Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Creation To The Cradle

From the creation to the cradle God has been desiring a relationship with humanity. From in the beginning to a journey to Bethlehem, God has been providing ways back into this relationship. Adam and Eve had it made. They had a perfect environment, a perfect relationship, and a perfect eternity but more is what they wanted. Out of love for them God banned them from the garden. If they had eaten from the tree of life and death while in a sinful state they would have become immortally separated from God, who did not desire this.

God has been working through humanity to provide the pathway back to Himself. He salvaged humanity through Noah. He called out and blessed Abraham. God provided the Ten Commandments and Mosaic law. The entire sacrificial system was designed, if done properly, would provide atonement.

But humanity wanted more.

Humanity wanted to have the atonement coupled with the freedom to behave as they wanted rather than what God wanted. Prophets came and went, each trying to share the message of loving God and walking with Him. Yet, humanity mocked and killed them.

The He chose a young girl to carry THE child. She would give birth to the One whose sole purpose was to die to carry our sins away once for all. God loved humanity. Jesus loved humanity enough to become a baby. He left all that He had and become nothing in order that we could return to the family.

The cradle offers us help today and hope for tomorrow. The cradle reveals a birth. It also leads to new births in us as well. May we want for no more than a new life and hope in a relationship with God through Jesus.

From the creation to the cradle. God wants a relationship with you.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Africa, Coming Home

We awoke Sunday morning to warmth of the sun as it began to penetrate the building. The temperature began to rise quickly as we prepared to go to the small village church in Torodi. We had passed through there the night before anticipating the stop but hoping for the guest house instead. God answered our plea and the guest house was available. Now we would trek back to the church to be respectful as they had planned on us being there. The trip was 45 minutes and we sat in a grass lean-to or hut and listened to the singing and teaching of the leadership. There was just a small band of believers in attendance but the Spirtit was there and they earnestly desired God to fill them strength and wisdom.

The rest of our day was spent back at the guest house packing, planning, and preparing for the long journey home. Unfortunately the flight would not leave until after midnight. We had MRE's for lunch and waited for 6:30 to come when we would go to dinner with our host missionaries and then take a final shower before going to the airport.

Dinner was at an Italian place in Africa where they spoke French. Can't beat a deal like that can you? Kris, our missionary, wanted to know our thoughts and feelings about the preparation and the trip itself. We talked for a while and then came back to the guest house for final preparations. The time had come and we packed the truck a final time to get us to the airport. We had considerably less luggage going home than coming because so much of the supplies were used or left for them to use in the clinics.

3:30 pm [OK time] We arrived at the airport and acquired our boarding passes and checked our luggage. As we walked through the door for security check, there was our luggage! We had just checked it as baggage and now we had to open it for manual inspection before we could go through customs and immigration for exiting the country. As expected, Pete had challenges. They did not have one of his bags out for inspection and we thought maybe there was no reason for this other than not all bags got checked. We went through immigration and down the stairs to wait for the bus that would take us 100 yds to the plane, because apparently it is too much to walk?!?! About 30 minutes later his name is called because there was a bag waiting to be checked but he was not there. He goes back through customs and gets the bag checked returns through customs just in time for us to walk toward the bus to have ourselves security checked.

5:40 pm [OK time] We left Niger and arrived in Paris. The flight was basically uneventful.

11:00 pm [OK time] We started our 7 hour layover in Paris. We walked around looking for something that was open and palatable. Not much to speak of here. We slept, we ate, we typed, we listened to mp3 players, we read, we walked laps...you get the picture. It was like 4 caged animals wanting to escape but not being able to.


7:00 am [OK time] We are still in Paris. We are on the plane, but still in Paris. And suddenyl to our wondering eyes did appear...Jimmy Carter! He made the rounds and shook everyone's hand and 45 minutes late we finally leave Paris. The next 10 hours we spent in that plane seemed much longer than they were.

5:35 pm [OK time] We have landed in Atlanta and I iam hustling to get through customs to see if there was a remote chance of still making our flight. I rounded the corner and looked at the time. The other three were coming through customs and I gathered the luggage fromt he baggage claim area. It could not be forwarded all the way through because of customs at teh first port of entry. We were changing from an international to domestic flight. I gave up all hoper of making the scheduled flight. We gathered the luggage and headed for the rebooking agents.

6:00 pm [OK time] We stood in line for rebooking as our flight left for OKC. We were not yet sure if we could get home tonight and on what carrier it would be. We did not care! The rebooking agent got us on a flight at 8:45[OK time] so we settled in through security and found something to eat. After we pounded Wendy's for some sustenance we strolled over to the gate and checked in.

7:45pm [OK time] The flight was overbooked because of the rebooking and lateness of the Air France flight...Jimmy Carter remember?...and we would have to see if someone would give up their seat for us to be bale to get on board. Thankfully someone did and we were told we would have seats, though we would have to be the last ones to board.

9:00pm [OK time] We take off and I sleep. I really do not remember anything about the flight. I had taken two Benedryl because of allergies and sacked out, but I think we all did a little.

11:30pm [OK time] We land in OKC and disembark the plane. After 32 hours of travelling we finally embrace our families and head home.

We are glad to have gone. We are glad to be home. We will follow our God to the ends of the Earth. Maybe you will be the ones next time.

Haruna [Aaron], Beto [Bill], Jachi [Chuck], and Pierre [Pete]

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Africa, Day Eleven


We rose and packed the trucks for the last road trip and village tour. We were in two trucks and one drove straight through to the clinic with Pete and Bill. The clinic in this village has two rooms and a porch. Pete was able to establish himself in a room and create a privacy he enjoys. Teh patients came in slowly and wanted to "discuss" the terms of extraction. Obviously, this made it difficult. Several caught a glimpse of what Pete was doing and went back home thinking their pain was not so bad, but some did come back and Pete was able to make a day of it.

Chuck and I went to a village on the way and shared the gospel. Here we found a woman who was making soap. I believe you saw that in the day 10 pictures. It was easier to download them all rather than trying to separate them. She was boiling a mixture of items that when cooled would be balls of soap. We went on to our main village and met the chief. He is a young man and very concerned for his village. They do not have a well and need one desperately. The "lake" that is created through the rainy season dries up before the rain returns. If they had a well or pump and storage they could keep water longer and allow for better options through the dry season. We toured the entire village and prayed with some who needed it.

The day ended a little earlier than we expected and we decided to drive back all the way to Niamey instead of stopping along the way for the night. We drove straight to the American Rec Center where we ordered burgers and fries and watched basketball...what a great moment! The shower that night was a blissful experience. We sacked out around 11. The end of another day.

Africa, Day Ten

Dry heat is what they call it, but 100 in the shade is just plain hot. I am not sure what it was in the sun, except that it was hotter. Once again we separated this morning in two teams. One team went to the clinic while the other team went to villages presenting the gospel with the roping demonstration.

I am amazed at how tight a grip Satan has on these people. I am certain, however that the grip here is not any stronger than the grip at home except that we have a look and feel of being OK. The reality is very simple. We have either turned our lives over to God through belief in Jesus or we have not. It has never been more simple. When someone chooses to walk the path of Christ in their life it means something more than it seems to at home. They will lose a job and possibly lose their family. This fear grips and tortures them. One man told me that he believed in Jesus as the son of God but was not ready to tell anyone else just yet.

Does that make him lost? How different is it at home where it takes 48 “Christians” to see one person turn to Christ? I would say that it really is no different than the silent believers at home. If we will say that since that have believed in t heir heart they are saved I would grant the same latitude in Africa. If a man says he believes in his heart and confesses to one of us, is that enough? I would say that is enough. It does not make him mature. It does not allow for much growth, but it does afford salvation. How great is our God!

We travelled to two villages this morning and shared Christ. Chuck was able to get into a good conversation about cattle with one man. We found out that he knows his cattle on sight without tags or brands. He even knows his cattle by hoofprint! His cattle know him as well. They hear his voice and come to him. What a picture of what our relationship with God should be. He knows the number of hairs on our head and formed us in our mother’s womb. He fashioned us and made a plan for us. Do we know His voice? Have we listened long enough to feel the heartbeat of God and follow?

After lunch we went back out to a village and sat down with a few men who were the heads of the compound. They wanted to hear a sermon and I obliged. I explained that the reason we were in Africa was to be obedient to Jesus’ final words of commission. We were here to share a story of truth about Jesus Christ. I began with creation and worked my way to Jesus. The gospel is so simple and they were encouraged by the word. One of the men was a believer but the other 3 were not. I answered a few questions that were asked and prayed for them before leaving. We arrived back at camp to a barrage of kids waiting patiently…well…maybe not so patiently…for the balls Chuck would hand out. They had a blast with them and played for a long time. The dust they were kicking up was getting thick so we sent them down the road to play away from the house.

Pete and Bill worked 11 hours today with a 1 hour break for lunch, although he took it begrudgingly. He saw 50 patients today. Each time someone would walk in after being numbed they would be prayed over. After Pete was done they would be prayed over. We very much believe in the power of prayer. The ones that we somehow forgot to pray for before Pete would work always turned out bad. Coincedence? Absolutely not. Prayer changes things and we would pray as often as we could. We will not know the long term effects just yet, but we have planted much love and seeds of the gospel. We pray that they will be watered and a harvest will come soon.

We had to pack up everything for the clinic in the dark because Pete wanted to work as long as possible. His final patient was done with nothing but his headlamp! We packed up and loaded the truck to be ready for tomorrow. Cherry had made a nut and chicken stew that was fabulous. We poured it over rice and ate. After supper there was a group of people in the camp that we visited with for a while. Tonight was just a visit without any questions or teaching. Our interpreter is a tea master and made us this very good tea each night. He would share it with us in three rounds. Each round was a little different than the one before and wonderful to drink. We soon finished our tea and our talks and went to bed at the very late hour of 9:45. As I write this it is 10:15 and everyone is asleep. It is my time as well…

Here is a peek at our day…

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Africa, Day Nine

The overnight low was around 82 in the mud hut where we slept. Our hostess was so kind to provide the hut that we hated to sleep outside where it was a bone-chilling 74. Besides, between the bats and lizards one never knows who might get under the sheets with you.

Welcome to the bush! The bucket bath on the second day had lost all of its magic and intrigue. I gasped as I poured the cold water over my head and scrubbed fast to be done with it. We had gotten spoiled in the guest house and now were really roughing it. The morning started easy and caffeinated, as most mornings do. Pete, Bill, and Shelly went to the clinic about 8 while the rest of us cleaned up the area and prepared to go to villages.

Chuck, myself, and Cherry went to what I call two villages in the morning, but Cherry says it was all a part of one village. At each location we would stop and greet the chief and elders if they were present. Once the formal greetings were done we would bring out the roping dummy and our presentation would begin. Chuck begins with telling about raising cattle and why we use ropes. Their cattle here are tame and used to people. They do not have grass prairies fenced off to let them run free. He tells them our cattle are wild and must be roped to be able to doctor and care for them. He shows them how this would be done and transitions this to how are lives are like that cow. We run from Jesus though He only wants help and care for us. He mentions that I am there and I am a teacher to him and woujld like for them to hear me as well. When they discover that I am religious teacher they smile and look interested. I share the gospel with them and invite them to make the choice of faith in Jesus rather than doing more good than bad or sacrifices to attain Heaven. I express the truth: Jesus is the only way to forgiveness and Heaven. I pray for them and tell them I would gladly talk with any you would like to talk while Chuck lets them practice on roping.

There were many seeds planted this morning and I hope that water will soon come and harvest in the end. We all convened back at camp for lunch and discussed our day. We split again and went our separate ways continuing what we had done in the morning.

At the end of the day we had helped 39 people with teeth and shared the gospel with 3 villages. Not a bad day! We convened again for supper after taking turns with the bucket baths. Our supper was cooked by a local woman. We had a black-eyed pea, bean and rice mixture with a tomato sauce on top. It was very good and filling. While we finished eating a few guys from the night before came by to have more discussion with me about Biblical matters. We had a tea that thick and sweet and discussed several issues.

By 9:30 we were already under the mosquito nets for the night. The concert of snoring would commence and the audience would not be pleased!

Welcome to the bush!

Here is a peek into our day…

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Africa, Day Eight

Roughing It!

Cherry Faile is an R.N. and IMB missionary living in Donchandou. She has served in this location for 6 years and a total of 26 years. She arrived last night and we gathered the game plan for the next few days. We were spending the next three nights in the bush. There would be no electricity. There would be no running water. Out bathes, should we choose to take them, would be from a bucket and bowl.

Roughing it.

We started out on a paved road and we all felt pretty good about it. This paved road turned into not so good paved road and then into a main dirt road. Cherry informed me after our roadside lunch that we would soon leave the main road onto a donkey cart road. This was accurate. In fact, I am not sure how a donkey cart would make it down this path or why even try. I asked Cherry how she found this place since it was so remote. She explained that she began looking for an area of one of the six Fulani kings that needed medical help. She then was able to visit villages in this surrounding region. She found that this particular village is a main village and well-respected. Many people would come to this village and it was large enough to support a clinic. At that time it was a 2-room shack. Now it has several rooms and facilities that she has helped bring. There are two additional nurses on staff now that the country has involved itself and recognized its presence.

We arrived in the village a little after noon and took a rest for about an hour. After which we went to the clinic building and established ourselves. Today was a light day only seeing 7 patients. No one was sure when we would arrive and if we would work today. Pete was getting the shakes to do something so he wanted to work. Before we could we needed to pay our respects to the village chief. He welcomed us into his patio and we make small talk for a few minutes. Pete and Bill worked the clinic while Chuck and I went back into the village to visit with the city elders.

I began our conversation with gratitude and respects. I asked them about their life and traditions and let them. I established our common ground in Abraham and shared our thoughts, too. I was able to share the truth in three different ways during that conversation and pray that God will be able to use it for His glory down the road. They recently had the sacrifice festival and this allowed for some discussion as to whether we practiced anything like that or not. I explained that Jesus weas the one and only sacrifice and that we did not need to have an annual sacrifice. However we also needed to confess our sins and we could do that one a personal level because of Jesus Christ and our relationship with Him. We were asked about prayer. I explained that we have common ground here also. They pray whether at the mosque or not and so can we. We can pray anytime and anywhere. They have a religious teacher and so do we. As pastor I help people understand the Bible and how to live a better life. We had a very good discussion that could be rekindled tomorrow if possible.

Cherry had prepared chili for us back at the guest house and simply brought it with her today. After we ate and bucket bathed, we went to a neighbor village a half mile away and had a Bible lesson and discussion. Cherry had asked if I would lead this discussion and I shared with them from John 15. Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. Our relationship with Him is one of dependence and submission. We must actively choose to remain engaged and relational. We are learning the importance of relationships here in Africa. The importance of greeting people is impressive. I find myself having thoughts of “just drive” or “we need to hurry”. These are fleeting thoughts of a life miles away. Herein Africa everything slows down and watches are of no value. The sun is our clock. You rise and sleep with the sun. In between you work, discuss, and live among the people. There is no isolation. There is no boundaries, or doors for that matter. The relational lifestyle in the compounds smacks of a way of life we once knew years ago in America before fences and backyards; A time when we had porches and greetings and life together. We could learn a lot from the bush!

Here is a peek in our day…

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Africa, Day Seven

The crowd had been following us all through the village. We were giving out vitamins and goodwill through prayer. As we walked through the village we met up with a little boy named Solomon. He has been been very sick for two weeks. He is becoming dehydrated due to what is occurring with the sickness. There were many villagers there as I laid my hands on this little boy and prayed for God to heal him so that the people could know His power. I prayed that through the healing others would recognize the One True God we serve through Jesus Christ. In darkness it only takes a small light to grab one's attention. May God heal that little boy so that hearts and minds could be oopen to the gospel long after we are gone.

The day was hot and dusty and the wind was kicking up sand so that the sun cast a red hue over the desert. The family of one of our interpreters was cutting up the remainder of the sacrificial meat to give away to friends and needy so we waited a little for him to finish. We gathered in the truck and set off to pick him up along the way. We crossed the river today and water is still amazing in the desert...every time. I was riding in the back today and i told Chuck he was in charge of pictures as we traveled and he snapped a great one of the river as we crossed over.

Komba is a moderate village about 45 minutes away. You can still see Niamey from the village but travel takes a while in this country. As much washboard as we drove over I would think we should be as clean as laundry day in the 1800's. I digress. We arrived and met with the chief to greet and receive his blessing. He was very happy to see us and we soon were on our way to the clinic a few hundred feet away. We set up shop a little different, though still under a tree, today. We made a circle out of the storage boxes and tables to insure that Pete has his personal space properly marked. This helps the people stay out of the area for safety. These people were very good to work with. He was able to minister to 25 people and pull 51 teeth. While he was doing this Chuck was able to do his demonstration.

We moved the steer to the other side of the compound and got started. There were about 25 or so going over to watch him. They ranged in age from about 6 to 20. Everyday he shares his story and the kids are enthralled. He masterfully weaves roping and theology together to share the greatest story of all. After lunch he and worked together to plainly share the gospel and ask for response. We really felt that God was working in this village, whether today or another, and we wanted to move on the compulsion we were feeling. I spoke with Nassi after it was over and he seemed interested but not in front of the peer group. I do believe he is close. Please pray for him.

While Pete and Bill were running the clinic, Chuck, Kris, and I went to the village to walk through and pray. We took some vitamins and passed them out to the kids. You would have thought we were Willy Wonka himself having descended from the chocolate factory to pass out bags of goodness! The kids swarmed, we ran out, and the mob frenzy began to take affect. I believe we all sent up silent prayers and soon the crowd dispersed and the rest calmed down. We began to walk through the village and were given opportunity to pray for several people. We felt the presence of God on several occasions while we prayed. I hope that through a healing that they will see the Light and choose Jesus. I pray that God will be glorified through this act and many come to salvation!

We went home dry dusty and worn out, but excited about how God worked through they day. We are out without electricity or water for the next four days. I will send a new blog on Sunday. Here is a peek into our world on this seventh day:

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Africa, Day Six

Happy Holidays....Happy Holidays to you!

Well today was a nationally recognized religious holiday. It is the annual sacrifice for forgiveness. 100,000 people gathered at the national mosque for prayer this morning while I slept like baby after finally getting to bed. The internet was not cooperating last night and I had to wait patiently to upload the blog. Today seems to be different!

Every house that can will buy a sheep, thus so many on top of the bush taxis yesterday. They will sacrifice the sheep for the forgiveness of their sin. Each year they must do this in order to appease Allah in hopes of making him happy enough to let them into Heaven when they die. I am so thankful that we have a once for all sacrifice for everyone who will receive the free gift of salvation, new life, hope, and Heaven. Because Jesus died for our sins the required sacrifice has been made. For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever would believe will not die but have eternal life. This is a grand and global statement. Whoever is a big group. Every one that made a sacrifice today is doing so out of anxiety and ritualism. What happens to the one who cannot afford to make a sacrifice? How depressed they must be! The peace that Jesus gives us through faith is even more fascinating having seen the faces of these people.

We had decided that the afternoon would be spent doing a clinic for the workers and missionaries that should need it. Meanwhile, we were unsure about the morning.


We arose about 830-900. We did our laundry...but don't tell our wives. Some of us just put it all in at once. Who cares about whites and colors? One load. One payment. One wash. Done.

We are Men! HA!

As dry as it is here there is no good reason to run a dryer. We hung it up old school! We got dressed at were ready to leave for Bilo's house when Pete noticed that at a tire was flat on the vehicle they just arrived in. Nothing is more frustrating than to have a flat tire that had just been fixed the week before. We jumped in and changed out the tire. Chuck loosened, Bill changed, and I tightened. We did not want Pete messing with anything since his back is hurting. We did not break any records and NASCAR will not be calling, but we got it changed and were able to leave.

Bilo lives about 2 miles from our guest house. We took the short drive over and were introduced to his mother and great Aunt. I looked in the building he told us to go into and noticed that there were mats everywhere and knew I should remove my shoes before entering. We sat in a circle on the mats and were promptly served a pizza pan full of noodles and meat...mostly noodles. This, I found out later, is the traditional holiday meal. Bilo assured us that he oversaw the preparation of the food and it was safe for us to eat. It was very good! After visiting for a while we needed to head back for the afternoon clinic.

Pete went on back with Shelly and the rest of us drove by the Grand Mosque. It does not look that big but Kris assured us that it was. The building could hold thousands of people, but they each only take up a ceiling tile worth of space. Amazing! They could cram themselves into this facility to pray to a god that has no power or ability to save and provide hope. We cannot sit within feet of each other to pray and worship to the Most High God that provided His Son as payment for our sins and loves us unconditionally. He provides for our needs and we demand so much comfort before we will worship. Wow!

The clinic that was not happened today. Because of the short time and holiday only one worker came and one missionary family. We had hoped that Chuck would be able to assist on some fun stuff but he was spared.

We ate leftovers tonight and visited with the nurse we will stay with out in the bush. After tomorrow we will be out of reach until Sunday. I will post tomorrow and then again before we board the plan on Sunday night. Halfway through and we miss everyone more each day. Please pray for our attitudes, energy, and patience. the spiritual toll is dramatic and physical toll even more. We are excited but tired. May Jesus be our strength!

Here was our day today:

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Africa, Day Five

It was a ferry-tale type of day!

Everyday we must pack the truck roof and tie everything down before we leave. As is our custom, we gather to pray before we leave and we did. And we did.

We gathered in the truck and got squished together...the sardine effect. We journeyed for a while and came up on the river. We were going to ferry across the river...the only way. Bridges over here are not in abundance because it costs too much. They have built two bridges in the country in 50 years. One of those is currently being constructed. We had to buy a ticket and wait for the ferry to be available to be boarded. While time may not be of much consequence in this country, the ferry runs every 20-30 minutes. With that said, there is one ferry and if it breaks down then there would be a problem. I noticed that some people were rowing across the river at this location. Every seems to be in a frenzy because of the special holiday tomorrow. All Muslims here will have an annual sacrifice for the forgiveness of their sin. It is 40 days after Ramadan and falls in line with the concept of the Jewish Day of Atonement. The family will sacrifice a goat/sheep and give a portion to eat and portions to the needy. In this way they earn points with Allah hoping to get into "Heaven". I am thankful that Jesus already handled this for me and you. I pray that more will come to know this truth.

Anyway, we were on a ferry and directly in front of us the guys were rolling goats over and picking them up and placing them on the roof of the van/bush taxi. These guys must have put 15-20 of them on the top of that van. They were not happy, then they began to look sad. The ferry ride lasted for about 10 minutes and were on our way.

The drive took about 2 hours to get to the village. Along the way were many sights like little mosques and cows tied to the wagons while the kids pulled them. It seemed really "animal farm" like to me. After a lengthy journey and a pit stop we made it the home of the regional king. We had to receive his blessing before going into one of his villages. We entered through a gate into the small town and before us was a covered "porch" with many men sitting around on mats. We were instructed to remove our shoes and enter the area and greet the king. We asked a local to go first so we would know what to do. I approached the king, bent the knee, shook his hand and greeted him. One made the comment later that if we would act this way with God how different our life might be...and I believe him to be right!

We left the king, who is obviously not in the building, and went to the village. Honestly, to say village is a little strong of a term. A SMALL grouping of huts is a better description. These huts were straw huts as opposed the to mud-block ones from yesterday and in the town. We pull up and find out that since the festival is tomorrow, market day is today. The chief and elders were gone and the only one left was not ready to make a decision. We talked for a while and convinced him that it would OK. So, we found ourselves a decent tree and set up Pete's Office of the Great Outdoors. He stood next to this tree and looked in fascination that he would finally be able to put two great things together: dentistry and the outdoors. The people were scared of the white-folk and came slowly. We asked three men if they wanted something done and they denied a need, but there kids needed something. Now, you might think this a compassionate decision except that 2 of those 3 later came and received treatment after their kids "survived" it. We were able to see 15 people today and pull over 20 teeth.

While the dentist was in and I assisted today, Chuck made us lunch since the kids were receiving treatment. Later he started up his roping demonstration and truth lesson. He had them gathered around holding them in complete satisfaction. They listened intently and watched curiously as he roped that steer over and over while expressing the love of God and our need for Him. He has a gift of expression and God was pouring out of him this day. Bill had an opportunity to go into the "village" and prayer-walk hoping for opportunities to talk with people. He had Kris [the missionary] met this one older fella and began sharing the truth with him. He listened and pondered but was not ready to make a decision. Another young man also listened politely but when the point of decision was presented he said it was time for us to go. Please pray for Tingala because there are no known believers. Kris and Shelly would like to see this village adopted by a church or churches to reach and teach this community.

After a long drive back and the sun beating down we unpacked, ate supper and kicked back. Another good day of sharing God's love in both word and deed. Here is a look at today...

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Saturday, December 06, 2008

Africa, Day Four

The Dentist will see you now!

Today was our first day of actually being in a village doing a clinic, which was the whole reason we came. Pete was excited, though would never admit it and if you ask him he will deny it, to be going to do dental work. He was going a little stir crazy after two days of travel and then orientation. He was up late packing and sorting and not letting us touch his toys.

After rising slowly and getting a shot of caffeine and sugar we packed the roof of the truck with our crates, water jugs, tables, and metal steer. I had no clue how to tie knots so I was schooled on that later. After loading up the truck moved to Beverly, or at least that is how it felt. We had to watch out for low hanging limbs!

Our two interpreters we fabulous, Bilo and Sedu. Bilo is a believer and would go with us to pray and evangelize. Sedu has yet to believe. He owrked with Pete and was marvelous. He jumped right in with paperwork, flashlights, and interperetations. He gloved up and got after it!

We arrived at the village about 9am, after over an hour journey getting there. Pete began setting up shop and the crowds rolled in quickly. It was overwhelming how they gathered. They began pressing in on teh building and Pete went into a different mode. Kris and I took tickets over to a tree to move some away while Chuck set up the roping dummy the other way. This relieved the pressure on Pete a little. We were "selling" tickets for 500 francs, or $1, that at the end of the day we give back to the village through extra medications and other needs. In this way we make it feel authentic and help the village at the same time. We quickly sold 18 tickets, and within a few minutes another 5. We held off selling any more because we were not sure if Pete would be able to see them all.

He was great! He saw all of them plus 5 more.

Each of us, except Pete, had a chance to go into the village and meet people and pray for them. We prayed for eyes, colds, sick children, need for husbands, and machinery for producing food. It was wonderful! Being able to make connections, hold children, and pray blessings is an immense pleasure. I pray that teh beginnings of connections we made will be able to develop into more for the missionaries that are on the field. This is a new work area and our work today opens doors for them later for God's glory.

We left dusty, dirty, tired and sore and thrilled to death about our journey. Here is a peek at our day:

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Friday, December 05, 2008

Africa, Day Three

As the chills set in overnight, Chuck sure thought malaria had come with them...silly banker! Malara won't set in for at least 10 more days so give it time! The overnight temperature is still warmer than at home but at 55 the room became quite cool. Our thin sheet and blanket were not quite enough, but the daytime high warms up quickly.

Welcome to the desert!

At 530 this morning we heard a loud siren alerting the community that it was prayer time. I confess that I went to sleep until the alarm went off and then I prayed to the One True God. We heard it again at noon and I kept eating my cheesburger and fries at the American Rec Center which is a part of the Embassy.

We orientated this morning and then went shopping. Now, I can't tell you what we bought because you might spoil the surprise...but it is cool! We went to a set of shops that were both inside and outside. The inside had taped on prices that are the "bottom line" price. If you go outside you can haggle to your heart's content...not that all of us enjoy the process...the whole guys and shopping thing I guess.

We bought groceries from a young man you will see int he scrapbook. He is a fine young man dressed in the traditional robe. We bought our vegetables for the next couple of days and then went next door to a store to buy other items. The guy in the store is an Arabian who goes by the name of Cobra due to the tattoo on his arm. He runs a tight ship and I am glad he is not my boss.

After the lunch I mentioned earlier. You know, the glorious American lunch of cheeseburgers and fries, onion rings and milkshakes. One of the items is a Niamey Burger: a double-patty-lettuce-tomato-cheese-special sauce on a bun burger. We then came back to go over interpretations and village customs. While doing we discovered a man who needed help. He knew when to return and we set up "shop". Pete was as happy and a kid in a candy store. After 27 hours of travel, bad night sleep, discussion and shopping, He got to do what he came for and that is to help people. God has really given him a gift and he is proudly using it to God's glory and the growth of the Kingdom. I can't say that his lovely assistants are worth shooting, but he is good. After that one was finished another worker at the mission center asked if we could help him and Pete enjoyed that as well. In this way we could establish protocol for working and sanitation

We ate a home-cooked african meal tonight: vegetables and rice with meat. This meal was a wonderful treat for our senses. In Niger it is considered impolite to use your left hand for anything other than hygiene. During supper we were all feeling sorry for the left-handed one so we ate left-handed while he ate right-handed. Some called it sympathy, others called it sarcasm as we laughed and enjoyed a meal together.

The rest of the evening we spent emailing and packing up for our first trip tomorrow.

Here is a scrapbook of today's fun...

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Africa, Day One

Have you heard the one about a banker, bus driver, preacher and dentist that all went to Africa?

The banker went into the restaurant and was asked what he was doing out so early.
"I am going to Africa."
"Really?", came the reply.
"Sure. We are going to do a dental clinic.", the banker replied.
The friend simply looked him straight in the eye and said, "Chuck if you don't want to tell me why you are up so early and where you are going that is your business."

Well, we all had a good laugh about that one!

Myself, Chuck Hall, Bill Spears, and Pete Moore left the church at 6am Wednesday morning. We arrived at what would be 10am Thursday at home. We are seven hours ahead of home. We have had no incidents and no sickness travelling. Everyone had a good trip, just long. We left OKC at 810 in the morning and flew to DFW. After a 2.5 hour layover we boarded and headed to JFK in New York. After walking the NYC marathon across JFK we finally got to the airtram to go to the Air France terminal. With directional trams...which one should we take?

Of course...it was the other one!

God worked it out that we did not have to pay for excess weight at the AF desk. We scrambled around for food and got in line to board. Air France has the best looking seats when you first board. These things lay flat with all the amenities. We went through a doorway to the next level of seats and they laid flat and fewer amenities.

Could these be our seats?

We passed through another doorway to find that we had left the serfs and were now in the peasant seating. "There is obviously a caste system on this plane", Pete remarked. How do we know this? We passed through two more doorways into smaller aisles and hip room before we got to our seats. Proud to have found them we sat down in row 42 of 48. We were right on top of the engine with 7 hours to go!

Every airport had its own security measures. Even though we were in the same terminal in Paris we went through another security check...shoes off, belt off, passport out, run through the machine and dress again quickly.

The final leg of the journey took us into Niger. We disembarked on the tarmac and took a guarded bus ride 100 feet to the terminal. God took care of us through customs. All passports, visas, and forms checked out. In fact not one bag was opened by a customs official in Niger. God moved us right through without a hitch.

Isn't He good?

We have had supper and showers...not comes the sleep.

Here is a scrapbook from Day 1-2...
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