27 Jan Contentment
Samuel and Hanna Kingsbury, teachers, Rift Valley Academy, Kenya
It finds expression in many places.
In a steaming cup of perfectly spiced chai.
In the pristine twinkling of stars in the inky blackness high above.
In precious laughter and the familiar faces of students around the dinner table.
In the stillness of a Christmas morning, when the world is waking.
In the glorious aquamarine – turquoise blue of the Indian Ocean, contrasted with brilliant white sand.
In the contagious giggles of junior highers, swarming around to give you hugs.
In bright sunshine, rustling palm leaves, and the fragrance of the sea.
In the homey silence of a house filled with people you love.
In the soft glow of lights on a Christmas tree.
In the gentle breeze that makes afternoon shadows dance across lush green grass.
In sweet moments alone with your Redeemer.
Our lives have been so full of it in the past few months. Contentment. That precious, wonderful feeling that you are right where you belong, of being fully satisfied. It’s not the happy-go-lucky feeling that nothing’s wrong with your world. Nor is it an ignorant, hide your head in the sand pretending that everything is right and as it ought to be. Rather, contentment is the sense of knowing that regardless of the circumstances, what you have is enough, where you are is where God wants you, that He is sufficient even though there may be pieces of your life scattered in a dozen places.
It’s a gift that we don’t take for granted. Life can be so full of heartache, longing, homesickness, pain, and loss that it can be hard to hold on to the contentment we seek. But what a blessing it is when we have it, and can hold it close, to rest in who God is and what He has in store for us.
And he has had so much in store for us in the past few months already!
First term ended in the usual whorl of busyness and grading, followed quickly by AIM’s four day Spiritual Life conference here at RVA. Afterward, we traveled down to Malindi, on the gorgeous Kenyan coast, to visit my (Hanna’s) parents for ten days. There we plunged into an entirely different world from here on campus ~ riding tuk-tuks into town, having tea with Mom and Dad’s friends in the afternoon, baking molasses cookies, reading and relaxing, running errands, and sampling a variety of local restaurants, from Lamu Dishes to the chicken tikka place that has the best chicken tikka we’ve ever had! Beautiful sunny days stretched one into another as we were spoiled by delicious food, fabulous company, long walks on the beach, and a day snorkeling in the crystal clear waters of the marine park.
My parents accompanied us back up to Kijabe, where we spent a few nights before being picked up by Sam’s parents. Together, we drove up to Naro Moru, a tiny town near the foot of Mount Kenya, where we stayed at a rustic cabin for a couple of nights. There, we enjoyed chilly weather (quite a change from the coast!), games as a family, quiet evenings by the fire, and catching up on each other’s lives.
After a wonderful, delightful, crazy, family filled Christmas here at RVA, we were settling in and getting back to lesson planning for second term. In seemingly no time at all, vacation was winding down, in-service meetings were underway, our students were arriving, and second term was at hand. The contentment has continued into this term, into every day, full as each one is. We find ourselves submersed in the delight and joy of being here, of teaching, of our students.
Sam has added a Theatre elective to his class load, which he is loving. I am also teaching a new class, Drama, Speech, and Presentation ~ a variety class for seventh grade. Of course, our normal teaching loads have remained the same ~ Modern World History and Current World Issues for Sam, and English 7 and Study Skills for me. Our school days are filled with grading, teaching, lesson planning, more grading, curriculum meetings, and the like.
Outside of classes, the students we mentor join us on Friday nights for dinner ~ a chance to keep up with their goings on, spend time together in an informal setting, and just be a part of their lives. We are still sponsoring the 9th grade class, which has meant picking up Video Concessions this term ~ a chance for our class to work together and learn essential leadership skills through making and selling concessions at movie nights. It’s always interesting to see what new ideas our students want to try, and working out the details of the follow-through! Caring Community occurs once a month, when we spend a couple of hours with our group of 10th graders ~ hanging out, eating food, playing games, and having fun. Our last Caring Community we met up with two other groups for a dodgeball tournament in the racquetball courts.
I was on the planning committee for our annual ladies’ retreat this year, a two night, three day stay at Brackenhurst, a conference center about an hour’s drive from campus. It was great to be a part of the committee, get the details organized, plan entertaining skits to go along with our theme (Along the Road), and then look ridiculous in front of all the attendees acting out the skits with my friends Jan and Kimberly. It was a great weekend of laughter, refreshing fellowship, excellent messages, and general fun.
We are both teaching 9th grade Sunday school, Sam with the guys, and me with the girls. We each have a consistent small group of students we are getting to know and enjoying spending time with. This term, the guys had their Ironman competition, which involved a variety of activities ~ pushing the rugby scrum machine, trusting teammates’ instructions to guide your blindfolded self through an obstacle course, “jousting” with cushions on the benches, solving Sudoku puzzles, pulling RVA’s box truck, and more! They also took an overnight camping trip the valley, where they added an office to a local school building, cleared land, met with the Maasai elders about becoming men, had a bonfire and meat roast, and camped out under the stars. It was a full weekend, with lots of new experiences and challenges for the guys!
The rest of this term promises new adventures, as always. I am going on Interim, our annual cultural/outreach trips with the juniors and seniors. Last year, we led the Uganda Interim; this year, I am going to the coast of Kenya on the Sailing Interim. These trips are such fantastic chances to get to know students in a different setting, build relationships, and be part of their lives. It will certainly be an adventure, and one that I am very much looking forward to!
Ah. The joy of being here, in this place, with these people, right where we know God wants us, is sometimes beyond even expressing. He has blessed us so richly and lavished joy after joy upon us ~ we cannot begin to describe all that He has done for us! We are so thankful to Him, and to each of you, for enabling us to be here, right where we belong, with the students we love so dearly.
So that there may be Christ Centered Churches among all African People,