Wednesday, June 30, 2010

theology of risk and suffering

I am not sure where to begin when it comes to yesterday's training sessions. The fact is I haven't slept much because my mind was literally chewing on these gold nugget truths of Scripture. I think that I have a long way to go to truly understanding all of what Scripture says about risk and suffering, but I am grateful that I am gaining a more biblical mindset of how God views both.It can almost be a disservice to call it a theology of suffering, especially once I have looked over so many Scriptures that in the end there is joy and rejoicing in the suffering. The fruit of the suffering far outweighs the actual suffering and if we ALLOW the suffering to have its way with us and let it work through us we will find gold in us that has been refined.

I don't think that I could go into all that I processed through as I am still processing; however, here are some points that I have pulled out.

1. there are many, many variations of suffering (for Christ's sake and name) and we need to not judge our situation any more or less than anyone else's.

2. we are not promised anywhere exemption from suffering, nor understanding (that was a huge one for me), nor ease.

3. Christ never leaves us, no matter how we feel, he NEVER leaves us

Gosh, there are so many more truths. We spent so much time looking at biblical examples of risk and suffering and there are lists upon lists, especially in the Hunger theme scriptures that Back2Back is doing this year that so many godly men and women experienced for the name of Christ.

I think for me where a community or any team works and ministers and serves together, this is where people's theology of suffering really play out. Am I able to join with my brother or sister in Christ rejoicing in their blessing while my own life seemingly is falling apart with hardship? Or am I able to in freedom express my own blessing while my teammate is suffering, knowing in reality that my blessing is here and now and my friend's might be in the eternal. Is joy taking place either way, through tears of happiness or through tears of heartache, but BOTH end in rejoicing and praising our Lord and Father? Because I believe that this is where the world will see a group of people that doesn't "fit" the mold of the world and they will wonder, what is it they have that I don't....... and the Holy Spirit does its work and new christ followers are found. I get excited about this and I want to be a part of this ministry......

Okay, so I know a bit heady, but thanks for listening. Today there is no training, and we are going to OLA to see the children. Agnes (the one little girl who was being adopted) left yesterday so I can imagine one little girl who is needing some encouragement there today. Pictures tomorrow.

P.S. The pictures above are of a medical clinic we did as a staff team with a group. And the top one is not me doing the training, just me communicating what our team came up with for an excercise.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

resilience training

Okay, so yesterday I went to a training that was talking about resilience and living a resilient life, particularly being a missionary in West Africa.

Actually, all week I am attending different training sessions in regards to missionary living and I am very excited about it. There were about 50 or so missionaries present yesterday.
I am going to write to you just some interesting facts that were shown to me yesterday. I hope you take this information, and even if you are not particularly interested in it in full, it will better help you to know how to pray for us. Okay, here goes, here are some information pieces I found particularly interesting yesterday:

5 to 10% of missionaries living in the USA deal with traumatic events
30 to 47% of missionaries living in Europe deal with traumatic events
64 to 70% of missionaries living in West Africa deal with traumatic events

Okay, now the top ten traumatic events dealt with by West African missionaries are as follows:

1. serious illness
2. car, train or plane accident
3. death of a family member or close friend
4. around a riot, war or crisis event
5. robbery but not physically harmed
6. serious threat/harm with a robbery to a friend
7. seeing injury or death as a result of violence or war
8. burglary outside of home without confrontation
9. evacuation
10. being in the midst of a riot

Okay, isn't this interesting. So, these percentages lead me to believe that these traumatic events won't "maybe" happen, but will and I should be prepared for it at some point and time. Now, John and I and the kids have already dealt with a few of these and the Lord has been faithful and we are so blessed. BUT, I am also excited to learn more about how to handle these after they come. They gave great insight into pre and post traumatic courses of action and I just have a huge desire to tell you all, but I can imagine that maybe this isn't as interesting to you as it is to me.....

SOOOOO, all of this to say, you can pray for our family and the staff living here.

P.S. Today's training is on developing a theology of suffering, risk and change..... I am super excited!

misc. things to do

Okay, so I have received some flack from yesterday's blog..... I admit, come one, one year ago pictures..... so sorry.....

Here is the thing. Last week, I took the week off and just spent time with my kids. I really enjoyed it but it made my comings and goings in Jos, less. But here are a few snapshots of last week's random events.
Sami is above after she took out her braids. This is so her, desperately wanting to get something done and then in a couple of days, she is done and wants them out.... and she wants them out NOW...
Last Friday, John and I were able to go on a double date with our friends. It was our first time since living here (1 year and 6 months) that we have gone out as a double date with no children. I loved it. I think John and I miss some of those adult only conversations. We went to a place called Net Cafe. Very enjoyable.
Then, as the kids and I were determined to go swimming last week. When it is in rainy season it can be beautiful one moment and then literally 20 minutes later, dark, cloudy and pouring down rain. But, as quickly as it comes, it can also go.... So, this is a few families trying to WAIT it out for about 2 hours and yes, it never let up..... bummer. I know we looked silly to the nigerians who were eating in the restaurant right there. Good thing we all put on sunblock. hee hee.....

Monday, June 28, 2010

africa animals

Good morning!! These last few days/mornings John and I have been kind of hermitish (is that a real word?). Spending a lot of time just playing as a family and reading and just enjoying the confines of our home.

BUT, it dawned on me that all of you haven't seen any Africa pictures in a few days, so today I am showing you some African animals.

Now, to be fair, these were not taken outside of our front door, these are all taken at the safari that is about three hours from here. BUT, they are in Africa and makes them REAL pictures, right?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

a new day

I wanted to thank you all for the comments on my blog yesterday and some emails I received. They were all voices of encouragement and truly breathed life into me.

Yesterday I had a friend over and she braided Sami's hair which she has been wanting to get done since last summer when one of our interns got her hair done. It was such a good setting for me after the "bigger" nigerian setting I had the day before. I shared with her my day and she just gave me more insight into nigerian women and mothers and basically listened to me with a kind, kind heart.

I am grateful that days come and go and emotions come and go because a new day brought friendship, encouragement and a new hair style.

Sami has a pretty smile, doesn't she?

a hard day

So, yesterday was a hard day for me. What I am about to write has nothing to do with ministry and it has nothing to do with my family per se, it is just me having a hard nigerian day.

It started with going to a class party for Sami's grade and all the mom's cooked food and we just fellowshipped together and let the kids play. In the midst of it though I had some awkward mom moments and some awkward nigerian mom moments. I left the party enjoying it but feeling wiped out emotionally and just a bit "down". I felt every bit of a foreigner at this event and that was difficult for me.

Then, we haven't been having power during the day for a few days now and my laundry has been piling up. What is a challenge is knowing that even as I write this there are sooooo many people who live here that this is their normal life. They wash their clothes by hand and then hang them to dry. I know it, and I feel extremely blessed to have a washer that runs (sometimes) on a generator.... but I was getting backed up on drying them.... These pictures are my home being overrun by wet clothing....
All of this to say is we have been getting power but it has been coming in the middle of the night so last night at eleven I started doing laundry. Finally, at 3 am I finished four loads of laundry, either drying or washing and drying....

I don't mean to complain and I don't necessarily even feel that way about it, it was just overall a hard day for me. It is times like this when I long for heaven. I am under a deep realization that I have spent the last 6 or 7 years away from the USA and don't entirely "get" living there anymore, but I definitely don't feel that here is "home" either.... I think it is good to have a longing for eternity with Jesus and I think it is good that I realize that no earthly thing, like washers or dryers, will fill my feeling of home as much as I think it might.

Thanks for your prayers and your listening ear....

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

sleep, swim and serve

On Monday night John and I had a family come over for dinner that is about ready to move back to Canada. This family has served here for two years and they have twin girls that are good friends with Sarah. We are sad they are returning but we were able to have one last sleep over with these two girls and then we invited one other to spend the night as well.

The next day we all went swimming and then to the children's home of OLA. I hope by now you are starting to recognize some of these children's faces. It was such a fun day seeing how friends can be friends through a variety of circumstances: school, hanging out, eating and also serving. I think Sarah's friendships went deeper because of the different levels of reaching community with them. I think I have also found that in my own life as well.

I thought the children were cute trying to drive the car. I remember my kids having a similar toy. It was such a beautiful day!
FYI, our internet has not been as strong lately so I will post when I can. The internet people tell us it has nothing to do with the weather, but I have found with the stronger rains there is less internet. Who knows? I don't that is for sure. All I do know is that the rain storms are amazing to experience!!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

baby dedication

Yesterday we had the privilege to go to baby Daniel Corrie Asama Ago's dedication at church. These pictures reflect a bit of the service.

While they were introducing me, I took the moment to "snap" a picture of the congregation.

The certificate is also proof that they really did use my name... Can you believe it? I asked them if it meant that I had to pay for college or something, but they assured me that it is just the name and prayers that are being passed on. I think I can manage that.

It has been fun getting to know this family and I can guarantee you all that they have been nothing but a blessing to us. I am really looking forward to praying for baby Daniel and even maybe get to know him as he grows older.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

We love you fathers!!


After working with a ministry that serves orphans, we have a much deeper appreciation of the role of a father. John and I are so thankful for our own father's and are even more grateful for our Heavenly Father. What a blessing we have in Him, words cannot even express.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

a protective mother

It is amazing how most mothers have a natural instinct. This is my mom who is holding a little baby with malaria.

The next one is of a mamma chicken protecting her baby from us who were trying to take a picture.

The last is just Gus who saw this new baby names Okachi. She is new and she was just in her crib fussing a bit and Gus hated the idea that no one was able to hold her or pick her up. So he asked the worker (which is a big step for Gus to really initiate with someone he doesn't know, he is shy) if he could hold her. She told him yes as long as he was in charge. So, literally for about 45 minutes Gus sat with this little girl who just had on a wet cloth diaper and he just held her.

I was proud of him as some of the older boys who he has started to "get to know" went outside to throw the football, he made the decision to care for this little baby girl. When he put her down as we were leaving he said he just felt sad because there weren't enough people to care for all the babies.

I am proud of who he is becoming...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

staff potluck dinner

Last night we had our first, "staff dinner" for the summer. It was fun because everyone had to bring a "favorite" dish and share. So our family brought lasagna and there was a great variety of dishes: a few nigerian favorites with a mixture of american food and then a little pumpkin bread birthday cake to top it off. Jason's birthday is this weekend, but we took the opportunity to celebrate with him last night.

We also ended with a game of teledraw..... that was even better trying to play a game cross-culturally and with all different age groups.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

summertime swimming

This is a pool we attend occasionally here in Jos. It is close to the OLA children's home we minister, so this summer the kids and I thought it might be kind of fun to go swimming first.

The peacock is kind of cool looking, isn't it?

What do you think of the new design? Maybe it is too much, we will just use this one for a short bit.

Monday, June 14, 2010

everyday things

Life is full of everyday things, no matter where you live. You wake up and go through a normal routine of preparing your body. You take care of errands, like last minute items you need for a meal that day or running to the bank to take care of a financial transaction, etc...
One of those everyday items, for me, is hair upkeep. I am one who has long lost her natural hair color. I probably lost it many, many years a
go. So, before moving here I packed up hair color, enough for a year :)....

Along with hair color is the cutting of it. Because of my many years of hair coloring, my ends become dead pretty quickly. So I found myself
about six weeks ago waking up angry with my hair and literally chopping it off, layers no doubt. I tell you all of this because there is a super nice
missionary friend here who is willing to cut hair for people. I went to her yesterday and I just wanted you to see how I take care of one of my everyday things, here in Jos.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

soccer camps

Summer has begun and that means the kids are around the house all day. In some ways, I really enjoy them helping me cook and playing games with them, etc... They are in such a fun age, but on the other hand, our compound is small and they can tend to get "bored" really easily.

One of the things that the school offers is soccer camp. 9am to 11:30am the kids can go to learn the fundamentals of this sport. I am glad it is offered but during the first week of it a bigger realization hit me. I have entered the world of two different schoolings.... I now officially have a middle schooler and two elementary age kids. SOOOOO, with that comes more driving. Sarah has soccer camp on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Gus and Sami have it on Tuesday and Thursday. Bummer for me, huh? Long gone are the days of everyone in one building. I won't be there again until all three of my kids are in high school.

Here are the boys waiting their turn while the girls play their game. Do you see Gus? on the right with the red shirt on, not facing the camera.
In this photo we have Sarah (left with poneytail) and Sami is kind of behind the boy with the blue scrimmage shirt on.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

World Cup outreach

This past Friday, the first World Cup game of the year was played on South African soil. As a ministry we used this event to kick-off our new "Oasis Community Center". It was our grand opening of a Center that will host the viewing of futbol games and other media events.

It is a joint effort between three different people groups. Back2Back, SSE and the village itself. All three have different focus's but all three want what is best for the Rukuba people. The day was filled with food, fun, fellowship and a lively band that kept the kids hips moving.

These pictures show different aspects of the day unraveling. The ariel shot is Gus climbing the boulders that surround this plot of land and snapping a photo before it began. We had a food station, a face painting station (Sarah and my mom manned this booth), a music station, and of course a jumpy castle station. We are grateful as it did not rain and people came from all different walks of life to see what was going on. Jason shared parts of his own testimony as Daniel and Ibro shared the vision and mission of this center. As much as we had "planned" and hoped the details would find themselves taken care of, it is still somewhat of a risk to plan things in the village.

There are so many unpredictables that come with an event focused on a group of people that do not limit themselves to the boundaries of four walls. This wasn't focused on a children's home. It was focused on orphans who are living in a village with or without people who care for them.
It might seem strange to host an "Oasis Community Center" kick-off when our focus is on the Fatherless. But, with much prayer and cultural guidance we are desiring to better the whole community and where they are with their strengths and weaknesses. By doing that we are seeing that the orphan within those relationships are better cared for and defended in a way that is a little new to our understanding.

I was glad that the day took place, even though the first game ended in a tie and Nigeria lost their first game. Our hope is these people will come to understand and realize that there is a safe place to gather together and to meet. I also believe that as the community itself begins to recognize their own God-given potential, positive change will begin to show itself.

"Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as we see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:25

I pray as you find yourself meeting with your own fellowship surroundings this morning that you will pray for this community center as well.

Friday, June 11, 2010

those who serve

Good Morning! Yesterday was a filled day with activity with the kids and ministry. I am sure you will hear about it more next week, but today I just wanted to give you a picture of the woman who serves our family. She helps me with the shopping, cleaning (John's favorite) and some food prep. She has been a blessing to our family as her spirit is meek and firm in the Lord. I am thankful for Juliana as she as helped me with cultural understanding and with prayer.

Today our ministry is having an opening kick off of the new Oasis Community Center. We decided upon today because it is the first day of the World Cup and so we are hosting the first game showing in the Center. More about that tomorrow. BUT, you can please pray for the time because it will be chaotic and harried, but we are super excited to see how the community involvement shows itself to stand on its own. Okay, more tomorrow with pictures.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted

This verse comes to mind when I think about the funeral service the kids and John and I went to yesterday. Daniel's sister, Martha passed away a few days ago. In case you don't remember, Daniel is on our staff team and he is one of nine siblings. He is not the oldest, but he is the one the family looks to during these hard financial times. As I share and show these pictures, I do it respectfully so you all can get a feel for what it looked like, but I tell you the verse above is truly what happened during this service. It was a most beautiful, touching service. By the end, I believe the Holy Spirit comforted all of us through tears of remembrance and fellowship of a people who love the Lord and knowledge of what his faithful servants can accomplish through a life of obedience.

The above picture is the ambulance car that took the casket to the burial which I understand was not in a typical (for us anyway) graveyard, but they found a place in the boulders high above and everyone walked to it while they personally lifted her down. We as a staff team were humbled when a call was made to our director asking to borrow shovels so they could dig the hole for their sister.

This is Daniel's church. It is the same church that his dad was the pastor of for six years, many years ago when all of them were little. This is where the service took place.
This is Daniel who was talking about his sister's life.
They had a few choir groups come forward to sing and then at the end the family all stood up and sang the closing song. Every single song was led by the Lord, it was amazing. Beautiful, accapella(sp?) voices. There was a testimony time that was given and by the end of it we all felt as if we knew the heart and soul of this women, Martha. She was 35 years old and had spent her whole life breathing life into other people, ministries and her family. The pastor challenged all of us about how we are living our life NOW and we will be held accountable. I am not kidding you, I felt so blessed to be a part of the morning and to mourn with our friend. By the end of the service I realized that I had cried off and on as the Holy Spirit worked through all of us and we all indeed were comforted. We give him all glory for the life of his faithful servant, Martha.