Saturday, February 23, 2008

Abidjan Zoo and our Bird

We took a trip to the zoo here in Abidjan. We had a fun morning. Caleb and I got to see a snake strike and eat a small chicken, sorry no pictures of that it was too fast. Caleb shook hands with a Chimp. Karis got up close to a peacock and they both got to ride this massive turtle that was 109 years old and still going strong.
We also got to feed this elephant a bunch of leaves and pet his hairy trunk. Did you know that elephants have long hard whiskers that run down their trunks?

The last picture is of a beautiful bird that stays around our house a lot. It is very hard to get a picture of it because it is scared of people. You can click on the picture to see the picture a little larger. It is a very pretty bird. There are also a lot of crows that fly around here that are black with white on its front and strips of white that loop over the tops of its wings. It makes it look like it is wearing a muscle shirt. I just thought you might to take a look at our zoo and some of the wildlife around our house.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Name that Baby

I was able to attend my first baby naming ceremony last week. A missionary friend invited me to go with her to a Muslim friend's house for the festivities. To make a long story short I'll say, the baby got a lot of soap (customary baby gift), some cash, and a bald head! We all ate rice and then we went home.

Yesterday another missionary friend and I were back at Vridi, just to talk to the ladies there. We had to go in the afternoon this time because of some scheduling conflicts, so we didn't get to talk to all of the usual women. We did find our friend Elodie, or should I say she found us. She began to tell us more about herself and share some needs. It became obvious that she is very lonely. Although she is probably only in her early twenties, her parents are dead. She is all alone because the uncle that is supposed to take care of her has put her in a house by herself. She stopped going to school as a young teen because someone put a death curse on her. She is still afraid to this day because of that curse, but said "I'm still alive." She has no trade skills because she's had no one to teach her. Getting an apprenticeship costs money and she has none. Please continue to pray for Elodie. She is reading the New Testament we gave her. She says there is a day that she walked a church aisle, but she lives in fear every day.

Pray also for my friend Aissatou. We are to begin storying today with her.

Homeschooling is coming along. It is difficult to be Mom, missionary, French student and teacher, but we accomplish most of those tasks most of the days.

Caleb and Karis are adjusting well to life here. They miss family, friends and dogs. They are beginning to learn some French and have some kids that they play with occasionally. The missionaries on our compound are still their favorite people here.

We are still visiting around to many churches. When we don't have other invitations, we try to go to church at Vridi so that we can have some sort of normalcy. Right now we still have two church invitations that we need to get to.

Continue to pray as we pray toward figuring out how the research we did affects our ministry here.

We love you and miss you.



Sunday, February 10, 2008

NOT FUNNY!!! Preach the Word anyway.

2 Tim. 4:2.
Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season;

This passage was never more clear than today. With all the time we have had trying to learn French, the last thing on my mind was to preach. We have been in Africa for almost 4 months. Everyone we meet knows that we are just trying to learn the language. Two weeks ago we visited a church when we were doing our survey work among the Mossi people. We found a church that held their service in Moore. They asked us if we would join them for worship. We were more than happy to come to their service. Pasteur Benjamin even called us during to the week to check and make sure we were coming. On our way to the service today, he called again to see if we were coming to church. We told him that we were on our way and should be there in 5 minutes.

When we arrived at the church their service had already started, yes they started early. they ushered us in and sat us in the front row. I thought hey this is great because I don't have to sit up on stage like normal. African culture says that all Pastors sit on stage. Anyway we sat there for about 2 minutes when Pasteur Benjamin came to me and told me that I have to sit on stage. I thought it was no big deal because I do that a lot here, so I went on stage. We sang, in Moore, for about an hour when the Pasteur reaches over to the man on my left who speaks a little English and tells him to tell me that I am preaching after this group finishes. Have you ever tried to prepare a sermon in two minutes? I told the man that I wasn't ready, so he said just say a small greeting and that will be fine. That seemed great and I thought I was not going to have to preach. So I got up greeted everyone (in French) and read a passage of scripture and thanked everyone for coming and sat down. Then the guy who spoke English came over and said that wasn't enough that they wanted me to preach a short sermon. My first thought was You have got to be kidding me, but after a quick prayer and very fast search of the scripture I agreed. Thankfully I remember some of my last sermon from Coker and I went at it without any notes at all. I just hope that God can use whatever I said and whatever was translated in some way to draw more Africans to Him. No it was NOT FUNNY!! So stop laughing.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Back to the Basics

After living life at full throttle for a few weeks, we are now getting back to our regular routine, whatever that is. We have completed our research and so we are back to just homeschooling, learning French and making and maintaining relationships in our community.

We will soon be saying "see you later" to our good friends and supervisors for our first 16 weeks on the field. They will be heading off to do all of the exciting things a missionary in West Africa generally does. We will miss them dearly, but already know of 2 times that we'll be back together in the next six months.

Being a missionary means saying a lot of goodbyes. We had heard that already but didn't realize that was for on the field as well as off. Most of the missionaries here on our compound will be some where else in the next 6 months. That's quite an odd feeling.

We've had many joys in the last few weeks. I've enjoyed a growing relationship with Assiatou, a Mossi lady who lives close to us. She helped us make some connections for our research and introduced us to some new African foods. Fortunately enough, she is a very good cook. Please pray that she will continue to seek after God as we see her doing now. She is a Muslim with some animistic beliefs thrown in there, but she is open to talking about our faith. Pray that we will make the most of every opportunity. I've enlisted some help to get started storying with her, as I am not quite there yet in my French.

Mike has been cultivating more deeply a friendship with Alli, a local shop owner. He had been spending some time with him reading to him from the gospel of John before we started our research. On a good note, he has felt welcome enough to visit our house, but unfortunately he seemed to be under the influence of something when he came. Pray that Mike will have discernment to deal with him gently but help him understand that he can't do that.

I've also had some opportunities to go out with a veteran missionary to an area close to the church we have been attending. The people there have been so kind and inviting and are genuinely glad to see us come. We already have more little groups to visit than we can hit in one morning and we had a group stop us on our way out last time and beg us to come visit them next time too. My colleague got to share a full gospel presentation 3 times last week. Two people said they were interested in becoming a Christian, but my colleague felt it best to do a little more storying first. Some of these people come from backgrounds so bizarre that it is hard to know for sure if they really understand. At any rate, I am glad to get to be involved. Pray that God will work in the hearts of our friends at Vridi Canal, namely Elodie and Felicite.

We've also had some frustrating moments recently. Of course the internet has been out a lot. Not really a big deal if you aren't separated from all of your family and most of your friends by an ocean. We think we've been able to remedy our problem though and now we even have internet in our home. Our computer is online most of the time so if you'd like to get a free download of SKYPE and talk with us free computer to computer. We are mike.heather.mcafee.

Also as I mentioned before, Mike tried to get arrested. We had had a long day of research and were headed back home at about 8:30 at night from a visit with some local pastors. It was then that we were pulled over for the 3rd time that day. Police stops are a part of life here. Sometimes you get hassled, sometimes not. Sometimes they accuse you of doing something wrong and demand a bribe, most of the time they just look at our papers and let us go. This time, however, the officer decided that Mike's international driver's license was no good. He wanted to see his passport but we have a residency card that we carry now and were told that we didn't need to carry our passport. So, our researcher friend was with us and we set off towards home to get Mike's passport and our business facilitator to straighten things out. In a grand comedy of errors, I realized upon arriving home that Mike's passport was in a lock box and Mike was holding the key. We set back out to try to talk Mike out of trouble with a copy of the passport which was the only thing that I had. Oddly enough, after being such a pain, the officer let us all go home. Now we carry every official document we have on the off chance someone might want to see it!!!

One last hurdle for the past few weeks was getting our Ivoirian Driver's license. Let me just say that if you have complained about the lines, the wait, or the ridiculous way your local DMV handles things, you don't want to come here. After 8 hours in the sun, standing on concrete, bodies smashed up against each other in 95 degree heat, something awfully close to a riot, no food or drink, and an hour and a half round trip car ride, we walked away with our license application done, but still no license. Thanks to God alone after two more trips there, we had our licenses. So, if I wanted to hop behind the wheel of a standard transmission and get out in the crazy traffic here, I have an official Ivoirian license to do it with!! We won't talk about the picture though. Unfortunately they took it at the end of the long, hot, no food, too many people day!! It's not exactly something to write home about. It is probably the exact look that I give the officer when he stops us to ask us for a soda("You've got to be kidding me!"), so it should work pretty well in a routine traffic stop. :)

I don't know how or why, but even with all of that craziness, we love this place. May the Lord continue to impress on us His love for these people and their need for Him.

We do have some changes headed our way and we will all have to be patient to find out what those might be. There is significant, progressing work among the people group to whom we've been assigned. In the next few months we will be sorting out what that means for us, but for now, we continue French. Pray that we will know God's direction for us now. Please keep praying for the Mossi for now. Pray that the Lord continues His work among them.

On an odd note, if you click on the picture above that looks like a barren tree, you will see that it is actually a tree full of bats!!! Also the picture of a bus is a common way of travel from city to city here and apparently the top is reserved for luggage and/or livestock.

We love you guys!