Sunday, May 29, 2011

Tragedy Strikes

Ben's sad eye

Ben hugging the Baluga whale.

At Shannon Falls

Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge with the family

Ben demonstrating proper usage of an umbrella!

We've been carrying on with what we do in Vancouver these last few weeks. We are meeting new people and chatting up the love of Christ!

My parents were able to come this month for one last visit before we leave the continent! We hit all of the tourist traps in and around Vancouver that we could possibly fit in. We got lots of great pictures and memories to last a lifetime. Mom and Dad got to experience the joy of public transit. They did rent a car for a couple of days so that we could enjoy the beauty of God's creation outside of the city.

Caleb's 12th birthday was on Friday. We are now that much closer to having a teenager! Scary.

So now I guess you are all wondering to what tragedy I was referring. Some of you probably got an emergency prayer request from us late on Wednesday evening. I had run out to buy some vegetables for dinner and the rest of the family was at home working to rearrange the house after having my parents here visiting. I come back into the house to see my precious baby boy on the couch with a bloody wash cloth covering what I would soon discover was a grossly swollen left eye. His terrible crying didn't equal the horror of the sight. Now being a good mom I demand, "What happened?" To be really honest, I didn't want to know, but I figured it could help me assess what to do next. Poor dad says that he had been working on moving the crib from one room to another. He put the screwdriver in a place he thought was out of reach, but moments later heard the shrieks revealing that it hadn't been. Ben fell while holding it and scraped below his eye and poked a hole in his upper eyelid. I now look below the cloth to see the horribly swollen eye and start calling for help. Colleagues here have a vehicle and I was determined to get medical help as quickly as possible. Once help was on the way, I held my battered baby and tried to calm him down. Now I am a product of the head protection generation and for as long as I can remember, they've been teaching us about wearing helmets on bikes and what terrible damage can be done to the brain. I've also probably watched one too many ER episodes and all I could think of as I looked at my baby was how damage to the brain is often irreparable. And then all of the things that moms say about poking your eye out were running through my head too. I set off for the ER while Mike got all sorts of people praying.

The ER was a new set of terrible memories. The story had to be told over and over of how my poor child came to look as he did. I had to endure lots of screaming during exam after exam. On and on that night, I had to hold ice, that Ben didn't like, to his swollen eye. He fought and screamed to exhaustion. Then came the stitch, nothing to dull the pain, just a needle and thread. More ice on a very MAD baby. One more exam of his poor battered eye then revealed that the doctor didn't see any actual eye damage and I was to take my pitiful baby home. I sang a lot of praise songs that night as I was all alone in a strange ER. I convinced myself I was singing for the little guy with me, but often he was asleep due to the late hour and having worn himself completely out from the fighting and crying. What I came to remember is that often those things that happen to us that we might fight and cry and demand why through, have been done in the loving arms of our Father for our own good. Often they do hurt, but they are so that we can see better when the pain is gone. I couldn't have explained to Ben if I had tried that all that was happening was for his benefit, so I didn't try. He wouldn't understand and he wouldn't agree. Sometimes we don't understand why things happen, but we do live in a fallen world. However we can have the assurance that our Heavenly Father holds us and works all things for our good. Ben probably didn't learn much at this visit, but I did.

On another note, we are now beginning to think and long for our return to Abidjan. We will be returning without teammates as our former teammates have felt God moving them to a different area. Pray that God provides workers for the harvest in Abidjan. Pray also as we decide logistical details and try to get all of the visas we will need for our area. We've had many trials this month and I ask that you would also pray that we remain steadfast on the task. Our rental properties are continuing to be an emotional and financial drain, so we ask that you'd pray with us for an end to that.

May God bless you in the work he's called you to. Don't forget to tell the story. When we think about the reality of life and death, it's hard not to share. Make opportunities to share your love for the Father. Don't wait for people to ask you. And as always, don't run with sharp objects in your hands.

With love,

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Fun in the City

This is just one of our beautiful Vancouver parks.

Watch out for the wildlife!

Ben chased this poor Canadian goose all over this huge field. He wanted to give him a hug!

Look carefully and up on top of this tree in the left corner is Caleb.

Don't ask me why these children are dieing in this huge flower garden!

Ben is taking after his dad with his early love of sports. The Vancouver hockey team is still in the playoffs for the Stanley Cup. Go Canucks!

WAITING FOR THE BUS! This is our most familiar Vancouver activity. We do it every day!

At the end of a long hard day, Ben likes to curl up in the chair with a couple of his favorite things!

We are still enjoying our time here in Vancouver. Things are much different here than we are used to in our African homeland. People here are much more resistant to the gospel than most we have encountered, but they need Jesus nonetheless! I am tired of hearing myself say, "But it's just harder here!" We have begun to make some contact with other Africans. Finding those from West Africa has still proven to be difficult. We do have an area of town now that we know is more likely to turn up some success.

Most weeks, we spend 4 or 5 mornings in class talking about ways to engage people, discipleship plans, church formation ideas, evangelism tools and so forth. The rest of our week is trying to engage people we come in contact with in spiritual conversations. Sounds easy, huh? Not so much. Like in many US cities, people here are busy. Your average conversation is probably about 2 minutes. People don't talk to one another on the streets or public transit as a general rule. Add to that, that Christianity seems to be one of the most hated topics of conversation. Now that is a mix for a difficult task. Of course we weren't promised an easy road nor acceptance. So we just have to do the best we can with what we have.

Mike is beginning to have some success with a basketball group he's been going to. I also have found an organization that helps immigrant families from Africa. I'll get to go next week for the first time to see if I can make any good contacts there.

Caleb, Karis and Ben are still really enjoying their time with other TCKs. They still like their school time while we have class time and this is a great city to explore. There's always another place we want to visit when we get a chance.

Things are also still going better in Abidjan. Life seems to be returning to some sense of normalcy. We are looking forward to our return there in July.

As you remember us in prayer, we ask that you would pray for opportunities to share the love of Christ, boldness to do so in the face of opposition, rapid reproduction as we have very little time here and protection as we go. Pray also for those that we are currently talking to. Pray that they will see their need for a Savior and choose not to put off that decision. Pray also as we attempt to secure visas and plane tickets for our return to our African home.

We are looking forward to a visit from my parents next week. We wish all of the family could come, but will enjoy the chance to see Mom and Dad one more time before we leave the continent! Keep watching for pictures from that trip!

We love and miss you all!