Sunday, January 30, 2011

wedding dash by sarah

A few days ago me and my family went to the Hitchcock's for dinner. We had chips,chicken and salad. It was good. Anyway me and my sister found some wedding dresses. And Mrs. Hitchcock let us try some on. She was very kind to us. My dad said"You won't be in a dress like that for another 35 years." but i know he is kidding. This is what became of it:

Saturday, January 29, 2011

contentment vs. change

John and I have been talking a lot lately about the growth in the last two years.

The growth in us, the growth in the plants around our house and just the changes we have seen here in Jos. AND yet, when I look around, the village still looks the same. Not everywhere, mind you, but most places.

These photos are just some shots that were taken the first six months here, but they could have been taken yesterday. That is a strange reality for me.

It is strange because if it hasn't changed in the last two years, when has it changed? Is change necessary for growth? Is growth necessary? Maybe I am asking the wrong question, I don't know. Maybe change in a visual sense is a separate issue.

Maybe even though these photos haven't appeared to have marked any landscape changes, we can hope and pray that the lives of these individuals have changed. Maybe a growth so real that even if nothing changes (circumstances) ever, their walk is vibrant and alive and their maturity so deep that they have "learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want" Phil. 4:12.

Maybe because I have had the ability to change my circumstances when I have wanted, I haven't been forced to grow in this area. I have a feeling John and I are going to be getting a crash course in CONTENTMENT 101 (not that I am comparing the village life to our move). I also don't believe changing things is a reflection of our contentment level. It is just me considering things around me and applying it to my personal life. Maybe a bit of unveiling from the Lord.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

new definition of a "meat market"

I know I have shown you a similar picture before about where I purchase our minced beef, but when I went yesterday the man really tried to get me to buy the tail.

Do you see it, up above? Gross..... He promised me that I would love the flavor it makes in a soup. When I got to the stand he asked, "Mrs. Corrie?" I knew at that moment, I was in trouble. Anyway, I didn't buy it, but I did like the photo. Maybe I should learn to live a little, huh? I could have bought the hooves right next to the tail as well. Ughh.....

Enjoy your food today!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

joy of a growing life; sorrow for the loss of a life

Do you remember me talking to you about Susanna who was new at OLA?
Her mom had gone crazy and she was taken from her so she could live a more "normal" life for a four year old.

I am excited to say that she is growing and laughing and learning and becoming more childlike than I have ever seen her. We have had a couple of teams come through who have shown her amazing unconditional, Christlike love and we, as a staff have tried to consistently tend to her and pray for her.

When my mom and I went Monday morning, she came running up offering HUGE hugs to anyone who was willing to accept them (which we all were, just in case you were wondering). Sami gave her a little butterfly mask and she was so precious walking around with it on (the photo above is her in the mask).

On a sadder note, do you remember baby Joseph? He came over from the hospital side about the same time as Susanna was brought in. He passed away a few weeks ago now. His strength did not endure time and His Creator saw it fit that they see each other face to face. I am so grateful for all of you who prayed for his little body. We were hopeful for what was to come, and I guess in the end, we are eternally aware of his "better home".

The nurses fed him one morning and laid him down for a nap. When they returned to wake him up from his nap, he had passed away. We are not real certain of what exactly took place, but we do know that his burial was that of an orphan. No one came from his "family", but the Sisters prayed over him and sent the body away to be buried. It was during the crisis so none of us were able to attend, but I was reminded at the end of his short-lived life, that baby Joseph had nothing to brag about in this world, not even a biological family, but I am very CERTAIN that none of that matters now. I think I need to sit on this thought for my own life. He only leaves behind those of us he touched. AND, he touched my life. I am thankful that I was able to know him.

Monday, January 24, 2011

this is what we are here for

The other day our family went to the education center to spend some time inside before classes started this week. John made a comment to me communicating this is why we are here, and why we do what we do. It was a bigger realization that we are a body working together for the whole healing (both spiritual and physical) of the orphan here in Jos.

Here are some pictures of the inside of the education center. This is just one of the two rooms that this building consists of; however, it is the one that for now, is being most used.

The top photo is of the reading corner. Isn't it cute? Pray for those children that will be using it to read and broaden their minds.

Then, it is the main desk where the initial learning will take place. Theresa started this week with her first classes. They will be learning english. Once that is established they will move on from there.

The last photo is of their cubbies. Remember when we were little and we had cubbies? I cannot wait to see what this place looks like in ten years.... imagine the children that would have come through this school to learn.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

House Of Cards-from GUS

A couple of days ago Sami and me got bored and started building pyramids out of cards.

First I tried An easy one just two cards at the bottom and then I did three cards at the bottom. After that I did four cards at the bottom and barely made it before my mom hit it down.
I kept trying to build one with five cards under it but it would keep falling down.

The reason this is short is because my mom is encouraging me to do a blog. I don't really want to do one because I have homework to do, and I want to finish it.

So I am sorry for how short it is.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

from Sami

It is Friday morning and after writing this blog I am going to be doing home school.
We're doing home school because there is a crisis and the school is being used for election reasons, that is why they shut down Hillcrest.

My mom is helping us, I have tons of math. I am so tired of all the work.

Oh I have a question.
This question is where there is a missing word. ok here it is:
The state of Ohio was the __________ state in the Union. I'm asking you this question because it is for my homework.

It is ok. I asked my mom and if no one knows it is ok because I can leave it blank.
SAMANTHA Guckenberger

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

these are the days to remember

Yesterday the kids, my mom and I went to OLA to just visit. To be honest, it was the best morning I have ever spent there. Below is our OLA family. I have grown to love these children almost as much as my own. I feel completely overwhelmed by how much they have taught me and about leaving them when we move.

While most of us were sitting in the warm sun spot in their courtyard, I sent Daniel (the 10 year old boy) with my camera to take photos of the new renovations made with the last team.

It was so fun to see the new curtains in the older girls room. I loved them. I feel as if it gives them dignity to live in a room that looks age appropriate.

I don't know if you remember me communicating how some family held an OLA baby shower to fund a baby room makeover. This makeover is being done in phases, so as the team provided new curtains, new paint, new signs and mosquito nets for all the cribs, we await new cribs, mattresses, cloth diapers and other little items.

It will be beautiful, it already is so beautiful (relatively speaking). Our thought has always been... let's not just make a room that is good enough for an orphan, but let's make this room good enough for my child. That is our desire as a ministry. That is our standard - not an "it will do" mentality, but is this good enough for a child of God?!

Gosh, I am really going to miss these faces. Lucky and Daniel are the last two snaps here. I couldn't resist seeing how much they bundle their babies so they don't get sick. Cute little face poking out of the layers, right?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

a life lesson

One of the things John and I have learned is the idea of "living the life given and not the life planned." The truth is I just read the above quote from a friends blog :), and I have been chewing over that thought a ton since it first filled my mind. It is really true, especially living here. The picture below is the reality that our power or "light" is not on very much. So, we live in the darkness in our home some. (Now come one, don't get me on the spiritual side of living in the light. We know that, but day in and day out living life, darkness)

So today's snap reminds me that John and I and our children have learned to live this life that has been given, even if it wasn't what we had thought or planned. Amen!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

in the beginning

Well, here we are.... flying over to Jos, Nigeria, two years ago.

I am amazed to see how we (really, our children) look so different! That flight is almost a blur to me yet at the same time, it feels like yesterday.

The next photo is Jason and John making our first breakfast - peanut butter sandwiches and bananas.... I am at a point where I just might be done with those things... :)

I do remember walking into our home and seeing what we had and didn't have.... probably the biggest shocker and yet at the time, feeling "up" for the adventure."... Who would have thought I would learn how to home cook in this little bare kitchen?!

Then, this last picture is of the first fellowship dinner Emilee through for us, about two days later. I was so tired and these people were so kind, yet I was clearly feeling "on the outside". Now, these same people are a part of our strength here in Jos. I am so grateful for them.

It is strange to think about how foreign everything felt in the beginning. None of it is now, of course, I just wonder as we head back to the USA if life there will feel foreign, or at least maybe for our children. YIKES.... weird thought.

Okay, just a little walk down the first three days of life here.....

Saturday, January 15, 2011

mile deep friendships

Yesterday we had dinner with some good friends. As the woman and I were hanging out we started talking about ministry areas and I started sharing about how our ministry desires to go a mile deep verses a mile wide.

As I started reflecting on that, I realized that I think I am like that as well with friendships. I enjoy people and relationships, so I know friendships take on a variety of sizes and shapes and different ones meet different needs. But, gosh, when John and I have discovered that one of our friendships has gone a mile deep, we are richly blessed. This family is one of those for us.

We enjoyed a nice grill out with some yummy food, but what really nourished my soul was the friendship and conversation. I need that really. People that we can just be "us" with and enjoy the time. We have been blessed with a few friendships like that since our two years here and for that we are grateful. But, for this moment, let's consider these friends right here to the left.

The photo on top is of the ladies/girls putting together some dough balls to create bread sticks (bannock is the official name) and the one below is of the guys grilling our sausages and the bannock bread. It was a beautiful day. What a gift we have been given with this family.

Friday, January 14, 2011

and the reflections begin

I cannot believe this picture below doesn't feel foreign, nor out of place. This is where we have called home for the last two years. I will miss this type of living.

Well, I leave in about three months from Jos, Nigeria Africa and I know most of you know by now, that I am a serious reflection girl. I cannot help that I preprocess things.... it is just a matter of who I am.

Good news: When it is time to say goodbye, I am done and have made purposeful moments with people I care about! No regrets!

Bad news: People have to put up with my "oh my gosh, do you realize that in four months I will be home?" every day.... :)

But, the truth is one of my roles here in the ministry is a debriefer. What I do is take people through a circle of living, in a sense. We talk about reflections and how that breeds changes and those changes will breed different action steps... well, those different action steps will breed different experiences which then bring you back to different reflections.... you get the idea?

Well, it is time for my reflections to begin of Africa. The truth is I don't want to miss out on what things have changed me, or my husband or my kids. So, if you are going to continue to follow along, you will be catching reflections of our time here. How we have changed which will make us different people living in the States when we come back.

I say this because those of you whom we have loved over the last six years on the mission field, that live in the States, I warn you. We are changed people, with different responses than when we first left. Be ready for different Guckenbergers and please give us grace to live those changes out.

Gosh, above is where I buy all my fruits and vegetables. If not this one, then another one almost just like this. I cannot imagine going to a grocery store anymore for everything. I might enjoy that again :).... (kind of)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Igmin Kibe Education Center

Igmin Kibe Education Center means "Children of the Kingdom". This is the name of the new Education Center that was dedicated a couple of days ago. These ten students below are the representatives for the future generation of the Kissayhip village. These are the actual students that will begin taking english classes with Theresa (the only white woman) and with Esther (to the left of Theresa). We are all hopeful and proud and prayerful for these ten as they embark on a new vision of themselves. Please join us in prayer for these guys.

The picture below is the actual "ribbon cutting" part of the celebration. It really was exciting to see the first fruits of the plans of what this land can hold. God is faithful and we give him all praise and glory.

Okay, now after this part of the morning, we ended with some village dancers! It was a riot to see the actual village people watch these guys. Every dance move and performance showed on their faces. They were great and it was a treat to join in with the people we serve on a tradition that they don't even celebrate as much anymore themselves. What a reminder that we all come from the same God, even if our backgrounds are drastically different!

Will went up on the rocks and got this ariel view shot of the village around the dancers, celebrating the moment.

As if this day hadn't held enough of activity, that in the end, we finished with some vendors on the compound. When we pulled up, John had picked some up and had it all spread out. It was super fun to bless these vendors (whom we now call friends) and at the same time allow the groups to look for some items that might remind them of their time here in Nigeria. However, I don't think they could find any little trinkets to remind them of my kids and my cooking or of the dancers themselves, but hey, the markets cannot hold everything. :)

This is the last blog entry of the education dedication center. I know it was split up over three days, but I tell you what.... It was one of those days that you look back and see how lots of parts and lots of people playing their roles can really make for a fun-filled day full of God's blessings. I am grateful to have been a part of it.
Have a great day!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

the party beforehand

Before the actual dedication there was a party, truly! Lots of stations where different team members and staff were positioned. This first picture was just plain cute of this little boy. It is winter here in Jos, so this mom wanted to come to party, but felt it was too cold for her boy, unless she got him all bundled up. I couldn't resist. I feel a bit panicky that he cannot actually breathe, but by the end of the day, he was still having fun. :)

The swing set was in full working order, and getting a ton of use. They LOVE it, much more than we had anticipated.

Gus took my camera up the rocks to get an ariel shot of what was going on. From here it really doesn't look like a lot of people were there, but on eye level, it was packed. We were guessing there were at least 500 people that came.

There was a station of pipe cleaners and all the things that can be done with them. Glasses tended to be the favorite. I guess they all want to be like me! :)

Sarah was at a station of painting nails. Boys and girls wanted this done and when it was complete, I do believe they walked with a little bit more confidence. I mean, who wouldn't with new glasses and your nails done, right?

There were other stations like face painting, jump ropes (never really caught on, hmmm..., maybe next time), coloring books and football/soccer. It was great to be a part of the energy that was building before the ceremony. Tomorrow I will show you the dedication and the party afterwards.... OH YES, there was a party afterwards!!

food prep

Yesterday, we had a dedication for the new education center. Truthfully, the day was so fun and blessed and full of so much.... that I am actually going to break it up into a few blogs. So, the first one is going to be all about the food.

The picture above is of Sami and I helping our friend Evelyn prep the food to feed the village. The menu? Jollof rice and stewed beef. Three huge coolers were filled with the rice and one HUGE cooler was holding 620 pieces of stewed beef.

Above is Gus and Sami stirring the rice (or was this the beef?- both were cooked over a fire pit). I know, I know, we are becoming so nigerian in our cooking style.... I don't know what we will do when we return? Maybe I will make sure our next home has a place where I can whip up a fire pit verses the traditional oven :).

Our heart was that each and every child would be served a meal. Once we realized the people who came out for the dedication, we immediately started praying for the Lord to multiply our food like he did the loaves and fishes. In the end, we had no rice left, but we did have some extra meat... hmmm... amazing what God really can do, isn't it? The photo above is just ONE portion of the line of children who waited very patiently for their turn to receive a lunch. We know we served at least over 300 children. Thank you Lord for your provision!

The inside, where the people were passing out the food for those waiting.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


These are the people who are joining us now and we are so blessed by the array of personalities and locations they represent: North Carolina, Wyoming, Florida, California, and Ohio. Only God could orchestrate all of these people to do what needed to be done this week.

I am leaving now for the dedication of the education center. We are so excited. I will show pictures tomorrow. Have a great day.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

work day

To begin the 2011 year, we have two teams here helping us move forward with many projects: the completion of the education center, the completion of some playground swings, moving forward on a water tower for one of the children's homes that has recently received a borehole, a widow outreach, tons of prayer and play, a new baby room and new curtains all around, and one full pledge jumpy castle fun day (pictures to be seen later).

I think about all the people who come to encourage and serve and I am overwhelmed with gratitude as I realize how much we really just cannot do on our own. We are blessed by those of you who join in what God is doing through Back2Back Ministries on behalf of orphan care in Jos, Nigeria. These photos are just some that I took at the end of yesterday's workday.

These shots don't include even half of what took place yesterday, but it was what I captured and we are thankful for the work day. So much is moving forward. I cannot wait to see the end product. Keep posted. God Bless and have a great Saturday.