Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Year in Pictures

I decided to summarize the year 2011 by putting up a picture for each month.

January 2011 
We made a visit to Connecticut, then took Suzanne back to Ohio (Daniel was already there, but I don't remember how he got back), helped represent SIM at Cedarville's missions' conference, and spoke at a church in western PA on our way back to Maryland.  To celebrate John's birthday, we went sightseeing in Washington DC. We visited the African-American Civil War Monument, the Daughters of the America Republic museum, and walked past the White House.

February 2011
Daniel (not our Daniel) and Victoria came to visit.  We had a great time.....guess what?....sightseeing in Washington DC.  This time we visited the African Art Museum and the Holocaust Museum.

March 2011 
John had his spring break from the college we were at, so we drove to Sebring, FL to visit my parents.  We had a really good time with them, sitting on their verandah eating lunch and just spending time together.  It was a foggy rainy morning the day we left.

April 2011
Spring was absolutely gorgeous in Maryland!!!  The azaleas and the cherry blossoms turned the area into possibly the prettiest place I have ever seen in the spring.  But even better was a visit to us from good friends....Ed, Sharon, & Luke and a week or so later Al & Judy.  I chose this picture of John with Ed and Sharon just because it shows how much fun we have together.  Oh yeah....guess where we went with our two sets of visitors?  You got it!!  Washington, DC.  With Ed & Sharon we visited the President's Gallery at one of the museums, went quickly through the American History Museum, and then we walked around the monuments where all the cherry trees were in blossom.  With Al & Judy we went to the American Indian Museum.

Another trip to Ohio, this time for Daniel's graduation from Cedarville University.  We couldn't be prouder!  (or is it more proud?)

We moved from Maryland back up to Pennsylvania and John was off for his six weeks in England.  Daniel was working in Ohio, and Suz and Theo were working at nearby Camp Ladore.  Thankfully they came home every weekend which kept me from getting too lonely!  It was a pretty quiet month, though.

Most of this month was spent packing and getting ready to return to Africa.  John was back from England and we took a couple of weeks for a "staycation", seeing some of the local attractions.  But probably the highlight of the month was taking the wedding pictures for my nephew's wedding. Jeremiah and Heather had a beautiful wedding!

Back in Africa!  Suz and Theo went with us and got engaged while they were here.  That was pretty exciting!!

September was a pretty quiet month with us settling into a routine.  One day everybody in the office went to the house of one of our co-workers to have a time of prayer and present a monetary gift to him to celebrate the birth of his twins.  Normally that is done at the naming ceremony, but that was held in a neighboring country and none of us could go.  Meanwhile, back on the other side of the big pond Daniel got engaged to Kelly! :)

More routine!  One of the big things we did though, was to host an orientation for new missionaries. In this picture John is translating for Hama who talked about Nigerien culture.

These are two of the ladies I get to work with.  I enjoy them a lot.  We also got a new generator installed at the office meaning we can continue on with work even when the power goes off.  Suzanne had been sick for over two months so I made a quick trip to the USA to visit and encourage her.

While in the US, we got to take a trip to Washington DC.  While there we visited Georgetown Cupcakes.  It was fun spending time with Daniel and Kelly and Suz and Theo.

2011 was a year with a lot of transitions in it, such as moving twice.  There were times that stretched our faith and that were difficult such as Suzanne's extended illness.  And there were a lot of joys such as the engagements of both of our children to godly partners. 

May God bless 2012!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Honoring an Honorable Man

Let's just call him  "Ancien", which translates as "Elder". This is the nick name affectionately given to him in the office.  Not only is he  the oldest in the office, but he is also an elder at his church.   Ancien has worked for our organization for 30 years.  Every day he counted and handed out cash.  Never once was he caught short or with his hand in the till.  

We recently celebrated his retirement by having a big party for him.  As people got up and shared what Ancien had meant to them, the words honesty, integrity, and faithfulness came up over and over again.

In an area where graft and corruption are fairly common, qualities such as honesty, integrity, and faithfulness are to be highly honored.  As Ancien said, "I am retiring with a clear conscience."  He has not knowingly wronged anybody, stolen from anybody, or ever embezzled money though all of those would have been temptations common in his position.
And of course, every big celebration is accompanied by heaps of good food! 

I hope at the end of my career words like "faithful" and "honest" will be used of me and that I'll be able to say that I am retiring with a clear conscience.

I think this is a little bit of what heaven will be like.  I'll stand before the Lord with a clear conscience....not because of what I've done or who I am, but because of what He's done and who He is.  I can't wait to hear those words, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."  Not because I'm so wonderful, but because He's given me the power and ability to do what He wants me to do. And then we'll have the Marriage feast of the Lamb with food like we can't even imagine!  What a day that will be!!


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Christmas 2011

It's been awhile since I did a blog!  First I was really busy getting ready for all the people who arrived between December 27 and January 1st.  Then we had our conference from January 4-8.  And then we had no internet for a week.  I never had a chance to write about our Christmas, so I'll do that now.

I got back from the US on December 20, so the next day John and I decorated for Christmas.  Here's our little tree aka the bush.  But I like our little tree!  John and I got a little tree for our first Christmas because we didn't have a lot of money and because we thought it would be easier to bring a little tree to Africa than a big one.  Then when we moved to the "village", we decided we didn't want to have a big tree that attracted a lot of attention.  As we established a church we didn't want to do anything that new believers would think they had to do, such as have a Christmas tree.  It's normal here to decorate your house for holidays, so our decorations were understood as making our house nice for our holiday.  But we just didn't want the focus to be on the tree.  So to this day we have a small tree.  (I've got nothing against big trees...this has just been our personal choice. And when we're in the US, we almost always buy a real tree.  And I love going to people's houses who have lots of decorations!)  We try to keep our decorations simple, too.  This is a small creche scene I picked up at the dollar store, but I really like it!

On Christmas Eve John and I had our traditional Christmas Eve supper.....curry, the way my dad makes it with tons of chopped up fruit, nuts, boiled eggs, etc. to go with it.  I also made sticky buns which we had Christmas morning for breakfast.
Here Christmas is spent at church with believers AND this year was also Sunday.  So we went to church!  It was a great service, full of joy and celebration.  The walls, ceiling fans, and even the guitars were decorated. The choir had several special numbers. Each Sunday School class came up and sang songs and recited verses. Some of these verses were really complicated, too. These itty-bitty kids speak better French than I do! Of course, the little guys stole the show like they do at churches all over the world. Our neighbor kids even recited verses in French. I was  proud of them so I'm sure their parents were extra proud! The oldest Sunday school group did a skit. And the ladies' group sang, too. The white blurs are hankies and kleenex being waved around.  Why, I'm not really sure. I have been attending meetings, but missed for a month so since I wasn't there when they practiced I didn't participate in this special number.  And, of course, there was a message.

The service was followed by a meal.  I didn't get any pictures of that because I was too busy eating!

Later in the evening we went to a friend's house for a potluck supper.
And on the 26th we opened our gifts.
And that was our Christmas!

And,yes, we missed our kids.  Immensely.