Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Karis has met a new little friend. Bethany is 7 years old and lives down the street from us. She only speaks French, so right now she just comes over and she and Karis play without talking. It is quite interesting.
As you can see, our Christmas tree is more complete now. Thanks to help from missionaries here, we painted ornaments, made snowflakes and tied bows on our tree to make it look more festive. I'm really going to hate to have to take it all down.
We've done all kinds of Christmas festivities this weekend. We went to a kids Christmas program at one church and a Christmas day program at another. Here you either go to church on Christmas Eve night really late or you go on Christmas day. It was quite fun to get to worship the Lord corporately on the day we celebrate Jesus' birth.
On Christmas eve we had a little yard party and invited the people that work for the mission and other neighbors and friends. We had about 60 there to eat rice and sauce, cookies and other assorted goodies. I was in charge of making cookie bags to give out as a small Christmas gift. Needless to say, I'd rather not see another cookie any time soon. Caleb, Karis, Noah and Bethany did a little skit of the first Christmas. They mostly acted out their parts while a narrator read. It took a little practice though as it was all done in French.
We had a great Christmas, but of course we missed you all. We opened gifts, took a friend to church with us and then gathered together as a mission family to eat. We got to sing carols together which is great because it's the only time we get to sing in a group in English. I don't think the Africans are big on Christmas songs as I haven't been able to pick out a Christmas theme in the songs we've heard recently.
I have lots of pictures right now, so if I am still posting Christmas pictures in the next few weeks, you'll know why.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Saturday, December 15, 2007
We are getting some routines established here which is nice. I remember thinking back in July that it would be a long time before there was a normal again.
The missionary women all get together for Bible study every Tuesday night. The men, not to be outdone by their wives and sisters in Christ, get together to pray that their favorite team wins the football game that was recorded over the weekend that they watch while we do Bible Study! So it is Tuesday night football in
Fridays have become another silly ritual for us. We all get together in the kitchen and make chicken nuggets and fries for dinner. The kids pretend to be little chefs and dip and bread the meat. Then they pretend to take orders for the family waiting in the dining room for dinner and set their table. Then we all sit down when it’s ready and say how glad we are that we didn’t have to cook supper tonight.
Our tutors come most mornings of the week, so between them and home school we are pretty busy until lunch. We usually head out in the afternoons to run errands or find people with whom to speak French. The kids here are out of school on Wednesdays, so this week we found a few kids to come over and kick a ball around and play jump rope in the afternoon.
Almost every evening we go out to speak French with our night guard. He’s gotten very accustomed to us coming and seems so happy to have someone to talk with. He fusses when we are late or miss a night. It makes bath and bed time a little hard to get our evening routine done, but gives us some practice we need.
On Friday mornings Mike goes out with a group of men to share the gospel with whoever they find. He really enjoys getting to be a part of this although he can’t share much yet.
We’ve been to the same church now for several weeks. We are beginning to figure out how the service works and what to do when. They have just poured a cement slab floor which is nice for keeping the sand out of your sandals.
We are now waiting for a season here called Harmattan. It is a period of only a few weeks here where we are that dust blocks out the sun and makes it look cloudy. Since the temperatures are really heating up now we are looking forward to this blessing/curse. We understand that everything is covered in a thick layer of dust, but the cloudy look lowers the temperature in the day and night.
Mike got to go to the bush this last week. He enjoyed his time visiting in the village and took this great photo of a termite mound. Hopefully we can all go next time.
Our missionary friends here have helped us make ornaments for our tree so that we’ll be all ready for Christmas. It is still very odd to think that Christmas is on its way when it is so hot and green. We are missing Christmas Carols too, but our city of
The missionaries that are still here on Christmas will get together to eat and celebrate the birth of Jesus. Of course we will miss you all, but are thankful that we have people here with whom to gather.
Mike and I will celebrate our 12th wedding anniversary on Sunday. It is crazy to think that it has been 12 years already. I am thanking the Lord for this special gift in my life. I pray that God will give me the grace and ability to be the helpmeet Mike deserves.
Thank you for your prayers. We love you all and Merry Christmas to you.
Saturday, December 1, 2007
Whew! Sorry it's been so long since I posted. We had a little malaria scare last weekend as you know and it threw us off for a few days!
We had a lovely Thanksgiving. We hope you did as well. The kids made gingerbread cookies for our celebration with Aunt Barbara. We got together with all of the missionaries here and ate chicken, dressing, cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes along with a whole bunch of other things! We thanked God for our new friends and all of our friends and family back in the States!
As you all know Caleb came down with Malaria the weekend after Thanksgiving, but the malaria battle seems to be over. He has made a full recovery and is busy as usual! Thank you for your prayers for him. Just as I posted that he had malaria and it was know big deal, Karis ran over to tell us that he was throwing up. His fever went very high and he lost all of the contents of his stomach, but very suddenly the vomiting was over as quickly as it came. I can't help but think that was due to the prayers of those getting our email. By all accounts from others, that should have lasted a few hours. His fever remained high through the night, but he was able to sleep without having to get up to toss his cookies! It's funny that you can get so excited about someone not throwing up!
We had a great prayerwalking experience on Wednesday. We went to the little neighborhood where we've been attending to walk and pray. We had a volunteer team here that went with us. Many got to share the gospel although none responded. We were able to pray with many individuals about needs in their lives. We also got to meet the chief of the Mossi there in that area. That was a scary and fun thing. He is a Muslim, but allowed us to pray for him. He did not stick around while we did it, though. He sent us on with his blessings saying that we serve the same God. We pray that the Lord will open his eyes to THE TRUTH.
It is in the 90s and yet we are putting up our Christmas tree today! The kids are so happy to be putting up the tree today as it means Christmas time has come again. The stores here are decorated in really bright colors and lots of tinsel! It's definitely Christmas and this is definitely Africa!
We pray that the Lord blesses you as you begin your preparations for the celebration of the birth of our Savior.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Actually saying that we were at a Mossi church this morning may be stretching things a bit. There are supposed to be Mossi at the church, but it isn’t made up completely of Mossi. We are very interested to know exactly how many Mossi there are there. The service was not in Moore, but French. In any event, we had a great time.
We had a bit of trouble getting there as one of the roads we needed to go on was closed and we had to find a different way there. We finally made our way onto the tiny dirt road that we needed to be on. The path was very small and not necessarily made for cars. People and little shacks crowded the road on both sides. At one point we squeezed through with merely centimeters to spare on either side. We were quite a curiosity passing through in our big four wheel drive vehicle. We drew stares from both sides of the road all of the way down.
When we arrived at our destination, a cement block building with red doors, we hopped out to a sea of smiling faces and even an English “Good Morning”. We were a bit late due to the detour, but were ushered up to the front of the room where the kids and I were deposited on the front way and Mike and Jeff taken on up to the front of the room facing out at the crowd.
Music today came from 4 microphoned singers and what appeared to be a homemade drum set as opposed to the keyboard and guitars we’ve been encountering. It was actually quite nice. Most of the drums were square shaped today as we’d been told that many Africans do to distinguish a church instrument versus a ritualistic drum. After a little while I was joined by a man who translated most of what was said for me into English. They had a great “Conga” line this week with a little one dancing around in the center. All of the other moms had their wee ones tied snuggly on their backs as they danced.
The pastor preached to his congregation about the comfort of God through suffering and how we should hold one another up as we experience trials. The church had lost a deacon in the previous week due to cancer. I couldn’t help but think about how much suffering and loss that the congregation must face every week, that I’ve never had to face.
After the service we had a huge hand shaking line that began with the pastor and those seated with him at the front and continued on to include the whole congregation. After you shook hands with those already in line, you joined the line. It was quite fun.
We managed to attract more than a little attention with our camera at church. Mike had pulled it out to snap some pix of the drummers and then others began to ask to have their picture taken. We got a smile from all as they saw their face appear on the screen after the picture was taken.
Our kids drew an immediate kid crowd too. They were quickly joined by all of the small kids there. They had a good time sharing their names with us, which is about all that we can really do yet unless someone wants us to count to 100, name some veggies or conjugate a few verbs! One kid around Caleb’s age took on the role of protector. He ushered our kids outside by the hand and then as it was time to go, pried Karis loose of all of the sweet little girl hands that had her and deposited her over to the car. It was funny to hear one of the little girls comment to another as Karis walked away: “Elle(she) parle(speaks) Anglais (English)." They stood in a little pile and waved goodbye as far as they could see us. In translation later on we were told, the adults told Jeff they want us to come every week. Right now, it’s where I’d love to be. It is the warmest welcome we’ve received so far. We so want to be among those we came here for.
Monday, November 19, 2007
We’ve had a good week. Learning French is very tiring and frustrating, but we are having a good time anyway. There have been several sounds in words this week that my American mouth just can’t seem to form. After many, many attempts with my tutor’s corrections, he’ll just smile shake his head and go on!
Caleb and Karis got their bikes this week. They had needed a new bike in the states, but we just put it off as we knew that we could not bring it with us. So we headed off this week to make the purchase. We couldn’t find anything worth buying in the stores, so we headed off to a little neighborhood that has open shops along the streets where you bargain for goods. We found some pretty good bikes for them, but Karis’s is a bit large for her. They didn’t really have her size, so we had to go a little big. After much discussion in Frenglish, we had the bikes and were on our way!
Mike and I both had some pretty neat encounters this week. Mike went out with one of our missionary neighbors and our night guard to do some street evangelism in our neighborhood with local shop owners and neighbors. Mike followed the conversation as best he could and prayed and joined in where possible.
I had an arranged meeting with a lady that sells fruit about a half mile down the road from our house. One of our missionary friends walked with me early in the week to ask if it would be OK for me to come and sit and listen to her talk with her customers because I’m trying to learn French. She quickly agreed that not only could I come and sit, but that she would have her sister come and walk with me up and down the street to talk to people. When I arrived on Friday, all alone and very nervous, the sister was there waiting for me. She walked with me to some nearby vegetable stands where she told me all of the names of things and made me write them in my notebook. Then we continued down the street for nearly a mile, all the while I’ve got no clue what we are doing or where we are going. She took me to a huge market and paraded me through the whole thing, talking away as we went about what things were. Finally we headed back to the fruit stand where I took my leave. I was so appreciative to God for bringing this kind woman to teach me things. I understood very little of our conversation, but that’s OK for now. My new language helper’s name is Wassa and hopefully I’ll see her again this Friday.
One of our missionaries here had a funny experience this week, at least funny after the fact. Greg and Laura have been in
We are very thankful right now for God’s provision here as well as in the states. All of our language and other needs are being met in exciting ways. Thank you for all the prayers you are lifting on our behalf and for the Mossi people.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
We visited another new church today. We haven’t been to the same church twice yet. Fun differences in service here are that they spend the first 1 to 2 hours in prayer, private confession and intercession, and praise and worship, 30 – 45 minutes on sermon and then 15-30 minutes on announcements. They don’t dance much here. Most people have a good sway going, and may shuffle their feet a bit, but that’s about all. The first part of the service is devoted to a more solemn time of prayer and singing and then they start singing more lively songs and clapping after that. They have an interesting clap rhythm that is hard to explain, but we are catching on. Some of the women carry small handkerchiefs or tissues that they use when they are singing the happy songs with hand motions. Something that hasn’t failed to make me smile yet is a little “Conga” line that breaks out as the happy songs go on. They range in size each week at the different churches, but we’ve always had one so far. Mike is threatening to join one, but hasn’t gotten the nerve yet.
Driving is quite interesting here. I haven’t yet tried as I am very unsure behind the wheel of a stick shift and the dodging of people, bicycles, potholes, and other drivers is still too scary to me. More than once we’ve watched or been cut off by a taxi driver making a left hand turn from the right lane. And turn lanes or driving lanes are just made by how many cars fit abreast and which direction the driver intends to go. It all definitely makes for an interesting ride. In addition to that fun, the horn here is used to say, “I’m “beside you”, “I’m passing you”, “Don’t crowd me out”, “The light is green”, “The light is red but I want to go anyway”, “Get out of the way pedestrian”, “Go faster”, “Let me pass”, and many other things I haven’t figured out yet. Someone here has said that Africans are never in a hurry until they get behind the wheel of a car.
We are enjoying living on the mission compound right now. Our neighborhood is nice and very tropical looking. There is always someone to talk to or visit here with two other families here and 3 single women plus those that are passing through the guest house rooms from time to time. The kids think it is great fun to visit their missionary family. It has been a little difficult to make contact with other African children, though. All houses in this neighborhood are surrounded by a 10-12 foot wall. We are hoping to make some good Mossi contacts soon.
We are going to visit a Mossi church next week. We had no idea that there was one, and so are excited about getting to go. The service is in French rather than their language. It should be fun.
Speaking of French, we are still trying desperately to learn enough to hold up even a 3 minute conversation. I was able to communicate to our house help that were going to the store for the first time. We are learning, it’s just going to take time.
Someone just brought by a litter of puppies. The kids are really missing our dogs. I really miss our dogs. It’s usually great being here, but sometimes it’s hard. We love our new friends and mission family, but we miss so much our family and our friends. Karis said yesterday, “Mom, it’s never going to be the same.” She’s right.
Life is beginning to take on routines. We’ve gotten in two full weeks of French tutoring and two full weeks of school. The kids both have their beds and we have plates and dishes and cookware and living room furniture. I have tried my hand at African brownies and chocolate chunk cookies (no chips here). Both met with hearty approval! We know where the grocery stores are and the markets and the mall and our favorite produce stops. We have a beef guy that drives by the house on Monday and a fruit guy that brings his goods to the mission compound to sale. I couldn’t quite bring myself to buy the chicken out of the back of a station wagon last week that drove up to our gate, but maybe some day I’ll be brave enough. I doubt it though.
We love you guys so much.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
It has been forever since I’ve been able to write. Life right now is very hectic. We need help to do anything we do, so we have to be ready to go and do things when help is available.
We are in our new home. The scenery here is very pretty. We are surrounded by IMB missionaries which gives us plenty of help for now. Our missionaries in Abidjan right now live in of two compounds. We may eventually be living somewhere else, but for now we are here.
We have just begun our language learning. I’ve tried to prepare myself for how hard it will be, but when I find myself in the middle of it, it seems even harder than I thought. It doesn’t take much to completely fry my brain and then I begin to think about how long it will take to get it at this pace!
Just living takes longer here. That’s not necessarily bad, just different. To be able to make a quick meal, you have to prepare to be lazy. We have some house help now, though, and once I figure out how to communicate with her on really ANY level, she can help me with meal preparation. And there are some short cuts here that aren’t available to most of the rest of West Africa but you really have to pay for them. We also have places to go and grab a bite to eat if we want to pay for that, but we don’t speak French! J Are you beginning to see a pattern? I will be thrilled to be able to communicate some basic things one of these days!
We’ve got tentative plans to take our first real day off on Saturday. We are hoping to get to go to the beach. The funny thing is that we could very easily walk to the lagoon here from our house, but the lagoon smells, well, more than a little odd. Some might go so far as to say it smells pretty bad. So if the warnings about the pollution in it weren’t enough to keep us away, the smell probably will!!! We are told we can get to a good beach in about 30 minutes, so we plan to try that.
Please continue to pray for our Mossi people. If it was frustrating to be in the States and not being able to minister to those for whom we felt called it is so much more so here. We can even see and touch them here, but not even communicate in French let alone their heart language. I’ve got several faces etched in my memory. We just pray that the Lord will be working in their hearts. We’ve heard from many that there are Mossi in many French services.
Thanks for remembering us. We feel so far away, but you are all with us in our hearts!
I can't get our pictures to upload now. I'll try to soon.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Friday, September 14, 2007
Thursday, September 13, 2007
We are having another great week at ILC. It is so hard to believe that we are almost done with what seemed like an incredibly long stay when we considered it two months ago. We've learned a lot and hope to really be able to retain the knowledge and put it to use. We have less than three weeks left here.
We have shots again next week. They will be our last round of shots before we leave! The nurses here are great, but I'll be glad to say goodbye to their needles!
We will be going to Washington DC tomorrow. It will be more of a ministry trip than sightseeing, but maybe we'll be able to take in some sights while we are there.
Our electricity free weekend will be this weekend so that we can get a taste of what it might be like to have to do without it occasionally. Some of the girls here with us will be doing without it until they come back home to the states. We hope it will be a fun little exercise.