Saturday, May 31, 2014

Catching Up

Hopefully soon enough we'll be updating the blog with photos and stories, but I wanted to give a bit of an explanation for my long absence.  Throughout the last 6 months or so, lots has been going on and often it has been things that I couldn't or didn't want to talk about.  We've also been super busy and as many times as I thought of things I'd like to say, I didn't get around to it. 

So first things first, big news, we are having another baby!  Hee hee!  I imagine you all know this from other sources; FaceBook or something else.  I just thought it would be best to address the elephant in the room first.  Baby boy will be born some time in August most likely.  He's predicted arrival date is August 23.  He does not yet have a name, but Ben has suggested a few, although he's not to thrilled with the idea of a little brother.  He has very happily occupied the spot of baby, comedian and center or attention for the last 4 1/2 years and is a little reticent to give that up.  Something tells me reality may be worse than his imaginings.

We were able to make a quick visit to the states in February.  Our home church in NC brought us back for a missions conference and we took a couple of weeks to see as much family as possible.  We returned to Abidjan after our whirlwind trip visiting 3 states in 3 weeks and passing through a few others on our way here and there.  We were geared up for 4 busy months of work leading up to our stateside assignment.  I had already been asked to return the end of June and Mike was planning to follow the kids and I a few weeks later. 

We each had some really big projects going to end the term with a bang.  We had a volunteer team from Parkwood in March and my precious friend Viviane and I were working hard to do discipleship and follow up evangelism from that team.  We had several new storying groups with Muslim women going.  We'd just had a Muslim lady we had been working with for a long time, pray to accept Christ.  We had been gathering new believers in a nearby neighborhood into a cell group that we hoped would lead to a church plant.  Viviane had just been voted as the president of the Baptist women in the north sector of our city and we were hard at work on how to reorganize this defunct area of the city and really work toward evangelism and church planting with those 10 churches.  I was also working with our national women's president on a big conference on community development to which we'd invited Baptist women leaders from all over the country and had a speaker coming from South Africa. Mike had stuff going on too, but since this is my story, I'll carry on.

To keep from getting into a lot of things, I'll say that 2 1/2 weeks before my big conference, our medical department got concerned about the possibility or preterm labor and told us we had to return to the states.  All of the plans I had of things to do were either scrapped or to be passed on to others.  Our teammate was out of the country for a special training, so even collaborating with her was impossible.  To say I was crushed is a bit of an understatement. 

Please don't get me wrong, I love the US and our family and special friends and home church.  However, my home is across the sea.  I love Abidjan.  When we leave there, we leave our home, our pets, our colleagues (where colleagues are more family than coworkers), our brothers and sisters in Christ, our spiritual children in Christ, our ministry and my closest and dearest friend who is a ministry partner, best friend and big sister.  To make leaving worse, we had to do it in a few times and my movement was restricted to only necessary outings.

I had to leave Abidjan, where leave taking is SO important and you have to tell everyone from your friends to the neighborhood grocery people if you are taking a week trip up country, not to mention an 8 month trip across the ocean.  I dropped in to see just a few people, but so many more were left without goodbyes.  Fortunately some of our colleague/family joined together to help us pack up our house before we left.  We didn't get everything done, but would have done so much less without the help of precious friends.  My African sister dropped her entire life for over a week to help me pack up my stuff and to be available to myself as I grieved losing time with friends and ministry and lost dreams for those weeks we were losing.  I don't know how I'll weather these months ahead without her.

So, it turns out that God can handle "my" ministry with our without my help.  I'm sure this comes as a shock to you as it did to me! ;)  The conference I'd been planning and felt totally responsible for went on without me.  Word on the street is it couldn't have gone better.  Take that, pride!  I felt left out and sad for not being able to attend to get this great teaching and visit with special friends that I only see a few times a year as well as hang out with my African sister.  I haven't heard too much about my other projects yet, but I assume God has that under control as well. 

Well, we are in the US now.  I've been cleared from all possible problems that brought us here and so we are beginning to get with our family, friends and all of our stateside contacts.  We are ready and willing to speak and share wherever possible.  I figure the best thing I can do for my African family is to garner as much support as possible while here.  We need US believers praying, giving and going.

I know Mike mentioned our needing a vehicle and a house for the time we are here.  Just to show you how God is at work, I want to let you know that we have secured a vehicle with the help of a few churches in the area I grew up in and the help of Stone Association.  We were overwhelmed by this special blessing.  We are staying with my mother and father-in-law as we wait for the house where we had planned to live.  They have been kind enough to accept 5 more people into their house, 2 of which are teenagers, one is a rambunctious, loud 4 year old and one is pregnant!  They should probably get a medal.  My family has been kindly waiting to see us as we have looked high and low for a vehicle.  Hopefully we will get to see them soon. 

Hopefully we will be seeing many of you in the US soon.  Let us know how we can be of help to you.  Please let us know because we have lots of hours to fill up before we return home.

With love,

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Coming Home Early

As most everyone knows we are coming home early.  The plan was for Heather and the kids to come home June 30th and I would follow July 15th after packing up our house.  However, God had other plans.  Two weeks ago Heather visited the Dr. and just after the appointment had some minor problems that arose.  Our medical staff is very cautious and they decided we must go on medical leave immediately.  We have spent the last week and a half packing up our house and trying to say our goodbyes and at the same time get things set up for the time where we are not here and to make sure a plan was in place to meet the teams that are coming to do ministry in May and June.  As most of you know we are very torn.  We love our family and friends in the USA, but we also love our family and friends here in Abidjan.  We ask that you pray for us that we will be able to finish packing our house and saying our goodbyes.

We do have needs and prayer request.  Coming home early means that we do not have a van to drive or any type of transportation.  My father has told us we can use his vehicles some, but we really need one that would be at our disposal when we needed it.  Please pray that someone would step up and help us get a van that we can drive.  We also will be staying with my parents as we do not have a house of our own to stay in until July 1st.  That means we will be a month and a half crowding out my parents small house.  We do not want to inconvenience anyone, but it seems that is exactly what we will be doing.  Please pray for a safe flight back tot he states.  We will see you soon. 

God Bless.