Tuesday, April 5, 2011

It's Been GREAT!

Hi Everyone,
Well......I guess this will be the last blog......we're back in the U.S.......visiting family and friends....ready to start our next God adventure.......missing the Nigerian rocks already! We had a good trip home - a layover in Frankfort, Germany and Chicago. Our first American foods once in Chicago were a Big Mac for Crist from McDonald's and a chocolate milk shake for me - yummy!! It was sooooo good to see our son and family again. Little Camille and Corinne were both shy but this morning are beginning to "come around." There's something so sweet about little arms around your neck giving you a big hug!!!
This afternoon we did a little bit of clothes shopping. I desperately needed a pair of jeans and a couple of casual tops to wear in these cooler temperatures. Crist needed a couple of casual shirts and a new wallet. Shopping was successful - it's amazing how quickly we could get back to buying things once again. We didn't do much shopping in Nigeria - no malls or stores to get ready-made clothes. Tomorrow we're going to go looking for a used car to purchase. I wonder if I've forgotten how to drive (grin). I haven't been behind the wheel in a year. We'll be here at Crist and Cheryl's until next Monday and then we leave to do a week of traveling visiting friends and relatives in Ky. and Illinois. Our thoughts are that we'll be at our home in N.C. on the 19th of April.
Once again, thanks to many of you who made this last year possible for Crist and I. We left a two room bungalow just waiting for another STINT (one year'ers) couple or individual to stay at in Jos. Maybe this is something you would like to do or you know of someone who might like to spend a year in Nigeria in ministry. Your room is waiting!!!
Hopefully we'll see most of you in the days ahead. Thank you for your love and support this past year. We are truly blessed!!!! This will be our last blog. We hope you had a real sense of what we were doing in Jos. God bless each of you!!
Eileen and Crist

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Almost Last Blog

Hi Everyone, This is unreal. I started this blog this morning while still in Jos but all of a sudden people were coming to say "good-bye", so now it's 5:30 at night and we're sitting in our hotel room in Abuja. It's been a crazy few days and all our good intentions have gone out the window. I had visions of my writing a beautiful heart-felt "last blog", sharing all of the deep emotions we are experiencing right now with having to say good-bye and give last hugs to the people we have worked closely with the past year as well as all of our new Nigerian friends. But it's just not working out the way I had hoped. We have only an hour left of battery time on our computer, we're totally drained of all energy and emotion and we're really really tired. The Nigerian people love to give a proper "send-off" when friends leave to go somewhere, so the past two days have been filled with people stopping by to say good-bye, the ECWA church we attended giving us a wonderful send-off yesterday afternoon and all the B2B staffers having us over for dinner with many more good-byes. I have no more tears left. And we still have to say our final good-bye to Alphonsus when he takes us to the airport on Sunday. That's going to be a hard one - he's become very special to us. We originally weren't scheduled to leave for the U.S. until the 12th of April, but national elections start tomorrow - three consecutive Saturdays beginning tomorrow. We were STRONGLY advised by many many people that we should get to Abuja before the elections - so we left Jos this morning. Tomorrow is a "no traveling" day throughout Nigeria so we'll have to stay here at the hotel all day. Our plane leaves Sunday evening and Corrie and John's plane leaves very early on Monday morning. It's feels almost surreal that our time here in Nigeria is almost finished. It has been an incredibly FAST year hasn't it? We wouldn't change a thing about what we've experienced and/or learned. We feel so totally blessed to have been able to join one of our children on the mission field and to have met so many great Nigerians (and B2B staffers) and to walk alongside them in faith and ministry. At the church "send-off" yesterday, we were each presented with a Nigerian dress/outfit which we were told to put on then (they provided a hut to change into). I don't have the pictures of the day to share with you, but many of you will see Crist and I wearing our outfits from time to time (they're BEAUTIFUL!!) in the future. It was so encouraging to us to hear people's comments and heartfelt feelings about our leaving. It was like attending our own funeral - humbling yet so very sweet. And many at yesterday's "send-off" still came to the compound this morning to once again say their good-byes. So right this very minute it's almost six in the evening and we're just about ready to go to bed (I'm almost not kidding). We're all tuckered out!!! BUT EXCITED!!! We're coming home and now that the good-byes have been said - it's time to think of all of you and all of the "we're back!!!!" We can't wait to see each of you in the near future. We'll probably blog one last time once we've arrived somewhere we can recharge our computer. We love you all - thanks to many, many of you who allowed this last year to happen for us!! In-joy, Eileen and Crist

Monday, March 28, 2011

Disciple Making

Hi Everyone, Matthew 28:19 says, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations......" With our days here in Jos, Nigeria almost to a close, Crist has mentioned almost every week how much he has loved being a part of the Tuesday afternoon Bible Study in the village. A year ago, he and Jason started with just a few young men (see the picture below), and ever so slowly their numbers began to increase. Then six months ago Will and Theresa came and Will began helping to facilitate the Bible Study and Emmanuel (the man the farthest to the right in the picture above) began witnessing and sharing with the men he works with at the local car wash. Then things began to really happen, evidenced by the above picture showing more young men wanting to learn about God's Word. And from this larger group, outreach is beginning to happen with the men going into their own village and helping the widows that need sticks to be gathered for selling, or hut repairs and/or any number of chores that need to be done. It is exciting to see the Word become alive to them and for them to realize (maybe for the first time) that they must be "doers of the Word" not just "hearers". This will be a group that Crist will miss greatly. This afternoon will be his last village Bible Study. In-joy, Eileen and Crist

Friday, March 25, 2011

Giving a Vision and a Hope

Hi Everyone,
The group in the picture up above just left and wow oh wow - was it ever a busy week, but we're all excited to see what was accomplished in the short time that they were here. We partner with another ministry called "SSE" (Self-Sustaining Enterprises) and this group in their home church in Ohio partner with SSE so we all worked together with a common purpose. SSE tries to bring small businesses for the people in the village to help them become self-sustaining. These Christians came with monies to help with two projects. The first one is the picture below. An old storage shed on our OCC property was converted into a chicken coop and one of the men from the village was trained in caring for the chickens and in a few months these once baby chicks (they are now almost two months old) will be sold to restaurants and to private companies for them to use and the monies will go back into the ministry for more chickens and hopefully this will expand and other villagers can start their own chicken businesses. Solomon, the young man now caring for the chickens is very very excited to be a part of this new venture. He told another B2B staffer that he recently woke up in the middle of the night really "happy." He now has a vision and a hope.
But, the most exciting thing that this team did this past week was to build a test model aquaponics system that we hope will one day completely revolutionize the way the villagers will do their farming. Several on this team have much experience and did much research before coming to Nigeria and they purchased the materials needed and in the pictures below you can see the process that took place.

They first built a large slightly slanted table 32 feet long, covered it with a heavy industrial material then a heavy plastic put on top of that. They then filled the table with rock chips about four inches deep.

The table is angled down towards a large tub (spa sized) which contains water and 200 catfish fingerlings. They feed the catfish, the catfish poop and the wastes and water is recirculated through a filter which removes the solid waste and allows the nutrient filled water to cover the whole table which then drains back into the pool. In the rocks are little green squares of a material that will help germinate the seed that has been planted inside this pourous square. To begin with we they planted some tomatoe seeds and lettuce seeds. The lettuce will be ready to pick in 30 days and the tomatoes slightly longer and will be ongoing. The benefits to the community if this project succeeds and then can be replicated, will be life-changing. Even in the dry season (which lasts six months), villages can still produce crops that can be sold to earn income. Within two days after the construction, we could already see a little shoot popping up from one of the lettuce seeds - see one of the pictures below.

The last thing the team did was build a plastic covering over the entire table which still allows the sun to get in but will keep rains from hurting the crops. A solar panel was purchased which will charge the battery which is used to power the three pumps that aireates the water and recirculates the water through the vegetation. Many people helped in this week's building of the aquaponics and some days there were several people from the village watching and hoping, I'm sure, that this might help their economy and families. We sure would appreciate your prayers toward this end. It's time for the people in Kisayhip Village to have a future and a hope!!
Proverbs 29:18 says, "Where there is no vision, the people will perish."
Eileen and Crist

Monday, March 21, 2011

Living Water

Hi Everyone,
The above picture is the "before" picture of the borehole that was recently drilled in the Kisayhip Village on the village Doctor's compound and the picture below is the "after" picture from yesterday afternoon's dedication of the borehole. The man in the orange Nigerian dress is the Chairman of the village and he said a few words during the ceremony, as well as Pastor
Dauda who gave the opening prayer.
We pumped the water out and allowed the children to fill little bottles and some do some typical children's behavior of playing in the water. It was a VERY hot afternoon and the water was truly refreshment in a dry and dusty land. This reminds me of the Scripture that says: "Jesus answered, 'Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.'" John 4:13&14

These women to the left are some of the widows from the Catholic Church in the village. The dresses they are wearing were part of the Widow Outreach we had a few weeks back where we measured the widows in the village (around 38 of them) and had an outfit made for each of them. They just received the dresses this past week so it was fun to see them wearing them yesterday. At the dedication ceremony, these widows sang a couple of songs which was a pleasant surprise since we weren't expecting it.

We probably had close to one hundred people from the village show up and there was a real sense of celebration to the event. Something we take so for granted in the United States (water), is truly a reason for rejoicing in the village. It's the end of the dry season here in Nigeria and many wells have run dry - so this borehole (which won't run dry - because it's deeper than the wells) can make a difference in the health of the villagers - since this water source will be cleaner and purer but it can also make a physical difference in their lives as this water source is closer so they won't have to walk as far to get it, and it is free and THEIR water source. Someone in the states paid for the drilling of it, but now it belongs to the villagers.

This last picture up above is of some bouganvallia (I think this is mispelled) that is right outside our apartment (we're to the left - and Corrie and John are to the right). A year ago when we came these weren't here - see how quickly they have grown. And they bloom in the dry season, which I've never understood. They require very little water, which I also don't understand. These flowers are all over Nigeria and the colors are rose, bright pink, orange, white and red. They're absolutely beautiful. God shows His creation in such amazing ways!!
We have a team here from Ohio and they're a great group of businessmen (and one woman) that are very excited about aquaponics and they're making a "model" in the village that will hopefully become the real thing in helping the villagers be able to successfully grow crops all year round using very little space.
Chat with you again soon.
Eileen and Crist

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Just To Let You Know

Hi Everyone!
Yep! Here are "my" rocks once again. I just wanted to let you all know that because of the team being here, I might not be blogging for a few days. So, in the meantime, thought you could all look at (Okay, they're His rocks!) God's rocks again and think about how blessed you each are and how much you have to be thankful for. Especially with what's going on in Japan, we should really be seeking the Lord for ourselves and our families.

But, before I sign off, I do want to say how very very thankful Crist and I are for our family - Kelley, Chris, Phillip, Joshua, & Gabe Lett, Crist, Cheryl and Henry, Brock, Claire, Seth, Colette, Corinne and Camille Hamilton, Corrie, John, Sarah, Gus & Sami Guckenberger and Jodi, Heath, Lydia, Noah and Allie Caddell. You are all held deeply in our hearts, and Dad and I love each of you for who you are and we are so thankful for the Lord's hands in your lives!! You are special, special, special to us!

"And Father, we pray for the people of Japan. We pray that through all the devastation the Japanese are experiencing now; through the heartache and pain, that You will show Yourself Mighty and Strong - their Healer, their Comforter and their Redeemer. Amen"

Eileen and Crist
(and for that special someone who wanted their name mentioned - there it is!! grin - see you soon!)

The Beginning of "The Lasts"

Hi Everyone,
Well, we're getting down to the wire now and we're beginning to have "last things" happening - which in some respect is sad. Though the other night's dinner with all of the B2B staff wasn't sad at all. It was fun to all sit together and eat and share and laugh. Corrie had some fun activities where we had to guess things about their family and the one who won would receive a small gift. You would think that we'd win, right? Afterall, we're their parents!!!!

I'm not even sure we were close to winning! Theresa won that honor - I guess we're not as observant as we should be. grin

Much of Corrie and John's furniture is being sold to another ministry and some Jason and Emilee and Will and Theresa have now. All of our furniture will stay, in case the ministry uses our little apartment for other people to use. Little by little, we're giving things away and even packing some things into our suitcases. Saturday we have a team coming so for the next week it will be super busy. We'll try to continue blogging - so check in on us from time to time.

"A time to keep and a time to throw away." Ecc. 3:6b
Eileen and Crist