The End of an Era

You might very well know that I am a homeschooling mom.

I’ve been teaching our kids now for 11 years, and you know, eleven years is a long time.

OK… I had a little break in there following Rachael’s adoption where we sent everyone to school, but as necessary as it was back then, I still count it as a mistake, so let’s not count it at all.  I’ll claim the entire 11 years because there were parts of that year that were so stressful I might as well have schooled them at home.  I’ve got the stripes to prove it.

Rachael is the only one at home for school right now while her brothers are attending a boarding school.  We’ve been wrapping things up because I keep her on the same schedule as the boys.

Well played mom… keeping everyone on the same schedule so that school breaks are actually a break. 

If you’ve been keeping up with our monthly updates, you are aware that Rachael is waiting to attend school with brothers.  “Dying to go” is probably a better description. We sent in the application and…. yes!  Rachael has been accepted to Rift Valley Academy.  She is thrilled. In fact if you ask her about it, she can’t even contain her smile. We think it is a good move for her all-around well being, so we are excited too.  (In more ways than one!)

Here’s the thing… I just realized this week that I am done with homeschooling, not just for this school year, but forever!IMG_4425 (1)

It’s like winning the olympic gold medal for motherhood or something.  (I am visualizing other moms who get through the years of standing on the sidelines in the rain, or tame the homework beast night after night, or better yet, manage to feed, clothe and educate children alone.  We all get gold medals for our sacrifice as mothers)

Does it not feel like reaching the top of the peak of mount mommy hood?  Or… perhaps released from class on the last day of school before summer break is a better sense.  Homeschooling is a bit like living at school… 24/7.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am very happy with our choice to school the kids at home.  Each of them has benefitted from this choice for different reasons and nothing in me doubts that is was the right choice.  But….

I’m done!  Released!  Finished!

Is it irony that in the same year I send the oldest off to university, I am sending the youngest off to school with her brothers?

Rachael in front of the girl's dorm.

Rachael in front of the girl’s dorm.

Rachael will go to school with her brothers beginning this September. I am pretty sure that  more than one of our friends wonders, “What the heck are you thinking?” when it comes to sending our kids to a boarding school, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to share our experience.



By the way, of all the crazy choices we’ve made for our kids over the long haul, choosing RVA has hands-down, been the best choice we’ve ever made.  EVER.

I think it is tough for Americans to digest the idea of boarding school. There are some fantastic boarding schools in the U.S. and I even know some folks who have chosen that route, but by in large, most of us think of boarding school as a place to send troubled kids. Or better yet, a place to send kids so parents are not troubled by them.

Let me take a moment to remind you that regardless of how you feel about public schools in the U.S., the truth is we have a system that works.  We can send our children to school for free and for the most part, our kids will be educated.  This is not true for Africa.  Most of Africa… in fact HUGE sections of Africa go without a reliable schooling system.  Zambia is no exception.

Homeschool is a great option, for home and for the mission field.  We have enjoyed the flexibility that it brings, and not having to change schools through all of our moving around has definitely been a benefit, but the kids are growing older, their needs are changing, and their classes are getting more difficult.  (for me, HA!)

And there are about a hundred reasons to choose RVA.  I’ll spare you and keep the list to a minimum.

A typical girl's room... should I start getting on Rachael to keep her room clean?

A typical girl’s room… should I start getting on Rachael to keep her room clean?

For us, there are several great schools to choose from in Lusaka.  We live in Kafue.  Educating our kids at a school in Lusaka would require a 3 hour round-trip commute every day, and believe it or not, the schools we’ve looked at are 3 times the price of RVA.  Yes, you read right, 3 times! Schooling our kids here would be comparable to the price of a university education…. who does that?  But more than expense and commute, is how much we love  the RVA community.

Rift Valley is an excellent school.  Our kids live in a dorm of about 20-24 students.  They have dorm parents (a married couple) who usually have their own kids and live in an apartment that is attached to the dorm.  These people have the incredible gift of making the dorm feel like family.  The spiritual development and care for students goes well beyond anything I have seen before.  Teachers and staff are missionaries and raise their own support to be at RVA and they believe they are called to their work and pour themselves into our kids in mighty ways.  And their friends!  The students at RVA come from all over.  It is truly an international school.  Kids who have lived in everything from mud huts to gated communities, and are from all parts of the world; the U.S., Europe, Asia, Africa.  It is amazing.  The sense of community there is something to behold.  I might even be a bit jealous.

Can I say enough?  Here’s a video about the kids’ school if you want to learn more:

RVA video

The best part of my story here today is that Rachael gets to go too.

Old-timer Christians always point out how the Lord prepares you for the seasons ahead, and though the seasons might be rough, you’ll be ready.  I’m finding truth in those words these days.  When we first came to Africa in 2012, it was an absolute… no way were my kids going to a boarding school.  You might remove my right arm before I was going to send my kids away.

It was less than a year before my mind had changed.

Life is different here in so many ways, and the realm of educating your kids is one of those things that gets shifted dramatically.  We learned from our friends, we faced some realities, and we were exposed to kids who went to far away schools… and thrived.  Our perspective changed.

I’m really thankful for that, a shift in perspective, that is.  We were given the choice to hang on to our kids so tight that they might never freely breathe again or release them into what we KNEW was the best choice for them in this new reality.

Before we ever left for the mission field, I was worried about how our children would do with such a move.  After all, its not them who received a call to go, they just happen to be stuck with parents who did.  I could list the many ways we were doing more harm than good and wondered if God was serious.

One of those fretful days I was reading with Rachael in Genesis and it was one of those moments where the story leapt off the page and into my heart.  Good grief… it was SPOT ON with how I was feeling about a call to serve in Africa.

In chapter 22, Abraham is told by God to take his son to the altar and offer him as a sacrifice.  I tell you it FELT like I was hauling my kids to the altar and laying them out there as living sacrifices for our call to serve.  I died inside when I read it, and as many times as I have read the story before, reading the part about the lamb took my breath away.  I knew in the moment that God would provide; that my children would not be slaughtered by our move, but in fact God would provide for them and they would be spared.

I didn’t know what “the lamb” would look like and I most certainly wouldn’t have guessed boarding school (good thing I didn’t, I might have stayed home).  But sure enough the opportunity came and it was OBVIOUS that the school was a good fit, and now that we’ve been a part of the RVA community for a couple of years, I honestly cannot offer words to describe what a wonderful provision of God’s care for our kids this has been.

The shift in perspective is good.  Abraham shifted from doing the work of offering something to God, to receiving God’s grace and provision.  He was faithful in letting go of his control… eeek!  And trusting that God would in fact… provide!  Gasp!

I guess I am still learning, but it amazes me still.

We’re proud of you Rachael!  Go girl!

PS.  More fun!  I’ve uploaded photos.  Look for the link on the “Snapshots” page.