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,