Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Thankfulness In Africa

Some more thoughts for this evening . . .

Today the girls received a TV and DVD for their parlor. I have never before seen 16 happier girls in my entire life! When Elisha began setting it all up they were singing and dancing so loudly that the boys from the other compound wandered in wondering what all the noise was about! It was so adorable.

The TV and DVD player were donated to the girls by someone in America. I wish that the person who donated the money could have been in Gyero today to see the response of these girls, it was amazing. What a good reminder that a little can go such a long way. What a good reminder of how important the body of Christ is. Someone so far away has made a lasting impact in these little girls for a long time.

It was also a good reminder to me that I should be that thankful each morning for the day God has given me. I am constantly being reminded to have a more thankful heart. Last night during family group we made a list of the things we were thankful for. What a good exercise to do . . . It was encouraging to see that more than half of the things on the list that the girls came up with were people in their lives. We are all such a gift to each other.

This morning during devotionals we talked about being a missionary, and how we don't have to go across the World to share the love of Christ. How true it is. We are simply called to follow where God calls us, whether that is Nigeria or your next door neighbor. I love that. The Nigerian staff that I get to work with each day are some of the best missionaries I have ever met in my life, and they didn't move across the World.

We also talked about how everyone shares the love of Christ differently. Such an encouragement to me. The way I share Christ is differently than the way you share Christ and no way is better than any other way. Each way is just different. Romans 12!! :)

Last night we read part of Psalm 118. I was spending a great deal of time reading that Psalm before I arrived here and I just love it, so I thought I would share it with you! :)

Just a few thoughts for the evening . . .

The Internal Anquish

Friends and Family,

It seems that every time I sit down, I have so much to blog about, everyday is full of fun adventures and new experiences. I am going to keep this blog short, and to the point, since I am not feeling well; which is what I am going to blog about.

I remember before arriving here, I was very curious about the food in Nigeria. Unable to find much information about it I decided to just figuring it out when I got here . . . well within the first week I had arrive, I had not had any Nigerian food and I was very disappoint. I had eaten a great deal of wonderful American food, but I had yet to try any Nigerian food . . . how disappointing. Well, I have now been here long enough to try Nigerian food!
I will begin with the basics . . . um . . . well spicy, pretty much sums it up. "Peppa" as they call it seems to be the only spice they have here, so EVERYTHING, including spaghetti noodles (with beans), which I wrongly assumed would be bland were spicy! No joke! Besides the peppa, pretty much meals are rice and beans . . . or twuo. Now twuo is an experience . . . it is rice pounded into a paste that resembles mashed potatoes. The twuo is served with a sauce, there are several different sauces that you dip the twuo in with your hands. It is a messy meal and funny to watch people eat. These are the basic meals for lunch and dinner . . . breakfast is mostly a called tombran. It is similar in consistency to cream of wheat, but tombran is brown and made from peanuts among other things, the kids love it, sadly I do not.

So these are the basic foods eaten here, there are a few more rice stews that I have not mentioned, but these are the ones most often eaten in Gyero . . . now last night I experienced a whole new type of Nigerian food . . . called moi moi (I have no idea if I am spelling any of these correctly, but I'm trying). Moi moi, is basically beans in a bag . . . Now, I had brought food with me last night and I was planning on not eating with the girls, but Mama told me she made me special food with out peppa for me, which I was very thankful for, but sadly it didn't sit too well with me.
I am feeling better this evening, thankfully. I greatly appreciate all of the work that Mama put into making the meal, so I'm disappointed that it make me sick because I would love to eat with the girls, but I also don't want to be sick. :(
Thank you for all of your notes of encouragement and prayers! You are all in my prayers and I am constantly in awe what a gift it is to watch the body of Christ work around the World. Thank you for being a part of it!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Tails In Africa . . . or lack of Tails in Africa . . .

Friends and Family,

I am writing you this rainy, windy, cloudy Monday morning, with a thankful heart for the NEPA we have right now! We have had sporadic power the past few days and as a result, I have not been able to get online to check email. Thank you for all of the encouraging emails! I can't tell you how much I love to read them! I also received my first package last week! Yay! :) It is fun to get mail, everyone gets so excited! I am currently enjoying some of the American chocolate that was sent to me . . . THANK YOU! :)
So much happens in one week here, even in one day that sometimes it is difficult to know what to write about or even where to start. I have a ton of pictures of the kids that I will post on this blog . . . where to start. Well, we can start with some good news, Uncle Sunday (one of the uncles at Gyero) his wife had her baby on Thursday night. Both mom and baby are healthy and safe, a big praise, as giving birth is a bit dangerous here. We were able to pick up the mom, baby and rest of the family from the hospital on Friday morning, it was really fun!

We do have a bit of sad news . . . You may remember me posting a picture of Gospel, the guard dog for the girls compound, the little yellow one with a waggy tail. Well . . . I'm not exactly sure how to put this, but Gospel is no more. When we arrived at Gyero yesterday for church, the girls came running up saying "Auntie, Auntie, Gospel is sick." The poor dog was really sick, he couldn't see or hardly walk. So while we were out on Sunday a few of the boys killed Gospel, which was really good because the poor dog was in a lot of pain and needed to be put out of his misery. Now, um, well, not exactly sure how to put this, but as we were driving down the road in Gyero, we saw a bunch of the boys behind one of the houses, we stopped and asked what they were doing. They replied with "we are cooking". Nicky they asked "what are you cooking?" The boys replied "Meat". Slowly we put the pieces together THEY WERE COOKING GOSPEL THE DOG . . . I am not kidding . . . I thought that when the girls kept saying they were going to eat the dog they were joking . . . no joke. They ate the dog. I walked into the girls compound and they had a huge platter of meat . . . IT WAS THE DOG . . . I freaked out and the girls, thought it was hilarious . . . I guess when meat is scarce and your dog dies, you eat your dog . . .
There are TONS of dogs running around all over the place here, and Pastor's dog just had puppies. He said that I could pick one out for the girls compound. :) I am excited, but I don't know how I will handle it if it dies and they eat it! AHHH! Okay, enough about the dog . . .

Yesterday Nicky and I went to church in Gyero, which is always a wonderful cultural experience. Almost three hours of sitting on a cement bench, not understanding a word . . . It is actually a lot of fun to go with the girls, and have them explain what is going on. Yesterday was the day that the church does communion, which was an experience. Communion consisted of bread for the body, normal enough and . . . orange fanta (orange pop) for the blood! It was quite hilarious. Before I new that it was fanta, I was wondering if I should even take it because we will get sick if we drink the water here . . . I was thinking how ironic it would be if communion made me sick . . . :) Thankfully it was just orange fanta, which is fine to drink, but quite a funny thing to drink as a representation for the blood of Christ! :)
I have many more stories, but they will have to wait for another time. Please pray for energy and good rest over the next few weeks. We will be busy with camp and several short-term teams. Please email me any prayer requests you may have. - Much Love!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Trunks, Insects, Animals . . . Part 2

Here are a few more pictures from our adventures at Yankari Wildlife Park! :)

Trunks, Insects, Animals . . .

Friends and Family,

I can't believe it has taken me so long to tell you about my adventures this past weekend. Probably because for me, writing a blog is a major undertaking that takes an hour or so. :) Now to the story . . .

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to travel to Yankari, a wild animal park about 3 hours outside of Jos. We left, my compound at 5:45am Saturday morning. I was joined on the trip by six other short-term missionaries and one of the SIM drivers and his family. The drive to Yankari was beautiful, watching the sun rise above the green plateaus.

When we finally arrived in Yankari, we headed straight to the office to sign up for a safari. It was awesome! We got to ride in a real safari jeep! Our safari lasted for almost two hours, we saw lots of animals such as springbok, monitor lizards, cool birds and even ELEPHANTS!! It was awesome, the elephants were just a few feet in front of our jeep!! It was awesome!

Along with seeing lots of cool animals, we were able to get out of the jeep at one point and walk around and see all of these caves that had been carved into large rocks deep in the forest. The caves were carved by people during the slave trade. People would escape he slave trade by running away and living in these caves. It was crazy to crawl around in them and realize that not only were the caves made by people, but people who were facing such challenges. It was so amazing to be able to walk around the African jungle. We saw bats, spiders, and millipedes! It was SO AMAZING! I will post lots of pictures.
After our safari we headed back to the main complex to have lunch. Now the whole game park is in the middle of nowhere, so wild animals such as baboons and warthogs just chill where the main complex is, they walk around your car and stuff . . . and they like to steal food as I found out the hard way. It is pretty common knowledge for anyone who goes to Yankari that you need to be careful of the baboons. They are very tame and not all that afraid of you, especially if you have food . . . they actually sell sling shots for you to use on the baboons (no kidding). Anyways, being aware of the baboon dangers we decided to eat our lunches in the van. Well as soon as we packed into the van the baboons knew what we were up to and we had about five baboons crawling all over the cars surrounding us, just hoping they might get a bite . . . We thought it was pretty funny and were taking lots of pictures . . . well it was getting quite hot in van with 13 people eating lunch in there, so we cracked the windows, thinking we would be safe from the baboons . . . WRONG! Tim graciously brought mini candy bars to share with everyone . . . so holding the candy bar in the right hand, with my back to the window of the van, I turned to thank Tim. Little did I know that Mrs. Baboon was carefully watching me, and saw this as an excellent opportunity for her to REACH INTO THE VAN AND GRAB THE CANDY BAR OUT OF MY HAND!!! I am SO NOT KIDDING! THE BABOON TOUCHED MY HAND!! I thought that Joseph in the front seat was trying to tell me something, so when I turned my head and saw a giant baboon head, instead of Joseph's head I screamed!! Everyone in the car was startled and was wondering what happened. When I finally caught my breath through my laughter and the tears that were streaming down my face (tears from laughing) everyone had figured out what happened and couldn't believe it! It was SO funny!! I will post pictures of Mrs. Baboon who thoroughly enjoyed MY candy bar!!

After getting over the disappointment of not getting candy bar that afternoon we headed down the natural hot springs for a swim. It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been in my life!! It looked like I was in Hawaii!! Crystal clear water, green grass, and Palm trees! The water was so warm, it was wonderful. We spent the rest of the afternoon in the water before we headed home. I will post a bunch of pictures! It was a good day! :)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Things In Africa

Friends and Family,

I realized that I haven't posted pictures in a while. Here are some pictures of the Gyero area I have taken over the past few weeks. Gospel, our girls compound guard dog is featured in the first photo. The second picture is the primary school. The middle pictures are just to give you a view of what life is like in the village. The last picture of the white building is one of the churches in Gyero. I will post more later! Enjoy!

Truth, Insight, Alligators

Friends and Family,

I am sorry that my blogs are so long, I truly do try to shorten them, but there is always SO much to tell, and today is no different. This is been an eventful weekend, so I am going to start at the beginning on Friday . . . this might be a two blog weekend . . . we'll see what happens.

Do you remember the new girl I was telling you about; Godiya? The spunky one . . . well, she has a rather rapid change of attitude and heart this past week. The staff was alerted to her change in behavior and we all began praying about it and came to the correct conclusion that there was way more to her story than she had first told us. Godiya had told us that she was an orphan and so as far as we knew she had no family, so when she told us on Tuesday that she dreamed that her grandmother had died and she wanted to go and visit her to make sure she was okay, we were a little shocked and confused. Mamma Sate and the uncles decided that we had better take her to her village to get to the bottom of her story.

It turned out that Godiya's village, which was about an hour and half drive away was near the village of two of our older boys who are in the reconciliation process with their families. We decided we would take these two boys, Joseph and Nemiah to visit their since we were going to be trekking out that direction anyways. Joseph had not seen his family in over 4 years, and Nemiah hadn't seen is family in a year or so. So, Nicky, Pastor Jaygay, Mamma Sate, Joseph, Nemiah, Godiya and I all piled into Nicky's car to bring these boys to see their families, and get to the bottom of Godiya's story.

Taking these boys to see their families was an amazing experience. When Joseph arrived in his compound people didn't recognize him at first, but once they figured out who he was, all the women began screaming and crying and hugging him. They were overjoyed to see him. It was an amazing experience to be a part of this boy's homecoming and to see that all of these policies we are working on for the reconciliation program are really, really important.

Nemiah received a similar homecoming with his family. Although this home still has struggles this 16 year old boy wants to be reconciled with his family so that he can teach them about Jesus Christ. I was floored when Nicky shared that with me. He is only 16 and he wants to go back into a difficult situation so that he can preach to his family, what an amazing young man. God works in such amazing ways.

I don't know if there are words to describe what it was like to be a part of these boys’s homecoming. I was overwhelming and exciting. Please keep them and their families in your prayers.

So after drinking a HUGE orange Fanta (you all know how much I love pop) and peeing in the maize (corn) we were off, this time bound for Godiya's village. When we finally arrived in Godiya's village, she jumped out of the car almost before we stopped driving and ran to "her grandmothers" house . . . when we catch up to Godiya, we see that she is hugging this very confused looking crippled woman who is sitting in the dirt doing her laundry. Pastor and Mamma try talking to the woman, but she is just looking back at us very confused . . . after a few awkward minutes she doesn't respond to anything said and she goes back to doing her laundry. Godiya, starts in about how she wants to stay and take care of "her grandmother" . . . we are all thinking "we can't leave her here . . ." A few more awkward moments pass by before God greatly answered our prayers for guidance and wisdom.

Two school teachers from the village just happened to be walking by while all his was going on, and came over, probably at first because they saw white people. As the two teachers began to talk with Pastor and Mama, they quickly begin to put the scatter pieces together of what was going on. All of the sudden they grabbed Godiya by the arm and began yelling. Nicky and I were standing there very confused asking Pastor to translate, but he was just as confused as we were. The two women begin walking off with Godiya and the four of us with rather confused expressions on our faces, followed after. We begin to pick up a few words in English as we are following this crazy scene and we learn that actually Godiya has a family, just on the other side of the village . . . "A FAMILY?!?!" we were all thinking . . . "we were under the impression that she was an orphan" we told the two women.

Thankfully these two women began explaining the whole situation two us. Godiya is not actually an orphan. She is one in ten children, and both of her parents are living. As it turns out she ran away from home about a month previous to when we brought her back. Everything that she had told us was a lie and that woman that she has jumped out of the car to greet, wasn't even her grandmother, they weren't even related!!

While this story is unfolding THE ENTIRE village came out to see what the commotion was and then to stare at the two white people. It was quite the experience let me tell you. I think that two white people being in the village might have been bigger news than the fact that Godiya was back . . . People literally stood there and stared at us and followed us around. . . it was a bit like being on show. The two teachers took charge of the situation and took us all over the village, sharing the story of what had happened. We met the pastor and another woman involved with the Church who feed us lunch (which was wonderful because we were starving by then). I have to share this side note with you because I thought it was great . . . Nigerian food is really spicy, so after eating lunch I pulled out some gym I thankfully had in my bag and offered it to all the women in the room . . . it was hilarious sitting in this house chewing mint gum with all of these wonderful Nigerian women. It was a moment. :)

Anyways, we eventually met Godiya's mother and explained to her the situation. According to her mother Godiya was a pretty rebellious child and they had no idea where she was while she was gone. They hadn't really tried to look for her, because with nine other children it wasn't a priority. The mother thanked us for bringing her back and we left after praying with the family, or more accurately, we prayed with a random assortment of people from the village who some how become involved in the whole process.

WOW! That is a day for ya. It was crazy. It was hard to know how to feel. I was sad that Godiya had lied to us and confused about why she would have wanted us to go back to her village in the first place. Did she really think we wouldn't have figured it out and would just leave her there with that random woman? Why did she run away in the first place? I just had so many questions, and I still do . . . It is sad because Godiya never apologized for lying; she just wanted to make sure she got her clothes from us. When I asked her why she did it, she said it didn't matter and that she liked to be punished . . . the whole thing was very strange. I am thankful that God gave the staff such good insight and lead us to the truth so quickly, because she could have caused a lot of problems with our other girls if we hadn't gotten to the bottom of it. I know that God was protecting us, our ministry and the other girls by uncovering the truth.

Okay, so I just have to share this one last random story with you . . . I couldn't stop laughing. It is really common here for people to run up to your car and try to sell you things, like fruit when you are slowing down or coming to a stop. Well, on the way home, we were slowing down in a village, and of course a huge group of people run up to us trying to sell us fruit and olives. I wasn't paying much attention, when all of the sudden Mamma starts yelling "look, look!!" Confused, Nicky and I started looking around . . . searching out my window I finally saw what Mamma was yelling about. A man was holding a two to three foot long ALLIGATOR by the tail and he was trying to sell it to us (people eat them here)!! It was one of the funniest things I have ever seen in my life . . . (at least at that point in my life . . . Saturday brought a few more crazy experiences). I couldn't stop laughing! An alligator! I wish I would have had my camera so I could show you all . . . it was awesome.

Anyways, that was my Friday. See how hard it is to shorten my blogs! How could I possibly leave any of that out?!!?

Thank you for your prayers and encouragment! I am so thankful for all of you!!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Traditional, Interesting Attire. . .

Friends and Family,

Although we didn't make it to the traditional Nigerian church we were planning on going to this morning, I was still dressed like a traditional Nigerian! :) Just thought you might enjoy a picture! :)

Hope all is well!!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Thoughts In the African night . . .

Friends and Family,

I just have to tell you all about my new best friend . . . my headlamp. I am more than thankful for my trusty little light that follows me where ever I go. He started to flicker the other day and I freaked out! What ever will I do without my headlamp!! We have become such close friends in the past few weeks . . . It gets dark around 6:00pm in the evening, and it seems to be a theme that we don’t have electricity in the evenings. If we are lucky NEPA comes on around midnight and stays until 9:00am . . . not the most convenient of times, but I am thankful for this little power with which I can rotate charging my computer, cell phone and IPod . . . even if it means waking up at midnight to plug in one of the three items.
As a result of the untimely power my evenings are often left in the dark. I have a few candles, which I do have to say are quite nice and relaxing to sit by and read or journal write by in the evenings, but my headlamp can travel with me, something these candles cannot do. I tried lighting candles in each room, so that if I needed to go into my bedroom, I wouldn’t be walking into a dark room, or similarly if I needed to use the bathroom, I didn’t need to venture into the dark abyss of the bathroom (you never know what you might find in a dark room in Africa, a giant cockroach or a variety of other unwelcome roommates) . . . but leaving all those candles burning for a few hours, isn’t safe or economical, I would need to buy a lot of candles. So I have now resorted to burning just one candle and leaving my headlamp on me so that I may use it whenever I venture into a new room . . .
This decision to not go anywhere past 6:00pm without my headlamp was also aided by the difficulty in actually lighting a candle here. “How difficult could it actually be to light a candle” you may be thinking to yourself . . . well quite difficult is the answer. It takes about 5-7 matches each time you decide you want to light something, whether that be a candle or the stove or the oven (yes my oven is a gas oven . . . the electricity is not reliable enough for electric stoves or ovens). The matches here just don’t work and it’s not just me . . . believe me everyone here complains about how bad the matches are . . . they break in half when you strike them, they often don’t light, or they light and die rather quickly. It’s amazing the pile of matches that accumulate on the table in only one evening. I have been informed by more experienced missionaries that the matches with the tomato on the box are the best, but I have yet to invest in tomato matches. I will let you know how well they really do work once I am able to find these tomato matches.
It seems funny to be writing about matches and headlamps when I have seen and been thinking about so many more important things, but I thought I would share a little bit of what daily life is like here . . .
On a more important note God has been teaching me and showing me so much about need. There is so much need here. The other day I was eating my lunch out at Gyero and I dropped a piece of my food on the ground. Within seconds, the chickens, and dogs had run over to fight over this tiny scrap of food . . . and then the ants came and picked up the little crumbs that were left behind.
It’s very overwhelming at times to be faced with these constant needs. Being white, people are constantly begging and asking for money, and I can’t give away money to everyone. It’s hard to understand how God provides for all of these needs, but it blows my mind when I think about it and realize that he is big enough to provide for all these people, and he cares for each one of them individually and he knows what their true needs actually are.
Today at Bible Study we were discussing whether we truly believe and take to heart the fact that God will only withhold something good from us when he has something better planned. It’s easy to believe and see that God does this in hindsight, because we see how he provided, but so difficult to believe it in the midst of a struggle, when we think we see what we need, but don’t see God providing it for us. It comes to trusting and believing that God knows us and has our best interest at heart. We talked about several verses, but I came back to these two standards: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do and he will direct your paths.” – Proverbs 3:5
“And all of us have had that veil removed so that we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us we become more and more like Him, and reflect His glory even more.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

Hope this finds you all well. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement! I am thankful for all of you!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Thankfulness, Intersession and Aunties

Friends and Family,

There is always so much to write about! Sometimes it's hard to know where to begin . . . The past two days have been so eventful!

Yesterday we had another new girl join us at Gyero. It is a miracle that, Godyie actually made it to the ministry. Both of her parents past away a few years ago. At that time a distant relative took her to use as house help and neglected taking care of Godyie. Just a few days ago, the relative decided she was going to move to Lagos, but didn't want to take Godyie with her, so she told Godyie to pack her bags, they were going on a trip to Jos. The woman dropped Godyie off at a street corner and told her to wait there she would be back in a few minutes. The woman never came back. Godyie began begging, and thankfully she came across a Christian woman who knew about our ministry and brought Godyie to us. Praise the Lord. Godyie is quite the 12 year old young lady. She is very spunky and can definitely hold her own.

Godyie arrived at our ministry with nothing but the clothes she was wearing, so Nicky, Mamma and I took her shopping yesterday to get some new clothes. Seeing the joy on Godyie's face, joy not only from the fact that she was getting new clothes, but joy from the fact that these 3 women actually cared about her was an amazing experience. She held my hand, smiling and jumping up and down the entire time we walked around the market in the rain. Godyie was very excited that I had a camera, and she loves to pose, so I will post a few pictures for you!

After taking Godyie to the market, it was time for "Family Groups". Every Tuesday night all of the kids at Gyero are broken into small group of 12 kids and 1-2 adults. Each family group eats dinner together, does Bible study and spends time worshiping in song. I was able to join the girl's family group last night and let me tell you, those girls can sing! The beautiful song they can make with simply their voices and a bucket, is beyond me. I couldn't for the life of me keep the rhythm with the girls, but I had fun dancing and trying to sing with them. They thought it was hysterical that "Auntie Jamie" was dancing with them!
I prepared a devotion with the girls last night, and we had fun talking about the qualities of God, the qualities we see in ourselves and talking about being children of God. We looked at two passages:

Genesis 1:27: "So God created people in his own image; God patterned them after himself; male and female he created them."

John 1:12: "But to all who believed him and accepted him he gave the right to become children of God."

It was fun to watch the girls tell each other that they were children of God. I was able to get a hold of a Hausa Bible, so I wrote the verses in English and in Hausa. The girls were fascinated and had fun reading the verses first in English and then in Hausa to each other. It's difficult to know how much they understood, but it was at least fun . . . and I know God shows up in fun! :)

I spent the night in Gyero with the girls. It was a blast, a toilet that rivals the one in the D.R. for all you Team Swaction members! :) The walls of the toilet were covered in mosquitoes and flies . . . (That one is for you Amy! :)

We were awoken by the Muslim call to prayer at 5:00am, which then caused a chain reaction of the dog in the compound to start barking, the women in the COCIN (Church of Christ In Nigeria) to start singing, the compound roosters to start crowing, and the girls to wake up and begin their morning devotions and worship. By 6:30am, I was awake, dressed and greeted by each one of the girls . . . these Nigerians sure know how to use their day light!

I enjoyed spending the morning reading, working on the alphabet, coloring and just sitting with the girls. They are all so unique, beautiful and have such dark pasts. Each one is a miracle. As much as I have enjoyed getting to know the girls, the two women, Mamma Sate and Kaka (grandmother) are two of the most amazing followers of Christ I have met. They both have given up good paying jobs and lives with their families to spend almost every waking minute with these girls. They mentor, disciple, feed, clothe, bathe and love on all of these girls. Until recently, Kaka didn't have a blanket to sleep with and used a pile of her clothes as her source of warmth. Kaka spends a good portion of her day praying for each of the girls by name, and if she isn't praying on her own, you will probably find her sitting on the broken bench mending a sweater with a girl by her side as she sings praises and thanks to the Lord her God. She is a true witness of someone who understands the thanks and praise God should receive from us all.

I have taken a few pictures of the girls and of Kaka. I will post them along with (hopefully) the video I took of a Nigerian rain storm.

I am grateful for each and everyone of your prayers and your emails. I am continuing to pray for all of you and your specific prayer requests. Let me know if there is any way I can be praying for you! I love you all!! Thank you!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Thunder & Incredible Adventures!

Friends and Family,

Praise the Lord we have finally had more than 30 mins of power a day, so I can write to you all! The past few days have been packed with many interesting adventures that I am excited to tell you about. The first of which is Gyero. We took Mary, our new orphaned girl out to Gyero on Friday and introduced her to the other girls. We played a few name games and hand games and although she didn't talk much she smiled and joined in. As I was playing with the girls I was trying to put myself into Mary's position, to be 9 years old, having just lost your mother and now these Bature (white people) are taking me away from any family I have known to live with 12 other girls I have never met in my life. I can't even imagine what that would be like. The two women, Mama Sate and Kaka (grandmother), who take care of the girls, are wonderful women of God. They have both given up better paying jobs, and lives with their families to live with and take care of the girls. I will post a few pictures of the girls, and one of Mary and I.

It was decided last week that every Tuesday night I will stay the night at Gyero with the girls for family time. During family time I will play a few games, a craft and lead a short devotional and Bible study to do with the girls. We will all eat dinner together and I will spend the night with the girls. I am really looking forward to having this opportunity to get to know the girls on a more individual level.

Along with everything that God is doing at Gyero, I have been able to experience the beginning of the Nigerian rainy season. Now for you Seattlites who think you have the rain down, and it's not a problem for you, think again . . . the rain here is NOTHING like I have ever seen. Last week it was actually hailing . . . everyday we have thunderstorms, we are actually about to have one as I write this Blog . . . I will take a video to post on the blog, it is something you must experience. :)

I have so many stories I wish to share with all of you, and not enough time, and I know this blog is already long, but I must share a few highlights from my day yesterday, because, as Nicky said it was a quintessential missionary day. The day began by going to a 3 hour church service in Gyero. The speaker switched back and forth between English, Hausa and singing during his sermon, so I couldn't tell you exactly what he was talking about. After having a spicy lunch of rice, beans and fish, I piled into the back of the Blazer with 7 other people for the bumpy ride down the dirt road. After dropping off our crew, we traveled around Jos visiting the families of the boys who will be reconciled later next month. The first house we came to brought me my first experience of Maltina. Any Nigerian would be furious to know that I HATE Maltina. Maltina, a soft drink which is supposed to contain many vitamins and be very good for your health tastes pretty much like drinking molasses. Sick. I sat in this house, drinking Maltina, not understanding a word that was said when I realized that I needed to go to the bathroom (big surprise). So I think to myself, well, you can hold it, we are going home after this house anyways . . . wrong. As the rains come we decide to leave the house, and upon arriving at our car realize that the battery is dead. Well, having my share of car problems, I popped the hood and checked to make sure the battery was still connected . . . it was . . . so i determined that we needed a jump from another car. While I am trying to sort out if there is another car we can jump our car from, one of the Nigerian men begins hitting the car battery with a rock. I was like oh crap . . . apparently he is a mechanic . . . So he tells Nicky to start the car and amazingly enough the car starts . . . go figure.

To my bladder's disappointment I figure out that we are not going home we actually have another family to visit. So after driving down this dirt "road" we climb out of the car, hike a few rocks, jump a stream, and hike some more rocks to this house on the top of the hill. Let me remind you all of this was done, while having to pee, while wearing a long skirt, while wearing flip-flops and in the rain . . . Since this house was so far out of the way, I was thinking that maybe I could just run behind one of these rocks and go to the bathroom quickly without anyone noticing . . . wrong. I am a Bature (white person) SO EVERYONE who lived on the hill was out watching us, so I could have gone to the bathroom, I would have just had quite the audience!
We visited with this second family in their house at the top of the hill for awhile . . . my bladder had to endure a mineral (coke), and we left just before the real rain hit. As we were driving the Pastor back to the Gyero junction it was raining so hard you couldn't see a thing out the windshield. Usually we drop the pastor at the junction and he grabs a motorbike taxi back to Gyero so that we don't have to drive down the dirt road, but in this rain the motor bikes were driving. We decide that the Blazer can take the dirt road even in this rain if we were careful . . . (may I remind you that I still have to pee). We slide all the way down to road to Gyero, it was a miracle we didn't end up in a ditch. Finally we arrive at Gyero, and Nicky dropped me off at the girls compound so I could finally use the bathroom, my bladder was eternally grateful! . . .

Enough adventure for one day?!?! Oh no . . . So it starts raining even harder and lightening is flashing in all directions across the sky. By this point the entire road back to town has pretty much turned into a red river. Praise the Lord for Nicky's blazer otherwise we wouldn't have made it back. We were driving through puddles so big that the splash from the wheels covered the windshield! We prayed and laughed all the way back to town. When we finally made it back to the highway into town we thought we were safe. Wrong again . . . the highway had also flooded and therefore on coming traffic was actually driving IN OUR LANE!! Imagine if, south bound I-5 flooded and all the cars just decided to start driving south in the north bound lane . . . that is a good picture of what we experienced on our way home. It was crazy! We finally made it home safely, praise the Lord. Let me tell you, I was exhausted by the end of the day! It was an adventure!

I'm sorry for such a long post, but I just felt the need to share this crazy story! :) Please keep emailing me and letting me know how things are at home. I love reading your emails! You are all in my daily prayers and I am so thankful for the great community God has given me! I love you all!!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Time In Africa

Friends and Family,

There really is no other title to this blog, besides, This Is Africa. We have been without power for almost a week now. The story behind why we have been out of power for so long is quite interesting, but I think I will save that story for when I get home, and not post it on the Internet . . . Oh Africa.

On another TIA note, we had a major thunder and lightening storm all afternoon and last night which included hail. Yes, my friends hail in Africa. So much hail actually that it put holes in the roof of some of our buildings. Let me tell you, trying to fall asleep during a thunder and lightening hail storm, when you have a tin roof over your head, is nearly impossible. I have a great video clip of the hail storm which I will post on my blog, but I don't have my camera with me at the moment. I have to go to the office to use the Internet, because our Internet won't work at home with out power . . . TIA.

On the ministry front, things are going very well. I am really enjoying working with Nicky. I am getting a very good view of the administrative side of ministry and have really enjoyed working on the reconciliation project with her. I am getting to know the Nigerian staff very well, because I spend a lot of time in meetings with them. They are working on teaching me Hausa, and I have to say, I am not a good student! You can pray that I retrain some of the language better and that I work harder at it . . .most people speak English, so I'm sad to say I have been a bit lazy in trying to pick up the local language.

Along with working with Nicky, I will be spending Tuesday nights out in Geryo, our village center. Tuesday night is family nights, so I will be playing games, doing crafts, reading books, doing devotionals and many other things with the 13 orphan girls at Geryo. I am really looking forward to this. I was able to spend Friday at Geryo playing with the girls, and greatly enjoyed it. I did get very sunburned, so I learned my lesson early . . . always wear sunscreen, even if it's not sunny out! :)

Today we just received a new little orphan girl, named Mary. We will be taking her to Geryo in the morning. He father died in an accident several years ago and her mother just passed away last Wednesday. I was able to meet her today, she is very sweet and very shy, but if my mother had just died and I was coming to live in an orphanage, I think I would be a little overwhelmed too . . .

So many of these kids have stories that break your heart. They have been through more in their short little lives than many of us will go through in our long lives. Please be praying for Mary and for all of the kids involved with our ministry. Keep the staff and the missionaries in your prayers as well.

I love you and miss you all!! Thank you for your encouraging emails and to those of you who are sending me packages, I am so excited to get them!! You are in my prayers!!