First, on Monday, Grammy arrived in Africa. This is her sixth visit to the continent in the 18 years we've lived here, 3 alone and 3 with my Dad. Scott and I took a taxi ( a separate story, but due to a mishap while changing the oil, we were without a vehicle, until a servant-hearted and capable friend at RVA fixed it on Wednesday; I would mention his name but he's very humble about it, and he might get inundated with mechanical problems if we make him famous . . . ) down into the city Monday night, and waited for her flight. Which was a bit delayed, and then waiting for her handy walker to be unloaded delayed her further, until we were beginning to worry. Never fear, she had befriended multiple people on the flight and got a Kenyan airport worker to help her with her bags, talked her way through customs with two humongous pieces of luggage stuffed fully of goodies for us, and briskly made her way out into the waiting crowds in her bright pink sweater, more-slender-than-years figure, and trademark sliver-white hair. She'll be with us for the month of October.
Secondly, on Tuesday, Julia turned 15! What a lovely young lady she is, smart, capable, helpful, willing, determined, loyal, loving. She sets her own pace and has her own style, athlete and scholar, loving dogs and crochet, books and flowers and cows and bugs, friends and soccer and piano and choir. She decided to invite her JV soccer team (from 2nd term) to come for pizza, so in the less-than-two-hours between the end of Basketball practice and the mandatory study hall time for dorm girls (no exceptions for Bday parties I'm finding), we had to squeeze in 14 girls making and eating dozens of pizzas. Lots of laughter, creative toppings, hot fingers, excited conversation. We all called out our top 15 things we love about Julia as we baked and ate. As darkness fell the girls poured inside for a 4-layer cake and ice cream, then we sent them back to their dorms with bags of goodies. Julia, a blessing in our life and family that none of us deserve, yet none of us would want to live without!
Thirdly, on Wednesday, because our friend fixed the car, and because I was able to get out of a meeting an hour early, we converged upon Rosslyn (another international school in Nairobi) to cheer on the teams. It was a privilege to watch Acacia in her first-ever-in-her-life athletic competition, first team event, in her uniform, giving her all. Though her team does have a long way to go. . . Jack's team also lost Wednesday, though by a narrow margin. Julia was the only winner but her team played at a different school, so we didn't get to hear that until later (and in the week-in-review theme, her team also won a whole JV tournament last Saturday, they have really come together as a team and are doing quite well). Caleb's team was resting until Thursday when they played the Prison Guards. No, that's not a euphemistic name for a school team. It is literally the young adult men who have jobs guarding at the maximum security prison in Naivasha. His team had previously gone TO the prison and played the prisoners themselves, so I guess the guards wanted their shot. In spite of being much younger and not quite as strong or fast, the RVA boys endured and emerged victorious, 3 to 1. Caleb sent in the corner kick that resulted in one of those scores, and played hard and well the whole game. With every game we get to see I remember that it is a privilege not a right, that I never saw Luke play a high school sport, that these hours are the most focused live-in-the-moment hours of our life. When we stand and cheer, it is all about the kids and the day, the sun and the breeze, the excitement and encouragement. We're not on the way to something else, we are THERE.
Which brings us to today, when the family spun off in several directions for the long weekend. Julia's birthday wish was to take Grammy to see our favorite Kenyan spot, Sunrise Acres, near Eldama Ravine, the cozy basic camp-like cabins on a dairy farm in the highlands. Acacia went to visit her aunt, uncle, and cousins who work at a Christian University in Nairobi. Jack and Caleb flew to the coast to visit a family there whom we have been friends with over many years. This was planned long before the recent kidnappings, travel warnings and restrictions in that region, so we let them go ahead on faith, but deep down wish they were at arm's reach. And as we take a short weekend break we miss Luke all the more, this is a setting which should include him.
By any measure a full week, with the comings and goings, games and tests, celebrations and meals. But this was only half of the week, or less. On to part 2.