27 February 2008

Another Day In Africa

With Jesus everything will be alright…

Whenever I want to go to the Internet or anywhere else, I take a short little walk down the dirt road until I reach the pavement. Then from there wave down a machine (or motorcycle as we call them) and get a ride to my destination. After trying to explain in English where I’m to be going and having no such success. I hop on and hope that the guy will follow my directions as I point them out.

Now, it does say in Thessalonians to pray without ceasing, and this is an area I’m still working on. But can I tell you that when I’m on a machine, I pray like I’ve never prayed before. There are cars that are traveling way to fast, people and other machines all coming at you from every direction. And you are just praying that God will give you one more day to live. It also doesn’t help much that most people have never seen an antifoo (white person) before, so instead of watching the road they are looking at you. The children are so cute though. They yell out “ANTIFOO! ANTIFOO!” and all the kids around come running. They just get so excited and are laughing and laughing. These deep beautiful belly laughs!

So anyways, yesterday as I’m traveling down the road, this car, like every other one on the road, swerves in front of us to miss a pothole. And I once again, think to myself that my short little life is coming to an end. So once again I’m asking God to save me one more time (which He did). And I look over the drivers shoulder at his handlebars and see a sticker. It said, “with Jesus everything will be alright”. It was kind of crazy, like a message from God, saying “don’t stress, you’re in My hands.”

(Can someone tell me if this picture is just dark? Because now that it is on my blog I can hardly see it. Thanks.)

On Saturdays Christy and I walk to the next village over and play soccer with the kids. You cannot even imagine what kind of a crowd two antifoo can draw. It’s pretty amazing.
So last Saturday when we arrived at the little field, and were a bit shocked to see only five kids playing ball. I’m not sure how news travels around here, but 15 to 20 minutes later there were about a hundred children. They just love it when we come; it’s all of them against Christy and I. And all the adults come out to watch and cheer Christy and I on. Even people passing by on their machines stop to watch, we all just have a great time.

Watermelons and Bananas

So, I was a bit discouraged the other day about the gravel pit ministry. I went out to market and bought several watermelons. Christy and I were going to slice them and take them to the ladies the following day. Well, two of them turned out to be the worst thing you had ever tasted in your life. And this left us short handed. Now, I don’t expect to get perfect fruit every time I bring something “home”. But I was disappointed because we were trying to be a blessing to these ladies and the fruit turned out to be bad. Why couldn’t God have made it good fruit?

So anyways, the next day Christy went up to the “garage” and got some bananas that we would take. I think we had about 30. “It’s better to have more, than to not have enough” we said. So as we’re walking up to the site we start seeing these women. Then more, and more, and lots of children and more women. Well over 70 women and children. And we’re like “oh dear God, You have to multiply these bananas, we don’t have enough.”

I think Christy was expecting them to just start growing right there. But I was thinking that as people took them, there would just be more. But we were both saying how we knew without a doubt that God could multiply them.
The second time I was in Haiti I saw where God multiplied the food, so I know that He still does it. So if we have enough faith and do not doubt, God would multiply them, right?

Both of us were like, “we leave it in Gods hands and we believe that there will be enough bananas for everyone.” But instead of handing them out as before, we decided that we would give them to the lady that runs the site.
So after greeting all the ladies and spending some time there, we started to journey home. And on the walk, we were talking about what had happened and were wondering if God was going to multiply the bananas or not. And then we were wondering why we didn’t start handing them out. What was the reason for giving them all to Jennifer?

And what it came down to was, we didn’t want run out. We didn’t want some of the ladies and children to receive bananas and then the other half upset and wondering where theirs were.

So what kind of faith is that? Were we really believing God was going to multiply them when we didn’t want to take a chance on handing them out? I think not.

So, besides taking more fruit, the next time we go to the pit we’re going to pass it out whether it looks as if there’s enough or not. If there’s not enough and God doesn’t want to multiply it, then that is in His hands. I don’t think He needs me to watch His back. He probably had it under control and can look after His own reputation.

22 February 2008

Chocolate In Africa!

I have a little story to share with you about some chocolate banana bread…

Mrs. Xross is an 84-year-old American lady that traveled to Nigeria by ship in 1945. Her late husband Mr. Xross and her are the ones who started the xrphanage here and also several of the churches. She is quite an amazing lady with incredible stories.

Every night for supper we go to her house to eat and visit. We rotate cooking duties every other night and Christy and I have managed to be able pull something eatable off when it’s our turn. Except for the desserts; our custard could have killed someone the other night (and yes we served it). But I must say, our plantain pudding was actually a hit.

Well, the very first night I was in Nigeria, we went to Mrs. Xross’ house for supper and besides greeting me, the very next thing she did was to look at me and say, “you’re too thin, if you get malaria you’re going to die!” I was thinking, “Oh Dear God! This lady hates me! I haven’t even been here a day and she already told me I was going to die…”

A month has passed now and she, I believe is still trying to fatten me up. She makes this AMAZING chocolate banana bread! I think it comes straight from heaven and lands directly into her kitchen. But she hasn’t just made it once; she actually makes it quite often. I think it’s because nearly every night before we journey over to her house, Christy and I say a quick little prayer asking God for a piece of CBB (chocolate banana bread). I can’t even tell you how amazing it is! And EVERY time I see it; I am just so thankful and know that the next day will to be okay.
Some nights, Christy and I will get our CBB and we will be so happy and just laughing, I mean teary-eyed laughing. Just the other night Christy had about three bites left on her plate and was like, “wow, I’m so full.” So I reached over with my fork and stabbed all three pieces like I was going to take them. (And at this moment I am bent-over laughing because I can just picture you all with a question mark on your face as you read this and just sit and wonder about me. …I haven’t gone crazy. Really! But I cannot stop laughing!) So anyways, the look on Christy’s face will not soon fade from my memory. She was speechless at first, and then I thought she was going to come across the table for me. She looks at me and is like, “I’m not that full!”

So that’s the chocolate banana bread story and another day in Africa… I just had to share this with you because it makes me smile.

Thank God for chocolate in Africa!

(Mommy Mom, I will make you some when I return in May.)

18 February 2008

One Month Later ~ February 08

(See, I really do like children. I just don’t have the patience yet to deal with them for days on end.)

Well, I’ve sat down now about 20 times to write this update. And every time I do, I feel as though it must be discarded because it makes absolutely no sense at all. I’m having a really difficult time trying to figure out what stories are appropriate to have online and also which part of my journey I can talk about without scaring everyone back home.
I feel that my family would probably better receive the stories I do have to share when I am no longer here. But praying for God to grant me another day to live doesn’t just happen to be a once-in-a-while occurrence.

It’s the 14th of February today and nearly a month has gone by since my arrival here in Nigeria. It seems as though I’ve been here a lifetime; but then at the same time it feels like I’ve just arrived.

I’m on my way to Xbuja now; and if I had changed my flight to go home on the 15th of February, this is the exact same day and same trip I would have been making. But I’m on my way now to extend my visa for another three month. Of course I have mixed feelings and wonder if I should have brought my luggage along just in case. But once again, God has given me just enough strength to continue on. I’m glad that He cares enough about me to give me trials that I can’t handle on my own.

I was hoping Amanda would be here by now, but as it’s looking she may not come for another month or so.
In the states we have our “DnA of God” ministry, so while she’s not here, Christy’s filling in for her. It’s basically random acts of kindness and living by example. Just trying to show God’s love by loving others.

Just down the road from us, there are about twenty ladies that are out working in this huge gravel pit, digging with picks and sifting out the sand to make these piles of gravel they’ll sell for 200 naira (less than 2 dollars). The weather here is unbelievably hot, and they’re moving all this gravel around with buckets. When I first walked out to this site, I couldn’t believe my eyes! It looked like a concentration camp you would see in a movie. But this is real life! The picture you see now or the words I’m attempting to write can’t even start to tell the story. Every time I go there I’m just shocked at what I see. Ladies working while they carry their children on their backs and ladies just like your grandmother, all out there with a pick and a bucket. I cry just thinking about the struggle for survival here. How hard these ladies are working just to feed their children. Christy and I go down there every once in a while to bring fruit or something and to hopefully give them a little encouragement for that day. But it seems like such a small thing when you look at the whole country of Nigeria, and then all of Africa. I wonder what kind of difference a piece of fruit is actually going to make. And a lot of the time I think “why bother? What can one person actually do? The need here is just so great.”
But then I’m reminded of the story of the “little boy and the starfish”. How thousands of starfish had remained on the beach after high tide and a little boy was throwing them back into the water. A man comes along and is like, “are you kidding me child? Look at all these starfish; they’re as far as the eye can see! You can’t possible make a difference here!” But the little boy reaches down and picks another starfish up and tosses him back into the sea, and he looks at the man and says, “I made a difference for that one.”
I know that I can’t change the world; I can’t save all the children in the world or feed all the hungry. But I want to make a difference in one persons life today.

08 February 2008

Orion's Belt ~February 08

Well, a person could say that I’m being pulled in two totally different directions. Everything within myself wants to return to the comfort of the states, where I don’t have to see the suffering of these precious people, where I can go about my merry way and pretend life is a piece of cake and is all about having fun. The other part of me, and unfortunately the desire is much smaller, wants to stay and try to help even just a little. It just seems as though the need is so great, and what am I actually going to do that’s going to make any sort of differents?

I keep reminding myself that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity I’ve been handed, that I have always wanted to come to Africa, and here I am right in the middle of Nigeria. My best friend Amanda will be coming in a couple of weeks so I plan on staying until my original departure date of May 15th. We don’t have any scheduled plans of what our ministry will be, but there is so much need here and there isn’t one good reason for me to return to the states. I also see some great opportunities to learn some things from the Nigerians as well.

The three years I spent with Friend Ships were some of the hardest times in my life. But it was also the best thing that ever happened to me, it was actually the best time of my life. Fishing in Alaska is hard and I hate it, but it’s also one of the things I love and some of my best memories. American Cruise Lines was a terrible time, but I learned a lot and met some amazing people, I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. I wouldn’t trade anything I’ve ever been through for a smoother time.
I am always one to say that the hard times are the best in the end. They are the things you remember for life, the things that make you strong. That when things come easy, you don’t really appreciate them all that much.
I have been here now 3 weeks and already have memories I will never forget. I know this journey won’t be easy, and I’m not even saying that I’m going to love every minute of it. But for some strange reason I happen to be all the way over here in this place called Africa; and I’m going to try and take something out of each day that I will have for the rest of my life.

God truly is amazing! Here in Africa its harmattan, or the dry season as we call it. The winds are blowing sand/dust from the Sahara dessert and I haven’t seen sky since leaving London. Well, tonight as we were walking outside, Bill pointed out that you could see a couple stars… I looked up and saw Oran’s Belt… I couldn’t believe it. Several of these stars happen to be very special to me, and it was just a sweet little reminder that even though I am so far from home, I am still under the same sky as everyone back in America. It felt as if I were near to “home”. God always knows what you need and when you need it. I just don’t know why I can’t seem to trust Him all the time.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I didn’t run through the market in my bikini, somehow Christy managed to twist my arm enough and before I knew it I was standing up in front of her class giving a little spill about a chapter in the bible. Sometimes it seems as though God just likes to see me out of my comfort zone. I feel like I’ve spent a majority of my life there, but then I guess I’m not supposed to be comfortable in this world because I’m just passing through.

I wanted to say thanks to everyone who has sent e-mails and left me comments. It has meant the world to me! I wish I could send each of you a personal message back, but it takes me about 20 minutes to even log into my mail account. I love you all and appreciate your prayers! Rebekah, thank you so much for posting my blogs! (And I love your baby girls so very much! …I really do!)