Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Unexpected in "Bethlehem"



On sunday, the 11th, the congregants were more unruly than the 4-year-old sheep as they wanted to wander from the market road in “Bethlehem” and traipse through the market, but the sellers urged, shouted, “sold” on, and even got some contributions!
The star fell from the sky onto the manger which had been relocated for safety purposes when the ram wanted to live up to it’s name and sent me squealing down the hill.  I wonder if there were any charging rams among the shepherds that night and if the angels had to do some dodging.  


Oh, and the angels!  Daso signaled them to come running from all sides of the church yard after Gabriel’s initial announcement, and they came!  With victorious, celebratory cries of delight for the new born king before they broke into a Hausa chorus complete with lively dance.    The “Gloooo---oooo-oooo-ria filled the yard and they declared “Peace!” before returning to heaven once again with jubilant cries. 
As Bethlehem that night was too busy for their king, wrapped up in the social demands of the census rush, the congregants on Sunday dutifully carried out their social demands of greeting each other cheerfully, shaking hands with a heartily spoken series of questions through the majority of the short re-enactment.
The culmination of Mary and Joseph coming to the center of the church yard amidst a mob of children and “visitors to Bethlehem” singing in Hausa and English “Oh come let us adore him” was surprisingly worshipful.   For the first time that morning, everyone was focused and together, around the baby, symbolizing what the church is meant to be! Abrubtly, an upbeat “Emmanuel, Emmanuel, Wonderful Counselor” took us dancing and singing “Emmanuel” in call and response into the sanctuary where the 9 lessons and carols service commenced.
So God’s marvelously exciting story unfolded in our small neighborhood.  The unexpected happened, as did that original night in Bethlehem, for the author of this story is full of the unexpected!

Alright Is Her Name


“We are going to be alright,” the Father explained to me the meaning of “baby girl’s” name he had just spoken for the first time to the nurse for the doctor’s record.   When “We are going to be alright” would not take the bottle or the breast early last week, I called the doctor who said we should bring her in.  She was admitted into the hospital for three nights with malaria and sepsis at 4 weeks old, being released on Friday afternoon.  Yesterday the father told me she was eating better, and I have to take his word on it because between Mariama and my health, I have not been missing holding and loving her up close.  The mother of  “We are going to be alright” was released on Sunday from the hospital and is recovering well from an operation.  Let’s keep “disturbing” God like the persistent widow!  Plead with him for mercy and life, for he is the Author of Life. 

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Feeling clay-y


Excited to see what God will do with this clay pot. (2 Corinthians 4)

Yes, at 1am, I need to go to bed now, so I've written a sloppy plea for prayer below!

Beautiful Me girls and mamas will be heading to town tomorrow for a couple hours of shopping, ice creaming, connecting, and reflecting on our beauty in Christ!

May it be more than a fun, memorable trip.  May it be joy filled, a crash course in communicating what we like gently and openly, a chance to be together in a different and fun environment where we delight in who God made us to be!








Oh Bethlehem!

Some sweet girls sewing angel wings today at the house
Chant this to a good rhythm:
Bethlehem, Bethlehem,
Mary, Joseph enter in
to Bethlehem, Bethlehem.
A baby king coming
to Bethlehem, Bethlehem.
No place for them,
no place for them,
in Bethlehem, Bethlehem
They go to sleep
with the cows and sheep?
In Bethlehem, Bethlehem

Now add to those words 15 children walking through a rusted metal gate into a spacious courtyard scattered with 50 more children children (a little distracted, twirling around, but mostly in their places and ready) to recreate that busy Bethlehem.  There are sellers of clothing, bedding, and common Nigerian foods. There is a registrar, tax collector, angels waiting behind buildings appear, shepherds by a fire near some big rocks, innkeepers inviting people to warm, comfortable rooms.  Our hope is that the visitors on Sunday morning will be bombarded by the business of Bethlehem, emboldened by the stinky shepherds making their way to the manger, and humbled by the wise men who recognized the baby king.

Tomorrow morning we have our last rehearsal... one of three. There's still a lot to be done.  Please pray for the children, me, our 5 helpers, and all those who will be attending Sunday morning worship both regular attenders, and those invited by the children as they go on their way through the streets of the small neighborhood to "Bethlehem." My greatest desire is to bring wonder back into this quirky, fantastic, history changing, heart transforming story and help people experience it again for the first time.  


No Name


Mariama is learning to share in a very personal way! 

It is 11:30 pm. Five minutes ago, a grandmother came to the door as the four-week-old baby girl in my arms, tiny and fragile, drank from the last bottle she would take from me today.  Five days ago I offered the same service I give Mariama because this little one's mama needed surgery, and her father (a Bible translator in his language) and grandmother would need to attend to the mama. I ask you to pray for this baby as I have had the joy and struggle of doing throughout the last five days and nights. She has no given name because they feel they don't know the outcome and culturally won't give a name to a baby who may not live. Mama will be discharged tomorrow, but baby girl still needs a lot of care.

Please pray that God would give her life, breath, help her body to accept both the mother's milk I'm offering and the supplementary formula.  Pray for strength for everyone as we fight and pray for life to win...and for a name to be given.
The angle told Mary to give this miraculous baby the name Jesus.
This baby may not have a given name on this earth, but I like to think that God knows the baby girl's name.
Here we celebrate the Christmas with our second advent candle lighting...and two baby's to help us remember how God became man and made his dwelling among us. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Strategic prayer 3--Scripture Engagement Focus Projects

The Scripture Engagement Team--All but three of us
It is hard to believe it has been three months since my last "Strategic Prayer" post.  This series of posts is based on a list of things we felt we needed to pray that God would do so that our ministry would be successful.

In the original list we asked you to pray for "direction and unity in deciding 'anchor projects'--that is communities we will develop relationships with over the next two years"

Earlier this year that prayer was answered as we felt a great deal of unity as we chose to focus our energy as a team on languages near to the town where we live, Jos.  Some of these languages (Mwaghavul, Izere, Rigwe) not only have the New Testament already translated, but the Audio version is freely available! Others (Kuce, Iguta) are still in the early stages of translation--the best time for a community to start engaging with the Bible in their own language.

Since we chose these languages it feels like we have not been able to get "out to the field" and visit these languages much.  Thank God for the first two visits since we chose the languages.  Please pray we can get out and visit the people who speak these languages to help them get thinking about how they can use their languages for more effective sharing the good news and strengthening of the church.

Again, like "the twelve days of Christmas",  you can also continue to pray for the first two prayer items.

Celebrating my innards and outards



                                                
Starting with our review on how we interact and then a song about what we believe about ourselves, the 3 hour meeting started with joy. We moved right into celebrating our bodies by dancing to a Hausa song, and, with a LOT of energetic encouragement, we got everyone dancing, hands in the air, freezing and declaring to their frozen neighbor, "WOW, You are beautiful!"

 We started by celebrating our innards, with a skit split into four parts.  Each part represented a kind of personality and all the ladies decided which one they were and went to that side of the room, shouting across to each other.  "God made you well!" With each pair of personalities, it was clear that one personality was preferred over the other culturally, but we rejoiced as they realized that both were well made!

After celebrating our innards, we went to our outards, our bodies...our cycle and reproductive system! This is something that few talk about and few understand so, armored with a reproductive cake (pictured below), prayer, practice, and internet resources, I explained why us ladies have a cycle and how their bodies are changing now. The highlight?...a clip from a documentery my mom gave me called, "Nine months that made you."  Eyes were glued, there were "Oh's" and "Wow's" and lively conversation on the little one in the womb that came out right in front of their eyes.  The miracle of life in the womb, of how God knit them, was seen and explained in hopes to grasp a fraction of the wonder in this miraculous weaving together that God does in the womb. 

Going clockwise in the front starting from Daso: Daso, Lyop, Happy (1) , Precious, Miracle, Mama, Charity, Nandir, Happy (2), Jane, Asebe, Josephine, Ritanan
These are the 13 girls in the Beautiful Me program!  Yes, they ALL came with their mamas! 

  Lyop and Mumsy are a unique pair as Mumsy is an older widow and Lyop has been brought from the village to help her in her business. Out of all the mother-daughter couples, they have the most one-on-one time!  May God use them to bless each other as they grow in His love.

This dynamic duo is learning a lot.  Shopping, preparing meals, and Daso returning home from school has become an connecting event  and a time for asking a lot of questions and listening.  "Why do you think that boy acted that way?" or "What do you think we could put in this soup to make it really yummy?" or "Why do you think that about her?" It is a chance for me to learn to be creative in new ways, love my daughter in tangible ways, and also learn about me!

Each pair went on a "date" to their own private salon where they soaked, painted nails, and told stories. Please pray that these mothers and daughters (the term mother here is more inclusive than in the West.  It is any woman who feeds into your life, has more experience, cares for you, or is older than you) continue to take opportunities to connect.  

Jane is quiet and gorgeous. She also has come from a village to live with this mother and her 5 children.  Jane and Mama did not come to the last Beautiful Me, but to see the joy overflowing on Jane's face this week was more than worth the effort to get them here this week!  Please pray that Maman Jane will enjoy this little gem and build her up in Christ's love.

The girls headed home with the necessities: Homemade deodorant, new panties, sanitary napkins, knowledge, a healthier self-awareness, and a greater appreciation for their own beauty that will help them face the changes that are surely coming!

 A preview to next month...

On December 10, we will:
Visit a museum to understand better how God has "signed" us, his masterpieces
Shop for a new outfit
Go get ice cream (Some of them maybe for the first time)
And watch a short movie that is being created by a local male artist with a message to young women about their worth.  (Please pray for him as he prepares and us as we record.)

Thank you all for praying for us...we need it.  We are in a war.  These girls are fighting an enemy they have not yet identified in order to remain pure, confident, and close to the women in their lives.  Our team of four, battles to remain encouraged and have strength to carry on when we know that some of those we are pouring ourselves into will ignore, reject, and despise what is happening.  We are fully aware that we are four voices in a sea of people telling them opposite messages, and we need you to pray for us, and pray for the mother's that we will all be on the same team.  Also pray that the mamas believe these things about themselves so they can speak out of what they have, a love for God and for the way he created them, uniquely and beautifully.

From the couch of a woman who is also learning the power, beauty, and strength God has given to change the world




Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Beautiful Beginning to Beautiful Me


I get to be one of the mommy's too! I was surprised at how much Daso shone as we sat there in our special place...she's so shiny anyway, but she felt the tenderness of this moment.


Auntie Mary Jane is a "mommy" for her neighbor. 

Taking in the beautiful sight of the mothers and daughters in the Beautiful Me program spread over our compound on blankets and picnic tables on their first “date” gave me hope of new beginnings, of nourishing relationships that foster life, like a well in a dry place. Yes, that’s it, Jos is in dry season, and I feel the onset of dry season like a weight, as those of you in cold climates feel in the middle of a long winter, but this…this beginning makes me want to drink deeply with blessed anticipation.  That squeezing of the heart, as if it wants to jump about with excitement yet cautious, considering the ache of our broken world.
We had a three legged race, representing, them and God, “the strand of three that is not easily broken.”  Their arms around each other, counting, working to run the race, brought tears! The mother’s eyes were shining as they came in from being on their 20 minute “date” with their daughters.  The daughters excitedly retold the stories their mother’s had shared of their tweenhood with them. Something new had happened, and only God knows where he’s taking these special women and their girls.
What a blessing to have so many praying with us.  As we leaders stood together in the kitchen, eating the dinner we had just served to our special guests, we gave a sigh of relief. “That was the best one yet!  To the point and meaningful!” Mary Jane exclaimed. Praise God!

Our next meeting is November 26th. Please do continue to pray with us as we plan for our next meeting.  We will also be visiting the homes of the Beautiful Me ladies this month.  May God give us all precious relationships, binding us together on our mission to become the women God wants us to be.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Chosen and Beautiful


Tonight we had our final meeting before the big start of “Beautiful Me” tomorrow, Saturday, October 29, with 12 new girls and their mothers, ranging from ages 10-12 (tweens, as a book I’m reading calls them).  These girls come from vary diverse backgrounds.  Some are “housegirls” brought from villages to work in the city, and their “mothers” are the ladies of the house where they’re working.  (This is a very common practice and, in some cases, even expected.) Some of them are granddaughters who are living with their grandmothers. A couple are orphans who will come with an Aunty, older sister, or grandmother.  We have girls who read far beyond their grade level and girls who can’t read or speak English at all.  We have mothers who speak Hausa and their mother tongue, but don’t read and mothers who are highly educated and speak multiple languages, including English.  As leaders we said we are “excited” and “hopeful.” 

Please pray that in this year (we have the program 1x a month), these girls will believe and be sure of these statements:
I am beautiful,
I am created and loved by God,
I am made to love God, myself, and my mother/daughter,  
God makes me pure in Jesus and I can live pure in Him.        

I have had many opportunities to know these girls through Bibles study and literacy classes.

Because of Daso, I get to be a "mommy" and be challenged to love my daughter well in her tween years!

On the right, Miracle looks unsure, but in reality she is vibrant and delightful!

Nandir visits our home regularly and always brings with her extra doses of energy.


Asabe is one of our sweeties who attends school with Daso this year.  We have enjoyed watching her grow in wisdom and beauty over the last 4 years. I'm always touched when I see the little girls in my big girls.  This smile and her laugh on her first tire swing ride was priceless!
In the singing and dancing, games, demonstrations, the story of Esther, and the "date" outside in our compound, we pray that God will speak to both the girls and the mothers of their worth in Him and their need for each other. 
God has put together a dynamic team. On the left above is Aunty Mary Jane (Daso in the middle is a participant in the program with her mommy (me) this year), on the right above is Aunty MaryAnn, and to the right with her contagious smile is Aunty Margaret.  Pray that God will unite us and give us vision. 

Thank you for praying.  We know God can do anything, and we are believing him for some miracles tomorrow!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

We're ready

"So David gave the water to God, he poured the water out on the ground as an offering to God." 

We sit in a circle on benches in the shade of a tree retelling the story of David and his mighty men.  On the ground is a spiral of about thirty local objects which help us to remember the details.  We recount how David was longing just to taste the water from a well in his hometown, which was occupied by enemies.  We relate how three of his close friends (his nephews in fact) slipped quietly in and risked their lives to bring him some of this water.  And finally we tell the climax, of how David pours out the water to God, the only one who is worthy of it.  All of this we do without anyone opening a single Bible.  After retelling the story a few times, each of us can tell the whole story without leaving out any important details.

Here, under the tree, it is easy to imagine how God could use this purely oral method of retelling the stories of Scripture to bring his good news to a people that are still less than 2% Christian.  We have driven two days by car from Jos, and waded across a river and ridden motorcycles to get  here.  We sit with educated Nigerians who have given up well-paying jobs and families far away to be a consistent fragrance of Jesus in this place.  They speak of the power of storytelling, and love the memorability of the method of storytelling we are thinking of bringing.

In a blog post just before the trip titled Get Ready! I asked you to pray for God to speak to us and for unity.  We came away from the two language areas with a great peace in preparing to send a team to the first language, but felt it is not a good time for us to send a team to the second.  We felt a great unity in these decisions between myself, the Americans who came from the US just for this trip, and all the Nigerians who are daily involved.  Thank God for how he is directing all our hearts in the same way!

We also asked you to pray for Jesus to use this to prepare the way for his story to be told in these lands.  We talked nearly non-stop throughout the seven days of the journey, and sensed a great deal of peace in every detail we discussed.  We feel ready to invite four Americans to come and join us for three to four years in this special task.  They will learn the local language and work with local people to craft a series of stories to tell the Good news of Jesus to people who have probably never heard it before.  Sound exciting?  Please pray for God to prepare and send these people.  Might you be one of them?

[Post Script:  The story referenced at the beginning comes from 2 Sam 23.  However, we experienced the story the same way an oral-preferenced community would: without even opening a Bible.  You can listen to a recorded version of the story here: Elite Forces.]

Friday, October 7, 2016

A beatiful blurry mess


With Zach on the road in remote villages without network, our days pass in a bit of a blur.  Kind of like this, which was taken as I tried to snap Mari painting, and she chose that moment to stand up on the picnic table, so my finger pressed the "capture" key as my other hand plunged to make sure she didn't tumble off.






Yep, that pretty much sums it up! A beautiful blur, with people I love present, in the picture, but everything a bit out of focus.  Mari first had raised bumps like hives all over her body (I've not posted those pictures), then a chest cough and head cold that resulted in 3 days of fever. 

We stayed home from children's Bible study yesterday, Thursday, so Mari could rest and recover.

She did rest, as her daddy does...artfully.


 Zach was home for Saturday and Sunday before he set off again, so we went on an adventure...exploring our favorite places in the compound where we live.  Each person gave a hint and the others had to go and find the place.  When we found it, we were rewarded with a sugar cookie and koolaid. This is my favorite, high on a big rock, level with the full crown of the frangipani trees!


Monday was a holiday, so a friend invited us to go swimming!
 One of Daso's favorite thoughts to share these days sounds like this, "Isn't it amazing...when Mari's my age, I'll be 20! Can you believe it? It feels like it's not that far away." The new mommy in me wants to say, "It may seem that way, but it is a VERY, VERY, VERY long way away! It makes me want to sing..."time slips away just like hourglass sand, sieze the d---a---y, pr--a--y for strength from God's hand, that nothing will stand in your way...sieze the day, lai, di dai di dai, lai di dai di dai dai dai." 
Please pray with me that we can seize these moments together, enjoying Mari's growing vocabulary and confidence in step taking, Daso's constant curiosity and expanding world, all of our journey's with God, and these precious days in Nigeria that will never come again.  We also have four children that have just started school at a Daso's school from our former neighborhood. Two of them recently lost their daddy, and a third is growing very fast into a young woman. Please pray that God will provide wisdom as I, Christy, aim to bring the community around these young people who need encouragement and support from those around them.  May he also provide strength as new commitments always demand more energy than I realize, and sacrifice on the part of our children. 

Thank you for standing with us in prayer...what a joyful, stretching journey this is!

Those waves



I asked you to pray for a training I was going to do...the training that made me feel like I was jumping into deep water.
God is faithful to his Word...those waves will NOT overcome us! Here are some pictures of the joyful experience I had coordinating a workshop with about 20 participants from the Irigwe language community.  The hope is that from this training, they will each go with the New Testament in Irigwe on the audio player and facilitate audio Bible studies as they were trained to do.
Auntie Victoria, the sister who helps me in my house, was one of the participants.  Here she is listening to God speaking Irigwe, her language.
"What do we learn about God?" the participants said in Irigwe as we all did the motions together.  In an attempt to make the course all oral, we didn't give out the 6 questions they were to ask during the Bible study, they memorized them with motions. An excited buzz filled the small room as a group they could say each of the questions from memory.

My colleague, Janet, helped facilitate the training, which was done primarily in Hausa and Irigwe.  "May God fill up Irigwe land with the knowlege of his glory, as the waters cover the earth!" She declared after reading the verse with them.  No doubt when Janet shared, that she has vision and passion for this work!

I asked people to come and represent different stages of Bible translation throughout history, starting with the Greek translation of the Old Testament through to the first Nigerian translation, Yoruba, done by a former slave who had been sent to Sierra Leon and ending with "You are part of this rich history in Irigwe land, you are part of a determined, faithful people who want to hear God's word for themselves, in the language that they best understand."

Janet helped them to prepare themselves through discovering the "Why" of having listening Bible studies. She shared three Bible study scenarios and they determined the goal of each of the groups...discipleship, evangelism, family spiritual growth, etc.

Each participant practiced leading a listening group with their fellow participants.

At the end we presented them with the audio Scriptures in Irigwe on an MVP (MegaVoice Player)
We praise God!  So thankful to have a team of saints praying for me!
Please continue to pray that the participants make use of what they have learned, and that their enthusiasm doesn't fade!
The excitement and passionate faith of these brothers and sisters encouraged my heart...I'm so thankful for this experience, and for the courage to wade into the waves. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Get Ready!


“Get ready,” I (Zach) woke up this morning with these words on my mind. Although I’m traveling for a week today, I wasn’t thinking about the normal preparations, packing my bags, filling my water bottle, double checking my travel documents.  I felt like God was saying to me “Get your heart ready.” I went to our prayer room and uh opened my uh phone to Psalm 51, which I have been trying to memorize. “Have mercy on me Oh God, accordning to your steadfast love…” Today we begin a two day journey to a village where there are very few Christians. Two visitors have come to see if this will be a good place for four new storytellers (yet to be recruited—would you like to be one?) to have their first experience in serving God in Africa.

I don’t know what form opposition might take, but I know that this morning, my heart sensed I needed to be ready in my inner being.  Please pray that I would listen to God’s guiding as we discuss with Nigerian brothers and sisters in the field.  Pray that we would be unified in purpose and that Jesus would use us to prepare the ground for his story to be told in this land!

Get Up!

I watch in wonder as my 14-month-old rise once again from the concrete tennis court outside our home where she enjoys hoisting herself up by the wobbling tennis net, and then landing heavily after a few minutes.  Almost every time she stands, she looks about to see who has witnessed this great feat, and is rewarded with an applause and verbal affirmation that she is indeed spectacular.
"When do we lose our ability to keep getting up?" I asked my husband one day while we watched Mari as most watch their most enthralling favorite series on TV.  With such zeal, excitement, and pleasure, she gets up, and inevitably, falls down!



Why does she do it?  Why don't we?

I've come to the conclusion that Mari, like so many of us, is spurred on by those around her.  The 2 year old that buzzes by makes her squeal with pleasure, and the 10 year old sister zooming around her on her bike makes her dizzy with the possibilities of what tricks she may some day perform.  She is inspired by what she sees, and motivated by the triumphs of those around her.  She is aware of them, tunes into them, and allows them to drive her forward, despite her own ability to measure up.  Oh, and don't underestimate the unbridled enthusiasm and pride of her doting parents.  We see her, we know her, we rejoice in her every effort to become great, as I imagine we will do until the day we die.  No one can convince me that my little girl is anything but magnificent, and I let her know it.

Why don't we?  I think we stop looking to be inspired.  We forget to be in wonder of the victors around us, those with challenging stories and overcoming spirits.  We overlook the extraordinary faithfulness of ordinary people that we encounter every day, and therefore cheat ourselves out of hearing and being inspired by their walks of love for God and others.

So, how will I become more resilient?  I asked two friends I see regularly for how God has been touching them lately as a spark to my own heart and a way of spurring myself (and hopefully them in the sharing) to carry on.  I'm allowing myself to hear and feel deeply the sorrows and vitality of a friend with HIV, a widow who can't pay her child's school fees, a friend living in a two-room flat with his growing family, and a colleague who fears entering public transport after being thrown from a vehicle.  I also pray that I will look for opportunities to spur on my brothers and sisters in this rocky walk of faith.  Of being the loving Father's voice to them that sees their efforts and applauds their strength to rise again.

Pray that we can can be faithful to get up, and help others to do the same! 


Sunday, September 18, 2016

A New Experience

There's the water, here I go...
I have always loved getting new experience.  I feel a bit like Mariama on this one, though...


Oh, boy, that's a lot of water.
 Tomorrow, Monday, I will be meeting with facilitators to prepare a training event for some members of the Irigwe community.  The participants will be learning how to do audio Bible studies.  I have given a lot of audio Scriptures away in this language...to market women and friends, and now I get to help prepare those Scriptures to be used effectively.

However, with Daso's return today (Sunday), school starting tomorrow for her, a few extra mouths to feed for visiting participants in a different workshop, Daso's mommy being here who I really want to take time with, Mariama changing and growing all the time (becoming more mobile), and Zach in a two week training, I feel like the water is rising and maybe I'm just not up to the task of riding the waves.

I know the facts: my God is as omnipotent as ever, he equips us for what he sends us to do, and he WILL accomplish his WILL for the Irigwe community.  So, please pray that I will have faith in my big God, and that I will help the facilitators to work well together that God's Word might go forth in power.

Finale

"You knit me together in my mother's womb, I am beautifully and wonderfully made!"  The mothers and daughters sang out together in our final meeting on Saturday.  Many of you have prayed with us as we've walked with these young women and their mothers over the past year.  It has been strengthening,  encouraging, challenging, and rewarding at the same time.  We realize we have a lot of work to do to make this "Beautiful Me" program everything it can be, but we also realize that God is doing things we cannot see in the lives of these young women.

They made certificates that stated:
I want to be a ____________________ woman.  So, I will...

Each girl and each mother were presented with their certificate and we exclaimed "You are a beautiful woman!"




It was exciting to hear them talking concretely about how they can be the woman God wants them to be.

Please pray for these girls as they continue this journey with their mother's.  We pray they will continue in relationship with us as well.

Please pray for the next group of eleven girls (ages 10-12) who will begin the "Beautiful Me" program with their mothers on Saturday, October 29th.   A number of the new girls don't have mothers in their lives, so please pray that we find women who will walk along side them faithfully as they, too, develop into the women God wants them to be.
  

She's Back!

Daso has returned to be with us for another school year. We are so excited to see her!  This beautiful bike is her coming home gift. Please pray for all of us as we begin this transition again.  Please also pray for her mommy who will be with us this week as well.  Pray for good connection with her, and that she will feel loved and heard and encouraged while with us.
Mariama is so happy to see her sister!

Daso's smile is contagious! What a joy she is.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Planting

I am often impacted by the number of analogies that I draw from gardening.

Roots: It's important to plant roots in the places you live, for one month or for years. Why?  It grounds you, it helps you to feel secure for that time, it helps you to grow so when you are transplanted, you have extra reserve from those roots to carry you forward.

Children:  If you have lots of children part of your daily life, you will undoubtedly have too much of something in one place and not enough in another.  Like 10 baby red cabbages coming up from the same hole.  Anyone can make this mistake because we secretly don't believe that a cabbage will come out of that tiny little seed, so we better plant extra.  Forgetting that the potential is in the seed, not in what you can see in the seed.  I need to give each of my children space and grace to grow in their own little style, and encourage them to do the same for others. 

Transplanting: 10 little red cabbages just can't grow in the same place.  They need to have their own fertilizer, soil, air, space, and sunshine. Transplanting is necessary.  Maybe that's why God brought me to Cameroon, then to Nigeria...I was where someone else needed to be, and in turn, God was letting me bear fruit in my new space.

Weeds:
Carpet grass is not welcome in my garden, but the fact is, it grows very well...better than anything else.  Negative thoughts, bad attitudes, and sin are not welcome in my heart, but they grow anyway, and without any attention, they will spread their little runners under the ground where they are unnoticed.  When the weed does show it's ugly head, it needs to not only be plucked out, but the entire root system with it.  Confession, repentance, and continual care is what the heart needs to grow good fruit!  Wow, it's a lot of work.

 Getting Dirty:
Nothing good comes from sitting on the side of the garden and hoping something will grow from the dirt.  We always put on our planting clothes, Mariama in her red suspenders and I in my Thai trousers, and we get dirty! In our spiritual lives, nothing comes from sitting passively in pews, living rooms, or conferences.  We need the "agon" in our deeper persons to go out and dig, plant, water, weed, and harvest.  Lately for us "getting dirty" has been putting our new prayer room to good use, realizing that the tiredness  or discouragement we feel needs to be addressed in the inner room...the quiet place with God.



Please pray for Daso as she's home visiting her family until September when she'll return for her second school year with us.  May she keep growing spiritually, and may we create an environment where she can sink the roots of her heart into God's love. 

Pray for Falaka, Daso's mom, as she raises her other four children to love God and walk with Jesus. 


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...