Wednesday, March 31, 2010

we are back

Hello everyone!! Happy last day of March. We have just returned back from serving at a retreat with the youth of a large ministry here in Jos. These were some of the students we were with over the last few days. It was first grade through 12th..... not an easy feat.It is always good to be back in your own home; however, we truly did enjoy creating new friendships, deepening existing friendships and serving in a way that John and I personally haven't in a long while. It was good to be with the youth again.
Since we have just returned. There is lots to do, so I will post again tomorrow. Have a great day.

Friday, March 26, 2010

a splash of color

Things here have been dull, color wise. But, in the last few weeks, in the midst of the heat and sun, there are some trees that have just become gorgeous. It is such a sweet reminder to me that there is always a splash of color in life, if you just look for it. You might not be able to see this color, but this tree is full of purple flowers.This tree is my favorite when I spot them, beautiful flaming red flowers that have a sweet smell to them.
This one below is so pretty. We planted three of these on our little compound. We will see if it all turns out down the road.
That is it for today. Just know that Africa might be the dry continent, but in the midst of it, there is beauty that cannot be replicated anywhere.
Hey also, an FYI, we are going to be traveling over the next few days, until next Wednesday. I don't know what our internet ability will be. SOOOOO, if you do not see any Africa posts it is because we weren't able to get online. We will try though. Until then, enjoy the end of March.
God Bless

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

fifteen years

Well, today is the day!! Fifteen years of marital bliss (okay, maybe not all of it, but still.....). I wish I had pictures in Africa or even on our computer of our first marriage picture. Truth be told, we don't look too different, but it still would have been fun to show.

So, below is the current house we are renting in Africa, fifteen years later. I still cannot believe we live here...

The next picture below is our house we owned in Elon, North Carolina, the last house we owned before being called into the mission field. Of course, most of you know it was Mexico we went first (that was anniversary ten)... I do miss this home. It was my favorite because of location. I loved our friends there, the creek by our house, the trees, no sidewalks, etc... I guess you could say we have downsized with each move.

And lastly, the oldest picture I could find of John and I was of just five years ago. So, here it is, sorry it is not fifteen years ago, but it is the best I could find. He and I were hiking (our favorite thing to do together). I love you John. I would love to write a tribute here on our blog, but I have a personal card for that..... I am grateful for our years of growth together!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

a fishing we will go

Welcome to the beginning stages of the fish farms that are being brought to life at one of the children's homes we work with here in Jos, Nigeria. OLA (Our Ladies of Apostles) has started some fish farms and they are also working on some chicken farms to help them create food and funds for their needs. Back 2 Back is choosing to come alongside them and help them whenever possible. Do you see some of the little fish in there? Cute huh? Cute enough to eat hopefully!Something that encourages us as staff is when you see someone who is already in place move forward with an idea that will better their situation. Sister Fidelia is such a woman. She is in charge of the inner workings of this facility and she is doing a great job. She has innovative ideas and wants to see them come to fruition. Back 2 Back is super excited about seeing where some of her gaps and needs are and then filling them where we can. Below is Jason (the director of Back 2 Back Nigeria) with Sister Fidelia. The fish hatcheries are behind them.
Below is the beginning ground work for the chicken homes. I know I am getting some of these words wrong, so sorry if you know a lot about these things. My husband would be cringing right now. Either way, they are moving forward and we are coming alongside of them. We are grateful when God makes some paths easy for us to see. We know it is not always this convenient, but boy, when it is, we are ecstatic! We thank you Father for your good gifts!

Monday, March 22, 2010

a little getaway

If people ask us what the hardest thing about living here, John and I would both say that there are not many places at all to just getaway. There aren't necessarily parks that you can just stroll in and to go to any hiking areas, it takes time.

Well, John decided as a surprise to me for our anniversary to take Monday off. So, he and I had the kids go to school then we went over to a nearby hotel and just hung out in their pool yard, had a lunch there in their restaurant and just read or whatever. I find it interesting because they didn't mind that we were there all day.

So, here are some pictures of our little getaway. The Lamonde Hotel and Pool. They also have a nice workout facility that you can actually pay a little monthly fee to use whenever you want. So, even if there are not many places to go to just "be", one can find with just a little asking, that if you think out of the box a bit, you can find SOME little getaways.

Overall, he and I just had a good time doing nothing together.

This is John just trying to relax (it doesn't come easily to him which is why his gift to me was super special).

Here is the restaurant.

This was our lunch. Pita bread with Hummous Kawarma (basically a spiced beef). I liked it, I think John thought it was all right.

These little lizard guys are everywhere. He came around a lot just to say hi. However, truly there are probably around 30 of them around this little area where we were sitting.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

raining sahara sands

This picture is taken right outside of our neighborhood. That bright spot in the top right hand side in the sky is the sun. We have had the most freakish weather these last few days. It is truly raining sand. Our house is unbelievably dusty. By the end of the day, my hair is full of dirt and sand and dust.You walk anywhere and open your mouth you have a coating on your teeth. It is truly the strangest thing I have ever experienced. Anyway, that is the picture of today. Lots of wind and sand. Have a great day.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

barefoot running

I have been hearing that in the USA people are becoming more and more aware of the benefits of running in your bare feet. I have not personally been researching it, so I don't really know of all the advantages, but I found myself in awe of these young men and women who competed this weekend against the Hillcrest track team. Here we were with our jersey's and tennis shoes, ipods, etc... when up walks the other school, and I pretty much mean the entire school came to support and encourage their team. They literally came as they were and ran. Head wraps, no shoes whatsoever, shorts and t-shirts.

My guys competed in the 800 meter and the 5000 meter and they did very well. Here are some of their competitors. These three men to the right are on lap 10 I think. I lose track after awhile. Can you imagine though running a competitive race without shoes on? I bet I put myself in positions of thinking I cannot do things without the proper uniform and therefore, I don't even try. What would happen if I ran without shoes more often? Doing things I am not "equipped" for (at least not in my mind equipped). I know that goes against so much christian psychology, but what if we just tried, maybe I would find I am more equipped than I think. I don't know, all just thoughts going through my head.

These girls were sprinting a 200 Meter. I was so impressed with the sportsmanship shown between schools. It was also the last meet of the season. I was glad to be a part of it in some small way.

I have to admit by being a part of something outside of the "ministry" it has allowed my heart and soul to be a little bit more attached to the people and the culture.
I think there must be something about this. When we lived in Mexico, I was not as involved outside of what we were doing. Some of that was my own insecurity with language and not sure of my fit and some of it was the pace of ministry. Not much time left in my own energy level to want to give more than what was already given.
That was my error. I am learning for me anyway, my heart is so attached here and I know there are many reasons why: being involved outside of just the "said" ministry, the way I was created, my heart for the african people in general and I am sure there are more. I also know that I have had to work outside of comfort zone more than ever before and have been more emotionally encouraged and discouraged than ever before. I guess I just am amazed at how much someone can do, even without shoes. Maybe I should continue to try to take my shoes off and just see what happens.

Friday, March 19, 2010

spelling bee

I know that people want to see pictures of Africa and Nigeria, but part of us living here has been daily life and daily routine (if there can be routine here, which I really don't think there can be). One of our "normals" is the kids school. They are a great heartbeat as to what is going on here, crisis or no crisis. They do their best to maintain the best education possible while staying culturally relevant with 60% nigerians and 40% missionary, and my children love it. We feel so blessed and thankful for this school.

Yesterday, the fourth and fifth graders had their annual spelling bee. Gus made it to the actual spelling bee contest, which there were 12 from each grade that were chosen after a series of 6 weeks of spelling tests.

This picture to my left is of the 24 top spellers in these two grades. Gus did very well. He did not make it to the top five, but he definitely made it to the top 6 of his grade. It was fun seeing him go through this exercise because at the beginning he told me he was purposely going to miss a word so he wouldn't have to be in front of others spelling. Isn't that funny how it is sometimes in our human nature to perform poorly verses try and do the best we can.

I think these types of things are so valuable for children to experience and go through so they are better prepared for future real life opportunities. Overall, he said he had a really fun time and was glad he was a part of it. For the record, his misspelled word was "business"... he transposed the "s" and the "i". He did so well! Well done Gus!!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

miango rest home

The kids spring break is coming the week after next (basically March 29th through April 2nd). A ministry that has been based here for many years takes this time during the students spring break to host and serve their community with an annual retreat at a location called Miango Rest Home.

It is a retreat center that has cabins, volleyball sand court, a snack bar and then it has dining facilities so one does not have to worry about preparing food while there. It is about a 45 minute drive from where we are located and as a family we have had the opportunity to go there a couple of times.

John and I and Jason and Emilee have been invited to go there and host a retreat for their youth (12th grade down to 1st grade) while their staff have a retreat of their own. Here are some pictures of when we were there last summer with a few of our "all summer" interns. What I enjoy most about this place is that it is truly located in a beautiful area, lots of trees and flowers, an old volcano is about five minutes down the road that you can hike in and out of and a pretty waterfall is down the road as well. It is also extremely quiet.

Located on the grounds sporadically are some open air shelters. In Mexico, we would have called them palapas, but these were much smaller. Just big enough for a few people to spend some time in them on their own. Two of these pictures are my children spending time with the Lord before we began our own retreat with our summer staff and interns.

There are lots of areas to meet for "talks" and lots of areas to roam around in. The picture to the left is a large play structure/treehouse that is large enough for kids of any ages to play in. There is actually a rope ladder on it that I could not climb up; whereas, my children had no problems whatsoever.... a humbling experience I must admit.

We look forward to the time away from our own home during these few days, but the few experiences we have had of the place have been kind of funny. Both times we arrived, there was no running water and the power was out most of the time. So, in John's mind, why go somewhere to deal with the same stresses we have at our own home. So, he affectionately calls it miango stress home. He is funny!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

singing in the rain

How sad for me to realize that rain pictures are just not the same in picture as they are in real life..... But, it rained again yesterday which surprised me a bit since it has just started in the season, but still just as beautiful. For the record, even before moving here, I have always loved rain and storms. Even as a little girl, I remember looking out our front window of our home and just watching the storms roll in. Rain storms equal security to me, weird, huh?Do the see the massive rain drops coming off the shelter???? Wow, I know, you are completely enthralled with these riveting rain pictures.
Well, that wraps it up! I think you might have to use more of your imagination than I was hoping, but at least it is a beginning. Have a great day!

Monday, March 15, 2010

random pictures

Here are a couple of kids from OLA enjoying ice cream. I just really enjoy these two boys. Their names are Moses and Daniel. The picture below is of our water making system. We are working on a possible new one for our family, but for now we pour into a five gallon bucket a little packet of pur (a Proctor and Gamble product) and stir for five minutes and then let it sit for five minutes and do you see the gross stuff on the bottom, appropriately called flock? That is all the bad things in the water that we will then proceed to filter through a t-shirt of some sort as we pour the clean and good water into a clean, ready to use container. Sounds fun, huh?
I wish this last picture was bigger but this is of one of our interns this past summer playing with a child from the village. There are alternatives to video games...... Cute huh?
Just an FYI, it poured down rain yesterday for the first time this year and it was, once again, absolutely beautiful. It was a stifling hot day, as it has been for at least a month now, and within twenty minutes the sky grew dark, it dropped many, many degrees and it poured hard!! We thought maybe it would hail because it grew so cold. But, maybe next time. I was not able to get a picture as I was at track practice, but I hopefully will get one next time and send it your way.


Lots going on this weekend. Lots of fun for the kids, some visits to the hospital and a day off!We went to a carnival this weekend. It was a lot of fun and fellowship with other missionaries. Gus used some of his tickets to go four wheeling. No joke, this guy went really fast. Gus loved every minute of it!
This is our friend Evelyn who just gave birth about two days ago to a little boy named Daniel (after the father). She is looking strong.
Proud father and son moment. We are grateful for his health and for the mother's health.

Another one of Evelyn and I. Two days ago, we went and visited and she was flat on her back and not really aware we were there, so it was so fun to see her and spend time with her at this visit.
Gus and Sarah wanted a picture, but Sami said the baby was too new for her to be near, she was afraid she would hurt "it." But he was small and precious.

While we were at the hospital, we not only visited Daniel and Evelyn and their new baby, but we also went a saw our other good friends, Mercy and Ibro and their baby. Mercy gave birth about 7 weeks ago to a baby boy named Abraham (after the father also) and a couple of days ago he became very, very sick. They are not sure what is the problem, but we are praying for their baby and for the doctor's wisdom. It is hard to celebrate with one couple and then turn around and take the burden of another couple, but we are so grateful for both of these couple's and the role they have played in our lives as a family. They are our friends and we want to help in any way we can. Join us in prayer, will you?

Lastly, we spent Sunday doing nothing as a family. IT FELT SO NICE!!!! John committed to not work, I committed to not being on the computer and we shut ourselves in and didn't really converse with anyone at all, but each other. When all is said and done, I love our time together as a family. I am so wired this way, and I do feel as if it is rare to have this non-distracted time, and we had so much fun, playing games, etc.... We are blessed for sure.

Friday, March 12, 2010

field day

Today was field day. We are team yellow. To be exact, the Lightening Bolts!!
I was the team leader, and I tell you what, soooo much pressure!! Below is my team and one of the mom's who assisted me. It was a variety of 5th through 1st graders, including my own three. It was a fun day and in the end, we almost came in first!!! We were beat by the blue lambourghini's.....(sp?)

At the end of the day, the winners get to go down a waterslide first, then followed by the rest of the teams in order. Here are two girls (Gabi and my own Sarah) who were waiting their turn for the slide.This is my team in action!! They were great, but I am thankful it is done. This was sooo much better than the science projects, but still not as easy for me as coaching track. These little guys have a hard time listening. But they were spirited and very good at playing the events.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

christmas catalog - chicken dinners

This past fall, Back 2 Back put out a Christmas catalog in which people could sponsor "gifts" in various ways in different areas of ministry within Back 2 Back. India, Nigeria and Mexico were all represented and one of the opportunities was a chicken dinner for those in need in Nigeria.

We have two people here from Riverview Church, Ryan and Sara, and yesterday they were able to be a part of handing out some of the chicken dinners that were bought from this catalog. Now, probably people picture a nice cooked chicken with cooked rice and beans and presented on a table for dinner. That is not quite how these dinners get done here, especially in the village where refrigeration is not an option. Here are some pictures to show it all unfolded.

Every person who received a chicken dinner received, one live chicken, bouillon cubes, 4 measures of beans and 3 measures of rice and one liter of oil. All the makings of a delicious chicken dinner (for at least two maybe three meals). For this moment, we chose to take the meals to the village doctor because he is the one who cares for those in the village (and sometimes outside the village as well), the orphan and all those in need in the Kisayhip area. Not only were meals given, but the staff and Ryan and Sara prayed for each patient there, for wisdom for the doctor and healing for the patients. It was good and right to care for those who were at the moment in even more need. They were grateful for each gesture and gift given.

Below is the village doctor's son, Moses (who is currently in school for medicine), with Ryan and John as afterward they all took him to a local pharmacy to purchase much needed medicine to better and further care for those who are under his dad's supervision. We are so grateful to all who helped make "care for today, hope for tomorrow" happen in this little village in Jos, Nigeria.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

faces of nigeria

With all that is going on here in Jos, Nigeria Africa, I didn't want people to forget some of the faces of this land.
They are precious, each and every one of them.
They all have a purpose and God has a plan for all of them.
They all have the ability for hope, vision and a calling.
"Let the little children come..." Bible
"We are all like sheep..." Bible
Will you join with us in prayer for this land and over God's people?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sunday's crisis

We have received a lot of emails from people who are concerned for our safety and the ministry of Back2Back since this past Sunday's crisis. Thank you all so much for your prayers and your emails and your concerns for our well being.

It was and always will be a tragedy when innocent people are killed and wounded in events that take place around Jos, Nigeria. These incidences are more than just religious crisis. It is a battle going on since many generations past, and it has many contributing factors, but a lot to do with land and wanting to "claim" it, no matter what the cost.

Will you join us in prayer as we continue to seek out the wisdom, wisdom that comes from above.

"And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." Romans 5:2b-5

We trust that God's vision is larger and deeper than ours. We thank Him for opportunities to minister and serve the larger body. Thank you for all of you who have joined with us in the ministry of the orphan child.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

mercy party

These are our friends Ibro and his wife Mercy. They had us over for a birthday party for her (she turned 35). It was so fun to be there and to celebrate her life with them. It is always a joy to be somewhere as a friend, verses a "ministry moment". Not that those are bad, but there is something special about being invited as friends. We are grateful for them both.There was some grilled goat offered with a spicy rub on it. Through time, I am beginning to enjoy spice a bit more and more. I think I am turning into my grandpa Hamilton. I remember when I was little thinking he put tons of pepper on everything. Anyway, I think living in Mexico and now here, a little bit of spice makes everything taste better. For me anyway, John wouldn't agree.
Below is a picture of Ibro and Mercy's two children. They have a girl who is a bit older than two and Mercy just gave birth to a new baby boy who is about 6 weeks old. Even though Zizza (the girl) has moments of learning to "love" on her brother, she definitely has other moments when the "love" is more genuine. We caught one of those moments below.
Aren't they cute!!!!