the students arrive in two weeks, and we scrambling madly to prepare.

'ohi'a

we’ve been at rva eleven days now, and we’re locating our groove between all the new staff meetings and tag-along drives to pick up laundry baskets and toothpaste from nairobi. yesterday morning the boys washed and hung three loads of laundry, then we walked a half mile to the snaking dirt road of kijabe town and bought vegetables and samosas.

bongo sign

the campus is teeming with ‘ohi’a trees and lilikoi and a ton of other plant life that makes me feel right at home. with the exception of eucalyptus, it’s hard for me to talk plants with anyone because they know the english or swahili names, and for the life of me i can’t think of what that should be. i’m all, you know, those short trees with the hairy red flowers, and they’re like, oh! you mean the bottle brush tree.

i do not understand their aversion to hawaiian names. :)

anyhow, meet our dorm:

bongo corner

bongo back

stairs to nowhere

front

we are the proud soon-to-be dorm parents of the twenty one freshman boys moving into bongo dorm. (when it’s not being a drum, a bongo is an antelope sort of creature with stripes and spiraled horns. a lot of the dorms here are named after kenyan animals.)

side

our apartment is the upstairs part, and the dorm is downstairs, comprised of four-man bedrooms, a lounge, a bathroom, and a smallish kitchen. it’s a lot of dark varnish and cinderblock–picture more camp and less dorm, and you’ll have the right idea. i’m really hoping i’ll get to paint a few walls and remake curtains before the boys arrive, just to make it all a bit sprucier and like home.

(our guys will also spend a good part of their free time in our apartment, we hope, though if our innate coolness is not enough of a draw, i’m not above bribing them with popcorn and chai.)

street

this week we have language courses every day, which is meant to jump-start us into swahili. when you think of us, please pray that God will loosen our tongues and wire our thinkers to have an affinity for language learning. once the school year starts we will have limited time to work on language, and we need every minute to stick.

the week after is three days of all-staff meetings, then the new students arrive, followed by the whole school. we’ll be in both dorm parent and teacher meetings, since todd is also teaching two periods of senior bible and i have a class of eighth grade art. (dear eighth graders: i apologize in advance for the pottery section, though hopefully you shall gain confidence by so brightly outshining your teacher.)

agua

i have so, so much i want to tell you guys, but mostly i was walking the school grounds with lauren last night and i thought: just this. i wish i could just take a quiet walk with you all, one by one.

we miss you, and also we’re so glad for the chance to be here.

* * *

ps loved these words this morning:

we are the broken, You are the healer
Jesus, redeemer, mighty to save
You are the love song we’ll sing forever
bowing before You, blessing Your name

18. August 2013 by nic
Categories: Uncategorized | 16 comments

a thing or two.

kenya requires extra eyes. a pair for scanning the dirt as we walk, searching out footing among the shale and the gullies, the writhing streams of ants.*

a pair to watch for motorbikes or matatus that send us leaping to the side of the road, where rain-plowed trenches meet brambles and barbed wire.

a pair to crinkle at the kids who run up to say, ‘how are you?’ and then flee in a knot of giggles when we’re silly enough to answer.

a pair to blink and nod at the mamas sitting bent and serene beneath strings of bananas.

and a pair to take in the hills and the tulip trees and the bright spots of bougainvillea that festoon the landscape like so much confetti.

maybe it’s just that i’m new here, with loads to take in, but i hope i never stop seeing kenya.

we’re winding down our last days of training here in machakos. about a week back, we hiked mount iveti (super fun except for the bees that got riled up and zapped a bunch of us good). we sardined into matatus that climbed slick along fogged-up roads all the winding way to church. we sang hymns in kikamba and ate goat stew and rice with the elders. we’ve grown familiar with–if not entirely fond of–drop toilets, and we’ve learned the prevailing rule of survival in kenya: if you believe in toilet paper, bring it with you.

classes this week have been good. we’re delving into world views and finding that there are no easy answers. this afternoon we got a glimpse of what God is doing in creative access nations, and it’s enough to give your life for. He’s always and wonderfully enough.

next week we’ll head to kijabe and settle into our dorm apartment–at this point it could be the scruffiest shack on the planet; we’re just so ready for some permanence.

yesterday i walked behind a lady who didn’t have shoes, and the shoulder of road there was rocky and spiked with glass and thorns. but she smiled like the day was bright and cool, like a walk under a cloudless sky made shoes extraneous. maybe she was right.

maybe she’ll teach me a thing or two.

 

 

*so you are probably thinking: ants-schmants, but those guys bite like baby crocodiles and leave behind bloody marks on one’s unsuspecting legs. bad ants.

01. August 2013 by nic
Categories: Uncategorized | 6 comments

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