Sunday, January 6, 2013

What's in a name?

If you’ve ever visited or lived in an area that doesn’t speak your first language, you know it can be a bit disorienting at first. Everyone seems to be speaking a mile a minute, and all you can do is smile and try not to look as thoroughly confused as you are. If you are prepared, you may have learned a few simple phrases that can help you plow through the muddle.

An aerial view of Korr

I landed in Nairobi on Tuesday amidst Swahili land. And just as soon as I had picked up a few of those key phrases, I was whisked away in a 6-seater airplane into the middle of a land that speaks a language called Rendille.

In front of the plane that got me to Korr!

My teammates and I have been adjusting to our new surroundings, and we’ve had the incredible help of our fourth teammate, Hannah, who has been here for a school term already, and another couple who have been serving here for 30 years. (Yes, you read that right. Thirty years!)

Hannah, me, Misha, Sarah

This couple sat us down on the first evening to give us a bit of an orientation. We all will be teaching at schools in the local area- the other three ladies at the secondary school, and myself at the primary. The schools are given the name Tirrim. I had never really given the name a second thought, other than trying to determine just exactly how it is pronounced (to my best knowledge, TEER-uhm is pretty close).

Tirrim Upper Primary School, where I will be teaching. This is one of three buildings.

What I didn’t realize was what the word Tirrim actually means in Rendille. Here in Korr, many people live in small huts called mins, which are made of sticks to compose the structure, with various cloths to enclose it.

Two mins in the center of town
It is also crucial to know that it is quite windy here. It makes the heat bearable, but also puts these small huts at risk of blowing straight away. The most essential part of a min is the kingpost in the center of the house. This is the tirrim. The tirrim allows the house to stand, while also helping it to withstand the high winds. Without the tirrim, the min would most assuredly collapse.

The schools were given this name to remind us who is our kingpost. Who is central and most important in our lives. Who we must depend on unless we be blown over by the forceful winds of this world. Of course, this is our God. God who is our Father, who sent His Son, and whose Spirit lives within those who believe and trust in Him.

“For by him all things were created…and in him, all things hold together.”  [Colossians  1:16a,17b]

I think it is quite appropriate that this was the first Rendille word of which I learned the meaning. Coming such a long way from home, away from everyone and everything familiar is a bit daunting and overwhelming. In moments where those thoughts have crept in, I have needed to consciously remember who is my kingpost, who I must depend on, and for whom I have all reason for living and being. But I can’t be selfish. I don’t want to keep this kingpost to myself. I want to share Him with everyone I meet. I want others to experience his goodness and grace and life-sustaining power. I suppose that’s why I’m here, and why I’m taking the time to tell you about Him. This blog isn’t meant to be a diary of my time in northern Kenya. Yes, I want to relay my experiences, but much more important than that, I want the Kingpost, the Tirrim of life to be known by all.

I will begin teaching at Tirrim Upper Primary School in one week. The start was delayed due to lack of funding, so I ask that you would lift up in prayer the school administrators as they work through the obstacles and the children as they wait one week longer. There is no history of education in Korr, so these students are the beginnings of a generation who can read and write. With education comes many opportunities. Please pray that I would be able to effectively teach these students academic skills, while also conveying the beauty of the gospel, the story of God and his incredible love for the world.

I pray that Jesus would be the Tirrim for my students, but for you as well.

Korr at sunset


  1. So good to hear from you and your pictures are amazing! Please keep them coming! Praying for you as you get ready for school next week.

  2. awesome... sending prayers for a great adventure, true learning and love of God for you and the entire village.

  3. praying for strength and wisdom enough for each moment, and for His Spirit in you. can't wait to see this all unfold!

  4. You have just given us a picture of your new life in Kenya. God is in the details!

  5. I'm so glad you shared this! Thank you =) Excited for you & praying from the States!