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. 

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...