Sunday, November 30, 2014

Peace

"I will instruct you and teach you which way you should go
I will counsel you and watch over you." -Ps. 32
These words came back again and again over the time I was studying for comps. 
During the 6 hour test I had full peace, peace that I've never experienced before during test taking.  I have always been fearful of tests.  I still don't know if I passed...I will find out in a few days. 
However, I am so very thankful for the many that prayed with me during this time. I felt God's presence, and look forward to hearing how I did! 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

One Week from NOW!

Studying in Thailand

It's Friday evening and I'm in the library studying.
In one week from this evening (on the 21st) I will have a case study in my hand trying to memorize all the details I can.
One week from tomorrow I will be sitting in front of a computer in the computer lab and given three questions about the case study that, over the course of 6 hours I will try to answer sufficiently to prove that I have learned all I need to learn in order to graduate from GIAL in December.

PLEASE PRAY with us that I will remember what I've studied over the last few years and in this intense time of studying over the last few months.  Pray for confidence and a good last week of studying.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

COMPS! 18 Days and Counting!


In 2009 I returned to the United States after spending a couple of years in Cameroon as an itinerate teacher for missionary children.  Why did I come back?  I wanted to work with nationals in Cameroon, and be part of communities receiving God's message of love and grace in their heart language.  I had seen the impact of literacy in a small village where I was teaching a student named Anna.  Her parents were running a writing and literacy teaching workshop in the language where they had done Bible translation into the language.  Watching the five adults grapple with sounds in their language and hearing their testimonies of how they decided to do this work inspired me.  A couple of them had only had primary school educations, and were learning to read in their language for the first time, but they wanted to impact their people with the gospel, and they knew one way to do that was through literacy.  A couple of other participants were brothers who had been fisherman and had invested huge amounts of money in planting an island in the middle of a lake.  When the crops were growing and they were about to get a return on their labour, they made decisions to follow Jesus, and God called them to leave everything!  (Sound familiar?) They did, and there they were, part of a movement to see their people know Jesus.  In the small glimpses I got of this course in-between class times with Anna, I decided that literacy was something I could do to have an impact in Cameroon.
In 2010 I returned to Cameroon equipped by the dedicated teachers at the Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics (GIAL) to do just that!  Just about one year after that, Zach came to propose to me in Cameroon, I moved to Nigeria, and we got married in 2012. Now, here I am again, at GIAL, but this time, I hope to go with my MASTERS!   This was not our plan when we came here, but God opened the door for me to finish, so I study all day in hopes I will pass on November 22nd!

All this to say...WE'RE ON THE LAST STRETCH!  PLEASE PRAY FOR ME AND MY STUDY PARTNER, EVE, THAT WE WOULD KNOW WHAT TO STUDY FOR THIS 6 HOUR LONG ESSAY-CASE-STUDY STYLE EXAM AND BE ABLE TO RETAIN IT! Thanks.

"No, I did not know..."




His intensity and eagerness to understand pierced me as he looked at me in the rearview mirror.  Boi had picked me up that morning to take me to the airport.  He is kind, gentle, and seemingly so happy.  But at that moment, when I told him Jesus loves him and want to know him, he grew solomn and said, “Thank you.”  Again I said, “Jesus loves you, did you know that he loves you?”  “No, I did not know that Jesus loves me.”
Boi may not know what it means that Jesus loves him because his worldview does not contain one God who has interest in the affairs of men.  It does not tell him that he needs help to become good or that he is highly treasured.  The look in his eyes as he hungered to understand this love I was telling him about for the first time renews my eagerness to experience this love, since I know I have access to it through Christ, and then to share liberally that all may know.  

"No, this is not good..."


At a Buddhist Temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand
The conversation with Jo, our taxi driver, after I had explained the gospel went like this.
“So you do something bad, and the Spirit of Jesus tells you it was bad.  You say you are sorry, and then Jesus makes you clean.”
“Yes,” I said confidently. 
“The next day, you do something bad, You say you are sorry, and then Jesus makes you clean.”
“Yes.”
“The next day, you do something bad, You say you are sorry, and then Jesus makes you clean.”
“Yes,” I said triumphantly, so thrilled he got it!
“No, this is not good.”

Wondering what I had said wrong, and how the good news of Jesus forgiveness could not be received with great joy asked, “Why do you say it is not good?”
Jo continued to explain to me that Buddism was good because if you do something bad, you get bad things.  If you do something good, you get good things.  You should not get good if you do bad.  Our conversation continued where I explained that you don’t do the SAME bad things every time.  This seemed to make him happier, but the next day is when I gained real insight.



My new friend and sister in Christ

I was sitting with my new friend and sister in Christ on our way to a village to observe a program.  I asked her what the most difficult thing was for her when she became a Christian (the first in her family and in her entire village), she said it was the idea of forgiveness that was most difficult for her.  Then she explained that it was not until she understood that the Spirit makes you better than you could ever be without him that she felt more at peace with the idea.  Being good is such a high value in Thai culture, and my friend realized that when she was forgiven of a sin, she was able to become victorious in new ways over bad things in her life.  Yes, this is good.
I will probably  never get a chance to talk with John again, but I can pray that he would understand the love God has for him, and how God desires to make him a “good person” better than he could ever hope to be without him.  Not only that, he can forgive him from all the bad that he can never pay for!

"All I have Needed..."

At the elephant park outside of Chiang Mai, Thailand


I sat cross-legged on the floor in the back of the meeting hall full of international workers from many organizations working to bring transformation in both rural and urban communities through language development.  We were singing of God’s great faithfulness, and the phrase, “All I have needed thy hand hath provided” rang in my heart, causing a holy sorrow. Do I feel like God has provided everything I’ve needed, and regardless of how I feel, do I know that it is true? 
I reflected on the fact that I was at global meetings, discussing visions that are far bigger than any one of the individuals seated there.  The needs of the world pressing in on us, and yet they seemed meetable when we considered the strength of God and of his people.
I reflected on my husband who on the other side of the world was sleeping soundly, probably dreaming of phonological equations and free variation.  This man who God has given to me that together we might overcome evil with good and saturate our space with the love of Christ that grows in us as we learn to love each other.
I reflected on our baby that never saw this world and returned to Jesus in April.  This little one needed the arms of the Father to thrive, as do we all, but some of us remain on this side of heaven, where learning to rest in His healing and power to make beauty from ashes contrasts sharply with our daily realities.
I remembered the mounds of books waiting for me, filled with concepts that must be understood in order to succeed in graduating from GIAL in November.  I remembered the verse God gave me, “I will instruct you and teach you in which way you should go” when I was debating weather or not to finish this term, and how God also provided Eve, my study partner to walk with me.
I considered our return to Nigeria, the marathon after the sprint, where daily living is deluge of unbelievable victories over darkness, perseverance in the insurmountable task,  lengthy dry seasons, and joyful moments of Nigerian rhythmic life.

Maybe I struggle with comprehending that God has provided all I have needed because I consider my life my own and cannot comprehend the extent that God’s love and grace goes every day to fill me up in every way.  In thinking that this journey is for my pleasure, I make a list of the things that will fulfill me, whereas if I better understood this journey of following Christ, I would remember that a flood of contentment comes in the presence of the Teacher, who fills everything in every way.  He gives me exactly what I need right now to be the most joyful me possible!  That is true, no matter what I feel like.

“Why do you worry about these things?  The Father knows what you need.” -Jesus  

Bye Yoderoo, Until We Meet on Glory Side!

There are many roads we never expect to travel. Some we can share with everyone, some we keep until the Healer has released us from the deeper struggle.  In April of this year, after 11 weeks of growing inside of me, Yoderoo went to be with Jesus.  I realize as I've shared with those around that so many women have walked down this road, feeling alone.  Praise God he gave me a network of loving, caring people, including several women who compassionately shared their journey with me.  Grief comes in floods when I don't expect it, along with great joy in new realizations of how God has given me everything I need for life and godliness!
 Here is a poem I wrote for baby. I share it that it might bless you!

I held you little baby, in my trembling hand, You never learned to dance, run, or stand, But you had feet, by God formed in me, A little body that is now healthy and free. Last night we laid two shoes in the ground, With grass and life growing all around, With dear friends hand in hand, we let you go, Why you didn't stay with us, only God can know. You were a blessing, a miracle, I never knew, That the searing loss, so short a time, so true. A minute taste of my Father with his beloved Son, Before life burst forth, and over the grave he won. Therefore, asking for blessings on my terms and time, Is like desiring the finale before the ending rhyme, It is licking the batter from the bowl, forgetting the cake, Telling the Master Potter what vessel he should make. Oh precious little one, the time was just right, Enjoy the Father, we will see you in the light. Loving you for those weeks was sweet indeed, From my hand to the Father where you have all you need. I held you little baby, in my heart and hand, Now you dance, run, before Jesus you stand.


If you have experienced this kind of loss, and have not shared it, or have shared it, but now feel you want to walk forward in greater healing, I'd love to pray with you and hear about your struggle.  (christy_yoder@sil.org) 

Learning to rejoice in how God is shaping his redemptive work in me! 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Eager to teach


               “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” James 3:1 (ESV)

I know that James was writing about teaching in spiritual matters, but I find any kind of teaching to be a humbling activity.  It seems so simple until you actually try it.  These past two months I have had the opportunity to “try” teaching, by being the teaching assistant for two courses.  I have had my ups and downs.
Today was a sort of middle-day.  I walked into my section of Phonology “lab”.  In Phonology we study how the sounds of language work.  Steve Parker, Josiah Walters, and I rotate between three groups of five students, helping them work through real life language data from six of the seven continents.  Today it seemed to go fairly well.  We looked at Southeastern Puebla Nahua, a Mexican language that doesn’t allow two consonants in a row.  We had a lot of interaction and I anticipated some of the issues.  I even let the students explore an analysis which was less helpful, so they could learn to what to do when they “start off on the wrong foot.”  The only problem was we ran out of time at the end, so I rushed and didn’t explain everything clearly.

I’ve had worse days!  Once the conversation was so mixed up we were all lost as to what each other were saying.  Another day, I gave such a jumbled presentation that I could tell the students had no idea what I was talking about. 

But God has been so gracious in the process.  (Thank him with me!)  One day, when I hadn’t prepared well (okay, hadn’t really prepared at all), we had a lesson on tone.  That same day, Coleen Starwalt, with years of experience on tone happened to sit in my section!

My least favorite part about teaching is grading.  This is where I discover that I haven’t explained an assignment clearly, or that I haven’t modeled an answer correctly, or in other ways I have made little mistakes which have led to students making little mistakes.

It is easy to get lost in the abstraction of phonology and forget why we are doing all this.  One day I was sitting at my desk and I had just finished grading.  Before me sat a stack of seven student’s homework, each of which discussed how they might improve an alphabet in some language none of us had ever hear of.  Suddenly it struck me.  These students we were working with will probably someday soon be scattered all over the world, helping different people groups create alphabets and translate the Bible into their languages.  We may have made some mistakes along the way, but by God’s grace, they are learning something new.  We are a small part in impacting perhaps thousands or even millions of people around the world.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Teachable



“I think I am not teachable!” I exclaimed to my husband yesterday.  I just cannot keep things in my head! “I don’t think that’s true.”  I was feeling discouraged about how I have been taught by so many, but how little have retained. 
This conversation came out of the discussion of taking the comprehensive exams, which are in December, and will replace the need to write a thesis.  They are a lot of work, and you have to write what you have learned over the years in answer to three specific scenarios.

This morning the Lord surprised me with these encouraging words:  

Psalm 32:8-9
“You are my hiding place;
you protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance. “
Selah
“I will instruct you and teach in the way you should go; 
I will counsel you and watch over you. 
Do not be as a horse and mule,
which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle. 
Many woes come to the wicked,
but the LORD’S unfailing love surrounds the man who trust in
him.”

Working backwards…can I trust God and experience his enfolding love or am I more like a mule who doesn’t understand the way and must be forced into it?
God watches over me.  The same God who watched over Paul when the crowd in Jerusalem wanted to nab him in Acts 21, who powerfully cared for the Israelites by placing a pillar between them and the Egyptians, who said to Hagar in the desert, “I am the God who is here.”
When I trust him, God counsels me.  Like Hezekiah laying the letter from Senacherib before the Lord in the temple, I can lay before God every confusing situation, fear, and insecurity, and he will give me wise counsel.  I laid before God the decision to do a thesis and comprehensive exams despite my insecurities, and he made it clear that the comprehensive exams in December are the best option. 
When I trust God, he will teach me.  He’s the best teacher, the one who taught Moses to be a leader, who taught the disciples to plant a church and do missions, who taught them what to say when they were before kings and rulers, and who instructed them where they should go to share the Gospel of Jesus. 

In all these things, he sings songs of deliverance into my heart because when my heart condemns me, the Spirit of God affirms that I am his child!  I will be delivered from the lies of the enemy, and have victory as it looks in the eyes of the Most High!

The Most High protects me and hides me in Christ…I am hidden in Christ Jesus!
God has found me so teachable that he himself will instruct me, and he never wastes his time.  

Please pray that God will fill me with his wisdom as I prepare for the exams and  confident to know God finds me teachable, and will help me study the right things! 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Hospitality

My childhood friend, Heather in Hamilton, NY who always picks up right where we left off! 


My GIAL friend from 2010, Nikki in Bingamton, NY who opened her  heart to us though we called on the way to her house!

My Aunt Ruthie and Anna in Leonia, NJ who hosted us when we called the night before saying we were coming! 

I have always thought of Nigerians and Cameroonians as being especially hospital, but we have experienced incredible hospitality as we have traveled.  Anna once said, “I should come to New York more often, everyone is always feeding you!”  And it is true!  Everywhere we went, loving hearts expressed themselves with open arms, homes, and lots of food!  Those in New Life Church near Hamilton, NY, know me so well, and have invested themselves in loving my family for as long as I can remember!  What a joy to sit and fellowship with so many who have touched my life.      

Guiding People Somewhere

Zach, Nanshal, and Eti in December 2011 when I visited to see if this "thing" would work! 
Me and my sister, Eti


Grrrrrrr….is all I could say.  GRRRRRRRRRRR.  Another wrong turn.  Why did we even bother getting a GPS on our cell phone if it was going to constantly reroute us and frustrate us!  “We used to just enjoy our journey’s, even when we were lost, but now you’re getting all upset!”  Zach said to me, annoyed.  “Well, before we used maps, and we expected maps to lead us astray every now and then.”  Zach then said exactly what I was thinking, “That’s like our relationship with expatriates and Nigerians when we’re on the field.”

You see, when you go onto the mission field, you think you will get along swimmingly with the other missionaries because they have similar experiences to you.  The expectation is that they will be easier to understand and therefore when there are miscommunications, it is especially frustrating.  With Nigerians, however, you know there are cultural roads and byways that you just won’t know about.  Detours are inevitable and grace abounds.  Hmmmm…



Me and Rachel, my dear British friend, and colleague, in Nigeria.

As you Walk Along...

The campus where we live in Texas is full of exceptional people who have done all sorts of interesting things!  Over lunch we were having a discussion with a young woman who lived among the a Native American people for seven years teaching elementary school.
She mentioned that the adults wanted their children to learn their language, but unfortunately, they were not doing it.  Maybe, she explained, they expect them to learn it by being around the language.  Then my insightful husband said, "That's an interesting point," he began as he often does when he's going to say something brilliant, "...if I had a choice between transferring my language or my faith, I would want my children know God, for that is the most important thing. That reminds me of what we see in the church," he continued, "We expect our children to pick up our faith by being around us, but don't realize that we have to be intentional about teaching them to learn and know the most important things in life."
God knew this tendency in us to forget the eternal things, and get caught up in the daily walk.  That's why he said,  “Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.[a]  And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.  And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today.  Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.  Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders.  Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates...be careful not to forget the Lord...In the future your children will ask you, ‘What is the meaning of these laws, decrees, and regulations that the Lord our God has commanded us to obey?’  (Deut. 6:4-8;20)

I know that I am so full of good intentions.  Every day, I wake up with goals of serving and loving God in different ways, with my whole being.  What a challenge to keep him at the forefront of my speech and actions.  Praise God I seem to have short term memory loss, and quickly forget how I blew it yesterday trying to serve him! Everyday is the time to walk and talk about all he's done, that those that follow us may know that they know, that they know who this LORD, our God, is!


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Take the Plunge!



"Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment." -1 Timothy 6:17
It was one of those days where the sun has decidedly gone back to bed and the light drizzle makes the breeze feel unbearably chilly, but you came to the lake to have fun so one must try, though swimming is just not an option.  Anna Watkin, my 16-year-old courageous neice who agreed to travel with us to New York, climbed into her kyak next to mine.  She had exclaimed a few days prior “I love kayaking!”  I don’t think a day like today is what she had in mind because she also sat in any patch of sunshine she could find as we journeyed.  The sun was kind and warmed us slightly as we set off, lifting our adventurous spirits.   Half way across the lake, it started to rain again, however, and we turned our kyaks around, challenging each other to a race.  As we both sped through the water, our kayaks glided toward each other, and unfortunately (or fortunately for me), Anna’s kayak could not withstand the weight of my kayak’s passenger.  Over it went, and in she fell.  I deftly turned around to see her pop up to the surface.  Looking shocked, and in shockingly good spirits, she laughed.  She declared, “I would have been mad if it hadn’t been so warm.”

This reminded me of something that I continue to learn.  Neither of us wanted to dive into the water, considering it too cold.  We could only judge the temperature of the water by the temperature we were experiencing above the water.   So, we tried to have fun without taking a plunge.  Just as in our faith, we think that diving in completely will be a bit too much, so we skim the surface.  We pray prayers that we can answer without God's help and we volunteer to do tasks that are manageable and safe.   God has a way of helping us take the plunge, though.  He wants us to experience his warmth,  through various struggles and when we finally find ourselves in him, fully emersed, we find that the water was not as cold as it seemed.  We find we could instead laugh at the surprising turn of events that we were trying so hard to avoid.  I believe God gives us everything for our enjoyment. May we be ready to dive in willingly, enjoying the warmth of God’s purpose and will for us!  

Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Yoder Wedding!


With ten children, three spouses, and one grandchild, our “family day”  7-mile bike ride to the park  was a truly celebratory occasion the Thursday before the wedding!   With braids, culottes, grey “Yoder” shirts, a buggy for the grandbaby, and a couple of tandems flying down the road we were a sight to behold.  We played tag on the playground, raced around the obstacle course, cut a 30-pound watermelon with a one and a half inch blade, and sat in a happy circle wagging carrots between our teeth in hopes the 11 month old grandbaby would pick up on this strange behavior, giving us all a good laugh.  He obliged, we roared with laughter.  With a group this joyful, entertainment is easy to come by.

The day of was a flurry of activity as suit coats, a wedding dress, forgotten decorations, and hair supplies were bustled out the door.  I stayed behind to make a huge salad for the 24 person wedding party (you don’t want to leave anyone out) and to bring anything anyone might have forgotten at the house.  It was fun to have my own part in the joyous day.

The wedding ceremony itself was short yet meaningful, and the highlight of the reception was watching the Yoder sisters singing “You’ve got a friend in me” adapted for the occasion.  We cheered the new couple, Wesley and Katrina McCullough out in a cloud of rainbow bubbles.  

picture coming...

A Graduate in the Family

Finally, we have our first Masters degree holder in our family of two!  Yeah! 
Zach walked on June 6th, having successfully defended his thesis on June 4th, 2014. 
We thank God for how he opened doors, and made it possible for Zach to make this step! 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Snip, snip, snip

I think I have one of the world's best head for a thesis committee.  On "day one", when I first got back to write my thesis, Dr. Pete Unseth asked me when I was planning to finish.  I said, "Maybe at the end of this term in June, maybe in December."  He said, "Let's aim for June. A finished thesis is a good thesis."  Since then he has guided me through the process of writing drafts and submitting them to the other two members of my committee.

I got a bit carried away with the theory before Easter. I had six research questions in my thesis, and in order to discuss the first three, I needed a better understanding of statistical reliability.  I felt like I had hit a wall.  A little after Easter, with God's help, I felt I had scaled the wall (Psalm 18:21).  I had a theoretical breakthrough.  Using a matrix of covariance between the results of individual questions on three separate tests, I could describe how the internal reliability and the equivelance reliability were related.  (Don't worry, you don't need to understand this to follow the rest of the story!)  I wrote and wrote and wrote describing the theory and the implications for my data.  Then I turned it in to Dr. Steve Walter for his review.

Early May, I went in to have a meeting with Dr. Pete and Dr. Steve.  I had just gone through Dr. Steve's review of the results of my thesis.  There were several places where we had discussed how I needed extra supporting data for the discussion of the first three research questions.  We discussed the theory a bit, but I was beginning to think that I didn't have enough theoretical background to support my discussion of research question 3.  I suggested we cut this research question.  Dr. Steve thought research questions 1 and 2 also needed further support and were less helpful. 

Dr. Pete asked what surveyors would actually benefit from these research questions.  As I explained what I had learned, I realized from the expressions on Dr. Pete and Dr. Steve's faces that it still needed a good deal more development to be useful. Suddenly I had an idea.  "What if I cut out all three of research questions 1 through 3?"  I asked.  Really, the most practical and applicable part of the study were research questions 4 through 6.  Without all the baggage of partially developed theory for research questions 1 through 3, we all thought maybe I could finish this thesis this term.  With it . . . probably not.

I got out my digital scissors and cut out forty pages of material. (Double spaced)


About a month later, Dr. Pete met me at my desk in the library (see earlier blog post for a photo of me at my desk). We went outside to chat (it isn't recommended to talk in the library).   As we sat at the picnic table, Dr. Pete told me that Dr. Steve had been reading another draft of my thesis, and there was some theoretical material in it that he wasn't quite sure was fully supported.  Basically it was defend with this material, or defend in June, but not both.  I had not thought I was really adding much, but I knew at that moment what my choice would be.


Maybe someday I will choose to publish articles on those other topics.  Maybe surveyors will benefit from those things that I have learned.  But for now, my goal is to have a finished thesis.  Bring on the digital scissors!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Mr. Yoder Roller Coaster

You can be sure, any time of the day,
You’ll find Mr. Yoder, in the libraray,
With computer lit up, furrowed brow,
Shows you not to interrupt right now!
He starts early, coming home a bit late,
Bedraggled and hungry, I patiently wait,
‘Til at last he darkens our trailer door,
A sigh of relief, “I’ve lived one day more!”
He dramatically utters with a smile worn,
We eat then sleep, til the new day is born.
 Day in and day out, this is the roller coaster life here,
Every moment is terribly exciting or dreadfully drear,
There’s no in between for our emotions are high!
As the big day of thesis defense does draw nigh!
The Yoder family will come, and we’ll horray!
That done are Mr. Yoder’s long days in the libraray! 





Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Flowers Transform


As Zach and I were sitting on Delphinium knoll where we sat four years ago when Zach sang me the first of many meaningful, homespun love songs, I had this thought:  Flowers are meant to fade.

Over four years ago, we met here at GIAL while partners in the final project of a  Scripture use class.  After five months, we decided to pursue a future ministering together.  Two years after that decision, and a two countries away, we were married. Wow!  Marriage was so much better than we'd imagined! We experienced a rich, flowering love as we returned to Nigeria to begin a new life together.  Flowers of spring are strikingly beautiful, and our marriage is indeed a burst of colorful, creative beauty.  

As summer comes, the flowers turn into fruit, producing seeds that will carry on the life-giving essence.  As our love matures and changes shape, we are looking forward to the new fruit that God will produce through our understanding of himself and of each other.  It may not be as striking as the expectant blooms, splashes of color, and wild petal formations, but still divine and miraculous.  

We are at GIAL again to learn to bear more intentional fruit. The coolest thing about God's garden of people, is that two individuals existing in the body of Christ find themselves part of a life system where fruit of crazy colors, unusual sweetness, and turbo-healthy nutrients good for the whole person abound!  The fruit of a Christian marriage is so spectacular...and we are just getting the first tastes of it as we remember what God did last year in Nigeria, pray for the nations, dream of what God will do with us, and expect our GREAT God to accomplish more than we can ever imagine!  We pray that our time here at GIAL will be an integral part of this new growth in us as we prepare to return to Nigeria in early 2015. 



Grandma and Grandpa Yoder

Getting to know one's Grandparents-in-laws is one of the many joys of being married.  Afterall, Grandma married a Yoder, so I have a lot to learn from her! 

Grandma and Grandpa Yoder visited us in Dallas over our long weekend between sessions!  It was so lovely to fellowship with them! We hiked, biked, toured, worshipped, and ate...a lot! 

We went to the Fort Worth Stockyards!  We missed the "cattle drive," but after Zach realized the cattle were being driven from one side of the block to the other for the tourists, he wasn't too sad.  The longhorns here all look like their pregnant with their round bellies.  No wonder the ground meat in the US has so much fat in it! 

And I had my first beef ribs!  I'm sure I've had pork ones, but this was the "all-you-can-eat ribs!"  That much meat on my plate was...well...delicious and a bit of a culture shock.  I can only imagine what my Nigerian brothers and sisters would think of that!  Notice the dog behind Zach...see any similarities? Written by Christy 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The School Zone Speed Limit




Today I went to the not-too-far store.
Of Cheese and chocolate I needed more.
We came upon a school zone,
Complete with sign and cone.
We slowed, I looked, what did I see?
Beautiful pink flowers upon a tree.
That is when the thought so deep,
Into my rock-like mind did creep,
That slowing down to a good pace,
Might help me run a long-term race.
That is when I then did joyfully hope,
for more school zones to help me cope,
With the rush, the speed, the frenzied run,
Of living this life and having hilarious fun!
I need to schedule school zone places,
Where I can look about and see traces,
Of God's majesty and glory, his eternal signs,
That say, "I'm here, precious daughter of mine!"



Monday, March 10, 2014

Scottish Dancing and Nigerian Cuisine


Zach surprised me with a date to go Scottish dancing.  It was dinner time when it ended, so we looked for a restaurant and ended up at  Nigerian restaurant.  It was so serreal.  The table of Nigerian men next to us were speaking in Yoruba.  Every now and then they would stand up move to the loudly playing music.  Never in an strictly American restaurant would they have music playing that loudly. The owner, Kemi asked, “Did you just come home?”  This question as probably prompted by my Nigerian skirt, which was the only floofy one in my closet.  At the Scottish dancing, there was a Scotsman with a great accent, and people were jumping around to the music, pointed toes and all! 
How beautiful to have such a pallet of cultural colors all around us!  Praise God for the unique beauty. 
Last night we went to dinner at a dear friends house.  They invited the Paul Schroeder family with their 5 boys, and the Luke Schroeder (Paul’s brother), with their 3 children, and us!  The hosts have lived in Uganda and Kenya, they had Abigail living with them who is a visiting scholar from Kenya,  Paul and Wendi worked in Nigeria, and Luke and his family work in the Philippines.  Luke’s wife is Philipina.  We sang songs from Nigeria after the closing prayer and everyone sang and clapped and I played the table for a little percussion.

The campus if full of enriching experiences like those shared above because people come here from all over the world!  They are either from another country or have worked in another country, and here we are, all taking part of the now God has for us.   It’s such a great blessing!  

Friday, February 28, 2014

Classes and Family


Basically I, Christy, read for my two graduate level classes all the time.  That's why I don't post very much. However, home life is also exciting as we have dear friends living with us!   Paul was in our wedding, and he brought his beautiful wife Wendi and their 5 boys to Dallas.  They have been with us for almost 2 weeks now, and it is such a blessing to have them here!  We've also connected with some dear friends.

Here are pictures of our big, happy family!






Dear Nigerian Friend,



If I had a good friend from Cameroon or Nigeria coming to visit, I might say this: 
Dear friend, 
  • We are looking forward to you coming so very much. 
  • I’ve learned some things I want to share with you before you come because I am still surprised by much of this!
  •   The meat has lots of fat, so pour that off before you start cooking the rest of the food with the meat.
  •   People will not visit you unless you invite them ahead of time.
  •   On time is late...late is disrespectful.  Walking into church late is not as acceptable...they start on time. The music sometimes even starts early! 
  •   You PAY for all that nice hot water you use to bath with. 
  • Most people take showers, and they will be confused if you say, "I want to bath." 
  •   Greeting as you go may bring you strange but surprisingly happy looks!
  •   Getting an “Amen” out of a group is harder, but well worth it!
  •  You can’t get the store without owning a car or having friends that tell you when they're going so you can go with them.
  •   There are  RULES as to how many people can stay in your rented flat!
  •   The veggies can stay fresh in the fridge for weeks!
  •   Oranges are orange and eggs are white  
  • You can’t bargain the price.
  • 99.9% of your shopping will be indoors. 
  • Everyone stops for you when you want to cross the street!  Sometimes it's embarassing. 
  • People don't like to be called Mr. or Pastor or Sir or Mommy or Sir or Ma or Reverend so sometimes you just can't call them anything because it's too awkward to say their first name. 
  • You pay for everything with a plastic card so you aren't always sure how much you spent.
  • The aisles in a store are full of stuff and there are too many options so sometimes you leave without buying anything because you know you can't buy everything! 
  • Contant power...you pay for that too...and you can't get around it! 


Saturday, February 15, 2014

A trip to Austin

We went to Austin our first weekend here in Megabus!  We had the best seats in the bus, and a really interesting seat neighbor from Pakistan.


We visited dynamic, fun, creative, godly cousin Beth.  So good to see her new house, visit her church, and discover Austin with her! We went to the botanical gardens and ate at a yummy Thai restaurant!  Hopefully we can get down that way again soon.



Did you know they have food trailers in Austin?  They SELL FOOD out of a TRAILER and the trailers move all the time...like every week!  They are unique combinations of food like Texas Cuban!  Really yummy, by the way! 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A manicure

Do notice the artistic sparkly blue nails as I elegantly pour home brewed tea into this delicate hexagonal Chinese teacup.  
My brother got me a manicure and pedicure for Christmas.  This being my first experience with such fine care on my hands and feet I was delighted to see how clean and sparkly and fresh my hands and toes could look. I had a dream that it was chipping off, and upon sharing this with my husband, he said he'd do the dishes for me until the nails were looking old.  Good deal! 
However, this manicure experience reminding me of something else.  If you don't mind me stretching a metaphor a bit, I'd like to share this thought.  


Manicures are a telling analogy for spending time with my family over Christmas. 
I came home ragged looking and feeling. 
I was overwhelmed by the abundance of care I was given. 
I was buffed and scratched a bit by the closeness of living with others...old habits returning all too fast.
There was a little scraping and cutting away of those fleshly reactive tendencies as well. 
But soothing oils of sharing memories, home-cooked meals, and laughter washed over the rough spots. 
The choices came in a flood and my mind swirled at how many wonderful people I could spend time with.  They were the color of my days...my nieces and nephew, my parents, my siblings and their spouses, and dear life-long friends all ready to share and walk with us during our short time there. 
The choices I made while there left me sparkly...feeling refreshed. 
I have been battered and I have been renewed, and I'm so thankful for how all of this pleasure cost me very little...just being with them. 
Thank you, my family, for the manicure, for loving me, for taking such good care. 




Thank You Power Company!

I wrote this when we first arrived...I'm getting used to things happening at a different pace.    Dear ONIT*, I know you, my local power...