Wednesday, July 25, 2012


I was worried that this summer would be a real challenge for the kids.  Summer is usually a fun time full of camps, VBS, friends, swimming, you know. In some ways, it has been a struggle and it has definitely been different.  But all in all, it has still been a fun time and a break from our normal routine.  I think we would all agree that our favorite week this summer was definitely the week that we had our prayer retreat.  Our family, along with all of the other folks who work in our country met together for a week of prayer, Bible study, business meetings, and good old fashioned fellowship.  It was such a blessing and I came back encouraged and re-charged.  

To make the week even more special, we had a volunteer team come from Alabama who led Aviation Wonder VBS with the kids.  That was such a treat because they had really been mourning the loss of VBS.  I can not say enough about how wonderful this team was.  They spoiled our kids with goodies and attention that they will remember for a very long time.  Best of all, they loved on them so lavishly that the kids are still talking about how much they love them.

Here are some of the highlights of our week!

Here is Lily wearing her aviator goggles.  She had a great time at VBS!
Here are the two ladies who were on the volunteer team.  We love you so much Ms. Laura and Ms. Robin.  Hurry back!
One night, we had a talent show that was tons of fun.  Here is a photo of Ryan acting completely crazy.  He and two other men danced for us at the expense of our laughter.  
The kids wrote, practiced, and presented a commercial for  They did it all of their own initiative and it was very creative.  They even remembered to bring costumes from home for all of the different ancestors.  Front and center here we have a civil war ancestor and hiding behind Lily is Isaac dressed as an Indian.  They managed to include all of the kids, from the oldest to the youngest.
One day we took a little drive to see a waterfall.  It was definitely a Nigerian sort of sightseeing experience from the safety standards to the toilets, but it was worthwhile.

One fun part about the week is that we had this sweet lady joining us.  She served 54 years with our agency in Nigeria.  Then, she returned to Nigeria to live out the remainder of her days.  She is a precious, precious soul and Lizzy really liked her.  You can't see it, but the dress she is wearing under that jacket was 60 years old.  She told us it was the first piece of clothing given to her when she arrived in Nigeria and it was still in great shape.  Amazing!

This picture really speaks about one of the things that I most loved about the week, which was getting to be together.  Sometimes I worry that my kids aren't getting everything they need here.  I especially mourn the relationships that they're missing from the States, and they are a great loss.  Yet, God has provided so many wonderful people to invest in them here.  Here is Abe and his "cousin" J walking with their "Uncle" P.  They are so blessed by all of their mission family here and I couldn't ask for better role models for them.  This man whose hand Abe is grasping is such an inspiration to our family.  He is passionate about the people group he serves and he is driven to do whatever it takes to insure that they have the opportunity to hear the gospel.  He arrived on the field just one week before us and yet there is so much that we learn from him each time we are together.  We are so fortunate to have so many iron sharpening iron relationships here. 

We are very thankful for all of the churches in the States who give so generously so that our family, and others like us, can have the opportunity to rest and learn from one another.  Thank you very much for your obedience to see the Great Commission fulfilled and for your generosity!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Just for the Fun of It

Two weekend ago we took a trip to the capitol city.  We did it for no other reason than that we had promised our kids we'd do it before we started back to school and time was running out.  We sandwiched it between two other business related road trips and I was worried that it would be a burden rather than the refresher we had planned it to be.  I was wrong.  We had an absolutely fabulous time!  It was so good to get away, see some more modern conveniences and just have fun.  

We forgot our camera, but the nice thing about having a 14 year old is that her trusty ITouch is never far away.  Here's what she captured.

This is scenery along the way.  This is a pretty typical photo of the Nigerian countryside along the plateau where we live during rainy season.  We think it is beautiful!

This is just a random shop along the way. This is what most of the retail in our town looks like.  You'll notice the plastic chair, bagged water leaning against the wall, several crates of Maltina (which is the choice beverage here, it's like beer without the alcohol and I think it's nasty) and of course, the standard generator.  This is how we do life here.

This is how we do life in the capitol city.  Notice the contrast?  Seriously, this isn't what all of the city looks like.  This was actually taken at the Hilton hotel where we swam one day.  Do you see why we might find this refreshing?

This is Lily eating an ice cream cone poolside.  Those two cream and poolside are not on our radar in our normal life.  It felt really, really good!

Lounging poolside.

This is the central mosque in our capitol.  It's beautiful and yet, believing as I believe, it's also heartbreaking for me.

This was one of the highlights of our trip.  They had just opened a new grocery store in the city which is based out of South Africa.  The inside was amazing, it looked just like a Food Lion or Kroger inside. They had produce, dairy, meat, and groceries all in the same store.  There were actually many varieties of cheese.  There were cash registers with conveyor belts.  They gave us coins as part of our change.  None of these were things we have seen since we left Canada.  I laughed until I cried when we walked inside.  I looked at my friend and said, "Excuse me, I just need to giggle for a minute." It was so much fun!

This was one of the things we purchased there.  It was a flavored milk drink.  They had green apple and orange flavored too, but the kids chose chocolate and strawberry.  They were not a big hit, so we won't be buying them again, but we thought the packaging was hysterical.  It's called Dudu Daily.  Someone in our family was wondering if that's why people drinking them?  Do they help you in that area? 
This is Abe with one of his current favorite people.  She's a journeygirl who lives on our compound and we just think she's swell.  Abe is a little fixated with her.  We've heard that Baptist MKs typically have at least one Journeyman crush before they reach adulthood.  Apparently Abe's just came earlier than most! For you non-baptists, a journeyman is a young adult who does two years of missions following college graduation.  Many of our career missionaries did a journeyman term first.  It's a great way for them to fill short term needs while also exploring missions.

In Our Element

I have so much catching up to do from this summer.  We've been very busy and to make matters worse, our internet has been horrible.  Apparently, a submarine damaged some ocean cables or something?  All I know is that blogging, especially with photos, has been a near impossibility.  But, it seems to be improving, so I'm going to see if I can get caught up a bit. 

Our first big event of the summer was to help  a volunteer team come from the Volunteer State and they had some children’s ministry in their plans.  They are working alongside the church that we have been attending, so we decided we’d tag-along. They spent some time each morning with the school kids that attend the school our church operates and then each evening the two men led some marriage teaching while the women taught the children.  We decided that we would go along with them the first day and see how we could help.
It quickly became obvious that our help would be needed all week long.  Each morning, they had about 250 children.  For the evening sessions they started with 75 and had 150+ by the fourth night.  It was insane!  However, we had an absolute blast.  After about 15 summers working with children on either church staff or summer ministry positions, we were aching for it.  The Lord met our need and we were so thankful.  Here are a few photos of our week.

Here are some of the school children we worked with each morning.  We helped lead games with part of the team while some of the children were hearing God's word from the others on the team.

Here's Isaac, I'm not sure what those boys are so fascinated with, but they obviously are checking out something he's showing them.

Here's Ryan, obviously in his element!

Here are the school children, gathered at the end of the week to say goodbye.  They had us all sit in chairs across the front and they sang to us.  It was very touching!

Here are some of the children we taught in the evenings. Ryan and I took the younger ones and by the end of the week we had 80 each night in a little mud/block room.  It was sweet insanity!

Here I am trying to tell the story in our room.  I would tell it about 3 times each night, once early in the evening when we had fewer children and I could tell it at a normal volume, this was the first telling you see here.  Then, after game time, I'd tell it again and by this time the whole room would be full.  This was at a much louder volume and I would have to stand on a bench to be seen and heard.  The third time, we'd make a little hole in the crowd at the middle of the room and get a couple of kids to act it out as I retold it one more time.  By the end of each night my throat ached, but I was smiling wide.  

The team gave every child that came their own Bible.  The younger ones got an easy read version and the older ones got full text.  They treasured them.  Ryan caught this photo and I thought it was a great shot of how much they loved their books.

Saturday, July 7, 2012


When Ryan and I got married at the tender age of 21, yes I said TWENTY ONE, we thought we would be heading to the mission field as soon as possible.  In fact, we decided not to register for china because we were going to live in China.  It took us more than 16 years to get gone.  
There have been points during the getting here that I really questioned why God allowed us to linger so long in the States.  This process would have been significantly easier without kids.  Definitely without five kids.  I don’t think the “cost” would have seemed nearly so expensive.
But, there are many, many reasons why I am so glad that we had 16 years of married life in the States and 10 years serving the local church.  For one, we were so green and so selfish that we probably would have either killed one another or divorced if we had been faced with this pressure 15 years ago.  Heavens, it’s hard enough now.  
Another reason that I’m so, so thankful for the life we built in the States is the many people who are caring for us from across the sea.  I honestly think that I may be the most blessed person on the African continent when it comes to TLC and prayer support.    I am constantly receiving words of encouragement that help to hold up my arms here.  I am trying hard to build a life here and dig in, so I don’t have time to Skype, blog and e-mail as much as I might like to.  But still, people remember us, pray for us, and encourage us, understanding that we need to be invested here, while still loving everyone there.  I know that there are churches there who are so faithfully praying for us and I don’t take that lightly.
It’s been a real blessing for my kids too.  They are making friends here, a little at a time.  They are learning to navigate the church here and slowly they are finding ways to belong.  Yet they still have the blessing of friends back in the States who love them and remember them.  They have grandparents and extended family in the States that they have solid relationships with and yet they have gained many “aunts, uncles, and cousins” with our mission family here.  I feel like in many ways they have the best of both worlds.
Abby’s birthday last month was a real reminder of that.  She was one blessed little girl.  Our family celebrated her birthday with games and a dinner chosen by her.  Then, the next day a friend here, who was just returning from the States was kind enough to carry in her birthday gifts from each of her grandparents.  The next week, she received 4 birthday packages from folks at our partner churches.  Her Sunday school class from NC loaded her up with goodies and the fact that they remembered her was a big encouragement to her.  Thanks so much to all of you who love on us!

Abby about to enjoy her birthday cupcake along with her favorite drink here, Pear Fayrouz.

Pink Lemonade cupcakes, Abby's request.

Loot from Abby's packages.

This t-shirt came in one of Abby's birthday packages.  You can't really see it, but she's wearing a dress her Grammy made her for her birthday.