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Rothfus Family Scrapbook, May 2012

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1) Family Picture.  Here is a recent picture of our family, including Winston our cat.  It’s still strange to not have Daniel here in the picture with us!

2) Grade School Library Class.  Debbie is shown here teaching the first grade library class.

3) Rainy Season.  From the end of April to the beginning of May we were getting very heavy rains, but the rains have evened out a bit more recently.  This picture was taken during one of the heaviest storms, during which we received 4.3 inches of rain in a span of about six hours. Needless to say, I (Ed) got rather soaked taking this picture.

4) Crevasses in the Valley.  A friend of ours let us use this picture for our letter.  Recently, there was an earthquake with some shifting and settling in the valley, though our family didn’t feel it.  With the recent heavy rains, these crevasses have begun to appear in various places in the valley as the ground is washed into these cracks (some rather large, as you can see).

5) Interims.  Jonnie and Jennie were each able to go on week-long educational trips at the end of last term, called Interims.  The junior and senior students sign up to participate in one of fourteen different trips around Kenya and some surrounding countries.  The students have the opportunity for a fun mix of ministry and experiences while they interact with various people and cultures.  Jennie went to Malindi on the coast of Kenya, while Jonnie went to Uganda.  Here he is bungee jumping over the Nile River.

6) Tennis Baseball.  Last term Jon and a good friend of his had the opportunity to coach a team of kindergarten through six-grade students in an RVA sport called tennis baseball.  It’s a game kind of like baseball, but students hit tennis balls with a tennis racquet rather than a bat, and everyone gets a chance to bat every inning.  Fun to play, and fun to watch, too!

7-9) Advanced Art Students.  These three pictures show several of Ed’s Advanced Art I and II students (including Jon and Jennie) working on their projects.  Jennie is sculpting a hand; and Jonnie is working on a Victorian Style house, a project that took over fifty hours of working time to complete.

10) Gigantic bubble.  Jonnie and a young friend from next door had a lot of fun one day creating huge bubbles, some over ten feet long.

11) Soccer Goalies.  Jennie made the varsity soccer team this past term and played goalie.  Here she is with two friends and fellow goalies.  The girl on the right is a good friend of Jennie’s who was the JV goalie, and the girl on the left is a short-term missionary who played goalie on her college soccer team.  She spent many hours coaching and encouraging Jennie and her friend in their goalie positions.

12) League Champs!  The girls’ varsity soccer team won the league championship this year.  The team was a strong team with such excellent defense that Jennie didn’t see as much action in the goal as she would have liked during league games (which is not necessarily a bad thing!)  She worked hard defending the goal during practice, though, and often came home from practice covered with mud and bruises!

It is nice to be able to share a few pictures and thoughts so that you can get a little of the flavor of life here at Rift Valley Academy.  We enjoy the opportunities the Lord has opened up to work with these young people.  We so appreciate the team the Lord has called together to make it possible for us to be here for Him.  We love you and thank you for all you do for us!

Much love in Jesus,

Ed, Debbie, Jonnie & Jennie

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Thoughts on the Driver’s Seat

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This past weekend, RVA had a mini spiritual life conference.  It was student initiated, and the students who organized it asked three faculty members to speak.  I was honored to be asked to speak on Sunday morning (and scared stiff at the same time).  But, the peace comes when we realize that it is not we who are speaking, but the Holy Spirit through us.  I would like to share a few thoughts from Sunday morning.

The theme for the weekend was “Limitless.”  I shared a thought from a Wayne Watson concert that Debbie and I went to in the mid 90’s.  Wayne, right in the middle of the concert, stopped and said, “There are two things I want you to remember tonight.  God is God, and I am not!”  I have remembered that so many times since that concert.  I shared that story and added, “God is limitless, I am limited, yet He wants to do limitless things through His people.”  Ephesians 3:20-21 says, “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, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

I would to share with you an illustration from the end of the talk.  Can you imagine what it would look like if our lives were similar to a car.  In a car there are four seats, one being the driver’s seat.  (There were four chairs and an actual car steering wheel set up on the stage.)  I would like to look at The Driver’s Seat.  It is the control point of the car, it feels comfortable for the most part, and when we are sitting in it, we are in control of where we go and what we do.

When we become Christians, we give our lives to Jesus Christ.  He comes into our lives and we give him the “Driver’s Seat” of our lives.  (I moved over from the driver’s seat to the passenger’s seat, the rider’s seat.)

As time goes on, there are conscious choices to be made.  Are we going to give Him freedom to lead and go where He sees best?  What happens when we start to feel like we can help Jesus steer a little bit?  “Oh look over here, Jesus. This friend is more popular and I know we need to turn this way. Jesus, You’re turning toward someone I don’t feel very comfortable being seen with…”  “Wait Lord, You’re turning down a lonely road with potholes and bumps!  There are not a lot of houses, and it looks like there are mountains and valleys.  This looks like it will take me out of the way…”

“Look over here, Jesus.  This road gets wider.  In fact, it looks like a new four lane leading to those bright lights.”  We reach over and put a hand on the wheel and help Jesus turn toward the city, but we don’t let go.  In fact, we slide partially into driver’s seat, somewhat crowding our Lord.  By now, both hands are on the left hand side of the wheel.  (I was illustrating in a Kenyan car.)  “Wow, Jesus, look how fast everyone is going!  This is exciting!”  But, before we realize it, we slide a bit more into the driver’s seat.  Now we move one hand onto the right side of the wheel and without realizing it have slid our Lord out of the driver’s seat.  We are now in control of our lives, all the gauges, shift, clutch (most cars are standards in Kenya), brake, and gas pedal.  We are doing all we can to keep up with those around us.

What we didn’t realize was that we couldn’t see the rear view mirror from the passenger’s seat.  But now it’s right in our view.  We happen to glance into the rearview mirror, and we are distracted by our past, what’s behind us.  What was exciting just a little while ago has now become very stressful and tense.  We try to hear the Lord’s voice, but the sound of the cars around us, the city noises and distractions, are drowning out His voice… Wait a minute, where is He?  He is not in the front anymore, how did He get to the back seat and why is it so hard to hear him?

At this point, I said, “Stop! Question: Who is limitless and who is limited? Who is God and who is not? Who would actually make a better driver in the vehicle of our lives?”

Truth: “God is God and I am not.  He is limitless, and I am limited.”  The driver’s seat of our lives is for Jesus Christ; it is God’s position, not ours.  We need to ask His forgiveness, humbly slide back to the passenger’s seat, and give our Lord His position.  We need to take our hands off the wheel and trust Him fully for the road ahead if we want to arrive safely and intact in Jesus Christ.

Verses that will help us focus on putting our Heavenly Father in the driver’s seat of our lives:

Psalm 139:16                         He is my Author

Proverbs 3:5-6             God is God, and I am not

Jeremiah 29:11             He has a dream for me

Isaiah 64:8                         He is my Designer

Ephesians 2:10             He has prepared a road for me

Ephesians 3:20-21             He is limitless and wants that for me

Hebrews 12:1-2             Fix my eyes on my Driver

Daily we need to give the Lord our driver’s seat.  But, if you’re anything like me, we still find ourselves wanting to help just a little bit, to just reach for the wheel just a little… No, we need to remember to pull our hands back. “God is God, and I am not.  He is limitless, and I am limited.”  It is when we trust Him fully, that we find a limitless God, working with His limited people, and doing limitless things through them for His honor and glory.

A Love for His Ministry

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Last term, toward the end of the term, Debbie and I had a 90% date.  We had to go to Nairobi to shop, but I had the opportunity to take my bride out and do some fun things together.  One of the things we did was to go to Java House (a fun Nairobi restaurant) and sit, think, chat, and dream together.  As we were talking and reminiscing about teaching at RVA, Debbie burst out laughing.  I suppose if you saw my face, you would have been able to tell that it had caught me off guard. I was beginning to look around to see what it was that made her laugh.  She looked down and tried to bring herself under control so she could tell me.  A few moments later, she said, “You said that you really enjoy working with the students and feel that they are ‘round welded’.”  Of course, being the humble, understanding man that I am, I said, “No I didn’t. I said “well rounded’.”  If it wasn’t the next sentence that we were talking about RVA students, and I said, “round welded.”  I heard it this time, and we both sat there chuckling.  Needless to say, it has become one of our favorite phrases.

The students recently returned from April break, and during the first week of school, Debbie asked one of her sixth grade library classes what countries they had spent time in during their break.  She received an answer she didn’t quite expect.  The sixteen students had visited a total of sixteen different countries!  Several of the students had been in the same country, some had been in several countries, and one girl had spent time in five different countries! However, none of them had been to the United States or Canada.  Here are some the countries they covered in their travels:  Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, England, Lesotho, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Angola, South Korea and Sao Tome e Principe.  Just when we think we are becoming familiar with teaching here, the Lord catches us off guard and reminds us that only He is the author and designer of a school such as RVA.

Debbie and I have talked during this past year about being here in Kenya. We enjoy all the various aspects of serving Jesus here, including helping down at the IDP camp and Tree Church (we’ll be letting you know more about that sometime soon), and the various ministries in which we participate.  But we find that the Lord continues to reinforce to us the calling that drew us to Kenya in 2000–to stand in the gap for the children of missionaries.  Whether teaching, mentoring, listening, sponsoring, training, or serving, we love these young people and really enjoy working with them.  I find in my walk with Jesus, many times, it is not “bigger and better.”  Rather, Jesus calls us to “simplify and organize” what He has called us to and simply serve our King.

We should be sending the “Rothfus May Scrapbook” soon.  By the way, I had a very special day with Debbie in Nairobi.

Much love in Jesus,

Ed, Debbie, Jonnie & Jennie