Tuesday, August 31, 2010

a guarded heart

This photo was taken on the ministry compound. It is the barbed wire that surrounds the top of the wall perimeter. I saw this picture just yesterday and realized right away that is what my heart has been feeling lately. guarded..... just a little guarded.

The Lord keeps bringing me to I Peter. I think I will go and read it right now. I pray you meet with the Lord today as I know I need to meet with Him.

Monday, August 30, 2010

good and perfect gifts

THE LIGHT IS BACK ON!!! We want to thank all of you who were praying for our power situation here in Jos. The light came on a couple of days ago. We praise God as we are grateful for all the "good and perfect gifts that come from above." (James 1:17)

I want to spend the remainder of my days being grateful for all of the things I take for granted in life. They are all from the Lord - each and every one of them.
Including this perfect african sunset.


You never can predict the timing of "being settled in". You hope for it right away, but yet, you realize that when it happens, it means you are home. With that comes a mixture of emotions also...

Yesterday, we had lunch with some friends that I have started to "count on" and within that luncheon we realized it was her (Kimberly) birthday earlier in the week. It was so fun to just be with their family and not think it a big deal that I didn't know her birth date. The moment had happened: the moment of still getting to know someone yet a familiarity of friendship that little things are not big deals and lunches are easy going and relaxing....

Maybe this does not make sense to any of you out there, but for me, it was a big moment. I liked the lunch, I like this family and I love the cattle in the last picture that is blocking the way for us to get to our gate.... :)

Gosh, am I home or what??!!

Friday, August 27, 2010

a little help

I have to say that yesterday was a big highlight for me, ministry wise. I just experienced story after story of good things happening in a home that can sometimes make me feel sad.

Let me highlight a few moments that were shared with me:

1.) The picture to the right is of Big Mama. She is one of the caregivers here at OLA. The girl to her left used to live in OLA. Both of her parents are dead and her grandfather came and picked her up awhile ago. Well, as they were "checking in" on how some of the kids were doing that have been replaced back in homes, they learned that she was being mistreated. Big Mama took her in as part of her family. What a kind and generous heart.

2.) Hopefully by now you recognize little Kenny. BUT, do you recognize his new walker? Emilee was there yesterday helping the kids all get ready when she rushed in the living room where I was and pulled me into the baby room. She said, "Oh my gosh, you have got to see Kenny!!" And sure enough he met me at the door scooting, ever so professionally and big boy like, towards the hallway. I could have cried. He is getting so big and what a blessing for him to have a little help!! My heart swelled as he handled the walker with grace and pride.

3.) The reason for our going yesterday afternoon was for Abigail's birthday. My mom picked out a beautiful pink scarf for her as a gift from all of us and she looked stunning in it. Her party was so encouraging as friends of hers came to celebrate her life. A life full of hardship, but friendship also as so many came around her that day to recognize the gift she is to all of us and the kids in this home. She has grown up here, but takes responsibility for each one of these babes. Her whole life she has had to receive help, but she doesn't think anything about it. For her, that is life. Give and take. A little help here, a little help there. She gives just as much as she receives. No pride, just relationship!

These last photos are of big Mary as she walks full time now, and Hope who starts school in two weeks. She is excited, but nervous as well.

Each one of us need a little help now and then, don't we? The little girl who lives with Big Mama, Kenny and Abigail showed me this yesterday, that a little help can be perceived as a weakness or it can be received with joy as a gift from God, one not to be missed out on, ever!

May your day be blessed with a little help from others!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

boiling pot

"If the pot is not boiling, the food will not be cooked."
-Daniel Asama

This quote is in reference to our S.W.O.T. meeting we had earlier this week. It is a time when we as staff look at the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of our ministry areas. I also enjoy these times because it allows our staff to hang out a bit and just laugh and enjoy the fellowship of each other.

At the beginning of our time, it was prefaced that no one should take anything personally, but because our team is small, when we share weaknesses, it might look as if we are referencing a person. Anyway, as we are sharing these things, Daniel (our nigerian staff member) said that there is a saying that goes here in Nigeria. And then he shared with us the above quote. It hit me and the rest of us that sometimes there will be differences shared and it might appear as if the pot is boiling, but in the end the food is well cooked and more enjoyable for all who are tasting.... pretty good, huh?

P.S. By the way, there was not a lot of boiling going on :); however, I do think in the end, the food will taste better because of our meeting.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

nepa power

Good Morning! We have just heard that as of yesterday the main, public power company has gone on strike. NEPA! What that means for us is no electricity until the people choose to return back to work. The bummer is you just don't know how long these things will last..... a few days, a few weeks, maybe a couple of months....

Good news is since power is not good here anyway, we have our generator lined up, etc... So, we will religiously turn on our gen every 5 hours or so, that way our food will not rot.

The other bummer is that laundry will back up unless I really choose to hand wash everything..... oh gosh, did I say that out loud? Will I really revert to that type of living....? I know, I have been so spoiled...

For all of you who are planning on traveling here with a team or something: don't worry. The ministry compound is on the private electric company. They are doing well for now. Please just pray for us. Have a great day and as you wash your clothes and open the fridge, pray for our family and the rest of nigeria who has no electric.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

life in dwellings

Do you ever drive by houses and wonder about the people who live in the homes you are passing? When I was younger, I remember driving in downtown areas and passing homes with the windows boarded up and being curious if the people who lived there were happy or connected to each other.

I also remember feeling this way around large, seemingly expensive homes. Do people care about them? Well, I find those same thought patterns are still in my head. I drive by some of these huts or dwelling structures that look abandoned in some cases, and I wonder if life is hard for those living there. Or I pray that no abuse takes place inside the "walls" that are present.

These thoughts are fleeting, but in that moment, my prayers are real and heartfelt. These pictures are different dwellings that I see on my way to OLA. Yesterday we took the back way and I had these thoughts again about the people and their families as we passed by their houses.

Is life hard for them? Do they ever get power and water here? Do they know any different? Do they know the Lord? Do they feel contentment in their life?

These questions I will most likely never know the answers to, but I prayed and for that moment I felt connected to them and the Lord in regards to them. Maybe someday I will get to meet these random (or maybe not so random) people and be able to converse face to face. I guess for now though, I will keep passing by homes and pray for those inside.

Monday, August 23, 2010

new places

Sometimes on Sundays our family will stay home and do "home" church. It is a way that we can connect our kids to sermons and teachings of Scripture. The village church might not always provide that for us as a family.

So to the right is the Guckenberger home church as we were preparing to watch a sermon and then discuss. In all honesty, we have great conversations and we discuss real things. I like it, but I do miss the village church ladies' singing and worship!

This next photo is a new friend named Franca. She is truly the first nigerian woman who has invited me over with no connection like ministry or a friend of a friend type of thing.

I wasn't sure what to expect but we had a great time and we looked at family pictures and talked about family. We ate lunch together (I desperately tried to get the lady to snap a photo of the and us, but I don't think I communicated it well to her.....) and ended in prayer. Two of her children are in two of my children's classes.

I am grateful for Franca who opened up her home to me. It makes me think how little I did that in the USA to people of a different culture. Anways, new places and new faces and new ways of doing things. All a part of growing who I am becoming....

Sunday, August 22, 2010


This is a typical roadblock here in Jos, Nigeria Africa. No telling what will be used. Right down the street from us is an old refrigerator that is used. This road is the one on the way to the children's home, OLA (Our Ladies of Apostles).

I have learned to appreciate the roadblocks. There is a purpose behind them besides just keeping you on your toes while driving. Either the military is there to check on the passersby or it is to literally slow you down due to what is coming up next (this particular one has small children all around right past this curve). It reminds me of roadblocks in my own personal walk with Christ. There is a reason and even if I don't know why, I am learning to heed them and slow down and stay alert!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

infrastructure and ministry by JOHN

In mission work it can sometimes be overwhelming with all the things that have to be done in order to actually minister or care for someone. Within Back2Back we talk often of our bull’s eye or our focus. Obviously B2B’s bull’s eye is to impact and take care of the orphan, but that does not mean that everyone involved with B2B is “directly” involved with the orphan. Many people are “indirectly” involved in impacting the orphan.

When developing a site in construction, the first thing we often start with is the INFRASTRUCTURE ie: roads, underground, utilities, sanitary lines, property walls, etc. Although all these things support the finish product of the buildings, many times they are not seen directly when the building is completed and occupied.

Recently I have been thinking of all the people and things that support the ultimate goal of impacting the orphan and I’m grateful that God’s plan is for us to be a body of believers that each utilizes our gifts and talents for his kingdom whether this is the people in the mission field or the people sending the missionaries.

In Nigeria, we are constructing an Education Center where Theresa Reed (new B2B staff arriving in September) will spend time tutoring underprivileged children in the Kisayhip Village. She will be “directly” connecting and impacting the orphan, but to make this happen so much infrastructure must take place first.

I want to break it down to show all that and who is involved in making an impact on the orphan. The many parts affecting the orphan child as a whole.

-B2B staff member (Brian Bertke) in Cincinnati shares the vision of the Ed Ctr to the youth at the Vineyard Church and the Daniels family in Cincinnati.

-This church and family caught the vision and they were able to raise the funds for us to begin building the Ed Ctr.

-People in the US are supporting the B2B staff member to be able to live and minister in Nigeria.

-B2B staff live and minister in Nigeria and begin to build the Education Center.

-B2B support staff such as drivers assist in getting materials to the site for the building.

-B2B employs local masons, carpenters, and other trades from the village to construct the Education Center. (which helps the people in the village with income).

-The building is completed and Theresa (teacher) will directly impact the orphan by helping supplement their education.

-The orphan child will have a better “HOPE FOR TOMORROW”.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


I have developed some close friends while living here and I am grateful for them. We decided yesterday morning to go to OLA to visit all of those babies that I just want to eat up.

I always enjoy taking new people there. I tell you, between the three of us, we caused quite a ruckous. By the time we left, I think all of the kids were crying .

As women though we were talking about how when I used to go to OLA to begin with, the kids were shy and not very emotional and that we need to consider what a gift it is to hear them cry and just to "express".

Every diaper was changed, every baby was fed and the older kids were able to play. I think I enjoyed my morning (but boy, was I wiped out by the end).

This last photo is of Evelyn, Daniel (Daniel Corrie, remember?) and of Gus. It has been fun seeing my kids love on babies. When I went to OLA yesterday morning, all the caregivers and the older kids asked where my children were. I like that!!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Beginnings. Life is full of them, isn't it? Some beginnings end in disappointment and some beginnings are still taking place, while others exceed our expectations. One thing that I have learned is that you cannot live life without them.

"Your children will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as the people who rebuild their walls and cities." Isaiah 58:12

Last week, our staff had a beginning ceremony. A beginning for an education center close to the future property. They were breaking the ground for what our hope and desire is in the future, to have a place where the children will begin to learn and understand the basics of reading and writing. Our prayer is that as these very underprivileged children grow and develop in the minds, they will begin the process of also growing and developing in the mindset of what God might have for them.

It is this next generation of children that will be rebuilding the broken gaps of the generation before them. They have potential to excel, to learn, and to even hopefully mentor the next group of children that come after them. It is these beginnings that are scary for me. There is so much that could be..... yet still so much of the in between that doesn't show itself.

I am excited though for what could be and with that hope, we move forward with this particular beginning. And B2B wants to be a part as much as we can of the in betweens...

I pray you take a step toward your new beginning today. I know I will.

Monday, August 16, 2010

everyday glances

I just wanted to show you some more of our everyday glances. Things I don't even think about anymore because they have become a part of our Jos landscape.

This first picture is of Sarah at a ministry called the Mashaiah foundation. It is a home that teaches women with AIDS how to sew (similar to Gidan Bege, the widows ministry). They have some similar items as Gidan Bege, but some other items as well. Both my parents and I bought our bedspreads at this ministry site.

This next photo is just a normal bean and vegetable stand. They are really scattered everywhere. Stands like this are where I buy so many of our fruits and vegetables. It has surprised me some to realize how I don't notice these places anymore as unusual. How weird to go to one store and buy fruits and vegetable that are already prepackaged, right? :)

I like this photo of Sarah and her good friend, Jocelyn. Jocelyn's family invited Sarah to go to the zoo with them this past weekend. I am so encouraged by the friendships the kids have made since living here.

Of course, you have to have the picture of the angry lion. While Sarah was at the zoo, they paid to have a goat thrown into the lion's den. So, we have great video footage of a live goat being thrown in and the lions pouncing on it and then showing it off to all the people watching. Yes, on the video, you see the poor helpless goat baahhing while it sits inside the mouth of the huge, male lion. I know it is the natural part of life. BUT, it is one thing to know it and quite another to see it happen.

Well, these are some of our everyday glances. I bet maybe one of them might be similar to yours, right (the friendship one anyway, right?)? Have a great day!!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

new friends

Last week John introduced you to a man named Sunday who helps him with the construction here in Nigeria. We had his family over yesterday afternoon so we could get to know them all.

I find for me personally it can be hard to "do" something on a Sunday because it is the one true day that is off for all of us and I want to not entertain or work or do anything. But, the truth of the matter for me is that when they came and went, I had no regrets. Sunday's family was so kind and fun and full of words of encouragement. We are grateful for their family and their hearts for the Lord.

John and I are on the floor (I know, I have my pirates hat on :)) and then the back row, from the left: Sami, Gus, Faith, Gemima, Kashuna, Sunday and Sarah.

Friday, August 13, 2010

can you imagine?

Can you imagine having 6 babies with cloth diapers and 5 other kids and not have a washing machine? Seriously try to think of it.... I do one load a day (or I try depending on power) with my family of five in order to get our clothes, towels, sheets and any other miscellaneous items washed.

Well the home we work with, Our Ladies of Apostles (OLA) has not had a washing machine for awhile now and my mom started noticing that as she was helping wash the babies that there were piles of dirty laundry. So she started asking questions and found out that they had not had one since their old washing machine broke down. They had a friend who was willing to be the solution for this particular problem. We are so grateful for them and for all of you who choose to sacrifice to help others along. Thank you. Your sacrifice does not go unnoticed especially by our Father in heaven.

This is Sister Fidelia with the new machine in the home. My mom and dad went with them last Thursday to help pick it out. Once it is installed it will be in working order. Thank you again.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

finally supported by Scripture

If no one understands this besides my sisters and my mom then that is okay. BUT, I want you to know that there has always been an understanding in our family that you don't ever put a raisin where a chocolate chip needs to be. It is just a fact that doesn't even merit a discussion.

Well, I was telling a friend this and she sent me an email yesterday giving me Scripture to support the idea that raisins ruin all baked goods (at least that is what I read:))

Hosea 3:1b
"Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the SACRED RAISIN CAKES."

The picture above is an example of a Christ-centered dessert.

I pray today you all have something to eat that doesn't show yourself to be "fallen away" :)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


I wanted to take few minutes and share what I have been doing the last month and half. In September we have new staff joining our team from the US.- Will & Theresa Reed. We are very excited for their arrival. In light of their arrival, we have had to make arrangements for the Reed's housing. Because it will be a few years until we can occupy the property in Bassa (Land of Hope), we are constructing two apartments on the current SSE Campus where we host groups. These two apartments are for staff housing.
We are hoping to be complete in October with these apartments.
Majority of my time has been spent designing and managing the construction of these apartments. It has a been an interesting experience learning the various construction methods that are used here in Nigeria. I have been able to implement many of mine, but also use many here.
The biggest blessing to this project and to the future B2B projects that I do here is a man named Sunday Yashim.
Sunday is an engineer by education. He could be making a lot more money working for the government, but has a real heart for the Lord and has felt called to work in ministry full time. He is an answer to prayer. He has really helped me transition into the construction here. Having a nigerian partner to work alongside is incredible because he can translate the methods and processes both ways - to me and to the workers.
He is a huge blessing. Will you please pray for him and me as we work together to complete the apartments and work on the Education Center at the Oasis House.
PICTURES: First photo is of Sunday Yashim, Second is of the masons working the apartments- I call them the three amigos, Third is a photo of a structural beam in the apartments.

Quick Facts:
Apartments: 1 story building, 2 apartments, 2810 sqft, total cost $40,000USD, funds needed still $20,000USD.
The below drawing is the apartments. The section in yellow is where the Reed's will live.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

first day of school

We have to have a picture of my kids first day back at Hillcrest!

Sarah is entering middle school (yikes, there is no way I am old enough to have a middle schooler). Gus is 5th grade and Sami is 3rd grade..... I do love how close they all are in age.
We leave in just a bit, so fun, huh?

The top picture is of us playing cards with my parents (a few nights ago). We usually crush them, but occasionally we let them win. This was one of those nights.... :)

Monday, August 9, 2010

quote of the day

I came across this quote yesterday in the finishing up of my quiet time and I loved it. It is in regards to the 12 spies that went out to look at the land that the Lord was going to give the Israelites. When they all returned there were different accounts of the same landscape observed.

"The ten saw God, if at all, only through the difficulties of the situation. These two men saw the difficulties through God. In one case the difficulties minimized god. In the other, God minimized the difficulties."

This quote is great, isn't it? I wonder how often I am looking at my day through God's eyes verses looking at my day through circumstances eyes? Something for me to think about and be prayerful as I begin my morning. Pray with me, will you, to encounter each new person and event as God would.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

plan and prepare

The photo to the left is Gus with some friends playing during our rainy season.

No matter where you live, you get used to your environment and you end up "relying" on the basics of life based on where it is you reside.

For example, you live in North Carolina so you plan on electricity and you don't plan on major snow storms, you know that the falls are beautiful, etc... It becomes a part of your natural tendencies of living, whether you realize it or not.

I live in Jos, Nigeria. As a family, we plan on not having power, we prepare for rainy season, I know that every time I go to the market, I won't find the same things as I did last time (unless I want yams :)), etc...

So, when something out of the norm takes place you realize that you weren't ready for it. Yesterday and the day before, for example, we had lots of power, so when it was time for me to get my vegetables ready to go to a friends house, I open my fridge and everything was frozen. So frustrating. We keep our refrigerator on super high so when we do receive "light" our food will become cold to last the whatever hours in between before we turn on our generator. So, now I had all bad vegetables (wilted lettuce, frozen and squooshed tomatoes) and frozen boxed milk, etc...

I found it ironic that my norm has become to plan and prepare for no power, so when I receive it everything goes wrong verses when you live somewhere else, you rely on the power and when it goes off, it throws you off....

Is there ever really a state of life that you are fully planned and prepared. I doubt it, inevitably you adjust to wherever it is you live. Crazy huh? Oh well, what do you do besides throw away your bad veggies and start over....

The second photo is a neighborhood down the street from ours. Talk about getting no power, yikes....