Debbie is Home
Just a quick note to let you know, Debbie is home and resting. She is doing a lot better then her last surgery at this point. The children are being a big help. We all talked about working together as we all travel the path of mom's recovery. The Lord is good, thank you for all your prayers.
Much Love in Jesus,
Debbie's Recovery (Rothfus, Dec. 21, 2007)
I brought a laptop down to Debbie’s room today and am writing as she is resting. I feel that this surgery is going so much better than her last (the ruptured appendix) mainly because she is just healing and not fighting an infection at the same time. She keeps apologizing for being so groggy and grumpy. I keep telling her, “That is no problem” (it’s just good to have her doing so well at this point). She may be able to come home on Sunday morning :o)
After Debbie recovered from her ruptured appendix and that storm had passed, we were talking. She felt that part of the healing process for me (Ed) was writing, that helped me to work through a lot. Here we are again, with another surgery and I am writing. Please do not feel that you have to read all this, I just find that writing thoughts down helps me to capture abstract thoughts and feelings wandering around in my mind.
As I look back over this December, I see that Jesus has been preparing us for what we did not see coming. In thinking about Mount Kenya, I see some parallels (if you received our e-mail about the morning we summitted, you may see some too). Two areas I have been thinking about in particular are “Porters” and “Peaks”
There were ten of us total (Mark, Catherine, Jonathan & April Buhler, Lauri Seymour, Tim & Caleb Bannister, Daniel, Jonathan & I). I remember last week, standing at the Kenya National Park gate preparing to climb. I looked around to the support people “helping” us achieve this goal. There were guides, cooks and porters, there were 17 men in all to “help” us. My first thought was, “do we need so many?” But on the forth day, when we were standing back at the gate after all the adventures and soreness, I thought, “we needed EACH one of them.” We went up to them and thanked them personally.
I am just amazed at these guys. They are very ordinary looking, dressed in ragged clothes and the last thing you would think is that they were about to climb thousands of feet carrying a bunch of weight for somebody else. I think back to the first day hiking, I had my little daypack and was feeling like “Ed, the Mountain Man” (Yet, I restrained myself from breaking forth in a yodel). About an hour into the hike, three porters came up from behind and walked past us, then two more, then three, as if they were on an leisurely afternoon walk. I saw our belongings pass us, “Oh, there goes Jonnie’s stuff…there’s our sleeping bags… there’s Daniel’s things…” I was impressed and humbled, they were big bags for a short normal hike, let alone a more serious hike up Mount Kenya. The porter’s job was to get us there. What an incredible group of guys, we had very little contact with them, but our stuff was always there when we needed it.
Toward the end of the trip, as we were hiking, Mark and I talked about the importance of our porters. There is no way we could have done this trip without them. I think what really struck Mark and me are the many “porters” we have in life. For instance, for us to be on the mission field (the Rothfus family) the Lord has called together a support team, a team to help the Rothfus family along their expedition. We realized that we have been blessed with “sup-porters” (supernatural porters). Those who carry so much for us behind the scenes, those who intercede for us in prayer, those who have given sacrificially to make it possible for us to be here, those who go out of their way to encourage us. We may be the ones who “make it to the top”, but it takes a team intricately working together to accomplish this. I have seen this again, with Debbie’s surgery. We are blessed to have such a team of “Porters/Sup-porters.” Thank you for your help in carrying so much behind the scenes for our family through this time of anticipation, surgery and healing. I feel many of you have interceded for us by being awakened at night or capturing a thought about the Rothfus family and turning it into a prayer. Thank you for responding on behalf of Debbie and our family. What a blessing it will be to sit at the “Wedding Feast of the Lamb”, to see what the Lord was doing behind the scenes in those times of prayer in the light of eternity.
As I was driving down to the hospital yesterday morning, I realized that this was Debbie’s morning to summit, to reach the “Peak”, the peak of her surgery. There was nervousness on all our parts as the path was unsure, but there was a peace as we followed our Guide, Jesus Christ. Again, we find that there is no safer place to place our trust (anxious thoughts and concerns) than in the hands of One so capable, the hands of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Debbie made it to the “Peak”, the Lord took good care of her through the hands of the doctors He had brought together.
What I would like to add here is a thought about the Mount Kenya hike. After the peak (mountain top) there was the descent, the path back. Yes, there was a feeling that we had “reached a goal” and we were on our way home. But there were also sore feet, knees, shoulders and achy parts. We still had a ways to go none the less. The distance from the gate to the peak was 26 kilometers. The distance from the peak to the gate was the same, 26 kilometers. The hike wasn’t over. In fact, I have heard it said that the trip back is potentially more dangerous because hikers are tired and not quite as cautious. Chances are higher for hikers to twist their ankles on the downhill, on the home stretch.
Debbie has made it safely to the “Peak” and she is now on the path to recovery, the Lord is good. Please pray for us as a family, that we would understand and travel this path together, the path of recovery that leads down from the peak of surgery. That we would work together following the direction of Jesus our Guide.
You are a special family and team of “sup-porters”. We wish you a very special Christmas and we love you all!
Ed, Debbie, Daniel, Jonathan & Jennie
Debbie Update (Rothfus, Dec 20, 07)
Debbie's surgery went well and she is on the road to recovery, praise the Lord. Thank you for your prayers. From the recovery room, I called Jonnie (I talked to him specifically because of last night) to let him know that mom was doing well and to pass on the good news (I could hear the relief in voice).
Before her surgery, they told me it could be anywhere from one to four hours. It was right around two hours. Dr, Sharon Hedges operated and Dr. Kim Smith assisted along with Dr. Ruth Dix. A little over an hour into the surgery, Ruth Dix came out and sat down with me and said, "The surgery is going very well." She went on to explain a lot of things and said that it looked like they were able to get everything. She added, "After the recovery, she is going to feel a lot better then she has felt for along time." Sharon Hedges came out later and said that on the cyst, there was a pocket of infection and that most likely it was still from her ruptured appendix. They were able to remove that also. Good news, and what a special team of doctors and staff. I sat with Debbie through the rest of the morning and this afternoon, she is pretty groggy, so I came home to touch base with the children and write a quick e-mail, I will head back soon.
Thank you so much for all your prayers and so many of you, your words
of encouragement, what a blessing you are in Jesus!
Rothfus Update (December 19, 07)
I took Debbie to the hospital this afternoon at around 4:00 for pre- operation procedures. We sat and visited and thought... I left around 7:30.
I think this surgery is carrying more weight than any of us (all five of us) will admit. As I was putting Jennie to bed she said, "Dad, I had a bad dream last night." I asked her what it was and she said that she dreamed that something bad had happened to mom. I replied, "I think that mom's surgery is heavy on all our hearts right now." We prayed together and asked for Jesus' protection on mom and on our thoughts as we dream. I also told her that if she had any more bad dreams to come down and let me know (this may be a long night).
Earlier tonight, Jon was a bit on edge and, I must admit, I was a bit miffed at him. I went into his room and saw a frustrated young man, on the verge of crying, not knowing where it hurt most. I asked him what was bothering him, he said, "I don't know." I made his bed, he sat on his chair. I said, "I think mom's surgery is bothering you." He replied, "I don't know." I said, "You're frustrated." He replied, "Yes." I went back to making his bed, he went and blew his nose because there were tears now. I continued to make his bed and he came back in and sat on his chair. The bed was made and he crawled in bed. Then he said, "Mom." I said, "Yes." He thought for a bit, then said, "Why does she have to have another surgery?" I told him that she needed it, but that this one isn't nearly as threatening as her last (when her appendix ruptured), but that she should do much better after this one. I also told him that none the less, we all are having anxious thoughts about her having another surgery. We talked for a little bit more. Then I said, "why don't you pray this time." He said, "I don't know how to." I said, "Do you think Jesus knows what you're feeling on the inside?" He said, "Yes." I said, "Go ahead and let Him know." He prayed, "Dear Jesus, I don't all that I am going through right now, but You do. Please help me with it. Amen." (What a good prayer for all of us).
I talked with Daniel, his response was, "I didn't have much trouble with my surgery, so I'm not too worried." I chuckled, but still I am sure we are all thinking about it.
I will try to keep you updated. It is good to be able to share our
hearts with you, Jesus has given us a special family in each of you.
Rothfus Prayer Request (Dec. 18, 2007)
Daniel, Jonathan & I (Ed) returned home last Thursday from climbing Mount Kenya, and Friday found our family involved on another expedition, figuratively.
Just to catch you up on the events before our Mount Kenya climb, we had all (all five members of our family) planned to climb Mount Kenya together. A few days before the climb, Debbie started running a temperature. In fact, the night before we left, her temperature was 103--not very comforting. I said, "I should stay home to make sure everything is all right." She reassured me we should still go, and said there really wasn't anything I could do if I stayed and there were plenty of people here who could and would help if needed. So she and Jennie stayed here in Kijabe while we three went off to climb Mount Kenya.
We returned home to find Debbie still running a temperature, though not quite as high, even after treatment with two different antibiotics. Because she was feeling that all was not well, she made an appointment for an examination and an ultrasound on Friday morning. The ultrasound showed that her left ovary has become a seven-inch-long mass of cysts, and the endometriosis that has been a problem in the past has returned. She is scheduled for surgery on Thursday morning, December 20th. The surgery will not be laparoscopic, and it could be anywhere from one to four hours long.
The Lord is so good to us, and we feel blessed and at peace here in Kijabe, Kenya. This is our third abdominal surgery; the first was Debbie's ruptured appendix two years ago, then Daniel's gallbladder surgery last December. There is a special team in Jesus here who take good care of us, and when it comes to medical needs, the Lord has called some very capable and caring doctors to Kijabe. We would appreciate your prayers for Debbie through the surgery and the healing process (it will probably be an 8- to 10-week climb to recovery). Please pray for our family to draw close to Jesus and each other as we travel through the ups and downs on this trail of surgery and recovery together, that we will be a team united.
Thank you very much, we love you all.
Mt Kenya Trip (Rothfus, Dec. 17, 2007)
Let me briefly explain what all transpired before the Mt Kenya climb. Debbie had an infection (the night before the trip her temperature was 103) and Jennie had banged her knee on Wednesday.? They didn't go.? Daniel, Jonnie and I went, and here is the Journal entry looking back on Tuesday:
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
2:10 am, there was a loud knock on our door as our guides were waking us up.? I called back, ?Thanks, we?re getting up.?? I heard rustling and moving around.? I said to Daniel & Jonnie, ?Are you awake?? We need to get moving.?? I heard some grunts, which could have been them, but maybe not.? 2:25 am, people were in the eating area putting on winter clothes, drinking hot chocolate, coffee, tea (anything warm, it was cold for being on the equator) and nibbling on biscuit cookies.? There wasn?t a lot of conversation maybe because we had just woken up.? But I would dare to venture that the main reason was because we were at the foot of a giant and the only way was up.? There was some anxiety, to face a thing, a challenge you have thought about for some time, it no longer hides in the thoughts in the back of your mind, but you are literally face to face (human face to mountain face). ?
Jonnie was sitting on a bench getting himself ready, tying his boots, putting on his layers, gloves and hat.? He looked at me and said, ?Dad, my stomach doesn?t feel good, I keep burping.? I think I am going to throw up.?? I knew it was a very real possibility since he had thrown up five times the morning before.? (Nerves? Altitude sickness? A combination of the two? I wasn?t sure.)? He also had had a headache the night before.? I told him that he needed to eat and drink something, then I gave him a piece of peppermint gum to help with the nasty taste.? (Nausea, vomiting, and headaches are all symptoms of altitude sickness.)
2:40 am, our group (our two guides, John and Silas, Mark, April and Jonathan Buhler, Tim and Caleb Bannister, Daniel, Jonnie and I) were standing outside Shipton?s hut in a very dark, cold space (we were standing at 13,800 feet above sea level).? Someone said, ?Look, you can see the peaks.?? We looked up and cut out from the stars 2,500 feet above us were what looked like large black claws, the peaks.? Mark lead us in a prayer and we began walking, following our guide, headlamps and flashlights on. The flat turned into a slope, and we weaved around large rocks.? It wasn?t too bad; I thought, ?I would like to bring Debbie and do this again.?? It leveled out a little bit, then it got really steep and the surface was becoming loose (the beginning of skree, loose small stones). Even though it was cold, I think that just the sheer adventure and fear of climbing this steep ascent sent shivers up our spines.
After about 15 minutes of huffing and puffing and my legs beginning to burn, I thought, ?Ed, you fruitcake, why would want to come here again and put Debbie through this??? I felt shortness of breath like I had never experienced before.? I was breathing hard and I even took deep breaths, but there wasn?t the satisfaction of an oxygen boost.? I kind of felt like I was driving a car with the clutch half out, engine racing, but the movement forward was slow because the driveshaft was only partially engaged.
We would stop every five to ten minutes for a momentary rest.? Not too far into our climb, we could see in the black below us meandering headlamps and flashlights of another group catching up to us.? I was glad to wait on the side to let them pass; it made me look rather selfless (Yeah, right? the truth is, I looked for any reason to take a break).? At one of the momentary breaks, Jonnie sat down, looked at me and said, ?Dad, can we stop for awhile??? We waited a little bit, then I told him that we needed to move on.? We went for maybe another ten minutes, took a break and Jonnie sat down again.? He looked at me and said, ?Dad, this is really hard. I can?t go on? (then, with tears in his eyes) I have got to make it to the top.?? Probably 30% of me was frustrated and thought, ?You gotta keep pushing, boy.? I want to get to the top of the mountain, too."? But 70% of me was concerned.? Jon, our most athletic family member, is not a complainer, especially about physical discomfort or pain.? I didn?t fully know what to say, so I said, ?Let?s keep pushing as best you can.?
We kept climbing, struggling, feet sliding every now and then.? Lungs working overtime just to suck the limited oxygen out of the air.? We were now in a light dusting of snow (Daniel still says it was ice, but I believe it was snow), and the temperature was in the 20's fahrenheight.? At every little break, I could see Jonnie?s spirit struggling saying, ?I can?t go on? I have to make it to the top.?? When we stopped for a break, John our guide, Mark, Tim and I talked about what we should do.? John said, ?I can take Jonnie back down? (which sounded OK because I really was looking forward to getting to the peak, even with all the huffing and puffing and burning different things and freezing other things).? Probably 10% now was thinking ?you gotta keep pushing, boy? and 90% of me was becoming even more concerned.? I asked Jonnie what he wanted to do,? Here I need to add something, I saw a graphic definition of ?distraught?.? On a stone, in the dark of night, sat a young man whose body was crying out ?GO BACK!!!?, but his mind was saying, ?I need to go on.?? With tears rolling down his cheeks, he said, ?I will try to go on.?? I asked everyone if we could pray and we asked Jesus for wisdom. ?
About five minutes later, one hour and a half into the climb, still pitch black out, I said to the group, ?You go ahead and I will stay back with Jonnie and John (our guide) and let him take it at a slower pace.?? They had not gone very far when Jonnie turned around and came next to me and said, ?Dad, I?m going to faint.?? I threw my arms around him, and as he leaned against me, I could feel him sag down.? I laid him on his back in the snow, took my glove off and patted his cheek.? I said, ?Jonnie, Jonnie!?? He opened his eyes a bit bewildered.? I said, ?We?re going down right away.?? He said, ?Yes.? ?
At that moment, I realized I had reached my summit, no more percentage of frustration of what to do, no more tug-of-war of ?Do I go to the top?do I turn around??? Jesus is so good, this was my mountain peak and now it was time to begin our decent together.
I looked up the mountain about 30 yards ahead and saw Tim?s flashlight.? I called to him and he quickly came back down.? I said, ?I am going down with Jonnie and John (our guide), can you take this to Daniel and tell the others we?re going down??? I handed him our camera, and he said, "Sure."
We began the decent and a very interesting thing happened.? Before all this happened, I was ?needy? (huffing and puffing, thinking about how much it was hurting, rather focused on me in my mind), but all that changed so quickly.? Now I was ?needed? (strangely, I wasn?t thinking about ?me? much at this point).? I look back and don?t know when my legs stopped burning or when I could breath easily again.? I just remember that Jesus had placed in my keeping a young man who needed some serious attention.??I helped Jonnie to his feet and asked John (our guide) to go in front.? I grabbed ahold of Jonnie?s coat collar with a ?death? grip (maybe that?s not the right word). . . a tight grip with my walking stick in the other hand.? I said, ?We?re going to start down the mountain slowly and I am going to hang on to you.?? Thoughts raced through my mind like ?How am I going to be able to hang on to him all the way? How can I keep us from sliding?? How can I get him safely down??? Then there was a peace because the Lord spoke to my heart and said, ?One step at a time?.
We started down and each step was a step closer to the base.? We took it slow and about four or five times, Jonnie?s legs just went out from under him and I was able to hold him by the collar and pull him back to his feet.? A couple times he said, ?Thanks, Dad.?? Other times he said, ?I just want to lie down and rest.?? Sometimes John and I let him sit for a little bit, other times we said, ?You need to keep moving,? but always keeping close and hanging on even when he thought he was safe.? The sky was beginning to show faint signs of light.? At one point he said, ?Dad, my fingers are so cold.?? I told him to take his gloves off and put mine on.? I wondered, for a second, how my hands would stay warm, but only for a second, because we needed to warm his up.? He put the gloves on and they seemed to help for awhile.? After about 10 minutes more, Jonnie again said, "My hands are really cold.?? John said to Jonnie, ?Here use my gloves, they are warm.?? So Jonnie put his gloves on.? I was still holding on with the tight grip. ?
The sky was definitely getting lighter and the slope was not as steep.? In fact, we could see Shipton's Hut; it was closer than I thought.? Jonnie said that his hands were still really cold and I told him to hold my hand.? I realized at this point that even without wearing gloves, my hands were really warm.? We were within five minutes of the hut.? The trip down had felt like only a few minutes compared to the trip up.? Jesus is so good to us and so capable when we place our anxious concerns in His hands.
We arrived at Shipton?s hut around 6 am (not sure of the time) and Catherine Buhler and Lauri Seymour were up and happened to be walking out the door.? They helped to get Jonnie set--it is good to have caring mothers in times of need.? I sat him on the edge of the bunk, peeled off all his outer layers down to his long underwear and stuck him in a sleeping bag.? I peeled down to my gym shorts and long johns and got next to him with a sleeping bag wrapped on top.? I could feel him warming up and could also feel him fall asleep as he had been through quite a bit.? I found myself dozing off, waking up and praying for the rest of the group, and dozing off some more.
Probably?an hour and a half after we arrived back, I got up, put all my warm clothes back on, and went outside to see if I could see anyone.? I happened to walk out the door to see three of our group at the base coming toward us, Caleb Bannister, April and Jonathan Buhler.? I looked up the mountain a little further and I could see the second guide, Silas, and Tim Bannister coming down.? Then a ways up (it looked like a quarter of the way up) I saw two people, and I could tell that it was Mark Buhler and Daniel, working their way down the zigzag decent together.? It was good to have them all safely back at Shipton?s and to hear about their adventures.? They asked about Jonnie and how he was doing.? We took time and compared stories, ate breakfast, took the next hour and half to pack our things, and then began the 14 kilometer trek back to Old Moses.? Later that day, Daniel came up to me and said, ?Dad, it was good that you were climbing in the dark when Jonnie passed out.? The sides were pretty steep where you were standing.?? We both agreed that the Lord took good care of all of us while we explored one of His masterpieces.?
As we were walking along, Jonnie asked, ?Dad, are you disappointed??? I thought for a little bit then said, ?No, I went as high as I was supposed to go, and the place I turned around was my summit for this trip.? We did it together.? I know Jonnie feels disappointment that he didn?t reach the summit (please pray for him as he accepts this; I know the Lord will weave it into the artwork of his life), but I feel a peace.? I reached a goal (a summit) that the Lord laid on my heart.? A?major goal for me on this trip was ?deeper relationships?, first of all with my Father and Master Artist, then with the my family and friends.? I feel it happened.
?Oh, and by the way, we climbed a mountain, Mount Kenya.
I would like to follow up with some thoughts.??
A reflection from the Bible, if I I who am a father who is sinful (Matthew 6:11) wanted to take such good care of my boys...
Wow!? think about it...
The Rothfi Gang made it to the top of Mount Kenya with Daniel as our representative.? I was very proud of him!? Jonathan, the most athletic one in our family (who had every reason why to make it) pushed himself harder than I had ever seen and went further than 99.9% of people in his shoes (hiking boots) would have.? ?To have reached the same peak together and come down together, side by side,?I was extremely proud of him.
We love you all,
Here is a picture of Jonnie, John (our guide) & Daniel
Caring Community Christmas Supper
At the end of the term, we had our Caring Community over for a supper. As the students were arriving, one of them said, "I dressed in green and red for the occasion." We all decided to have some fun with this, so we went and put on Christmas colors. Even the supper was Christmasy, it was pizza with green peppers and olives (red & green, festive :o). Here is a picture of our extended family. Even the tree in the background is green!
All of these students are Senior advanced art students. In the front row from left to right are Emily Jaster, Malindi Arensen, Karin Cider, Jinsol Lee, Natalie Hall, Shannon Schaubroeck and Amanda Rumsey. In the back row with Debbie and me (Ed) is Sam Zimmerman.
We think of you often and love you.
Rothfus Prayer Requests (Nov 30, 07)
We have finished the first term here at RVA and we are officially on December break. We thought it would be good to share some praises with you.
Jon and Jen made it through their first term of Junior High. They both had a bit of a rough time at the beginning, but both finished up well. It was an adjustment for Debbie and me, too, as we spent many evenings helping them with homework, organization, and preparation for tests. They both played on sports teams in the Colts program (grades 7 through 9); Jon played soccer, and Jennie played basketball. And to top off this busy term, Jennie (who is normally healthy) ended up getting sick four different times in the second half of the term. For example, one Monday morning before school, after missing school on Monday and Tuesday during each of the previous two weeks, she got up and said, "I don't feel well; I think I might throw up." I thought, "She can't be sick again." She ran to the bathroom, and I soon realized, "Yup, she is sick again, poor girl." Catching up on all the schoolwork she missed was a huge challenge; but we're thankful for a successful ending to the term for both Jen and Jon. Thank you for praying them through this transition.
Daniel has had a good beginning to his sophomore year. He has done well with classes and grades. He is very involved on the sound & technical crew here at RVA, and we are amazed at how knowledgeable he is in this area. Thank you for your prayers on his behalf.
We have a special annual event in November called Pinewood Derby in which the students and staff design, build, and race cars they make out of wood. Many of you may be familiar with this event. Both Daniel and Jon took their work on their cars very seriously. Dan built a German Tiger tank and Jon built a roller coaster car based on the Six Flags Viper roller coaster. Both Dan and Jon were excited to win "Best Engineered" awards, Jon for the seventh grade and Dan for the ninth and tenth grades.
Debbie and I have had a good term. Debbie found her work in the library to be quite busy. At the end of last year, the Kenyan man who helped full time in the elementary library decided to go on for more computer training, and his position has not yet been filled. Debbie has appreciated the help of Carol Rumsey, a missionary who helps in the afternoons. Classes have gone well for me (Ed) and I have been working on developing curriculum. It hasn't been quite as busy for me, which I appreciate since Jen and Jon have needed more one-on-one help with schoolwork. Thank you for your prayers for us.
Could you pray for us with this break ahead to regroup as a family in Jesus. We desire to grow closer to Jesus and to each other, to make the most of this time, to rest, and to refresh our perspectives.
We love you all and appreciate you.
How to Embarrass Your Children (Rothfus, Oct 07)
The other day, I fixed the hole in the back tire of our 50cc Honda minibike. Out of the blue I asked Debbie if she wanted to go for a ride on it with me (she hadn't ridden it yet). To my surprise she said "Yes". But then she added, "Are you sure there's enough room for both of us?" I said, "Sure there is! I'll sit on the gas tank and you can sit on the seat." (See, this picture proves there was plenty of room...?)
When we started driving around the yard, Jon covered his face and said, "Oh, brother" and ran into the house. I thought he was too embarrassed. But he came out a little while later with his camera and took some pictures of this man taking a leisurely ride with his bride.
This picture was taken just before we crashed. Well, actually we didn't really "crash"... we kind of fell over. (We were riding across the driveway, hit a loose rock, and tipped the minibike over.) We both got up laughing, which was good, because our children were not.
I told Debbie she needed to take it for a ride by herself. She asked, "How do I drive it?" I showed her the gas throttle and the shift. By now our next-door neighbors' children were standing on their porch wondering what was going on. Debbie shifted the minibike into gear and started to slowly ride across our adjoining yards in front of their porch to the amazement of their children. I watched as Debbie miscalculated her turn and planted the front wheel solidly into the bushes next to their porch, exclaiming, "How do you stop this?!" (I had forgotten to show her where the brakes were!) Evan, our neighbors' third-grade son, watched all this with very little emotion and then very calmly said, "That's OK; my mom ran into the trash can the first time she rode our minibike."
We debated about sending this, but then decided it would be fun to send since it is a "slice of life". As we were getting into bed, we were still chuckling and Debbie said, "We'll probably find out tomorrow that the minibike has TWO flat tires for all it's been through today." Needless to say, our knees are a bit sore, but we still chuckle when we see this picture.
Much love in Jesus,
Rothfus Thoughts and Requests (October 14, 07)
Last weekend was our midterm break. We took a day trip with another family to one of Kenya's National Parks, Hell's Gate. It received its name from all the steam jets in the area. One of our favorite things to do is hike through a deep canyon. It's amazing to be at the bottom of this cavern looking up at the walls with all their layers, like seeing God's creativity displayed in a beautiful sweeping brush stroke. Here is a picture we took of our family in this cavern.
Thank you again for all your support and prayers. We were talking the other day of how much we appreciate each one of you and what you have given up (sacrifices you have made) for us to be here serving the Lord at Rift Valley Academy. That means a lot to us. Thank you!
Much love in Jesus,
Reflections and Requests (Rothfus, Aug 07)
I (Ed) thought that it would be good to share a little of what the Lord has been teaching me this past year. First I will share some reflections then some requests for our family as we begin the new school year.
I have been thinking about some of the movies (past 10 years to present) I have seen. There are some pretty incredible stunts and effects. Take Star Wars or Lord of the Rings, for example. What the good guys go through is pretty amazing and most of them make it in fairly good shape (their hair may be messy, but even then it is a stylish messy and looks good). I know consciously that these are fictional characters and what they face is unrealistic. But there is a part of me that is affected. Even though it may be a very small part of my thinking, I want to identify with them and think that I am more resilient as a human being than I really am. I watch the good guys take quite the thrashing, recover and come back for more to win in the end. Down deep I think,“Yeah, that’s the way I want to be!”
This past year, Jesus has been lovingly working with me and allowing me to see that I am very much human. I have a good friend I walk with, and one day he said,“We are but clay.” I have been and continue to be challenged by the truth of this statement. I would like to think that I am resilient and will bounce back. But in reality, I am popping more when I get up, my muscles ache quite a bit longer when I play hard, I do more damage to my body when I slip and fall and it takes longer to recover. I need to look at the truth, I am a very fragile human being. In two years I will turn 50. I recognize more and more… “We are but clay.”
The biggest area of my life this statement has affected is in my walk with the Lord. I would like to pride myself, like Peter, that “…I will lay down my life for you.” (John 13:37b) But, the truth is, I would do the same if not worse than Peter (Peter denied Jesus). Our Father knows how we are created and what we’re made of. I suffer from a “drifting heart”. I may not willingly or knowingly walk away from Jesus, but the currents, pressures and demands of this world are strong. To use a word picture, I may intentionally pull my boat alongside of the Solid Rock, Jesus Christ, with every intention of staying there. But without knowing it, the currents and my humanness slowly and subtly ease me away from being close to the Solid Rock. I need to intentionally be anchored to the Rock. This past year, I have come more to grips with the fact that I am a fragile weak human being who is inclined to drift (Romans 7:7-25). The beauty of all this is that when I honestly begin to see myself (We are but clay), I begin to see the magnitude of my Lord and Saviour and His love (Romans 8:1-2, Hebrews 4:14-16). I also recognize that in my walk with Jesus, there is very little that I can do, it is a matter of recognizing my inability and asking Him for strength, giving Him permission to bind my boat to Himself. It is the Lord who called me, it is He who knows me inside out. I am recognizing more my position (who I am) and this gives me a deeper and greater appreciation of who my Heavenly Father is and His immense love for us.
Where does this leave me? I am recognizing how utterly dependent I am on my God and Creator, I need to ask for His help to guide me and create in me the desire to earnestly seek after Him. It moves me from being dependent upon myself and abilities to transferring my trust to the One who is so much more capable, my Abba Father. This is rather humbling, seeing who I am, but there is peace in it. This all brings me back to what I am very familiar with, pottery and clay, recognizing who is the Master Potter and who is the clay... "Yet, O Lord, You are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand." We are but clay... it has been a good year in Jesus.
Rothfus Prayer Requests:
Thank you again for all you do for us. It is so good to be able to be transparent in Jesus with you, you're our family and we love you!
Pest of the Month (Rothfus, Aug 8, 07)
Even though this happened a while ago, we thought we would send it.
One night Debbie said,"Come here quick!" We all came to the bathroom to find our cat, Gandalf, in the sink giving it a good licking. I grabbed the camera and took this picture of him.
After the children left, Debbie whispered to me,"I think he may have even licked our tooth brushes." After Debbie left, I picked Gandalf up and smelled his breath. I'm afraid I may have detected a hint of "minty freshness."
Today Debbie comes back from the states (much rejoicing!) The children have said,"No offense dad, we have had a good time with you, but we really miss mom and we are looking forward to her coming back." I smiled and said,"No offense taken, I can relate." It is amazing how much a part of the family team moms are, on the front lines and behind the scenes. Please keep her in your prayers for adjusting to being back in Kenya (jet lag and rest).
We love you,
Rothfus News (July 28, 2007)
Last Monday, something fun happened that I thought I would share with you.
To begin with, Daniel took Swahili I last year. He is not exactly enthusiastic when it comes to learning another language. He takes after his dad. The big difference is that he ended up with an "A/-A" at the of Swahili I and I ended up with a "-C" at the end of French I (because the teacher was very gracious to me).
Monday, on our way up to hike Suswa caves, we had stopped to make arrangements with a group of Maasai men. As we were getting ready to drive away, they asked if we could give Joseph (the Maasai man pictured here with Daniel) a ride to the caves, he lived near there. I said, "Sure". He sat in the back seat, Daniel was in the front. He spoke Maasai and Swahili and it wasn't long before he and Daniel were striking up a conversation in Swahili. I know it wasn't perfect grammar, but it was fun to hear them talking with each other. I was proud of Daniel for taking that opportunity to build a bridge across cultures.
Later, on the way home, Daniel and Jonnie were talking and Daniel asked Jon,"When you take a language in high school, what do you think you will take?" Jon replied,"Probably Swahili." Daniel said,"Yeah, it makes a lot of sense when you're surrounded by it, it's really applicable." Then he said to me,"Even though I forgot some of what I learned this year, it was neat to use it to talk to Joseph. I like that guy."
The Lord is good in the way He arranges appointments and crosses our paths. Language is much more meaningful when it is no longer just in our head, but our heart becomes involved. I can see our children in missions someday and it happens with seeds like this.
Thanks again for the team you are to us in Jesus, we love you.
Pest of the Month (July 23, 2007
We thought that it would be fun to "Kill two bats... uh, I mean... two birds with one stone." We are sending a short update as well as the "Pest of the Month".
Daniel, Jonathan & I (Ed) went with some friends, Larry & Mary VanKorlaar and their family to Suswa Caves next to Suswa volcano (the volcano is quite dormant). Jennie stayed with a friend at RVA because she was not feeling up to par. Our trip to the caves was quite the adventure. We drove out into the middle of nowhere (so we thought) and a Maasai guide led us down a slope to the opening of a cave. We went and explored. Then he took us to another. After lunch, he took to some more caves. They were incredible. We serve an amazing and creative God, to crawl through a small corner of His artwork, wow!
The last cave we were in had a lot of bats hanging around (just kind of chattering in their groups). We went past them to go further in. After about 10 minutes we turned around to head back out. The bats were no longer hanging around, but were flying around, all around us. It was a rather strange feeling to be standing in the dark with all this fluttering around us and feeling little wisps of wind as hundreds of bats took to flying. I knew Jon was having a blast, but it was something to hear Dan say,"This is rather fun!" Then I thought about it... these little fellers are a lot better navigators in caves than I will ever be, it's their home. My biggest worry is not bats, but my footing. So, I decided to concentrate on where I would put my feet and to enjoy the "Surround Sound" while I traveled.
It was a good day. Attached is a picture I took of Daniel with bats flying around him. See how many you can find.
Much Love in Jesus,
(PS There are five bats in the picture)
Rothfus Update (Daniel's Perspective, July 14, 2007)
If I, Daniel, were to describe this past term only in phrases or single words, I would probably include such things as "good ending to the year," "strenuous," and "fun." Since this is written from my perspective, this may not include some of the feelings of my Mom and Dad and I may not put emphaisis on some of the things that they would. I think that this last term was a lot more stressing on the staff for the fact that they had to put up with us students, who were anxious to get certain classes over with at the end of what would seem a short time away, and at other times might seem like a long time away.
As you already know, I am on the sound team at RVA. I still have a lot to learn, but I am having a good time. One of the former employees of the sound booth is John, a senior who was in my parents' Caring Community (a group of kids who meet about once a month in our home during the school year.) I just saw John graduate earlier today, and I will miss him especially.
During mid-term we pretty much stayed on RVA campus. The biggest thing that happened to me was that I beat Mr. Jackson in chess once! (That may not seem like much to you, but it was for me, since Mr. Jackson is the best player on campus.) He then creamed me in the two following games, and has done so ever since when we are playing regular chess.
In that last half of the term, we went go karting as a Sunday School class (8 ninth-grade guys), and it was great. Another thing is that Jennie and Jonathan went on Sixth Grade Safari with their class. It was great, too. (But because I did not go with the sixth grade class I am sorry to tell you this is only what I have heard from others and not an eyewitness report.)
Things really got going during the end of this term. Everything started to be due on the same days, and the exams grew more and more pressing, coming in like the fog here at RVA that leaves you unable to see anything past it. "Chinese water torture is nothing compared to exams," is what some people I know would probably have said. I had three of my hardest tests on the first day, and then the next hardest on the third (last) day. That left me all of the free time between tests to fret over them and over-study, which I cannot say that I did. God really helped me to do well on all of them.
Oh! And I left out what made those test so wearing!
Since I work in the sound booth, I was basically told, "You are going on Choir Tour." That was the weekend before exams. We left on Friday morning and got back late Sunday night. The time during Choir Tour was AMAZING! My attitude changed from "I don't really want to go" (if the English language had a special mark to show lack of enthusiasm, I would have used it here) to "That was really fun!" I learned a lot about the sound equipment, and I never got bored with the musical that the Choir presented, possibly because the people and surroundings were different at every concert.
One of the concerts that really sticks out in my mind was the time we went to Joytown, a school for disabled children. Unfortunately for the singers, we had forgotten the 220 to 110 transformer at Rosslyn (one of the schools in Nairobi where we performed). This possibly could have been for the better, since the sound system took up a lot of room. I say that because the room was FULL of children. A lot were in wheelchairs. The sound system would have probably taken up the places of about one-fifth to one-fourth of the children in there. After we were done singing, they had their choir come up and sing. Those children were GENUINELY happy. I found it amazing that they had such joy in living for God when they were disabled.
Before that, we had gone to YaYa, a shopping center in Nairobi, and sang there. After we were done, the students had a bit of time to roam around the mall. I regret that I had an opportunity and that I missed it, when it could have been so simple. When I was in the washrooms, a buisnessman came up to me and asked something like, "You are done already?" He did not ask it as if we were a pest, but as if he liked it and did not really want to miss it. I told him quite simply, yes, and did not even bother to tell him that we would be doing it again on Sunday at the Nairobi Baptist Church. I wish I had.
That basically sums up the main events in Choir Tour, as I see it. I didn't have a lot of time to prepare for finals, and I didn't get a lot of sleep, but I did have fun on Choir Tour. As for the tests, prayer was a big help.
During the Art final (I had my Dad for Ninth Grade Art this term), we set up the art show. Then we took it down during "dead week" (the last week of school after finals are finished when the teachers are figuring and turning in grades). Based on the quality of the artwork this year, I think that my dad has enjoyed teaching the art classes. (Not to say that it is bad other years.)
After my last class, I went to Sixth Grade Graduation and saw Jennie and Jonathan graduate from elementary school. They are now Jr. Highers and I think that they will do well. Then, I had a couple days to adjust from school to the vacation mode. I went to Nairobi yesterday with my dad. That was fun.
This morning, I went to the high school graduation, the first one I have ever gone to. The best part was when the Choir sang I Miss the Rains Down in Africa. That is now, in my head, designated as an RVA song. It is also a very good song. (I have no clue what the actual title is, but that is one of the key lines, and therefore, probably everybody from RVA will know exactly what I am talking about and that line will bring up memories. The rest of you may be completely clueless as to what I am talking about.)
My mom is going to the States on Monday, the day after tomorrow, and we will all miss her, as she will be gone until August 7th.
It has been a very good term for all of us. Thank you for your help with what we do!
Daniel for the rest of the Rothfi clan
Pest of the Month (Rothfus May 31, 2007)
If your are deathly afraid of spiders, you'll want to delete this "Pest of the Month" right away.
The other day Debbie brought this little (not so little) fella home from the grade school library. He was in the computer lab (doing something on the web I guess :o). The computer lab is connected to the library and the computer teacher, Dave Tilly, brought it over to show Debbie. Debbie brought it home in a large ice cream container to show me.
Debbie said, "Ed, I have something to show you. We could use it for "Pest of the Month" if we want." I grabbed the camera, she opened up the container, and I was a bit taken back. My first thought was not to put my hand in there with him, her...it. I asked Debbie, "How are we going to take a picture of this?" Debbie said, "It's not poisonous, I'll hold it." I thought she was joking, but she wasn't; she started to put her hand in the container to let "it" crawl on her. I couldn't help it (well, I guess I could have), but I made a big snort just she was about to pick it up and she jumped (Debbie, not the spider). Needless to say, I got a good smack. Debbie said, "Oh, I haven't smacked you that hard in a long time!" to which I relied (with a chuckle), "I deserved it." (Besides, who was brave enough to pick up the spider?)
Much Love in Jesus,
Rothfus Prayer Requests (May 7, 2007)
Last month we celebrated three birthdays, Jen's, Jon's, and mine (Ed). Jen and Jon turned 13, so we now have three teenagers. (I won't tell you how old I am. It's not that I don't want you to know; it's just that I get mixed up. I think I'm somewhere between 45 and 50. Someone once told that something comes with "Old Age", but I can't remember what it is! :o)
Some of you remember 13 years ago, during the last 13 weeks of the pregnancy when Debbie was on bed rest just to make it to the 36 week point. We remember how many of you prayed for Debbie and the twins and "Stood in the Gap" for us by helping with meals, keeping our home up and functioning, and taking care of daily needs. All you did for us was such a blessing! It was a beautiful reflection of the family we have in Jesus, the body of Christ. I remember the day we went to the hospital in Olean, NY; the day Jennie and Jonnie arrived, safely. It doesn't feel like 13 years ago, maybe a few years, but not 13.
Now, 13 years later, who would have thought that we would be writing to you from Rift Valley Academy in East Africa while "Standing in the Gap" for the children of missionaries. With these thoughts in mind, I look to Psalm 90:12: "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Who better to help us navigate through the rapid currents of life than the Lord Jesus Himself.
Rothfus Prayer Requests (May 2007):
Jennie: As the end of the school year approaches, the sixth graders are anticipating Sixth Grade Safari, a four-day trip to the William Holden Wildlife Educational Center at the end of June. It is a fun time as they finish out their year, yet Jennie is nervous about it since she will be sleeping away from home. Please remember her with this and with her bedtime anxiety. Please pray for growth in her walk with the Lord and her ability to place these anxieties in His hands and trust Him more.
Jonathan: In addition to basketball, Jon is playing 5th and 6th grade rugby this term, and it will be a challenge since we as a family are still rather clueless as to how to play it (we love to watch it though). This will be good for him; he is athletic and has lots of energy. Along with this energy comes the tendency to be easily distracted (though not on the playing field!) Please pray for his ability to be able to focus on the tasks at hand, completing them with his best effort, especially in the classroom. Pray also for growth in his walk with Jesus, that he would reflect Jesus to his friends, and that he would grow as a leader.
Daniel: Daniel is our math, science, and computer guy whose mind is always busy designing scientific inventions and projects. He has started working as an "audio/visual tech" on campus, helping to run the sound board and video/power point presentations during chapel, church, and special events. Please pray for him as he seeks to balance his time with exercise (something he doesn't enjoy much!), school work, computer time, friends, and his walk with the Lord. Please pray that as he grows he would continue to transition into a discerning, godly young man who is solid on the Rock and that we as his parents would be wise as we turn over responsibilities to him. Pray that we will lovingly listen and walk with Daniel (and all our children) through the challenges and excitement of change in the teen years.
Debbie: Third term (May through the middle of July) is the quickest and also the most intense term of the year. Library classes are a bit easier to prepare for this term since we are focusing on the different genres of literature and we get to talk about lots of great books! :-) I have a few kids in some of my library classes who can be. . . challenging, so please pray that I'll have creativity and wisdom in working with them. Please also pray that I'll prioritize and manage my time wisely as I balance my roles as wife, mother, elementary library supervisor, and class sponsor.
Ed: I would appreciate prayer for "numbering my days aright" as Jesus would have me to. Please pray that I would have the wisdom to let go of good projects and activities to pick up the best in Jesus (trade up). Pray that we as a family would find quality time together in the midst of the rapids. Also pray for wisdom in the Lord's closure to the year, especially with senior students we have grown close to who will be graduating on July 14.
We appreciate each of you, we are blessed to have family like you in Jesus. We love you and think of you often.
Much Love in Jesus,
Tree Planting (Rothfus 4/27/07)
Yesterday, I (Ed) took our Sunday School class to one of the local Kenyan schools to plant trees. All eight of our young men (Bruce Arensen, Stephen Congdon, Greg Kim, Joel Kawira, Kevin Keller, Matthew Peifer, Daniel Poenaru & Daniel Rothfus) worked with other students from RVA and with children from the Kiambogo school to plant between 200 to 250 tree seedlings.
There is a problem here in Kenya with deforestation, people cutting down trees without replacing or replenishing them. We have some men here at RVA who have good ideas and insights (Mark Buhler, Tim Healy & Jeff Davis) into how we can become involved. They are helping us and those who live here in the local area to see the importance of replacing the Lord's creation better than we found it.
I must say, it was a stretching experience again for me. I could find many reasons (all of which are invalid) why not to go. But after returning, there was a feeling of investment (even though I was covered with dirt and made a fool of myself digging holes and bending shovels). Though the problem is huge, my thinking may have changed (by a small percent) not to run from the problem, but to begin to head toward the solution. I am challenged to see in the light of Eternity how Jesus can use this time given to Him.
Here is our group picture. We love you!
Pest of the Month (this is a stretch! April 12, 07)
Have you ever been walking down a city street minding your own business. Then an idea hits you...no, wait a minute... a telephone pole hits you in the head?!? One that is dangling about four feet off the ground (suspended by its wires) beautifully hand (tooth) sculpted by ten thousand hungry termites.
Daniel, our son, told us about this "wonder" (wonder how long it has been this way and wonder how long before the phone company has to come to replace the phone service to this part of town). We were a bit amazed when we actually saw it. Every time we pass this corner, our children want to be the first to find the "hanging pole".
The reason we included this as "Pest of the Month" is that even though we didn't find any termites (they must be afraid of heights), you can see that they have been here (pesky little fellas!)
We hope you have fun with this picture. Love you all!
Love in Jesus,
Rothfus News (March 3, 07)
We have about three weeks left in the term and this has been a busy term. Second term is characteristically the intense term. Even though it is only twelve weeks long, it demands quite a bit of energy.
Last Friday, one of Daniel's friends, Kevin Keller, was going home to Nairobi for the weekend. As I was walking home at lunch, I saw his dad, Andy, talking to Daniel and Kevin so I went over. He said, "Ed, would it be OK for Daniel to come home with Kevin for the weekend?" I looked at Daniel and asked him how his homework load was, and he assured me it was caught up. I told Andy, "That would be great." Andy is a pilot for AIM AIr and he had flown to Kijabe for the day. He asked if I could give them a ride down to the Kijabe airstrip around 3:30 so they could fly out, and I agreed. (By the way, the Kijabe airstrip is notoriously... not the favorite of pilots--short, grassy, bumpy, and prone to crosswinds. The end of the airstrip is the edge of the escarpment, so it's important to get the plane into the air before reaching the end!) As they loaded into the Cessna 206, taxied up the runway and took off, I thought, "How often does a dad come to pick up his son and his friend and fly them home for the weekend? What a neat opportunity."
Debbie is definitely keeping busy but is doing well. She has multiple projects going on in the elementary library at this point. Several orders of books have arrived lately and are being processed. Second term library classes focus on using the research and reference materials in the library, so classes take more preparation than usual.
Daniel is fully recovered from his gallbladder surgery in December (thanks for praying!) and is doing very well in his classes. He has enjoyed playing "Chess in the Park" on Tuesdays and Thursdays at lunchtime. (We don't really have a park here, but "Chess in the Park" sounds so much better than "Chess at the Picnic Tables".) He participated in a 6-week-long RVA chess tournament this term (one game per week) and placed near the top.
Jennie and Jon are having a successful term in school. They are especially enjoying tennis baseball, the elementary sport played during the second term. It's a fun sport that is unique to RVA and is kind of like baseball except the ball (a tennis ball, of course) is hit with a tennis racquet rather than a bat.
I (Ed) don't know if you have ever felt this way, but at the beginning of the term, I felt like a car going uphill in fifth gear and I was loosing momentum. I had to cut back a bit on what I was involved with. But, it has been good to have a little more margin time and actually have time to reflect. As I look over the past year, I realize, I was getting caught in the currents of "Busyness" and "Survival Mode". A few of the events that added to this current were Debbie's ruptured appendix, a five month furlough and Daniel's gall bladder surgery. In the midst of a busy schedule, it has been good to set aside some time to ponder and process.
We sure have felt and appreciated your prayers, thank you! We love you all.
Much Love in Jesus,
Rothfus News (December 18, 2006)
First, just a follow-up on Daniel's surgery. He is doing well (Debbie and I are amazed at how quickly he has recovered!) The only thing is that he has rather severe heartburn at times and he has had quite a few times where he has had an upset stomach. We talked with one of the doctors who had helped with his surgery and he said that what Daniel was going through was pretty common.
Second, the attachment is a picture we took when we took some Kenyan friends of ours to Nairobi (the day we took the picture of the "Pest of the Month" crocodile). Pictured are Zed (who works with Ed in pottery) & Serephine, Jane (who helps in our home), John (who helps around our home) & Sara, and their families. Our family members are the ones on the left :o). We had been planning on this outing for some time, so when the day came, everyone was rather excited. Zed, Jane & John shared with us that their families had never seen many of these animals before and that seeing them in real life (and not just pictures) was going to be a big event. Later, Debbie and I were talking about this day and found it rather humbling. Everyone we took had grown up here in Kenya, and yet this was their first time to see a real lion or feed a giraffe.
We miss you all and find ourselves reminiscing about our loved ones so far away. We love you and hope you have a very meaningful Christmas in Jesus.
Much Love in Jesus,
Pest of the Month (Dec. 2006)
Last Friday, we took some of our Kenyan friends to Nairobi to see some animals at the Nairobi Safari Walk. The pose of this crocodile was rather impressive, and we thought that he was a prime candidate for "Pest of the Month" (especially from this angle). The interesting thing about a game park in Kenya is that you can get a lot closer to the animals (especially the dangerous ones) than what might be considered "safe". Someone stuck a stick through the fence and touched this ten-foot-long sleeping beauty in the ribs. Everyone jumped when he bolted; he was extremely fast. Then he sat for quite a while with his mouth open like this--rather intimidating!
We think of you all often and miss you!
Daniel's Surgery (Nov. 28, 2006)
First of all, Thank you very much for all your prayers, Daniel's surgery went very well.
Second, I would like to apologize that in our last e-mail I put the wrong date for Daniel's surgery. It was Monday, November 27, not Monday, November 28.
Before the surgery, Daniel was rather nervous. While he was changing into the traditional hospital attire, he shared how he was getting scared. If he had broken down and cried I think I would have joined him. We prayed together. We met with Doctor Bird and the anesthesiologist about any last details and questions. Then they prayed with us, what a peace to come into the presence of our Lord Jesus who still speaks "Be still" to the storms we face.
Daniel's surgery went very well with no complications. It took about 1 1/2 hours and about 15 minutes after he had been in the recovery room, both Debbie & I were able to go in and see him. I noticed that he was barely with it, but he was waving at everyone who walked by. I thought "the poor guy is still a bit delirious as he is coming off his anesthesia." After about five minutes of waving I said, "Daniel, do you know that you are waving at everyone?" He replied, "Yes, I know. I'm just trying to be friendly and I think I will remember doing this!"
He did well on Monday. He drank a lot and in the afternoon, he got out of bed to used the bathroom. Debbie was amazed that he was up so soon and doing so well since it took her so long to recover after having her appendix out a year ago. But when we thought about it we realized there is a difference between removing a gangrenous appendix that has ruptured and a gall bladder that is not inflamed.
Monday afternoon, I asked Daniel if he wanted me to stay in the room with him at night. His face lit up and immediately he said, "Sure! If that is OK with you." I said, "No problem." On the way home to get my things (we live about 3/4 of a mile away from the hospital) I started thinking about it. Here is a 15-year-old young man who has just gone through surgery, sleeping in a strange place in Kenya, not sure what the night holds for aches and pains. Definitely, when would I get another chance like this? I slept on the floor in a sleeping bag at the foot of his bed (the nurses were somewhat amused). Believe it or not, I got a decent night's sleep.
This morning about 8:30 Dr. Bird came in to Daniel's room in making his rounds. He asked a few questions then said, "I think you are ready to go home." By about 10:30 everything was packed, the hospital bill was paid, and the last thing to do was to take out the IV in Daniel's hand. Here is a picture of Daniel and Cecelia (his nurse) removing the tape and IV. By the way, I asked Daniel if he remembered waving at the nurses in the recovery room right after his surgery. He said, "Yes, I was just trying to be friendly." :o)
Thank you again for your prayers, encouragement and support through this "storm". The Lord is a very present help in a time of need and He has blessed us with special team in you!
Much Love in Jesus,
Rothfus Prayer Request (Nov. 25, 06)
We have a prayer request. In an earlier e-mail, we mentioned that during the December break Daniel would be having gallbladder surgery. The surgery is scheduled for Monday, November 28. It is not an emergency surgery, and we have known about it since his checkup at Children's Hospital in Buffalo last June. After viewing his ultrasound report and seeing that he had gallstones, the hematologist at Children's strongly recommended that he have his gallbladder removed. We contacted the surgeon here, Dr. Peter Bird (the doctor who took care of Debbie's ruptured appendix), and asked him about the possibility of removing Daniel's gall bladder laparoscopically here in Kenya. We met with Dr. Bird a few weeks ago and went over the surgery and all that is involved. The surgery will be Monday morning at 8 a.m. (Kenya time). If all goes well, he should be out of the hospital on Tuesday.
If you would, please pray for Daniel's health in the next few days. He is healthy right now, and he needs to avoid catching a cold or virus before the surgery. Our concern is that Jon and Jen have both had the flu this past week. Ed has a sinus infection (we don't think it's a cold) so he is trying to avoid excess breathing around Daniel. We feel that we finished the race of the school term, but tripped and fell over the finish line.
Thank you again for all your prayers, support, and encouragement! We appreciate each of you.
Much Love in Jesus,
Subject: Rothfus Prayer Requests (Nov. 06)
Last Saturday evening (October 28), we were helping sponsor a class party for the ninth grade class down on lower station (the bottom part of our compound where the hospital, Bible College and printing press are located). We had gone to one of the sponsor's homes on the other side of the hospital, about 1/2 mile away. Let me begin by telling you that Rift Valley Academy has a tall fence around the campus (the campus is rather safe), the lower station doesn't (its not quite as safe), but I didn't think anything about that.
We got to the supper ("The Spaghetti Splash", believe it or not, it was messier than it sounds) at 5:45 pm and parked our car right near the house, in view of the party. I turned the car off, locked up the shift, and turned on the secret kill switch (a safety device). Debbie said, "Should we lock the car?" I replied, "No, there is nothing in the car and we're right here" (thinking it would be easier when we came out in the dark just to open the doors). So we went to the supper and didn't think anything about it.
At 7:15, Debbie needed to take one of the other sponsors with her young children home, so I gave her the keys to the car. Five minutes later, she came back in the house and said, "Ed, I tried everything. I turned on the safety switch and put the key in the ignition, but our lights won't even come on." I went up with her to see what was going on. I opened the front door and reached for the flashlight on the dash board, but it wasn't there. So I went back, got a flashlight and returned. Debbie asked, "Do you think it is the battery?" and the thought crossed my mind just as she said that. I got a sinking feeling in my stomach when I went to pop the hood and it was already unlatched. It's not the most exciting thing to open the car hood to see two terminals dangling where the battery used to be. Our battery had been stolen along with the flashlight on our dashboard.
Well, it created a little stir and we found out (the hard way) that it was not an unusual occurrence for lower station (at least four batteries had been stolen recently). Well, I can tell you, the next time Debbie asks, "Ed, do you think we should lock the doors?" I will respond with, "Oh, yes, that is a very good idea!" By the way, we had a very nice class party, and the only glitch was the missing battery (and flashlight).
Rothfus Prayer Requests:
Jonathan does well when life is smooth. But when an unwanted challenge presents itself, he gets frustrated and takes one of two responses. Either he mentally throws in the towel, or he will hurry through without concern for quality (sounds just like his dad 35 years ago!) Please pray for him to be a team player, keep a good attitude, and do his best on tough tasks.
Daniel is now in high school and is finding out that the classes are more demanding. He is doing very well overall, but Swahili has been a challenge since many of his Swahili classmates have grown up conversing in it. Please pray for him with all his classes, especially Swahili, and that he will get enough rest. Please pray for us for wisdom as we plan the details and timing of his gallbladder surgery in early December.
Debbie is again the elementary library supervisor this year, and the demands have been higher than last year when she shared the responsibilities with another staff member. Please keep her in prayer for balance with the library work and family responsibilities.
Ed's stress levels are potentially high with all the various demands (classes, helping on the Board Administrative Funds Committee, Sunday School, sponsoring, school demands). Please pray for him to share the grain and not the chaff with his family. Also pray for wisdom and insight to finish the term strong in Jesus
For our Family, please pray that we would intentionally and actively grow closer to Jesus and to each other through the strong term currents.
Thank you again for your prayers and the very important part of our team that you are to us in Jesus. If you were not there for us, we would be laboring in vain and our ministry would be nothing. We love you and appreciate all you do for us!
Much Love in Jesus,
Subject: Pest(s) of the Month, October 06
Sunday afternoon, Debbie and Daniel were at the kitchen sink when Debbie looked out the window to see a large rock... thing... mound making its way across our yard. She said,"Look over by the guard trail, there is a big turtle (tortoise)!" We all jumped up and looked. Sure enough, this guy was crawling (rather quickly I might add) toward the bushes in the back corner of our yard. We went outside to see him and found another tortoise in the front corner of our yard (Jonathan & Jennie are pictured here holding them, notice who's smiling).
Come to find out, our neighbor two doors down, inherited these turtles from some missionaries who left last year and both tortoises had gotten out. So, I suppose the real question is, "Who is the pest of the month?" The turtles who could have had a hey-day with the leafy greens in our garden OR the two Rothfus children who returned the two renegade turtles to their stomping ground? We have yet to find out, but it did add some fun to our Sunday afternoon.
We love you all!
Subject: Long Trip Back to Kenya (Rothfus, September 6, 06)
(Finally, I have a Saturday to catch up! Sorry this is so long and five weeks late.)
Many of you have asked, "Were you nervous about flying back to Kenya with all that had been happening?" (We flew back to Nairobi, Kenya, the week after the terrorist attempt in Heathrow, London.) I really don't think we were. Besides, the safest time to fly is the week after an alert like this because security is high. The thing about traveling that was on our minds was, "What's in store for for us on this trip?" Little did we know. It was at this point that we prayed together as a family and just turned this trip over to Jesus, including our reactions to possible unexpected circumstances.
On August 19, Saturday, we arrived at the Raleigh-Durham airport early to check in our luggage (three and a half hours early, actually). We were allowed 70 pounds per piece, and many of them were 69 pounds (talk about close). Check-in went very smoothly. We checked our bags through to Nairobi, got all our seating assignments, and waited to see if security needed to hand check any of our bags. Sure enough, they opened about four of them, and that went well. What made us a little nervous was the way the x-ray machine catapulted the luggage out the other end. The security people stood clear as the bags flew into the heavy-duty bumper pad. We came to the conclusion that this was in Jesus' hands; otherwise we would spend the rest of the trip in anxious thoughts wondering how many things were broken.
Our flight from Raleigh-Durham to JFK was uneventful, and we arrived in plenty of time for our 8:30 pm flight. We went to our gate and decided that we would wait there for our flight which was scheduled to leave in a couple of hours. Then on the departure display, our flight line carried the one word that travelers with connecting flights dread..."Delayed". We waited and kept checking the display. Finally, the display read, "10:30 estimated departure". This was the next step of placing our travels in Jesus' hands: when a detour presents itself unexpectedly, Jesus still knows the route. If everything went smoothly here, we would arrive in London 15 minutes before our next flight was scheduled to leave for Nairobi. I called Betsy (Debbie's sister) to let her know our possible change of plans and see if she could contact the family who was to pick us up in Nairobi to let them know what was happening. She was glad to help and started working on it right away. Our flight did board shortly after 10 pm and we left JFK around 10:45. The pilot came on, apologized for the delay, explained that the flight had been delayed because of security issues, and assured us that they would be doing their best to make up some of the time. We knew that we would be running on a rather tight schedule now, but what was very reassuring was that Jesus knew this too.
We arrived in Heathrow about a half hour before our flight was to leave (8:30 am, the only daily flight to Nairobi on British Airways). We could have been anxious, but again, Jesus knew all this way before any of it came to be. In my mind, I had to resolve the issues before they happened. Things like. . . Would I force my way to the front of the jet with my family right behind me? Would I run through the terminal to get to our gate? Would I be stressed and give my family the chaff? I thought, "No, Jesus is in control, I need to respond to this situation with that in mind." I was glad to have thought this through because we sat on the runway for the next 50 minutes (more security issues with flights causing back ups), right through the time our flight was suppose to leave.
We eventually made our way into a gate and the plane unloaded (needless to say, people were tense). But, we went with the flow and walked a long way to the next terminal. In the security line (the LONG security line), we asked a security person about our flight (maybe, just maybe, it had been delayed too). He came back with the news, "It was on time; it left 45 minutes ago" (it's good to know the Lord is in control). We checked in with BA customer service, and they were able to get us tickets on a Kenya Airways flight to leave at 8:30 pm that night. We were able to get everything transferred (so we thought) to Kenya Airways. We spent the day in the airport because we had heard if we left the airport, there was a minimum of two and a half hours to get back in through security. We boarded our flight a little before 8:00 and took off on time.
We arrived in Nairobi at 6:30 am and went through immigration and then down to the baggage claim area. We got our carts ready and waited at the baggage conveyer belt. We didn't see any of our bags, then realized we were at the wrong conveyer. So we moved over to the Kenyan Airways baggage claim. In the meantime, we saw Les Latham, who had come to pick us up in Nairobi. Betsy had been successful in relaying our change of plans. We waited for our luggage and waited...and waited. It is unnerving when you're waiting for your luggage and the baggage people turn off the conveyer belt. Not one of our pieces of luggage came through.
We went to the lost luggage counter and gave them our claim numbers. They checked the computer, but they had no idea where our bags were. The reassuring words they gave us were, "Right now, Heathrow is backed up with 170,000 pieces of luggage waiting to be sent on." We left with our carry-ons. This was Monday, August 21st. All our things, including our computer (because of restrictions on the contents of carry-on luggage), were somewhere between the U.S., England and Kenya. Isn't it good to know that Jesus knew right where they were (that is what we needed to keep telling ourselves). Wednesday morning, August 23, there was a text message on our Kenyan cell phone, "Come to Kenya Airways and collect your baggage." I left with Daniel to go to the Nairobi airport. I found myself selfishly thinking, "Lord, please help the computer to be there intact." We got there, and sure enough, we could see our action packers stacked on the far side. We started checking them and realized we were still missing four pieces. And, yes, the computer was in one of the missing pieces of luggage.
I could see that this was another issue that I needed to resolve with the Lord. Up to this point, on the outside, I could give the appearance that Jesus was in control; but I knew in my heart I was holding rather tightly to some possessions, mainly our new computer. "Jesus, I realize You gave this to us to use; I need to give it over to You and let go." Somewhere, someone told me that in life we need to hold things with our hands open. I was learning this again, and after a small spiritual wrestling bout, I gave it to Jesus. There is such a freeing feeling when we finally let go of things that we didn't even realize we were holding so tightly.
On Monday, August 28, I got a call from Dudley Pate, who was in the airport picking up students, and he said that more of our bags had arrived. He brought them to our house late that night. He had three, and there was still one missing. Guess which one? The bag with our computer in it. This time I just had to quietly chuckle because I knew this whole situation was so totally out of my control and so in the Lord's hands. Anything we go though, good or bad, should draw us closer to the Lord. "Jesus, You are in control and You know where this last bag is. It's Yours."
The bag finally showed up Thursday evening, ten days after our arrival in Kenya, with the computer intact (in fact, it is the one on which I am writing to you right now). We are thankful to be back in Kenya, settling back into life at RVA. We are thankful for the gifts the Lord allows us to have. But, most importantly, we are thankful for our loving Lord who is totally in control of our travel plans (and detours) and loves us way too much to let "little masters" (computers. . .) come before Him.
We so enjoyed our time with many of you in the States! We love you all and miss you a lot.
Much Love in Jesus,
Subject: Rothfus Home Assignment Statistics
We thought that it would be fun to share some of our home assignment statistics with you.? They are as follows:
Total days in the states:?147 days
Total number of churches in which we spoke:?20 Churches
Total mileage?that we traveled while on home assignment:?13,761 miles
14 States that we drove through:
License Plates?found on vehicles on the road:?ALL FIFTY STATES!??
Pizzas?Ed & Daniel made while in the states, total number: 37 Pizzas
? Total Restaurants?that we ate at ourselves or with friends and family:?89 Restaurants (That's Scary!)
????? Is it any wonder that our CFWG (Collective Family Weight?Gain) was?53 Pounds!
3 Amusement Parks
*Our last week before heading back to Kenya, I was talking with Betsy (Debbie's sister) and lamenting the fact that we found all the states except Alaska.? She immediately responded "I know where you can find an Alaska license plate!? Brittany Nichols is a student at the seminary and she is from Alaska!? Her car is from Alaska!"? We drove to the seminary and found her car, and here is the picture of the last license plate we needed...?Rothfus'?Believe It or Not!
Much Love in Jesus,
Subject: Rothfus Departure (August 2006)
We are in the midst of packing and sorting and packing and sorting and...
We fly out tomorrow from Raleigh Durham Airport to JFK. Then from JFK to Heathrow, London and on to Nairobi, Kenya. Please keep us in your prayers as we will face a more complicated security maze, but the same travel time frame. We desire to reflect Jesus Christ (in the airports especially) where self and stress could potentially abound. That through these next few days (changing countries and cultures) we will draw closer to Jesus, to each other as a family and to those the Lord brings into our lives.
Attached is a picture of our family (taken at my brother's home). We will be writing soon. We love you all and it was so good to see many of you! Leaving you all is the hardest part of being a missionary in a country so far away. We can leave material things, but leaving close relationships is still so difficult (We are already looking forward to the time when we will be together again).
Much Love in Jesus,
Subject: Belated Pest o the Month
|I was sorting through pictures yesterday and found this "Pest of the
Month" that had been forgotten.
One day Jennie came into our room and said "Dad, come see the size of
this!" I went into the bathroom (in Kenya, not here in the states) and
caught him (her?) in a tupperware container. It was good size and
thought it would be fun to share with you all.
For those of you who are spider lovers, better late than never. For
those of you who are not... sorry.
We are all doing well, it is hard to believe in just a little over a
month (August 19) we board a jet to fly back to Nairobi, Kenya. We
love you all and think of you so often!
Love in Jesus,
Ed, Debbie, Daniel, Jonathan & Jennie
Subject: Rothfus June Itinerary (May 24, 06)
|Well, we never made it to Six Flags Darien Lake this past Monday. Tedd
& Ivy (my brother and sister-in-law) were unable to make it, it was a
cold, rainy day (high in the 50's) and we ended up coming back to Cuba
early that day for doctors appointments for two of our children. We
found out that Daniel has a sinus and ear infection and Jennie was
diagnosed with Fifth Disease (which goes right along with those
childhood rash sicknesses like measles, mumps & chickenpox but is not
as dangerous). Since then, Jon was diagnosed with an ear infection,
too. Actually, it has been nice to have a bit of a rest from the busy
schedule even though we were really looking forward to Six Flags (we'll
reschedule for a later date).
Speaking of busy schedule, here is our June:
June 1, Thursday
June 2, Friday
June 3, Saturday
June 4, Sunday
June 5, Monday
June 6, Tuesday
June 7, Wednesday
June 8, Thursday
June 9, Friday
June 10, Saturday
June 11, Sunday
June 12, Monday
June 13, Tuesday
June 14, Wednesday
June 15, Thursday
June 16, Friday
June 17, Saturday
June 18, Sunday
June 19, Monday
June 20, Tuesday
June 21, Wednesday
June 22, Thursday
June 23, Friday
June 24, Saturday
June 25, Sunday
June 26, Monday
June 27, Tuesday
June 28, Wednesday
June 29, Thursday
June 30, Friday
Thank you again for all you do for us. We love and appreciate you!
Much love in Jesus,
Subject: Rothfus Update (Delta Sonic with Surround-Sound)
|I have to chuckle when I think about this past Saturday. We were
traveling back to Cuba, NY, from the Pittsburgh area (visiting John &
Sharon) and stopped in Erie, PA, to buy clothes for returning to
Africa. I took Dan, Jon, and Jen around while Debbie was going through
stores looking for bargains. There came a point when I asked, "What
would you guys like to do? Go to Toys-R-Us or a car wash?" To my
surprise there was a unified energetic response, "Car Wash!!!"
So we headed to "Delta Sonic" to fill our van and get the Deluxe (while Debbie began bushwhacking through the jungle aisles of the Salvation Army Thrift Store). After filling our tank, there was a sense of anticipation as I got back into the van with our ticket to ride the Delta Sonic Deluxe with the spot-free bug-repellent rinse. We checked the windows to make sure all were secure and drove up to the lady who took our ticket and wrote on our window the secret number code. There was excited chatter as we passed the first test and proceeded on to the exterior gauntlet.
We carefully lined up our front tires and followed the controller's hand signals (I half expected the young lady to have the reflector flashlights like they do in the airport terminals for the Boeing 747s). I was trying to do my part and read all the signs that surround the entrance of the internal workings. At just the right moment, I read the sign that said, "Put Car In Neutral." I quickly took it out of Park and put it in Neutral (Could you imagine the smell of locked tires being dragged through the car wash?) The two attendants scrubbed our car and soaped it up--what fun, this was really happening-- as we all jabbered away. They stepped back and we passed the second test.
Now for the internal gauntlet. There was a jerk, and our vehicle lunged forward into the mist of the Delta Sonic. If it not for the roar of the power sprayers, you could have heard a pin drop. Our hearts were beating wildly and our eyes were open wide. Next, this technicolor soap that had a minty fresh smell was engulfing all the windows of our van from the front to the back. I thought to myself, "I've seen this color mixture before... but where? Oh, yeah! These are the same slurry colors that were in the bottom of the kids' Dipping-Dots-Cotton-Candy ice cream bowl after they finished." Then came the Big Blue Brushes. Everything was happening so fast, we almost didn't have time to take it all in. There were red flashing neon lights, more sprayers, more blue brushes, more red flashing neon lights, and then the final rinse.
We had passed the final test; the gauntlet spewed us out. We looked at each other and smiled as if to say, "We made it!" Later that night, Daniel said to me, "Dad, the car wash was great!" Have you ever wondered... well most of you will probably say "no"..., but for a moment I thought, "Hmm, I wonder if we have been in Africa too long? :o)
We love you all and wanted to share a little of our culture shock with
Subject: Rothfus News (April 11, 2006)
Just a quick e-mail to let you know that we have arrived in the states
and we're doing well. It is good to see everyone, and yes, we are
still working on the balance of sleep and recovering from jet lag (we
feel that we are not just recovering from jet lag but recovering from
the loss of sleep from the end of the term).|
A funny event to warn you to watch out for that Ed Rothfus. This past Sunday morning, I was speaking at Gage Chapel and was mentally reviewing as I began to drive down the road. Debbie was in the front with me and the kids in the back seats. It was a sunny morning and you could see a long way down the country road. I saw a red truck coming toward me and I wanted to give him extra room on his side of the road, so I hugged the shoulder as I drove. As we got closer, he slowed down and pulled off the road too. Then, like a bolt of lightning, it struck me (I glad I didn't strike him) that I was driving the Kenyan way, on the left hand side of the road, I immediately got to the right side. I drove past him and sheepishly waved. The driver (with a rather bewildered look on his face) reluctantly waved back. Debbie looked at me with a shocked look and said, "you know what, I didn't even realize you were on the wrong side either!"
To finish the story, after the church service Ken ( a friend of mine) came up to me and said, "What's the big idea, trying to run me off the road?" (He was one who was driving the red truck). He went on to say, "I saw this van coming toward me, I pulled off that road, then after you drove past, I realized-Oh, that was Ed" (we both laughed and I told him I was really sorry) I also told him that I had had an "African Moment" (a moment where I forgot where I was), and we on to laughed some more.
We love you all and will write again soon.
Subject: Rothfus News (January 06)