Tuesday, June 26, 2018


"This really helped us to see what we are wanting to do." said one children's Bible study teacher, "We now know how to continue to help these children be disciples of Jesus."  Later another teacher said, "They really enlightened us on so many things when they came."  This response made me smile because the facilitators of the discussion hadn't said anything.  We, the children's workers, had done all the talking.
The flower tool that helped us talk about the outcomes, activities, steps, and foundation to helping children be disciples of Jesus.

We have a deep desire to see community driven initiatives in language development, Scripture engagement, and Bible translation.  Zach is part of a team of 6 trainers equipping 20 participants to lead these kinds of discussions.  This training is an answer to prayer and much discussion with administration over the years. We are praising God for all of the participants and praying that this training will equip them to give voice to community's needs and desires.

"Uh...is anyone confused?...as a matter of fact, I am!"

This training will round up on Friday.  Please be praying for those who are driving long distances each morning to attend, that God will keep them safe on the roads.  Please pray for unity and stamina for everyone involved.  Pray for good practice facilitation groups, that they will be meaningful and have great impact.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

"Sounds American!"

Tonight I called my mom and told her what my day looked like:
7am-8:30am training with Bible study teachers
9:00am eat pancakes for breakfast
9:30am load pictures to send to Walgreens for Grandma
10am play frisbee
12:pm heat soup for pot luck
12:30pm mow lawn
1:10pm go to potluck
5:30pm return home
6pm reheat soup
7pm watch Llama Llama on netflix
7:30pm help Mariama go to bed
8:30pm continue loading pictures
9:30pm check facebook
10:00pm write this blog

"Sounds like a normal American day!" my mom said.
"Yes, it does...let me expand a bit." I replied.

7am-8:30am Training with Bible study teachers.  I woke up at 6:10am to get ready to ride my bike with Daso down to the church.  We start out on a paved road, then drive down a dirt road that quickly turns into an unbikable path that leads us to the church where two teachers were already waiting on long backless benches inside a room with cement floor and colorfully painted walls.
9:00am Eat pancakes for breakfast.  I return home to Zach who is making pancakes with the sour milk I bought fresh yesterday but didn't have room for in my mini refrigerator overnight.
9:30am Load pictures to send to Walgreens for Grandma.  Our internet is flaky so this takes about 5 hours over 3 days.  So great, though, that my Grandma in New York can get pictures of my family in Nigeria at her local drugstore! 
10am Play frisbee. I haven't played frisbee since before I got pregnant with Lydia due to back aches, pregnancy, and overbusiness. This Saturday, though, I had stayed up until 12:30am preparing everything I needed so I could make frisbee happen for the whole family. When we reached the international school where we play, the 6 guards on duty told us that it wouldn't be possible today.  With a baby on my hip, a walker in my right hand, and snacks in the other, I explained to them that I really needed to play today.  They apologetically stated that there were exams and that the students would be distracted (As a huge truck roared past blaring it's horn followed by a train of cars doing the same thing because that's what cars do...all the time...to declare they're on the road, they are about to overtake you or to find out if you need a ride. "No one's telling them they can't drive past the compound!" I thought to myself)  Continuing in Hausa, we came to an agreement that we could play if we were quiet. I gave 3 Nigerian guy friends the "serious mom look", and said, "no problem for me, I don't know about them."  They laughed heartily...because that was funny given the person glaring at them.
12pm Heat soup for pot luck.  This was a lovely invitation extended to me by an American couple. Soup is not a "thing" in Nigeria. I don't make soup.  Daso and Mariama don't eat it, and I don't find it all that fun or challenging.  Why I still like the challenge of cooking when I spend hours doing it every day says something scary about my personality, I'm not sure what.  So, I made a soup, and it was way more soup than I ever wanted to eat, but I was excited that I had made one.  I also reheated meat pies.
12:30pm Mow lawn.  I LOVE mowing. It was my job as a kid in upstate New York.  The smells and sounds of grass being cut fill me with happy, safe feelings (nothing like a big sharp blade to make me feel safe).  Today, however, this was quite a feat for someone who hasn't owned a lawn mower as an adult until now!  The grass had needed a cutting for about a month. We are now the proud owners of a gasoline lawnmower that is supposed to use a bag to catch the grass, but was sold second hand without it.  This means that the grass, pebbles, sticks, toads (just kidding) kick out at your feet because of the gaping hole I propped open with Mariama's former walking stick. (It's a very nicely painted propper.) The grass was up to my knees, so I had to let my mower sputter and cough regularly in a wheely position.
1:10pm Go to potluck.  We were late, so no one at my soup or meat pies...well, we did for the next few days, as did our guards and community cat.
5:30pm Return home.  This is more fun than ever because we now have a car that we are borrowing!  What a thrilling thought when I realize I can put the kids in the car and go somewhere, like a potluck.  Oh, and we can drive other single missionaries and carless people around too!  I often stop and drive someone who's walking along the road to their next stop because I remember pleading passing cars in my head to stop and pick me up when I was out walking with a baby on my back and a toddler at my side.  Home is also an interesting mix of cultures.  We live in a guarded, gated compound, with trees and landscaped plants all around.  We have a baobab, guava, 5 varieties of mango, orange, pomelo, grapefruit, lemon, frangipani, flame, palm, and other flowering trees in our compound. We also have 2-4 guards on duty who open the gate for us to drive in and greet us happily in Hausa. We have 2 full time gardeners on the compound as well who keep it looking lovely.  Home sounds so simple, and it is. Interesting how when I say "home," what comes to your head and what comes to mine will be very different, almost unimaginable for either of us. (So I'll include some pictures which cannot encompass the feelings, smells, sounds, or personalities that make home what it is, but it's something!)  

6pm Reheat soup.
7pm Watch Llama Llama on Netflix. To have internet we can stream on is amazingly fun! We can watch all kinds of exhilarating shows like Llama Llama, Barney, and Sid the Science kid.  We have not had internet that would bring all our email messages in at once, let alone Skype or stream movies. Yeah for progress!
7:30pm Help Mariama go to bed.  This probably looks exactly like it would in the US, besides the mosquito nets, mattress on the floor, and and generator humming outside so we can have light.
8:30pm Continue loading pictures...almost there now!
9:30pm Check Facebook.  Now that I've lived in five states and five countries and work in an international organization for 12 years, my Facebook is an incredible journey around the world! Reading facebook takes me to exotic places where friends I love live, and nostalgia often catches me with a tear either of laughter or missing
 10:00pm Write this blog, which I love to do, but rarely get enough time to do well.

Hope my "American Saturday" finds you well!

Friday, June 22, 2018

Happy Father's Day!

Our Father's day began at 5:15am when we woke up to prepare for sharing at Aunty Victoria's church.  We had known about the event coming up, but planning just hadn't happened until Sunday morning.

Thankfully, the night's sleep had erased the traces of pumpkin brain (this happens to Zach around 9pm) and impatient "I'm-tired-too-so-deal-with-it-and-let's-get-this-thing-sorted" me, and we were now cleaned up and happy to be doing life together.  Amazing how that works!

By 7:40am we were mostly planned, and out the door...with all three children! Amazing how that worked!

After two church services, where we took the sermon time, and Scripture sharing afterward, we felt exhilarated and thankful to be in this country, with such diverse, accepting people. The pastor who had invited us said, "I often ask those who speak my language to stay after, and they never do. Today, though, I could see it in their eyes, what you said touched them.  There were 30 people gathered around him after church to talk about how to begin using the Bible in their language.  They invited us back for a two day seminar on audio Bible studies.
Pastor Sunday who invited us to his church.

This picture shows the highlight of my day.  Zach asked everyone who had the Bible in their language to stand up.  Aunty Victoria, in white on the right, proudly raised her Bible up over her head, as though she carried the Olympic torch.  She is still learning to read it, but as a deep woman of faith, she knows the treasure she holds in her hand.

People sing answer my call, "Who has your sword?"  "I have my sword" "What is your sword? "The Word of God!"
We went home and I got busy on our evening pumpkin soup meal that Zach had chosen when I realized two burners had been left on and there was no cooking gas.  We ordered Indian (which happens to be just around the corner.  While Zach and Daso went to pick it up, I made a card prepared the table outside, and placed our family pictures around so we could each present to Daddy what we loved about him. 

Celebrating Father's is great, especially when we consider we have been made heirs with Christ, that our Father invites us to abide in him and bear fruit, and then reveals the harvest field that he's prepared. What a rich existence it is, remaining in this Fatherly love. Thankful for this Father's day that reminded us of so many things we love about our heavenly Father.

Sharing audio Scripture to people's phones.

Mariama asked for a picture with her friends.

Aunty Victoria with Mariama

Mariama made some new friends at church!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Mangos n Stuff

The ordinariness of it is astounding to someone living in other parts of the world where mangoes are purchased from a store for the same price you could make a fabulous (avocado free) taco dinner. The mangoes just keep dropping from the trees, into my tadpole bucket, onto our picnic tables, rolling around on the ground, squishing under our feet.  One could get used to it, but all to soon it will be over.  Therefore, the harvesting and preservation has begun!  It looks like this:

Collect mangoes with Mariama.

Collect mangoes in the tree and throw them down to Mariama

Peel and cut the mangoes.
Then we put them in a dehydrator that someone is lending us.  It is electric, so as long as the electricity stays on, we have scrumptious dried Mango (fruit leather, mango pieces) in about 24-30 hours.
Local berries and kale have also found their way into the dehydrator...in fact, I can't eat a plant or fruit without thinking how it might taste dried.  Avocado almost took away my appetite tonight (dried avacado?), but I got over the thought and we ate them (all seven of them) for dinner.

Despite the ordinariness of it all, it's also quiet extraordinary because mango season comes on and goes fast.  We're not the only ones excited by our mangoes.  We also have young friends who pick regularly to go and sell them.  Sometimes I collect 10 mangoes as tax, but usually they leave with a bag on their head and in their hand with the juicy sweetness they will sell: four for 6 cents.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

It's not about the diapers

Hanging diapers on the line, this morning, I had a simple thought.  "It's not about the diapers.  Christy appreciates the little things I do to help keep our house clean, but the biggest way I can help her is to open up ways for her to get to do things that really have deep meaning."

Please keep praying with us as our roles and schedules keep changing as our family grows. Pray for opportunity for meaningful service, as well as clean diapers!

Why am I wearing a helmet? See the blog post on A rear-view mirror.

A rear-view mirror

You might expect with a title like "rear-view mirror" that this post will be reflecting on things gone by.  But it isn't, except in a literal sense.  It is actually about a rear view mirror.

Ever since I came to Nigeria, my Grandpa has been asking me if I have a bike and if I ride it here.  My Grandpa bikes hundreds of miles each year. So does my dad.  When I am in the U.S., I do to.  (Well dozens of miles, maybe?) But until recently, I always answered my Grandpa "Well, in Nigeria I mostly just run."  However, finally I decided to buy a bike for myself.

It is just a cheap second hand bike, but I have had so much fun fixing it up with the things I need to enjoy riding here: a rack, a kickstand, a helmet, a longer post for the seat, a bell, and ... a rear view mirror.  The last two are essential here.  The bell warns pedestrians, taxis, buses, motorized rickshaws... anyone in front of me that I am coming. Nigerians are used to the bell and they all know what it means.  However, the rear-view mirror was not so simple.

I didn't have any problem communicating with my bike mechanic in the market about all the other parts.  A rack is a "carrier", a bell and a helmet were readily available, and they were even happy to weld a new longer seat post for me.  But when it came to the helmet mirror, all he could find were handlebar mirrors--much too big to attach to a helmet!   I rode across the market to where the window manufacturers work.  I described what I wanted, and they cut me a small piece of mirror.  Back with my bike mechanic friend, I asked for a piece of old spoke, which he helped me to tie on to my helmet with an old piece of rubber tire.  We bent it and attached the small mirror.  It was perfect!

Whenever Nigerians see it they are surprised.  What is this?  Such a small mirror?  Can you see anything with it?  Do you look at it with only one eye?  (Well, I hadn't thought of that before.  Yes, I only use my left eye.)  What is this strange thing?

It may draw attention, but it works perfectly.  Now I can see the traffic coming up behind me, and stay safe on the road!

Collaboration, vulnerabity and trust

From Tuesday through Thursday, leaders of 24 Bible Translation organizations have gathered to discuss how we can work together more intenti...