Monday, May 31, 2010

March crisis

Yesterday afternoon Emilee and I were able to join other missionaries serve the village that was hit hard during the crisis in March. It was about a 40 minute drive from where we live. It was wonderful to see all the kids that came to what was being called, "Fun day". This village was attacked by a group of muslim men who came and surrounded these people and killed hundreds of women and children. The village has many physical and emotional scars. The picture below is of the main church that was burned and destroyed during the riot.

There were about 400 children that showed up and we were told that about 150 of them were killed a few months ago. Those that were left behind seemed eager to share their own stories and personal scars. I am most excited to hear that there are ministries going out there on a consistent basis helping those that are left behind deal and manage through their own reconciliation of the heart.

It was a fun day for the children. People brought stuffed animals, donuts and juice. As you can see they brought a jumping castle and they had dancing and singing.

There were some women that were off to the side who were either caring for new babies or were pregnant. I was able to hand them some new baby clothes and blankets.

I think that my favorite aspect of the day was seeing the resilience of a people. A resilience of life and love and joy. Ready to receive but also
ready to give with conversations and smiles and words of encouragement that the Lord is still good and worthy of our praise!

Sunday, May 30, 2010


I kind of feel this way today (dark and ready to rain/cry). I haven't been blogging these last few days because the whole family is just not feeling great. We have had some stomach thing, some rashes, some nose/sinus thing and some sore throats, and lots of headaches. I remember when I was younger that I would hear older people say that they knew it was going to rain because they had a headache. I used to think that was a crock. I would kind of smile and think to myself, "I think it is crazy to give an excuse for your headache...." Well, I am now the "older" person and I am willing to commit to "man, my head hurts everyday during rainy season, I bet it is the weather."Even though my head hurts a lot and my family is needing some physical time to get adjusted to the change in seasons here (from dry season to rainy season), I still think it is absolutely beautiful to live here in this time.
We have also had a lot of missionary families and friends leave in the last couple of days. That is always a weird time to say goodbye, for some it is just a couple of months and for others it is permanent. The life of a missionary is super strange in the idea of constant transition and constant change and flexibility to live within those constant changes. So my heart can feel heavy with those strides of new and old coming in and out of my life.
But in the end, even if I feel heavy or my head hurts or my kids and John are sick and it is dark and rainy outside, you still have to admit it is gorgeous to look at the pictures. I am sure that in and of itself has a lesson for me.?
Have a great day and I will be returning tomorrow.

Friday, May 28, 2010

just some info.

I know these last couple of entries has had pictures of my children, but it has been a full week with them. And today, I really love them. This picture is right before we walked out the door to go to their concert at school. It was great seeing them sing, dance, play instruments and honestly, just seeing them dressed up warmed my heart.

The bummer with me is that Sarah was not feeling well before we walked out the door. She was complaining that her head was killing her. I sometimes think our oldest can be dramatic so I kind of brushed it off as nerves before going to the concert. Well, she and the other two did a great job and we came home, all smiles. In the middle of the night Sarah proceeded to get up and get sick, pretty much for the rest of the night and morning. Oops, I felt horrible, poor girl, she really was sick.

She had to stay home for her last day of school, which really made her sad!! BUT, today she is doing a bit better and it is officially the first day of summer for them! It is also National Children's Day here in Nigeria. John thinks this day is a joke since every day appears to be their day.... BUt, it is official here so it is a holiday on Monday and banks, etc... are closed in honor of the children.

Well, with no groups and no interns and for me no nanny this summer, I am curious as to how these next two months unfold. I think I will be working less and spending more time with my children. I think God has something planned and I am excited to see it come to life. I am looking forward to spending more purposeful time with Sarah, Gus and Sami. Well, enjoy your own version of National Children's Day and have a blessed afternoon. See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

my three children

Good morning. Today is marking Sarah's last full day of elementary school. It is weird to me that she is old enough to go onto middle school. She seems too young. She also seems sad, hmmm.... in this picture anyway... Anyway, my mind is distracted lately as school is getting out for their holiday break (it is not summer here, just rainy season). There have been lots of school chapels, class awards and parties, concerts, art shows and encouragement to teachers and friends.

As my mind and heart feel heavy I just want to pass on these pictures of my three children. PLUS, maybe I found some cool effects on how to do pictures so I am experimenting some... heeheehee.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

donation time

As many of you know there was a large crisis that happened here in Jos in January and then again in March. In the wake of those two specific crisis there has been left a hole of need for those who have been left behind.

Many, many children have been left with no earthly possessions, no clothing, some have no more families and some left with no homes. Not only children, but adults as well. A woman named Lydia came to my gate last week. She had lost her husband and her eldest son as well in the crisis in March. She was asking for work because she is now a widow with three other children, a ten, an eight and a five year old. She was not asking for a handout but she was asking for work. Not only work, but prayer. Before she left I told her I would keep my eyes open and we prayed together as I was under the realization that there are now three more orphans in the world, according to the United Nations definition of orphan, "a child who has lost one or more parents." Our ministry had the privilege to join in with other ministries to donate to those left behind in this massive wake of destruction. The pictures above and to the left are some of the items that we were able to contribute to help this need. I really want to thank those of you who gave to the Christmas catalog, especially for mosquito nets. As you can see from the picture, we were able to buy them with those monies and then hand them to help create some shelter for these specific children.
I am actually in awe as God, knowing all things, was able to prepare us as a ministry to be able to have much needed items to be able to give to those within our ministries reach.

Then we found out late last week, that a man on our SSE borehole team's house burned down. So, again, we were able to help this man "get back on his feet" by providing some basic provisions. It does not look like much, but he was grateful and so were we as we realized these donations were never ours, nor did we purchase them, we were just able to hand them to those in need. Thank you again to all of you who support us and the ministry in finances and prayer. It is not in vain and it is meeting many, many needs.

Please have a blessed day as you may come to realize as well how fortunate we all are and how much we have been given. God bless.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

evening time

During rainy season every few nights our home gets bombarded with these large winged insects. I have mentioned them before in this blog. The locals will pull off their wings and fry them up and eat them. They love them and they are high in protein. In Mexico we had something very similar and my children tried them there and did not necessarily enjoy them much, so we are not too experimental here with them.

Anyway, they come in our home for only about an hour and a half, but they get everywhere, through the doors and windows, etc... During this time, we try to turn off all the lights and just "lay low". Once that time frame is gone, they are gone as quickly as they came. The only evidence of them being there are their wings. You go out the next morning and you see wings everywhere. So strange.

During one evening right before the bugs attacked our humble abode, my kids were all reading. Aren't they great? We like to refer to this as the reading train. We are pretty blessed with how much our children enjoy to read. Sami maybe not so much, but she tries....

Thursday, May 20, 2010

clean for a moment

When we go to OLA, you cannot help but wander into their crib room where four children sleep.
These four are sweet and little which makes them easy attention getters.

My mom and I have been noticing that when you go in to get them their beds and clothes are just wet. They don't use diapers here and so I am sure you just manage these children in the best way you can, along with the cooking and cleaning and the older kids as well. The older ones are usually the ones I see getting them up an putting on their clothes and bringing them out.

So the ministry was able to get their hands on some diapers in a couple of sizes and was able to diaper three of the four. It was sad to see the beginning stages. They were all wet and they had real need for clean clothes. I was grateful because just a couple of weeks ago Gus's teacher had handed me some baby clothes and asked if we could use them for this home. So, we went from child to child and picked them up, removed their soiled clothes, diaper them and then put on something fresh and clean. In the end, it felt soooo good to hold them, love on them, snuggle with them.
As we were done with our time there the caregiver, Evelyn, communicated that she was about ready to bathe them. I felt sad thinking then the diapers would come off and the clean clothes would come off and then they will be back to how things were within a few hours.
As much as that burdens me, I do know that it is still good to have them be clean for a moment. I think it can become disheartening to know it is so brief of a moment or time where things are all good, in my eyes. But, I believe strongly that it is worth every moment and season and that these moments add up to something, somewhere and it will impact someone, even if that someone is me.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Yesterday at Hillcrest, the 4th grade class (Gus's) decided to do a fundraiser to help out a family in need. So, they decided a bake sale was the way to go. Isn't it always the way to go??? Below is Gus, with his teacher, Nanniy and his good friend, Debbo.The parents could contribute what they wanted and then the elementary school, middle and high schoolers could come and buy during lunch. Well, it ended up being more than just a bake sale. There was jollof rice, fried rice, pizza, spring rolls, minerals (soda), water, every kind of cookie and brownie and muffin imaginable. It was a lot of fun as we saw each class take their turn to purchase any goods. Below is Sami's class (she has the red shirt on facing the other direction). They made about $560 USD. Not bad for 20 students.
While the bake sale was going on, my mom and Emilee, Peyton and myself were sitting and enjoying a lunch with Sarah and her friend and Sami. While we were eating Sarah and Andrea (pictured below) started putting together this sandwich (so they called it) and eating it. I asked what it was and it is a chip (large, flat french fry), a puff puff ball (basically a donut hole without the glaze topping), some suya (a grilled meat substance that has been grilled) and then another chip. I did not like the look of it as they convinced me this is what they do each week when they buy the school food. Supposedly they LOVE it..... who knows.
Here is a close up of it. So, next time you are at McDonald's and you are eating your McRib or McChicken sandwich, you can think of my children eating their McHillcrest and you can feel better knowing you are actually probably eating something more healthy than my children.
You want a McHillcrest too? Again the ingredients you ask? Chip, PuffPuff, suya and Chip.....

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

mother moments

My mom has now been here about 12 days and we have had a couple of moments together that have been fun. And both of these I would have never said as a little girl, "I hope my mom and I can do this together when I am grown up!" She was here for her birthday and so thinking she loved Chinese food, we decided to venture out to a new chinese restaurant in town. Not new to the town, just new to me going there. Anyway, below is her birthday luncheon with some friends. Now I would of course wanted to do lunch with my mom on her birthday as a little girl, but I would have never dreamed in Africa, in a restaurant with one menu and sit outside with flies all over and garbage. Now, to be fair, I thought it was great tasting.... I also found out a few days later that it is my dad who loves chinese food and my mom is okay with it.... ughhhh.... the things I will learn living next to them I am sure.The next picture below is of my mom and I fabric shopping yesterday. She and my dad wanted some new curtains for their bungalow and so we had to go to the shop and find something that would be suitable for them. It was fun and I think we find something that they will both like. Of course, as we have all learned, this is just only the beginning of making curtains. We will now go to the seamstress, then wait, then put them up and go from there. Either way, they will be great when it is all complete. No local Walmarts or Targets here.....
It was fun seeing my mom in the midst of 100's and 100's of materials to choose from. If any of you know my mom, she prefers two options, not a ton....

Monday, May 17, 2010

building materials

This morning I don't have much time due to taking my children to school and then taking my mom to the market to look for fabric for curtains and to maybe look for a small carpet for their floor.
As I was thinking about putting a home together and all that it entails I started seeing some of these pictures and realized that quite possibly I have made things more difficult than they need to be.

It appears that these village folks have a simpler approach to making their homes.
The only exception is the big dirt mound. It is really a termite complex. The rest are materials for building a village hut. Either way, amazing isn't it how different we are in the world and what we consider as "making a house a home"? Always things to learn, always things to learn...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

futbol or soccer

When we lived in Mexico obviously soccer was a HUGE popular sport. Everyone loves and supports it.
I was surprised to see that it was even more popular here in Nigeria. It is around every field and on school grounds and just about every village you enter.

I think that one of the reasons it is so popular here is because there are not a ton more options to choose from. There isn't any football or baseball or volleyball leagues (there are on Hillcrest campus but that about wraps it up) or golfing, etc... You get the idea. So you give a kid a ball and soccer is played.

Here are just some random snapshots of different times that we have either participated in playing with others or we have just seen a game in the middle. Enjoy a bit of Africa this morning.

P.S. My parents have been here for a week now and they are doing great. I will need to get a picture with them in it. Our oldest daughter Sarah is sick today and will not be going to school, she has actually been sick since Friday, bummer with the flu..... I just wanted people to get a bit of my personal comings and goings as well....

Saturday, May 15, 2010

serving out of desire

Yesterday both of my girls had a "part" in the chapel service. Sarah, our oldest was responsible for the raising of the Christian flag. I have to admit, I really enjoy the idea of raising the flag and recognizing that all things are a privilege from God. My picture quality is not as good as the camera will do, sorry. But, just incase you didn't know, Sarah is the girl with the black shirt on. Then, we went on to the chapel service and Sami's 2nd grade class was directing and leading the elementary school in the worship service. It is hard as a parent to not just be proud of your children. They are memorizing Scripture and then leading others in worship through the Word and I get welled up each and every time. (Sami is in the purple shirt)
I just finished the book, Prodigal God by Tim Keller and I think my take home (even though there was lots to chew on) is this: so often we obey to be accepted by God therefore thinking we deserve certain end results in our service; whereas, we are accepted by God therefore we desire to serve Him fully, no matter what the cost is or isn't. It doesn't matter because my eyes are on Him.
I see this in our service here in Jos and my heart is to be proud of my children as they are learning to serve God, but I want to always be aware of their heart and their desire to serve Jesus. "Acts" can quickly go from pure heart to no heart and just motives to certain end results. Anyway, I am glad both of my girls were participants in a "bigger" picture worship/chapel service and my prayer is that I will be able to nurture their hearts to a desire to do all things for Christ.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

mixed emotions

This little girl is cute, isn't she? I just found out a couple of days ago that she is in the process of being adopted.

You would think in the ministry that I am a part of that my immediate response would be that of excitement and eagerness, but it was not. My first thought was, "oh no, she is leaving?" Isn't that kind of selfish of me??!!

Now, of course moments later I am thrilled for her and I truly do want a family to be God's daily answer to this little girls promises from God. To be lifted up, cared for, to defend her cause, to rescue her, to be her helper and to not leave her. I want that for her, but my heart breaks when I think about not being able to see her on a weekly basis. I pray the Lord keeps his eyes on this one.... as I know HE will. Soooo, I will talk to the sister soon and find out the details and find out how much more time I have to be a part of God's physical promises for her until she is handed off to a more permanent home, and then I will continue to lift her up and pray God's eternal hope for her.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

our main power source

Haha..... I tricked you, our main power source is Jesus Christ!!! But, ANOTHER power source is this generator down below!! I have stated many times that we receive about an hour to an hour a half a day of electricity from the government, the rest of the time to keep our refrigerator cold and bacteria free (at least mostly anyway) is to power this generator. It is pretty isn't it? We are grateful for the men who invented it and their minds that they chose to use and bring us this wonderful gift. We know that all good gifts from above (James 1:17), so we praise God for the ability to even use this machine.

Now, I have had some people ask about how my parents are doing. They are adjusting. I think they are a bit tired. There is a lot of time and energy the first couple of weeks of just standing in lines to get paperwork filled out, going to many shops and markets to make your house a home, and I think the heat is also an adjustment for them. So far though they have gotten tons done and have even ministered unknowingly to those they have met. Continue to pray for these next couple of weeks and months as they will be figuring out their own routine and ministry routes. We are grateful and the kids are ecstatic to have them here.

One last thought, I am currently listening to a book on my iPod called Prodigal God and I am really convicted of the small line it takes to cross between Prodigal Son and Eldest Son and the similar heart they both have towards the Father. Anyway, just chewing on some of these thoughts and how they pertain to me a lot right now. Good Stuff......

Well, have a great day and I hope since you are not probably in need of a generator for a power source that you are leaning in on the main power source of Christ today. God Bless!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

misc. thoughts

Yesterday as we were going to OLA, we saw some fun pictures so we were able to get a shot at them, but ultimately in person, they are a lot better. The one to the left is of a station wagon that was loaded and I mean LOADED of plastic stuff: waste buckets, water cans, jerri cans, etc... I was blown away with the amount of items that can truly fit into one car.

This photo is of just a woman on a motorcycle with her baby strapped to her back. It is extremely common here, but I wish you could see it for yourself. I don't know if you can see that this little girl is actually sleeping with her head rolling back. Interesting, huh?

I have just two quotes for you this morning:
Daniel (new nigerian staff member), when asked what he wants to praise God for, his reply:
"I praise God for my sufferings."

Hope (little girl at OLA home): "I had a dream last night that these children came to visit (she was pointing to Gus). I am glad you came because it is has now made my dream come true."
Hope is the little girl in purple.
What do you think of the new look of the blog... just like to keep people guessing.

Monday, May 10, 2010

a nigerian wedding

This is our dear friend Inchi and his new wife, Rafitku.
They were married this past Saturday and John was asked to be (and I quote), "The Second Best Man"
The picture below is of the processional at the end, everybody dancing their way out. John was as well and he did me proud as the entire ceremony was of different outbursts of dancing, he was an excellent second best man, dancing and all.
The wedding started at ten am, and the ceremony itself finished at 1:30pm. Yes, you heard me correctly, 1:30 pm.
The reception was going to start after the pictures were taken, and it was getting late so the kids and I left to go greet my parents who had arrived earlier in the day and were having lunch with our director's. So, my parents missed the wedding, but were able to have a nice relaxing lunch in a peaceful atmosphere.
I think the wedding was a great learning experience for me. On one hand, I was glad to see how the church body is a lot more intricately involved in each and every ceremony. They were responsible for the decorations, the food, the singing (lots of choirs there), etc... I think there is some great accountability in a marriage that has so many invested in it. On the other hand, how hard to have put so much energy into each and every weekend when someone in your church body gets married. You are talking a full day, that is not even preparation time that goes into that day, for most likely every weekend.
In the end, the kids and I were able to see John jiggy his way down the aisle and that was worth the entire day!!

P.S. And for those of you still following, my parents were able to receive all their luggage on Sunday morning. That isn't so bad, just a 24 hours later than their arrival. At least they have it all!! It is fun having them here as they have transitioned well, time wise and are learning now the cultural ropes of living life in Nigeria. It shows how John and I have come so far...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

a new church

Hi everyone, this is John. I wanted to share with you a photo of our church. This is Kisayhip "B" Church which is in the village where we will develop the site for our ministry.
The photo is of some leaders in the church and me. We are all on the Building Committee to build a new church building. The church in the photo is packed full with about 150 people each week. It is really tight so the church has decided to build a building that will accommodate 400 people. It reminds me of the line from Field of Dreams "you build it and they will come". The existing church is about 20years old and is built with mud blocks and a stone foundation. It has actually held up pretty well, don't you think?
We are in the beginning stages trying to develop the design and the budget so please pray for wisdom. The men on the committee are great guys and are committed leaders which makes it exciting to be a part of their team.
Ultimately, the village will build the new church around the existing one so that we can use the existing church as much as possible until the new one is finished. I will keep you posted on progress once the church starts construction.
What is great is that the church will use the members to build. I know in the US we do that a lot and have work days, but I have a feeling this is a little different. Community involvement is really the only way to accomplish such a big task with the limited resources that people have. Their time and work is a great resource.
Thanks for letting me share this with you. Again, please pray for wisdom and guidance.

Friday, May 7, 2010

new rukuba home

Meet Israel and Katerina and their daughter (cannot remember her name).
Our staff just met with this couple this past week to see how maybe we could begin forming a relationship with them and to see where God is leading their own personal ministry and for us to see if God would want us to begin furthering our time with them.

Emilee met the woman at her playgroup and as they were talking it was discovered that she is married to a man who is from the Rukuba tribe (that is our village tribe we work with as a ministry) and they are located about 5 minutes from our Kisayhip village. Then as they continued talking Emilee found out that they are in the beginning stages of building a children's home. They felt God calling them to this as they were getting married. We met with them and enjoyed our time immensely as we started just getting a bigger picture of their vision and their total obedience to where God is leading them.

It was amazing hearing their stories of waking up with no food and then seeing God provide or their water well running dry so they hooked up a boot leg machine that shouldn't work to a nearby river and miraculously it works and provides them with the water they need. I am not kidding you, story after story of leaning in on the character truths of God and going to another level of dependence I have not reached.

I am not sure what God has in store for our two ministries but I left there excited to put myself in positions of more dependence (I don't want to say that too loud because what if it comes true?!) on the one true God. He is Jehovah Jireh - my provider!

Please pray for us and for them as we are both wanting to trust God with our next steps.

My parents have made it into Abuja, but with no luggage. NOT ONE SINGLE PIECE! So, they come to Jos this afternoon wiped out, a little dirty and with the clothing on their backs and nothing else. BUT, I am glad to report that their faith is intact and I am sure it is strengthened because of the beginning part of their journey. I wonder if God is already trying to show them what this next year will be looking like???

7th graders to the rescue

I guess I am an extremist because I believe now I am posting too many pictures at one time, sorry.

I have been praying that the Lord would provide people to come and play and minister to these children in Jos, Nigeria, especially since there are no groups or interns coming this summer. He has answered me in ways I had not expected.

This entry is about these girls, not only the children they came to serve.

Meet the 7th grade girls discipleship group at Hillcrest school. There are about 14 of them who have chosen to take one of their Tuesday afternoons to help the Fatherless. It was soooooo much more fun that I thought it would be.

John and I joke about people who minister to middle schoolers have a special calling on them because it is not an easy age to reach out to (take no offense all you middle school parents, I will be one next year as well).

Anyway, so I wasn't sure what to expect. The leader who is a good friend of mine actually told me that the group was having some problems relating to each other and dealing with some internal conflict so she didn't even know how many would come.

Not only did they all come but they added a few as well and the afternoon was just full of blessing. They did an excellent job throwing themselves into the task completely and not allowing one child, no matter how disabled and challenging they might be, to feel left out or abandoned for an afternoon of fun.

And one of the things I love about God is how He can multi-task (even though I can not). Not only did the orphan child get loved on fully, but by the end of the afternoon the group was completely unified and laughing and talking about the next time they can come and serve. I do believe that is how God ordained it.... to keep our eyes off of ourselves and onto something bigger than we can handle on our own. Only with the help of God and their 13 other friends could this afternoon have been pulled off the way it did. I was so thankful to be a part of it in some small way.

I would like to add a P.S. to this entry. For those of you praying for my parents safe travel, keep on praying. Jason our director is picking them up in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria and is still waiting. Apparently they have had quite the adventure already before even living here. They have had delays, missed flights, no internet, no working phone to call us, bad connections, etc.... So, currently at this moment, they are in Frankfurt airport waiting to leave to get here tonight. So, it is only one day later but it probably feels like 3 weeks to them in lack of sleep, good food and clean clothing.... We have been hearing from my sister how they are doing and this morning we were able to receive an email from them. They are spirited and just concerned for our schedule (super kind of them and completely not necessary). So, keep praying them to Jos.... They will hopefully get here soon.