Dealing With Difficulties

I just posted a blog called difficult. It was a small glimpse into one of the darkest and most challenging times of my life. If you haven’t read it, you can read it here. I figured it might be worthwhile to talk about what helped me to get out of these challenging times and overcome the stress that had consumed my life. I hope that it might help someone else in the same situation.

Say no. You have to start bringing balance back to your life. Learn to say no. Do it because you can. It might be something that you have always done in the past for someone, but you need a little extra time for yourself right now.

If you are like me, I have a hard time saying no because the request I am saying no to is often something good. I have learned that looking for a third way is often helpful. We tend to see requests as black and white, yes I can do it or no I cannot. Look for ways to help people that still protect yourself, while avoiding a flat no.

For example, the other night I had a mechanic working at my house. He was helping me fix something that another person had messed up and he was here until almost 9pm. He asked if I could give him a ride to town. It wasn’t a bad request. It would have been a half hour walk and at night it can be dangerous. But I was tired, hungry, and annoyed because it took so long because of the other person’s incompetence. I said no, but then I arranged for a taxi to come and pick him and I paid for it. I protected my needs while still helping. Focus. I had a helpful talk with a close friend. He asked me what I was doing that was different from why I came to Kenya as a missionary to begin with. He reminded me of my calling and my goals. We all have something that guides us, whether it is a spiritual calling or a job description. We cannot do everything and we shouldn’t try. This is also a good time to consider what your gifts are.

I started to focus on what I was good at and what I had come to Kenya to do. I have learned that my time is best spent in training. If I take on a new duty, the first thing I look for is who can I train to do this. The goal is for everything in our ministry to be Kenyan led. For you it might be different, but learn to utilize the talents of those around you and focus on what you need to get done. If you are a design engineer, let someone else manage the manufacturing. If you run a small business, pay someone else to build your website. If you are a school janitor, value your job, because you allow the teachers to focus on teaching.

As I talked to my friend about my calling, I saw 2 major areas that were different than why I had originally come to Kenya as a missionary. The one area I realized was a way that my calling had shifted and I should continue doing it. The other area ended up being outside what I was in Kenya to do and I realized it was the leading source of my stress. Getting rid of it was hard, but it has put me on the road to recovery.

Don’t be the dumpster. Follow Paul’s example. At the beginning of 1 Corinthians 5, Paul rebukes the people for allowing immorality so bad that it is “of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans.” He tells them to remove the involved party from their midst immediately. If we stop and think for a moment, it should seem strange that the church did nothing to address such an appalling sin within their group. It was so public that word reached Paul who was far away.

The likely answer is that the new church leaders that Paul had left behind didn’t want to deal with the tough issues. We know that Paul had no problem rebuking people. The leaders he left behind were probably waiting for Paul to come back and take care of the problem. They might have even been the ones who let Paul know about the problem. Paul refused to have the issue dumped on him. Instead of running back to Corinth to put people in line, he spent more time rebuking the church leaders than the ones who were in sin. He made them deal with it because it was their problem and not his.

Don’t be a dumpster. People are all too happy to let you deal with all the problems. Don’t fall into the temptation to always catch things before they come crashing down. It is hard. I was running an orphanage because the local people responsible refused to care. I was stressed to the max but couldn’t abandon orphans. The children probably suffered more because I was the “leader” but too far away to meet their needs. The moment I quit is the day that the right person for the job took over. I had to get out of the way no matter how hard it was. When you stop being the dumpster, it forces others to clean up their own mess.

Pray, pray, pray! I do not know whether to put this one first or last. It should probably be in both positions so I put it in the middle. I learned through this hard time that my relationship with Jesus is vastly more important than my list of achievements as a missionary. The way that we relate with Jesus is through prayer. It is how we find peace and guidance. It is how we know what to say no to and it is our source of wisdom in trying times.

In Matthew chapter 7, Jesus tells a terrifying story of a very religious person (he called Jesus “Lord, Lord”) who is rejected from Heaven. This persons lists the incredible things that he had done including prophesying, casting our demons, and many other “mighty works.” Jesus’s response was “depart from me, I never knew you.” It is all about relationship and not what we do. This is so liberating because many of our difficulties come from a compulsion to do.

Even if you are not a Christian (and I strongly encourage you to try praying to Jesus), it is still proven that prayer/meditation is helpful. When you are stressed, you cannot think straight, you become forgetful, and it is hard to plan ahead. The immediate consumes you. Creative thinking happens best when your mind is clear. It is amazing how much clearer I can think after I pray. Finding quiet time is essential to getting unstuck.

Take vitamins This might seem like a strange point, but it is the thing that helped me get over the hump. As the stress settled in, I lost my energy and was getting sick all the time. It culminated in chest pains so bad I thought I was having a heart attack. Even when I started to find better balance in my life and the stress levels returned to normal, my energy did not come back. I was fatigued all the time which made catching up on work and life that much harder.

One night I couldn’t sleep. I got out of bed and went to look for something that would make good background noise on the TV. I didn’t want something interesting so I turned on one of those crazy, fringe documentaries about food and health. It started talking about using vitamins to cure sicknesses, even cancer. I am not a doctor, and please see your doctor for serious medical conditions, but I decided to dust off the multivitamins that my wife, Abby, had bought. It couldn’t hurt, so I decided to take one in the morning and in the evening. Within a couple days my strength returned. It was amazing how much of a difference it made.

Exercise Along with making sure that your body gets the nutrients it needs, exercise is really important. I was an athlete growing up, but the busyness of life, especially during difficult times makes exercise one of the first things to go. I was too busy to get out and play soccer with our school students like I normally do.

Over the years, I have tried different workout videos to keep myself in shape. I like going to the gym, but the first gym I found here in Nanyuki was a pile of weights in someone’s backyard. There are better ones now, but they are expensive. I was into insanity for awhile, but when I tried to get back into it after stopping for a couple months, I threw up from pushing too hard. I hate waking up painfully sore too. Abby likes T25, but it feels too much like running. I have settled on PiYo, which is a combination of pilates and yoga. The stretching has improved my breathing and helped my back pain. I wake up the next day feeling sore enough to know I worked out without being miserable.

The point of my rambling is to say find an exercise that fits you. I have started looking at mountain bikes because it will get me outside for cardio. I hate running. Get into a new workout slowly so that you don’t burn out the first week. You don’t have to kill yourself to have a good workout. It is also not bad to try different options. There are too many great resources available these days to have any excuses not to exercise, and the endorphins your body releases are a great way to start the day and combat the feeling of depression.
Remember your family Having a supportive family (or friends) is key to getting through hard times. Abby was incredible through all of it, but also remember that your family needs you. It was a constant temptation to want to fall into self pity and shovel my problems onto those around me.

When you are struggling, do not be afraid to communicate your needs to your significant other. It is impossible to hide when you are super stressed, so it is better to have it in the open. But facing challenges in work or others areas of your life is not an excuse to quit your responsibilities at home. You do not need to add relationship problems to your list of problems.

For parents, play with your kids more (if you are single, some people find great strength in getting a pet). My daughter never cared how stressful or busy my day was. She just wanted to play with daddy. Being around her helped me forget my struggles and laughter is also good for helping your mood. Kids see the world through such incredible simplicity and pureness.

The bottom line is that, if your are there for your family and close friends, they will be there for you.

Difficulties will always be there. I have learned that hard times in life often simply serve to prepare us for an even harder time down the road. Still there are those times that are unbearably hard. These are some of the things that helped me survive one of the hardest periods of my life, and I hope you have found something that helps you one day.

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Difficult

It has been a long time since I wrote a blog. Not because I have not had anything to say, but because nothing I wanted to say felt completely honest. There have been so many great things going on here in Kenya, but it has been hard trying to write anything while knowing that I am hiding the way I feel inside.

This year has been extremely difficult.

My sending pastor once paid me one of the highest compliments of my life. While introducing me to a crowd, he said I was the most natural missionary he had ever known. If you know me, then you probably know what he meant.

I can sleep anywhere, eat anything, and adapt to almost any environment. I tend to be a jack of all trades and learn new skills quickly. I love a challenge and an adventure. God called me to the missions field from a young age and has been preparing me ever since.

God made me and prepared me to be a missionary. In college everyone called me “the Africa guy.” I was fully ready to leave everything behind and go wherever God leads (Isaiah 6:8). It all seemed so simple and easy.

And for the first few years it was easy. I have seen God work in amazing ways. Even when life was hard, I could see God’s purpose and plan being played out, and I loved being a part of it.

Then lots of problems started happening in the ministry. I had to make hard decisions that I didn’t feel prepared for. People were depending on me unfairly, dumping their problems on me, and there was never enough time in the day. Cultural differences started eating away at my easy going personality, and at times I would snap.

I started to make adjustments. I started saying no more and making sure that I blocked out days to rest and spend time with my family. I started pushing back and leaning on others for help and support. I thought I was doing a good job.

Then in April, I was driving to the airport to pick up the Daniels who had just returned from an unplanned medical trip to the States. As I was driving, I started to have chest pain. It got to the point where I pulled over. I didn’t want to be driving with my family in the vehicle if the pain turned for the worse. After a few minutes, the pain went away and we continued on our journey.

I was scared. I started researching heart attacks and trying to find any other possible causes of the pain. By recommendation of a nurse friend, I started checking my blood pressure. It was high for someone my age, but it was still just below the edge of the dangerous zone. I saw the doctor and even had a full heart exam from a mobile clinic that just happened to be passing by.

In the end, everything checked out okay. The conclusion was that I was just too stressed. You can know every stress reducing trick in the book, but that doesn’t make stress easy to control. You can set good boundaries, but it doesn’t make the to-do list any shorter.

As I came to terms with my stress, I started to realize how bad it was. And as I sit here talking about my stress, I am feeling like the word is to impersonal and vague.

I was sick all the time. Little things like a cold or stomach issues. I had small aches and pains and I often felt fatigued. My productivity went way down as I just couldn’t focus and didn’t have energy. This only made the stress worse.

Worst of all I suffered spiritually. I only see it looking back, but my quiet time went down the drain. I would read the Bible, but it meant nothing. I would pray sometimes, but it felt empty. Then I started reading less and praying less, until it became almost non-existent. I still had devotions to teach and sermons to preach, so I was using my Bible. I was still sharing key verses with others about salvation and providing guidance during life problems, but my relationship with Jesus was stagnant and smelly.

I was “the Africa guy,” but I can’t tell you how many days this year I have woken up and just wanted to go back to the U.S. I can’t tell you how many times I told Abby I don’t want to be here anymore. There are all the days I never wanted to get out of bed, the tears I cried, mostly in private, and the feelings of hopelessness and despair.

And with the exception of a few missionary friends and Abby, I felt like I had to hold it all inside. It was not because I was afraid to tell others and wanted it to be a secret. It was because I didn’t want people to worry.

I also didn’t trust that people would understand, and sometimes I didn’t understand. Hindsight is 20/20. It is easy for me to see how bad things were looking back, but in the moment it just felt like another bad day.

The next thing I want to write is “please don’t worry about me.” And seriously please don’t. Don’t want me to come home. Kenya is home. Don’t give me medical advise. I have already seen a couple doctors. Don’t recommend a book on time management or dealing with stress. I have read enough.

But please do worry about me and all the other missionaries out there. Living in a new culture is hard. It is the little things that drive us crazy. It is not being able to find the item we need that would only take a quick trip to the Walmart in the States. It is the people who always try to overcharge us and take advantage of us. It is the mechanics who remove parts from our car instead of fixing them. It is the worry that we might get harassed by a corrupt cop every time we take a drive. It is having to be mindful of cultural differences every time we talk and how everything takes 3 times as long to do and how no one can relate to what your life use to be like in America.

….It has been awhile since my scare in April and even a couple months since I wrote the first words of this blog. I haven’t had any more chest pain and I am feeling much better. I have so much more I want to say, but I feel like this is everything I need to say. I needed to be honest before I could start writing about the ministry and other things that I love to share.

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A Time for Everything

Feeling extremely grateful this week and I just wanted to share a little bit.

A few weeks ago we had a team come and paint most of our house. They worked straight for 3 days and it looks awesome! They also spent a lot of time just hanging out with and encouraging us.

IMG_1739                                                           Our main wall color throughout the living room and hallway.

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The other rooms are still under construction, so no pictures at this point. Smile

At the same time the team was here, my in-laws were visiting. Brad, who always spends most of his days building something amazing for us, built us a closet! For the first time in 4.5 years, all of my clothes are in a closet (vs. storing in a suitcase)!! They also watched the kids for us for a night so Andrew and I could get away (to celebrate our anniversary), as well as taking us on an amazing safari for a few nights.  Thanks Brad and Karen!!

IMG_1555   Andrew and I stayed at a lodge, and this view is from our balcony where we saw buffalo, water bucks, elephants, and a hyena! It was so peaceful and relaxing.

We are currently turning the workers quarters, which is on our property, into a guest house.  We are building on to make it about double the size, to fit large families. We have several friends who are missionaries up north, in the desert of Kenya. They come down frequently to resupply and get a break. They have no place to stay other than guest houses, which are very expensive, especially when you have 6 kids! The builders have been here for about 3 weeks now. They have laid the concrete floor and are about to start building the walls. It’s so exciting to see that it’s actually being done, and it might be ready for us to use in a few months.

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All of these things have made life pretty exciting around here. But the reason I think that I am feeling encouraged is because this has actually started to feel like home for me. Something that I swore I would NEVER say.

A few years ago, I was sure that this life was not going to be long-lived for us. I didn’t like it and wasn’t sure I would make it much longer. I didn’t fit in, and I didn’t want to.

Well, I still don’t fit in fully, but now I am trying! I have found my place and the Lord has been so comforting through it all. He is so faithful! He so gently nudged me (with Andrew’s help) to get involved in the ministry, and I have found it incredibly rewarding. I absolutely love working with the school here at Mt. Kenya Baptist.  The teachers are amazing and are stepping out of their comfort zones and following me where I am leading them…which I know is not easy!

Andrew has been out of town this week. In the past when he has been gone, I hunker down in my home, and never leave. I sit alone, praying for the time to go quickly and that no one tries to break in while he’s gone. But this week, I have been so busy! I have been out every day, met with friends, gone to the school, and enjoyed every second. I have had no fear and actually kind of enjoyed being on my own. Winking smile 

Also, my kids. My kids are incredible. I love them so much that it hurts..really! If I’m not intentional with my thoughts, I can easily start feeling bad for them. That they are missing out on the American dream—no park days with friends, no holidays with family, no church nursery, no friends from the same culture. The list could go on and on, but the Lord has shifted my view on this too. My kids might be missing some things that we would have in America, but they are actually gaining so much with us living here. They are learning about culture, they will be sensitive to certain world issues that others their age might know nothing about, they will be bilingual (I hope!), and we get to spend a lot of time together as a family! I am so thankful to be raising my kids here on the mission field. 

We will always be in different seasons throughout our lives. I am currently in a season of thankfulness. Thankful that the Lord is good and has brought me through a lot in the past few years, and has taught me to be faithful where he has us. And I am thankful for my life here in Kenya. For my wonderful husband, who is a great leader in our home, and has been so patient with me. And my 2 beautiful children.  This life is not easy, and there are struggles almost daily with things that I wouldn’t deal with if living in America. We face scary situations that we have no control over.  I have to be very intentional with my thoughts and attitude.  But I’ve learned that it’s keeping my faith in check.

All glory be to God for everything!

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:       a time to weep, and a time to laugh;                                                                                         a time to mourn, and a time to dance;                                                                                  

-Ecclesiastes 3:1,4

The steadfast love of the Lords never ceases;                                                                         his mercies never come to an end;                                                                                       they are new every morning;                                                                                                great is your faithfulness.                                                                                                          “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,                                                                      “therefore I will hope in him.”                                                                                               

Lamentations 3:22-24

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Preschool News

The last month has been an exciting one at our school.  I have been working directly with the preschool teachers to make some BIG changes in their classrooms.

The Kenyan schools are on a year round school system. The school year is January-December. There are 3 one month breaks. Each break is about 3-4 weeks long. We had our first break in April.

The first week after the closing of school the teachers have scheming week. They come and do their planning for the next term.  Andrew and I met with the teachers that week and did a lot of training with them for our big changes.  We came up with an overall theme with all the points we are wanting to address in the next year. Here is the outline of the things we want to cover.

Changing the Fundamental Dynamics of the Classroom

1. Classroom Structure (Layout and Schedule)

2. Behavior Management

3. Teaching Methods

4. Communication

5. Assessment

We actually only made it through point 2 in our outline, but the rest of the things will come with time.

We spent the first two days of scheming week doing training on numbers 1 and 2 from above.  How to create a system in the classroom with discipline and positive reinforcement, and how that affects every moment the teacher has with the students. We talked about setting high expectations for the students, and how the students can meet those expectations. How to set up a classroom that is appealing for the students and having a schedule that is age appropriate for the kids from morning until afternoon.

We introduced sticker charts. We put up classroom rules and consequences in each room.  We completely changed their daily schedule. The lessons used to be an hour long and we shortened them to no longer than 30 minutes.  There are labels on everything in the classrooms now. The desks have been rearranged into groups instead of facing forward. We introduced circle time each morning. And the most exciting is that we started centers each day. We bought a lot of toys for the classes and the kids get 45 minutes each day to play. Puzzles, play-doh, crayons, cars, manipulatives, blocks, building materials, books, and even more. The kids are LOVING it!

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The whole scheming week was spent preparing the teachers for how to make these changes. They worked hard completely clearing their classes to make room for the new materials. We put nametags on each students desk. We made backpack hangers for more organization. The teachers organized for the outside wall to be painted. I cannot tell you how impressed and proud of these teachers I am. They have never had any training before on how to teach this way. I know that they are stepping WAY out of their comfort zones by making these changes.

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The way these preschool classes were before we did this training was much different. The students were all in their desks while listening to the standard lecture teaching method. I’m not saying this is wrong; it’s the way most Kenyan schools are running. And these are 3-5 year olds. We are not trying to Americanize these classes, but just make changes to better suit their ages. It is extremely hard for a 3 year old to sit in a desk for even 5 minutes, much less 8 hours!

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School started on Tuesday this past week. We have been using our new schedule and materials for 4 days now. I could not be happier. There are definitely some challenges we are facing that will take some time, but overall things are going awesome!  The teachers are happy and the kids are beside themselves with excitement.

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A Small Girl’s Faith

This is an excerpt from an email with Pastor Onesmus Kibera, shared with his permission. It is the story of one of our nursery school students at Mount Kenya Baptist School whose Grandmother went home to be with the Lord.  

This evening Jimi and I went to comfort a school family. One of the kindergarten children whose grandmother died this week.  Mama Faith Waigwa was a mother to three students, two daughters and a son, in our earlier years at MKBS.  

Paul Waigwa (grandfather) and Faith Waigwa (daughter) went to the Outspan Hospital in Nyeri, Monday morning to check how wife and mother was. They met with relatives at the gate who informed them through gestures that all was not well. Mama Faith had passed on to glory.

Faith fell down in shock, Paul’s legs became light he couldn’t hold himself up. They burst into tears.  The grandfather tried to explain to Sharleen Wambui (kindergarten child) that her grandmother was not there that she had gone to heaven.  At that juncture the child asked her aunt  Faith and her grandfather Paul, “But why are you crying?”. She told them, “grandma has gone to heaven.  Our teacher told us that Heaven is good and happy place.  Grandmother is in a good place.”

Paul Waigwa, shared with us that, the Biblical training a Mt. Kenya Baptist School was effective enough; it was as though God sent His messenger through my granddaughter to keep hope alive that I will be with my late wife some day!  This testimony made my evening. Mama Faith was such a servant leader and Principal of Loise Girls Secondary School, a center of excellence in Laikipia County. I shared God’s word with the friends and family at their home near the old Mama Lilas residence. Congratulations to our teachers, and Sunday school teachers who share God’s word with young minds! 

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Wrapping up 2014

What a wonderful and blessed year 2014 has been for my family. I wanted to take this opportunity, on New Year’s Eve, to give a recap of our year.

In February, Andrew was able to climb Mt. Kenya! The Brown’s joined him, and they took the 4 day journey. It was an incredible trip, and was one item crossed off of his life bucket list.

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We welcomed our precious son, Carson Bradley, into the world March 8. Two days later my mom and grandma flew in to be with us those first few weeks with him. It was so fun having my mom here once again, and introducing my grandma to Kenya. All of our friends were really impressed that she would make this big trip!

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Andrew’s parents came to visit the month of July. What a huge help they were! Brad built us a gorgeous table, a closet for the kids room, and several other things. Karen helped out at the school and did a fantastic job. The teachers loved her and were very encouraged and motivated by her.

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I was able to fly to the States in September with the kids to visit family for a few months. It  was very unexpected and we planned it 3 weeks before it happened. Andrew was planning a ministry trip up north that would be 3+ weeks. With the timing, it worked well for me to go to the States so I wouldn’t have to stay home alone with the kids. It was absolutely perfect, very timely, and left me feeling refreshed. Andrew was also able to come for the last 2 weeks of the trip. So glad he could join us and take a quick break.

IMG_4025  IMG_3609IMG_3770The kids loved the beach!

IMG_3714 IMG_3725IMG_3860Thankful for the friends I was able to see.

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Took Andrew to his favorite American chain…Sonny’s Smile

 

 

 

 

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Carson’s first Halloween. Both kids first time dressing up and trick-or-treating.

 

 

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Carson was dedicated at my home church FBC Pensacola. Such a precious time for our family!

 IMG_4155Walking on the beach with Grandpa.IMG_4192 

 

 

 

 

Last fishing trip just hours before we flew out of the country.

 

 

 

We hosted Thanksgiving for a lot of our new friends here in town. It was so much fun. We cooked a very traditional dinner with turkey and all! I won’t tell you how much our turkey cost, because it was outrageous, but it’s worth it when you live in another country!

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Christmas was really special this year.  Now that we have our own 2 kids, we are beginning new traditions for our family. Kenya is very different than America in that you don’t really know its Christmastime when you are out in public. There is a Christmas tree in our grocery store, but you are not bombarded with decorations everywhere you go. We enjoy the simplicity of the season here. Yes I decorated my house, as much as I could actually. And the decorations might still be up Winking smile I think since it is more low-key, I like the season to last a little longer.  

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Just this year we are feeling more of a part of the community here in Nanyuki. It’s so nice to go into town and run into someone you know. We have made more Kenyan friends, as well as ex-pats that live in the area. There are lots of young people in Nanyuki that come and volunteer with an organization for a few years. We have been trying to reach out to them more, get to know them, and have them over for a meal. Which they don’t mind at all…they’re thankful for some American food. Smile 

Adalyn has grown into a beautiful, sweet, stubborn, and compassionate 2 and a half year old. She is so much fun! She thinks every decision through, and gives her all in everything she does. Though this is a hard age, we consider it a joy that we get to raise her in discipline and grace. Carson is now almost 10 months. He never sticks to a routine because he wants our attention all the time, but I wouldn’t change a thing about my high-maintenance baby boy! He is so loveable and catches everyone’s eye with his sweet smile. I am beyond grateful for my 2 children.

As this year comes to a close today, I look back with thankfulness on how I’ve grown and everything the Lord has done for my family. It has been a year of changes, rejoicing, growing and healing. I’m so excited for 2015 and what it holds! 

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We Went on an Adventure

(This is a post I wrote back in April. I just never got around to organizing all the pictures and putting it up.)

Three nights in the past week I have fallen asleep exhausted on the couch before 8 o’clock. I have been extremely busy trying to work on some leadership adjustments at the school before the close of the term. When I got home on Wednesday, I looked at Abby and said I am taking all of Saturday off to relax and enjoy family, and I want you to hold me to it.

When Saturday rolled around, we decided to go on an adventure. The Browns had been wanting to hike up to the Mau Mau caves, and they invited us to join. It was the perfect idea.

Okay, with a 1 month old and an almost 2 year old, it really seemed like a crazy idea, but we had a good plan. We would go to a lodge which is one of the launching points for hiking to the caves. If the trail seemed too hard, then Abby and I would hang back and play with the kids at the playground while the Browns hiked.

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It was a cloudy day, so the guide recommended that we drive part way. It was the perfect option. We could drive most of the way, yet still enjoying hiking around the caves and waterfall, which is the best part. Plus, it was a great chance to test our Land Rover Defender that we just got back from the mechanic.

Into the forest we ventured. It was a serene drive through the trees, but the road was badly washed out in a couple places. For a hardcore 4×4 like the defender, it was only a small challenge.

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From the place we parked the car, the short hike to the caves was more than enough with 2 kids under 2. With all the rains we have been having the waterfall was roaring. As we arrived, the rains started, but we had found a nice place under a cliff to relax. Our guide, Caesar, used the time to give us a history lesson.

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The caves, or at least what remains of the caves, were used during the Mau Mau Revolution. This is how Kenya gained its independence from Britain. The Kikuyu warriors used the caves as a hiding place and planning grounds. One day a British airplane spotted the hiding place and dropped a bomb on the site, collapsing the roof of the cave.

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As our history lesson wrapped up, the rains began to ease. We climbed up to the top of the waterfall to enjoy the view before hiking back to the car. Caesar knows all about the medicinal applications of the different trees and bushes, but his lesson was cut short as it started to pour. We rushed back to the car. I was glad I had thought ahead and carried my waterproof jacket, so Abby could wear it while I got soaked.

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The mud in this area gets super slick when it rains. In the words of Steve, it is like walking on ice. I knew the areas where the road had washed out would be a challenge, so I locked the differential and set off in 4wd low.. We slid a couple times, and more than once someone banged their head as the car jerked.

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After one particularly precarious section, Caesar told us that was the last hard spot. I was sure relieved, but Caesar was wrong. I rounded a corner and spotted another bad area. 

The initial drop in the washout was about 3 feet. I didn’t want to slide sideways into it. I had 2 options. I could keep left and risk sliding sideways into the small ravine, or I could try to keep the washout between to tires. Since the left hand route was sloped toward the trench and I could all but guarantee that the vehicle would slide sideways, I decided to keep the rut between the tires.

The deep section at the beginning was the most nerve racking part. The right side of the trench was the steepest, so I was focusing on keeping my right tires away from the edge. I ended up over compensating and my left side broke free and slid into the ditch.

My left tires were stuck in the tracks so I had no steering. I could either go forward or back. Behind was the deepest part of the washout, so reversing was not an option. I kept pushing forward, and the car tipped farther and farther as the right tires climbed onto a ridge.

It is not unusual to have to ride the edge of a ridge over here, and Abby is always afraid of tipping over. I always joke with her and play down her concerns, but now her words were ringing in my ears. A foot outside the left windows was the ground.

I quickly stopped the car and braced for it to tip. Luckily the ravine which caused the problem in the first place was also holding us upright. We were at about a 45 degree angle. I glanced at Abby waiting for an unhappy I told you so. She looked back too panicked to say anything.

We had to evacuate the truck. I climbed out the window and freed people from the back. Steve and Caesar climbed out from the middle. Abby had our 1 month old, Carson, wrapped to her chest and didn’t want to move. With everyone else out and the car stable, Abby slid Carson out the bottom window to me. Then she climbed out too.

I made sure to take some pictures, because you always realize afterwards that you have no photos to share the adventure. A couple years ago I had a car fall on me and no pictures to tell the tale.

After evaluating the situation, I climbed back in. It really sunk in how much the car was leaning as I struggled just to stay in my seat. We decided that the guys would push and I would try to go forward. We had made it over most of the worst part, and the car was already so close to the ground that it didn’t have far to fall if it tipped all the way.

At first I couldn’t get any traction. I have a spot in the bumper for a winch which would have made everything easy, but no money to buy one. As I started to think of who I could call for a tow, the tires began to grip.

Slowly I inched forward until I was able to use the force of the ridge on the right tires to push the left side out of the ditch. What a relief!

Caesar was right this time. There were no more really bad spots after that. We made it back to our starting point with a story to tell. I can only imagine what Caesar is telling his friend about the day. It was an adventure for sure. 

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