Sunday, February 28, 2010

distracting vs. strengthening

Yesterday on the way to church our whole family along with John's dad and wife, went to the Oasis house. It is a home that will be used as a resource/education center for the future as it sits right along the edge of the property where we are building and right next to the village.
Anyway, as we were driving in (which is an adventure to begin with) we came across a herd of cattle just meandering through the land. There are a group of people, the Falani, who typically travel along with them and this particular morning there were two men and one younger boy. I picture him to be no older than my son Gus (who is 9).
A thought that went through my mind yesterday was I wonder what they think about all day long. Where does their mind wander to...... do they get bored........ does it even cross their thoughts that this might be what they do for the next 40 years of their life.....
Anyway, it was a fleeting thought that I remembered this morning on mine and John's run. I was thinking about how I have chosen lately to not run with music or an iPod in my ear so I can just pray or talk to John, etc... Well, it has been a couple of grueling weeks now since I haven't run with the distraction, and this morning I found myself praying with John and being "intune" to what I was praying for and truly intent on what God was saying or leading....
I realized at that moment, that the music had become a distraction to me and I wasn't strengthening my mind with it and I now I am slowly allowing the retraining of my mind to take place again. I always say that the competition of a race takes place 90% in the mind and I also believe that to be true with the race of life. I had become weary of the mental battle so I started just distracting my mental thoughts verses strengthening them and joining in on the race again.
All of that to say is it brought me back to these Falani boys and men.... I have no idea what goes through their mind, but I do think that their distraction level might be less. I want to reenter the race. I want to retrain my thoughts to be that of Christ's and I want to enjoy the run again. So, here goes to the discipline of retraining the mind. I know in the end, I won't regret it.

Friday, February 26, 2010

a couple of sites lately

Good Morning from Nigeria. Here are a couple of pictures. One is of the track at Hillcrest school. I spend my Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons there with five teenagers (those are the number of long distance runners I personally work with) who have their first track meet this Friday and then only one more on the 20th of March. The thing I have enjoyed the most with these five are the moments I am able to talk to them about the parallels with their distance run with their walk with Christ. It is so fun for me to pass this on because a lot of my spiritual growth insight has come from my distance runs and I think there is so much to be learned by taking a moment to just train our thoughts in that direction. At first, they were a bit confused why I was bringing it up with each session. I do believe however, they are now catching on that I want to not only coach them for their meets, but I want to train them with their walks and how to persevere through the distance race of life. I love it! Now, if I can just get them to not ignore me at school when they see me (hehehehehee). Oh well, at least on the field I have their attention. Strange having a season that is so short and then cut even shorter because of the crisis earlier this year. Either way, this is common scenery for my eyes.

The other photo is of Evelyn's shower. She is at the end of the table and she is due in about one week. I think she is one of the neatest women I have met here. It is not common for women to throw baby showers here. Emilee had fun games planned and good food and I was glad to be a part of bringing a bit of America into this land. I like the celebration we offer to new mothers and I hope they saw the purpose of it as well.....

Thursday, February 25, 2010

oswald chambers thoughts

"Paul's idea of service was to pour his life out to the last drop for others. And whether he received praise or blame made no difference. As long as there was one human being who did not know Jesus, Paul felt a debt of service to that person until he did come to know Him. But the chief motivation behind Paul's service was not love for others but love for his Lord. If our devotion is to the cause of humanity, we will be quickly defeated and broken-hearted, since we will often be confronted with a great deal of ingratitude from other people. But if we are motivated by our love for God, no ammount of ingrattude will be able to hinder us from serving one another." - devotional from February 23
The battle has seemed fierce lately. I can know in my head that the battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces in this dark world.... (paraphrased Eph. 6:12), but it can be hard for me to remember if I don't see the "crisis". I think maybe my focus has not been Christ but people. Funny, isn't it? I can be "ready" for the physical crisis that takes place here, but the spiritual battle can catch me off guard and quickly deplete what earthly energy I can muster.
These last few days I have been able to get away and spend time with Jesus and it has been so rich, allowing Him to fill me and allowing Him to minister in a way that was and is meant to be. These two pictures I have today are of a couple of places here in Jos that I have been able to find to be peaceful and no distractions (for the most part anyway). One is of a picnic table at the kid's school. I frequently can be found here after taking the kids to their school and then taking a moment to myself. The picture of the table and chairs is at a local bakery that has outside seating. The workers at this local establishment are so nice to me and I am grateful for their Coca-Light and quaint setting (all relative).

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


FYI, we have lost internet in our house; therefore, it is hard to be able to get online and move forward with emails and blogging.
I promise, as soon as we can get it working again, I will be back with a tremendous blog, I am sure of it.....
God bless to you all.... I am hoping to be back in just a couple of days....
Cor & John
P.S. Tomorrow, Emilee and I are putting on a shower for a girlfriend of ours. Her name is Evelyn and she has been a part of the bible study since the first one and she is about ready to give birth to her first baby. I am so excited to be here for her entrance into motherhood. I just thought you all should know....

Sunday, February 21, 2010

pictures of the local zoo

Pappa lion protecting his young.

Gus feeding the wandering camel.

crazy zoo man hanging out with a python while he is beginning his process of a rabbit dinner.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

pictures of nigeria

I love seeing beauty in the midst of stone.

I love seeing beauty in the evening after a long day of ministry and work.

In the midst of this graveyard, there is beauty surrounding the sadness of the memories as majority of these gravestones are of little children.

I love the beauty of a waterfall to know that all things are washed away except that of eternal value.
These are my children's science fair projects. It was yesterday, and here, every single elementary year you do a science fair project. (Yes, I know, tell me about it, ughhhhh.....)
I was able to get out of it growing up because we lived somewhere where they did it in 6th grade and then we moved and where we moved, they did it in 5th grade. But, alas, my payback is all three of my children having to do it for multiple years.
Sami's is on the top and she did hers on different environments which might cause bread to mold.
Gus did an underwater volcano, showing that hot water is lighter than cold water. Sarah did hers on the "pure water" here (after we clean it up) and the tap water (we call it dirty water) and put a leaf in it to see which environment would decompose it quicker. Needless to say the "Pure water" was the best and cleanest and the healthiest....
They all received a certificate stating they had done well and congratulating them. If you ask me, they need something better than a certificate to motivate me for next year's projects.... However, next year, I have one child less in the science fair ordeal and that alone, motivates me.
Honestly, I was really proud of all of them. Sarah did hers with a partner. This is one of her good friends from Canada, who is also in her class. Again, I found myself feeling very proud of them and all their hard work. I think I was more nervous than them when it came to presenting their work before others.
I love them. They were naturals; however, I think Gus is the one who really, really enjoys science more than the rest..... For the record, I did have a picture with Sami in it, but it accidentally got deleted. Sorry Sami, you looked great though!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

a new beginning

These are the guys who have infiltrated our lives over the last two weeks. You know, when a group shows up and serves alongside of you and works with you through the ups and downs of Africa living, you start to become familiar with their faces and energies that you can almost not remember how life was before they came.
Today is their last day. They will be missed on many levels. It has been a huge jumpstart for John and Jason, to just get going and moving forward on some projects and to hear their input on how things could be done.
They are going on a "hike" or a climb would maybe be the better word for today. It mostly is a last moment to reflect on what has been going on while they have been here. We know that physically things were started, moved forward and some things were completed. We are also very aware that spiritually some things were moved forward in us and some things were started and some spiritual truths were brought to completion in us (at least for the moment). It is these thoughts and ideas that we don't want to miss, in any of us. I am praying for their time of reflection and their time as men to enjoy a day in Africa that will not happen again for them, not in this way, with these specifics.
Tomorrow when they leave, it will be a new beginning. A new one for them as I am sure they are leaving different than when they arrived. And a new one for us as we have been impacted by each and every one of them. We thank all the wives who allowed their husbands to be on loan to the staff in Africa. Their sacrifice was felt and we were encouraged by it.

This family is a part of the Falani tribe here in Africa. The men daily as they would drive to the Oasis house would drive by this hut and these people would be doing different acts of service and life. One could become so familiar with them that you forget they are there, but they are there and we love being able to slowly build a relationship with them. Jason shared last night that for the first time, one of the boys came up to here and initiated a conversation, then said goodbye and went his way. Maybe another new beginning. We will see.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My thought for the day

At the end of the day, not everything has gone the way I want, but at least I have given everything I can.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A sabbath's day of rest

This is the road right outside of our gate. Someone has donated some funds to help us with our road. It is extremely hard to drive on, especially after rainy season. I wanted you to see the "Before" picture so you can then see the "After" picture and realize how hard the men worked.The picture below is in the same spot, and look no mounds. They worked hard and in the middle of the heat of the day as well. Thank you men for your extra mile. It was an encouragment.
The picture below is the mid way point, we even had our children out there for a bit..... They were able to have the luxury of being able to go inside and play whenever they wanted though

Oh, bummer, I had so much more here, but our power went off and I lost literally 3/4 of it and I want to cry. Just know, it had lots in there of ministry, the men and their sabbath and how they chose to encourage and serve us, and how God ends each day, no matter how it went and then we get the blessing of a new day......

Saturday, February 13, 2010

richly blessed


This blog entry will not be for the faint of heart or for the lover of animals as this material is published.

Today was such a fun day! It began with a trip to the local zoo with some children from OLA (Our Ladies of Apostles), one of the children’s homes we minister alongside, and the team of men who are here and the staff families. I had never been to this zoo before and it didn’t disappoint. I am learning, that only in America, can you not walk right up to the lion’s cage and see a mama and a papa lion protect its young (it truly was a ferocious thing to behold) from the zoo man who they saw as a threat. And only in America will a camel not walk right up to you and ask for food and then proceed to follow you around. And, last but not least, perhaps maybe only in Africa can you pay a super small amount to watch two live bunny rabbits being dropped into a Python pit and then screech loudly to their death as the Python squeezes the life out of them. All within an hour…..

After the fieldtrip was complete we took these precious children back to the group compound, where the men are staying and had a great Celebration dinner. There were dancers, a lamb grillout and some other traditional Nigerian food. As you can see by the picture of the lamb skin, it was freshly killed that morning. But, I think the most fun thing was seeing the dancing that was taking place. I tell you what, even the men got out there (it might have taken a bit of urging from the dancers themselves) and grabbed some kids hands and we all had a ball. I love the idea that these children were able to for one day have a “normal” child day. Not only were their hands held and a snack given, but the focus was them and how the Lord loves these little ones. He absolutely adores these children. His son died on the cross for these children. He has promises to be filled for these children. And I had an opportunity to be a part and am so grateful I did.

The day showed itself to have laughter and fun and exhaustion and conversation and family and friends and the realization that most of the time the Joy we receive in Christ comes from giving to others what we have been so richly given.


I know this is a marketing holiday, but I still like the idea that it is an obvious excuse/reason to remind those that you care about that you love them and you want them to know it. We could not do much this year for our kids, but they will wake up in the next hour to some HUGE red, heart-shaped balloons in their room, and they will know that even in the midst of ministry and schedules, we love them and cannot wait to spend the day with them.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

One year later

Yesterday morning was the first bible study for this new series on the holy spirit we are going to be looking into. I wish I could describe to you how much I thoroughly enjoy these women, and to be honest, women studies in general are so uplifting to me. Better than high schoolers anyway????!!!!! Okay, I am really only kidding, because I do enjoy high schoolers, but I do enjoy women groups more.

Eleven of us women met in my home to start the study, Living Beyond Yourself, by Beth Moore. I looked around the room as some of us were sharing how we were doing spiritually since our last study (The Psalms) and again, I sat in Awwww of how I could actually be living across the world and in my living room sat nigerian women who are desperately trying to love the Lord as I am. I could have began weeping at my feelings of privilege to be able to be there. I have the utmost respect for these ladies and I am counting them amongst my friendships here in Jos. I am also grateful for the Spirit's ability reminding me to not take my living here for granted. I love that I can still, one year later, feel energized by the ministry of the nigerian women here. For the record, one year ago today, we left for our African journey.

Oh, and also, it is our good friend, Chad's birthday today and he is here to celebrate it with us. Thanks for being here Chad and Happy Birthday!!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Good Morning! So last night's blog was kind of small, I was wiped out. I have started coaching the long distance high school track team runners. The first one was this past Monday. It was pretty awkward, I must admit. Imagine if you will, being the only (middle age at that) woman amidst 5 young, strong nigerian men (the other coaches). Plus, a bunch of high school students who pretty much think you (meaning me) don't know anything.
I tell you what, high schoolers are rough. They weren't mean or anything, they just didn't care. Anyway, the first practice is complete and we meet every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. So, here is to being in shape in the middle years of life.
The above picture is of one of Gus's good friends, his name is Katwahl. He is a great guy and he is in fourth grade with Gus.

stronger together

Today, the block boys created their first block. The reality was exciting on many accounts, one, it is happening. Two, now let's make it good. These men are great as they are all created so differently. Everyone brings something to the table and together it is a stronger team than individually it could have been. We are grateful as staff to have them here as well as these children who have been watching them work are grateful to have them to play with.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

knowledge does not equal desire

I had an ahaaa moment a couple of days ago. I was having a conversation with some people about my kids science fair projects the other day and they were commenting about my lack of desire for helping my children. They were poking fun because I was an environmental science major in college so I should have so much knowledge about different types of ideas, etc...
It hit me at that moment that shows itself to be true of me in other areas as well, for example, I do know how to cook, but it doesn't mean I desire it or get excited about it, etc... I don't enjoy it, but sometimes people take that as I don't know how to do it.......
What I am getting at is this frame of mind that I have somewhere acquired, can be an american mindset. I don't enjoy something; therefore, I don't do it. I have realized that this mindset is truly a luxury, and it not understood everywhere. For example, sometimes I feed my guards food, and I always want to know what they "like" and what they don't "like". Also, I am constantly asking them questions about their schooling. "Do you like your class?" "Are you excited about doing this later on?" Yadda, yadda, yadda......
They have ALWAYS responded to me the same about every single one of the questions.... "It is food, we like it" , or "It is my class, I like it". They are thrilled to gain knowledge because they are gaining knowledge. They haven't had the luxury growing up with a variety of foods. They eat what has been given and they buy what they can afford to eat. End of discussion. Their luxury is going to a class at all.

Their excitement is getting food prepared for them. They don't go further with "I don't feel like it today, so if I get around to going to class, I will" They go to school, they study and learn. They eat what is given and are thankful and grateful.

If they could rub off on me in this area, I think I could really benefit from this idea.
Okay, the second thing I wanted to share is that the men's group (The block boys) arrived safely last night and we are so excited that they have arrived and have chosen to come and serve alongside of us these next two weeks. The picture above is of the donation of tools they brought for the ministry..... before you ladies think, "Oh, poor wives, they didn't receive anything fun".... There were a few wives of these men who were able to tuck away a few sweet little gifts for us as well. Thank you for the blueberries and the lotions and candle, journals, etc... They were a nice surprise....

God Bless.

Friday, February 5, 2010

baptisms at the local car wash

The picture above is truly where we had 5 baptisms yesterday for our local church. The baptism fount, in its off times, is doubled as a motorcycle car wash. (Actually, I am serious, he had to finish before we could begin).
Emilee and I went to encourage and support five members of the village church in the afternoon go through their baptism experience (the top picture). We asked the pastor what this entails prior to the start and he communicated that they go through a year "class" and through their faithfulness they can then acknowledge outwardly before their brothers and sisters in Christ through the immersion of the bodies. It was one of those moments that I looked down at my feet (not sure why my feet) and thanked the Lord that He allowed me to be there and be a part of it.
I wish I could explain to you, when these moments hit me, what honestly goes through my mind. I remember hearing other people talk about it at other moments and would think, "I wonder what that feels like?" I never understood until living here. It is a mixture of trust, truth, emotion, excitement, Awwwww and just thankfulness that I can be there, experiencing AFrica. I really believe that yesterday afternoon as I was soaking in all of the sights and sounds of in front of me that I was created to be there, at that moment, with those people. Praise God for those brothers and sisters of yours and mine who chose to make that outward step. They will be with us in heaven someday, and when that day comes, we will be with them forever!! Do I hear an AMEN?!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

5 year anniversary

This week (Feb. 1st to be exact) proved to be mine and John's five year anniversary with Back 2 Back ministries. It is a ministry that "provides care for today, hope for tomorrow" with the orphan population in Mexico, Nigeria and India. We served in Mexico the first four years with the ministry and moved one year ago to Jos, Nigeria, where we are currently serving.

It is strange to me how our lives have changed in the past five years. Before we were called by the Lord to serve with this ministry, John worked at Duke University in their construction management team on their medical facilities. We had three children, lived in a beautiful area in NC, Elon. We had the 4 bedroom house, the Volvo station wagon and the Suburban and the fenced in backyard with the playset, mind you, where our happy family of five could be safe and have fun. John and I, at this point, were married 10 years. Gosh! Our kids look back at these years and call them the "learning how to do things years". It is where they learned to ride a bike, how to rollerblade, how to use a toilet, how to tie a shoe, how to be an american kid, etc...

When we moved to Mexico, we literally sold all we had (except what could fit in our little trailer behind our suburban) and followed the Lord's leading. The four Mexico years they call the "learning how to live with lots of people around years". It is where we learned how to live with a community and all that it offers. Friends right outside your door at every moment. Fun interns and visitors always willing to give a hug and to help you with anything. I remember one specific moment when I caught Sami, our youngest, she was probably 4 at the time, asking the head, mexican staff to help her put on her little shoes. It was very precious to me to see this man get on his knee to help this little white girl with her pretty shoes..... Those years were full of family, friends, events and wide open spaces.....

Now, here we are in Nigeria. We are getting ready to celebrate in March our 15 year wedding anniversary. Who would have thought an obedient act five years ago would bring us to this moment. When I was younger I always dreamed of living here. I cannot believe we are doing just that. I have asked my children what they would maybe call this season, they all, without hesitation said, "it is the game playing, family time season." SO, as this next season of ministry unfolds, I think it is a good beginning. I think there could be worse things than "game playing, family time"...... I am excited to see what will unfold. Loving the Lord and following the passions He has given us has been quite a ride. I look forward to all that is in the seasons to come......

P.S. Jason and Emilee surprised us at our last staff meeting and for our anniversary with Back 2 Back they had purchased for us a Hausa/English bible and we absolutely love it! These pictures don't do it any justice. But Hausa is the local language outside of English and it will be so fun to start learning the words of the Bible in Hausa. Thanks Munafos for this precious gift.

Monday, February 1, 2010

schooling in Kisayhip village

Meet Meshach (4th picture down). He is twelve years old and he does not know how to answer the question, “What do you want to do or be when you grow up?” He lives in the Kisayhip Village where Back2Back ministers. We are learning he is not unusual in not being able to answer this question. He stands to be the normal in this rural upbringing with the limited education that the government provides. When we first moved here in February, the public schools were on strike and remained that way until October of that same year. There are many reasons why the school system goes on strike, not any of them benefit the child, but this is the system where most village kids have their only option, and are daily being left behind in their learning.

As a ministry we desire to provide free supplemental education through a tutor program throughout their school week to the children in Kisayhip, whom the village community feels is in the most need. We are also going to give the community an opportunity to help with the children’s basic needs, like food. We have a new staff couple joining us, Will and Theresa Reed, and they both will be instrumental in our relationship with this village. Theresa is joining us to help us meet some of these education goals and Will is joining us to deepen our relationship within the village. We are so grateful and excited to have them a part of the what God is doing here in Jos, Nigeria.

This past Christmas season the Vineyard Church family and the Daniels family sponsored a fundraising idea of “Simplifying Christmas”. As the students simplified, their money they chose not to spend, is going towards building an “education center” where this tutor program can begin. We are so grateful for others who have joined us in taking the next step in showing the children there are opportunities and they can dream. God has something for Meshach, and not only do we believe it is possible, but we want to come alongside him and help him in any way we can.