Thursday, June 25, 2015

Let us Praise and Pray!

Praise God!
  • For a couple of days without fever at the beginning of the week.
  • For precious times of being together, just the two of us before baby comes.
  • For the Holy Spirit who comforts and ministers and counsels us during hard times
  • For strength God has given Christy during this time
  • For Zach’s ability to worship God, even when he has high fevers
  • For what is being accomplished through this, even when we don’t know what it is.
  • For providing someone on ground who has experience in building sand water filters with communities!
  • For a beautiful time of prayer last Sunday with the community
  • For a caring community who prays, visits, and ministers to us. 
  • For God's word that continues to minister to us daily

Please Pray!

  • Zach’s high fevers resumed on Wednesday and he started a new malaria treatment
  • For complete recovery for Zach! 
  • This week we enter 39 weeks of pregnancy…you probably know better how to pray than we do!
  • Christy’s parents arrive the 3rd of July in Jos!
  • There are many preparations for a water filter project Christy’s parents are carrying out when they arrive. For the meeting concerning the filters this Sunday.
  •  For continued fellowship in prayer on Sundays in the community
  • For the mother-daughter program to be held at our house on Friday (26th) night.  May the mother’s sense God’s love for them, and extend that love to their daughters.  

Friday, June 19, 2015

Getting Stronger!

Don't let the horizontal position fool you!  He is getting stronger! 
Zach has involved himself in a number of chores these days!  He cut dates, opened the gate for me to drive out, has been reading to me while I cook, and generally very up beat during the day!  Please continue to pray for complete healing and strength to return.  God has truly been ministering to him during these days, revealing to us the truth of  Paul's words:
"That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Cor. 12:10)

We are so thankful for all those who are praying for us during this time!  God "will lead us in triumphal procession in Christ Jesus!" (2 Cor. 2:14)

Bible Study, Prayer, and Family Movie Night!

Child dedications are very important in Nigeria.  Here more than 30 people came to support the family and agree to be encouraging the child in Christ.  May we, the Hwolshe community be committed to our children's spiritual growth also!

“What confused you in this passage?”  Zach asked in Hausa to the parents who had gathered for the community meeting.  One father responded animatedly, and a  grandmother addressed his question with wisdom.  I, Christy, didn’t understand the whole conversation, but I prayed silently, thanking God for the lively exchange and discussion on his Word.  During the meeting, we presented a way of doing family devotions through audio or written Scriptures.  We encouraged families to experiment with the method, which includes 6 questions to engage their children with the God’s Word.
Please pray that God helps families to learn from his Word together, and that everyone in the family can know that God speaks to THEM!

Two other decisions were made that Saturday:

The families are going to be meeting for prayer at 7pm every Sunday in different homes in the community.  May this be a time of encouragement, and where we see God truly ministering and moving powerfully among us.  May we take God at his Word and believe in the power of his healing in Hwolshe.    
“Are any of you suffering hardships?  You should pray.  Are any of you happy?  You should sing praises.  Are any of you sick?  You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord.  Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. 
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” –James 5:13-16 (NLT)

Secondly they decided to have a “Family Movie Night” tomorrow, Saturday the 20th.  A local church has offered a room for us to use, and we pray that it will be a time of coming together in unity and joy!

Thank you for praying with us for these Family Bible studies, the Movie Night, and the weekly prayer meeting! 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Going Deeper in Meeting 2

On Saturday we are planning the second community meeting.

We hope to go deeper into the issues discussed in the first meeting that was held in April.

We need your prayers! 

Zach is still not fully recovered, so we need wisdom of how to involve him as much as possible without wearing him out.

We plan on focusing on the three main aspects that the community identified as the most important factors in creating a healthy environment for their children to grow:
  • Health
  • The children knowing God's Word
  • Increasing love for one another (neighbors)
These are broad, and we need wisdom as to how to address them, and involved the community in decision making.  We hope to be able to become more focused in our involvement in the community, but how do we do that? What does God want us to focus on?

Today we are holding a meeting in the evening with those who will help us to plan and lead the meeting.  Please pray that there will be unity among us, that we will have an open mind as to how we will organize the meeting, and that we will listen well to their thoughts.  


The Ministry of Presence

Nandir knocked on the door yesterday, peering in the window with a big smile.  As I opened she said, "I came to greet Uncle Zaka." I ushered her into the bedroom where Uncle Zaka lay with his eyes closed, and she took his hand.  He looked up at her and smiled, "You are welcome" he greeted her. She looked at him, still holding his pale, long, slender hand in her small brown one, and said, "May God bring you health."  Then she prayed for him and left.
Nandir has learned a very important ministry that Nigerians have mastered, the ministry of presence.  Yesterday we had about 10 visitors come by to "be present" with us in our struggle.  They all prayed for him before leaving, and though sometimes we feel tired when they leave, we also feel encouraged by their care and concern.  No one is alone in their pain here, we are learning. 

May we not minimize the power of this ministry in our work here in Nigeria, as it has been so beautifully demonstrated over these weeks.  It seems easy, and yet, it takes intentionality, time, and a transformation of what ministry in this context means! 

Highlights at 35 Weeks

 Good and beautiful things:
  • When I feel baby kick, I find myself imaging us dancing and twirling together. 
  • I find a rush of joy thinking of a small girl growing in my home and investing in her. 
  • I also find great beauty in the thought of having a little companion who shares her own precious thoughts with me as the years go by (I know that will be a while). 
  • Sometimes anxious thoughts want to attack the joyful ones, but I feel God's peace overcoming them with his love and assurance that he holds our little one in his hands. 
  • Singing to her and finding that my hopes and dreams easily rise in song...revealing truth that conquers fear. 
  • I have been making yummy snacks.  Yesterday it was avocado pudding made with coco powder and coconut milk and honey. Really yummy.  Recently made coconut milk popsicles with local berries!
  • I am finding I can rest,  instead of feeling guilty, and God delights in that.  This was an unfolding that came when I was feeling especially tired and reading our daily Bible readings to Zach as he rested on the couch:
    • Psalm 127

      Unless the Lord builds a house,
          the work of the builders is wasted.
      Unless the Lord protects a city,
          guarding it with sentries will do no good.
      It is useless for you to work so hard
          from early morning until late at night,
      anxiously working for food to eat;
          for God gives rest to his loved ones."

      I thought: "Oh, God is not annoyed that I am tired.  He loves me and wants me find my rest in him.  He loves our baby girl too, and knows I need it."  
      I continued reading, not knowing what came next: 

      3 "Children are a gift from the Lord;
          they are a reward from him."

      I felt very loved by the Lord that he not only gave me "permission" to rest, but then followed it up by affirming the fact that the little one who has a part to play in this tiredness is a gift from HIM!  He will build our house, returning my husband to health, and bringing our baby.  In my tiredness I CAN rest in him, in fact, he'll give it to me because I am one of his loved ones.  (That's amazing!)
Thanks to my farming father and my gardening mother, I have a love for growing things.  I have found that as I see the flowers blooming, it fills me with new hope that our little girl is growing beautifully in me too!  This deep desire to foster life and see it spring forth at the right time is about to take on a whole new dimension as we welcome our baby girl into the family!

Please pray with us: 
  • That we will communicate well with the medical professionals our desires, and we will understand each other's perspectives. 
  • That God will give us peace about this upcoming transition. 
  • That baby will grow well in me, and that the next month will be a time of joy, rest, anticipation, and preparation of our home, bodies, and hearts. 
  • That my parents will get their Visa's and arrive safely. 
  • That Zach will be completely restored to complete health!

Monday, June 8, 2015

I Didn't Know to Ask

As Zach's sickness has carried on, caring for him has become my primary concern, with other things falling by the doing the dishes, for example.  On Sunday all my dishes were dirty. I was totally worn out, but knew we would be having visitors, which comes with some expectations.  I didn't ask God for help, I just felt I had to deal with what he was giving me in this season.

God showed me he heard my unspoken exhausted plea for help.

1. Two other missionary sisters came buy with pills that we needed but couldn't buy because it was Sunday, and the pharmacies were closed.

2.  A guy who sells chicken, brought 3 chickens to the house on Saturday for me to buy, which means I could make chicken soup for dinner!   I cut everything up during the movie.

3. 5 little girls came and enjoyed the movie with us, but asked if they could help me to cut the veggies.  I told them "no" but they could help with the dishes.  When the movie was done, I gave them the dishes, one arm load at a time, and they bustled them outside.  When I walked outside, this is what I saw:

But what I heard was even more beautiful.  These little girls spontaneously started singing the Scripture songs they have been writing and singing at our house.  The first says, "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.  They had such joy as they sang, and filled our home with that joy, reminding us that God is speaking (singing) his word into the hearts of these little ones, and he is indeed using them to do good works...which on Sunday, included doing our dishes and washing us in God's grace.

4.  I finished the soup while they washed the dishes and other friends and colleagues came to visit.

5. When the children and guests left, Zach and I then peacefully sit and worship God because all the work was done!  I was feeling frazzled, but Zach continued to ask me if we could worship.  I knew I needed this, but wouldn't have brought myself to do it.

5. As we sat outside, a family came to greet Zach and pray for him.  While I got us all chicken soup and fried plantains, they sang songs, and played meaningful songs off their phones to encourage Zach's heart. 

6. We then called my sister, Sarah, who always encourages us and reminds us of how much we are loved. 

I didn't know to ask God for these many blessings carried by peoples in their hearts to pour out on us. 

Today is Monday, and Zach hasn't had a fever all day!  Praise God! Please continue praying with us for complete recovery!

Messages from God While Feverish

None of these statements are new, and if you don’t take them seriously, they can seem common.  But lying in bed feverish, each of these messages came to me with great profundity.
·      May 15th “Put your trust in God alone.”  He’s worthy of it.
·      May 15th – God sings over me – Ps. 42
·      May 17th “You did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you to bear fruit, fruit that will last.”  Jn. 15 If he’s called me, chosen me, then I don’t’ have to worry about trying to force myself to produce fruit.  He is the one who will do it.  I can rest, especially when I’m sick.
·      June 1st “You of little faith, why are you so afraid.” The one who stilled the storm so long ago is still in control and I can trust him.  Easier said than done.
·      June 3rd “The Father himself loves you because you have loved me (Jesus) and believed that he sent me.”  Jn. 16  I love Jesus, and so I believe Jesus is talking to me here.  The Father actually loves me.

I thank God for these intimate times with him and pray that these truths will stick with me.

English and City Water Lines

Our Neighborhood

I was feeling a bit sick today, Saturday, so was resting at home.  I got a call from the Pastor of a church in our neighborhood, weather he could come by and visit with some elders from the church.  We were delighted with the suggestion as we were trying to go and meet him, but now he was coming to see us.  Besides, I didn’t have the energy to go anywhere right now. The Pastor and the elders came by, we all got to know ourselves, and talked about various tings.  We talked about various details of Bible translation.  One elder got very interested, and started asking lots of questions.  Then Christy and I started asking about some questions about language use choices in the church.  We noticed that in the church they mostly used English, but that many of the members seem to speak Hausa better than English.  The Pastor said that about 6 years ago, they had a church congregational meeting, in which they noticed they were losing their youth.  They talked about what youth liked, and one of those things is English!  They are attracted to it, even if they don’t understand it.  The church made a choice to start using the English language to start drawing the youth back to church.  We talked about a lot of other aspects of church ministry as well from children’s ministry to weekly Bible studies to city water line in the church property and the Pastor’s policy that he would let the community use the water before he would fill the church’s water tank.

As our conversation rounded up, I thanked the Pastor and elders so much for taking the effort to come and visit me.  I told them, “I think this is the first time a Pastor and elders have come to visit me in the home.”  The pastor’s answer surprised me, “We go for many visits, and talked about many things, but this one was special because we also talked about ministry.”  

Please pray for us as we talk with more church pastors to understand how, in a city where lots of languages represented in a single church, we can partner with faith communities to bring the Message of life in Christ in languages that will draw them to church, AND speak to people’s hearts.

Small Buckets

These days have been filled with “small,” at least that is how I have been feeling about them.  I do small things like wipe my husbands brow, greeting folks in my community as I go to buy eggs, make tea, go and buy medicine, drive him to the clinic, wash a load of sweaty clothes, and carry small buckets of water into the house to do other small chores.  I have small energy stored up, and it is gone by lunch, and the rest of the day I’m running on…less than small.  I have small ripples that remind me there is a small person in my not-so-small belly.  I have small children coming during small openings in my day.  I find my clothes are too small for my body, and my energy too small to complete my big plans.  I feel I’m always trying to fit too much into too little. 

With all these “small” things in my schedule, I find my plate to be quite full!  I feel overwhelmed by the hugeness of these small tasks! 

This is what I’m thankful for, however.  Zach asked me to buy small buckets because the bigger ones gave me little aches on my sides when I was carrying water.  I love my small buckets, actually.  They don’t carry as much water, but I don’t feel like I’ve made my baby angry with me and my body revolt by carrying them.  I’m thankful that when I carry small buckets, water still gets moved, jobs still get done.  Maybe this is a time in my life when the small buckets are just the right size, and I have to not feel wimpy carrying what is manageable.   This goes against my farm girl mentality where bigger muscles, bigger hay bails, and bigger pumpkins make me feel like I’m a success.  I thank God for times when all he asks us to carry are small buckets.      

For Those Who Like Dates

For those who like dates, here it is briefly…

May 3rd( (Sunday)- DMPD starts with a kickoff dinner
May 4th (Monday)  Intense DMPD training starts. 7:30am-9:30pm
May 14th- (Thursday) I feel a little sick at night, but in the morning I feel better and go to work
May 15th (Friday) After working all day, I have a higher fever in the night.
May 16th (Saturday) Feeling much better. Rested all day.
May 17th (Sunday) Went briefly to church, rested all day, but high fever in the evening.  Suspect Malaria and start treating.
May 18th (Monday) Rest all day.  Still treating
May 19th (Tuesday)  Went for a full day at DMPD
May 20th (Wednesday) Went for another day at DMPD, but tired by evening.  Went home to rest, thinking I would go back the next day.
May 21st (Thursday) Fever that night.  What?  I thought the treatement would have taken care of this by now.
May 21st-May 24th (Thursday-Sunday) Saw a doctor and rested. Started feeling stronger.
May 25th – May 28th  (Monday-Thursday) Back to work, full DMPD schedule.
May 29th (Friday)  Nigeria has a new president. Peaceful transition. Praise God!
May 30-31 (Saturday-Sunday) Busy visiting lots of friends
June 1st (Monday) back to DMPD, but went to a clinic in the evening.  They do blood test, and it shows malaria.  Have first injection of a three day series immediately.
June 2nd-June 5th (Tuesday-Friday) High fever every 7 hours.  Daily visits to Dr.  Typhoid suggested as well.  More tests.  Lots of sleep.  Lots of hard work by Christy.
June 3rd (Wednesday) DMPD Blitz closing.  I’m absent because of the fever.
June 6th-June 8th (Saturday-Monday) Lower fever, started to feel better.
June 9th-beyond?  Please pray for complete healing.

Getting "back to work"


Getting “back to work” part 1.

When Discipleship Ministry Partnership Development (DMPD) training started we all knew it was going to be intense.  And we knew we were setting aside other very important work because this work was strategic, central. We were being trained in a sustainable model of Nigerian missionaries developing Nigerian ministry partners.   If, by God’s grace, were successful in this endeavor, we’ll have a way of bringing more and more Nigerian missionaries into this important ministry and keeping them longer.

However, still there are those moments, like when I receive a phone call from the pastor who desperately wants several megavoice players (small solar powered audio Bibles) there’s simply no one available who can load these audio Bibles with these Scriptures in his language.  If we make a little exception now, it could compromise the whole DMPD program.  What do you do? By God’s grace, Pastor was able to manage the training he was playing with fewer of the megavoice players, with the promise that as soon as possible, we’d get the rest to him.

It’s no wonder we find ourselves saying, when can we get “back to work?”  Janet, one of the members of our Scripture Engagement Team, has a new perspective on this after going through DMDP.  “Of course, we are eager to get back to our main ministry, she says, but this is ministry too.”  Here at DMPD each day we meet with several different people, have the opportunity to share with them the exciting things God’s doing through Bible translation, and then pray with them about any concerns they have in their lives.  It’s a very personal beginning to new relationships, bringing honour and glory to God.  This is important work too. 

Getting “Back to work” part 2
All this took a sudden twist for me when I found myself with a high fever.  I’m unable to go to work, that is to DMPD.  I couldn’t do anything except lie in bed, and try to get well. During the 30 day Blitz program (the intense training for DMPD) I missed five working days and some weekends, but it felt like a lot more than that.  I found myself wanting to get “back to work” but as God had me flat on my back, I found myself in a place where I could know greater intimacy with him, and learn more about faith than I would have in the official working place.

Oh, How the Wind Blows!

I nap quietly, my husband, sick with an unnamed fever lies on the other couch, hot, occasionally moaning.  Before we drifted off to sleep, we read the story “Sighting Day” from “Tales of the Kingdom” by Karen and David Maines.  I awaken to a violent blowing!  The mango tree behind our house beat it’s long branches, rustling on our tin roof.  The wind rattled our windows.  I jump up excited that a storm is coming.  The sunny sky turns grey, and every promise of a great rain is made by the threatening sky.

I remember how my water tubs remained empty because I wanted to wait for the free rain instead of filling them with water we had to buy.  I remember Zach’s words, “At the beginning of June, it doesn’t rain every day, Christy.”  But I remained hopeful, and now it is about to pay off.  The rain is coming.  I run outside to reposition the water basins under the roof runoff, and go back in to wait.  I awaken again to a gentle rain, and think, “Oh, it’s started!”  I wake up a few minutes later, the wind still blowing, the rain a bit harder, and I go outside to see how much they have filled only to find 6 inches in the bottom of one of the two tubs.  The rain slows to a trickle.  I feel cheated out of my rain.  All that blowing for nothing!

I come back in the house, look at my husband who finally managed to sleep, and think, “I sure am glad God isn’t like that storm…full of promises, but empty and disappointing.”  It has been more than three weeks now that Zach has been on and off sick.  I wonder why God does not seem to be answering our prayers for him.  Is it our lack of faith?  Do we not pray right?  Are we supposed to be learning something extremely useful and are just missing it?  I don’t know.  But I DO know that my God   who rides on the clouds is not a big empty wind.  He always comes through with what he promises.  The rains are coming. 

Go Away!

T here were children. Always so many children. Our children are a magnet for other children and so everywhere we go, they follow us giggling...