Monday, August 24, 2009

It's a girl now???

O.K., we are confused. Heather went for an ultrasound today and the lady said it was a girl, so we got the pictures out from the other ultrasound and it really looks like a boy, so what is it? The ultrasound was very difficult to see here, but it didn't look like a boy. We just thought you might like to know. This pregnancy has been difficult in every other way, so why not this way too. We are really not sure if it is a boy or girl.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Chicken Soup

This is a warning, the following post may not be well advised for those with very weak stomachs. However if you are among the older generation, you may well laugh at my own squeamishness. Second warning, at least one chicken was indeed harmed in the events leading up to this post. I myself did not do the harming of said bird, but was in full agreement with its demise.

So we went to Burkina Faso last week for meetings with our fellow colleagues. That is the country just north of ours. It is also the country whose national language I am trying to learn and home and birth place of my friend Agira. She traveled with us and I was very happy to spend some time with her family before the meetings began. I ate all sorts of interesting things that may or may not have been the catalyst for this post.

To make an incredibly long and disgusting story slightly less so, let's leave it at I came back with a doozy of a stomach ache. Everybody has had some measure of problems, but Karis left here with hers and everybody else usually suffers at least some with travel in West Africa. I had decided that eating was not really something I cared to do any longer and spending insane amounts of time in the rest room became my favorite pastime. After retrieving enough meds to take down a small army, I am on the mend, but eating is still something I could gladly do without were I making decisions only for myself. As things stand, I have more to think of than just me and so I'm putting forth the effort to do what I should.

So I finally convinced myself that some chicken noodle soup is what my mom would make for me and thus something that I as a good mom should do for my little tag along. Unfortunately Mr. Campbell has not made the trip across the ocean as of yet. I'm fully prepared to pay for his plane ride for a vision trip of what a little "mmm mmm good" could do for this continent, but I'm having a little trouble making contact.

With that said, you know that a little homecooking will require slightly more than the usual can opener. My sad stomach hadn't clearly thought out what this particular meal would encompass. Now let me say, we are fortunate enough to live in a big city where my options are less limited, so I should be thankful for what I didn't have to do. Cooking chicken for me at least does not involve a chopping block or removal of feathers. That is an option, but something I am fully prepared to pay another to have done outside of my presence. In fact, quite frequent an eager salesman sticks a handful of cluckers upside down in front of my face in the market. He wants me to look at the feet and admire his lovely birds. I've got NO idea what I'm supposed to be looking for in chicken feet, but let me tell you that those nasty claws are my least favorite part of the bird. So instead of a very impressed customer, he usually winds up with a pretty hostile white lady and a suggestion to remove his merchandise from my line of sight! I prefer to get my birds at the grocery store where at least life and feathers have both been removed from my dinner. Then all I have to do is remove head, feet and guts. If I'm smart, I've done this on a day when my beautiful, dear friend is at my house and hauls all of those things away and I don't even have to look at it!

Anyway, the last bird I bought had actually been relieved of all that but the guts, a fact I failed to consider when choosing my menu. So now I wind up with a thawed bird, a recipe and a job to do. Internal organs are not things I wish to see, touch or eat. I know I would if I was hungry enough or in an African home, but I'm not. So queasy stomach and all, I stuck my hand in the rear end of a chicken to remove organs of all nature, which I can now easily identify. However that is not a good idea when not feeling so great anyway.

The tale all told, we had some pretty good chicken soup for lunch today, but I'm not sure it had the same stomach settling abilities as I was expecting.

I'm doing better now, just thought you might be amused by my culinary exploits.
Love to all,

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Heather and ALL the kids!!!

Back by popular demand!!! This is Heather at 6 months 3 weeks with the new baby. As you can tell she is not a lot bigger than at 4 months.

This baby seems to be kicking and moving a lot more than Caleb and Karis. We might be in for a wild child after he is born. We are still looking for a name for this little guy, so be in prayer for us as we try to decide. Pray that God would give Heather peaceful nights and no stress during the day. Both are very hard here in Africa as people come and go all the time.

The entire family wanted to get into the act. Karis looked away at the last possible moment, but we had already finished and didn't realize she looked away!!! Caleb and Karis has been playing a lot of soccer lately with some local kids, hopeffully this will make them understand the game and how to play the game better. These African kids know how to play soccer and they really know how to juggle the ball and keep others away so they can not steal the ball. It is a good lesson for Caleb and Karis on how to play this national game in Cote d'Ivoire!!!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

I Left My Heart in Africa

Well, we've officially worked with IMB for 2 years now. Of course some of that was training. We will have been in Africa for 2 years in October. Seeing as we have a little somebody special that is supposed to arrive in October, I don't know if I'll have time to reflect then so I thought I'd do it now.

One of those first term missionary questions everybody asks is "Is it like you expected it would be in Africa?" I had not ever actually been to Africa. I'd never lived in another culture with a different language. I'd never been a full time missionary (two weeks in the summer is about the most I'd done). So the expectations I had were very minimal at best and sketchy.

I'll not say it's easy to leave your family, friends and everything you know behind. I will say that I am certain it is a whole lot easier if you know that is what God is calling you to do. I can't really imagine doing it for any other reason. I also won't say it's easy to know that life goes on when you are not there. Babies are born, people get married, friends get together, people pass away. So in my reflection, don't hear me say that this is a peice of cake.

One of the other things I think about when I take time to reflect is that I'm weird. Only weird people sell all of their stuff and move to Africa, so I guess you'd think that I would have thought about that before I left. However this realization really hit me when I'd worked so hard to fit in here, which I do as well as I can, but let's face it, I am a white American missionary in Africa. Do you really think I'm not noticeable! ;) Those days when it is just obvious that I'm different even to my friends, I get to thinking and realize that of course I am different than they are and always will be no matter what I do. I am also different in what used to be my home setting. Not too many people that I knew before sit around on a concrete floor with their friends and split a papaya. Not too many of them love to eat foutou for lunch with their hands. Not too many have been to a baby naming, or danced at a Baptism, or call the closest rest stop "that tree just ahead that is mostly concealed from the road and accessible by a dirt road leading off of the highway." So, I think that maybe I am coming to grips with my weirdness.

Now, I've said it is hard leaving family and friends and I'm weird. This doesn't sound like somebody that is thrilled with their life. Well, actually, on most days, I am. You see, Africa has gotten in my blood. And NO I don't mean in the way of "Oh wow, that was a malaria mosquito that just bit me" sort of way. I mean it in the "I love it here and can't imagine being elsewhere" sort of way.

One of the most remarkable changes that makes that true is in language acquisition. God captured our hearts for the people here before we left, but when all you are able to do is express yourself in the manner of a 2 year old, relationships aren't so easy. I am a far cry from where I'd like to end up in my French learning, but on most days I can have a semi intelligent conversation with most people here. That is even easier to see now that we are working on language number two. You forget how far you came with your first language until you are sitting in a room having studied your second language for months, but still getting nowhere. Comprehension is beyond your ability and no matter how hard you try, even those words you can pick up strung together make absolutely no sense! Anyway, all that said to say communication is a wonderful tool that makes life much better!

One of the more unexpected ways I've changed to love where we are is in worship. I remember very well our first few services here where everything was loud and chaotic and irritating and BORING! I don't know how all of that goes together, but it does. I'd never had the opportunity to sit for 3 hours in a room where I understood zippo and yet knew that I was sticking out pretty badly and needed to be still and do the appropriate things at the right times as best I could. I remember thinking it was rediculous dancing down the aisle to deposit your offering in a bucket with the rest of the crowd. Then after a couple of months, you move into the understanding very little and being able to hum along to a couple of the songs, but still thinking the whole thing is crazy. Then you move on to the services that you pray through the whole thing "Dear Lord, please do not let them call on me to pray!" In the beginning, church is a chore. It's something you do because you need to, not because you are truly able to worship or that you even remotely enjoy the gathering.

Now, for me, church is often very refreshing. I like the music, I'm not going to say I know or even understand all of the words of the songs, but I know a lot of them. Sometimes I understand how David could dance in the streets in praise of our maker. I love sitting through the prayers of praise. These people can pray prayers and songs of praise for 30 minutes easily. They can come up with more ways to praise the Lord in one prayer than I can scratch out in a whole week! I can't think of a more joyful way to give my tithes and offerings than to dance them up to the basket. OK, OK, I am a Baptist girl born and raised in the south. So my dancing resembles pitiful shuffling steps occasionally in time with the music, but I try! I love going through the line at the end of service, shaking every persons' hand that came that day. I can even stand and shakily work my way through a prayer if called on like today. It's big language pressure, but I can do it.

There are neat little trinkets about our new culture that I enjoy. Greeting is so important here and it makes everyone feel welcomed and remembered. I love that spending time with a friend is so much more about presence and not so much about conversation. I love our new mission family. Hey, and who wouldn't love living in a tropical paradise with birds and flowers galore all year long!

I thoroughly enjoy something that I never really new you could love before. Telling The Stories to those that are eager to hear is amazing. It is like they are all new all over again. I can't imagine ever growing tired of that aspect of being here.

So I guess, a long time from now, when I am old and can't make it here any more, I'll have to sing that I left my heart in Africa. There is a piece of me that will always stay tied here. Praise the Lord for the difference two years can make.

Hope you haven't minded my rambling!
Love to all,

Monday, August 3, 2009

Orphanage in Bouake

Pastor Bartolome stated this orphanage about 8 to 10 years ago after the war started in Cote d'Ivoire. Pastor Bartolome is one of our Baptist Pastors in Cote d'Ivoire who saw a need for some children. Most of the children in his orphanage lost their parents in the war or were abandoned by their parents.

This is a group shot of the 25 children staying at the orphanage.13 girls and 12 boys. A few of them are not in this photo.

This child was not feeling well this day, probably malaria, so he did not come out to greet us as is the typical custom in Africa.

This is an outside view of the children and their house. As you can see it is a work in progress. The inside of the house is as bare as the outside. There is only one or two beds in the house and the rest of thechildren sleep on hard mats. The beds do not have mattesses so the ones that sleep onthe beds also sleep on a hard mat.

Yep that curtain is one of their doors. We do give praise as God has provided for this orphanage. Someone basically gave them this house and a medical team that came to Bouake gave them s few supplies. But as you can see these children need a lot of prayers. Please pray that God would provide for their every need.