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Sunday, January 02, 2011

The Place of the Winds . . .

. . is the literal meaning for Kijabe. About 7000 feet high, perched on a steep escarpment overlooking the Rift Valley, below a pine-covered ridge, this is a sprawling ancient mission station. Hospitals, printing press, Bible school, nursing school, missionary kid school, dental clinic, maintenance facilities, water tanks, housing, housing, and more housing. Blending into a small town with its dukas, garage, post-office and gas station. A hundred missionary families I've been told, and I have no idea how many Kenyan families, working and living here. Most of the construction is cinderblock and cement, low-rise, though recently the space has been so squeezed that the newer buildings are three-story apartment complexes. One is under construction right next door, I can hear the whine of a saw and the pounding of hammers. But mostly I hear the wind. Rattling the windows, pounding against the walls, howling around the corners, rustling through the trees, day and night. Mid-day it eases up to a breeze, then gains momentum through the evening until the peak intensity in the darkness, when it sounds like we will be blown right off the hill. We shiver under layers of blankets as the cold air seeps through closed windows and flaps the curtains. Caleb says it is a soothing sound, like living next to the sea. That will take some getting used to for me. This is the same continent as Bundibugyo, but so far removed. We used to steam in the rainforest, mold and mud and heavy heat. Now we are high and cool and dry, brilliant sun and blue sky, expansive views and fine red dust. Ah, as Scott always says, there's a REASON a hundred families live here and two in Bundibugyo. Well, I know it's not all the climate, it's also the hundred years of sacrifice that have established this as a Kingdom fortress. I can see the cemetery from my bedroom window, and many of the graves are of the children of the early missionaries. Always a cost, and I respect the high price others have paid so that we can land here in a furnished apartment, to enroll our kids in a very decent school, and begin work in a high quality hospital.

But back to wind. The words for "wind" and "spirit" I think are the same in Hebrew. Certainly Jesus compares the Spirit to the wind in John 3. And the Holy Spirit's entrance at Pentecost is described with a sound like a rushing wind. But I always thought of those comparisons in terms of subtlety. The wind, unseen, moving, coming, entering. Two days at Kijabe and I see a whole new side to the Spirit as wind: powerful, a force that can not be stopped, cleansing, blowing away clouds of doubt, clearing the atmosphere for the penetration of the sun's warmth, wild, uncontrollable, inescapable. Sometimes harsh, sometimes overwhelming, sometimes destroying, making ready for the new creation. This is our place, for the next few years. Kijabe, the place of the winds. Praying the Spirit blows through us here.


Travis and Amy said...

So happy you are settling into your new home. May it be a place of prayer and healing. May there be laughter ringing louder than the wind howls. May you have precious, uninterrupted family time. May these be the sweet years of harvest. And if it gets too boring there, we always have a place right here for you!

John and Kim Gilmer said...

Blessings on your family as you re-settle. If you haven't yet read it, I recommend Phil Dow's history of the place (published in 2005, entitled, "School in the Clouds: The Rift Valley Academy Story"). Thank you for continuing to inspire us with your writings!
Gratefully, Kim