Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Video Update from the Horns

We had intended to do this several months ago, but alas, it didn't happen till now.  But we finally made a video update for your viewing pleasure!  We sent this to our supporting churches and are putting it here also.  Here's an update after eight months in Kenya:

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Home for the Holidays

Last weekend we talked with my extended family as they were celebrating both Thanksgiving and my Grandma's 90th birthday.  It was wonderful to see their faces and hear their voices and imagine the smells from the kitchen behind them.  But afterwards I had an instant bout of homesickness, thinking, "Well this stinks.  My family is together and eating good food, and we're just going to bed!"  It was a moment of missing home while at the same time being at home right here.  Eli and I have lived in seven different places in the last ten years, and in so doing we've garnered an ability to be at home wherever the Lord has us for each season of life.  This place is no different.  We've already been in Kenya for eight months, and this is very much home for now.

home: we live in the upper left apartment 
of this 5-plex building

With that said, this is the first time we've had to broaden our concept of home.  This past year we adopted the adage, "When we're together we're home" because we wanted our kids to understand that despite our seemingly rootlessness that we could be at home anywhere.  We occasionally still say that to them even though they have such a concrete understanding of the world to assume that home is wherever they eat breakfast and read books and lay down at night.  It's not our kids' understanding of home that has needed to expand, however.  It's ours.  We haven't put much stock in typical things that make a home home, like certain decor or planting a garden or even owning a house, but it never occurred to me how much other aspects of life in America have defined home for me until this year, and certainly this holiday season.

What feels like home to me?  Dropping temperatures do, plus leaves changing color and falling off the trees, plus the occasional snowfall, plus the sun setting before 6pm, plus the anticipation of lots of cups of cocoa.  Here, the temperature remains relatively the same all year round, as does the timing of the sunrise and sunset, and there are no leaves falling let alone snow falling.  I do, however, have the occasional cup of hot chocolate in the mornings and evenings when the air is cooler.  Since we moved here, the realization has struck that spending 32 years in the Midwest has cultivated a connection between the changing seasons and a sense of home.

sometimes on the weekends I'll sit 
on the balcony by myself 
with a cup of hot chocolate
while Eli handles the kids inside

Thankfully, there have been other aspects of the fall and winter seasons that were replicated here, to help it feel more like home in America, namely gathering with friends and celebrating the holidays together.  The Harvest Festival encouraged us to carve pumpkins with the boys and trick-or-treat among the missionary houses, and our Thanksgiving celebration was complete with turkey and dressing and bursting bellies, and the upcoming Christmas activities will include gingerbread houses for the kids and caroling around the hospital and a party with the missionaries.  So there are plenty of gatherings to make it feel like home around here.

Which reasserts the point that people make a place home.  "When we're together, we're home."  Even though we're literally half a world away from our family and friends in America, we have so many new friends here who have become special and important to us, and who already feel like family to us, and who we're able to be at home with.  We thank God for the people he's placed in our lives for this season and for the house that's become our home too, which is why, despite bouts of homesickness here and there, we can confidently say that we'll be home for the holidays this year!


Here's a tour of our home in Kenya:

the Pepper Tree right in front of our house, 
our boys' favorite tree to climb

living room

fireplace, which we barely use because of the kids, 
but most missionaries use them 
because it can get quite chilly at night

what our living room normally looks like


the table where we do preschool lessons

dining room

kitchen (the largest one we've ever had!)

we have all the normal appliances here

bathroom with plenty of hot water, 
although the water pressure is usually terrible

sink that's usually soaked because little boys 
like to play in the water too much!

flushing toilet!

Caleb and Kai's room

they share a dresser in the closet

Asa's room

view from the changing table

our room

the fan is mostly for white noise 
since there's a road right behind our house

decorated for Christmas

our Charlie Brown tree,
and 2/3 boys willing to sit for a photo

Our boys are very excited for Christmas this year!  We walked to the river yesterday to find a tree, which meant finding any evergreen-looking tree and cutting off a branch to suit our needs.  So we found this and hauled it home, and the boys were very excited to put on lights (which we got from a fellow missionary family who had extra) and ornaments (a select few we brought over with us).  We've had a real tree every year and this year is no different, even though it's a bit unique this time.  We thank God for the chance to celebrate Christmas in Kenya!