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Eliya’s kindergarten teacher from Wheaton, Mrs. Young, has been so sweet to keep up with us since we’ve left. She has a board dedicated to facts they are learning about Africa from Eliya. So, today, we sent a little video of these two fruits. We had fun. 🙂
I am sitting in the Wheaton Public Library, gazing out over my laptop screen to the winter wonderland of Adam’s Park. It’s one of those brilliantly sunny winter days, puffs of snow dropping from frosted branches and stubborn clumps of unfallen leaves. How I have missed the changing seasons! The past five months have been a time of rest and blessing for our family. Eliya finished up her time at Emerson Elementary School last week, and we have enjoyed family time and some special trips that we couldn’t do while she was in school. We took a trip to the Shedd Aquarium with my sister, Gayle, and her family. We went to the Brookfield Zoo and the Wheaton Historical Society. We also attended a Mom-to-Mom Christmas party yesterday, and have had a wonderful time with family and friends over the past few weeks–filling our tanks as we prepare to head back to Kenya. We have enjoyed joining a small group at church as well as having the chance to visit a few different adult classes. I have been especially blessed by Women’s Bible Study where we have spent the semester in the book of Joshua. I have found myself refreshed and challenged, gaining a renewed respect for the awesome God we serve, the blessing of being forgiven in Christ, and the need to remember and teach our children what the Lord has done. Eliya is finishing up gymnastics class this week, which she has thoroughly enjoyed. She took part in a special music class for children at our church on Sunday evenings. All the kids have loved their Wednesday Bible study, Kids’ Corner, as well as Sunday school classes. If we were to count up all the people that have invested formally in our kids’ lives this past fall, it would probably total over 40. And that doesn’t even count all the informal times with family and friends who love on our kids. It has been a joy to see our kids get to know their cousins and aunts and uncles better. We have lived just a couple of blocks from my brother, Brooks, and his family, and what a special joy that has been! We have seen Daniel go from being our very shy little boy to being very outgoing and passionate about firetrucks and “man boots” and “tacka tackas” (tractors). Eliya has proven herself to be a good student, enjoying the classroom atmosphere. She is looking forward to going back to homeschool in Kenya too, which is the route we will take for now. Carys struggled initally, but seems to have become more comfortable with life here. She is still eager to get back to Kenya and she still wears her Kenyan dresses most days. She often has a kind word for those around her. The other day she said, “Daddy is the best daddy in the whole world!” Then she paused and said with concern, “Do we need to tell all the other kids that their daddy isn’t the best daddy in the whole world?” Talia continues to flit about like a little fairy, still getting into all kinds of mischief, but full of delight and chortles, which makes the cleanup a little easier. 🙂 She and Daniel have enjoyed going to classes together and grocery shopping with Mommy in the double-kid carts at Aldi. I love Aldi. All our kids fight like cats and dogs and drive us crazy sometimes, but they are SO much fun and they DO go to sleep most nights, and we are very grateful for each one of them.
This weekend, we will leave to go spend about a week and a half in New York with Grandma and Grandpa Viands and Jamie’s sister and her family. On the way, we will stop and see my Grandma Porter, and my aunt and uncle and cousins in Morenci, MI, along with a college friend. We are greatly looking forward to this trip and the memories to be made to last for the next couple of years.
We plan to come back for the week of Christmas, pack up and then head out on January 1st for Kenya. Time has flown, and yet it has felt like a good amount of time to be here. Jamie is preparing his classes and is eager to get back to his students. I am looking forward to going back to our life in Kenya as well, although there is an ache that will probably just always be a part of our lives when we have people we love on different sides of the world.
Jamie is giving me time in the library, but it is fleeting, so I think the rest of this post will be in pictures. Thank you to anyone who takes the time to read this, well, Mommy’s blog! 🙂
I asked Carys what she likes to do with play dough. Her answer? “Play with it!” 🙂
Special cousin time with Gayle’s girls, Kristina and Kate
Thanksgiving with all of us under one roof for the first time since we left for Kenya over two years ago! 16 grandchildren, 15 adults, and we had a wonderful time.
Jamie’s heartstrings are tugged by Trevor and Gayle’s baby Joshua
Play time with cousins!
First snow, long-awaited
Aunt Emily and Baby Joshua and Susanna
We have had a wonderful time with Jamie’s folks for the past week and a half. So thankful for this time with them!
We have been back in the US since mid-July, so it’s about time for a quick recap! First we spent a couple of weeks with my gracious parents, their home stocked with toys, bikes and scooters for the kids to try out (special thanks to a very kind friend, Mary, who garage-saled and gave many of those fun things).
Then we spent a week at Gull Lake Ministries in Michigan where we met up with almost all of my mom’s side of the family, including my Grandma Porter whom we surprised with a 90th birthday party. The next seven photos are credited to Kayla Walker, who is an amazing photographer. I forgot to make that important note in the first edition of this post!
My sisters and I also met up with college friends, which was a sweet time while we were there. We were to head to northern Wisconsin the following week, but the kids came down with hand-foot-and-mouth disease, Daniel and Carys the worst. Even now, six weeks later, their toenails and fingernails have finally finished falling out. They have certainly handled it better than I would! We ended up not getting to go to visit Wendy and Steve in Wisconsin, which was disappointing for all. We did go the following week to northern Michigan to spend a week with Jamie’s family on a small lake in Traverse City. More pics to come in a later post!
The kids were still dealing with sickness, but we had a good time anyway. We moved from my parents’ home into a rental home in Wheaton on August 1st between trips. It has been a lovely home for us to be in while we are here, and we are so grateful! It is owned by my brother, Brooks, and his wife, Emily, and we are their first renters. It is such a joy to be just a couple of blocks from cousins and family. So many have given or lent items for the home to be furnished while we are here, and each dish, curtain, or bed is a reminder of the kindness and generosity of our loved ones. The neighborhood is full of dogs, and every morning, the kids pull down the drapes and paste their noses to the windows to watch the many doggies that are walked up and down our street. People have been very friendly and welcoming. We made the decision to enroll Eliya in kindergarten at the school two blocks from our house.
Her teacher, Mrs. Young, is so kind and so good with the kids. I was feeling sad though, that Eliya would be missing out on the great “Kids Corner” Bible study on Wednesday at our church. The day before the Bible study started two weeks ago, I finally got up the nerve to ask Eliya’s teacher if we could take her out on Wednesdays to go to Bible study. To my surprise, Mrs. Young was enthusiastic about it and encouraged me to go for it. She said Eliya is doing well and is bright and will be fine to miss one day a week of kindergarten. Thank You, Lord. I felt so blessed by this and it put my heart at peace a bit since I had been struggling with our decision so much. We have settled into a bit of a routine now, the kids are sleeping well, and we are all pretty healthy again. I did come down with a pretty severe case of mastitis (yes, I do feel like a cow) that knocked me out for two days or so. I have not been that sick in a long time, and I am very thankful to be back on my feet again. I think Jamie is glad too. 🙂 Speaking of Jamie, what a trooper he has been. In our time being back, he has done so much to help with the kids and also take care of the many logistical things that we need to do for Africa Inland Mission, including taxes and insurance paperwork. We both have been meeting up with friends and people who are interested in what we are doing in Kenya. I am enjoying a number of special park dates where I can chat with old and new friends while the children are enjoying themselves. Jamie has been doing research and writing, but a fair amount of his time is taken up with helping with the kids so we can both have time to catch up on things like dentist appointments and things that are harder to do in Kenya. I’m sure it’s always a big question, “What do missionaries do on home assignment?” I guess we wonder the same things, but honestly, our children keep us hopping these days, and between caring for them and meeting with people, there seems to be very little time for much else. We will be traveling to Michigan and New York next week, spending time with family and visiting churches and ministry partners. It is a joy to meet with those who have been praying for us and are eager to hear what the Lord is doing in Kenya. And it is wonderful for us to have the chance to hear what has been going on back home as well.
My time is nearly gone. Actually, I should have left the library five minutes ago. But lest I never post this, I must just include some two-year-old twins pictures as they celebrated their birthday on Labor Day. I’ll end with these for now and try to post again soon!
The past few months have been quite full. We had a few big goodbyes as all our missionary neighbors went on home assignment. We miss them! The campus has been quiet since the end of the semester, but we are gearing up now for graduation on July 8. I finally took the babies to Sunday school, and they loved it! Jamie and I have been switching off Sundays for nearly two years now as it has just been too hard to take the babies and manage the big girls without a nursery, so it is exciting that maybe now we can go to church as a family again. Eliya made a new friend at church, and since she is so shy there, this was a real encouragement to us. We have had a lot of sickness, resulting in our first midnight ER visit in Machakos when poor Daniel got pneumonia. He bounced back quickly, thanks to great care and many prayers. A week and a half ago, Eliya was admitted to the hospital in Nairobi because she was displaying signs of meningitis. They wanted to do a spinal tap and wait for results from that, so she stayed there for four days. Thankfully, she just had meningism, which mimics meningitis, but is not so serious. It was pretty scary waiting for those results as she dealt with a stiff neck, severe headache and limb pain. We were so grateful to all who prayed with us and showed such great concern. She is back to her happy self now, praise God. I (Kim) went on a scenic tour of Nairobi by accident while venturing into the big city without my navigator husband, and I realized that although I am directionally challenged, I have a certain aptitude for going around in large circles. Surely this is a gift in itself! Talia learned to climb out of her crib, and Daniel suddenly began talking like crazy. The baby pudge on Daniel is giving way to long limbs and a little boy look. He and Talia both tear through the house, pulling things off shelves, dumping drawers (preferably with hundreds of beads in them), and playing with the toilet and faucets whenever possible. The difference between them is that Talia will stop to enjoy her spoils, while Daniel will move on immediately to the next weak spot in the house. Talia still seems tiny and baby-like, though she is quite strong and can hold her own with any of her siblings when it comes to the iron grip on a desired object. Carys is hilarious these days, at night coming to tell me that David andGoliath have given her balloons and….on and on it goes. She affirms her own sentences with a sound “mmmmhmmm” or “yeah.” Eliya is learning to read Bob Books and is really coming to enjoy her school work. She is greatly looking forward to attending kindergarten in the US (though we don’t know what form that will take yet…we have a couple of options). Jamie flew to Kisumu (western Kenya) to visit students on internship, and we got a couple of botflies (you don’t want to know, really). We are now making preparations to head back to the US on July 10. We are so excited to see family and friends in the US, but we will miss our Kenyan family.
I’d better throw some pictures in here and then get to bed!
Despite her facial expression, Eliya had a lovely time with these kiddos!
Yeah, painting ourselves is half the fun
Eliya will be five years old on May 21, and Carys will turn three on May 8. We had a birthday bash over the weekend, so just for fun, here is a little snapshot!
Last Friday we celebrated the end of the year with a goat roast. The student fellowship group that has met in our home this past year arranged for the purchase of the goat. They slaughtered it early in the morning and brought it to our house for the cutting and cooking. It is a fun event for all, though it takes a lot of time and sweat to prepare. It ends up as a delicious meal that is usually reserved for Christmas or special occasions–like an end-of-the-school-year celebration.
Here is a compilation of life at the moment for us. The twins are especially fun these days as they have learned to enjoy one another’s company so much. When Jamie saw this, he commented that it seemed so serene. Don’t be fooled, the peaceful music is actually a rather comical addition to days full of laughter, tantrums, messes, hugs, and often a flustered mommy. However, we thank God for each moment He has given us with these little ones.
My neighbor and friend, Grace, put this video together of a visit we took to a fish farm recently. It was a fun day!