Life at Tenwek (take II)

We have very much been enjoying our second stay at Tenwek.  In some ways it feels like we have only been gone a few months!  Rachel has been working 3 days a week at the hospital and taking call, and Eric has been helping the medicine and peds teams round on her off days, as well as leading worship at church and taking care of the kiddos.  We feel like we've settled into as much routine as we could have hoped for, given that this is only a 4 week stopover on our way to Burundi.  Thought we'd share some photo highlights with you from our 2 1/2 weeks so far.

The waterfall:  a classic Tenwek photo op. :)  The kids loved throwing rocks in the water.  We loved reminiscing about all our previous hikes.  Thought we had taken some previous family pictures (in 2010/11) at the waterfall but I guess not.

The chai ritual!  A great part of Kenyan life is the daily chai break, at home and at the hospital.  Rose, our beloved househelper who watched Maggie when I was at work, is working for another family here but they just happened to be on vacation during our month long stay.  So she agreed to come and help us out!  It is so great to see her again, and of course she makes awesome chai.  The kids can't get enough (since it's mostly milk and sugar).

The giggle tree:  We are staying at the guesthouse, not our old house down in the "lower compound."  It has its plusses and minuses.  One of the plusses is this tree.  Even Ben can climb up on the lowest branches, which are less than a foot off the ground.  There is also a trampoline and swing at the house next door to us, so there are lots of fun things to do all day outside.  And since the weather is perfect...

The turtles:  A long term family has always had at least a couple of turtles.  Maggie used to love going to visit, and in fact turtle (tuh-duh) was one of her first words.  Now there are 6 turtles and Ben enjoys them as much as Maggie.

The treehouse:  When we lived here before, a missionary kid and his grandpa built a treehouse right in front of the apartment building we stayed in.  In fact, it's more of a tree fortress and required supporting pillars under the tree branches.  Nice to see it's alive and well and being loved by many kids.

The guesthouse:  We never spent much time here during our previous stay, since it's just short termers who stay here.  But it's been fun this time to meet people (new visitors come almost daily), use the porch swing, play in the activity room, and run up and down all the stairs.

Jolly Green:  Our great McCropder van is still around!  We had sold it to another missionary family, who decided they were looking for something different, and sold it to a Kenyan pastor from Kericho.  He just happened to be taking some folks on a mission trip to Bomet and stopped by Tenwek to wash the van.  Looks like he has taken very good care of it.  John Cropsey's name is still clearly stenciled by the driver's side door. :)

Bethesda worship:  The regular worship leaders wasted no time in enlisting Eric and Jason to help lead worship.  Even though Eric didn't have a voice the first Sunday due to an unfortunate bout of laryngitis, he still played piano and guitar.  It has been wonderful to sing all our favorite Swahili songs again.  A careful observer will note the drummer, Asante Musyoka, all of about 6 yrs old.  He's actually quite good.

More of Bethesda...Maggie and Ben went to Sunday school last week, which was led by a short term missions team from Indiana. They loved the puppet show and then got to help act out the story of Noah.  Lots of little Kenyan kiddos and my two blondies, sitting in the back.

New friends!  There is a Urologist and his family here for 2 yrs, staying just down the sidewalk from us.  Their 3 yr old daughter Ivey has become fast friends with both Ben and Maggie.  Here they are playing in our kitchen cupboard (staying in the guesthouse means lots of empty cupboards for playing in, since we don't have anything to PUT in the cupboards!).

Learning some African drumming skills!

So, all in all we're having a great time!  We'll be here until August 2, then head back to Nairobi for a few days before leaving for Burundi August 5.  It's been a perfect transition for our family between France and Burundi.


A "New" Album: C-Sides

Little unrefined extra songs are often known as "B-Sides".  One could argue all my albums to be "B-Sides", so this collection will be called "C-Sides".  I think the audience for this one might be a bit small, but recognizing that I am graced with a few people who have really thoroughly explored my prior albums, I would offer this as well, a collection of orphaned demos.  The epiphany for me was the fact that I really like these songs, and the only reason they never made it on to a prior album was that the recording seemed unfinished or just not quite what I was looking for.  So, I hope you enjoy it.  Please do give me feedback on these rarely-heard songs.  

Here's a little explanation of the tunes.

1.  Shot Through.  (2009) When Annie Dillard exclaimed one August "Where was I while the world was being eaten?", I thought I found my metaphor.  Becoming a doctor meant seeing people's wounds and problems way more than before.  The corollary is that you have to draw near to that if you want to bring healing, and the corollary to that is that Christ has thus treated us.

2.  Lalibela.  (2008) In Ethiopia, there are a few ancient churches which were built by hollowing a church building out of the stone of a hill.  I became fascinated by the concept of descending into emptiness to worship, and what that might mean.  This is the first of several tracks here that were recorded with a $20 Radio Shack mic and some creative use of the Windows accessory known as "Sound Recorder".

3.  Lady of the Wood.  (2005) These next two songs were recorded for the 5-song disc that we gave away as our wedding favor.  It was inspired mostly by a journal I bought for Rachel with a cool leafy pattern.  Thanks to Jeff Bourque for the extra guitar licks.

4.  As He Gives.  (2005) Another wedding song, with the first verse full of snapshots of a trip to Turkey that Rachel and I thoroughly enjoyed.  As I listen to it now, I think this song may be the best love song I've written for Rachel.

5.  I Just Want to Cover My Eyes.  (2001) My friend Ryan and I recorded this at Belmont University at the same time as Queen of Flight from the "6 years" album.  I've always been sheepish about the drum loop, but Rachel and others swear that they enjoy it, so here it is.  I wrote this after a college road trip to the Grand Canyon, and the first two lines of the chorus are still some of my favorite cadence that I've ever written.

6.  Sky and Soul.  (2007) Victor Hugo wrote something like: "There is a spectacle grander than the sea, and that is the sky.  There is a spectacle grander than the sky, and that is the interior of the human soul."  I liked that, and it opened up some interesting comparisons between the Sky and the Soul.  Another Sound Recorder effort.

7.  The Years of Man.  (2008) There is a lot that I like about this one.  At its heart, it is trying to express just how unwilling we all are to believe that time actually does pass.  It continues to shock me.

8.  Being Known.  (2004) I recorded this in our bedroom the week before we got married.  It's possible that every time we cross the bridge from "knowing about" to "knowing" someone, something miraculous has taken place.

9.  Rings True.  (2008) The complexity of Christianity is mirrored in the complexity of reality as I encounter it, even within my own self.  If you look for it, you'll find a Narnia reference, as well as a nod to the odd juxtaposition of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.

10.  Of the Father's Love Begotten.  (2007) My favorite Christmas hymn, performed at our church in Ann Arbor.



Prior to leaving France, we decided to join a group of students in one of the region's attractions:  Parapente, or in English, paragliding.  Apparently, this sport was invented in our alpine region of France, where the combination of the heights, and the lakes (which provide some kind of thermal updraft), make this sport possible.

We had often seen these parachutes while driving around, so we figured we'd give it a try.  Overall, to sum up the experience is a bit long and complicated.  The weather was a bit iffy, and there were a couple injuries in our group, as well as delay for everyone.  I won't give the whole story.  Needless to say that, for us, it was an incredible 10-minute ride from the side of the cliff down to the landing ground.  Here are a few pictures:

Our friend Hudson at the top of the take-off area.  Lake behind him.

Eric after lift-off.

Lac d'Annecy in the background.

The two of us after safe landings for both of us.


Grandma! (and "friends")

We were VERY excited to welcome three special visitors in June:  Grandma, Auntie Joan, and Auntie Lois.  My mom and her 2 sisters met up in New York City for a few days (Lois and her husband live in Manhattan) and then flew to Paris for a fun 5 day whirlwind tour.  They then braved the train to come and stay with us in Albertville for a week!  (my mom actually stayed two weeks)  It was so much fun to see them, the kids loved having so much attention (and presents) and Eric and I enjoyed a much needed break, with more time to study for our French exams (which occurred during my mom's second week here).  

The first night...everyone wanted to sit by grandma.

Toby was not set down the entire time!

The second day they were here, we all took a hike up to Conflans to see the beautiful views.

Three Senechal sisters for 3 kiddos...perfect!

After they had been here a few days, Albertville experienced a heatwave!  Seriously, it was in the upper 80s for 3-4 days, hotter by at least 10 degrees than any other day we've lived here, with the exception of our first weeks in August.  The kids spent a lot of time without clothing on.

We also made it to Annecy for a day, which was really pleasant weather.

(Maggie wanted to show off her new princess ballerina crown from Aunt Joan)

Thanks for coming!  We loved having you. :)  (and Toby was a really smiley guy!)