Friday, May 27, 2016

In the US

Our plane seems to hover over the lakes of Canada, though the screen tells me we are hurling along at nearly the speed of sound (Mach 0.83). This is a bit of a picture of my life right now.  Perhaps you could call it high speed, yet I don't really feel the progress.
"Wait a moment!" You might ask, "Aren't you in Nigeria?" I am almost as surprised as you at the turn of events. A couple of months ago I received an invitation to a small informal meeting with the president of Wycliffe USA, Bob Creson. I almost didn't believe it when I saw the invitation--especially when I saw tucked away in the message that they would pay for everything!
What are the meetings about? Basically Bob Creson wants to invest in the ten of us as leaders. We won't just talk about leadership abstractly though, we will be discussing major issues that affect our organization today. But it won't be formal, like a board meeting or conference. We will actually be meeting in the Cresons' home.
All this is happening at an interesting time. For months I have been wanting to write a blog about what I do on a typical day in the office. In 2013 when I was the survey team leader, I really enjoyed the privilege of leading. However, since we came back last year to lead the Scripture engagement team, I have often felt I am not doing a great job at it. I have learned a lot, but still I often feel ineffective.
Can you please pray:
That I will easily make new friends and a strong relationship with people in our headquarters.
That I will be molded into the leader God wants me to be.

P.S. I plan to worship at World Gospel Church on Sunday (May 29) Thank Godfor this opportunity

Monday, May 23, 2016

New Space

Yeah!  We are in our new house!

You have prayed with us through this transition, and we are so thankful.  Moving day, the 14th, was blessed by helping hands of both  little and big people alike.  We "sat on our suitcases" inside our empty house, with our wedding picture donning the wall next to the vine mural we had painted our first year (2012) and we remembered.  We remembered writing our wedding vows on couches without cushions, as they were getting upholstered, and the day we returned married wandering around the home with the freshly painted walls and our tie dye couches, marveling at our new lives.  We remembered children coming to Christ and our first party in the house where a Dutch colleague had a windmill cake.  As I backed out of the driveway in our newly fixed car, I looked at our home, the bouganvillia ready to bloom, the bushes with their purple flowers bursting forth and tears sprang as I praised God for the joy of setting in roots and the grace to see them bare fruit and move on to sink our roots in somewhere else.

Today was the perfect mingling of joy and sorrow in our new home.  I pondered with Zach after we took Daso to school why being here was so hard.  With running water and more stable electricity, with tile floors and trees all around, what makes it so difficult to be here in this new space?  While pondering this, I washed the dishes, my hands feeling the healing warmth of the water, did the minimal sweep of my floors, leaving them looking new and walked Zach out to catch a car to Abuja where he would board a plane for the US. Two hours later, 20 children came to play at the house.

 We played.  We made good use of the tire swing.
 We sat.  We related. We plucked and sucked mangoes. We laughed when the tether ball hit me in the face.  We played football soccer, small bodies flipping through the air when a goal was made.

And some of the struggle of the morning's doubts soaked into the green grass while the laughter of children floated through the moist rainy season air.  How many times did I long for a space where these same children could be free to be children. 

Today gave me hope. We are going to make new memories here.  We will set up boundaries for ourselves that allow us to breath deeply and go the distance for Jesus.  We are going to wait in his presence and expect God to do in us what he has planned. We are going to embrace this new space, set in roots, and rejoice in God's provision.

Daso and Mariama are growing so beautifully
 We will learn to share what God has blessed us with.
 We will take time to laugh together and experience new things!
 We will continue friendships that have become family.
 We will grow and be together.

We will celebrate with our friends and continue investing in their lives.
This is our first "party" friend had a birthday at the beginning of the month, and I had happened to make a cake for other friends who showed up 2 1/2 hours late for their own party!  God is so good!  So, I go to celebrate three friends in one shifts.

And we will enjoy old treasures that may have lost their luster (like cooking dinner and clinky lids) like they are new finds! 

Please continue to pray for us in the transition. That our home will be both open and safe, relaxing and spontaneous, joyful and sacred.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Why are we moving?

Tomorrow, the Yoder family begins the three-day process of moving our things from our current house to our new house.  Christy wrote a post recently about why we chose the house we are moving from.  This may raise a question:  If the house you are moving from was so great, why are you moving?

Over the last few weeks we have been asking ourselves the same question.  Why are we moving?  We have so many reasons to thank God for the house we have been staying in.  We are comfortable here.  We have enjoyed a holistic ministry here.  We have actually been feeling more sad about where we are leaving than excited about where we are going. Why don't we just stay?

The answer to "why are we moving?" is not actually simple, which is probably why we keep asking ourselves.  There are a number of advantages of our new house though:

  • We will having running water
  • We will have a compound generator that will provide electricity for us each night
  • Mariama and Daso will be able to play outside freely in a big open green space, full of tress and flowers and a small playground.
  • We will be able to screen guests through the gate guards (though we still want most of them to come by most of the time!).  Perhaps this will allow us to invest more intentionally in our neighbors.
  • Overall, I have been feeling "over tired" a lot in the last year, and we hope that this new home will help provide us with a bit of margin.
    Mariama and a friend--At retreat, not our new house :)
It has some disadvantages too.  For example it is a lot more expensive (though still cheaper than a mobile home trailer in Dallas), and it will be a little harder for our Hwolshe friends to just "drop by" as it is a little farther away.  However, we took time to pray about this decision and we are moving ahead in faith that God is guiding our steps.

Please pray that this new home: 
  • Will be a place of holistic ministry.  
  • Will be a place of rest on the journey, even as we know heaven is our final rest!
  • Will be  a place where we (and all who visit) have a sense of God's presence and where we hear his Word.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Why did you choose this house?

This questions, “Why did you choose this house?”  has come up over and over again both from expatriate friends and Nigerians.  I have had a lot of reasons for staying in this home, and I wanted to share a few as I prepare my mind for this transition. 

The first family I worked with when I moved to Cameroon as an itinerant teacher was the Jacksons.  Their home was open to everyone, they were accessible and their home was a place of refuge.  I met peace core workers, refugees, Muslims, previously abused children, handicapped children, and many fantastic Cameroonian and expatriate Christians who regularly visited their home.  Mrs. Jackson (Mommy Karissa) has since gone to be with Jesus, and Mr. Jackson (Papa Karissa) recently remarried, but what they created in the beautiful home God gave them was the example I wanted to follow as I established a ministry in West Africa.

Our current home (until Saturday) is accessible because it is in a Nigerian neighborhood with no guard at the compound gate.  All of our neighbors are Nigerian. We can walk to church, even in high heels! We live rather simply, with no running water, no battery back up system for when the power is out (at least 12 out of every 24 hours), a mini fridge and small chest freezer.  Our furnishings are simple, and we have a big dining room table that can always fit one more.   We have cement floors, with a plastic carpet for decoration in the living room area. Our Nigerian friends have come to realize that they can indeed stop in for a visit, though they were dubious at first because they have heard that expatriates don’t generally prefer unexpected visitors.  Children are free to come to our home and read the many books or play the games we have acquired with them in mind.  Mariama loves children and will often squeal with delight as they remove their shoes at the front door, flapping her arms in a joyful wave of welcome.  If visitors are here during evening meal or devotion time, they are invited to join us.
When I married Zach, our family culture grew in this living space, and I would choose this home again and again to begin our family if I had the choice.  What we longed for has happened here.  We love the shopkeepers just outside the gate, access to the main road, the 10 minute walk to the office, our neighborhood, and the bouganvillia that are finally growing in our front yard! 

Our new compound is very large, gated, and has 4 guards on duty all the time.  It is on the main road. Everyone living there is expatriate.  There are a lot of trees, grass, flowers, and children living all around. It is very quiet.  The house is tiled and there is running water.  There is even a water heater so we can have warm water on demand.  

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...