Thursday, April 29, 2010

little women

Last night the school started their performances of the musical, "Little Women". John decided early on that he wasn't too interested in sitting for four hours to watch it so us girls made the decision to make it a little women night.

I love my girls and am so thankful for Sarah and Samantha. They are getting to an age where our discussions can be real and deep. The night was enjoyable for us as so was John's and Gus's night to whatever little men do when no girls are around.

This is the three of us right before we entered the production on our school grounds. Gosh, all three of us are looking older (bummer for me huh??) Because the production was 4 hours long there was an intermission where zata, jollof rice and beef kabobs were served. All of it was delicious (with a little spice kick to it) as I am realizing that my kids don't know "true" american food (bummer for them huh??). Oh well, it is our life and theirs as well. I think my favorite part of the evening was the realization of sisters and how sisters can help you overcome anything in life that comes your way. So, I am thankful that Sami and Sarah have each other as I am also thankful for all my sisters, Kelley, Jodi, Cheryl, Beth, Jeni and Julie. And that does not even include spiritual sisters which I am just as grateful for them. They are all gifts to me.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

holy spirit living

Yesterday was the last bible study meeting for the Living Beyond Yourself study. I have to admit, it was by far, the most personal bible study I have ever done. Not exactly sure why but I loved it, and the timing was perfect. One of the ladies who came was a neighbor and she made this cake for our last time together. Isn't it pretty?

This is a picture of the majority of us who attended. Emilee is taking the photo and one of our ladies had a baby and one of our ladies moved back to the Netherlands. But, these women stuck through it with me and I was blessed by it for sure.
Just an FYI, the fruit of the Spirit that I learned the most from was about gentleness. Who would have thought huh? It was super powerful for me and I think my big take home is Freedom in the Spirit and Freedom in Christ. Amen and Amen.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Psalm 63:4

"I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands."

Monday, April 26, 2010

Doorways of Jos, Nigeria

You know how there are those posters labeled, "Doorways of Cincinnati" or "Doorways of Monterrey"..... Well, here are some doorways of jos.... All unique and lead into different lives and stories of people who live daily here in this climate and culture.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Here's looking at you, pt. 2

I just cannot get enough of these faces. So, I am hoping you cannot as well. I think each one of their eyes tells a different story.

His eyes are full of mischievous.

Hers look bored. Boredom can lead to destruction. Pray for her.

His eyes I love.

I wonder what their eyes tell...

Friday, April 23, 2010

OLA visit, pt. 2 - REALLY fresh chicken for dinner

Okay, now when we went to OLA we also visited the site where Back2Back is helping build a chicken farm, a fishery and actually a garden and cattle station as well. Sister Fidelia showed me around and was so grateful for what Back2Back is doing to help her in her vision.

Because of the crisis that have been going on, not as many people are visiting; therefore, not donating to the orphanage. These various farms will be their self sustaining enterprise to help fund where they have been lacking. I think my favorite part about this story is that she took the first step before we even knew about their need. She trusted the Lord without knowing the ending. I love it!!

Anyway, as she was just super kind and introducing us tothe guard, the fish keeper, the supervisor of all the construction, etc...(they are in the picture with my children) she was very excited to give us a gift. So, fresh chicken it was. It was one of their largest they had been raising so far. Which that is a great lesson in and of itself. She wanted to give us their best to show us proper thanks.... and I wonder how much I want to give God my best to give him proper thanks. I think I do, but I wonder if I truly do?

Anyway, not knowing for sure what to do with it, we put it in the car and brought it home to our guards. About 12 hours later, the pour little chicken (who the kids and I named on the way home, Rudy) was throat slit, defeathered and cut up into chunks to be boiled, spiced and eaten. The guards were ecstatic to have a nice big meal prepared the way they are used to and had a good laugh at us batore while we were wanting to get pictures of each part of the process.
I laugh because the kids didn't want to look at Rudy in the eyes on the way home because they felt so bad that we were taking it to her end of life. I am not kidding. Gus and Sarah were talking to Sami, "Don't even look at her in the eyes, Sami, DON'T LOOK!"

Anyway, a kind gesture and gift to a nice beautiful dinner. I think an enjoyable visit overall.

Let's get a closer look at the face shall we? Isn't it interesting how they shove the talons (or whatever they call their feet) in the mouth while cooking. It seems to be very customary. Just a bit of culture for you. Okay, I just realized I put the pictures in backwards. Sorry, not sure how to move them all around before the power goes off. You will just have to imagine all of these photos going in the opposite direction. Have a great weekend.

OLA visit, pt. 1 - a bum leg

The kids and I yesterday after school went to OLA, the children's home we work alongside. This top picture is of myself holding a little baby named Mary, but I am sitting beside a boy named Kenneth. I don't know if you can see in this picture that Kenny has a bum leg. His left foot comes directly out of his hip and his right leg is definitely shorter than for an average 2 year old, but it has all its working parts. Even though his leg is not fully operational as we would find ours, he is quick and can move and function pretty well to get where he wants to be. He uses his arms and his good leg to support his movement while his other foot scoots behind the motion. He does it easily and with no regard to anything different. He has always been the only crawling child there since we have been living here.

But, what yesterday we found interesting is the last picture is a girl named Mary, she is the baby being held by the older girl Esther. Mary has been living here since last summer. Her story is sad as she was brought to the home by someone who just dropped her off and she had some scars on her legs from apparent abuse when she was just born. She was probably no older than a few months when she was brought to reside at OLA.

Mary is just getting to the age of crawling. Actually yesterday Gus and I noticed her crawling for the first time. She is so precious and so cute that we were thrilled to see her getting bigger and stronger with each visit. This time; however, Gus said, "Mom, does Mary have a bad leg as well?" I said no and looked over at her curious as to why Gus would ask this question. And sure enough we watched her crawl to get to different rooms and
she was scooting exactly how
Kenny scoots. Using one leg for the whole job of movement and just scooting her other leg behind her, not using it at all.

I was intrigued as I became aware Mary had only one example of crawling. It was Kenny. So, she was watching him crawl and assumed that is how it is correctly done. She; however, has two very strong and capable legs. As Gus and I were watching her and Kenny playing and scooting around I realized that probably so often we all crawl around like Mary doing what we have been shown, but not using our two capable "legs". We are scooting when we were meant to be crawling. We are selling ourselves short because of whatever excuse we choose to give ourselves verses using all that we have been so richly given. I am not only reminded to continue to evaluate what I am doing in light of what I have been given, but also as to what stops me from functioning well? What fears are keeping me from trying something new? I don't know, but as I continue to evaluate, I am grateful for Kenny and Mary as they have become reminders to me of God's grace and mercy to me personally.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

new friends

I don't have much time this morning. Lots of things to do (I know, I know, I am soooo busy :))

Last night John and I and our whole staff team had the privilege of meeting a new nigerian couple. The connection came from a friend of all of ours in Ohio and it was just a great night. Emilee had wonderful food and the conversation was lively, as I am learning that is the norm with a bunch of christians in the room discussing the issues of a nation. But after discussing family, discipleship, governor and politics, land surveys and computers, we called it a night. We are grateful that connections can be made across an ocean and for all of those people who were apart of the night.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

familiar vs. unfamiliar

This morning I find myself pensive. Pensive about the children in the village.

In a children's home you can visit and "expect" to see the same children every time. With that expectation comes some comfortableness and familiarity which helps in the process of building relationships. Like my relationship with Hope and Agnes in OLA.

In the village though it is quite different. In some ways, I enjoy it more. There are wide open spaces and I always sense the Spirit in the Kisayhip Village and there are lots of places to walk, stretch and think. However, on the ministry side, it can feel daunting each and every time. I can go and not see the same kids there each time and if I do see them again, it is in a different setting or with different children so I get confused as to who is who. Don't get me wrong, this is nothing I am proud of just something that is becoming a reality. Really, living here over a year now, I can put pressure on myself that there is NOW no excuse to not know names, stories and backgrounds.

This summer I am really going to try to somehow come up with a memory system for me with these children. As we are working on a census of the village for our ministry and we are also working on coming up with a community development team, I find myself personally wanting to DIG DEEP into their stories and really get to know them. I know there are orphans in this village. I know their education has been lacking. I know there are things that I can lead them in as they can help me understand more in life as well.

I am guessing I should approach them how I approach questions in Scripture. Go with what you know then dig a bit deeper each time. Unfamiliar is good at times and those children need the love of Christ just as badly as those in the familiar. I just cannot let the unfamiliar stop me from being a part of God's promises for the orphan.

This village is our ministry village and I cannot wait until it truly all becomes familiar.

P.S. I wanted to thank you who have prayed for our water situation. First, our landlord Bayo, and John fixed the piping situation in his borehole so he is so graciously allowing us water from his well again. Praise God! Also, it looks like it might rain today and that will only help everyone in our neighborhood.

P.P.S. A couple of days ago, I was walking downtown and a big old bat came and pooped on my head. I wish I had a picture of the bat and of my hair.... but alas, not camera ready this time. I always feel like these are things people should know about my life here in Jos. How many of you can say you were downtown when a bat came and pooped on your head? I would imagine not many. A few of us people here have a saying, "Well, if the worst case scenario happens, at least you have a good story!"

Monday, April 19, 2010

pounded yam

Here in Jos, Nigeria, one of the most popular, affordable and easily found foods is the pounded yam. Yams are found everywhere, but here is a picture of some women taking some yams and putting them in this deep bowl and literally, pounding them to a more fine substance.

Personally, I don't find much flavor to the yam. A lot of people will make a stew to go alongside of it. But, overall, not a bad vegetable to eat.

These women looks strong, I wouldn't want to be on their bad side....

Just a little prayer request: if you could still pray for our neighborhood to have some water, more and more families are searching for water. A lot of wells are running dry here. As a family, we are reading right now about Aaron, Moses' brother. We are in the part of the story where the people are constantly complaining about not having water while they were wandering in the desert. John and I just chuckled because we are trying really hard to know and trust that obviously God can provide water from rock if He wanted, and if He doesn't want to then He has other plans. So, in the meanwhile we are praising Him for his food provisions for us, our amazing home that is sturdy and does not let the water in (mostly anway), our landlord, our staff team and the friends we have made here who help guide us and lead us with cultural differences, etc... As we have tried praising Him for what He has done, we have come to realize that He has done so much! More than we have time for and once again, we find ourselves grateful.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

little advertisements

Today's entry is going to be a bit different just in the fact that I want to advertise something verses give you an Africa moment. However, it all pertains to Africa.....

First, we have a new staff couple raising funds right now to join our team, hopefully in the early fall. Well, they have a brother who has a ministry called "theCanvas". Check out his website and take a look at the cool Jos t-shirts. I just bought two and am pretty excited about it. All the proceeds go to help support this new couple.

just want to put a little ad out there for Skyline Chili..... Jason and Emilee had our whole family
over for dinner for a Skyline Night. A friend of the ministry and us personally blessed us all with everything it takes to make Cincinnati Skyline Chili with the trimmings..... For the record, that is a Skyline Chili Hot Sauce bottle I am holding, not a beer bottle.

It was a fun night to just remember home and enjoy some friends. I think my kids enjoy Peyton (their daughter) too much. Bless her heart.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

fabric shopping

Yesterday morning, Emilee and I went downtown to the fabric section of the market. Which is kind of a joke since every little walkway and narrow passage consists of hundreds of little fabric shops.

It is not always easy to snap pictures while in the downtown area. The muslim shopkeepers don't appreciate it and some others are just a bit weary of batore (us white people) just randomly taking pictures. So I just asked two places that we visited if I could and they were super gracious and excited for me to snap their shop as long as I would print off a picture for them to have. So, I will do that.... But, OOhhhhh I wish I could have gotten pictures of the narrow aisles that this downtown is made up of. Sometimes when I am downtown in these markets, I still get that overwhelming feeling that I cannot believe I live in Africa and have to do this just to make a curtain...

The picture on the top is a man who I ended up purchasing some plain material from. As you can see, it is not easy to find fabric that doesn't have some sort of print on it. Plain is not the desirable fabric here, but you can find it if you search hard enough. The item I settled on is actually material used for men's pants. But, it is perfect for what I need....

The middle shot is Emilee inside this store and the bottom one is of the same store, just a different angle. Overall, it is tiring just to look for fabric but in the end it is nice to have the material and I did enjoy the fellowship of a friend (not a bad tradeoff) .... I will take the material tomorrow to the seamstress.... so many steps, this is when I like my conveniences..... Oh well, I hope maybe the next season in life will have some.....

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

summer winds come and go

Some of you may have heard (those of you connected with Back2Back anyway) that our summer internship and summer groups have been rescheduled, for the Nigeria side. As a ministry we always have the safety of our groups in mind and even though things are calm right now, the decision was made to go more on the cautious side and we, as staff, are going to "dive deep" into the ministry.
As much as we are super sad, we are starting to realize that God always works out of His Plan A and He is not surprised or shocked by how things are shaping up for us as a ministry. The picture above is of the interns last summer (first term). Just a little tribute...
These are some rock formations at a hiking boulder area called Gog and Agog. It is super fun to hike, small spaces, going through goat and monkey poop. We took the interns there last summer as part of our training...
This market area is common that we pass on the way to the Kisayhip Village. It is a bit congested, but you can pretty much find whatever fruit and vegetable you want.
This is a typical village pod. It is taken at Miango Rest Home where we had a midsummer break with our all summer interns. You remember Miango Rest Home, right? Where we just had our retreat. There is a beautiful gazebo that is at the highest point on the property and it overlooks a huge field/village.
This picture reminds me of how weather changes so quickly. Summer winds may come and go and our ministry plans may come and go (with much prayer for the record) but the Word of the Lord lasts forever and ever. Amen!! Isn't this the coolest picture, purple skies!!