Challenges of Change

Transitions are hard.

Since our arrival in Kenya I have been dwelling on no novel words of profound wisdom, but just this: change is challenging.


Our final week in the US before leaving the familiar behind

Clark and I have a phrase we have given each other permission to wield when our attitudes go awry. Instead of attempting to process a situation or to explain how the other is being selfish or impatient or uncaring, we simply say “Philippians check.”

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8

For instance, I say to Clark: “Those people at [our cell service provider] are completely useless! I want a simple thing done. I did exactly what they told me I should do when we were still in the US and now they tell me it’s impossible! What pond scum!”

Clark says: “Philippians check.”


Our view and daily visual “Philippians check”

These past weeks we have moved to a new continent. We have traveled, shopped, cooked, settled, cleaned, and met dozens of new people. Our new cultural context has rendered these mundane tasks both exciting and exasperating.

Pasteurizing milk and our home

But the Lord has provided!

Hannah slept for the majority of our 23 hours of travel. When awake, she contentedly played on her blanket in front of our bulkhead seating.

She made it all the way to Nairobi. Then she melted down…

We were in line to go through immigration. At the very end of the very long line made up of our fellow plane passengers. About 10 seconds into Hannah’s paroxysms a Kenyan guard approached us. He had come to escort us to the front of the line! The moment we passed through the doors to the baggage claim, Hannah’s cries ceased.


At the Department of Immigration in Nairobi we had been warned about one particular employee. Our work permits were stamped into our passports without issue, but I sensed the foreboding behind these words: “We have sent you to room 15.”


Hannah making friends at the Department of Immigration

Room 15 is where fingerprinting happens. This sounds innocuous. It is not. The woman who does this takes each finger VERY securely and presses it VERY firmly into the ink and then onto the paper. After watching Clark wince his way through the procedure, I approached the desk with no small amount of trepidation. However, three fingers into the process, Hannah began “talking” and I am almost sure that this clerk’s grip loosened enough to allow blood flow to resume.

We are blessed! But we are also human.

Somehow the smallest annoyance manages to overshadow a multitude of goodness. Like that single mosquito buzzing inside our nets at two in the morning.


These drums were in our storage room (which was daily flooding due to an over-ambitious washing machine). Inside one we discovered dozens of coloring and children’s books!

Our first weeks here I found myself saving all my harsh words for Clark. Despite our beautiful home, bountiful food, and caring neighbors, I responded to the change and unknowns with frustration.

The Lord has been showing me that now, as always, I need a “Philippian’s check.”

Let our prayer be that our “love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that [we] may approve what is good and excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11


Making mozzarella


Clark’s pumpkin


If you give a mouse a cookie…


5 thoughts on “Challenges of Change

  1. My prayers are with you. May the God who supplies everything we need also give you his peace and patience as you transition to your new home!


  2. This is so inspiring and humbling. I pray that God will continue to be with you on this journey. I truly admire the relationship you have with God and your husband! You have a beautiful family Val!


  3. Dear Val,

    Oh, Honey, i lift your adjustment in prayer – we’ve moved sixteen times and I know so well the disruption and displacement one feels. That you save your frustrations for your husband is resonates so with me because I was sunshine and happy little bubbles with the children (3) but used up by the time I could speak to my husband late in the day. Philippians 4:8 is my life verse, told to memorize and recite it by my third grade teacher. It is painted on wood above the window in my kitchen in gray on white as a reminder still even as I near 70. That verse is my manifesto, my motto, my inspiration, my cloak, my IV.

    For now, I’m off to bed as tomorrow is another teaching day for me at Bellarmine University, but I wanted to send a simple word of encouragement as you make oh, so many new adjustments and meet unexpected frustrations and inconveniences you could not have anticipated…they’re the ones that have a tendency to get you. And all our moves were domestic – roughly a thousand miles – nothing the sacrifice and commitment you have made – and I don’t mean to compare, but just want you to know I can empathize and pray for the part you shared specifically. Bless you for sharing so we know how to undergird you all with prayers of specificity.

    Love and blessings,

    Bonnie Omer Johnson Louisville, KY


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