Sunday, February 26, 2012

Ghana Trip

Tired after a long day in the waves

When we first got to the beach, Ben just wanted to stand there and let the water bury his feet in sand.

Karis and the elephant at the Accra mall

Ben thought the elephant was really great as it was just his size, but he was afraid to touch it.  This from a boy that will walk up to a barking, snarling dog and try to kiss it on the nose!

After a while Ben stepped further in the water and he kept Mike worn out trying to keep him afloat!

Because we hadn't intended to stop on the way home,  no one but Caleb had a swimsuit.

There were pineapples here and there all through the property.

Ben wanted to play, play, play until his body turned blue and he could barely stand.  Caleb and Karis love the beach nearly as much as Ben.

We had a good trip to Ghana the last day or two of January and the first part of February.  Those of you that get our prayer updates know that the trip there took nearly 14 hours which we made all in one day.  The kids were great, but we decided to break up the trip on the way back home.  We stopped at a place for the night and although we were without swimsuits or really even clean clothes, everybody wanted to stay an extra night.  It was nice to spend a day away.

We have been back on field assignment now for about 11 months.  Those of you that know us well, know that this has been a difficult time.  We've moved a lot, due to the Vancouver training.  We've had so many struggles with our rental properties that we can't seem to sell causing us to pour so much money down that bottomless pit.  Without our families involvements there, we would have been in serious trouble by now.  Mike has struggled more with his stomach problems than ever before.  Ben has had malaria twice.  Caleb has been fairly seriously sick with that respiratory illness a couple of months ago.  We lost our teammates due to a job change.  All other company personnel that were serving in our city are in the states for at least a year.  In addition to that are other hard things that I won't go into right now.  Our country is suffering the after effects of the crisis meaning that our people are going through hard times right now too.  All in all, we've also seen so many answers to prayers.  There was a miraculous change in Ben's behavior toward staying in a nursery in answer to prayers of the ULI gang.  All of the kids have weathered their illnesses this year with no ill effects.  I've had women just asking for me to tell them the stories.  I've seen God work in the lives of women this year.  I've had so many answered prayers of those in my groups.  Christine came back from what I had assumed was certain death.  I couldn't believe how changed the kids attitudes were in the car as so many of our friends lifted us up for that difficult journey to Accra.  I remember thinking even as I asked friends to pray, "they can pray all they want, but kids are going to be kids".  Wrongo!  I know there are more, but I can't think of them all right now. 

One of our most recent answered prayers involves Ben, of course!  We'd had a tough week.  They were rewiring our house, which in Africa means busting all of the concrete walls out, running the wires, falling through the ceiling and then trying to build the house back up!  We were all tired of living out of a suitcase and doing without our stuff.  We had to buy a washer, which is expensive, because ours kicked the bucket.  The refrigerator stopped working only to miraculously start working again after being off for what must have been a whole day!  We'd had to piece our house back together and clean all of the concrete off and out of all of our stuff.  We finally made it to Sunday.  We'd decided to go to a church that was hosting the Baptist Women's President, Vice President and Secretary for the day.  Ben was having a tough morning, as he often does.  I didn't really think he could get much terribler, but the terrible twos are here!  I'd taken him out of services to run around in the courtyard.  He'd done OK for the first hour of church, but the next two hours usually get him.  I plopped down on the concrete while Ben played.  There was a car parked in the courtyard which is unusual.  The kids usually get out of Sunday School before the adults and play there in the yard for an hour or so while the adults finish.  Anyway, I was watching Ben, but I wasn't holding his hand or anything.  He picked up a small rock, about the diameter of a dime, out of the sand and had been tapping it on a wooden pole.  Next thing I know, I see him pick up his foot and throw the rock through the rear passenger window of the car.  I CANNOT BELIEVE THIS IS HAPPENING!  I signal the usher and ask whose car it is and tell him what happened.  Then I sit there thinking about how in the world we are going to get enough money out of an ATM to pay for this.  As I wait, I decided to go get Mike.  I figured we'd better both be figuring out what we are going to do short of illegal activity to drum up whatever sum this is going to be.  Much to my horror, in a few moments out walks the President, Vice President and Secretary of the Baptist Women in Cote d'Ivoire.  I had barely met two of them, but am in a pastors' wives group with one of them, so that made me feel slightly better.  We clean up all the glass and clean out the car and decide to go back in and handle this after services.  Finally they all come out again and the owner apologizes, but says she doesn't want her company to know of the damages, so we can fix it at her place or ours.  Long story short, our office guy gets involved the next day and helps us work out with her insurance to cover the damage.  It turned out that she had glass breakage coverage!  I didn't really sleep or eat for the 24 hours in between, but we were so thankful for God's provision on this problem.  On the bright side, I don't think any of the Women's Council will ever forget me or BEN!  The lady I was friends with just kept saying, Benjamin must be really strong, the whole time we picked up shards of glass out of the car.  What do you say to that?  Gee thanks, would you like to borrow him for a while and you cover the damages for his strength? ;)

We have also been blessed this month by the arrival of our crate.  Our company allows us to pack a crate to be sent by ship each time we come out.  It was so much fun to replace our ratty sheets, towels and kitchenwares, plus get some extras we'd packed like a couple of comfortable chairs for the living room and bikes for the kids.  Everyone is beginning to try their hand at the guitar we put in too.  It's time for the McAfees to get some culture!  If we can just keep Ben from breaking it before he gets old enough to play it.  Everyone is having such a good time with it, that we may need to consider saving for another one next time we are in the states.

Well, I've surely rattled your ear off by now.  You are fully caught up on the McAfees lives!  Can't wait to see you again.  Make it this side of the ocean and we'll let you see firsthand how things go around here!

Love you all,

Soccer Fever

Since the Ivory Coast made it to the Africa Cup Soccer Finals this year, our city was in the grip of soccer fever.  The Africa Cup lasted close to a month and so many of our friends were so involved in watching the games we even had to put off some storying groups.  It is really funny to listen as a game progresses.  You can hear the entire city celebrate goals, boo bad calls and go berserk as the game ends.

Several times as the Ivory Coast, celebrations would break out in the street.  Cars honked their horns, pedestrians cheered and tooted their vuvuzelas.  Bars had all night parties with loud music.  Soccer is so important here that many teens sack regular school and if they can find the funding, go to private schools where they play soccer all day and teach them the basics of reading and writing on the side.  All the boys Caleb's age are on the field playing soccer every day during every free minute. 

So the night of the big game, we'd intended to go to a friends house to watch the game.  Because the game started late, I took the two younger kids home early, but not before even Ben got in on some street soccer games.  He had a great time chasing that ball and kicking it whatever direction he happened to be running.  Caleb also went off to the soccer field and found some buddies to kick the ball with.  As the game began and we went home I knew I'd be able to keep track of the score by the street noise.  Sadly the entire game went by with no noise at all in the streets.  Anybody that has been here, knows there is always some amount of noise, but not this night.  When Mike and Caleb got home they told me that the game went 0-0 all the way to the end where the other team won in some sort of kick off.  You'll have to forgive my lack of soccer knowledge. 

I thought it would all end, but the next day, nobody came to work.  I thought it was pretty strange, but then found out that they had declared a national holiday so that the whole nation could regroup and get their heads back on straight after the grief of the all too close loss.  I was talking to one of our guards and he told me that even if people had gone to work they wouldn't have been able to think well because of their sadness over the game so it was just best that everyone stayed home.  I thought that was all pretty ridiculous until I heard that there had been actual fights over ethnic tension because of things that happened in the game.  Fortunately the city really did get themselves back together and were ready to work on Tuesday.

I'm learning!  For all of you soccer fans, make sure you book your tickets to watch the next big games here.  I can't imagine any fans more fun to watch alongside!

Vridi Stories

My friends new 2 day old baby.  He'll get his name on Tuesday.

Hey!  Remember me?  Sorry for the extended absence.  Life has been a bit hectic.  I am going to do something Mom doesn't like today and do several posts at once.  Sorry Mom!  I just have a lot I'd like to tell/show you and I know I won't get back to it in a couple of days, so here goes. 

I think I'm going to start with the presence and move backwards.  As you know, we've been traveling some and that creates make up work upon return.  My Vridi friends have been going through a lot lately and that also makes for a lot more work.  Everyone wants to tell me their stories, which I love.  It means they trust me to some extent.  I know for some it also means they want something, but I can deal with that.

Christine is still hanging in there.  I visit her every couple of weeks now since I am not storying with her.  She enjoys visits and especially enjoys hearing that people all over the world are praying for her.  She is regaining her strength, but is still painfully thin.

Marie is having more trouble with the family of her deceased husband.  I'm not sure how the law works around here, but culture says that all belongings, money, settlements, women and children of a deceased man belong to his family.  They are to disperse of these things as they see fit.  Often they would propose another family member to marry her.  Things are progressing a bit now and she is usually able to refuse if she wishes.  However, her children are very much her husbands property.  They can take them and raise them as they wish or leave them with the mother.  Everything in the house belongs to the husband and therefore the family all the way down to the bed.  The wife would be allowed to keep things she came into the marriage with like her clothes and her dishes.  Marie had been doing OK with the husband's family.  So far they have let her keep the kids, but could take them any time they wish.  They had also agreed that since she is Catholic and they are Muslim, they'll not propose a husband.  They'd given just a few dollars here or there to help with food, medicine or school.  She's mostly living on what she can make in the market and what little bit kind friends have passed her way.  A few weeks ago, there was a dispute with her husband's family.  They felt as if she was trying to get the money owed to her husband from his employer simply because she had turned in the documentation to get it.  In reality, she turned in the documents because they were in her possession.  To solve the fight, she gave them everything she has, ensuring that she won't ever see a dime of her husband's money from his job or from the accident settlement.  Through it all she's still listening to the stories and trusting God. 

Another woman that listens at that same group just lost her young nephew.  He was 1 1/2 but his mother was not married with the dad.  She allowed him to suffer from an illness for a week before seeking help for him when he went into a coma.  Here, where malaria can kill in days, we always have to be vigilant about seeking help.  Unfortunately she didn't.  My friend is struggling with losing the nephew, but also that it could have been prevented and feelings of anger towards the mom.

Another friend in another group has fallen ill along with her infant.  I honestly fear that she is HIV+ and don't know how long she has.  For now, she is being treated in the village.

Alima's attitude has cooled toward the gospel.  Part of that is due to the language problems we've always had, but another part must be her rejected what she is hearing.  I've got a new tape in her language that she's the basic gospel message.  I hope to share that with her soon and then let her make her choice.

A million other things seem to be happening, but those are the highlights.  Stay tuned for more adventures! ;)