Rothfus Scrapbook (December 2009)
Rothfus Scrapbook, December 2009. We hope you have had a special Christmas in Jesus and that you have been able to find some time to step back and reflect (ponder memories). Following is our Scrapbook. We hope you enjoy it.
Upper Left Corner. Last Sunday, we went to the IDP camp for church and took this picture. It was a year ago, this time in December that Daniel and I went down to the IDP camp for the first time. It is special how Jesus uses our children in our lives to challenge us. Daniel said, I'll go, Dad, if you go. I needed that bit of prodding and we have gone many times since.
Middle Left. Our family went with some friends to a National Park about an hour from here in Naivasha. It's one of our favorite places to go for hiking here in Kenya.
Middle Center. Debbie caught Daniel using a dry erase marker on the kitchen counter. Here he is deriving a formula for a launch angle to a given location with a known velocity (don't worry if this doesn't fully make sense to you, he lost me some time ago). As far as college and next year, Daniel has been accepted to three colleges, LeTourneau in Texas, Calvin in Michigan and Cedarville in Ohio. LeTourneau is his first choice and he is hoping that all works out for him to go there. It is hard to believe this is his senior year, but the scary part is how fast time is going!
Bottom Left and Bottom Center. Jon and I went out to Kitengela Glass (a glass blowing and stained glass business near Nairobi) to help them build a pottery kiln. The unique thing about this kiln is that it is fueled by coffee husks. Jon is pictured here with the potter, Regina. The center picture is the kiln being fired; it had reached 1300 degrees C/ 2300 degrees F.
Bottom Right. Jon and some friends formed a brass quartet and played at a few open houses this break. He and Jennie have done well in band this year.
Right Lower Middle. Jennie is pictured here with her JV basketball ball team and coach Carolyn Dewey. Debbie and I enjoyed going to a few of her away games and had fun watching people's reactions to this energetic little lady.
Right Upper Middle. Habitat for Humanity has come to some of the IDP camps and has begun to build homes for families. At the end of the term, one of the men we go down to the camp with said, Peter (a church elder) and Mwaniki (an elder and the District Chief), haven't moved into their houses yet. They're waiting for you to come down and ask a blessing on their homes. We thought, Oh, boy, we had better hurry up and get down there! So Daniel and I went down that Sunday and asked Jesus' blessing on their homes. Here is a picture taken outside of Peter's home.
Upper Right. On the way down to the IDP camp for church, we took this picture of a father taking his three children to church on his bicycle.
This Christmas, I have been challenged by the thought that the Creator of the universe fit into the body of one of His creations. He became a man (something way beyond my comprehension!) It would be a bit like me becoming a hand-thrown mug in order to more fully understand all that pottery goes through. Not only does He understand all we go through, but by sinlessly walking through life and dying for us, He redeemed a marred creation. How exciting that this little baby born 2000 years ago is the Messiah Himself, seated at the right hand of the Father, interceding for us, because He knows us inside out (Hebrews 4:14-16).
Thank you for all you do for us.? We love you and hope to see many of you during the next school year when we are in the States for a furlough year.
Much love in Jesus,
Pest of the Month (Rothfus Dec 09)
How would you feel if you were woken up at 6 am by a loud "THUMP" on a tin roof?
Jon and I had gone to a glass business near Nairobi, Kitengela Glass. We were helping with a pottery kiln, and it was a two day project so we were staying over night. Nani, our friend and owner of the business said, "You may be woken up tomorrow by tree hyraxes. They have become quite a nuisance." She was right, these little guys made quite a racket. I could see silhouettes of the hyraxes running by the bottom of the window. We estimated that there were probably about 15 or 16 out there. They were taking flying leaps from the trees and landing on the tin roof above our heads. Then we could hear patter, patter, patter as they would run over the roof. We were not upset at all; in fact, we were rather amused. Jon and I got up by the window to watch them, and they were really goofy little acrobats. They would ram around, chase each other, look in the window at us, jump back in the tree and then turn around and make faces. We watched for quite a while.
I don't think I would enjoy this alarm clock every morning, but for this one morning it was a lot of fun. It added to the charm of being at Kitengela Glass. Here is a picture of one these little guys. You can almost see the mischievous look in his face :o) By the way, I have heard it said that their closest relative is the elephant. I guess his toes do kind of look like an elephants, ...well, maybe not.
Love in Jesus,
Rothfus Reflections (October 2009)
It is midterm break and time to catch up on what has been happening here in Kenya. Following this email, there will be two collages of pictures we have been gathering over the past few months.
(Collage #1) The Rothfus Scrapbook, October 2009
The Rothfus Family (Top Center) at Karuru Falls in the Aberdares.
Zed (Top Right), the Luo potter and sculptor I have the privilege of working with, is shown here helping a student put a handle on his mug.
Jennie’s Art Class (Left Center) I have been looking forward to having Jen and Jon in art class. This year I will have both of them in 9th Grade Art.
Jon and his Sunday School Class (Right Center) Jon and seven classmates signed up for a year-long 9th Grade Sunday School class I will be teaching.
Kiln Bricks and the Kiln (Lower Center and Bottom Right) Zed and I have been working on a kiln brick formula to make lightweight, heat-reflecting firebricks from materials found entirely in Kenya. It has taken a few years, but we are close to completing the first kiln. Pictured here is a small Raku kiln we hope to use in a few weeks.
Pottery Students (Lower Left) Pictured here are ten pottery students working at the potter’s wheels. They never cease to amaze me by their God-given gifts and desire to learn when it comes to working with clay.
I apologize that Debbie is not pictured here (other than the family picture). She is actively involved here at RVA. She is the grade school librarian and works with the Sunday School Bible memory program.
We are both very involved with helping to sponsor the Senior class. This year our main class fund-raising activity is “Senior Stores”, where the Seniors organize, prepare and sell a variety of Saturday lunch options for students, staff, and campus visitors three times a term. We began last year and are about half way through. This is a great opportunity for the Seniors to learn responsibility and raise money toward their big Senior event, “Senior Safari”.
(Collage #2) IDP (Internally Displaced People) Camp Ministry, Rothfus Reflections, October 2009
Daniel and More Friends (Top Center) This picture was taken in August 2009, when Habitat for Humanity was beginning to build homes for the families. You can see in the background the pile of stone blocks next to the tents.
Homes Under Construction (Middle Center) Pictured here are homes close to being finished for families at the IDP camp. This picture was taken last week, October 2009.
Face Painting (Lower Center and Bottom Right) We had another RVA outreach day to the IDP Camp on September 5. About 35 staff and students went down and painted faces, played volleyball, and played games with the children. It is always a special time.
The Church Tree (Lower Left) During July and August, while Debbie was in the States, the children and I went down for Sunday services at the IDP Camp. I felt like the Lord was leading me to share a series about “Solid on the Rock” (the basics of spending time with the Lord: Bible study and meditating on God’s Word, prayer, sharing our faith and memorization).
Thank you for all your prayer support and words of encouragement. We so appreciate and love each of you!
Rothfus Newsletter, August 2009
We're sorry it has been so long since you have heard from us. Here
is our August 2009 newsletter.
One of Those Days... (Rothfus, June 09)
When was the last time you had a day when you thought everything should go along smoothly only to find that what you thought was solid ground fell through? This picture is a graphic reminder to me of those kinds of days.
Proverbs 16:9 says, "In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."
I have to smile about the story behind this picture. Our family was hiking along a stream here in Kenya, when Jon (Mr. Adventure) said, "Hey, Dad, that would be a great place for a picture, that rock right next to that little waterfall. I will climb out on this big rock [pictured to left] and jump onto the other rock just below the surface" (not pictured on the right because it's not there). So, as he was getting ready to jump, I thought, "Maybe I could get a picture of him in the air as he jumps..." So I quickly got the camera out and took a picture, but because of the delay, I caught him as his foot definitely found the stream mud instead of what he thought he thought was a rock (this is the last known picture of his once-new shoe laces). Daniel and I, standing on solid ground with relatively clean shoes and shoelaces, immediately looked at each other in surprise, but both had the same immediate after-reaction: we both looked away (because it took everything in us to keep from cracking up laughing). We had to wait approximately four minutes for Jon to see the humor in it all, then we all had a really good laugh. (I still find myself chuckling as I write this :o)
It seems lately, that this type of day happens rather more frequently. Maybe it is the times we live in, maybe I need to watch carefully how and where I step, but I think the biggest thing is that I need to hold my Father's hand tighter and more even though I may "think" I am walking on solid ground.
We love you all!
Pest of the Month (Rothfus, June 09)
We were hiking in a gorge at a National Park this past weekend and Jon said, "Dad, come see what we found!" He and Debbie brought over this most unusual grasshopper that we have ever seen. What a beautiful little bug, what incredible markings, what a creative Creator!
Pet of the Month (Rothfus, June 09)
We were excited to find this "Dwarf Giraffe" this past weekend when
we went as a family to a nearby Kenyan National Park. He was only 9"
tall (approximately, because he wouldn't stand still long enough for
us to measure him). We found him to be a very friendly little guy
and not that hard to catch. He was willing to stand on Jon's hand
and pose for this picture.
We really did take a family day and go to a National Park, which we all enjoyed very much. While we were there, we saw some giraffe crossing the road right in front of us. As this one was stopped in a nearby field, Jon said, "Dad, quick, take a picture so that it looks like I am holding him in my hand!" So we did and we thought that it would be fun to share with you.
Much love in Jesus,
Outreach Day, May 09 (Rothfus Update)
We went with about 30 students and staff from RVA down to the IDP Camp last Saturday (May 9) and spent the morning face painting and playing games with our family there. We thought that you might enjoy a collage of pictures from that day.
Much love in Jesus,
Pest of the Month (Rothfus, April 2009)
We have been saving this one to share with you. I had hoped to send it on April 1 (even though it is not a joke, it's real), but as usual, I (Ed) am a bit late.
Last month, a friend of mine, Chip Carter, was walking across campus and said, "Ed, I think I found "Pest of the Month" for you." He told me about this spider that was crawling on someone's wall. He brought it by after school and I took pictures of it, then he let it go a ways away from here. What we figured out is that this is probably a Gray Baboon Spider (I still don't see the resemblance even though baboons are ugly) and it is the closest relative to the Tarantula here in Kenya. This guy measured between three and four inches across, I didn't really want to get too close as we have heard that he can have a nasty bite and this guy was a bit grumpy at this point.
It is good to be able to share with you the various experiences and
adventures we find in life here in Kenya.
Pest of the Month (Rothfus, March 2009)
Well, this guy definitely earned "pest of the month" for March.
We just returned from a week long trip to northern Kenya with ten students. The Juniors and Seniors have the unique opportunity to participate in different educational experiences around East Africa for the last week of the second term. Debbie and I helped with the flying trip, the Aviation Interim. We flew to different mission stations and had wonderful experiences and exposure to what Jesus is doing up north through various missionary families.
One night, we were having a goat roast in a very remote area. After the sun had set, the son of one of the missionary families we were staying with, Michael Hinds, went with Daniel and me to look for scorpions. Both Daniel and I would have missed them, but Mike said "Here's one." Sure enough, what we thought was a little rock was a scorpion. We found nine of them in the next hour. Mike told us that the more dangerous ones are the ones with the black tips on their tails.
Well, just before we left for the night, Mike said, "Come and look at this!" He found a bigger one, we caught it and brought it back with us. He is five inches long (he is stretched out next to Mike's finger. Yes, he is dead... mostly... he was still twitching just a little bit in this picture). Daniel and I would like to turn him into a paperweight. I know this is a bit warped, but it brings back some very fun memories :o)
By the way, look at his tail.
Much love in Jesus,
These past few weeks... (Rothfus, Feb. 09)
Thank you so much for all of you who have been praying for us. Three weeks ago today, Debbie and I took our family, Sunday school class, Steve and Amanda Taylor and their family and April Buhler down to the valley and shared the Pottery Testimony at the IDP (Internally Displaced People) Camp. In this pottery talk, I share about how God is in control and brings out good from tragic events. As I am throwing the pottery vessel on the wheel, I tear off the top of the piece when I share how my father and brother were killed in a car accident. Then I continue to throw the vessel and explain how God can and will use what we give him, even through we may not see or understand what is happening at that point.
This is where I have to share with you that this would have been one of the hardest times to share if it hadn't been for Jesus. I felt a real sense of peace through the whole morning service. Thank you, thank you for those of you who where praying for us! You see, many of the people I was sharing with have seen so much worse than what I have ever faced or will face in my lifetime. They are in a country where they faced instability and hostility in their communities, many lost all their earthly possessions and land, and many saw the death of close family relationships (their own children and parents). Who was I to be here sharing with those who faced such devastation? I knew maybe just a little bit of loss, but in no way could I identify with the immensity of what many of my brothers and sisters in Jesus faced here at the camp. I shared that what I had faced was nothing compared to the loss of many there, but I knew that our Heavenly Father was a loving Father who would use our lives if we give ourselves to Him.
A comical thing happened at the beginning. There were over 200 people there from various IDP camps, and the children all sat in the front, and the elders and grownups were telling the children to sit down so everyone could see. When I started throwing the first piece on the potter's wheel, the children weren't the problem; the elders and grownups were crowding around because they wanted to see (here is a picture of the elders crowding around). Eventually I had to have "everyone" sit down so everyone could see.
I told Chairman Stephen that it would be about eight weeks before I could come back because I would be very busy until the end of the term. He said "Aye! That is a long time! So you will be back in two weeks?" I explained it to him again and he gave me the same reaction. Finally after the fifth time of explaining, I think he realized that I will be back and that I do care, but it will be a "long time".
Yes, these past three weeks have been very busy, but this past Friday night was the Junior Senior Banquet. I was very proud of the Junior class, the sponsors, and all the parents who came to help with this major production for the Senior class. Our theme this year was "Willie Wonka" and they did a super job. But I feel that the biggest gain from all the hard work had to be the relationships in Jesus and the class becoming more unified in Him.
Thank you for your continued prayers. If someone were to ask, "What do you do on the mission field?" how would you begin to say, in the same breath, outreach to needy people in the valley and helping to put on a "Willie Wonka" event for the Senior class? It is possible because all we do on earth will be left behind, but the relationships are eternal. What we do for our Lord and Savior will remain. I am finding more and more, in the events we are involved in daily, there are many open doors for Jesus.
We love you all!
Pest (Pet) of the Month (Rothfus, February 09)
The other night, Jon went outside to check something behind our house. He had a flashlight and he noticed a little ball and it started crawling away. He went over to investigate and realized that it was a hedgehog. He brought him in and showed us. When I told Debbie that we should send this picture out as 'Pest of the Month' she said that Jon was probably (in the hedgehog's eyes) more of a pest than the hedgehog who was just passing through. After we took this picture, Jon took him to a safe place outside the RVA fence. He was a cute little guy.
Love in Jesus,
Rothfus Prayer Request
This is a the intense term here at Rift Valley Academy, and it is especially intensified for our family (Debbie, Daniel & me) as we are involved with the Junior Class and preparing for the Junior Senior Banquet three weeks from this weekend. Things are coming together well, and we are really enjoying the relationships and interaction with the Junior class and the other sponsors. What a neat team the Lord has brought together!
We have two prayer requests:
2) Psalm 90:12, "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Please pray hat this would be our family's and the Class of 2010's focus in Jesus through these very busy days.
How exciting it will be sit down to the best meal ever at the wedding feast of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9) and catch up on all the Lord did through these busy times behind the scenes. Thank you! We appreciate each of you and love you.
Much love in Jesus,
An Unimaginable Happening Follow-Up (Rothfus Jan. 09)
We appreciate many of you responding to last weeks e-mail and here is a follow-up.
Last week on Monday, Jonathan and I went down to the camp to deliver formula for Michael and talked with people letting them know that Ruth was doing well. Yes, she had tuberculosis, but it looked as if she would be able to come home in a few days.
Tuesday, I went down with the car and picked up Ruth's family to come and see her in the hospital. I thought it would probably take an hour and a half so I planned three hours. I started out at 10:30 am and finally got back home at 7:00 p.m., but that was OK because Ruth was doing much better. In fact, the pastor I brought up with Ruth's family came out of her room and excitedly shared, "Ruth prayed and asked Jesus into her life" (Praise the Lord).
Wednesday, I received a call at 12:30 pm that Ruth was being discharged. I ran down to the hospital to tie up loose ends and see her family. Everyone was glad and Ruth looked much better, weak but much better. Shortly after, they all arrived back at the IDP camp (home) in time for the new year.
Sunday, January 4th, we went down to the camp and the "church tree" for the Sunday service. John Karanja brought a friend, who is a pastor, Pastor Mungai. He shared a very good sermon about hardships in the hands of a loving God. I also shared with everyone that their brother and sisters in America send their greetings and are praying for them. They started smiling and waving. I said, "I take it that you are sending your greetings back?" and they responded,"YES!" After the service, we gave out 150 500 ml water bottles to the children. Debbie said, "Those children--even the smallest ones--carried those bottles as if they had been given a valuable treasure."
We shared with everyone that we will be coming back with 14 students from RVA on Saturday, January 17th (Outreach Day at RVA) to spend a few hours with them.
Thank you for all your prayers and words of encouragement. You have been a blessing to us all, and on behalf of Ruth, her family, and the IDP camp, thank you!
Much love in Jesus,
Here are some pictures from our visits, starting from the top right and rotating clockwise: Picture 1) a view of the IDP camp the day we passed out food and clothes, 2) Daniel with Lillian, Joyce, Elvis and a family we shared with, 3) Ruth and Michael this past Sunday, January 4, 4) Meeting for church under the "church tree"
An Unimaginable Happening (Rothfus Dec. 08)
This is actually a "Journal" entry and and not a normal e-mail (it is rather long).
(Journal Entry, December 29, 2008 4:30 am)
I suppose it all began three weeks ago. Our family has been taking care of Buckeye, a golden retriever that belongs to some good friends of ours. I was walking her on the guard trail around the mile and a half perimeter of Rift Valley Academy. There is a point at the bottom of the trail where the view opens up to the Great Rift Valley and one can see for many miles. I looked down one morning to see what looked like several new rose farms. I wasn't sure when the structures had been built, but there they were. It looked a bit strange to have such a big production on such a vast dry expanse. Then it hit me, "Wait, these are not rose farms; they are IDP camps." There were three of them--two large areas of white tents and a third smaller one that was a bit more scattered.
The IDP (Internally Displaced People) camps are tented settlements that came about after last January's political unrest here in Kenya. The government provided a space for people to go to that was "safe"; a place that would hopefully take them away from the violence they were facing.
There they were, six miles below my feet, just outside my fence, just outside my comfort zone. I had imagined these camps as something one reads about in Newsweek while scanning the captions under the pictures. I never really imagined the IDP camps this close to "home".
Soon after, I came to the realization that I should be praying for these people. "Lord, don't You ask us to pray to send 'harvesters' to the fields that are white for harvest? That looks pretty white." I think praying as I walked by was my way to alleviate the guilt, the guilt from the heart tug... "I need to be doing something."
Then the dialogue began... "But what? What can I do, Jesus? I am just one person and look at all those tents. How would one even begin to penetrate a large, intimidating group of unknown people from another culture?"
Then the thought, the quiet little thought, "Just pray for them," whispered in my heart. Whew, I could do that. I felt comfortable again.
The next week, faithful Buckeye (bless her heart) needed to be walked every day to do what dogs do. We walked around the guard trail and when we came to IDP overlook, I would say a short prayer for the people in the camps. I am sorry to say that "out sight out of mind" happens rather quickly with me, especially as I am getting older.
The next week, in the morning church service, the pastor from the Africa Inland Church announced that the Tuesday before Christmas, they would be taking clothes and food down to one of the IDP camps, and the church would be glad for any donations. Then I thought, "Good, this is the opportunity I had been looking for. I can bring a few bags of maize (corn) to do my part."
That week, I walked Buckeye, prayed for the camp and... yes, out of sight out mind.
Friday came. I was busy doing things, checking them off my list, and Debbie asked, "Ed, can you take these things down to the church for the IDP camp?" I said, "Sure." I dug through our storage closet and pulled out a few bags of maize to add to the four bags of clothes. I started my piki (that is Swahili for motorcycle) and Debbie asked, "You're taking those down on your piki?!" I said, "Sure, but I will have to do it in two trips." ( I was also thinking, if I wipe out, I will have a built-in airbag.) I took the first load down to the church and went in to talk to the secretary. She was excited and said, "You can put them in this room." I was planning to add them to the pile of things already donated, but we were the first; we were beginning the pile. "Wait, this is Friday afternoon and the delivery is only four days away. I hope there will be enough." It didn't seem to bother the secretary. In fact, she was so excited she said, "The pastor is upstairs. You can go tell him." Before I thought I said, "Sure." (Have you ever sat down to really think about how many times that word "sure" can get you in trouble?) As I was walking up the stairs to the office, I began to think, "What am I going to say? Hello, here I am riding Silver with my trusty helper Tonto to save the day?" As I walked into Pastor Simon's office, he looked up at me and, "Yes?" Here is my well-thought-out response, "Uh, I brought some things for the IDP thing next Tuesday. I left them downstairs (awkward pause, wondering what to say next)... Do you have enough vehicles?" (hoping he would say that they were already set). His response was "Yes, we are in need of vehicles." I said I would try to come and said goodbye. Humility is good; however it is a bit harder when you don't put it on, but happen to stumble into it.
That weekend, I was talking with Daniel and told him I would probably be going to the IDP camp to help deliver clothes and food. I asked him if he would like to come? To my surprise, he said, "I don't want to, but I know I need to. I think I will." That was enough for me. In my heart I purposed that I would go to the IDP camp on Tuesday afternoon with Daniel. (No wonder the Lord sent out the disciples in groups of two, there is a lot of encouragement in numbers, even if it is just two.)
Tuesday came, Daniel and I drove down to the church at 3:00. We arrived and there was a good sized group, maybe 50 to 60 people, one third white and two thirds Kenyan. They were praying. After the prayer they were breaking up into groups to go down to the valley, and my good friend Mark Buhler was driving the big RVA bus. He looked at me and said, "Ed, do you and Daniel want to ride with us? There is more than enough room." (Sadly, my first thought was that I wouldn't be able to leave when I wanted to if I rode the bus.) I asked, "When will you be back?" and he said, "When its over." I looked at Daniel, hesitated, he looked at me, we thought, then one of us said, "Let's go on the bus." We locked the car and climbed into the bus.
We started down toward the valley to the IDP camp, but because the bus was so big, we needed to take the long, bumpy way around. As we sat in the bus, we were surrounded by Kenyan youth from the church. Everyone was talking, but mostly within seat mates. About ten minutes into the trip, the thought hit me that maybe it would be fun to do some riddles with those around me, so I took a chance. I tapped Tabitha, the young lady sitting across the aisle and asked her if she would like to try some riddles? She said yes. Next to her, in the same seat, was Jesse Enwistle, a former RVA student, and he was definitely up for this. Then I asked a young boy, Elvis, one seat up, and with a big smile, he joined in. So for the next 30 minutes, we did goofy riddles and played word games. It was a blast!
We pulled into the IDP camp, the third, smaller camp that I had seen from RVA--78 6-foot by 8-foot tents housing over 200 Kikuyu people. The people from the IDP camp were excited. They were shaking our hands, smiling, and thanking us for coming. They were real people, no longer a long way off, but right there, holding our hands. The children, the small children, were ecstatic, smiling, snotty-nosed and cute. They ran up and grabbed our hands as if we were their long-lost friends. They were not pictures in some magazine somewhere, they were real! As soon as they grabbed our hands, they were not just faces, but relationships. As soon as they touched us, they went from being a thought in the head to a tug at the heart.
The leaders told us to divide up into groups of five. Daniel and I were a group of two, so we looked for three more. the choice was, I could continue to be comfortable and pick people I already knew, OR we could take a chance and work with some Kenyan youth. Daniel looked at me, I looked at him, and we took a chance. Right near us was Elvis with some of his Kenyan friends. We said, "Elvis, we need three more to make a group of five." Immediately, two girls joined him and we had our group of five, Elvis, Lillian, Eunice, Daniel, and me. When we went to the leaders, they said, "You take tents 21 through 25. Every tent needs a bag of clothes and a bag of food." We took two bags of clothes and two bags of food so that we could do two tents at a time. We split up, me with Eunice, and Daniel with Elvis and Lillian. What a blessing to see these young people so involved and pouring out the love of Jesus on these special people in the IDP camp. I so appreciated being on a team with Daniel, Elvis, Lillian and Eunice. Where I had a gap in my language, Elvis, Eunice, and Lillian built the bridge and we all crossed together. We talked with some, and prayed with others, but Jesus built bridges with all.
Toward the end of the time, I went back to the bus, climbed on top and took a picture. I climbed down and stood at the edge of the group, which at the beginning was a crowd, but was now beginning to become family, a big family. I was thinking about the fields that are "white for harvest" and all these people. John Karanja, a Kenyan friend of mine from RVA, was standing near talking with men from the camp. He looked at me and said, "This was a very good day!" I thought, hesitated and said, "Yes, it was." I looked at him, just thinking out loud, and said, "Do they even have a church service? What do they do on Sunday?" He said, "I don't think anybody comes here. They need something, someone." We talked and thought for the next while. What could be done? We went to the pastor and elders in charge and asked them if someone could come down. They were very interested, but being the Christmas season, they were very busy. We went back to the camp elders and talked with them. They were so interested in having someone, anyone, come down. Thinking out loud, I said, "I suppose, I could probably do something sometime" (How is that for commitment?!) They were very interested, and like a plane that wants to keep circling instead of landing, I said, "Maybe, down the road, maybe sometime, maybe..." Then the words, "What about this Sunday?" slipped out. Immediately John and the camp leaders got landing signals in line, and the Lord directed these hovering thoughts to a safe landing. We planned to meet at the "church tree", a big, scrawny acacia tree in the field at 9:30 the next Sunday morning. I had John tell the camp leaders that I am "only an art teacher, I am NOT a pastor". He told them in Kikuyu, and they responded very enthusiastically. After they finished, he turned to me and said, "They don't mind, they will be excited to hear the Word of God."
On the bus ride home, Daniel and I talked about what had happened. He had been there the whole time John, the camp leaders, and I were talking. He said, "Dad, this was a good day." I agreed. Then he was wondering how he could earn money to buy Swahili and Kikuyu Bibles for these people who so desperately needed and wanted them. Again my heart was sharpened (Proverbs 27:17) to hear my son strike a chord in my heart. Daniel was excited about Sunday, he was my cheerleader, he let me know this needed to happen, someone needed to go down with these people. John Karanja was my cheerleader. He said that if I went down he would come with me, he would be free this Sunday. The Lord will use key people to fuel His fire.
I wasn't sure what I would share on Sunday, but I was at peace knowing that I was holding my Heavenly Father's hand and He would it make it clear, what HE wanted to share. Then Wednesday evening, Debbie and I were talking about the IDP camp and she said, "God knows their names." That was it, this was what Jesus wanted to share, He knows their names.
Saturday came and I was preparing for Sunday, and the amazing thing was there was peace through this whole time. I got a call from Mark Buhler asking if it would be OK if he came too on Sunday. What an encouragement, definitely, YES! My whole family decided they would like to go with us, and there was a peace knowing that I wouldn't be the only one standing under the "church tree" on Sunday morning.
Sunday Morning came. We loaded up the car, all five of us, and drove down to Mark's. His whole family was in their car, they were coming. I picked up John Karanja, and we drove down to the camp. The children were there jumping up and down, excited to see us. We pulled up and told the people we would meet under the "church Tree". I drove the car over and parked it under the "church Tree" about 100 yards from the camp. The people started trickling out, five here, then a group of ten. I talked with John Karanja about what would take place. He said that he would be glad to be my translator and that he would run the order of the service. Anytime you meet with the Body of Jesus Christ in Africa, you find you have a built-in choir. He talked to the 20 or 30 people that were already there and asked if they would start singing, and they were off with a bang (a bang on the drum, that is). They sang, the people came, they kept singing, the people kept coming. Eventually there were between 150 to 200 people there for the morning service. They sang, they shared testimonies, they gave thanks of how the Africa Inland Church in Kijabe had come down to meet a need. Then a man got up and shared how much they needed the physical food, BUT more important than that, they needed the "spiritual food". I felt a twinge of anxiety, but then Jesus brought His peace with the thought, "Ed, it is not you, it is Me through you." Jesus wanted to work with these people and I happened to be His mouthpiece on this particular day (I do have a big mouth and can be loud at times). I got up and shared that Jesus knows our names, the Creator of the universe, knows our names (John 10:2-3). I shared who God is, who we are (sinful), and how much He loved us to send His Son Jesus for us. I shared that the best thing would be to have our names written in the "Book of Life" never to be forgotten by our Heavenly Father. They listened intently, they nodded, they followed right along from children to the elders, in the hot sun, they absorbed. The service from the beginning of the singing to the last prayer was probably around two hours. I gave my greetings, the service was over, so I thought...
The Lord's "Service" was about to begin. Two ladies, Theresa and Lois, came up to John and me after the service. They said there was a sick girl, could we take a look at her? John and I walked with them to a tent at the far end of the camp, and there was a girl, very weak, supported by another lady. The girl's name was Ruth. Obviously something was wrong as she could hardly sit up. What made things more complicated, was that she was a young mother and she had a six-month-old child, Michael. "Jesus, what is my part here? To say a little prayer and give some words of encouragement?"
then said, "I can take my family home and come back for her to take her to the hospital." John said, "I can come with you, I can help you." (Bless his heart). I went back to the car where Debbie, Daniel and Jonathan were waiting. I said, "There is a young girl who is sick and needs to go the hospital. I will take you all home and then come back for her." Debbie said, "Jennie went back to Kijabe with the Buhlers so we'd have more room. Let's take her with us now. We can all sit in the back." (Talk about encouragement!) We drove down to the tent, and there was a crowd around Ruth helping her, her mother Margaret, and baby Michael into the car. We drove to Kijabe Medical Center, and Debbie and the boys went home. After the paper work was done, I ran home and changed my clothes while John stayed with Ruth, Margaret and baby Michael. I ran back down to the hospital, and they ran tests on Ruth and did a chest x-ray and an ultrasound. About 6:00 pm, the doctor said she would have to be admitted. It looked like a pneumonia infection and possibly tuberculosis. John and I took grandma and the baby back down "home" (uh, to their tent).
We drove into the camp at dusk, and there were so many people around our car, there were so many questions, but there was now a family, there was an open door for Jesus. It just so happened that He (Jesus) used John's and my feet to walk through it.
Please pray for Ruth Wanjiku, she is a very sick young lady.
Ephesians 3:20 "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us"
And to think it all started with taking Buckeye for a walk and a small prayer...
You are our family in Jesus and we love you all!
Pest of the Month "Ho, Ho,...OH!?" (Rothfus, Dec 08)
Even though this picture was taken a few months ago, we thought that
it would be nice (nice?) to share with you. Before we tell what kind
of snake this, we thought that we would give you a chance to guess
(the answer is at the bottom). Our friends, two doors down, were in
Naivasha, Kenya and found this little guy (four and a half feet long)
crawling on the ground. We were able to take this picture before
they took him back and let him go in the wild. The reason they had
to take him back was because it was too cold for him here in Kijabe
and the only way they could keep him warm was to put him in their
shirts with their shirts tucked in so he stay "as snug as a bug...uh,
snake... in a rug" against their skin. :o)
Rothfus Prayer Requests
Two weeks ago, we had "Spiritual Emphasis Week" (SEW) here at RVA. The Lord was working in that week and has been since then. Bay Forrest, a former NBA player from the Phoenix Suns, spoke that week and the Lord really worked through him. The sessions began on Wednesday evening and on Friday evening, Bay gave an invitation. Many young people (I would say about a third of the student body), seventh grade through seniors, stood to give their lives to Jesus and to rededicate themselves to him. What a special evening, what a special week in Jesus!
I spoke in church last Sunday morning, and I shared my pottery testimony (it had been four years since I last shared it). Before I began the pottery talk, I talked with the students and shared how I had been a wrestling coach for a few years. After a hard wrestling match, I would see tired and worn out wrestlers. Yet, they were stronger for what they had been through. The week after SEW, I saw many very tired and worn out students. I shared with them that they had been through a major wrestling match, spiritually. "For our struggle is not (we wrestle not) against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (Eph. 6:12)
Please pray for the students (faculty and staff, too) as the wrestling is not over, but I believe that each of us will become a stronger wrestler as we persevere in Jesus. This has been a rather challenging term (dealing with the death of a former student, the death of a staff member, sicknesses, major new faculty turn over, and, presently, we are having water problems on campus). I believe and see that the Lord is raising up "Arrows" (Psalm 127:3-5) to penetrate and push back the darkness for His kingdom. Please continue to pray for unity and a servanthood attitude as we work together through this year. What a special team and family the Lord has brought together here at Rift Valley Academy from the youngest child (student) to the oldest faculty member!
Thank you. We love you and appreciate you.
Pest of the Month (October 2008)
This past Monday, one of the students in my Advanced Art class said, "Mr. Rothfus, I think we have termites in the art room!" I looked over at the stack of drawing boards up against the wall. There were termite tunnels around the top and the sides of the drawing boards. I said, "Oh boy, this looks interesting." We started unstacking the drawing boards and found quite the construction (destruction) going on. Fortunately, we had caught them in time and they had only chewed through about seven boards.
Pictured are two drawing boards and one of the little chewing wonders. Keep in mind that these drawing boards were rectangular at one point. Needless to say, they made it to "Pest of the Month" for October.
Love in Jesus,
A Thought that Changed My Life (Rothfus, October 08)
I was thinking back to the summer of 1985 when I helped with a pottery program at a camp called Deerfoot Lodge in the Adirondack Mountains. I remember back to a hot afternoon when I was firing clay mugs by burning wood in a pit I had dug. Needless to say, I was sweating quite a bit with the heat from the sun and stoking the fire. Since I was in a rather remote part of the camp, I was wearing a pair of shorts and my sneakers (also a bandana because that was cool, at least in my own eyes). I was so caught up in my own world of stoking, fanning and sweating that I didn't even notice what was going on around me. I happened to look up, and there was a lady taking pictures. She didn't seem at all upset by my strange garb, but she immediately started asking questions because she was rather fascinated by all that was going on. We talked, I stoked, she clicked, I sweated, then we talked some more. She said, "My name is Elaine Barnett and we're showing some slides of Africa tonight. Would you like to come see them?" I said, "Sure."
I went that night to see these slides. Elaine's husband's name was John, and there were two other people there watching. They started showing me slides of Kenya and of a school called Rift Valley Academy. Have you ever heard something or seen pictures that strike a cord in your heart? It is like trying on a new shoe and realizing that you found the right fit even though you weren't really looking for it. Something about that evening was drawing my heart. Just before I left, they shared a thought with me, "You know, Ed, the Lord needs art teachers on the mission field too." It is something how the Lord will use people at opportune times to share His thoughts. This was one of those times, and he used John and Elaine to speak to me. It was a thought that changed my life.
After helping at Deerfoot that summer, I went back to my fourth and final year (1985-86) teaching at Brewster Academy. The thought that John and Elaine shared grew into a realization that the Lord was opening a door for me to go to the mission field, more specifically to Rift Valley Academy. I wasn't sure what all this meant, but I did know that I should go. I applied to Africa Inland Mission and was accepted, and I could see that the thought had now taken shape as a short-term volunteer, a one-year commitment. This thought also included going to Moody for one year to prepare for the mission field. I was accepted and went from 1986 to 1987. There is another beautiful facet about following the Lord's thoughts, there are blessings, deep blessings, attached. I met (actually re-met) Debbie, a good friend from my childhood. Later that year, In March, we were engaged and then we were married a month after I returned from Rift Valley Academy, but that is another story!
Have you ever met someone and felt like you had known them a lot longer than you had, that somehow the roots of that friendship go deeper than the first time you had met? That is the way it was with John and Elaine and their children, Glenn and Melissa. The year I went to RVA, every time I walked into their house (and I walked into their home a lot!), I felt like I had a home and family. They were one of the families who "adopted" me that year. Just to mention a few things we did together, I helped sponsor the senior class with them and others, John and Glenn included me on some motorcycle (piki) safaris, they took me on trips and some family vacations, I was part of their family and never felt like I was imposing. I think about all the food I ate at their home (my goodness!), and they chuckled as if I was a growing boy and they couldn't feed me enough.
Debbie came to visit me in Kenya the last four weeks of that one-year commitment, and John and Elaine took us and eight other people on a Safari weekend out in the "bush" camping at Narok. Part of the movie "Out of Africa" (if you've ever seen it) was filmed a little ways from where we camped, the part where Meryl Streep was taking the cattle across the wild and they were attacked by lions. From what I understand, the part about the lions wasn't suppose to be in the movie, but it happened as they were filming it, and so they kept that part in the movie. On our camping trip, at about 8:30 in the evening, a lion roared (it felt like it was right behind our camp), and a bunch of the young people screamed and huddled close together. I immediately looked at John to see if his face showed any concern. By the fire light, I could see a grin and a hint of a chuckle almost as if he had known this was going to happen, but was waiting to see how everyone would react. There was a lot of peace just being under John and Elaine's watch care.
Debbie and I came back to the States and were married in October of 1988. The next 12 years were special as we began a new chapter in our lives of building relationships together and beginning a family. We even had the opportunity to live in Cuba, NY, near my mom for seven years before the Lord called her home in 1997. During that time John and Elaine came to visit us several when they were in the States. Then in 2000, the door was opened for us as a family to come to the mission field, to come to RVA. This open door became a full- time calling to the mission field.
When we arrived, we didn't come to a strange place because we already had family here. John and Elaine took all of us under their wing. They loved our children and our children loved them. It is beautiful when there is this transfer of love in family. John was Babu (Swahili for grandfather) and Elaine was ShoSho (Kikuyu for grandmother). In November 2000, after realizing that the children hadn't gotten off campus since we arrived in August, Babu and ShoSho took our family to Nakuru for a weekend safari. What a blast we all had watching the children's reactions as they saw the African animals for the first time. We remember laughing as we watched Babu throw rocks to chase away the bold baboons on the roof of our hotel rooms. We have had many special memories with Babu and ShoSho; they are part of our family. I feel that when any of us walks through the door of their home, whether for Thanksgiving dinner or just for a visit, we are walking home.
This past Tuesday morning, at 6:00 am John, Babu (to many) went home to be with Lord. He had a form of Lymphoma, which had been diagnosed about a year ago. About three weeks ago, John came down with an infection and because he was receiving chemotherapy, things became complicated. The doctors turned their attention to fighting the infection, and it was at this point that the cancer took its toll.
John was a special man to so many of us, and I know that if Proverbs 27:17 ("As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another") were a reflection of someone, it would be John. I have often thought about that sharpening process. What does it mean to be sharper? Now I realize that we are sharper tools in the hand of the Master Artist, sharper weapons in our Father's hand to pierce and push back the darkness through His working. Many people are sharper because of God's influence through John and Elaine, Babu and ShoSho.
The other night at supper, when we were talking with our children about this, Jennie said, "What are we going to do? We always say, 'Babu and ShoSho'"? There was so much truth in what she said, we have always thought of John and Elaine, and now Elaine will be "ShoSho" as she is beginning this walk alone with her Lord. Please pray for Elaine, as the days turn to weeks and weeks turn to months and the months turn to years... the adjustments, the joy and strength of a special relationship in Jesus, the loneliness, the sadness of your best friend going home before you. Please pray for Glenn (their son) and Ame and their children, and Melissa (their daughter) and her husband John and their children. All are on the mission field, but a big part of their life has gone home to be with Jesus.
I know my life, as well as the lives of so many others, have been changed for eternity, because of a thought or two that Jesus shared through John and Elaine Barnett. In the Rothfus household, John will always be remembered with deepest affection as Babu.
Much love in Jesus,
Rothfus Prayer Requests (Sept. 08)
We are in the forth week of school here at Rift Valley Academy. It has started out very well and very busy. We would appreciate prayer for:
This year (and this term in particular) has a unique challenge to it. Yes, it is very busy with all the challenges of the beginning the school year. But, along with that, there has been a rather large turnover in staff (over 40%) and there are some families that have been delayed in their arrival because their support is not all in yet. Please pray for the Lord's wisdom in filling these positions needed to keep the school functioning, that we will all stay focused on the Lord's priorities and God's calling to raise up these young men and women in Him, to be sharp arrows for His kingdom (Psalm 127:3-5).
Jane, our Kenyan friend who helps in our home, has a 16-year-old son named Benson who has been having frequent spells of severe headaches, throwing up and nose bleeds. They have seen several doctors at the hospital here in Kijabe, and we have taken them to Nairobi for a CT Scan, but it came back negative, which is good in one way, and yet he still continues to have these symptoms. The doctors are perplexed as to what is going on. Benson is taking quite a few kinds of medicine right now, and the doctors want him go to Nairobi for an EEG test. This is all a bit overwhelming for Jane and Benson. Could you please be praying for the Lord's direction and his healing.
Through all of this, I would ask for prayer that we as a family in Jesus here at RVA would draw closer to our Lord who is our strength and closer to each other as a unified team. Thank you again for all your support, encouragement and prayers.
We love you!
Long Lost Rothfuses, Part A (August 30, 2008)
Oops, we are sorry for the long lapse between communications. Since the last time we wrote to you, we flew to the states and back, we just arrived back in Kenya at the beginning of this week. In this six weeks we were able to visit Debbie's family (Nana, Waylan & Betsy, John & Sharon, Doug & Renee, Mike & Leslee and their families), my family (Aunt Esther, Tedd & Ivy, Uncle Bob & Aunt June, Aunt Donna, Mike & Cindy and their families) and friends in Cuba, NY. We drove from Fort Worth, Texas up to Lake Pleasant, New York and back to Texas (a total of 4,900 miles). Yes, we are a little tired, but it was so good to be with family again!
Something very interesting happened on our return trip. As you read this, think about the possibility of this happening. Betsy, Debbie's sister, talked about a college visit to LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas for Daniel on our way back down. So we traveled from Huntsville, Alabama to Longview on Sunday and met mom, Waylan, Betsy and their family that night. The next day, we went to LaTourneau for the college visit and tour. Katie, our tour guide, was taking us around showing us the campus and facilities. At one point, she said,"Let me show you one of the dorms." So we went into a dorm and looked around. Then we sat in the lounge and she told us about dorm life. She even mentioned that it would be nice to show us a dorm room. The only problem was that no one was around to show us their room. As she was telling us this, five young men walked in and it looked as if they were having an informal meeting in the corner of the lounge. Katie said,"Maybe one of these guys live here and would let us see his room." She went over to them and asked,"Do any of you live in this dorm?" Two of them said yes. She asked if one of them would be willing to show us his room and one of them said,"Sure." He got up and was walking across the lounge when I jumped up and said,"Hey, I designed that shirt!" He was wearing a "Chibougamau" shirt from Camp Brookwoods in Alton Bay, NH. I couldn't believe it, he couldn't believe it! I asked,"What is your name?" He replied,"Gordon Strodel." A quick history, I had worked at Camp Brookwoods back in 1982 for Miles Strodel (his grandfather) and Miles asked me to design a shirt for the "Chibougamau" (pronounced "Sha-boo- ga-moo") trip. This is a trip the older campers took to a remote area above Quebec, Canada. I met his father Bob and I knew his Uncle Dave, who is now the director, when I was there. It was just a quick design I had thrown together for that summer, but they are still using it! Think about it, of all the shirts people have, all the miles traveled, all the time in a day, Gordon came from New Hampshire and I came from Kenya to meet in Longview, Texas at just that time in the afternoon because of a red "Chibougamau" shirt (we are sending a picture in a separate e-mail).
Many would say "It's a small world". I have come to disagree, it is a huge world. It is just that we serve a God who much bigger! My father in heaven is much bigger and more in control than I give Him credit for. "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,.." (Ephesians 3:20)
Much Love in Jesus,
Part B (August 30, 2008):
Rothfus Update (Rather late, July 12, 08)
Many times, we feel that life here at Rift Valley Academy is somewhat like canoeing in rapids. Third term, the current is strong as we head in to the end of the year with graduation being the last big waterfall. Today was graduation. Yesterday, a good friend asked, "How was this year for you?" I thought for a bit and then said,"Incredibly busy, but very good." Usually, a busy year can drive me into a corner of life where I merely survive. But this year, the Lord helped me gain through the "rapids". Instead of just missing the rocks in the current, I gave Him the bow and I took the stern, I gave Him control and spent more time with Him. The water was just as rough, but there was a lot more peace in my canoe. Yes, we are worn out and there were times where we were shaken and I wished that love would have spilled out instead of my selfishness. But, overall, I feel like I have drawn closer to Jesus and that He helped to build bridges stronger to family and students. Isn't it so true that He must increase and I must decrease (John 3:30). We know that it is because many of you have interceded prayerfully on our behalf, thank you for all you do for us!
We leave for the US tomorrow for 6 weeks to visit family we haven't seen in two years. We are all very much looking forward to this time. We love you all and miss you!
Much love in Jesus,
Pest of the Month (June 2008)
It has been some time since we have written, but we thought it would be fun to send you the "Pest of the Month" before June runs out.
Last month, we had a special friend visit us from the states. Rachel Holden, a good friend from the New York area had wanted to visit us since she was in fifth grade (she'll be a Junior at Messiah college in the fall). She finally was able to come to Rift Valley Academy this June for three weeks.? We had a lot of fun with her here.
One thing she really wanted to see while she was here was a chameleon. We kept looking and then one day, Debbie came home and said, Guess what I have? On her way home from the library, she found a chameleon. We were all excited.? Needless to say, the little chameleon was not, he was rather black by the time he got here. But, he must have liked Rachel because she held him and he turned back to a good healthy shade of green. Here is a picture of them.
We love you all.
Rothfus News (May 1, 2008)
First, thank you for praying for the students and their families over break. We have just finished our second week of school and some students have shared with me about what a good break it was.
There was one young man that I was talking with before the break, and I said, "Could you do me a favor... could you do something meaningful with your family?" He said that he would try, but didn't think it would happen. I told him to do his best and I would be praying for him. The second day back in school, I received a very nice note from him. There were two lines in the middle that I asked him if I could share with you because you had been praying for him too. He said, "Sure."
"I wanted to thank you for your advice and words of wisdom about family issues. They really helped and things are already on a steady improvement." Thank you again for your prayers on behalf of these children of missionaries; they're making an eternal difference.
Second, Jennie and I had been planning for some time to go down to the hospital to pass out cookies and pray for people. She asked if she could bring some of her friends, and I said, "Sure." Here is a picture of Jennie and on her right Mercy (the Chaplain who is an incredible encouragement to us and those around her). On Jennie's left are Natalie and Morgan Haynes and Kelsey Reber. The little girl on the bed is Jimlee, and her mother and father are also in the picture.
The story behind this picture:
I often wonder, when I go somewhere to reach out in Jesus' name, why do I feel like I walk away with the greater blessing?
We love you all and thanks again for all you do for us!
Pest of the Month (Rothfus April 2008)
On the way home from church yesterday, Daniel saw this little guy (little green snake) slithering in the grass. What made things most interesting is that we had been telling black and green mamba stories the night before at supper. Our neighbor, Troy Gallagher, was telling us about a close encounter he had with a green mamba last week in a national park near here. So naturally...green...snake...slithering in the grass--not good. Daniel took a rock and, well, the little guy is no more. We went next door to show the snake to our other neighbor, Nate Hinton, who knows snakes better than we do. He said, "Let me see the head." Daniel held it up and showed him the flat end (which used to be the head). He said, "Oh, that head is pretty flat. It's hard to tell, but I think that it is a green snake or a tree snake." So chances are good it wasn't a green mamba, but it did add a bit of excitement to the day.
Love in Jesus,
Rothfus Prayer Request (March 16, 2008)
We have three school days left in this term. This term has been the shortest term (eight and a half weeks long) and at the same time, the longest term (we have tried to cram 12 weeks worth of schooling, activities and events into these weeks). It has been a very good term, but I must admit, I feel a bit worn out. I echo Debbie's words when she got up this morning, "I feel like it was a good nights rest, but I still feel so tired." I also have to say, the Lord is so good! In a previous e-mail, I had shared a prayer request--"for this term to be remembered as a good term in Jesus and that we would be a close family working together lifting each other up." This term has definitely been a term of bumps and bruises, but through all that has gone on, I feel we have grown a lot closer as a team in Jesus already. Thank you so much for your prayers; you have made a difference.
Before I share my next request, I would like to share some thoughts students have shared with me. I meet for mentoring and discipleship with some young men. They have told me, at different times, how much they respect their parents and admire them for the ministry they are involved in reaching people for Jesus Christ. The one regret they have is that they wish their parents (fathers in particular) would spend a little more time with them. (I have to insert a footnote here, I can relate in a big way to fathers being project driven, so when I am sharing this, I am included with the dads who are "projectaholics".) I can see in these young men the desire to hear from their dads things from their childhood, issues they wrestled with growing up, did they ever do anything stupid, did they go through emotional up and downs (or were they always stable), do they have ups and downs spiritually, did they think about girls and how did they dealt with it?
I feel like the Lord has laid on my heart a special prayer request that I would like to bring before you. Departure day is Thursday, March 20th and arrival day for term three is Monday, April 21st, so they have the potential to be with family for about 32 days. If the Lord lays it on you heart. . .
Please pray for these children and young men and women as they are with their parents, that they would have one of the most meaningful breaks, one of the most meaningful times as a family they have ever had.
I would pray for "interruptions", let me call them "Divine Interruptions". A "Divine Interruption" is when Jesus surprises people, men and women in their busy schedules with unexpected cancelations and margin time. Then He replaces the void/cancellation with an opportunity for free time. And with the free time, pray that the thought would be, "Some extra time, what can I do with my son, daughter, children?" Please pray that what pops into their minds is to go for walk, play games, go for a ride, and have creative family time. I would like for the 500 children from RVA to feel like they are a "Big Part" of their families' ministries and not a "Tack On"; that they would be a focal point and important, and that they don't get the leftovers from what their parents are doing.
It would be special that if this is such a special break for families on the mission field, that it would set the prescient for future vacations and family time. But most importantly, it would be exciting at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, in the light of eternity, to see how the Lord passed down a ministry to the next generation through loving and meaningful time with their parents. When the students return in April, I will let you know of any answers I hear.
Thanks again for being such a big part of our ministry and the ministry here at Rift Valley Academy. We appreciate each of you and love you.
Love in Jesus,
Rothfus News (February 18, 08)
I realized that I had better stop and drop anchor on this moment to keep the Rothfus canoe from drifting any further down the rapids of second term without a word from us. I also know that with all that has occurred recently in Kenya, it would be good to let you know that we are all doing well.
We began this term two and one half weeks late because of political unrest and safety issues around Kenya (a very wise decision by the administration). About the time school opened, things were calming down and all the students and parents arrived safely. To our understanding, all the parents who brought their children made it back home safely, too. Thank you so much for your prayers. Before the term started, we as a faculty and staff met together to talk about ways we make this term work and ways to adjust. Now that we are approaching the middle of this term, school is going well with all considered, and I think we are going to make it in Jesus. It is not ideal, but I sense a team unity in the midst of the hecticness and stress.
This has been a busy term with art classes (this is the term where we put together the 2009 calendar). Debbie is getting back into the swing of things in the elementary library as she continues to recover from her surgery. (She is doing very well, but every now and then she just needs to rest as her body is still healing. This evening she sat down in a chair at 7:20 and promptly fell asleep). Part of our responsibility as sponsors for Daniel's class this term was to help with Valentine Sales, a yearly class fund raiser. We were very busy as a class selling valentines gifts and taking orders for cookies, cupcakes, roses, and even singing valentines to be delivered during Valentine's week. We (the Rothfuses with the help of several students) were responsible for the cookies, and we baked and decorated over 800 of them (but not all in one day). More than 2,500 roses were tagged and delivered to students and staff members. Needless to say, time is moving along quickly as well as the current.
Jen and Jon, our two seventh graders, are adjusting much better this term to the busy demands of Junior High school. Jon is playing Colts (7th through 9th grade) basketball and enjoying it, and Jennie is playing Colts soccer. Guess what position Jennie is playing? She is the goalie, and a very good one, too! She works hard at this position and is rather aggressive. (She has some extra bruises, and we have a bit of extra laundry lately because of grass-stained clothing from all her diving and rolling). Daniel is glad to have his friends back on campus and is doing well in classes. I think he is amused watching his sister play goalie as everyone cheers for her after she makes a good save. We can see the look on his face as he wonders, "Why would anyone want to abuse her body in that manner?" None the less, he is a good big brother.
I would like to share a little about Zed. Most of you know that Zed is my Kenyan brother who helps me in the pottery room. He is extremely gifted (God has given him quite a talent artistically). He and Serephine (his wife) are from the Luo tribe. After the elections here in Kenya and the uprising mainly between the Kikuyu and Luo, I asked Zed how he was doing. He said fine for the most part and even though we live in a mainly Kikuyu community, he felt things were going well. That was at the beginning of the week. Toward the end of the week, things began to fall apart and Zed called me to let me know that he and Serephine were going to have to leave for awhile until things settled down. They were gone for a few weeks. Then one night I received a call from Zed that he was back. It was good to hear his voice. The next day we talked and he shared with me how he hoped Jesus could use them in some small way to bring healing to this area. I admire him and Serephine. What they have been through and what they have seen, I will never understand. He has been back now for a week and a half and is doing well. Kenya is calming down and things seem to be stabilizing, but there is still much healing that needs to take place. If you could pray for Zed, Serephine and their two boys, Malcolm and Jacob, for Jesus to be reflected through them and His peace to carry them through this time, we would really appreciate it. Please also pray for God's direction and healing for Kenya and that many would come to know Him through this.
We love you all and think of you so often.
Rothfus Prayer Requests (Jan 19, 2008)
We want to send a quick update to let you know how things are here at RVA. When we look at the news from CNN or listen to BBC we think, "Oh, what a terrible situation!" We realize that what many of you are seeing and hearing are the sad results of the unrest in Kenya mainly between the Luo Tribe and Kikuyu tribes. There is still political unrest and we are praying for Jesus to bring His healing touch to this nation and the turmoil (tribalism) so deeply rooted in the Kenyan thinking.
Here in Kijabe, we are seeing very little of the unrest going on around Kenya. At present, it is a calm and safe place. We delayed school for two and a half weeks, and today is arrival day for the boarding students. Classes will begin on Monday, January 21.
Our prayer requests are: -For safety of families traveling here to Kijabe from all directions, especially as some may be going through potentially restless spots -For families saying good-bye to their children and the hard adjustments (this is difficult under normal circumstances) -For the students and family here as we will have to make up for school time lost, to gain ground in Jesus -For this term to be remembered as a good term in Jesus and that we would be a close family working together lifting each other up.
Debbie is continuing to do well healing from her surgery, but she needs to remember to slow down from time to time. She will be doing something and think, "Oh yeah, I had surgery not too long ago. I had better rest." Thank you for your prayers on her behalf.
Thank you so much for all your prayers and support. You are a big part of the ministry here at Rift Valley Academy!
Much Love in Jesus,
Rothfus Update (January 3, 2008)
We are sending you a short note to let you know that we are doing well. We have received some notes of concern about the situation here in Kenya with the recent election and the turmoil surrounding the aftermath. Yes, there continues to be unrest in Nairobi and in various cities and towns around Kenya where there tends to be strong political unrest.
We want to let you know that we are doing well here at RVA. It is a safe place. The main problems we are dealing with are timing for opening school for the second term and possible shortages such as gas/petrol and some food items, but we are well stocked and our vehicles are in good condition.
We so appreciate your prayers for us and Rift Valley Academy, but we would so appreciate your prayers for Kenya's peace and our Kenyan brothers and sisters who are in the midst of these trials. Please pray that the church will reflect Christ in the darkness of this storm, and brothers and sisters from various tribes and peoples will grow closer together through this time and not be divided, that God will be glorified by the outcome.
It has been two weeks since Debbie's surgery, she is doing well. We went for a walk today outside (it wasn't a marathon), but she did really well. I had to chuckle because at supper she took a deep breath and said, "I can tell I went for walk, now that isn't bad, but I can tell that I went for a walk."
We love you all,
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