Thursday, November 28, 2013

Children's Day at Church

I think my illustration for why we need help with our 70 plus kiddos will be long remembered, I just hope it will bring results.

This last Sunday was Children's Day at church.  We had a great time with all of our kiddos in service taking part and doing presentations.  I have been very blessed to have been able to help out with this kids in the last couple of months and look forward to making some progress in the children's program and how things work so that our children's group can continue to grow.  I think you might know a few of those lighter colored faces in the pictures.  Those other faces with the beautiful tint to their skin are among my favorites around here!


Saturday, November 16, 2013


Church of Pastor Barthelemy who also runs the orphanage

Lunch time at the orphanage

All the orphans ready to go back to school for afternoon session

Littlest orphans at nap time

Church on the outskirts of Bouake that we attended on Saturday for a special service.  The Kassous were the first pastoral family at this church.

Sunday worship at another church in Bouake that the church the Kassous started at planted while the Kassous were there.  Pastors wives are called mama here, so she was grandmama at this church. :)  They enjoyed her brief word of encouragement and loved dancing to "grandmama's" singing.

There are thousands of bats in this photo in a village where people barely have enough to eat, but love bats.  These are sacred bats, though, and cannot be eaten.  It is so sad that God is providing for their needs, but they are slaves to Satan's lies.

It's hard to get African women to smile for photos, but this quickly snapped photo shows the joy on the face of this woman who is the chief's wife in this village, but also the sister of Pastor George Kassou.

To honor us for visiting her, she gave us a chicken and a huge sack of sweet potatoes.

My second chicken came with $10 so that we could eat well.  $10 is enough for several days food for a family living in this area, so that was super nice of them.  It's hard to accept such gifts, but unkind to refuse. 

This is the village school that Viviane attended as a child.

This is a small group of the relatives we visited in Viviane's village.

For those of you that may not know, I just spent 10 days several hours north of our lovely city of Abidjan in another city called Bouake (BWA-kay).  I took my buddy Viviane with me because she has lived and ministered there and still has lots of good contacts.  Her husband's family home is also there and so we got a free place to stay out of the deal.  We also had relatives waiting on us hand and foot, which is nice when you are in a strange city but need supplies, need water heated and carried and need to cook with no dishes or kitchen.  The main stated goal was for me to be able to meet and begin to get to know as many pastors' wives as possible, other Baptist women leaders and get to know some of the churches in the area and some about what is going on with them and their ministry and what needs they have.  I also wanted to get a little look at the city in case we are ever allowed to write a request for that area to have colleagues return there to work.  We have had many people there in the past but no one has been in that area for more than 10 years now due to the unrest.  As a brief summary note, I had a great time.  As usual, I thought you might or might not be interested in my wanderings and thought I'd give you a run down on our trip.

The Kassou family seems to be well known and very influential wherever they wind up and Bouake was no exception.  The little area where the family house is located is called Kassoukro.  Pastor Kassou's dad was the chief a long time ago when people were moving into that area.  If I understand correctly, someone in the family still is chief.  It was a nice big house with probably 7 or 8 rooms and electricity, but no running water.  There was an outhouse a little ways away which consisted of a concrete cubicle with a hole in the floor over the raw sewage.  The concrete cubicle next to that was just that, concrete floors and walls that came to around my nose when standing with a little drain hole off to the side, no roof on either side.  You the side with the hole was obviously for toilet purposes and the side with the drain was designed for bucket baths.  For the faint of heart, water could be heated in a huge metal pot over a fire and meals were cooked in the same fashion.  We had several women there to help us out, most of which were Kassou relatives.  Pastor Kassou's sister, who lived just around the block, cooked all of our meals for us that we ate at the house.  Everyone was very kind and welcoming.  I am learning that the Baoule people are huggers, so I can get along fairly well with them.

Let me just insert here that every move I make everywhere is thoroughly watched and analyzed for every detail about whether I am accepting of the way of life around here.  They aren't usually watching to see if I make errors, although those are always noted, but they want to know that I appreciate their way of life.  This is HUGE when it comes to food.  The Africans I know love to eat and they know that their food is very different from our food and they are always watching me to see how I'll react.  They also watch to see if I'll be able to handle the differences in comfort of living and if I'll accept them and love them for who they are when they are very different from me.  To this people pleaser, all of this is a recipe for HUGE stress. 

Because I was traveling with Viviane and I am an American white missionary, we got big honors wherever we went.  People were always asking what we wanted to eat and we got some of the best that these sweet people have to offer.  I love a dish called foutou that is made by pounding plantains and a root into a play dough type consistency and is eaten with sauce.  The funny thing about this particular dish is it is almost exclusively eaten with your right hand traditionally.  Even very western Africans would eat this with their hand.  Never one to be an odd ball, I also eat it with my hand, but that always brings huge giggles and lots of remarks.  The other very common thing for me to do is to share a bowl with Viviane.  There are lots of reasons I prefer to eat this way, one of which is the ability to stick out less in what I eat or don't eat.  If you share a bowl, the end result is always what the two of you finished together and there is less notice of what any one of you ate.  It also fits better with my philosophy of blending in if at all possible.  Anyway, time after time I sat and ate foutou with my hand out of a common bowl, while trying not to choke on fish bones.  Fish bones used to bother me a little.  I'm not so good at separating them out in my mouth and inevitable swallow a few.  I used to cough and hack and worry about everyone of them, but now I've accepted my handicap at sorting fish bones out with my mouth and just go with the flow.  For those of you that know of some reason this will cause me serious harm, please don't tell me.  I'm just getting past the panic when one scratches its way down my esophagus when I worry about what the sharp pointy object could possibly do in my intestines! ;)  Don't worry, Mom, I'm down from 10 or 15 tiny weapons of death per meal to usually only 1 or 2.  Hee hee!   Because of the near constant surveillance and my desire to make everyone, including my traveling buddy, happy, I ate a LOT of food!!

Because I was traveling with a Baoule lady and Bouake is a big Baoule area, I was once again at a language disadvantage.  I at least had a fall back language of French.  Most of those we were with could speak French, but they often preferred their heart language.  I very quickly learned the word for "white lady" so that I could keep track of when I was being discussed, but other than that my vocabulary isn't much more than come, sit, bat, cat and boy.  At least I was relieved of the duty of chit chatting for most of the trip.

Another special experience that I was able to have was the joy of motorcycle taxis.  There are many more motorcycle taxis there than cars.  Viviane told me that she didn't really like them and they weren't cheaper, so I thought I might get to skip this particular part of Bouake life, but of course my Jesus seems to love to keep me humble and so...  One night we headed out to see what used to be an international school for MKs.  Viviane had been told it was close and so we headed out on foot around 5 PM to see what it looks like now.  The sun always sets here around 6:30 and after about 45 minutes of walking, Viviane turned to the family member accompanying us and puzzled asked, "Do we have much further to go?"  "Yes, much further!" she replied.  At Viviane's distressed look, she added, "We can take a motorcycle taxi."  My poor Viviane tried to balance the options and finally turned and trudged ahead mumbling, "We are going to..." and the rest was drowned out.  "We are going to what?" I said and Viviane started to laugh.  The young lady with us started to laugh and said, "Are you scared."  "Of course not I said with my mouth," while "Yes, yes I am." ran through my head.  I know I can't say anything to make you understand why I would be worried, but I'll leave it at the fact that they don't obey any normal traffic rules I'm aware of and they don't wear helmets, not to mention that I'm about to cling for dear life to some African man that I don't know.  These motorcycles are pretty small things, not a whole lot more than a moped and you ride with 2 passengers and the driver.  Fortunately, Viviane climbed on behind me to make sure I stayed put.  I managed to wrap one arm back around behind her leg to lock my fingers on chrome behind her and the other hand had a death grip on her other knee.  She put one arm around me to keep that hand on the driver's shoulder while locking in my other hand by putting that hand on her other knee.  I had to take 3 motorcycle rides while there, but I survived them all.  I appreciated even more my dear African friends habit of always asking for God's protection each time they left a house.  Every trip was prayed about over and over and all of those prayers were answered by safe trips.

I got to spend a couple of days in a couple of villages.  We came back with gifts of peanuts, sweet potatoes, dried hot peppers, chickens, money and other things.  The people were so kind and generous.  It was a very special time.  It was also neat to see the Baptist churches in those villages doing well.  We encouraged and prayed for each pastor and wife we could. 

We got to spend some time with several pastors' wives that have fallen on hard times.  One of them had lost her husband only 3 months ago.  Another's husband had died from aids a few years ago.  Another's husband had left her for another woman, leaving her with 3 kids and no income.  Each of their stories was heart wrenching.  We encouraged and prayed and will hopefully pray for a long time to come for them and their needs.

We got to meet with and encourage several pastors and their families.  Due to a special service held on Saturday, we were able to hit two different church services in our 10 day trip.  It was really neat to see how these churches really seem to have a heart for church planting.  Many of them  have several church plants going on at the same time and at least one of those that is planting churches is still meeting without a building.  I admire them looking outward rather than inward.

One of the other things we got to do was to visit an orphanage run by one of our Baptist pastors.  There were around 33 kids there.  We were able to take some clothes, backpacks and flip flops that a US church sent for them and they were very happy.  It was nice to see how well the kids were taken care of.  Almost all of them were school aged children and I imagine that will be there home for the rest of their childhood years.

Because I was out of my element, it was so great to have a knowledgeable guide with me.  I really had to watch and imitate most everything that Viviane did especially when communication was in Baoule.  It was funny that I had to follow her like a baby duck in all of the new experiences we had so that I did the right thing and didn't offend somebody or bring harm to myself.  It reminded me of how we should be with Christ.  We should be watching Him for our every step and word so that we fall completely in line with who we should be in Him.

My last first may gross you out, so look away all of you that have weak stomachs or embarrass easily.  Bouake has had a lot of trouble with security after the internal conflicts our country has had through the last many years.  Law and order has been established, but is a little tentative.  Since the house we stayed in had no running water, midnight bathroom runs require a trip out of doors.  After the first night of getting up and heading off together for the outhouse, our hosts told us it wasn't a good idea to be outside at that time of night and we should stay in.  "No problem," was my friend's reply, "So where is our chamber pot?"  Now, I actually didn't yet know that vocabulary word as it isn't one I've needed up until now, but I became very familiar with not only the vocabulary, but the thing itself.  I wouldn't say that I am overly modest, but that was stretching my abilities to be vulnerable.  I prided myself in the fact that for the whole time, I managed to use that thing in the dark and never wake my friend... until the last day that is.  Assuming I hadn't used it yet, my precious friend and teacher began to give me instructions on how to use that little plastic receptacle on my last and most embarrassing night.  Let's just say that I am pretty excited to be back in a place where there is a toilet that flushes in the room right beside my bed tonight! ;)

I do appreciate all of you that knew I was traveling and prayed for me.  Your thoughts for us and our families were very much appreciated.  I think that I have surely bored you enough with my chattering by this point.  Many blessings on you for your persistence.

With love,

Ben's Birthday

Our beloved little Ben turned 4 last month, but if you ask him, he'll tell you he is 5.  After many days of trying to convince him he is 4, he calmly explained to me the last week, "Mom I don't do 1,2,3,4,5 and I am 5!"  Ben's always up to something silly and telling us something that makes everyone laugh.  He's the typical baby of the family in that, I suppose. 

As stubborn and just plain cantankerous as he can be, he continues to steal the hearts of those around him with his zeal for life.  I'm still, and probably always will be, known as Maman Benjamin, by most everyone around here.  One of Ben's particularly favorite adults is Maman Kassou, who he's always trying to rope into a game of Wii or conniving a piece of gum or candy out of her.  She usually obliges and so the two get along pretty well.  One of the neat things about Ben connecting with her and my friend Agira, is that Ben is doing pretty well again with his French.  He understands a lot and is speaking a good bit as well.

Viviane (aka Maman Kassou) has an 11 year old that Ben loves, so now we all have buddies in that family.  Her son is so sweet with Ben and both Karis and Caleb have Kassou buddies too.  It is so neat for everyone to have someone that we enjoy spending time with and what could be better than having them all in the same family!

Better get some supper on here so that I can write up my Bouake trip.  Sorry for doing it all at once, Mom.  I know you don't like it like that, but if I don't do it all now, I'll never get it done.

With love,

Busy Days

These last few months have been incredibly busy.  Mike has traveled often and we have hosted 2 volunteer teams as well as adding a semester missionary to our midst.  After Mike's return from the states and then South Africa, we had a team here from Calhoun, LA.  It is always a joy to have them here with us and this time was no different.  They were so sweet to bring us many things we were missing from the states in addition to bringing some things to Ben who had a birthday while they were here.  The other team we had was a group from our home church in North Carolina.  They were also great as usual.  They were kind enough to pack in some Christmas presents we had sent to them along with bringing a suitcase for our new teammate who is getting situated here with us.

Back in August we had two young ladies come to work with us for the semester.  Unfortunately, one of them had to return to the US after only two weeks.  The other is doing a great job here with us now.  She lives with our dear friends the Kassous and is working hard with them.  Several of us girls took several days to go to the beach here to celebrate the middle of her term and to encourage her to finish well.  She has less than one month left with us and we will all be sad to see her go. 

My friend Viviane has been an amazing help to me during this time.  She is taking great care of our semester missionary, who has become a member of their enlarged family.  She's helped me through many difficulties when Mike was out of town and she continues to be a great friend.  I'm always so grateful for my precious little sister and my little brothers that were born into my family, but am also thankful that at 36 years old, God saw fit to give me a big sister as a gift of His grace and mercy in my life.  She is an amazing ministry partner, an example to me of what a Godly African woman looks like and a wonderful friend/confidante.  At her side, I've learned so much.  She is a blessing to work with and to have in my life.

Since I love so much to be right in the middle of life here, I'm always looking for new opportunities to learn more and to fit in.  The quest for that in the last few months has added a few new items to the things that I have eaten.  Food is not at all to be wasted here and so even the normal items that I eat on a usual basis end up being totally new experiences when eaten with my friends.  Almost every part of every animal is to be eaten when it is presented including: skin, bones, cartilage, joints, organs, etc.  Up until this point in my life, I wouldn't consider myself a picky eater by our standards, but there are things I don't eat for example: skin, bones, cartilage, joints, organs, etc.  Hee hee!  One day while sharing lunch of chicken, which is a treat here, I was polishing off (from my point of view) a piece.  I had eaten the skin, because even I know that is necessary, and thus deemed myself finished with that piece of meat.  My friend asked me, "Why do you just play with your food?"  Hmm, I thought I was doing pretty well, but as I looked from my scraps to hers, there was a notable difference.  Mine still looked fairly intact, whereas hers was a tiny pile of chewed up bone remains.  "I don't guess I know to eat it right," I said, and thus began my instruction.  I'll have to say that I am still very American, but my pile of bones now resembles less the intact creature I started with.  I've learned to chew off the joints and get those down as well as chewing off pieces of cartilage and what not.  I can get every scrap of meat and skin off of most bones and on occasion can be convinced to gnaw off the tip of a thigh bone and suck out the marrow.  I can't say that I particularly enjoy all of the extras I'm eating, but I will say that my gag reflex is coming more under control every day. ;)  Please do refrain from letting me know how any of those things I have to eat are going to kill me or harm me in any way.  The eating is hard enough as it is. 

After my initial instruction in eating a chicken, I moved on to bigger and better things.  I can now proudly say that I have eaten bush rat, porcupine and snails.  Bush rat is not so bad and I actually chose to eat porcupine a second time.  I have had other encounters with bush rat as well.  Given a long list of things, I might not choose it, but there are many things here that I do prefer it to.  I have a hard time eating his little hand.  Same thing with the frogs here.  Most parts of most animal go into the sauce, so you've gotta figure out how to get it all down.  The frog was totally intact.  And so goes my culinary education. :)

It has been a great few months for my language abilities as well.  Being able to spend so much concentrated time in language has given me a further boost.  Having a very close friend and ministry activities pretty much every day as well as the times that Mike was gone when I mostly spoke small bits of English with the kiddos when no one was around, really helped me to be more comfortable in language.  It's such a blessing how God uses hard times to hone our skills and make us into who He wants us to be. 

I've got many more photos to add and much more to write, so I suppose I better move on.  Come on out and visit us and I'll cook you up some of my new recipes!!

With love,

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The History of Halloween

     We normally just blog about stuff that happens here in Abidjan.  However, in just two days the world will celebrate the day of the dead.  As Christians we have decided to not celebrate this day at all.  To understand why we do no celebrate October 31st, I decided to post an article written by my dad, Dr. James McAfee.

The History of Halloween
By:  Dr. James D. McAfee

Skeletons, ghosts, black cats, witches on broomsticks, and grinning pumpkin heads are blended in a holiday second only to Christmas as a child’s delight, the modern American Halloween.  Unknown to the children, and usually their parents, is that every detail of the festive games once had a genuine life and death significance.

It may come as quite a surprise to discover that this celebration predates the Christian Church by several centuries.  In fact, it goes back to a practice of the ancient Druids in Britain, France, Germany, and the Celtic countries, who lived centuries before Christ was born.  This celebration honored one of their deities (gods) Samhain, the Lord of the Dead.  Samhain called together all the wicked souls who had died within the past twelve months and had been condemned to inhabit the bodies of animals.  In Celtic Belief, the souls were incarnated as animals until they had expiated (atoned for) their own sins.  Fire rites and sacrifices were offered to this dreaded god.  Human victims, usually criminals, or captives taken especially for this rite, were enclosed in thatch or wicker cages in the shape of animals or monsters and roasted alive in the Samhain bonefire sacrifices (this bonefire eventually became bonfire).

The date for this celebration was the last day of October, the eve of the Celtic New Year.  It was a time of falling leaves and general seasonal decay, and it seemed the appropriate time to celebrate death.  That’s what this was—a celebration of death.  It honored the god of the dead and the wicked spirits of the dead.  The druids believed that on this particular night the souls of the dead returned to their former homes to be entertained by the living.  If acceptable food and shelter were not provided these evil spirits would cast spells, cause havoc and terror, and haunt and torment the living.  They demanded to be placated.  LOOK CLOSELY, here is the beginning of “Trick or Treat”.  Evil spirits demanding a “Treat”, if they didn’t get it you got a “Trick”.

The custom of living sacrifices on Halloween continued into the Middle Ages, with human victims being replaced by black cats due to their longstanding association with witchcraft.

But how did all this become associated with Christianity?  Part of the story goes back to Rome.  The Roman Pantheon was built about 100 A. D. as a temple to the goddess Cybele and various other Roman deities.  It became the principal place of worship where Roman pagans prayed for their dead.  After Rome was sacked, the Pantheon fell into disrepair.  In 607 it was recaptured and turned over to Pope Boniface IV.  Boniface consecrated it once again to the Virgin Mary.  This was part of the general policy, wherever pagan celebrations were well established, they would be continued and incorporated into Christian worship.  (See Ex. 34:12-14, Duet. 12:2-3, 29-32)

For two centuries the major celebration in the Pantheon took place in May and was called “All Saints Day”, in 834 A.D. it was deliberately moved to the first of November!  Why?  To coincide with those pagan practices that had been going on for centuries.  The Catholic Church wanted to accommodate the recently conquered German Saxons and the Norsemen of Scandinavia, thus it incorporated yet another celebration.  That’s the wedding of All Saints Day to Halloween.  Thoroughly, utterly, totally pagan; the worship of the dead, the placating of evil spirits, the honoring of the Lord of the Dead, the transferring to Mary the pagan esteem that was previously given to Cybele.

The Jack-O-Lantern began as a hollowed out turnip or potato in Ireland and Scotland.  The name derived from that for a night watchman or a Will-O-The–Wisp of the marshes, which is a false light that leads travelers astray.  The Native American pumpkin was soon substituted for the turnip in the United States.  This hollowed out pumpkin, carved into a demonic face and mocking grin suggest the throngs of hobgoblins that roam the dark on Halloween.

The Halloween masquerade has been traced to the festival of the dead.  Although the souls of the departed were welcomed home with a light in the window and offerings of food, (trick or treat) their visit was an uneasy one for the living and they were not encouraged to stay.  When it was time for them to leave the villagers, in costume, formed a procession to escort them out of town.  The masquerade was presumably a way of inviting the guests to depart without offending them, but it also served to disguise the identities of the escort and protect them from supernatural visitants.  Some masks were of saints but most celebrants costumed as ghosts, skeletons, demons, and witches.

Apples and nuts figured in divination customs of Halloween.  The game of bobbing for apples was originally a form of augury (fortune telling) in which apples and a sixpence were immersed in a tub of water and the success in capturing one in the mouth meant a prosperous year to come.  Nuts roasting in the fire prophesied the fidelity of lovers when they burned side by side, but if one of them burst or fell in the ashes the love would not endure.

Deut 18:10-14, Lev. 20: 6,27, Gal. 5: 19-21

This is only an abbreviated history of this demonic origin of Halloween.  As a Christian, it is a celebration that needs be left alone.  In the United States, the season of Halloween has become the second most productive in commercial sales, coming in second only to the Christmas Season.  It has totally supplanted the season of Thanksgiving and in most towns it is difficult to find decorations suitable for Thanksgiving, a holiday dedicated to giving thanks to God for the manifold blessings we have received.

Source of information: The Encyclopedia Britannica and the Britannica Library Research Service.  Various other Historical Books on Halloween.  This information was compiled and edited by Dr. & Mrs. Jim McAfee, 420 Ash Dr.  Baxter, TN  38544.

Also look on the internet for Halloween-Christian perspective.


Monday, October 28, 2013

The Slammer

I want to say up front that I am going to be as sensitive as possible and try to make sure everything I say here is respectful to the country I live and work in.  There are lots of differences in this culture that I might notice or bring up, but different is just that, different.  I'll also be cautious with the words I use.  I'm not attempting to be irritating of hide things from you, just trying to be discreet. 

Most of you are probably aware of the visit I made yesterday to the slammer.  I went with 23 wonderful ladies that are involved in our local Baptist churches and 3 of my colleagues.  Our women have the theme of LOVE for their national day of prayer study November 1 and they decided to do a project to demonstrate that love is more about actions than words.  Our women collected food and personal items to take in to the women and children that are detained in the slammer.  Somehow or another, I was asked to present a gospel message while we were there.  I was able to get a grant of $1200 to provide some gifts for orphans that are also detained there.  I think those are all of the background details you need to understand what we did.

The whole week was a long one.  In addition to my normal duties, I needed to spend some time gathering things to take to the prison.  Our vehicle has been in the shop for a couple of weeks, so hauling the load of goods was difficult.  I did a lot of paperwork for the grant and did a little bit of prep work (which mostly consisted of running around in circles and wearing myself out), then I got smart and grabbed my best buddy Viviane and my trusty colleague, Jen, and we headed out to start shopping in earnest.  A bad cold fogged up my thinking for the week and trying to do everything "just so" to ensure staying true to what was written up for the grant made me a little crazy.  I was so glad to have Jen and Viviane there with me to keep me on the right track.  I scribbled junk all over every scrap of paper I owned as we figured, refigured and revised the plan.  We had young men following us all over this warehouse looking building that sells things in bulk.  It was incredibly amusing to say, I would like 13 cases of this or 5 cases of that and watch them run off to make it happen.  When we finally ended our shopping spree, we had a mountain of goods to load and no vehicle. 

Our little entourage headed off to find us some taxis to load and made an 8 man line to throw things down to load it all up.  Too bad we didn't have those 8 men a few minutes later when we had to haul all of those goods up to the second floor of the church where the goodies were being packaged to take to the slammer.  WHEW!  I'm glad that's over. 

I really meant to drop those goods off and walk away.  I'd already gone over what I was going to do.  Even Viviane had given me a pep talk before we arrived, "We are going to drop this stuff off and leave," she said.  Well, neither of us had walked more than a block when we both came to the conclusion that we couldn't leave.  Our Baptist women's president was working all alone to make between 300 and 400 bags.  We grabbed a quick lunch on the street and went right back.  I called in some reinforcements and before long we were throwing around bags of rice and spaghetti, soap and toothpaste as we all packed bags.  One of the highlights of the day was when we were all sitting around a table trying to pour big bags of salt into little individual bags. 

When the big day finally arrived we all met out front of the slammer.  We had to wear a special tshirt to show who we were with because the residents just wear street clothes.  This was my very first visit to such an establishment, so the whole thing was a big learning experience.  I'll have to say that I got a little nervous when we were all asked to remove our necklaces just before going in so that they wouldn't be "ripped off of us".  The little frisking incidents that soon followed stole the courage of our youngest teammate.  I was negotiating the loss of Jen's ID while I was being searched and was fairly oblivious to what was going on as I was trying to convince a slightly irritated guard not to throw her ID into a cardboard box.  I lost the argument, but was saved a little trauma from frisking as I was totally involved in my own argument.  Within moments, I saw the traumatized face of my youngest charge, as she muttered to herself, "I can't believe she did that."  I suppose it is good to know they are thorough. :)

We went on to the church service where we had a fairly normal time with those that gathered.  I managed to blunder through what I had prepared as schedules were changed and microphones howled each time I tried to approach my notes.  After the second attempt to look at them, I decided to wing it!!!  After seeing some of our slammers on TV, I was a little surprised at our freedom and everyone else's to move around.  We walked through the recreation yard which must be where they come and go as they please.  We went near the housing, but never inside.  We passed out gifts to the leaders of the women's groups in an outdoor pavilion.  They weren't exactly well behaved kinds of ladies, but that is sort of what I expected. 

The time I was most worried, aside from when we were brushing shoulders with the men in their recreation yard, was when we were in the boy's section.  They were slightly unruly and it seemed that order was kept by the blocks of wood and electrical cords that seemed to be used as switches in the hands of some of the men with us.  I never was sure if they were guards or what.  That was an area that our president was able to speak for a few minutes about why we were there and how we hoped that our gift would show them our love and the love of Christ.  Shortly after we passed out their gifts, mass chaos ensued, I led the line headed for the gates.  I did push my youngest charge out of the inner gate first, but then picked up my pace in my search for freedom.  I figured that once we were all out of immediate danger, it was every woman for herself! ;)

All in all, it was a good learning experience.  The gospel was shared a couple of times, that is certain.  I don't know if we'll ever know what any of that came to.

I appreciate all of you that prayed for us.  It meant a lot to know that you were standing in the gap. 

With love,

Friday, October 4, 2013

Normal Life

Parading through the streets of Abidjan to announce a revival service!

Ben and his chameleon in Kenya

Ben loved to hold the chameleon on the stick, but holding it on his hand was a little scary!

My friend Viviane having a wonderful time leading the parade

Missionary work requires nerves of steel for many different occasions.

Sweet Friends

With Mike traveling in August and September, things around here have been anything but normal.  We are now all back under one roof, so everybody is happy.  Mike spend a good chunk of September in South Africa for a meeting.  He sneaked in a few days of fun at the end, so maybe he'll post a little about that. 

We have enjoyed having a team from Calhoun, LA with us this week.  They are doing a great job of sharing the gospel in conjunction with a local church.  Many have heard and some have accepted Christ as Lord.  May He get all the glory always!

We are looking forward to seeing our Parkwood buddies next week.  We don't yet know the guys that are coming to work in Abobo with our national friends, but we are church family!  Pray for much success and that these guys can see what they need to see to cast vision for the future work.

I stuck in some photos from our summer.  Ben was especially interested in the chameleons that live in Kenya.  I spent a good portion of my week looking for little friends for Ben.

It was really funny to me how important and exciting parades are here.  I posted a few pictures of my friends parading to announce revival services that would go on for the week.  We walked/danced for miles and the women had a great time. 

There doesn't seem to be much to say about what's up around here.  We are just plugging along with what we do.  My mom says that I haven't told you about my new adventures in playing soccer, so I'll try to get around to that soon.  Let's just say that the event is more of a comedy than a sporting event! ;)

With love,

Saturday, August 31, 2013


My precious friend Maman Kassou leading worship

Pastor Kassou

Hee hee!  It's me, sheepishly coming back.  I realize how long it has been.  SO SORRY!  I'm not sure I even know where to start to catch you back up on us, but here goes.

We've had a fast and crazy summer.  We had 3 volunteer teams with us and a group of journalists from the board that came to write some stories and take video of us, our city and our work.  I'll begin to include little by little some of their photos.  The ones for this time are from the church in Abobo Belle Ville.  I love so much this church and this pastor's family that these are among my favorites of all we have.  If you like what you see, stay tuned to see who will be featured in the 2014 International Mission Study!!!  We are so honored to be a special part of this publication.  We had a great time working with the journalists and look forward to seeing our city from their eyes.

In addition to all of that excitement Caleb had a great time at MK camp in Senegal.  He always enjoys his time with other MKs.  Karis is super excited that she has been invited for next year.  We appreciate all of you that give to Lottie Moon and the CP so that things like this are possible for us at a reduced cost.

Our whole family got to have a cluster meeting bringing together about 7 countries worth of staff and flying in specialists from other areas.  Our kids got to do VBS while the adults had times of spiritual renewal along with strategy meetings and training.  Again, BIG THANKS to those that give.  I nearly froze my behind off as the daytime temps stayed in the 60s at best and night temps plunged to some crazy lows and we had no heat.  I'm not ashamed to say that I'm most at home in the tropics now!  Rainy season has been too chilly for me this year.  Maybe I need to find out where my African friends get their parkas and ski masks! ;)  TRUE STATEMENT:  I have worn my long sweater many days this year.  78 and windy is no longer my kind of weather!!  I'll try to get some pics from our time in Kenya up soon.

I was able to participate in a retreat for local pastors' wives' from all over our country.  These are becoming slightly less stressful and more times of sweet reunion with precious ladies I'm coming to know.  I still do the wrong thing sometimes or say the wrong thing and get myself in trouble.  This year we all slept in the same room and the second morning I was headed out to take my bucket bath and stopped off to tell my buddy where I was headed.  The other pastor's wife she was having a serious discussion with said, "HEY! I'm mad at you."  Oh dear what did I do this time.  She says, "I am the big sister and yesterday I had to come tell you good morning at your mattress, today you are walking out without even saying good morning.  I'm MAD!"  I've now learned that defending myself or explaining my error is a waste of breath and otherwise worthless, so I dropped straight to my knees, looked at the ground and grovelled.  It worked! :)  Note to self, don't bother explaining, just beg forgiveness.  One of these days I'll get it all right.

I also got to be a part of a couple of national meeting events.  One was a nondenominational revival type of thing.  It was pretty fun and/or funny.  I got to parade through the crowded streets of Abidjan with my sisters in Christ, singing and dancing and passing out fliers along with a six man band.  Pretty great, huh?  I was able to spend one day at our national Baptist convention before catastrophe hit one of our new personnel.  I wish I'd known it would be my only day.

We had a couple of young women come to spend the semester with us in our company's HandsOn program.  A week and a half after arrival one begun to break out in hives that we couldn't seem to get a handle on.  She spent 5 or so days in the hospital and has since left for the US.  It was a very stressful situation for all involved.  Colleagues in the country helped me out some with taking a few turns in the hospital.  She speaks almost no French and nobody wants to be alone in the hospital anyway.  My dear friends the Kassous just happened to be spending the week at our house for the convention and stayed a night with my kids since Mike is out of town.  In addition, Viviane was a constant help to me and passed many hard hours in the hospital with me and helped me pray and let go of the stress.  She made sure I ate and slept as much as possible.  Over and over, she proves to be such a blessing to me.  I never knew to ask for such a special friend.  I'm so grateful for what the Lord has done for me.

Now we are left with one young woman that we are trying to figure out how we can help her have a successful semester.  Pray for wisdom for all involved. 

Well, supper is late at this point.  Please know that even when updates are slow, I appreciate all of you that keep up with us and keep in contact. 

With love,

Friday, July 19, 2013

Valley Baptist Church

We had yet another great team come out and visit with us on a "Vision Trip."  Valley Baptist Church from Searcy, Arkansas came out to look at Abidjan and to hopefully partner with a local African Church to plant new churches.  We are praying that they decide to come back out again.  The purpose of this trip was to do just a little bit of everything.  We toured the city, looked at the sites and visited several places that don't have a Baptist Church or even an evangelical Church in the area.

The team visited with Pastor Kassou and his family to see how a Christian family lives.  We also shared a meal with Pastor Kassou and his family.

The team also worshiped with the Baptist Church in Treichville.  They visited the Church Sunday morning and Wednesday night.

As always phone numbers were exchanged as well as email addresses.  I have no idea how they will communicate without a translator, but I have no doubt that emails will be sent.

Heather and one of the ladies from the church at Treichville.

Paul was the only guy that came on this mission trip.  The other five members of the team were women.  Pray for Paul as he feels he is being called to the mission field.

Pastor Dah, just to my right, and the church gave all the members of the team as well as Heather and myself, matching African clothes.  We put them on at the end of the Wednesday night service.

Just one more picture of the team in their cool African outfits.