Tuesday, November 30, 2010

12 years old

Today is Sarah's birthday. Gosh, I tell you what, this "choose your own meal for your birthday" is killing me. I have finally gotten into a rhythm with coooking and then throwing in three birthdays within two weeks, along with Thanksgiving and I feel wiped out with cooking from scratch!! But, I am building my character, correct?

But, on a celebratory note, I love Sarah, our oldest. She wanted people from our ministry there, so most came and we had a great homemade noodle meal with some random gravy. We did take some time to put her in the "hot seat" as we all went around to share what we enjoy about her. It is so fun to see her traits come out, no matter what the age. She shares and desires for people to be included. Sarah is strong and courageous and independent in nature. She is a great daughter who takes cares of so much around here.

It reminds me again of where we live and how it impacts our children. All three of them take it in stride, but Sarah has a special grace about her that allows her beauty to come out when sometimes, life isn't as easy for other twelve year old girls. However, with living here, we also see that life isn't nearly as hard as it could be either.

Another birthday enjoyed and celebrated! She doesn't know it, but tonight we are going to a special "tree lighting" ceremony where hundreds of people come together and enjoy a band, watch some fireworks and then take in the moment of the official lighting of a huge Christmas tree in town. Our B2B staffer, Daniel, is one of the band members playing, and he is going to wish Sarah a special "Happy Birthday" moment in front of the hundreds. She will LOVE every MINUTE of IT!!

We will show you photos tomorrow (I hope)! Have a blessed day!

Monday, November 29, 2010

hopefully more focus

On Sunday our kids forced us to finally decorate our Nigerian home for Christmas. We had about a half of a suitcase with the makings of Christmas, just a few items actually. So within, twenty minutes we were finished.

John and I went and took a nap (you can only imagine how wiped out we were with all the decorating :)). When we woke up our kids had taken it upon themselves to make snowflakes to allow at least a little bit more of a holiday spirit. It was beautiful!

Should we make this our family Christmas portrait? Just kidding, but I am not exaggerating when I tell you that this little section is about all we have beside our Mexican nativity scene. I guess Christmas is more than just the decorations and the beauty we have as a family come to make it to be. This year we will have less distraction and my hope is that we will have more focus on the birth of our Lord and Savior. We will see, huh?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

pastor John

As you can see, I have asked my children to enter a blog post. Gus and Sami wanted to get it out of the way (so my personality), but Sarah wanted to wait for something "good", she has to do it by the end of 2010.... so be on the lookout for it!

Yesterday was a fun day. It started off going to the village church and listening to my husband preach. Yes, you heard me correctly, our pastor asked him to be the "guest speaker" so John talked about Ephesians 3 and the 4 things that Paul prayed for the believers in Ephesus. He was so good. He made a point to be cultural in his examples and he stressed the importance of our heart verses the external.

Yes, the above picture is John with the translator, Stephen. Stephen is getting married this Saturday, so we cannot wait for his wedding. More on him later.

These next few photos are of the trail past the church to our pastors "retirement" lot.

The pastors retire with whatever is given to them in one of their churches, during their time in the ministry. Our pastor still has one more term before retirement, but had never received any land. Our church gave him a plot and is helping him with his foundation. It is quite an interesting setup they have.

Take a look at the picture above. I know this looks like any other village hut that I may have shown you, but really look at it. Can you imagine living like this? Really, living like this?! I am blown away by the lifestyle of the village. To be honest, there is something that I am drawn to, and I am not sure what it is.... maybe it is the simplicity!

This Hausa carving is on the podium for the pastor at church. If I was a really good blogger, I would have gotten it translated before putting it on here, but I will someday know what this means. It looks like it is Habakkuk 2:20..... you can look it up.

Well, the day started off with John, but then it ended up with us decorating the house for Christmas. Very fun and very festive and it took about five minutes.... I will show you those pictures tomorrow....

Saturday, November 27, 2010


My mom wanted me to blog. I was walking around my house and i noticed that there was a dead bird in the gutter. So I asked my brother if he could take a picture of me and the dead bird a couple times. Then we took a picture of the trap I made to catch a grass hopper. Because I wanted to show you how I could eat a grass hopper.

I can actually eat a grass hopper if it's cooked. I think a big rat killed the bird. But at school a boy named Kumi in my class had some cooked grass hoppers. The brain is taken out before you eat it. But actually it has spices on it to make it good.




Two days ago it was thanksgiving and my mom wanted me to do a blog before the new year so I am doing a blog on thanksgiving dinner. When everyone got to the house we prayed and then we got in line (I was the first in line to get food) and we all got food. There were lots of desserts as you can see to the left and I loved the brownies. There was lots of delicious food but I loved the mashed potatoes and gravy the best. While we were eating every person said what they were thankful for, and after that we played a long game of fish bowl, boys against girls, in the end the girls won. I loved that we could spend thanksgiving with our grandma and grandpa. I am so sorry this is such a short blog. BY:Gustave Todd Guckenberger

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


On Thanksgiving Day we acknowledge our dependence.

William Jennings Bryan

I love this quote. I just received it this morning and isn't this the truth behind the day. The stark reality that as a people group we would not have survived the circumstances without the help of others. It is was good.

Isn't it the same with us as believers, that we daily need to declare our dependence on the Lord. Without Him, we would not survive our natural state. I am so thankful for Jesus, who died on the cross, for my sin, so I can live forever with Him. As Americans, we fight for Independence, as believers we fight to remember that we are dependent. I think I need daily reminders.

Yesterday, one of Sarah's friends, joined us as we cared for the OLA children. She brought some great donations and then helped us clean, clothe and play with each child. Us being a part of these children's lives and spending time and energy serving others, reminds me that isn't this life? We serve, others serve, it is all in an effort to survive the winter before us. We cannot do it alone.

I woke up this morning to the song, "It is well with my soul." I don't usually enjoy waking up to music blaring in the neighborhood, but this morning, I laid there and listened and hummed along to the entire song and felt the effects deep within me. I am thankful that it is well with my soul.

We are having a little Thanksgiving party tonight, I am looking forward to it except that I am the responsible one for the three turkeys (chickens). SO, hopefully we get to eat them and enjoy each other's company. Tonight I am going to celebrate that if it weren't for the people in front of me, those we have come to love and those we already had loved, John and I might not have survived living here. We are grateful and tonight I look forward to celebrating our dependence! I will pass along some snaps tomorrow after the little shin dig.....

Have a great Thanksgiving Day celebrating the dependence of America in history, and how it should remind all of us believers of our need for daily dependence.

Monday, November 22, 2010

a need

Good morning everyone!! I hope your Tuesday before Thanksgiving is going well. It is weird to live in a culture where Thanksgiving isn't even a thought. I know you might be thinking in Mexico it wasn't either, but at least we had the larger community talking about it. Here, not even most missionaries are American. They are Canadian, British, Danish and American....
Either way, our community is celebrating it and we cannot wait!!

I have really gotten into a groove of writing blogs and I have really been enjoying them. Something we have been blessed with so far is the lack of need to talk about our financial support. The Lord has always provided by the hearts of giving in so many of you. However, today is a different day and I feel the "push" from the Spirit to maybe be a little more honest about the need of the day, today.

As John and I have looked at our year ending account and looking forward to the financial needs ahead in the New Year, we find ourselves short about $7,000.00 USD. Now, being the people that the Lord has "going" to the ends of the earth, it is never easy asking for funds. Especially in a hard economic climate. BUT, we realize that being the ones "sending" must not be much easier on the financial end either. As we are pretty certain you are communicated almost daily with the financial needs of others and the question of what is your role in it.

So, here it is: please pray. IF the Lord requires of you to give, then please be obedient to HIM and nothing else. If the Lord does not require it of you, then please don't give to us. We know HE will provide. He has the plan and the people, but either way, please pray. We are grateful for Him and to Him for all things.

If you are desiring to help us financially, please note the following information:

for contributions on behalf of Back2Back, its ministry programs, and staff:

“Contributions are solicited with the understanding that Back2Back Ministries has complete discretion and control over the use of all donated funds.”

To donate, send a check to:

Back2Back Ministries
P.O. Box 70
8118 Corporate Way
Suite 201
Mason, OH 45040

(Please note that the check is for the account of John and Corrie Guckenberger)

Thanks for being willing to know if this is what you should be a part of or not. I am so appreciative of both sides of this ministry, the "senders" and the "goers" with full confidence in God who makes both sides function. Have a blessed day.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

38 years old

This past Saturday, John turned 38 years old. I am showing this photo because everyone who is looking at this photo right now probably has one just like it somewhere in their picture library. Am I right? He has a tendency to steal, "snap" and return before you even know you were missing your camera. Happy Birthday John!!

Here is just a another shot of him, in honor of his day! Will and Theresa had the kids over at their house Saturday so we had his family birthday meal during lunch. SKYLINE CHILI. Thanks Woelk family for contributing the Cincinnati meal for John and thank you to the Reeds for enjoying our three children that night.

These last two pictures are just of the chapel service on Friday at school. Sami's class was responsible for the teaching time. She was Potiphar's wife.... (hmmmm.....). Gus was sitting right in front of me, I couldn't resist.

After Thanksgiving we have Sarah's birthday, so many things to celebrate and enjoy. I pray that as a family we take each moment and use it as an opportunity to reflect and give God thanks for "every good and perfect gift comes from above."

Have a great day.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

9 years old

A couple of days ago was Sami's birthday. She had asked for just a family party and then she decided upon a "formal" dinner. Here are my parents with their three grandchildren from Africa. I think this is a great photo of everyone.

These next two photos are of the party we threw for Sami in her school class. I hired one of the kids' moms' to make a beautiful cake for her (I know better now to just let some things go, like me baking her school cake :)). I really enjoy Sami's class. It is just her and two other american children and the rest are nigerian, but they are a special class.

Today, her class is performing the chapel and Sami is Potiphar's wife and "narrator #5".... she will be cute I am sure.

My parents bought her slippers that she was wanting for awhile now. Needless to say, she LOVED them. They are now permanently on her feet and she couldn't be more thrilled.

This was her candle that she blew out (yes, I know, very bootleg, but it worked).

Overall, very cute girl on her birthday. Tomorrow is John's and then soon after is Sarah's.... a busy season, but every one of the events is special. Have a great day.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

dancing in the dark

As the SSE/Vineyard team left just a couple of days ago, they ended their time with dancing as well, but on one of their properties. They invited all of us and it was fun to hang out with the group and just enjoy without being responsible.

I have come to realize that my oldest daughter, Sarah, is bold and strong and very courageous. This is a great mix for a future leader, but boy, I tell you, in a twelve year old it can also be a perfect mix for lots of prayer for her parents!! :) After the dancing show, they invite others in the audience to come out and dance with them, their tribal dancing at that.....

This was an unusually shy group and there was not movement towards the floor, so Sarah got up and for about twenty minutes joined the tribal dancers and "went to town". I have to admit, she was amazing and had some good moves. That is her in the second picture, it is dark, but if you look closely, you can see some action "still photo" shots..... It is in these moments that I look at her and love that she is not afraid to start something even when others are not joining in..... I love her.

This last photo is of John and some great friends, Daniel and Ibro. We are grateful for both of these men as they have encouraged and loved on our family in desperate times and in just fellowship times.

In the end, the group did come out and join in on the fun (that is the first photo).

FYI, Sami's birthday was yesterday, but we will talk about it tomorrow due to her school party is today.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

widows outreach

Last night, as a ministry, we went to give some widows in the Kissayhip village a photo of themselves that was taken awhile back with the Next Chapter team that came to serve alongside of us.

We went around 5pm, hoping to catch them in their home area verses in the fields. The desire was to return the photo (which by the way, they all loved the picture of themselves - they truly are beautiful), and then invite them to a future (Nov. 28th) meeting time for fellowship, prayer, small items hopefully for their family to help provide for Christmas and a teaching time.

As our journey continued from village hut to village hut the kids followed and grew in size and number. These photos are just some of the views we saw on our walk.

When we entered one little pod area looking for the widow who lived there, she was not there but these two boys were pounding and grinding some grain that will be used for majority of their food. They are holding what is called "pistons" and then they use those to beat whatever might be in the bowl. It is a very common site here to say the least. It is mostly used to pound yams. That is the first picture.

The second snap is just two pet pigs that were on their leashes, just hanging out and eating.... I can only imagine what their future holds....

The last photo is of our line of baturi and village children. I know I say this every time I am out in the village, but it is one of my favorite places to minister. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE the kids at OLA, but there is something different about the village. Ahhhh, someday you will see....

Monday, November 15, 2010

one block at a time

No matter where you live and what church you attend, there is going to be talk of a new building in the works, or at least eventually. Our little village church is raising funds to construct a newer one. One that can fit the people who are attending the Sunday services.

We have outgrown the old one. So, there have been some foundational blocks donated by a supporter in the USA for a matching program/grant with the village to encourage their involvement. Here is a picture to show the beginning of how a church building is raised here in Jos. Same idea, but plays out in a different way.....

Sunday, November 14, 2010


I cannot remember if I have shown you before one of our "Rumpke" sights, here in Nigeria? You can find in seemingly random spots, large piles of garbage to the side of the road. Here is one of those spots. This is just five minutes down our road. Of course we have a similar pile like this next door.....

Thursday, November 11, 2010

adopting the moment

As I was mentioning this yesterday, the Lord has really been taking me back to the heart of this ministry. The reason why we are here doing what we are doing. It is not that I have truly forgotten, but sometimes an "emotional" jumpstart triggers a deeper understanding.

I was reading a new blog just a few days ago and this woman was writing about how she has adopted and the ups and downs of it. Here is an excerpt of what she wrote:

"and every single day, it is worth it. Because ADOPTION is God's heart. He sets the lonely in families. Adoption is the reason that I can come before God's throne and beg Him for mercy, because HE predestined me to be adopted as His child through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will - to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

My family, adopting these children, it is not optional. It is not my good deed for the day. It is not what I am doing to "help these poor kids out." I adopt because God commands me to care for the orphans and the widows in their distress. I adopt because to whom much has been given, much will be demanded. I adopt because whoever finds his life will lose it but whoever loses his life for HIS sake will find it.

Some days, my friends, it is not easy. Today, it is not easy. The HURT in my daughters' hearts is big and real and as their mother, I want to fix it and know that I CAN'T. So I lay it at the feet of my Father and rejoice to know that if we are children, then we are heirs - of God and co - heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings - in order that we may also share in His glory. And I call out to the Holy Spirit knowing that He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for us.

Adoption is beautiful. Adoption is hard. Adoption is the Gospel of Christ and the promise of God's love and redemption lived out in our lives."

I know that was a long excerpt, but for me it was an important excerpt. Now, I am not telling everyone that you must go out and adopt, and I am not trying to trivialize anyone's adoption experience by what I am about to say.

Even though as a ministry we don't find a home and place a child type of adoption, we do adopt moments.

We adopt each time we have a child in front of us, anytime we do some action that will benefit the neglected or orphan child. We adopt when we travel hundreds of miles to laugh and sing and play with that specific child the Lord has chosen to bless us with, in front of us. So many people have chosen to "adopt in the moment." These pictures you see are just some examples, some who have made the decision.

John and I are continually adopting the moment because we believe the promises of God are real. We believe that we are living out those promises for the Fatherless. These photos to the left and right are examples of people who have made that choice alongside of us.

No, John and I have not physically adopted a child into our Guckenberger home. BUT, we adopt children daily into the Guckenberger hearts. It is by God's grace that He uses us to love children back to life and where we cannot and are not able it will be HIM who will do it. We can only stand in the gap for the moment, we can speak for these children when they don't have voices of their own. So daily, we trust, we cling to His promises and I, personally, believe HIM.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

two new kids

I wanted to introduce to you all two new children that are now finding OLA their new home.

When we went yesterday, we had the privilege to meet Susanna (she is below). She is four years old and she moved in on Saturday. Of course, "moving in" does not mean what we think. It means for Susanna that she was taken away from her mother who had gone crazy and stopped caring for her awhile ago. It means that without prior knowledge to this four year old, she was taken to this children's home to be fed and looked after and in some ways, loved on for the first time in a long time. It had been reported that others found that little Susanna had stopped being cared for and that she wasn't eating or people found her looking for food anywhere she could find it. When others came to investigate, they had realized that her mother had gone mad and was no longer caring for her daughter. Susanna was caring for herself and as best as she could, and she was caring for her mother as well.

Please pray for her because since she has come to the home, she has not said a word to anybody. Nothing, not one peep. Not one complaint, not one tear, not one acknowledgement of changes in her daily life.

Sami (our youngest) played Legos with her almost the whole hour we were there. She engaged a bit, but not with enthusiasm nor joy. Our hearts were motivated by love to encourage her, but she is just a four year old girl who probably does not understand that for the time being, this home is her best interest. All she knows is that she is with strangers and that her mother is not a part of her daily life. Please pray for her. That she will allow God to put back some pieces that have been torn off of her heart at way too early of an age. That she will see us "strangers" eventually as friends she can trust and maybe move forward to beginning to trust God.

Of course, I have shown you this picture of Joseph before, but it is the best one I have, so please pray for him as well. He is probably about 4 or 5 weeks old now. His mother died while giving birth to him. From what we have been told, she was "way too young" to be having children and a boy (again, way too young to be producing children) is the father, who doesn't even really understand what that means. When the mother died, her parents did the best they could to care for little Joseph for about the first two weeks. At that point, they realized they were not able to care for him in a way that was healthy. So little Joseph found his home at OLA, in the hospital section until he is strong enough to cross to the orphanage side. They have told me that it will be in about three more weeks.

Joseph came in very malnourished and weak, almost not able to survive the day. BUT, praise God for the grandparents who had the wisdom to bring him in before it was too late and he is receiving good baby formula and he is receiving love, prayers and snuggles each and every day.

A mad mother, a dead mother..... what do you do with these circumstances when you get older and realize the impact of these women? How will Susanna and Joseph respond at their point in life when the "light bulb" goes off and they recognize the reality of their mothers? I don't have the answers to these questions, but what I can do is "adopt the moment."

The Lord is really showing me the impact of adopting the moments with these children. Tomorrow's blog entry will be all about what that means in this ministry and for each of us who make that choice.

Thanks for your prayers and your encouragement. God Bless.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


How come in a crowd, you cannot see the circumstances of the one? What is it that makes it easier to gloss over?

These are different pictures of an area outside where we live (within five minutes).

Crowded areas like these are in some ways better off, circumstantially, than the villages apparent needs, but in no way are they safer.

The streets are always crowded with people, motorcycles, cars and animals. I can pass through though and not consider the need of the one. I see need, but not in a way that can motivate me to action.

This photo was taken during a borehole water drilling day. People came from everywhere.

And then there is one. And I am motivated to move forward, press on, express another day. For the one, I am willing. For the one.