Wednesday, March 28, 2018

In the Lord's ditch

We were taking an evening prayer walk around our compound, and we heard Mariama, who is often exploring some fantastically exciting leaf or blade of grass, singing cheerfully as she climbed out of a grassy ditch, "I am in the ditch, I am in the ditch, I am in the ditch of the Lord." She repeated the refrain quite melodically several times, before Zach and I joined in heartily.

Thank you, Mariama, for that inspired masterpiece.  That is just how I feel and I didn't know how to put it!  I wrote about "small buckets" when I was pregnant with Mariama. Now I feel like the "buckets" in my left and my right hands are not only huge, but numerous!  It's not that they've grown, necessarily, but that everything seems heavy and the demands plentiful.

Returning to Nigeria with our new little charge, Lydia, I was determined to "be more selective" and "say 'no' more often." But there is so much water in this ditch, and I just need more buckets to heave it out!  Here is a sample of a few buckets we are hauling around here...some quite literally.

Bucket 1:  Lydia.  She is soon to be 5 months. Thankfully she is a good sleeper...during the day...and enjoys being held and talked to by...anybody! She also doesn't coo...she shouts with a much lower pitched voice than her elder sister.  Smiles are plentiful and  always given with a wide, toothless mouth.

Bucket 2: Mariama. Mariama is going to be 3 years old in July.  She will tell you she's homeschooled because every child here her age is in school.  Most mornings "homeschool" includes two hours of Mariama time.  We do our "School chart," watch an educational PBS science video while I do her hair, read some books, and a number of other activities depending on the day including making yogurt, making bread, cutting and pasting paper, painting, and riding her bike!

Bucket 3: Daso.  A lovely 12 year old, Daso is a big help with Mariama and Lydia when she's home from school and done with her homework.  Zach does an hour of math with her most days, which has proved to be very rewarding. She is full of questions and is learning a lot about her faith, being kind to those who are unkind, and she wants to become.

Bucket 4: Beautiful Me.  (A previous post on Bme) We had our last official meeting for this group of young ladies on Saturday, the 24th of March.  We will host a talent show and film show on the 27th of April as one more opportunity for the girls and their moms to have fun together. The girls will be preparing a dance to the song "Gold" by Brit Nicole on our theme of being beautiful inside and out.  I have taken on this challenge of being a mom who connects with my tween girl on different levels.  What we are asking mothers to do is something totally new to them. Oh, how we pray that the time spent with them will bear fruit in their lives, making their walk with their girls more joyful and carry a greater impact.

Bucket 5: Children's Bible Study.  There are now 6 adult teachers and 6 young people who are learning to be leaders for the children's Bible study on Thursday at our church.  50 children is the average on a Thursday evening where these teachers are mentoring and loving children to Jesus.  We are praying for a window of opportunity to train the new young members of the team (including Daso) who are eager to lead.

Bucket 6: Training. I have been invited to teach storying, children's Scripture engagement, and family prayers (devotions) to a group of students from TCNN (Theological College of Northern Nigeria) for the Scripture Engagement class.  This is one of the reasons I wanted to get my masters degree, so I could work with students from this institution.  I was also asked to train a group of colleagues on a curriculum for engaging children with Scripture. (Where it began)  We pray that we will be used by God to help communities invest in their children in a new way in the mother tongue.

Bucket 7: Food preparation. I spend about 5-6 hours a day preparing food for my family. In fact, I should wrap this up so that can happen!

Please pray with us that the little buckets of our every day would make a big impact in the Kingdom of God, and that we would not grow weary in doing well...especially in the Lord's ditch.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

May God still speak through Naboth

Left to right: Helen, Princeton, Zach, and Mark. (Rachel not shown)
"We have 14 testers who will be traveling all around Duya land testing the translation with Duya speakers," Mark shared with excitement about the progress he had just seen a few days ago.  Not only would they be testing their choice of words in the Duya translation of Matthew, John, Galatians, and Colossians, but some of the testers would even try to use some of the the audio recordings of these to do what we call a Scripture Listening and Reading Group (SLRG).  Equipped only with a single experience of an SLRG and a printout of the questions that Zach had e-mailed Mark from his phone on the weekend, we are hopeful that some of these testers will get excited about what God can do in SLRGs.  We talked excitedly about how we can make plans for further SLRG trainings involving the church leaders in Duya.

Suddenly, in passing, Mark made a comment that struck my heart.  "It will be a bit strange for people when they turn on the audio player and hear Naboth's voice."  Naboth, a gentle young Duya translator had just died in an accident with a grinding machine, just that weekend.   Our office and many people in Duya land were still dealing with the shock and grief of his loss.  How would they feel listening to the Bible read by a young brother they had just lost?  We prayed together, and ask you to join us in praying for God to speak even through these recordings of our late brother's voice.
  • Please pray for all who grieve Naboth's loss
  • Please pray that God will call Duya speakers to lead SLRGs.
  • Please pray for God to speak through the audio recordings of his Word in Naboth's voice.
For a photo of Naboth and more information to guide you as you pray, see this blog post by Wycliffe UK: 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Mango Season

One of the joys of growing up in a country where you only get the yumminess of mangoes for 3 months out of the year...celebrating the first juicy ones that come to the ground!  In a couple of months we'll have hundreds of mangoes that go to waste in our front yard despite our efforts to "drink" (you don't eat mangoes, you drink them) them at every opportunity.

Mr. Ezekiel, one of the gate guards, shared his sweet find with Mariama.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Zach is in Ogoja?

Zach and Princeton board the bus in Ogoja
I am in Ogoja?  I find it hard to believe.  Although I had been talking with our team for about a month about the work we need to do here, I had thought until Saturday that someone else was going.

On Monday, I not only confirmed that I was the one to go, but also found out the trip needed to be on Tuesday.  That was a quick change in plans.

Please thank God for the safe journey to Ogoja, and pray for our conversations with the speakers of the Bokyi language.  A couple of years ago our partners did some Scripture Listening and Reading Group (SRLG) training with some Bokyi speakers.  Our colleague Linus even did a follow-up training.  Now we want to see how the small groups from this training are doing, and consider training some of the leaders for further follow-up training.  Please pray for us to have wisdom and listening ears on Wednesday as we want to plan well together with the local people.  Also pray for Princeton, one of our new colleagues, to quickly pick up the skills in this kind of planning.

Thank God for the dedication of the Jesus Film and Audio recordings of Luke that will be launched on Friday and Saturday in four languages: Mbe, Obe, Nkim-Nkum, and Ekperi.  Please pray for the few words we may speak at each of these dedications, for God to spark more engagement with his Word.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

What do you eat in Nigeria?

We are often asked when we visit the United States, "What do you eat in Nigeria?" 
Compliments of Aunty
Nnenna who has a food snapchat going, here's a "taste" for you! 

Upon seeing this picture, Mariama asks"Tuwo! Are we going to eat it?" because it is her favorite food.  This tuwo is made from a very big potato like tuber called yam and pounded in a mortar.

"Pizza mommy, pizza! I want to say I love you to it." -Mariama

Strawberries...a seasonal treat. Daso and Aunty Nnenna ate strawberry shortcake for the first time!

Often our Friday food is special!  Like hamburgers, fries, and coleslaw! Everything made from scratch.
Different colors?  That's because we've found that Daso is allergic to milk!  Pancakes are a Saturday or Sunday specialty! We grind our wheat in the blender, and the white flour comes from the market.

You know that easy meal from a jar? Well, this spaghetti has tomatoes that were brewed for over an hour, garlic that was  peeled from teeny little cloves, basil leaves that needed to be plucked, washed, and the sand removed, onions that make you cry like you just stubbed your pinky toe, meat that you called to get ground that morning and picked up from your favorite meat seller, Mr Lucky, and Parmesan cheese imported from the United States.  No jars involved, but it still tastes great!
No one can say you're suffering when you can make your own hummus, and buy avocados year round at a great price, slathering it on bread you bought from the bakery a block away.

Cheesecake is a big treat when you use Philadelphia, but when you can buy buttermilk from a local Fulani woman sitting on the side of a busy 4 lane road, drained the whey through a multi-purposed baby's wrapping cloth overnight to find creamy cheesiness in the morning...from the conception of the idea, your mouth waters...then you wait for three days until it actually happens.
I imagine the conversation: "Why are you drooling, Christy?"  "I'm thinking about my cheescake I'm going to make next week when I finally remember to bring my bucket to my Fulani friend, and make my cream cheese...of course."  
Now this is a good snack! Sent to her from the U.S. by someone who raised her children in Nigeria, Mariama is enjoying cheerios.  This has to be the first time I ever cried for joy upon seeing cheerios!
Left-over yam is made into yam balls! Deep-fried yumminess.

Alele (Moi-Moi...the orange thing)
is made from
skinned and ground black eyed peas.
It happens to be one of Mariama's favorite
foods.  The blender was dropped the other day
and I wanted the offender to understand
the importance of the blender.  I said, "No more
smoothies, ground wheat, peanut butter,
tomato sauce or hummus.  No more Moi-moi..."
Mariama cut in and with thick disapointment said,
"No more moi-moi?" Well, I guess I know what's
on the top of her list!

Monday, March 5, 2018

New Leaders!

Luka and Iliya (facing the camera) as Iliya leads a meeting
Thank God with us for new leaders in Scripture Engagement!

While we were in the US, Iliya became the new Vernacular Media Services team leader.  Iliya has many years of experience as part of the team and is a natural leader.  When I (Zach) asked Iliya to lead a meeting recently, he planned and led it much better than I would have done it.  Thank God for Iliya's experience, intuition in working together, his willingness to talk about what matters most, and his willingness to help lead our team!

Also, thank God for Rachel, she was the first person to be asked to be a "Scripture Engagement" staff.  I asked her if she could lead one of the three sub-teams of our Scripture Engagement team and she agreed!  Thank God with us for her organization, energy, pioneer mindset, and willingness to  help lead our team!

By the way, you can thank God for Peter who has been leading our EthnoArts team and will continue to lead it!

I, Zach, am still the leading these leaders to ensure that we all work together well.  You can thank God for the weight off my shoulders with this capable help!

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...