The Saga Continues

Summer is the Empire Strikes Back of the school calendar. Everybody goes off on their own adventures, but Han gets frozen in carbonite and Luke loses a hand. It’s not until we return to school and everyone is back together that we are able to save Han and defeat Jabba together. Sure, the Empire is building another Death Star, but you know that by the end of the school year we are going to be clapping our hands out of time to the music with Lando and dancing with Ewoks. 

In case my analogy is unclear, I look forward to the start of the school year in Kibuye. I appreciate the book recommendations my students have to offer from what they have read over the break. Their insights into Endgame and what might come next in the Marvel Cinematic Universe are worth evaluating together. A new school year means a new round of Learning Experience Days is before us, another era of history to explore, new books to dissect, and another year of fellowship as a team. 

Despite all the excitement of a new year, there are also some key characters missing. There are now four Kibuye Kids attending high school in Kenya. The dynamic in our Kibuye classroom is different without them and parents and siblings feel their absence. It is not just these few missing people, but we all have loved ones who live half a world away from Kibuye. It is almost as if the Empire is building a new Death Star, but the Rebellion remains scattered. 

Many of the people who make a place feel like home are missing. It can feel as though there are perhaps multiple homes. Life continues in those multiple homes even as life continues in Kibuye. It is a difficult reality that our loved ones experience suffering while we are far away. Several of us on this team have suffered the loss of a loved one in the past two years. Many of our friends and family members who are far from us have experienced disease, divorce, or death. Just this morning, my family received news of friend diagnosed with a rare condition causing multiple cancers throughout her body. 

Simply put, this school year brings with it an array of emotions and spiritual challenges. I want to be present for so many people in so many different situations. I especially want to be there for those who have lost a loved one and for those whose prognosis is terminal. I want to make things better.

In the opening scenes of Avengers: Endgame, Tony Stark adrift in space, says he hoped to pull out one more surprise and miraculously make it home. He has come to the end of his resources. Although Tony is saved by someone else in this particular situation, there comes a time for all of us when our ingenuity, our strength or agility, our charisma, or sheer fortuitousness will not prevail. When difficulties come for us or for our loved ones, when push comes to shove, to what or whom can we turn? 

Unsurprisingly, I am no one’s Luke Skywalker. I cannot make boarding school closer to home, heal the terminally ill, or save anyone. Praise God, that He has given us a Savior who is good, faithful, and all powerful who can address each of these struggles. Jesus knows intimately our burdens, fears, and circumstances. Jesus does not rescue us with an Iron Man snap of his fingers. No, our rescue required much more than that. My sin demanded the shame and brutality of the cross. Christ bore the annihilating blaze of God’s wrath for me. No mere snap of the fingers, but a descent into the raging chaos of Hell was necessary to secure my salvation. To seal the deal, Jesus rose from the dead to ensure that nothing would ever separate me from Him again. 

In Fellowship with others is where the victory that Christ has claimed is most assuredly felt and realized. God has brought us together as the body of Christ and Jesus himself bears our burdens and those of our loved ones, near and far.  This school year, I am most excited to see Jesus transform lives and carry each of us into deeper relationship with Him. 


Boarding School: Blessings, Losses, and Trust

(by Heather Fader)

In this season, I cannot yet write a comprehensive blog post about the subject of boarding school, as we are in the throes of transition to this new stage of life.  We are one of the three Kibuye families whose children have begun high school at Rift Valley Academy in Kenya.  Without a doubt, it is a fabulous opportunity for our kids to be at such an incredible place.  At the same time, this brings changes that must be processed and losses that must be grieved.

Rift Valley Academy is an absolutely phenomenal school.  Alumni attest to that, including Jason and other family and friends.   And after attending orientation there this weekend, I am beyond impressed with the staff, academics, dorm life, student care, family support, and school culture.  RVA’s vision is well-thought-out and extremely well-executed: 

Burundi Girls turned RVA High School Students

RVA Cafeteria - impressive!

RVA Chapel - Students gather here 5x/week

And the students generally thrive and grow to love it.  These young people are bright and brave.  The two returning RVA students from Kibuye, Jonah (grade 12) and Matea (grade 10), are quite settled and happy there.  Even my brand new ninth grade daughter, while perhaps slightly homesick and at times overwhelmed, is having a great time with old friends and new friends.  She is giving positive reports on her classes and teachers as well.  We are confident that she and the other Kibuye kids will continue to thrive there.    

But. Even so, my heart just aches as I miss my child.  Our missionary callings involve a lot of separation and loss, but for many of us, this separation is among the very most painful. 

Burundi families at RVA this past weekend

So we remind ourselves to remember what we know to be true.  God is loving and faithful and good, and he loves my child more than I ever could.  He has already shown such grace in bringing these four Kibuye kids to such an amazing place where they can learn and thrive at RVA.  He works in ways we do not understand in order to bring about growth that we cannot even imagine.  He is present in new dorm rooms and present in the tears of the mamas missing their children.  He can redeem all things.  He answers prayers. 

“The wonderful thing about praying is that you leave a world of not being able to do something, and you enter God’s realm where everything is possible.  He specializes in the impossible.  Nothing is too great for his almighty power.  Nothing is too small for his love.”  - Corrie TenBoom

Ella moving into her new dorm room

Maddy (friend from Bujumbura), Anna Fader, and Ella Sund outside their dormitory

The students from Burundi on the first day of class.  Please pray for these five.