Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Language learning is such a funny thing; different people learn in totally different ways, and we are perfect examples of that. April can tell you anything you want to know about grammar or vocabulary, but Brett can speak with a lot more fluency and confidence. The two will even out eventually, but for right now, we are the perfect complements to each other, just like always. It's not up to us anyways, because language is not a possession to be acquired by our money and hard work; it is a gift that is the Lord's to give, and we thank Him for what He has given us so far....
We'll get our grades on Friday and if they're good, we might just post them :)
Sunday, December 17, 2006
We leave for Togo on January 4th, a little over 2 weeks from today. We are sad to leave France, but beyond excited to be in with our teammates in Togo, exactly where we have wanted to be for months and years now. We love it when a plan comes together, and God's plans always do. Peace!
Friday, December 01, 2006
So everything in Switzerland is quite expensive. Depending on what international data collection agency you ask, it is somewhere between the 5th and 10th most expensive country in the world. Since we had to stay overnight and the hotels in Switzerland are way overpriced, we stayed in a hotel just across the border in France, which was a mere 5 minute drive from Geneva and about 50 euros cheaper.
Anyways, that night we decided to go out and do some shopping at a Carrefour we had seen on the way home from Geneva to our hotel just over the border in France. Carrefour is kind of like a huge Super Walmart on steroids. Seriously, it is huge. So as we were getting ready to go, I casually asked April, "Do you remember what country that Carrefour is in?" This is a question that probably never crosses the lips of most Americans, or most people in the world for that matter. It's a question that is somewhat unique to Europe, where everything is close, the population is very mobile, and a whole other country is never that far away. Just another cool little quirk of our 3 months living here so far...
Thursday, November 23, 2006
We love you all and miss you tremendously on this special day. --April
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Friday, September 29, 2006
Here are some pics to go with the post, thanks to our sister-in-law Betsy, and my best friend Mike. Also, as always, we give great thanks to our GracePointe family for being so loving and supportive. The next several years in Togo will be a light burden because of our relationship with you. We love you all!!!
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Friday, September 01, 2006
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Here is one of the pics we took. April likes this one the best because we're all looking at the camera....
...but this one is Brett's personal favorite...
Sunday, August 27, 2006
Sendoff Sunday post is forthcoming, but we need some people to send us pictures!!!
Saturday, August 26, 2006
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
We spent Sunday night with one of the homegroups from GracePointe. They made a quilt for us that contained the symbol our team uses showing an outline of Africa with a cross in the middle and a loop around Africa depicting that God's love will encircle the continent. That would have been enough...but they had prayer knots sewn onto the cross. They took the quilt to church and as people tied the knots, a prayer was said on our behalf. We have a list of everyone that tied a knot. There are over 365 knots. That's more than one prayer for each day of the year. Now that's love!
Saturday, July 29, 2006
Thursday, July 27, 2006
One of the highlights was spending time with teammates past and present, the Neals and the Rieses. We took a day to drive out to the middle of nowhere, I mean Camp Deer Run, about 2 1/2 hours east of Dallas. This is the first time we have ever met the Neals, which is strange because technically we were teammates for over a year. They are doing very well, and we can imagine how it would have been awesome living in Togo with them. They will always be a part of our team, and we look forward to spending time with them again in the near future. A possible visit to Togo by the Neal family is in the works for 2007.
One of our present teammates, the Rieses, are on furlough in Dallas. They are sponsored by the Preston Road Church of Christ, and they are home for about another month or so. We had a blast talking, joking around, asking questions about France/Togo, and just enjoying being with a great family. The Rieses have 3 boys, Isaac, Graham, and Owen, and they are one of the most fun handful of boys you will ever be around. Graham took a special interest in Caden, and little Cade is looking forward to having all of the Ries boys as playmates very soon!
Please pray for the rest of our fundraising to finish up soon. We are close to some of our goals, but on others we are far from it. Thanks and God bless!
Saturday, July 15, 2006
Caden has now received his first passport. He is officially allowed to leave the country. When we told him this was so he could move to Africa...this is the face we got.
O.K., not really, but it makes a good post, don't ya think?
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Please continue to pray for our preparations. We are OK with the fact that we might not get every single detail ironed out before we leave because we have an amazing church family to help us out, and more importantly, a mighty God who is capable of anything...
Friday, June 23, 2006
Anyways, we're sending in his passport application today, not because we think it's terribly necessary, but because some "wise" government official thinks it is. A social security card would suffice; maybe even his birth certificate; but alas, we're spending another 60-something bucks so that Caden can have his picture on a piece of laminated paper for international travel. Oh well, at least he's adorable!
Monday, June 19, 2006
There is still one important game remaining, however. In an interesting twist of fate, Togo's next game is against one of their imperialist colonizers, the French! Go Hawks!
Saturday, June 17, 2006
As I write, Ghana is up 1-0 on a quick goal by Asamoah. Bringing it West Africa style baby!
UPDATE: Ghana added another goal for a 2-0 victory! Plus the U.S. is currently tied 1-1 with Italy, and they're a man up for the rest of the game!
Thursday, June 15, 2006
So who's to blame? Not Mohamed Kader. He scored a brilliant goal on a hard grounder that barely hit the post before finding the back of the net. (This pic is the team celebrating Kader's goal. Gotta love it!) If there is any blame to go around, it falls on Togo's soccer federation for causing all of the chaos in the days before the match. You're in the World Cup for the first time ever; NOW PAY YOUR PLAYERS!!! Seriously, just getting there was huge, because many people, Americans especially, have never even heard of Togo. These players fought hard to give their country some world recognition, and they are rewarded with a contract squabble. Anyways...
The Togolese definitely played with more heart than the U.S. team. That game was an embarressment, but this is our AFRICA blog, and we will not speak of such things here.
Togo's next match is against Switzerland on June 19th. It's a winnable game for them if they can just focus. Switzerland is just so...neutral. Prediction: Togo 3, Switzerland 2. Go Hawks!!!
Monday, June 12, 2006
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Monday, May 22, 2006
We say thank you to the GracePointe Church for being His hands. This video was made to remember the amazing weekend of April 29-30, 2006.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Friday, May 12, 2006
The night before Mission Sunday, we had a vespers style service to kick off our 12 hour overnight prayer vigil. It was an amazing time of worship, testimony, and prayer, and everyone who attended was blessed by the Spirit being present. I have asked myself over and over, "How did Mission Sunday happen? What did God see happening at GracePointe that He chose to honor and bless?" Well, there are alot of things worth mentioning, but at the top of the list I would have to put our commitment to prayer and the retreating of ourselves. We put great effort into stepping back and not letting our agendas get in the way. I believe that when we seriously commit ourselves to something through prayer, we are acting the way God created us to, and He will bless us.
The 12 hours of prayer is still resonating through the halls and hearts of the GracePointe Church. I'm sure there will be more vigils in the future, and even more participation because of the testimonies of those who were able to particpate in this one. May we continue to seek Him in prayer as a family, and may He continue to honor our commitment to His purposes!
Also, I really like this picture I took before the service began!
Saturday, May 06, 2006
4KYS can be translated to mean, "$4,000.00 Yard Sale". In case you were wondering, this pic is what a 4KYS looks like.
A yard sale that raises $4,000.00 is a pretty tiny portion of a $105,000.00 Mission Sunday offering, but it was so much more valuable than it looked on paper. The yard sale was the rallying focus of a large part of the weekend, and it really brought our church together in a big way, a way that was the perfect beginning to a weekend where we at GracePointe truly experienced something special.
The fact is that the yard sale required the most physical effort of any other part of Mission Weekend. Some brothers and sisters who willed themselves out of the comforts of their beds for the prayer vigil from about 12-6 AM Sunday morning will surely disagree, but it is definitely true that pulling off the yard sale took a Herculean effort.
Have you ever noticed that working hard together binds people in a special way? The effort and dedication of people like Arlene Morris, Ann Walker, Sandra Largen, Tamara Fox, Joy Emerson, and a great host of able-bodied men to do their bidding was at the core of the success of the yard sale. We are so thankful for this special church family that we have become a part of! God is faithful to us, and we pray that He will continue to bind us together as we begin our work among the Kabiye!
Sunday, April 30, 2006
Today was the long awaited Missions Sunday at GracePointe, our sponsoring congregation. The basic idea is to raise all of the money for missions for the entire year in one Sunday. GP supports us and also provides partial support for a missionary in Guatemala with Health Talents International, a medical mission organization. The final portion of GP's commitment to mission work is beginning a fund that can help our own members go out with the church's financial and spiritual support.
The missions committee set a goal of $75,000 for the financial support of these 3 goals. Needless to say, when you're trying to raise this much money, you never really know what will happen. Some people were very confident that we could raise this much cash, while others were a little more...nervous. It was definitely a challenge to everyone's faith, and we all learned alot about trusting in the Lord and sacrificial giving.
Our theme for the weekend was God's rain contrasted with God's reign. One sustains us physically, the other sustains us spiritually, and both are necessary to carry out God's purposes in the world.
So the whole time you've been reading this, you're probably thinking, "Ok, ok, tell us how much was raised already!" I can understand that. We have exhausted ourselves praying, planning, preparing, and working, and all the while we have wondered, sometimes aloud and other times secretly, "Can we really raise this much money in one Sunday?" GracePointe is a church of only about 300 people, and it takes more than just pulling the change out from underneath the cushions on the couch to raise $75,000. God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and He was gonna have to sell a few if we were going to reach the goal that was set. The committment to missions that GracePointe has made was tested by the Lord, and they passed, if you can call obliterating the goal just simply passing...
Ok, ok, we raised $105,000!!!God be praised, our brothers and sisters at GracePointe be thanked, and we ask everyone who knows and loves us to join in our rejoicing in this amazing blessing! The floodgates of heaven were opened on us and on our church. I've always loved playing in the rain...
Sunday, April 23, 2006
The New Testament has been translated into Kabiye, and the Old Testament is being translated as I write this post, but there is still a major problem: Out in the rural villages, only about 10-20% of the people can read and write. What good is the written Word if you can't understand what it says? Let me share with you the powerful way in which the Lord solves this problem.
First, there is an organization called Faith Comes By Hearing (https://www.hosanna.org/). They have made it one of their missions to provide tape recordings of the Bible in over 140 languages. Kabiye happens to be one of those languages. For just $30, we can give the Kabiye people the written word of God in spoken form. Not only can they hear the Word in their own language, but using these tapes in conjunction with a written New Testament can help them learn to read.
Second, the Lord led me to teach at Lighthouse Christian Academy here in Montgomery. I absolutely love my students, and I was blown away recently when they raised over $300 to send 10 sets of tapes with me to present as gifts to some of the Kabiye churches last month. My students give money all the time to buy nachos so the seniors can go on a cruise, for blow pops so the 6th graders can have a pizza party, and they blow hundreds of dollars a week on junk food in our cafeteria (nothing personal lunch ladies!). When presented with an opportunity to give to something that will last, something that was meaningful and bigger than them, they stepped up in a big way.
So praise be to God that He raised up Faith Comes By Hearing and the students at LCA to provide the Kabiye with the ability to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ in thier own language. This was a truly rich gift!
Saturday, April 22, 2006
On the way over to Africa last month, I had a 6 hour layover at Schipol International in Amsterdam. 6 hours is WAY too long to spend in an airport, especially when one of Europe's great cities is just a 15 minute train ride away. Despite it's better known reputation as a haven for, shall we say, shady activities, it is actually a very beautiful city with plenty to see, even for the casual traveler.
There are two things that Amsterdam has in abundance: bikes and canals. When you think of canal cities in Europe, your mind probably goes to Venice, Italy. Venice is great and a true jewel, but Amsterdam has just as many canals as Venice, if not more. I don't know what it is precisely, but canals just give a city a certain amount of character. And then there's the bikes. EVERYONE in Amsteram has a bike. It often seems as if the bikes outnumber the people, and they even have parking garages dedicated to the storage of thousands and thousands of bikes. Again, the bikes everywhere give the city a great amount of character.
My stop was brief, about 2 or 3 hours, but it was a great experience. I found a beautiful church that was open to the public, which was good, since it was only about 30 degrees out and I didn't have a jacket. I also took lots of city shots. This pic shows my three favorite things about Amsterdam: The canals, the bikes, and the beautiful architecture. So next time you come and visit us in Togo, try to fly Northwest/KLM, and you're sure to get a good long layover in Amsterdam and a chance to experience one of Europe's truly beautiful cities!
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
At least for now. If this pic was a video, you would be hearing my very limited Kabiye language skills on display. I'm probably telling this guy, "pilaba cee" (pih-lah-bah chay), or "see you later". The smile on this man's face shows some of the great things about the Kabiye people - their kind nature, helpfulness, and willingness to accept others.
I no doubt butcher their language at every attempt to communicate, but they still smile, answer back, and they often try to help me with my pronunciation or word choice. Try going to France and butchering the French language to a stranger on the streets of Paris. I've done it several times, and it's often not a pleasant experience. The French may have good toast and fries, but I'll always prefer the rice and beans in a Kabiye village with a side order of mercy when I habitually speak Kabiye like the ignorant young missionary that I am...
Monday, April 17, 2006
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Wednesday, April 12, 2006
I flew into Ghana last month on my trip to Togo, which was great in more ways than one. First, the airport is MUCH nicer than the one in Lome, the capital of Togo. Not only is it physically a better facility, but Ghana is an English speaking country, which makes the chaos of arriving in Africa a little more manageable for the linguistically deficient.
But that's not the best thing about being in Ghana. You see Ghana is where I made my first million. Ok, so it wasn't a million DOLLARS, but it was still a million. The morning after I arrived, Matt took me to the ATM machine to get some cash. I needed some money for gas, baskets, and some food, which would all together cost about a hundred bucks. So how many Ghanaian Cedis does it take to equal around one hundred US dollars? Yep, ONE MILLION. This smells like some serious currency and economy issues for Ghana, but no matter, because it was here that I could ride in style with my first million...
Saturday, April 08, 2006
Nestor is an old man who lives in the remote Kabiye village of Legue-Legue. Legue happens to be where I had my bonding experience during internship in 2003, and I spent alot of time with Nestor and his family during that time. That time mostly consisted of playing Mancala and drinking sollum, Nestor's two favorite pastimes. At the end of my stay in Legue, I traded Nestor an empty 1.5 liter water bottle and a DARE t-shirt for a handmade Mancala board, which is now one of my prized possessions.
On my trip in March, I was able to visit with Nestor once again. He had changed quite a bit, especially in the gray hair department, as you can see in this picture. Nestor has always been a nominal Christian. He has a disability with his legs due to a case of polio he had as a young man. He can hardly walk, so he doesn't really do much. He is a fiesty old guy who often comes to church meetings just to run his mouth and aggravate others.
So why am I blogging about Nestor? Because I genuinely like the guy. He is funny, energetic, inviting, hospitable, and just fun to be around. He doesn't possess all of the qualities I usually look for in friends, but I am still drawn to him nonetheless. Nestor to me is a testimony of how God bridges gaps between all things. My barriers with Nestor are linguistic, cultural, generational, and even personal. But I just like the guy! I can't help it, he is just a magnetic person for me. I look forward to spending more time with him come January. He was always helpful to me with language, and if nothing else, I think it would help me with culture shock to sit with Nestor outside his compound, play a little Mancala, drink a little sollum, speak a little Kabiye, and further a friendship that is only possible because God made it so.
Thursday, April 06, 2006
The first picture is me outside the gate of our new home with our houseworkers, who we are adopting from the Neals. From left to right they are Acqualo(sp?), Antoinette, and Eric. Antoinette will be our house helper, cooking and cleaning and whatnot. Acqualo and Eric will be our night guards and outside workers. They seem to be very sweet people and we look forward to getting to know them better.
The second picture is the front of our house. The complex is too big to show you all of it, but I may post more pictures of the inside and the grounds in the near future.
The last picture is the view from our roof, one of my personal favorite features. We have roof access via a staircase attached to the garage, and the surface area is huge. I look forward to me and this mountain becoming very good friends. It's just a 5 minute drive to the base!
So this will be our next home, not counting our 3 months in France. I can't imagine that France will ever feel like home, although we are very excited about living in the French Alps for a few months! Please pray that we will have faith in God to provide everything that we need to move into our new home in January 2007!
Sunday, April 02, 2006
We actually saw 2 lions, a male and his female partner, on our safari to Pendjari National Park in Benin. You may notice that this male lion looks a little different than the ones you've seen on the Discovery Channel. First of all, even though this is a fully mature adult male, he's a little on the small side as far as the King of the Beasts are concerned. Second, he lacks a prominent mane. These are the two main differences between East and West African lions.
Even though his appearance is not quite as impressive, this lion sighting was actually much more exciting than an East African sighting. Why you ask? Because in East (and South) Africa, viewing lions is more like going to a zoo. They are so used to people that they usually just sit there and pay you no mind. Two of my teammates, Matt Miller and Dave Reeves, recently went on safari in Kenya, and they both much prefer the West African experience. Viewing a lion in the wild in West Africa is actually a pretty rare experience, even though there are plenty around (Pendjari alone has over 300 lions).
West Africa is much less glamorous than East or South Africa. They don't film movies here. Teddy Roosevelt never hunted the Big Five here. AND it is hotter than the surface of the sun here. But West Africa doesn't get enough credit. It has amazingly diverse wildlife and landscape, without the touristy feel and nonchalant attitude of the animals. So please, by all means, continue taking your vacations in other parts of this vast continent, and my teammates and I will continue to enjoy the unspoiled beauty of the place we have been blessed to call home!
Friday, March 31, 2006
1. Being in africa again, specifically in Togo, felt very right and very normal. That is a gift from God.
2. The long drive from Accra to Kara with Matt. We had more good talks than we knew what to do with.
3. The Sunday Legue-Legue village visit. Being able to reconnect, be remembered, and have an impact in just a few short hours was very encouraging. Watching my teammates (in this case Matt) work again is highly motivating for me. Also, seeing the rest of the Miller family interact with the people in the village was good too. We may have missed church, but I feel like we were able to do some good ministry in its place.
4. Just spending time with the team as a whole. I realized that I really like these people we have committed to as teammates. They are genuine, funny, spiritual, loving, caring, adventurous people. The chemistry is there for many years of bonding.
5. I was consciously and subconsciously resurveying Kara. I learned that life has changed quite a bit in the last 3 years in this little Kabiye town. More comforts, more amenities, more stuff available, and a growing city were very encouraging to see.
6. Observing missionary family life again. I look forward to hours and hours of family time that we otherwise may have missed out on in the states. I also am glad that we have three sets of very experienced parents to learn from.
7. Seeing how well Matt, Dave, & Bryan are doing in language. Their language, interaction, and temperament when working with the Kabiye people has grown a lot in the last 3 years. I know that they will be invaluable as I learn these things for myself.
8. Finding us a place to live. April and I have decided to move into the Neal's old house. Even though we went back to our original choice, I am glad that i was able to go through the process. I learned a lot and I think that we are going into a really good situation.
9. Getting video footage with Matt at Katchade (*sp?). The footage I got, along with pics and videos from Bryan's computer, will give us some great stuff to use leading up to and after Missions Weekend at Grace Pointe.
10. I got lots of helpful spoken advice and written documents from our teammates. The Reeves gave us some very useful start-up stuff and the Millers and the Rieses also gave us some good information. I also look forward to getting info from the Neals now that they are stateside, and I feel much more knowlegable and prepared for what lies ahead in the coming months.
11. SAFARI! We saw lions. Enough said.
12. The long drive with Bryan from Kara to Accra. It was good to learn more about Bryan. I really enjoyed our drive and I look forward to many more in the future.
13. Even though it's #13, I consider this to be the main positive that I took from this trip. I was blessed with a reconfirmation of God's calling for the Emersons to the Kabiye. May He reveal many more truths to April and me in the weeks ahead. I thank Him and praise Him for his faithfulness during this trip.
Thanks for your prayers. Pictures to follow!
Thursday, March 30, 2006
I made Brett stay home from school today. He went yesterday and was miserable last night, resulting in us coming home from church early. He went to bed at 7:00 last night, got up for a little bit this morning when he wasn't feeling good, and returned to bed for several hours this morning. Hopefully, his body will appreciate the extra sleep and speed up the healing. I took advantage of all this sleeping by catching a picture of my boys. I thought you might enjoy it.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Thursday, March 02, 2006
I think it's that we both look and act like Jesus, or at least we try to. We have been clothed with Christ, and He has given us His Spirit to live in us. Look closely and I know you'll see it...
In two weeks I might get to see this man again. I don't even remember his name, or what village he is from, but I do remember him in a very real and intimate way. I sat next to him for about 20-30 minutes during our internship in the summer of 2003, trying desperately to communicate in some way, and I remember vividly the look in his eyes and the kind, gentle, jovial, and peaceful nature he displayed.
Please be praying for me as I prepare to travel to Togo on March 16th. Its just another step in our journey to Togo, but it is an important one in many ways. I feel so blessed that God has called us to the Kabiye people, and because of this calling, I know that there will one day be many more Kabiye men and women who look just like me...
Sunday, February 26, 2006
I am now the proud owner of tourist visas for the countries of Ghana and Togo. Not a big deal in the scope of things, but consider this: I obtained both visas by mail in exactly 2 weeks time. Not impressed?
Keep in mind that each application must include my passport and a return envelope, meaning that I can only have one visa being processed at a time. I mailed Ghana first, and received it back in 6 days. I had figured that Ghana would be faster, so I mailed it first to get it out of the way. The day I received my Ghanaian visa, I immediately mailed my Togo application. I wasn't holding my breath, figuring it would take much, much longer. 8 days later I had it back.
Now don't get me wrong, I am very pleased with the fast response. I just expected more hassle and difficulty with the whole process. I expected a call from the Togolese embassy a week before I left requesting extensive financial records and a reassurance that I wouldn't be staying and setting up a DVD bootlegging operation. Instead, it went smoothly. It's great, but the whole process just seemed so un-African...
Friday, February 24, 2006
The trip to Michigan went great. Not just great, but actually above and beyond all I could have asked or imagined. My church home was much different than I left it 7 years ago, and that is a good thing. That is a VERY good thing.
The church I left way back when was a church still in a healing process. We had suffered through a pretty ugly split, and everyone who was left was just kind of stuck in a funk. Praise God that He has reconciled some members who had left back to the body at Livonia, and the members that never left are thriving under the leadership and guidance of the sheperds and the minister, Larry Stephens. Larry brought a peaceful, thoughtful, and wise spirit to the church that it desperately needed. He is a stabilizing force, a true man of peace, and I am thankful for his friendship and that of his wife, Diane. I can only pray that April and I can be a little bit like them when we reach their age!
I was well received by everyone at Livonia. There were some sweet reunions and, thankfully, some new introductions. The preaching went well, and I also had the chance to teach the young adults class. Sunday evening I was at the home of Bob and Teri Carris, lifelong friends of my family and parents to my great friend Rob Carris (who is gonna be a daddy soon!). Bob and Teri are amazing people and they are very supportive and helpful in trying to get us to Afrcia. Bob specifically has a vision for missions and how Livonia can be involved, involvement that hpefully can increase in the next few years as they grow. I was able to spend time with John Williams and Eric Sims as well (JK and E-Money back in the day), which was awesome. They are both older than me and were actually friends with my older brother Chad when were were growing up. For a while there, John WAS my older brother, mentoring me in the ways of life and basketball, altoughI am now HIS teacher on the hardwood! Seeing old friends and reconnecting is one of the glues that holds me together, and I thank God for allowing me to see my people again.
I could say much more, but I'll end with this: God is faithful. He never left me, even when I tried so desperately to leave Him, and that faithfulness was fleshed out in my life by the Livonia Church of Christ during my visit there. I am eternally endebted to my brothers and sisters there!
Friday, February 10, 2006
Most people in life have that one place that they can call home. For me that place is Michigan, the Northcoast of the USA, home of the Wolverines, cold and snowy winters, and the church that I was raised in. Today I get to go back home. My father and I will once again blaze a trail up and down I-75, a trip so common to my family that neither of us can even remember how many times we've made it.
I'm going to preach at my home church and raise funds for the work God has called us to among the Kabiye. That's the main purpose for my trip. However, anytime I go home, I get a deep feeling of God's presence in my heart. For me, to go home is to remember how far the Lord has brought me in my relationship with Him. At home is where it all began, where I fell to my lowest lows, and where my redemption and reconciliation with God was initiated.
Of course there's the old friends, friends so close that there is little distinction between them and family. And there's the old stomping grounds, streets so familiar to me that it as if I never left. Of course who can forget the snow?!?! I'll get to see snow this weekend! But that's not what this trip is about.
Today I am going home to revisit my past so that I can have an even clearer view of my future in Christ.
Thursday, February 02, 2006
If you've ever planned and taken a trip to Africa, you can stop reading now, because you can already testify to the truth of this post. If you haven't planned a trip to Africa, allow me to let you in on a little secret: It's complicated.
Today I sent in my visa application for Ghana. Ghana requires FOUR duplicate applications plus about a hundred bucks for a multiple entry visa. The form itself is complicated as well, requiring 2 addresses of contacts in Ghana, proof of return ticket, proof of "sufficient" funds (what does that mean anyway?), and a letter from your employer stating that you will be returning to your job after your trip. Like I was planning on setting up a bootlegging operation in Accra or something.
The Togo application is less complicated, requiring only 3 duplicate applications, but it costs the same, and it looks like a 12 year old laid it out. Come to think of it, it seems just like something that would come out of Africa...
I also went to the doctor today to get my malaria meds. I have to take them everyday beginning 2 days before my trip and continuing 7 days after my trip. They also give you wierd and vivid dreams, and I'm still trying to decide if this is a good thing or not.
A week ago, I finally got my plane ticket, but that was after hours and hours of searching, calling, emailing, and being frustrated. I got a great deal at $1,150, but that is mostly because it is the off-season for flights to Europe.
And then there's the time off from school. What's a good way to ask your principal for 4 days off, days that are bumped up against your school's Spring Break? Answer: There is no good way, you just have to do it. Thank God I work for a bunch of Christians who are behind our plans 100%.
So if you want to plan a trip to Africa, think twice about it, and then call me. I've earned some lumps that can help you out...
Thursday, January 26, 2006
That's the title of my sermon/presentation for this Sunday. It's based off of Paul's short stint in Athens when he saw all of the altars to different gods, including the "Unknown God", which he declared as known to the people of Athens. The Kabiye know a creator "god", but he is far off and uninvolved in the lives of humans. We are going to join with the Lord and our teammates in making known the God that they revere as unknown. Additionally, our God can free them from the bondage of ancestor and spirit appeasment, a vicious cycle of the spirits becoming angry, being appeased through sacrifice, and then becoming angry again. This weighs heavily on the hearts and souls of the Kabiye, and as Jerome Amana, a Kabiye elder, once said, "We used to lay down at night, but we could not sleep well, because Satan would trouble us. But now that we follow Jesus, our hearts have found true freedom."
What a beautiful statement of faith and conviction. God grant us all this acceptance of and appreciation for God's gift of Grace.
Saturday, January 21, 2006
The second big event currently planned (there will surely be more to follow) is at the Livonia Church of Christ in Michigan on Sunday, February 12th. This is a special event for Brett since this is the congregation he grew up at. His father was an elder for many years and his mother was the do-it-all church secretary(you all know the type!), and his family was very involved and passionate about this church. It is so special to be able to return to his brothers and sisters there so they can bless our family as we follow God's call to Togo. Livonia is very passionate about missions. Their pulpit minister, Larry Stephens, was formerly sponsored by the church as a missionary in Kenya for 20+ years. He returned to preach, and the church just this month sent off Larry's daughter and son-in-law, Joshua and Julie Marcum, to begin a new mission work in Cochabamba, Bolivia. We are so excited about this opportunity, and we ask that you would pray for God's blessing on that special weekend.
Saturday, January 14, 2006
That is one of the big questions these days. Having settled on a departure date of September of 2006, we now are asking the question of whether or not we need language school. We realize that there are pros and cons to both scenarios, and we just want to seek the Lord's guidance in this matter. We would love to be in Togo as soon as possible, but we also want to be as prepared as possible. Spending a few months in France isn't the end of the world, but we have already done alot of waiting, and we are anxious to join our teammates in Kabiyeland.
Please pray for this decision. We believe that part of seeking the Lord's wisdom is seeking out counsel from our brothers and sisters, so if you have any suggestions or guidance, please feel free to comment.
Thursday, January 12, 2006
The trip will be March 17-27, give or take a day or two. I am hoping to secure final plans for housing, meet with the elders of Kabiye churches to alert them of our imminent arrival, form preliminary relationships with elders and Christians that I don't already know, and encourage and give a boost to my teammates. The last item is especially important with the Neal's headed home in March. That will be a huge blow to the team that will take some time to recover from.
Oh, and there will definitely be a safari. I did Nazinga in Burkina Faso last time, and we are planning on doing Pendjari in Benin on this trip. They have lions there. I can't even imagine!