Here is what Ben thinks of putting on 2 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of pants, shoes, coat and hat to go outside only to get cold! He cried to go outside and then cried because he was cold.
This was the first time the kids could actually play in the snow. We had flurries the week before, but they didn't amount to much.
Here's the gang listening to the Christmas story in French at Christmas in Africa night!
This is Ben's first time to see snow flakes falling.
Pumpkin pie smothered in cool whip is good!!!
We've been able to stay home most of the time for the last couple of weeks. We've been getting reacquainted with those things that we love but miss while we are in Abidjan. For Benjamin it has been a time of trying new things. Some of those things he has loved, like macaroni and cheese and lima beans. There are other American things he has not been so fond of.
We have enjoyed being able to romp around the country and tell our story in churches here, there and everywhere. We've enjoyed hearing their hearts for the nations and talking about how people can join us.
One thing I wanted to ask you to remember in prayer is how our country is still being affected by the problems of the presidential election last month. Both run off candidates felt they had won the election and began to set up their own governments. With neither candidate willing to concede the election chaos quickly ensued. An independent counsel says the opposition candidate had won and that the incumbent needs to step down. The incumbent claims there was fraud in areas help by the opposition and in throwing out those "fraudulent" votes he wins. The world and Africa as a whole are standing behind the opposition guy and calling for the incumbent to step down. Whatever happens there are a few things that continue to bother us. Currently the borders of Cote d'Ivoire are closed and we couldn't get back in if we were to be headed back today. Our teammates evacuated with our "Daisy" dog before the mess started and now cannot get back in. Of greatest concern are those that are daily being hurt in the protestations and scuffles. Many of our friends make very little money and live from one day to the next on the few dollars they make each day. When they must stay in because of violence or when there is no market, they can't make money. Without money coming in, they don't have money for food. Also the surrounding countries are using their influence to try to force the incumbent to relinquish power, but that will make life even more difficult for the common people until a solution is found. All around there is much suffering and a peaceful solution is not forthcoming. Names and faces of those suffering are constant in my thoughts. Those that follow what we do know them too. Please pray for them. Pray that through all of the trouble they will turn to the only source of real peace. Pray that in the midst of their suffering, they'll turn to Jesus.
If I don't post again, I would like to wish you a Merry Christmas. May you celebrate the true gift of Christ.
Well, coming from 90 degree weather to this 20 degree weather is quite a shock to everyone. Even Mike has taken to wearing long johns around the house! We've now had our first snow since we've been back. It didn't actually stick to the ground much, but it was enough to excite the kids. We took Benjamin to his first Christmas parade too, and he was highly unimpressed. He hates extra clothes and he hates to be cold. Those two injustices put together led us to a couple of hours of a screaming baby. To his credit it was 19 degrees and we ended up standing around for a long time. Even my toes and fingers were frozen and I was quite ready to go too! The worst thing about the whole evening was that someone decided, in our absence, that throwing candy was hazardous to the health of small children. Thus there was no reward for the frostbite!!!!! Let me just say that I think that candy is a small reward the parade watchers should receive for braving the cold to see 27 pint sized beauty queens riding around all bundled up and all of the other cars that are merely in the parade for advertisement purposes! Without candy, I found myself thinking all too soon, "How much longer can this possibly go on!?!"
So often, my heart turns home now. Please don't misunderstand me. I love seeing my family and friends here in the states, but I miss my African friends too. The fact that life there is in a big uproar probably doesn't help. Most of you have heard of the political troubles facing the Ivory Coast. To make a long complicated story short for those of you that haven't heard, after a recent election, the opposing parties are both claiming to have won the election and both have had their own ceremonies and chosen their new government. This is causing protests in the country and in our home city. Ultimately, two presidents cannot coexist. Our teammates decided to leave before the trouble began having heard how things might go down and can't get back in now due to turmoil and closed borders, making their lives difficult and unpredictable right now. At least we don't have to worry about their safety since they are out of harms way, but that makes the holiday season difficult for them. Precious national friends are stuck in the thick of it. Some of those are believers, many are not. For those that will be ushered straight into eternity because of this problem, many of them don't know Jesus as their Savior and Friend. They will stand before the throne as enemies of God, well deserving His wrath. Those are heavy thoughts. Please pray for our friends.
In remembrance of our friends and our newly acquired African culture, we've decided to host a Christmas party as we have every year for the last 3 years. This year, though, we'll be inviting Mike's family to enjoy "Christmas in Africa" in America. Those that have been following our happenings for some time know that we invite our African friends to our home at Christmas to eat rice and sauce and hear the Christmas story. After a recent visit to a church celebrating missionaries around the world with a taste of recipes from around the world and a word from my sweet niece about how she wants to eat with her hands as we do on the other side of the ocean, I thought it might be fun to bring some traditions from our African home to our American home. So we will subject the McAfees to some African culture and hope that they enjoy themselves half as much as we will.
I know you all are busy as Christmas approaches so quickly. As you give your Lottie Moon Christmas Offering this year, know that you are giving directly to our ministry. Please hear us say "Thank You!" from the bottom of our hearts. We are able to go because of the sacrificial gifts of Southern Baptists! God bless you because you bless the nations with the gift of the news of Jesus.
This is a photo of a us in a friends house saying our goodbyes. He wanted us to come over and pray for his 'big' new house before we left. He had just moved his family of 5 out of their smaller house to this house. Mike is standing in the doorway and this is a photo of the whole house. The curtain to the right is shielding his bed. Guess we should be thankful for what we have. He is.
We've been traveling so much this last month that some times it is hard to remember where we are or where we are going to be the next day! We've been in NC, FL and TN. We were thankful to enjoy Thanksgiving with Mike's family and then have my sister and her family with us that weekend. We got to see many of our dear NC friends before heading to a missions conference to meet new friends. It has been fun to reconnect with so many already.
We are looking forward to some time in TN this month with Mike's family and some great churches followed by a little family time in FL.
It seems like it has been so very long since we've seen our African friends. We miss them dearly. Please pray for our country as you think of them in the next few days or weeks. Their elections have been completed, but all has not gone well. We don't know what will happen or if there will be problems, but things are tense right now. Our teammates are safely out in another country in case of trouble, but our national friends are all still in Abidjan. Please pray that the country will remain peaceful and work out any difficulties without violence.
This is our guard and one of Ben's favorite Africans. Pray for JB while we are gone.
Here is T B RAY another guard. He'll miss us as well, so pray for he and his family.
Benjamin is not too sure why all of the leaves are falling off of the tree, but he thinks it's pretty funny!!
Bring on the toys!!
Fun with family
Benjamin can't figure out why God made all of his family white!!! "Let me out of here!!!"
Boys from any culture can enjoy a good old game of CARS!
I've meant to write a million times already since the last time I posted. There has just been so much going on that it has been impossible. We've taken the long flight across the big pond, visited doctors, dentists, grandmas, aunts, great grandmas, friends, churches, cousins, etc and attempted to devour all of the food we've been missing. We're also trying to pack in all of those fun things we can't do in Africa. Poopa took the kiddos fishing in the rain because it wouldn't stop and missing the opportunity was unacceptable! We've been on a hay ride and had weenies and smores around the bonfire and it was COLD!!!!! We went to the national peanut festival and enjoyed the sights and sounds, well at least some of them! We've enjoyed days with family, just being a part of normal everyday family life. It's fun to know that if somebody has a big job and needs our help, we can just swing over there and do something about it!
I can't really express to you all the range of emotions it's been to me in coming back. It's really hard to leave friends and "family" across the ocean. Our teammates are family and we miss them. I have friends that are to me like sisters and I miss them. People will go on with life there and we'll miss all of that for these months. Hard times will come for them and we can't do anything about it. On the other hand, we've missed our friends and family on this side of the ocean for so long. I have friends here that are also like family and we are so looking forward to connecting with everyone here. We've had so many joyful reunions with our loved ones already and can't wait for those to come.
It's a strange and yet familiar world here. I'm different (surprise, surprise) and yet I am who I've always been. I can't even begin to relate what it is like to be back. Suffice it to say that often it is GREAT and sometimes, it is hard.
We've been introducing Benjamin to all of his cousins, aunts, uncles, grands, great grands, family friends, foods, animals, and places we find familiar. He's not too sure about most of it, but he's being a good sport for the most part. I just hope that when we go back home to Africa, we won't be having to reintroduce him to everything and finding that world unusual too!
We'll be at the TBC in Knoxville, TN next week. Please come and see us if you are close. We'll be in Gastonia, NC for a week starting November 13. We hope to see you if we can. We'll be back in TN for Thanksgiving and the first part of December. We'll be in the panhandle of FL for Christmas to be with family. Needless to say, we're burning up the roads. There's just so much to see and do and so little time!
I am so sorry to have been absent for so long! I had no idea how demanding these last few weeks would be. For many months now I've been looking forward to our time returning to the states and friends and family. I knew a lot of work would be involved, but I didn't know how involved it would be.
We had to pack up our entire house as if we were moving. We also had to equip and prepare each of our storying groups to be on their own. Just for the amusement factor, we also got to plan and execute a spiritual retreat for ourselves and several other families!
There has also been an unexpected development. I did not realize how difficult saying goodbye here would be. I guess I supposed my African life would just go on hold until I could come back and pick it back up. In reality, everybody's life goes on. My friends will miss me and I'll miss them. Some of them will move away while I'm gone. Some of them will have difficult times and I won't be here to help them through. There's the real possibility that there are those I'll never see again and I have to wonder, did I say enough, do they understand what they have to do to walk in right relationship with God?
So I guess the thing I have realized is that goodbyes aren't easy either side of the ocean. Fortunately, though, hellos are GREAT! Can't wait to see some of you, and to those we are leaving, we'll be back soon!
They are playing a game like marbles with seeds they found from a tree. Even getting the seeds to play with was a game as a nut like thing has to be opened. If the nut has been on the ground too long, the seed inside turns to dust. So the kids crack open and count how many they've found and when they all have enough, you play marbles with them!
This is Mamouna, one of the ladies you have prayed for, with her daughter.
The Muslim holiday to celebrate the end of fasting was last week. Thank you so much to all of you that prayed for our friends. We really had many good conversations with all of them. Each and every one of them were told that not only were we praying for them, but you were as well. I wish I could tell you that one or all have already given their life to Christ, but as of right now, that is not so. We will continue to pray and trust in the One that draws the heart of sinful man to repentance.
Karis turned 9 on September 2. She talked her teacher into declaring a school holiday in honor of her birthday and we all went to the pool. I personally thought it was a little cold for the pool, but it wasn't my birthday. Now I do believe you are all laughing at me. When you are used to temps in the 90s, temp in the 80s does not say jump in the pool! Why, you might ask, are we coming to the states during the COLDEST PART OF THE YEAR!?!?! Well, that was Mike's idea. So don't be surprised when I get off the plane in October and ask for my parka, gloves, scarf and snow boots!;)
I have a few updates for you from different areas of life around here. We have 7 weeks left in Cote d'Ivoire. One of those weeks we will be meeting Mike's dad in a neighboring country for a spiritual retreat. Some of that time we will have to pack up everything we own and prepare it to be left in a hot, humid environment for 9 months. Much of that time will be used in going to visit EVERY person we know to say goodbye, because we are African and that is what we do. In our spare time, ha, we'll be trying to prepare all of our areas of ministry for our absence. Needless to say, we have more stuff to do than time to do it with.
I know that you all have prayed with us on numerous occasions for many different things. If I remember what I've asked you to pray about, I try to let you know how that turned out. Unfortunately, my memory is a little slippery.
A few months ago I told you about the baby of a Muslim lady that I knew that was very sick. Mom's name is Fatimata. I was almost certain the baby was near death. His little head just rolled listlessly. He wasn't focusing on anything. When he was trying to nurse, he couldn't really even suck. You prayed and within a few days the baby was doing better. His mom called me after 3 days. My heart sunk when I saw the number. I thought they were calling to say he'd died, but not so. After a week or so, he was much better. Within a month, he was doing well. It is obvious he has some form of disability, but now he is starting to babble and hold his head up well. The best thing of all is that she credited our prayers with the healing. She has now started listening to the story set of God's plan for redemption. Her French is not good and my Moore is not good, but we are making it work. Each phrase we work through in both languages to make sure she understands. Right now, she's listening. She even told me last week that she "prefers" Christianity for a number of reasons. Her home life is HARD. Just pray with me that God opens her eyes to eternity and the exclusivity of the Way.
My dear friend Agira, now in Burkina, had her baby this week. She had a little boy on Wednesday. Everything went wonderfully and she also thanks you for your prayers. She has no doubt that your prayers work, but she is just blinded thinking that either road is equally good and you should stay on the path you started on. Unfortunately, my influence is now limited to 5 minute phone calls. Pray that this dear one understands the Truth! Pray also that she finds a home she can afford. After 3 months in Burkina, she still hasn't found a home for her and her 3 kids there with her.
I also remembered one of my more amusing moments in Burkina last month. Every day while there, we walked a lot. The people I was able to visit lived in more remote areas, even those that were in the city. Upon driving as close as possible, I would have to walk for an hour or so to reach their homes. One particular day we'd walked for an hour and a half (walking briskly mind you) and came to this chasm. There was a 3 foot jump to an island about 3 feet wide and another 3 foot jump on the other side. If you missed the jump, the fall was only about 5 feet, but not something I wished to do. We had a guide that was leading us back to the house with a little moped in tow. The moped looked like a bicycle with a gas tank and our guide was a beautiful African woman, but she easily made 2 of me. In addition, she was carrying a 2 year old baby on her back and had a 4 year old with her as well. At this point Agira was 8 months pregnant. Our guide jumped the chasm first and Agira handed across the moped. Then I jumped, graceful or not, and I made it. Agira jumped too. One down, one to go. We did the same with the next jump and all made it safely except for a 10 year old tag along that was caught mid fall by the arm by Agira and pulled to safety. We've now been walking for about 2 hours and our guide looks at me and asks if I am ready to ride the moped. Now, I am used to walking, but I am carrying an 18 pound baby and he is getting really heavy. I am, however, TERRIFIED of the moped and I've never ridden one here. I ask, "is it still REALLY far?" and get the answer, "yes!" OK, time to swallow my fear, because if I say I'm walking, that means the pregnant lady will have to walk too. I agree and warn them that I've never ridden a moped and don't know how. "No problem!" they say. I pull out my baby wrap and tie Benjamin on my back tight. Now that I've agreed to this, I've got to figure out HOW. There is a little metal rack that hangs out behind the seat, and I know that is where the little ones sit when Mom drives. So upon mounting that, I have to figure out what to do with my tight wrap skirt, which I forgot to wear pants under this particular day (some days I do, some I don't). So I climb on as best I can and Agira arranges my skirt for me. That is really not what is bothering at that moment though. What bothers me is that I am on a moped with a baby on my back behind a large African with a baby on her back. I am trying to figure out how hard I can cling to her and where exactly I can get a good handhold that won't hurt the baby. I settle for wrapping my arms around her as best I can and hanging on for dear life even though, the WHOLE VILLAGE is now watching me. I am fairly certain the back seat person isn't supposed to hang on, but I don't really care right now. Note to self, wire rack may be good for hauling water, but HURTS for carrying grown woman. All I can think of is, if I fall off, Benjamin falls of too! Finally we make it and I gladly hop off. Now this lovely lady heads off with her baby on her back, to get my 8 month pregnant friend and her 4 year old. They join me in no time and I feel like a total loser for being such a scaredy cat. Of course, my sense of safety has kept me alive thus far and must be good for something. We took a different route out that evening that meant a LONG walk, but let me keep at least on foot on the ground at all times. It was great.
And that was just another great day in the life of a missionary. Come join us for some good old FUN! With Love, Heather
The kids have started back to school and so that is a big part of our day right now. For some reason, school seems to take longer at the first of the year around here and so goes this year. Benjamin doesn't appreciate school time too much right now. He thinks EVERYONE should play with him ALL of the time.
Our storying groups are still going full swing. We are looking forward at the time we have remaining here and figuring out how to get everyone either to a stopping point or to a way to continue. Some groups will be finishing out the evangelism set so that they can come to a decision time. Some groups will be continuing with stories from one of their own. Some groups will be handed off to friends. Pray as all this goes on that we don't lose momentum and that the Word continues to spread.
Continue to pray for our Muslim friends are they are in this time of fasting. Pray that they find the Truth.