Friday, March 27, 2015

RETREAT!

This beautiful picture was taken in Indiana NOT Nigeria
"What are you hoping to receive from retreat?" Zach asked me, Christy, this morning as we were bustling around trying to pack up and prepare the house for our time at the Nigeria Group retreat.  We have this time every year, but this  year is different than others for a number of reasons:
  1. Nigeria is in election time so some of our Nigerian colleagues will not even be with their families because their children or wives are intending to remain in their homes.
  2. As expatriates we don't know how the outcome of the election will impact our ministry so we pray that God will prepare our hearts for the coming season in Nigeria. 
  3. We are pregnant.  In a few months our whole lives will be turned upside down. 
  4. As soon as we get back from retreat middle of next week, I will be traveling for two weeks, and then Zach for one week when I return.
  5. We have just returned to Nigeria, and are still in transition. 
So, what am I hoping to receive in the "mailbox of my heart" during retreat? Well, I'm overwhelmed with other mail.  Is it junk mail?  No.  It's really great "assignments" like the 30 children that come to our house every week, the many meaningful relationships that we've developed here, a community meeting where we want to discuss how we can develop our community, the Bibleless communities of Nigeria and all the demands these important "assignments" place on our time, our hearts, our lives both at home and in the office.

I don't wish them to stop, but I pray God will speak of a newly revealed  aspect of his character for THIS TIME that will allow me to focus on the "mail" that is the most critical at this time. 

Please pray for us as we retreat with our colleagues for 6 days in a quiet center outside of Jos.

ELECTION



"Ya yi, ya yi, Allah ya yi..."  We sang this morning at our impromptu worship service in the office this morning.  We were saying, "He's done it, He's done it, God has done it."  This struck me because the next words said, "What man could not do, God has done," and though the election has not yet taken place, we were thanking God ahead of time for what he had done!

We then entered a time of prayer where in chorus we lifted up our voice to the Most High God, "presenting our prayers and petitions, with thanksgiving to God."   Please pray that "the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard the hearts and minds" of of our Nigerian brothers and sisters as they go to vote tomorrow, Saturday, the 28th of March for the new President and many other elected officials.

   

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Thank God for good neighbors when "Gas ya kare!"

I walked in the kitchen to do some popcorn for the children, and found the pressure cooker that Zach had just set with meat in it not getting warm.  I looked at the dimming flame beneath and thought, "Gas ya kare...Gas is finished."  No popcorn today, kids, just water for you!  

There are many small differences between living in the US and Nigeria that make life in general quite different.  One of them is that we have to remember to always have our spare gas tank full so we can cook when we need to.

Thankfully our neighbors lent us this kerosene cooker:

We were able to finish cooking our meat (which came out nice and tender...yeah!). 

We went out to get bread, though, to eat for dinner, and one of our other neighbors was driving in.  I saw some bananas on his passenger seat and, being the pregnant hungry woman that I am asked, "Can I eat one of your bananas?"  He gave us a whole bunch!   Yeah for generous neighbors!
Hanging on that bunch of bananas was this banana:
It reminded me of a Christian married couple...united and clothed in Christ.  It is also a good reminder of a phrase "Nous sommes ensemble" that I learned in Cameroon (We are together).  This was demonstrated by our neighbors as they generously offered us their resources to keep those small differences of life in Nigeria and the US...small!

So, here I am in the office, with a full stomach, and thankfulness for kind neighbors when the gas "ya kare." 

Our Baby

"How is our baby?" is a common question as I return home after a days work.  It is a lovely reminder by the shopkeepers and neighbors that the little one growing in me is part of a community already.  What a treasure living in West Africa has taught me.  It is humbling for me, however, when my friends wash my dishes or need to carry things for me in the market, and I know I should let them.  I can do it, but the exhaustion that would "follow the body" if I tried to do EVERYTHING I used to would leave me unable to minister in other areas of my lives. 

Besides washing my dishes and carrying my market bags, my friends also have braided my hair:


and sewn me new clothes! 


I so miss sharing "our baby" with my family on the other side of the big water, but I'm so overwhelmed with the care and joy shown to me here.  We are both looking forward with anticipation to sharing "our baby" with our worldwide family.  Praise God for his care shown through so many.

A Hat, A Good Work, for YOU!

"Ai, mu da kanmu aikinsa ne, an sake halittarmu a cikin Almasihu Yesu, musamman domin mu yi ayyuka masu kyau wadanda Allah ya riga ya shirya mana tun da fari mu yi." -Afisawa 2.10
"For we are God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." -Ephesians 2:10

The children wrote this song to help them memorize it.  I was so happy that they gladly did this.  This is a Scripture Engagement activity that I have only tried one other time with children.  It was exciting to hear them singing the song as they made their hats, which we created after reading Max Lucado's "A Hat for Ivan."  It was such a joy to see them creating.  They squealed with delight when I told them we were going to be drawing with colors, painting, and cutting pictures to show "what we really love to do." The lesson that we used for two weeks was to instill in their young hearts that just like Ivan's father in the story was the one to make him a hat, so our "Father" has made a "hat" for us, a job for us to do.  We also played the animal game reminding them that just like every animal has a sound they make, we have a "good work" God has prepared for us before we were ever born!  What an amazing truth that gives purpose and hope!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Flowers in the Dry Season

Some of you may have read the "Flowers in Dry Season" we sent this time two years ago.  As I walk along dusty roads, squinting against the sun and dust that is in the air during dry season, I look to my left and see a blanket of purple.  Beautiful petals, lacing these roots as they draw the life giving water from some deep place in the earth that shows no indication of it's wealth except these colorful reminders.  I love the flowers in the dry season...they speak something to me that I have a hard time expressing.  A desire to reach deeply, to bear fruit, to experience beauty. 

The Dream (ing) Team

Let us dream together of all that can be
Dream of what God can do with "we"
With our gifts and passions, hopes, ideas, 
As we've walked this road with boldness and fears. 
It's all new, working with you, 
It must be God joining us too, 
But as we dream, we see threads of similarity, 
How we can weave our paths, God brings clarity. 
We'll write them for now, discuss as we go, 
That the height and depth of God's love they'll know
As they connect with his words in new ways, 
As they see he's present in their days, 
As they explore how he speaks, 
As his living water to thirsty places seeps, 
Oh, let us dream.



The meeting went well.  The picture above was our brainstorm of ideas!  Now it has dots all over it with immediate, later, and much later indicating where to begin.  What fun joining God and his body to reach our world! Thank you for your prayers! 

Friday, March 6, 2015

JELLO!

What does one need to make Jello?  A refrigerator, and WE HAVE ONE!  Yesterday, brought by a three wheeled  motorized public transportation vehicle (As I sat on the front seat with the driver) our little refrigerator arrived from the warehouse (a block from our house.)
I will post a picture of our new appliance later, but the jello was just too great a treat to not tell you about!

"I'm a Doula."

I did not know these words, "I'm trained as a doula," could make me feel the care of my loving Father in such a profound way until a fellow missionary said them to me yesterday.  Who would have known 10 years ago when my husband met this couple who were headed to Sudan at the time that we would one day be colleagues in Nigeria! God is the provider God, placing this dear woman, her husband, and their four children in Nigeria for many reasons...I believe one of them is for me and our little one!  Praise God with us for his gentle, constant love.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Postponed for Prayer!


It was 1:50pm, and I had the room all set up for our Scripture engagement DREAMING MEETING at 2pm.  This was the first time ALL 11 of us in-country were going to discuss our ideas and where we felt God was leading our team.  It was a monster to find a time when all of us could be there.  I love planning meetings, and we had all sorts of exciting activities to bring unity and clarity to our work.
At that moment, someone in another meeting, which commenced at 10am) came in looking ragged.  She said, “Oh, we’re taking a break. Wow, this is draining!”  “A break?!?” I said in surprise and maybe a little bit of annoyance as I realized that our meeting just wasn’t going to happen.

However, that means we can now write you and say, “PLEASE PRAY!”  We so want God to lead our team, to bind us together in unity so that “the world may know that God sent Jesus (Jn. 17).”  How can you pray?

  • That we will listen well
  • That all the directions our different departments are going in will find a common vision
  • That we will learn each other’s strengths and focus on them.
  • That we will not become distracted by the thousands of opportunities and needs, but identify what God’s BEST is for our team now!
  • That everyone will feel heard
  • That we will remember and encourage each other in the fact that this is God’s work and he can do even the most “impossible” tasks, and therefore we would be both humble, sensitive, and bold in our asking and seeking and knocking!

Fresh Spring Water!



Mwaghuvul land is known for “Swan water” that comes out of a natural, pure spring from the side of a volcanic rock. The water is sold all over Nigeria.  One pastor said, “People drink, wash their clothes, and water their farms with this pure water in our land.  God has truly blessed us because now we not only have this water, but now we have Scripture that is being heard in our language.  I feel he loves us more than others even!”

As I was thinking about his statement, of course this brother in Christ knows God loves all his creation, but he also has a point that a “Spring of living water” has bubbled up in Mwaghuvul land!  Christ referred to himself as the “living water” and he is the “Word that was in the beginning.”  How does this refreshing spring of God’s Word overflow today in Mwaghuvul land?

Today (Wednesday) commenced a three day training where these individuals (From one denomination) are training another big denomination that requested the training.  We carried 50 audio players containing audio Scripture in their language to them yesterday that participants will purchase at a reduced rate (about $7.50) with the understanding that they will go and hold Scripture listening groups in their communities.
“Have you seen the benefit of Scripture listening groups?”  I asked Baltak, the trainer in blue, “Yes, I have!”  He replied enthusiastically. “Even my pastor, who is from another language group, read the Scripture in our language in church last Sunday.”

Please pray for them!  They have taken the idea that was shared by those in our office who had a vision for it, and giving a “glass of water in Jesus’ name!”  Pray that God will give vision to the participants in these three days, and that the trainers will have strength and unity and clarity as they share how to hold an oral Bible study.  This is a new idea for many, based on listening and discussing what has been heard. They need God to make their teaching effective and well-understood. May God’s Word overflow and bubble up in the hearts of the Mwaghuvul people!



An Outing

A special morning was spent with Asebe, one of the many children who finds their way to my house weekly.  I took her to the hospital to have a check up.  It was a very exciting outing!

"Look, auntie, they are selling cars here!" (I explained that all those nice cars belong to people who were visiting the hospital, and it was called a parking lot.)

"This place is BEAUTIFUL, auntie!" (as she looked at the long drive leading to the hospital that was lined with grass about 10 feet wide on either side. Probably the first time she's seen that much grass.)  "Please auntie, let me lie down here, and you can snap (Take a picture of) me."



 "Auntie!  That water is beautiful (at the fountain with a small pool surrounding it in front of the hospital).  "We will come swimming here someday, right?"

After the hospital we went to town.  It was her first time.  We bought her tennis shoes for school ($7) and socks to go. ($.50)  Then we went to have lunch at a place where mostly expatriates go.  I wanted her to try a new food, the shawarma.  The food cost more than her shoes, which are a prized possession here.
We we walked along hand in hand down the dusty streets, sometimes she would look up at me with a smile widely and then swing her hand without saying any words.  "I love you too, Asebe" I would think to myself, and smile back.


Chosen Banquet

"Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.   God decided in advanc...