Dan, Heather, Jeremiah, Emma, Claire, Levi, Josie and baby Jane

Monday, August 29, 2011

An Unexpected Goodbye

The RVA Crew from Tenwek. Only one student is missing, Brendon Steury.

Settling Jeremiah into his new dorm room.

I will miss regularly interacting with Jeremiah (and wrestling...although less frequently now that he is so big...i.e. more at risk for injury).


As missionaries living and working overseas, “goodbyes” are common, but nonetheless painful, especially when involving those closest to us, and even more so when these goodbyes are unexpected. Jeremiah, our oldest, now a strapping 185lb, 14 year-old freshman in high school, was accepted in April 2011 to the Rift Valley Academy (RVA), a well-known and highly academic mission boarding school about an hour outside of Nairobi on the edge of an escarpment overlooking the Great Rift Valley. About 500 students, K-12, attend this school (which began in 1906), most of which are missionary kids from all over Africa.

The wait list to get accepted to RVA can sometimes be several years long, so when Jeremiah was accepted in April, we were quite surprised. After much discussion and prayer, and with the good advice from many that we should leave the final decision to him, Jeremiah chose, back in April, to defer his acceptance and return to the wait list for the following year. However, when we arrived in Kenya two weeks ago, and after seeing all his friends from Tenwek preparing to go to RVA, Jeremiah began to regret his decision. He came to me and said “Dad, can you call RVA and ask them if that position they offered me is still available.” Knowing the chance of there being an open spot one week from the start of school was next to nil, and wanting to help put the issue to rest for Jeremiah, I said, “Sure, but I don’t think the possibility is good.”

The following day, I emailed the admissions director, just after Heather and I read the devotional in “Jesus Calling” entitled “Entrust your loved ones to me.” We prayed and asked God to open the door if this was His will for Jeremiah’s life. After several hours, and no return email, I decided to call (as Jeremiah originally requested). I reached the assistant principle, and after explaining our situation, and that I knew the request was a longshot, he said, “Let me ask the admissions director…she is sitting right here at my desk!” I could hear her in the background saying “Is that Dr. Galat, Jeremiah’s dad? I was just going to email him to let him know that we have a spot for Jeremiah if he wants it!” This time, we were shocked.

Long story short, we just finished New Parent Orientation with Jeremiah yesterday, and said our unexpected, but peace-filled goodbyes. He is now "on his own" (that is, out of our hands and in God's). It was a hard day for both him and us. But, as is so often the case in our lives, when God works at the last minute and in such a miraculous way, we can be completely confident that He is the one who has done this work. We know we can entrust our son to God, the One who loves Jeremiah (and all our children), far more perfectly than we ever can. Please pray for Jeremiah, that he would adjust well to this new change (yet again), that he would make some really close, solid friends, that he would do well in high school (taking some tough courses), and finally, that he would get fully prepared for rugby season, which starts next spring!

Thank you so much for all your prayers and support!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Home

It is easy to forget how long and grueling the flight from the U.S. to Africa can be…minimal sleep, the logistics of managing 28 pieces of checked containers, carry-ons, etc., and keeping track of Levi (he is a stealthy little fellow). But God blessed this journey greatly…Delta waived $1200 in excess baggage fees and only 2 of 28 pieces did not arrive in Nairobi (not a bad ratio). Customs officials asked only a few questions, and quickly waived us on through without inspecting any bags (after seeing Claire’s big smile).

We have arrived home…and it does not feel like we have even been away these past 14 months. The sound of dogs barking last night (our first night in Nairobi) was almost strangely comforting, lulling me back to sleep. We have often wondered where “home” is, as we do not own a physical structure. Multiple times we have told our kids that “home” is wherever we are as a family, whether in Phoenix, Ohio, Minnesota, or now again in Kenya. This perpetual earthly roving reminds us that our ultimate home is yet to come: the place where we will never move again, never have to say goodbye, never have to re-adjust, and most importantly, be forever with the One who loves us with perfect love, saving us by His death on the cross. Then, we will truly be Home.

Hebrews 11:13-16 13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Paradox 2.0


Watching from our balcony the approaching dust storm decending upon the Valley...simultaneously beautiful and foreboding.

As we finish our final few days in America, having completed a good, yet periodically difficult year of furlough, our emotions paradoxically toggle between strong joy and deep sadness (joy in the many memories shared with family and friends as an extreme blessing from God//sadness that we are leaving them for another two years), supernatural peace and self-focused anxiety (peace arising from the knowledge that God has called us, and that He is so near//anxiety when contemplating the seemingly impossible and imminent task of yet another transition, moving our family 10,000 miles overseas, checking 27 pieces of luggage, setting up our “new” house at Tenwek, and resuming responsibility in the orthopedic department), and excitement and fear (excitement to return to the places and the people we love in Kenya//fear of the unknown).

We are reminding ourselves that paradoxical, conflicting feelings are completely “normal” in these times of transition (and thus allowing ourselves to “feel” and to not take ourselves too seriously). But we are also reminded how broken we are, and how much we desperately need Jesus to equip us to accomplish these seemingly impossible tasks which lie ahead. Thankfully, God specializes in doing “immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine” (Eph. 3:21) and we have seen Him do this time and again. Amazing, however, is the paradoxical fact that God works in these impossible ways, in response to the simple prayers of ordinary people. For some reason, God moves when people pray. As such, we are dependent upon, and partners with, you who are committed to praying for us while we serve in Kenya. If you would like to commit to praying regularly for us over the next year, please let us know and we can add you to our prayer team list. Thank you for your ongoing support of our family!

PS. This past year, many people have asked us the question “Why are you doing this work?” (Interestingly, no one finishes the second half of the question which is “when you could have a much more comfortable life here in the states?”), and it has really made us examine our paradigms. Another question (posed in a sermon preached by Pastor Chris Davis this year) helped us resolve this “why” question. He asked “Do you view your gifts as resources to be shared, or earnings to be hoarded?” Bottom line issue…ALL we have is a GIFT from God.

PSS. Heather and the kids have started their own blog, entitled “Real Life…at Home in Kenya” (click to view). Check it out!