Is it hard for children to be away from their parents?

This week I'm back to answering some more of the frequently asked questions about my missions trip to Kenya. 

QUICK UPDATE: I'm currently at 17% of my outgoing expense budget. Thank you, everyone, who has pledged already.

If you have any questions you'd like me to include next week letter, please let me know.


How many students attend the school?

Can you believe there are approximately 500 students from pre-school to grade 12, with boarding students starting around grade 4? When I first heard this I was so surprised - I thought it was just a little school. Most of the students are the children of missionaries, with a small percentage of Kenyan nationals. 

What organizations do the students' parents work for?

RVA students represent over 80 different missions organizations and sending church communities from over 50 different countries. It was so interesting meeting students on my vision trip and hearing about their parents who work in orphanages or who are translating the Bible or who are serving in small tribal communities. I met kids whose parents had just become missionaries and some who were born overseas. It's the most diverse place I've ever been to.

Isn't it hard for children to be away from their parents that long?

Yes - it's hard for the parents and the students - boarding school isn't for everyone. However, for many families, Rift Valley Academy (RVA) means their children can receive a high-quality education, as well as access to sports, music and arts programs they might not have access to in other areas of Africa. Knowing there are incredible staff who love their children and are there to support them as well as keep them safe is a critical component of why many parents send their children to RVA. The school provides many opportunities for parents to visit including sports games, field days, special Sunday services, open houses and more. In order to provide even more time for students to be at home with their families, the school runs year round and takes a month-long break in December, April, and July as well as midterm breaks. On-going communication with parents as well as phone/internet access means family doesn't feel far away. 

While on my vision trip, I met a grade 10 student who had just arrived at RVA that year. We began talking about her experience and she told me that moving from the states to Kenya has been the hardest thing she's ever done - she really misses her parents and younger siblings (who aren't at the school). I asked her if she wished they hadn't moved and she shared with me how she's glad they moved because she believes in what her parents are doing and she loves RVA and all the friends she's made. 



Why don't parents just homeschool their kids?


Imagine if your parents were missionaries in some rural community or tribe in Africa and you were being homeschooled. You wouldn’t have access to athletics, pottery, music, wood working, auto mechanic classes etc. That’s why I love RVA so much. During an open house, I was able to walk around the classes and see some of the incredible programs here. I am amazed. For many missionaries homeschooling, local schools or tutors are great options, unfortunately for other families, they might not be.  At times, due to safety concerns of the area they are serving in, it's better for the child to be somewhere else. Sometimes there aren't local schools or tutors available and homeschooling isn't something the parents are able to do.  RVA has incredible athletics, music and arts programs which are often not a possibility in rural or remote areas.  Boarding schools aren't for everyone, but for the families of RVA who have had to make a difficult choice, it is the best option for them and their families. 



What are dorms like?

While on my vision trip I was able to visit a few dorms - they were my favourite places on campus. I made some notes in my journal about what dorms are like and I thought I'd share an excerpt.

Sometimes our definition of home changes and looks different than a traditional home. Last night I headed over to Cassandra’s (known affectionately as Aunt Cass) dorm with junior and senior girls. I had dinner with Cass and watched her in action as a dorm mom. I saw girls comforted when they were stressed about school, challenged when they were speaking lies about themselves, helped with homework, given medication, cared for when they were sick, supported when they missed a couple days of African Cultures class, corrected on grammar, hugged, and delighted in. I saw a dorm mom who loves those girls as if she birthed them herself. I saw a dorm mom who carried formal dresses across campus so her girls who were feeling nervous about formal, which isn’t even in this term, could try on dresses and find the perfect one. 25 cups were filled up with smoothies and 25 plates were loaded with carrot sticks and apple slices. Chores were done, reminders were given, prayers were offered and endless amounts of love heaped. Like any mom she multi-tasked like no one else... at one point commenting on a dress, while helping another with homework and signing a library pass for a third... all while supervising chores and hosting me. Super dorm mom for sure. This is home. For girls who are far from family and miss their parents I’m so glad they have Aunt Cass. 


How can I pray?

I took the week off work so I could focus on completing some of my Biblical requirements and external contracts.  I feel a bit like I'm falling behind because things have been so busy at work. To be honest, this has been a pretty overwhelming time. Please pray for focus as try to get lots done. 

How can I join your support team?


You can choose to start your support now* OR pledge to start when I leave**.

*If you start now, your monthly gift will build up in my account and help toward my outgoing costs too. ** If you pledge to start when I leave, your pledge will help me meet the financial deadline of June 10th. Submit the pre-authorised debit form below and indicate when you would like it to begin.

Pre-Authorized Debit

To authorize monthly giving through direct debit from your bank account:


For post-dated cheques for monthly support or one-time gifts: 
  • Cheques should be made out to Africa Inland Mission
  • Include a separate note indicating it is for "Tori Bissell's Support"
  • Mail it directly to Africa Inland Mission (address below)
  • American donors, please mail your check to the AIM U.S. Office (address below)

On-line Giving

For monthly support or one-time gifts:


  • Visit the link below
  • Check off "Specific Missionary" and enter Tori Bissell
  • Alternatively, call the office (877-407-6077) and provide credit card information by phone
  • Visit the link below
  • Specify the amount you would like to give
  • Complete the “Worker Full Name” field and include (Canadian) to avoid confusion


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