Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Multicultural Day!

Every time I give a campus tour to prospective families, I boast that RVA has students from over 30 countries. Yes, you read that correctly; the student population at our K-12 school of just under 500 kids is a mix of over THIRTY different nationalities!  We have students from Paraguay to China, Australia to Germany, South Africa to the Netherlands and (almost) everywhere in between. 

This past Thursday students and staff gathered to spend the day celebrating our diversity by taking part in what is known as Multicultural Day.  Thanks to the creativity and talent of the staff members who spent weeks planning the event, it was a huge success and a memorable recognition of the unique cultures and languages that God has given us.

The theme of Multicultural Day changes every year.  This year, in the spirit of Rio, our theme was RVA Olympics.

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Our opening ceremonies included the running in of the Olympic torch, Olympic flag and Kenyan flag…

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….and also included lighting of the Olympic torch!

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The students were divided into different country teams and then each group of teams (Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania) was assigned a color to wear.  Before the games started some very patient staff members helped organize everybody into an Olympic rings formation.

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After the opening ceremonies, teams ran around campus participating in 28 different events.  Events like long jump,…

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…synchronized swimming (minus the pool),

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…building flags out of LEGOs,

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…tightrope walking,

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…and hungry, hungry hippo!

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Students were also able to pose with athletic chalk drawings spread throughout the campus.



Our closing ceremonies involved awarding gold, silver and bronze medals to the top three teams and included what has become one of my favorite RVA traditions, the flag ceremony.  For the ceremony, the oldest student from each of the over 30 nations represented at RVA is given the privilege of carrying in their country’s flag to the sounds of their country’s national anthem and the cheers of the student body.  They then address the crowd with a word or phrase in their country’s national language.

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I’ll admit that I got teary-eyed watching the flag ceremony this year.  All of these kids are so far from not only their passport countries, but also from the countries where their families are living.  God has brought together this talented and diverse crew because He’s called each of their families to spread the good news of the Gospel. Each of their families with their varying strengths and weaknesses, culture and language, passions and talents all serving separately and yet together for the same goal.  Each willing to leave behind the family, friends, comfort, and familiarity of their passport country because they know that Christ is worthy.  And each unique parts of the Body of Christ.

Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body.  We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.  In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well.    Romans 12:4-6a

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Kijuu in America

I’ve often wondered what it would be like to take an R. person to America. All of the firsts they would experience like the first drive thru restaurant, first eight lane highway, or first ride on an escalator!  My friend Kijuu has visited the United States twice, once in 2015 and again this past April, both times to visit a former American missionary he had worked with in Tanzania. In honor of the upcoming 4th of July festivities, I thought it would be interesting to share the “firsts” Kijuu experienced in the good ole’ US of A!

These trips were Kijuu’s first experience on an airplane…


… his first time to step foot on American soil…


…his first time to visit our nation’s capital, Washington D.C….






…his first time to take in the magnitude and capacity of large American farms… (He couldn’t get over how many hundreds of animals these farms keep, the fact that the tractors use GPS to drive themselves, or the fact that Americans actually grow food that is only to be used as animal feed.)






…his first time seeing snow(!)…


…his first time coming face to face with our second amendment…           (“Guns?!  For everyone?!  That’s impossible!”)


…his first time eating an American dinner complete with all the fixings…


…his first time going to a T4G (Together for the Gospel) conference…           (Kijuu was in awe of the magnitude of resources available at the bookstore and commented that worshipping with thousands of believers reminded him of what heaven might sound like some day.)


(He was also given the opportunity to meet both David Platt and John Piper.)




…his first time visiting the Kansas City sending church of one of his American SIL coworkers…


…and his first time falling asleep in a minivan at the end of a long day!


I will say, his “firsts” in my home country were a bit different from my “firsts” in his… first cup of spoiled milk, first time to butcher a chicken, first time planting 2 acres of crops, first time falling asleep under a mosquito net, and first time celebrating the 4th of July from across an ocean.  Happy Independence Day, friends!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Still Waiting

I could sense the urgency in Kijuu’s voice as he spoke; his longing to return to the village he had visited last year, palpable.  A village where, through the Holy Spirit’s leading, he had met the old man with the wrinkled eyelids who had recognized the Bible as God’s Truth.  A man who had longed to learn more, longed to be salted, and longed to see his relatives and neighbors recognize their true origin as children of the High King of Heaven.  Kijuu had not had the chance to visit since their first meeting and the responsibility to share more of God’s Word with the man was weighing on him.

And so, halfway through my recent trip to Tanzania, Kijuu and I borrowed motorcycles and left the team to visit the old man’s village.  As we pulled up to the old man’s house, we were surprised by the number of people that filled the house.  (For a culture that predominantly lives outdoors during daylight hours, it’s unusual for such a crowd to be gathered inside in the middle of the afternoon.) After being welcomed inside and exchanging greetings, we learned that the people were gathered because they were marking the 40th day since the old man’s death.  His relatives went on to share how the man had told them that people would come to teach about God.  He had believed that people would come some day and he had been waiting for their arrival.  Our hearts sunk as we processed this- not only the news of his death, but also the realization that it was too late.  Here was a man hungry for Truth and yet there had been nobody to bring it.

God is using the death of this old man to awaken in us a sense of urgency. God created and loves this R. people, He desires for them to glorify Jesus as Lord and He is opening some of their eyes to desire Truth; there just aren’t enough people to take the Gospel to them.  Pray with us.  Pray for the R. people, pray for those who are currently laboring among them, and pray for more laborers, especially believing Tanzanians, to answer God’s call to be sent out.


Matthew 9:37-38 Then he (Jesus) said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Pennsylvania Meets Tanzania

We huddled around the table on Easter Sunday, enjoying a breakfast of bread and chai.  Alec, Jeff, Mike, and George had arrived from Lancaster, PA on Good Friday and together we had made the trek down to Tanzania, where we met up with my former teammate, Kim, and our Bible translating friend, Kijuu.  The four visitors had been sent from Grace Church in Pennsylvania (a church who has adopted the R. people as their unreached people group) with a goal of gaining a clearer vision of how they, as a church, could be involved.  Though I had never met any of these men, our shared desire to see Christ known among the R. people, brought bonds that came fast and deep.  Throughout our 10 days together, three major themes emerged.

First, we prayed for the people and we prayed for the land. We visited and prayed with local churches in Kijuu’s home village, asking God for a revelation of His grace, praying that followers would abandon spirit worship, and seeking for Christ to be honored as Lord.  Kijuu took us to his former high school and, after he showed us the spot where a sacrifice to the spirits had been made during construction of the school, we prayed at that spot for God to break any bonds to the evil one.  As we went to the village where our team had served, we prayed over the Resource Center, prayed for Patrick and his family, prayed for Kim and her future, and prayed for God’s Truth to shine.  Our time spent in prayer was sweet fellowship together with our Savior.

Second, we found our time with local believers and those working among the R. people mutually encouraging.  While in our old village, Kim welcomed us warmly and went out of her way to ensure we had food, water for showers, and beds.  We marveled how the Lord has helped her to adapt to life in Tanzania- her language skills are incredible and she’s even proficient at cooking over a fire- and praised God for the ways He is opening doors for her to share Christ. 


We encouraged Patrick’s family by helping him install rain gutters and a water tank, that had been donated by Grace Church, on the Resource Center.  Patrick will now be able to collect rain water and store it for months of use.  The tank will also help the kindergarden he’s currently running to be more profitable, because he won’t have the expense of paying for water delivery.  The night after we installed the tank, God brought rains hard enough to fill the 800 gallon tank; nothing beats free water delivery!

Third, we felt the urgency for gospel centered revival. As part of our trip, we visited 2 villages asking and praying that God would open the doors for a future outreach team. As we approached each village, we were greeted by the village executive officer; the very person we needed to show us around was the first person God brought across our paths! Kijuu had copies of Scripture with him and God gave him the chance to both hand them out and read out loud to a room full of people.  As we were confronted with witchcraft, funerals, and an eagerness to hear God’s Truth, our hearts longed for the R. people to be released from their captivity. Pray with us and with Grace Church that the truth found in Isaiah 61 would become true among the R. people, for God’s ultimate glory!


The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
    he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
    and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor,
    and the day of vengeance of our God;
    to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
    to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
    the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
    the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.
Isaiah 61:1-3

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Adding a third grader to the mix…

This year has started out with one major change to our family. For the next 6 months, we’ll have an 8 year old “daughter”!  How did that happen?  Missionary friends of ours who practice medicine in Tanzania were having trouble finding a schooling solution for their youngest daughter. Though her two older brothers go to school at RVA, finding space in the dorm for her had proved to be a challenge.  By living with us for the remainder of this school year, Rachel can attend RVA’s elementary school and get an introduction into what life will be like next year when she lives in the dorm.  Through Rachel has only been with us four weeks, she has quickly become a part of the family and God has already given us a love for her.  She is a sweet and chatty girl and is a great big sister for Addilyn.  Please pray for Rachel as she continues to adjust to life at RVA.  Pray for Jared too, as he’s now the only male in a house of 17 females!!!

Posing for a selfie while watching the dorm girls’ soccer try-outs.thumb_IMG_3240_1024

Now that Rachel is in the family, Addilyn rides around the house in style!thumb_IMG_3220_1024

Two beautiful girls all dressed up in their Sunday best.thumb_IMG_3422_1024

Rachel’s thoughts on her first month at RVA.  IMG_3541“I like to play at RVA because it is cool and it has a playground.  School is fun because it has art and chapel. (Friends) I had a sleepover with Anika, we had a dress-up party.  In Sunday school, I learned that God can’t lie or break a promise.  I like Addie because she is cool and she plays with me.”

Monday, October 12, 2015

International Birthday Party

This past Tuesday was a big day,
as sweet Addilyn turned one;
but without our family there
it just wasn't any fun.

So we thought and we thought,
"What remedy can we find?"
And after quite some time,
an idea came to mind.

A multi video Skype visit,
an international birthday party if you will.
Family logging on and calling in;
a way to be together without a travel bill!

So we sent out evites and purchased gifts,
then baked a cake and decorated.
After scoping out the camera angles,
we logged online and then we waited.

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Grandparents and aunts, uncles and cousins,
one by one they joined the chat.
Smiles and greetings on their faces
while in their living rooms they sat!

Twenty-two people in attendance,
all gathered for one purpose.
Addie couldn't take her eyes off the screen,
and at times seemed almost nervous.


The party started with gifts,
first a tiny stroller and a sweet baby doll.
Next she opened a set of blocks-
great for building towers and then watching them fall.

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   After presents, it was time for cake:
chocolate on chocolate and covered with sprinkles.
Despite the distance, we sang together,
then sat watching to see cake cover every wrinkle.


However, Addie took her time
And nibbled delicately
A small bite here and a lick there,
mostly just rubbed on her tummy.

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After photos and good laughs,
It was time to say goodbye.
We parted ways with happy hearts,
thankful to celebrate this sweetie pie.

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So happy first birthday Addilyn,
we thank the Lord for you.
These 12 months have brought us lots of joy
and wonder as you grew and grew!

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