Sunday, December 28, 2008

Has Caleb learned to walk on water???

Looks like he can stand on water!!!

Looks like he can walk on water!!!

What do you think???

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Party Pix

Tibire and his youngest daughter

Karis loves the babies!!


And this little chunk is little Mike, Tibire's youngest. Hard to believe he weighed in at around 4lbs at birth!! Thanks for your prayers for him.

Christmas Day Pix

Christmas Carolling

Thanks Gramma and Granddaddy

Perfect gifts from Grandma and Grandpa Frederick!

Merry Christmas!!!

Thank You Nana and Poopa!

I think the face says it all Uncle John and Aunt Lisa!

This face says "It is 12 noon on Christmas day and I've yet to open a gift!"

To all of our wonderful family, dear friends, and all other confused people trying to find the most recent update for your McAfee antivirus, MERRY CHRISTMAS from West Africa!!! It's been a long, but great day for us. This is our second Christmas in Africa and although we miss you all terribly, a feeling of belonging has begun to set in here.

Our Christmas party was a smashing success Tuesday according to those that attended. We had made up 70 gift bags with peanuts, homemade banana muffins, zucchini muffins, and peanut butter cookies. We figured we were making way more than enough, but who wants to run out. At the point that Mike told the story of Jesus birth I counted 55 nationals, not counting our missionaries. I knew a few had already come and gone at that point, but didn't know that many more were yet to come! We gave away every muffin, peanut, cookie, and scrap of popcorn we could find in the house!! We put down about 12 kilos of rice and ate 2 sheet cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and 3 loaves of banana bread, not to mention around 8 gallons of KoolAid!!! After the last family had left and we were taking home the lady who had cooked some of the sauce for us, we were chatting about the party. She said, "You know that was a good party because there is no food left. If everyone just sits around and talks, but doesn't eat, the party is not good, but if they eat all of your food, THAT is a good party!" Hee Hee! So we were all tired, but so glad that not only did we have a good party with good food, Mike told a good story. May the Lord continue to work in the hearts of those that heard. (Now you have to say "AMEN!" that's what a good national would do)

Our teammate Jon was feeling back to normal and did some serious mingling on behalf of the team!!! Poor Autumn and Teresa got stuck in the kitchen doing the dirty work, but we were so thankful to have them doing that. I mostly just ran around in circles forgetting what it was I was looking for.

We had a lovely time at church this morning. That's what you do here on Christmas, go to church. The kids sang with the other kids in French and then Caleb sang a solo of "Away in A Manger". We came back home, opened gifts (and by open, I mean wildly ripped wrapping paper off of packages and threw to the far corners of the house) and then joined our missionary family for a little Christmas dinner. I ate far too much and then we belted out some Christmas carols and headed home to call as many of the great people that we love so much as we could fit into one evening! To all of those that we didn't get, we love you and miss you. May God bless you all this Christmas season... May you see His lovingkindness in a very real way and grasp how wide is His love for you... May you have peace in your homes... May God's favor and grace rest on you and your families... And may this find you in good health... You have officially been blessed Cote d'Ivoire style! If you were here, you'd have done that for others several times today and in the next week hundreds more times!

Well, if you are feeling a little chilly about now, just hop on the next plane to West Africa and come see us! We'll feed you good food and let you thaw out!

Merry Christmas to all!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Party Time!

Well, today in the sweltering African heat, I've turned on my trusty little oven and raised the temp of my kitchen another 20 degrees! Tomorrow we will gather our mission staff, some neighbors and as many friends as we can fit in our yard. We'll eat rice and sauce, say thank you to those that support us so faithfully and enable us to focus on the purpose for which we were called and sneak in a little opportunity to share the reason that we so gratefully celebrate Christmas! Mike will be telling the story, so pray for clarity of thought and speech for him. We've looked forward to this opportunity for a while. We just hope everything goes smoothly. We'll be doing this with a few less missionaries this year, so it could be interesting.

We said hello to our new teammates last Thursday. They are settling in and enjoying Abidjan after their time in Bamako, Mali. Jon got sick his first night here, but thankfully he seems to be doing much better. We like the Moodys very much and are excited to see what God will use our team to do for His glory.

Our house has been a little lonely today. My friend Agira headed off to spend a month in Burkina and I'll miss her while she's gone. I am so happy that she is getting this opportunity to spend with family though as she's not seen her Mom or 13 year old daughter in 5 years! We are hoping that she'll be able to bring her daughter back to Abidjan with her when she comes next month.

Hopefully I'll get you some pictures of the festive occasion tomorrow if somebody can wrench themselves away from the work long enough to take some.

Know that we are thinking of you during this holiday season. You mean so much to us and we are blessed to have you as friends and family.

Our love to all,

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Storying News

I was writing a teammate about how our storying went yesterday and realized you might enjoy hearing the story too. This is a story of a Muslim lady with 5 kids who works in the market selling and assortment of staple foods for West Africa. Her husband is without work and she is the bread winner for the family trying to sell things that range in price from a few cents up to about a $1. She is from Mali and her French is not great. Storying with her usually entails making a wide circle to describe what it is I am trying to say. It doesn't help that my French lives a little to be desired. Anyway, we usually get there, but I had an especially good day with her yesterday as she is reaching the end of the evangelism set.

We had a slow day yesterday at Vridi, but the story I got to tell went great. As usual, Djenaba was in her normal spot waiting for me to get there. She shoved over her company and gave me preferred spot and after the formalities of greetings jumped right in with "On dit quoi?" I was a little hesitant becuase I had no idea what her relationship was with the lady I just ousted. I asked her if she was ready to hear another story and she immediately piped up with the wrap up of last week. I started telling the resurrection story and she was confused, not by my French, but she was really puzzled about if Jesus wasn't there, where was he. I convinced her to let me keep going after I was sure she was understanding the words, just not the story. I thought she was going to jump up off of the bench when I told her the part about the disciples being together discussing what was going on and Jesus showing up there with them! It was so cute. She totally understood them being afraid, but seemed to piece things together right along with the disciples in the story. When I told the part about Jesus ascending to heaven, she was blown away. I had planned to leave the set as before and go with the Philippian Jailer next week and a recap of creation to Christ. I still will, but at the end of the story she said, "What do we do now?" So I did a small recap of us being seperated from God, all are sinners, Jesus was the perfect Son of God, he suffered the consequence for our sins and died to save us. Salvation is found in turning from our sin and belief in Jesus and his death and resurrection.

As well as this was all going I felt like I needed to wait and let the story unfold next week. I told her we were going to look at a story next of someone who heard the stories of Jesus and wanted to know what to do now. She thought that was a great idea. I told her between now and then, she needs to be thinking about the stories and deciding what she thinks about them. A couple of weeks ago, she saw my story notes in my bag and pulled them out and looked at them. She can read OK and as she started reading what was on the page, she looked up surprised and said, "These are the stories just like you tell them." I told her that the stories come from the Bible and I want to get them just right and so I carry them with me in case I forget something. So when I told her she needed to think about the stories, she said something that made me worry she wasn't connecting the stories with reality. I reminded her that the stories were really true and that they came from the Bible and she said, "Yes, that's right. I saw." We wrapped up with a prayer, because she won't let me leave without praying for her and her family.

Please pray that God works in her heart this week. Pray that she'll count the cost and choose to follow.


A Few More Pix

Agira as usual, happily working!

Agira, husband and other wife




Family Eating

Agira and her youngest daughter Fatou

I had a good but long day Monday. Fortunately enough I only ate chicken and not sheep parts. I got to wash a dissected sheep, but fortunately enough didn't have to eat it. The head did watch me the whole time I was eating. It was a beautiful, but hot day. I spent most of the day with my friend Agira's family. We ate and sat and talked, unfortunately mostly Moore. Since I only know about 10 words in Moore, I wasn't much of a conversationalist. However when I whipped out the camera, I was suddenly the most interesting person there! ;)

Thanks for thinking of us that day.
Love to all,

Monday, December 8, 2008


If you are reading this on December 8, today is the Muslim holiday of Tabaski. Our friends will be celebrating when God provided a subsititute sacrifice for the son of Abraham (although which son this story would be about is something we disagree about). All weekend we've watched huge rams in trucks, taxis and being led down the street on a rope. We've seen them tied to trees in courtyards and grazing peacefully in grassy patches. If they only knew what was to come, they could band together and form a revolt. I really think the number or rams to people here this week is pretty close to even. I'm thinking the big horns they have on their heads could really be the tipping point and they could take the city if they wanted to.

In all seriousness, please pray for us as we will all get opportunities today to give account for the hope within us. Many times we'll get openings to tell the story of Abraham and his son and how God sacrificed his own Son on our behalf. Pray that we make good use of that bridge today and that we follow through in the days to come.

We said goodbye to our good friends the Singermans today. They are on their way to the states to celebrate the holidays with family and for the wedding of their son. This morning I thought to myself, how many more goodbyes will we be asked to say? Some days it seems like that's all we do, but in reality the goodbyes mean that we've been able to say hello and get to know others that we've come to love. It means that we've been blessed immeasurably to have family and friends that we love dearly. It means that our families love us enough to call us and write us and come visit us. It means that instead of getting to see a missionary once a year at a missions conference and hear how they are fulfilling the great commission, that we've been allowed to join together with them, walk alongside them, laugh and love peoples we didn't know before. It means that my kids time with family will be that much more precious and that in between God's given them more aunts and uncles than they could ever imagine. It means that God has granted us the rich blessing of national friends. It means that God is showing us how to love freely and make the most of the time he's given us.

I'm coming to grips with the fact that my perspective has been forever altered by my time here in Cote d'Ivoire. For instance, in this culture if you are strolling down the street with a friend, you would very likely hold their hand. There's nothing that tells your dear friend that you think their great like chatting while linked. Grabbing someone's hand to run across a busy street is also very normal. Now I haven't had someone hold my hand to cross the street since I was a little kid, but now I find myself seeking the protection of being linked into a larger mass should someone decide to try to take me out with their taxi. It's the same principle I tell my kids. Always make sure you are going to make the biggest dent possible, then maybe they'll think twice about running you over. ;) Other random things like running to grab a glass of water when someone comes over is what I do without thinking or ask for permission to leave 30 minutes before I really need to knowing the first answer will be no. I don't think in terms of have I seen my friends this week or month, but have I seen them today knowing that if I haven't they'll ask me if I went on a trip. There are all sorts of weird verbal quirks I've picked up and imagine those will always be with me. I'm even getting used to the idea of a hot Christmas.

Well, thanks for taking this little trip into my crazy thoughts with me. I hope to post some pictures later of how I spent my day.

Love to all,

Sunday, November 30, 2008

It's That Time of Year Again!

No, this is not a restage!!! Daddy wouldn't forget to take pictures of putting up the Christmas tree!!!
This year our nativity was hand carved in Benin!

Of course since it was the Saturday after Thanksgiving, the tree had to go up! Mike and the kids did the work while watching White Christmas. I am so terribly sad that I wasn't home to see the movie!! ;) Not really, I have a strong distaste for that particular film. At any rate, the tree's up and looking good. There is a wooden baby Jesus on the table. We are ready for December!

Since we had so much fun with the staff Christmas party, we are going to try for a sequel. We are still working on the details, but pray for us as we begin to figure out how we can best share the wonderful story of Christmas with those who work here at the mission and a few other friends. I'll try to keep you updated on our plans and specifics. We are looking at Dec. 20 at this point.

Our new teammates are coming this month too! It's going to be a great month. Jon, Teresa and their daughter Autumn will be completing our team in less than 3 weeks. We are so excited to get them here.

With the coming of December we are also reminded of the sacrificial giving that so many of you will do this year in giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas offering. Because of your gifts to that and the Cooperative Program, we are here in West Africa with a car to drive, a house to live in, food to eat, and an instructor to help us learn language. The lives God will touch here with your giving are precious. One day as we gather around the throne, you will stand shoulder to shoulder with those touched by your generosity! We love you and thank you so much.

We wish you could all be here with us as we celebrate the birth of our Savior. We wish you much happiness as you reflect on the gift of Emmanuel with family and friends.

Love to all,

Thanksgiving 2008

Hard to say which turkey's the cutest! Especially if you haven't eaten one in over a year!!!
The kids painted the placements so that our Thanksgiving table would be as beautiful as Gramma's and I tried to imitate Poopa's garnishing, but that didn't go so well.
OK! You may have been up at 4 AM hitting the biggest sales, but we were relaxing at the pool and beach while you waited in line!!
Now that's what I call a dog pile.
GI hope the irony of a dog wearing a Hello Kitty shirt wasn't lost on you.

Well, I know that our first year was up in October, but I didn't really take the time to reflect until this month. I was thinking of the things that I am thankful for. Of course images of you flashed through my mind first, but then came images of faces here. As usual I am most thankful to God for salvation and a way to walk in right relationship with Him. Secondly I am thankful for so many people that he's put in my life. Our list of great family, great in-laws, great friends, brothers and sisters in Christ, and those I so hope will be brothers and sisters in Christ by this time next year is huge!!! This year I was thankful for something strange, though, and that was a newfound ease in our new home. Now I won't try to tell you that we hopped off the plane and felt instantly at home. This has been a long rewarding year of learning language, culture, and just understanding this city. There have been times of great joy and deep grief. We've been sad at times that life goes on without us where you are, but ever so grateful for the opportunities to love and live with those here. Our God is good! The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, Blessed be the name of the Lord!

As you can see from the pics we found a turkey for the festive day last week. Actually we got 2. The missionary families here in our city got together to thank the Lord for all of the blessings he's given us. Please ask me how thankful I was as I finished doing the job of pulling the guts out of the turkey. Now I know you all think you have life hard defrosting your turkey and then extracting a little nice neat packet of things you can either put in gravy, give to the dog or toss. Unfortunately the insides of my turkey were neither packaged nor neat. Well, I guess they were neat if you consider the precise location God put them as neat. I kept thinking to myself, "If this turkey is not wonderful tomorrow, I am going to be furious!" Every comment any missionary ever made about tough, dry turkey ran through my head as I finished my task. Thankfully enough for all involved, the turkey was indeed wonderful. I think I even liked it better as turkey sandwiches later on! By the end of the meal I was joyously stuffed!

Even though it was an American celebration rather than an African one, we had three African friends that also joined us for lunch. Whether or not they thought the food was bizarre they ate along with us and we all laughed and enjoyed our time together.

We spent Friday at the beach/pool, which is one advantage to living where it is HOT! Any day of the year can be a beach day.

I've got more to write, but I'll save that for our other pictures.
Love to all,

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Life and Ministry

Now that the awaited visit is over and our conferences for the year are over, we are back to normal stuff around here. Caleb and Karis are enjoying their extracurricular activities too.

I am enjoying the extra time to spend with my friend Agira. She's such a sweet lady. She believes the stories I tell her, but has told me this week that she has made her choice and she will be Muslim until she dies. I pray that God will change her heart and she will see Jesus as the only way. For now I am enjoying her love for people and life and soaking up all of the cultural knowledge she openly shares with me. I stood in her yard and washed clothes last week. It was great!! :) Don't get me wrong, I've washed things out by hand before, but not out in the yard of a precious African lady who has done this every week since she was a child. You would not believe the amount of begging and pleading and coercing I had to do to be able to do that too. It helps to be a stubbornly, independent American. And if I thought being a blaringly white lady in a West African city was a spectacle, being a blaringly white lady washing laundry in somebody's yard was up there with little green spacemen!!! Now if I can only get Agira to stop giggling when she tells people that she didn't pay the white lady she hired to work at her house because she didn't do a good job, I'll be famous!

I've been enjoying spending some time with a university student who is a new believer. Seeing the Lord work in her life to teach her and bring her another step closer to completion in him is great fun!

I even got to spend a little bit if time with a lady from our church this week. French learning is a lot more fun if you do it while chatting with friends from here there and everywhere!

Our Vridi storying groups are still coming along. In one group, the Muslim with whom we have been storying prayed to accept Christ as Savior. Please pray for him as he explores what all that means for him and his family. Two other groups are also quickly moving toward the arrest, trial and crucifixion. Pray for them as they count the cost of following and are faced with a decision. We are especially missing our supervisor right now and her great insight into this cultural as we continue on. We'll be glad to welcome them back again in late December.

Life is excitingly normal around here too. There are many possibilities in the coming months that are keeping us on our toes. Our new teammates will be joining us in just over a month! We have some churches we are talking with about the possibility of partnering with us! A new baby will be born to my sister's family the first part of next year making the 3rd neice/nephew that I will be thrilled to meet for the first time at our next homecoming! A strategist is still on track to be with us for the first couple of months of the new year to help us really get going here in the city. We have a team coming from our home church in May. And we may get to have a group of seminary students be with us in the fall of next year! All in all, the possibilities are huge and we are so grateful for the many ways God is working! We'll have much to thank God for this Thanksgiving, not to mention all of you!!!

Sorry there are no pictures this time. I need to carry the camera around more!

Our love to all.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Catching Up

Sunday School class. Look really hard and you might be able to pick out Caleb and Karis! ;)

The Little Ballerina

Just catching up on the rest of the photos from the trip.

Love to all,

Friday, October 31, 2008

November? Are you kidding me?!!!


Yes, my friends, that is indeed a crocodile and Mike was close enough to stick his toes in its mouth!!!!

Caleb at his Tae Kwon Do lesson! I'm afraid.

Tibire's baby. He's growing.

Grandma's Recipe Mmm!

Well, I feel like I should offer some sort of lame excuse for not having written in a million years, but I can't come up with anything. We'll just suffice it to say that we had family here! And what an incredible hit they were!!! I don't know if the nationals thought we just fell out of the sky one day or what, but when they met my parents, without exception, the response was, "These are your REAL parents?" I told them when they got here that I was pretty sure if the president had been informed of their arrival he would have declared a national holiday. I hope they are getting used to just being regular people in the good old US of A again! They are sorely missed by all. Now the first thing anyone I meet says is, "Where are your parents? What! They are gone?!!"

So we tried to show them all of the sights, hit the beach and the market and souvenir shacks and the grocery stores. We made them come with us to all of our ministry spots and churches we go to. They went to Ballet lessons and Tae Kwan Do. They'll probably need a month to recover from all of that not to mention the 24 hour travel here and then back again!

On another note, we got to the point in the story sets with one of our groups where it was time to pop the question again. Our Muslim friend decided that he did indeed believe the stories and wanted to follow Christ. Pray for him as he figures out what all that means.

We are getting deserted around here on a pretty serious level! Our friends Deron and MaryBeth hopped on a plane to stay in the states for 3 months. We'll miss them a lot!! Our supervisors are on their way out along with all of our other regional leaders. There will be a few of us left here, but it will be lonely!

On a happy note, our teammates will be coming to town earlier than we thought. We are expecting to get to meet them for the first time the week before Christmas!

We love you all and miss you. Happy Voting Day to all! I'd like to say that we'll see you at the polls, but something tells me we are in different precincts! ;)


Saturday, October 4, 2008


Down town Abidjan. Funny how nice it looks in a picture!
The gathering spot at the place we spend a lot of our ministry hours.
One of the ladies we story with working at her market table.
Mike's group of men

Most of the time you just get to see pictures of what we do in our free time. Somebody followed us around with a camera a couple of weeks ago and I thought you might like to see what we do with all of the rest of our time.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Conference is Over!

We are finally done with our conference. It was good, but just made life very busy. We will be getting back to life as usual.

Our storying groups are going really well. We have several people really engaged in the stories of Jesus now and we are enjoying seeing the gospel in the eyes of those that haven't heard.

You can see one of my new friends. I've been building a relationship with this lady. She's listening to my stories and we'll see where that goes. Either way, she's become an important part of my life.

Mike and Caleb went fishing with some of the guys here for the conference and you can see their catch up there. There was enough to feed the whole gang of people here for the conference and give 11 huge fish and the octopus away.

We are looking forward to having my mom and dad here in 2 weeks. We miss you all and will be so glad to have a piece of home here.

I've got lots of catching up to do now, but hopefully we'll keep up better with our blog. Come see us!