A trip up to RVA

I’ve been in Nairobi for a little over a week now, while Steve is in a conference in the US, and this past weekend I was able to catch a ride up to Kijabe, home of the boarding school I attended from fifth grade onward. Founded in 1906 by Africa Inland Mission, Rift Valley Academy sits at about 7,200 feet (2,200 meters) and overlooks the Great Rift Valley. There are between 450 and 500 students who attend RVA, most of whose parents are missionaries, both in Kenya and other surrounding countries. And although its curriculum is US American, the student body is very international, so the school ends up maintaining its own unique culture.

The road people usually take to RVA was closed due to a mudslide (stay tuned for a post on that later this week), so we took what is known as the ‘lower road’, since it comes up from below Kijabe. It’s still pretty high above the valley, as you can see.




There are a number of ‘viewpoints’ along the road, where you can stop to take photos of the valley and also purchase souvenirs at shops with names like ‘Liberty Curio Shop,’ ‘White Masai Curio Shop,’ and ‘World Trade Centre Curio Shop.’



The lower road actually does lead down to the valley floor, at which point there is a turn-off for a steep, rocky road leading all the way back up to Kijabe. (There is a reason people usually drive the other way to get to RVA!)






This post ended up having quite a few photos, so I’ll make another post with pictures of the RVA campus. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a photo of the Kijabe Airstrip, which we passed right before we reached Kijabe town and the RVA campus.
Yes, this would be one of the more challenging airstrips in Kenya…

Children of Promise

Well, this post doesn’t have much to do with Moshi, except that I spent a considerable amount of the first month or so of my time in Moshi finishing up this documentary, titled Children of Promise. So I thought I’d include the video in this blog for those of you who have not had a chance to watch it and who might enjoy or appreciate it.

The synopsis:

Dan and Lori O’Brien decided to start adopting sibling groups out of the foster care system after their children approached them with the idea. Fifteen years and 7 adoptions later, with 3 more foster kids awaiting adoption, and a house bursting at the seams, their community began to notice that the O’Brien family needed a bigger, better home. And so, starting from scratch, with a handful of people and an overflow of love, this small community in Wisconsin came together to undertake the monumental task of building the O’Brien’s a new home.

Underneath it all, Children of Promise is a story of adoption. A family adopting children. A community adopting a family. And for many who are a part of this story, there is the overwhelming sense of a God who has adopted them, calling them to be part of a broader, deeper family. This sense of ‘Forever Family,’ a phrase Lori O’Brien likes to use when talking about adoption, is transformative on many levels, and its ripples extend outward, as those who have been shown love, in turn, reach out in love to others in need.

Children of Promise from Esther Sumner on Vimeo.

Snow on Kili

Well, rainy season has begun – it usually runs from mid/late-march to around may or june, I think. Along with an incredible green that seems to appear out of nowhere over the course of about 3 days, Kili also becomes covered with a cap of white that makes it all the more stunning when the clouds clear.


I assumed we wouldn’t see it much during the rainy season, but the weather patterns here often create clear evenings, where the mountain catches the last rays of the sun in a golden flare.

I captured this one while shooting a time lapse of the mountain, and the glow lasted about 5 minutes in total (which made for less than a second in my timelapse, unfortunately). It was a complete surprise, because I really thought the sun had already finished setting. I’ve seen it happen since, and will definitely try to capture a longer timelapse of it next time!

A couple more shots of Kili from a few days ago. These were taken right outside our compound. Thankfully there is a big field that offers a pretty good view.
Early morning, around 6:30.

Later in the afternoon.

How can you not want to climb it after seeing this??

Harvesting avocados

We have a couple of avocado trees in our backyard. I knew nothing about them – when to pick the avocados (or even how – they’re really high up), when they’re ripe, etc… But thankfully Hadija, our house help, explained it all to me, so I have really been enjoying harvesting and eating them.

Of course, there are so many that I can’t possibly eat them all (as much as I’d like to!), so I had some friends over to pick some of their own.

This long, and quite heavy, bamboo pole is also used to knock mangoes down when they are in season.

It definitely takes a little practice!

Because they’re not yet ripe when you knock them down, they don’t bruise at all, even though they’re falling from a height of 15 to 20 feet.


After a few days of sitting on your counter, they ripen perfectly. And I’m not exaggerating when I say that these are, literally, the best avocados I’ve ever eaten!