Monday, April 29, 2013

I Can’t Make This Stuff Up

When we decided to come to the field, one of the things I dreaded was the “house helper.”  I knew that missionaries, especially missionaries in Africa, were supposed to have house helpers.  I didn’t really want a house helper, but there were no less than a million reasons why having a house helper was a total necessity for me.  

I had heard horror stories about training house helpers.  I have a friend who insists she couldn’t get her gal to understand that you can’t wash dishes with the same rag you washed the commode with.  Other stories came to me of house helpers who thought hitting missionary children, even small infants, was okay.  I was so worried.  I prayed LOTS about this particular concern.  And the Lord was so very gracious.

He gave me my sweet Naomi in Jos. I know I’ve mentioned her many times, but she was such a gift to our family.  She loved us, she loved our kids.  She loved to laugh and sing.  She was the epidomy of “a merry heart doeth good.”  She was a joy.  I was so, so sad to leave her.  I just knew that she could never be replaced.  I just knew that God had granted me favor in the house helper department just long enough for me to get my bearings.  And now...I was going to have to do it the hard way. 

I even considered trying life in our new city without a house helper.  Briefly.  Very briefly.  Then I came to my senses and remembered that everything takes 2-3 times longer here. So, I began to pray that God would make it okay, that He would go before me and make the rough places smooth regarding a house helper.  I reminded Him how very, very weak and worn I was and how I really, really felt as though I needed an easy button on this one.

Our first morning at the Accra Guesthouse, I was struggling.  It was the day that I sat down and wrote this post.  No sooner had I written it than Abby came into our room and told me that Ryan had been talking to an American lady who was staying at the guest house too. She mentioned that she knew of a house helper who was looking for work.  This American lady was visiting Accra, but she had lived here with her family for 5 years.  This gal had been her house helper and she absolutely loved her.  In fact, they have talked monthly for the 5 years the family had been back in the States.  Their former house helper was coming to visit them that night, before they flew back to America, and she asked if I’d like to meet her.  Her name is Naomi.

Well, I just burst into tears because I knew that God was answering my prayers.  I just knew that she was going to be the one.  I met her that evening, interviewed her a few days later, and she started the next day.  She is doing a great job and we are once again overwhelmed at the Father’s provision. Really, I couldn’t make this stuff up.  Amazing!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Initial Impressions

One of our trainers in Canada told us that we needed to take photos and record impressions of our new home soon after our arrival because things would soon become normal to us.  I found that really hard to believe at the time, but I now realize how true it is.  The things that seemed so odd to me 15 months ago now seem normal and things in this far more developed city now rank as strange.  Here are a few of my initial thoughts and questions about our new city, based on one morning of errand running:

  • Where did all of these white people come from?  
  • Why are all of the brown people not staring at us and shouting at us as if we are aliens walking down the street?
  • Why are all of these women walking around in blue jeans with uncovered heads?
  • Why am I not hearing the call to prayer?
  • How do they keep these streets so clean?
  • You mean, they actually obey traffic laws and take turns?
  • They sell ICE in the grocery stores, how can this be?
  • People actually wait in orderly lines at the deli and meat counter?  Wait a minute, there is a deli and meat counter?  
Needless to say, it's a huge change from our "old life."  But, we can already tell that there are going to be lots of amenities that we didn't have before.  

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Answered Prayers

Well, it certainly has been a week of answered prayers for the Campbell Circus!  A big thank you to all of you who have been praying.  We are so thankful for the ways we have seen God's hand at work this week.  Here are a just a few...

  • We were allowed to exit Nigeria with our dog.  This was a huge answer to prayer.  It's been our experience that rules are situational here and folks in uniforms sometimes like to enforce policies that don't exist.  Fortunately, Ryan had gone to the airlines office before hand to clear up any confusion about the policies concerning the dog, so when they started to create "extra" boundaries, he simply told them who to call and solved that.  
  • We were allowed to exit Nigeria with ALL of our children, which was questionable at one point.  The immigration officer that we were assigned decided that since Abe was brown, we needed to prove he was our son...even though he is a US citizen, with a US passport, with our last name.  Fortunately, his supervisor was a little more educated and let us go.  I would probably have gone postal during this hurdle, except for the fact that my Bible reading that morning had included Psalm 121, which God had used to assure me that He would be watching over our "comings and goings."
  • We arrived safely in Accra, Ghana on Friday night.  We cleared customs without any problems, in spite of the fact that we had a dog and 19 pieces of luggage.  They all made it and it was an easy airport exit!
  • We have a house!  We don't have to find a rental, as we'd originally thought we would.  We will be moving into the mission house here AND the house is almost an identical floor plan to our previous home.  This means all of our furniture, curtains, etc. will just pop right back in place.  It has a nice large yard with 2 nice outbuildings, which we may eventually use for school and office space.  It is only about a mile from where the existing office is, so it is an ideal location for our family.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Surprised by Grief

It’s my first morning in my new country.  The 4th country I’ve called home in the last 18 months.  I am waiting for a taxi driver to pick me up so that we can get yet another SIM card for our phones and navigate a new grocery store  so that we can figure out what’s available here.  I should be excited.  I’m not.  I’m just tired.  And sad, very, very sad.  

I didn’t expect this sadness.  After months of stress and frustration about the circumstances in our previous home, I expected relief.  And I do feel relief.  I have complete peace that we made the right decision for our family.  I know that God led us to this place for this time and we’ve not made a mistake.  I know that in the weeks and months ahead, I’ll delight in the joys that will come.  But this morning, I’m grieving the losses we’ve had.

I’m grieving the seperation from my national friends, especially my sidekick Naomi, who made it possible for me to live the last 14 months without loosing my mind.  I’m grieving the amazing Baptist Mission family we had in Nigeria.  They loved us well, better than we deserved.  I’m sad to have left an amazing community of great commission partners who drew their funding from different sources but shared our desire to see Jesus lifted high.  I’m grieving the loss of my beautiful home on my beautiful compound.  I’m grieving the move from a city that I prayed for and I hoped for and that I hurt for.  

Most of all, my heart is heavy for my children.  As we sat on the screen porch at the guest house last night and shared cold pizza (apparently the taxi delivery driver had trouble finding us) I listened to them share their sorrows.  We literally cried through laughter as we reflected on the day.  Watching my 12 year old cling to her missionary “aunt” who has spent 25+ years working in Africa, yet had time to invest in every one of my children was brutal.  Hearing my 14 year old sob as we drove away from the two single ladies who have walked with her through this tough season was heartbreaking.  Listening to my 11 year old tell me there will never be another gate guard like Jimmy who who was willing to teach him about animals and “stuff”, makes me want to get angry.  Angry with the God who has allowed us to take this wild ride.  

But then I hear Him speak to my heart.  He reminds me that He created them.  He loves them.  He desires good things for them.  He is writing their testimonies and I must trust Him.  And I do.  I do trust him.  Except for when I forget to.  Oh, what He is teaching me in these days!  Lessons I don’t want to learn, at least not this way.  

Friday, April 12, 2013

While We Wait

We've spent the last couple of weeks waiting for the next step.  The good news is, we now have our temporary visas, plane tickets, and housing arranged for our new home.  We're scheduled to fly to our new city this weekend.  Then, we'll wait for our car and our possessions to catch up with us.  Then, maybe we can begin to see some sort of new normal.  Can I just say here that I was so not envisioning needing a new normal in the foreseeable future?  Heaven help me, I do not have the energy for this.  Thank the good Lord that HE does.

The waiting hasn't been all bad.  I mean who wouldn't want to spend 3 weeks in a house with 15 other displaced people who are stressed beyond belief and unsure what their life will look like in 6 weeks.  Sounds like fun, doesn't it?  One of our friends (who happens to be living in the first world) mentioned that it must be vacation-like.  Um, yeah sure...  hot as #%@^, iffy generator, one small washing machine, piles of footlockers, and NOTHING for the 7 children to do except watch TV and argue.  It's been a blast.

Okay, that sounds like complaining.  So, let's move on to the happier side of these last few weeks.  Here are a few photos from the brighter side of these days...

We celebrated Easter here and had a lovely weekend.  On Saturday the kids dyed eggs.

Here is Abe with one of his favorite buddies.  These two are like dynamite when they are together, powerful and potentially troublesome!  
I thought that the Easter baskets had made the journey with us to the guest house.  But apparently, between the time I pulled them out and the time we left, my sweet house helpers re-packed them for the truck.  So, I ended up pulling plastic colanders and bowls out of the guest house cabinets to use instead.  Take that Pinterest!
Sunday consisted of an egg hunt, complete with some teamwork.

We took a trip to the zoo.  Everyone took a ride on the 30+ year old tortoise.

Overlooking the lake at the zoo.
They enjoyed feeding the giraffe.  The best part of Nigerian zoos is the opportunity to feed anything you are brave enough to feed.
The zoo here has an incredible playground.  The kids loved this giant climbing structure with little seats all along the way.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

March Before the Madness

Before the chaos of our unexpected transfer began, we were plugging along with normal life.  Here are a few highlights of the first half of March.  The first weekend in March, we played a small part in hosting a surprise party for our journeygirl neighbor and friend.

Here's the birthday girl and two of our Nigerian friends.

The girls put together a photo booth which was a big hit.  Abe enjoyed it as much as the party guests.

Here is nearly all of the crew.
A couple of days later, Isaac celebrated his 11th birthday.  He got a Wii arcade game, with a plastic gun toy.  Bless his heart, it's the 2nd gift we've given him off the crate that didn't work, so he just used the gun part for a few days until he lost interest and Abe took it over.

Here he is, blowing out the candles on his Jello poke cake.

We also welcomed an adorable new kitten named Felicity, that we sadly had to leave behind.  She was a cutie pie who fit right into our crazy house!

The two oldest girls traveled to Abuja with dad for Abby's orthodontist appointment, so the younger three decided to take advantage of Abby's empty bed.  They had a great time piling in there together.  Abe had been studying the letter P and was particularly fascinated with penguins that week.

The kids had been studying Mexico in our geography lessons, so we had a Mexican Cultural night.  Each of the kids researched about a different holiday and led us in an activity related to that holiday.  Lizzy studied birthday celebrations, so she led us through a rousing game of "pin the tail on the donkey."

That's a little peek into our March BEFORE the madness.