Saturday, September 27, 2008

Tomorrow Is Another Adventure-

I have no idea how I will ever have a "normal" job after working here in Nigeria. I think I knew that before I came here, but now it is even more clear to me . . . I mean how can you ever spend a day inside at a desk after having a job that includes driving through dry river beds, driving through riverbed that aren't so dry, climbing mountains with kids, riding on motorbikes, painting libraries, learning to eat guava, helping kids with homework, organizing a school and helping create a home for orphaned and at risk girls and boys . . . not much compares to this! Yes, there are things that I miss about home, mainly the people (like all of you) . . . :) and of course my peppermint lattes and heath bar blizzards, but I don't think any amount of lattes or blizzards can make up for the joy that I receive doing ministry here.

I was asked today what my dream job would be . . . It didn't really take me that long to answer, I think my dream job would be to do ministry with youth and young adults, and then get to share with them what God is doing in places like Nigeria. I love those one on one conversations over a GOOD cup of coffee. i love getting to pray with people. i love planning youth group. i love planning retreats. yet I also love Africa. I love these children. I love being reminded of how BIG God is each day. I love the adventure of life here in Nigeria. I love seeing God's redemption in the lives of others, both here and at home. I guess in some ways I already have my dream job . . . but now I just need to figure out how to make a living doing it, but I guess that's for God to worry about not me . . . :)

Here a few pictures for the past few days. We are in midst of painting the new library at Gyero . . . it has been quite an adventure climbing on our "scaffolding" fashioned out of two bent and rusty barrels and two pieces of wood, one with a giant crack in it . . . it is a miracle none of us got hurt! :) Although the library is now finished, we were informed by Richard , our construction manager that he would not hire us to be a part of his painting crew . . . but hey, we were free labor and we actually got the job done, so he can't complain TOO much! :)

We also got to climb one of the hills that overlooks the Gyero village! So much fun! I have really been missing our beautiful mountains at home, so this hike up the hill was good for my soul! I needed to get out and get some fresh air!

Tomorrow I will be heading up to Kano, a city about 4 hours north of Jos, for a few days. Please pray for our safety as we travel on the roads. I will bring back more pictures for you all!! You are all in my prayers! I love you and miss each of you! Thank you for your support and encouragement!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Teachers In Action!

What do I do here in Nigeria? That is the question that everyone asks me . . . and it is a good question, but a hard one to answer. As Auntie Nicky would say "plenty of bits and pieces". She is absolutely right. There are ALWAYS things to be done here . . . little things that take BIG amounts of time. What you could get done easily in a mornings time at home, take a full day here . . . if not two days. For example mailing a package from the post office, or getting a few sheets of paper printed off (click on this link to read a great blog written by Nicky about her post office ordeal:, takes almost a full day . . . and by the time you have your package mailed or your photocopies made, you are so exhausted from the stress that you feel you have completed a whole days work even if it was only two hours . . . Anyways, this blog isn't about post offices, photocopies, or how God is teaching me to be PATIENT in this culture, it's about something we have accomplished, with God's provision and the help of many people. . . . It's about building a school!!
Now when I say building a school, I don't mean building the actual physical structure (that was last years project . . .). Now that the building is standing, it needed to be filled with desks, benches, clocks, white boards, and alphabet posters! All the little things that make a classroom a classroom.

Due to the fact that the primary school in Gyero is so rough, we have created additional classes of our own for our students to supplement the education they are getting at the village primary school . . . the village school is always on strike, the teachers don't get paid very much, or paid at all, so often they show up to class late, or don't show up at all (although praise the Lord we have a new Christian headmistress who is doing a great job, so there is hope).
So Nicky and I spent this past week helping Uncle Sunday setup the school in Gyero. We went shopping for school supplies, created class lists, found teaching materials, moved desks, moved benches, sorted through stacks and stacks of papers and books, created reward charts and hung up alphabet posters! It was incredible to watch the transformation of these stone rooms. In just a few hours they went from messy, dirty boring rooms, to organized classrooms! The boys were a big help, and I enjoyed getting to know the boys more as me moved furniture and worked together.

A huge thank you to all of you who responded to our appeal for school supplies, because not only did your money go to help setup these classrooms, but also helped pay for school fees for all of our children. It is incredible how far even small amounts of money can go here! If you are interested in helping support these children's education (we have only paid for their first term so far . . . we have two more terms to pay for . . .) Please go to the following link: and denote on your check that your gift should be used for education. Any gifts are greatly appreciated and go to a good cause! I can tell you from personal experience! :)
So . . . this is a day's work here in Nigeria! Setting up a school . . . among MANY other things!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

This IS A small world . . .

Here's a little story to show you just how small this World is . . .

Friday morning, Nicky and I were out shopping for school supplies to start our school in Gyero (will write a blog about that later). Anyways, I see another white man walking down the street, and turned to Nicky to ask her if she knew him, because usually we know the other white people here, because there aren't a whole lot of them . . . She didn't know who he was, and neither did I . . . He happened to walk our way and came over and introduced himself to us. We started talking with him, finding out what each other is doing here in Nigeria. As our conversation progressed, Nicky asked him where he was from, and he said Seattle, Washington! GO Figure . . . So I told him I was from Seattle too! There are not a lot of people here from the Northwest, most Americans that are here are from Texas . . . So I was excited to meet a fellow north westerner . . . THEN we find out that we are BOTH from SHORELINE! ARE YOU KIDDING ME! He lived just a few streets down from where I lived! It was pretty funny! We spent a few minutes talking about different places in Shoreline . . . it was great! He is a 78 year old missionary who is teaching at one of the theological colleges here in Jos! We ran into him again today . . . so we chatted for a few more minutes! How crazy is that?!?!

It is a small world!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Therefore, I'm A . . . Princess Part 2

A few more pictures from girls camp! Thanks mom and Jessica for the Smore stuff and the craft supplies!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Therefore, I'm A . . .

. . . PRINCESS!!!

"For the Lord your God has arrived to live among you. He is a mighty Savior. He will rejoice over you with great gladness. With his love he will calm all your fears. He will exult over you by singing a happy song!"
- Zep. 3:17

This past week, in a little compound tucked away on some side street of Jos, Nigeria God showed 19 girls and 7 women that they are HIS Princesses. Each princess unique in His creation of them, but each loved more deeply and completely than ever imagined. God showed us his love through times of prayer, times spent reading, studying and teaching his word and though conversation. But God also showed us his love through jumping into a green swimming pool, watching movies and eating popcorn together, laying on the floor and coloring, singing around a campfire, introducing Marshmallows into the vocabulary of little Nigerian girls, baking cookies, making jewelry, climbing trees, and eating around a banquet table together.

Oh the joys that camp bring! Living in your own World for a week, with nothing to do but dwell on Gods love and share that with those around you. Yes, at the end of the week I was exhausted and desperately in need of a shower and good night sleep, but a huge part of me wasn't ready to re-enter the real World. We were so created to be in relationship with each other, and so created to love on each other, so having a week, where all I had to do was love on 19 girls, was the perfect place to be.

There are so many stories I could tell from this past week . . . from teaching the girls what French Toast is, and how to use a fork, to reading them a bedtime story each night, showing them how to eat their first smore, dressing them up as princesses, to the story of Munch and Crunchie . . . I could go on forever, but I am going to pick two highlights for me from the past week at girls camp.

The first highlight came for me on Tuesday afternoon at 2:00pm. Although the girls knew we were going swimming at some point during the week, they had no idea that it was going to be this afternoon. So when we woke them up from rest at 1:45pm and announced that we were off to the pool, you couldn't contain the excitement! Girls running up and down the halls screaming, and Mama Sati trying to make sure each girl had a towel, it was chaos in the best way possible.
As this is the rainy season, we knew there was the possibility of it raining on us while we were swimming, and boy were the clouds DARK as we drove towards the pool. Each of us said a silent prayer, "Lord, please hold the rain off for a few more minutes, these girls have never been to a swimming pool in their lives!" and praise the Lord he did! We had at least a whole hour of swimming time before the rains came!

Seeing the faces of the girls as they climbed into the pool for their first time, was amazing! So much joy! Corinne, Nicky and I had little girls clinging to us for dear life, yet they couldn't contain the smile on their face! Eventually they gained confidence and "swam" (well sorta swam) around on their own. The big girls learned that they could jump in off the edge! It was so much fun! It didn't matter that it was cold and the water was green, all that mattered was that these girls were having the time of their lives!

Another highlight for me was the last night of camp, our banquet night. The theme for camp was "The King and I" and we had spent the whole week studying who God is, and how we are all called to be his daughters and his princesses. So on the last night, we threw a Banquet and a Ball! We dressed each of the girls up with their own crown and sparkly shall, each received their own necklace and we had a huge cake to finish off our wonderful dinner! We even had a string trio playing beautiful music during dinner (thanks so much to the Sampson family children). The evening was finished off with Anna (another STA from Ireland) "Teaching" the girls Irish dance! IT WAS THE GREATEST THING I HAVE EVER SEEN!

Each of these girls has come from horrendous backgrounds. They have been in situations and been through things we will never experience in our lives, so watching God shower his love upon them in so many unique ways, was a gift. We are so blessed to have such a loving and redemptive God, who can take so much brokenness and bring it so much life!

The weeks In Action . . .

It has been awhile since I have posted update, so naturally I have PLENTY to write about! I will do my best to give you a BRIEF overview of what we have been up to in the past few weeks. As I have mentioned before, right now is a huge time of change and transition for the ministry here. Not only are we moving 20 plus boys between different centers we are also hiring a new leader for the Care Center in Gyero. Wisely realizing that throwing a new leader into a place that as already been functioning for several years could potentially be a difficult change for the staff and the boys, Nicky and Elisha decided that we needed to plan a leadership retreat with the Gyero staff and the new leader. The idea behind the retreat was to help the staff and the new leader get to know each other and learn to work as a team before he was thrown into the mix.
Praise the Lord, the weekend was a huge success! We talked a lot about different personality types, and how we can support each other with our different personality types. We studied the passages about the tower of Babel and talked about how we could apply that to our lives. We played several team building games, such as the human knot game and the rope game. The highlight was when our SIM director Phil came out Friday evening to lead a team building game called the maze. It was a great exercise in team building and taught us all a lot about each other and how we can work better together.
The weekend ended with us traveling to Gyero and introducing the new leader to the rest of the staff and the boys. It was an afternoon filled with joy and excitement. We ate lunch as a staff, and Uncle Elisha bought minerals for all 50 boys and 15 girls at Gyero! They were thrilled! :)
Here are a few pictures from our leadership retreat and a few pictures from our Pirate Birthday Party for Rene! I think Matthew went above and beyond on his Pirate Ship fruit salad dish!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Tony Is my new Acquaintance. . .

I have a new roommate . . . His name is Tony. . . He is small, grey and has a long skinny tail . . . He is a mouse. Last night as I sat reading on my couch, I watched him run across my living room and sneak outside under my door . . . then about five minutes later he squeezed back in under the door. I moved, so it scared him and he ran back out . . .

I will ask him for a photo next time I see him . . . :)