Meet Vanessa. Hailing from Oklahoma with a background in social work, Vanessa and her husband Kyle are raising their four kids in Kapsowar, Kenya. Vanessa teaches their four kids and Kyle ministers in medicine at the hospital in Kapsowar, but they are also instrumental in community health education and facilitating the building of another hospital and a school among the Lodengo people. I got to spend two months getting to know Vanessa and her incredible family in Kapsowar two years ago. Vanessa's genuine manner, wisdom and wit wrote themselves on my heart. Her ability to live kindly and generously with a literal and figurative open door to the community wandering through challenged me to consider how I was really sharing the privileges of my home and possessions. I consider her a kindred spirit and I am so honoured to share some of Vanessa's words with you today right here.
I once said, I will never homeschool my kids unless God moves us to the middle of nowhere. And guess what happened?
Six years ago we journeyed to the beautiful bush of Kenya! We moved here sight unseen to follow a beautiful vision that we had only dreamed about. We had three boys 4 years and younger. It was and is an adventure of a lifetime that has brought us to some beautiful mountain tops and some dark valleys, both extremes bringing us to our knees. And there is all the everyday in-between of raising kids out here, which brings its own kind of beauty.
I have recently been reading a book called "Teaching from Rest" by Sarah Mackenzie. She posed a question about the concept of keeping the end in mind when teaching and raising our kids.
When your kids are grown and talking to their buddies about "home" how do you want them to describe it? What will draw them home?
For me, as I wrestled with those thoughts, my conclusion was that I wanted them to feel warmth, kindness, grace and mercy and place of safety for them and anyone who entered the door.
So how do I create that?
We moved here believing that each member played a vital role in the ministry. My husband works as a physician in the 120 bed hospital here in the village. We are surrounded by poverty and suffering and joy and hospitality like I have never known before.
My heart longs for my children to learn to walk with others in empathy and compassion. I pray that it would be a natural part of their character to give a hug, shed a tear, tell a joke or bring someone a Fanta. Our dinner table often includes others that aren't a part of our immediate family and our conversation does not shy away from the difficulties that surround us.
In this, I hope my kids see that we aren't alone and we can't ignore the pain of this world. I also desire that they see the beauty of opening your home to strangers that become the best of friends. So at this point there is always a cup of chocolate milk for any of Ariella's (we added a little lady to the family) friends that come to play. And cookies and nerf guns for secret meetings in their forts. There are bandaids for scraped knees and listening ears to settle quarrels.
One of our most effective discipline techniques is the "mercy" rule. When one of the kids has offended or hurt one of their siblings, the one that has been hurt can offer mercy to the offender. More often than not, mercy and grace is extended. As I keep the end in mind, my hope is that they would be adults who are full of integrity and warmth, grace and mercy. I pray that they would have hearts that love and give and pour themselves out in kindness and service for others.
I often fight against the trap that my children need more extracurricular activities and resources that I can't possibly create here. I rest that they are living adventurous lives following Jesus and being his hands of healing to the world. While I cling to these dreams my heart soars with hope for the next generation to rise up and be a light that shines brighter than any I have ever witnessed!
Loved this story and this beautiful woman? Leave Vanessa a comment below and why not share her words?
Then check out the other amazing ladies already sharing in this series right here at Mombies Unite!