Friday, December 31, 2010

Praise the Lord!

Hi Everyone and Happy New Year!

Crist and I have just finished reading through the Bible in a year and usually it ends with the Book of Revelation which says, "He who testifies to these things says, 'Yes, I am coming soon.' Amen. come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people. Amen." It has been an incredible year for Crist and I and we have seen the best of mankind and the worse of mankind. There are indeed days where we both just say in prayer - "come, Lord Jesus, come."

But then, we look around us and see what God has done even in these short eight months since we've been here in Nigeria - and we stand in awe and amazement. The picture above is of the Oasis House Viewing Center and the Education Center and in the distant you can see the Kisayhip B village where we do most of our ministry. The Education Center will be dedicated within the next 10 days and begin tutoring the children by the end of the month. There has been great strides in building relationships with the widows in the village and from this we will begin plans for helping them become self-sustaining. At OLA we will start on Tuesday, with the work team that is here from the states in totally redoing the OLA Baby Room. With funds raised and donated from an OLA baby shower held in Indianapolis we will be completely painting the entire room, putting in new cribs, having two clothes wardrobes put in and do some "baby decorating" to the room. We'll try to show you some "before" and "after" pictures in future blogs. God has provided in 2010 for a pit latrine to be built at the doctor's compound and very soon a borehole will begin to be drilled which will provide clean, drinkable water for people at the village. Villagers that once looked at us with suspicion and distrust are now beginning to share and plan with us for the improvements for their lives.
In 2011, God will continue to use work teams and funds provided to invest into the lives of "the least of these." For the next two weeks Crist and I will be really busy as we have two teams working simultaneously so it's gonna be kind of crazy. We'll try real hard, however, to keep you posted on what's going on.
But know for sure - THIS MINISTRY COULD NOT CONTINUE without the prayers of all of you. We feel your prayers. When our bodies are weary - we feel your prayers and continue on. When the impossible needs to be done, we feel your prayers and God provides the funds for what needs to be accomplished. When tragedy strikes in loss of life, we feel your prayers and God provides the comfort and encouragement needed. The very fact that you are reading this blog means that God is working in your hearts and He wants you to be praying for His work here in Nigeria. "With God, all things are possible." Matthew 19:26
And to start this new year of 2011, there's no better Scripture than Psalm 150 - which I just love to read when my heart is overflowing with thankfulness. It says:
"Praise the Lord.
Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his might heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;Praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sound of the trumpet.
Praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with tambourine and dancing.
Praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!"
Eileen and Crist

Monday, December 27, 2010

"Bring It On.....2011!"

Hi Everyone,
What a week! Just wanted to show you some random pictures of this past week - our staff Christmas party (such sweet fellowship and Christmas carol singing), loving on the OLA babies (that's grandson, Gus, holding Okachee with glasses - grin), a child's casket (makes me sad to think of the families hurting now) and, last but not least - the butchering of cattle!!

Corrie and Theresa were running around the Hillcrest Campus last week and saw some of the maintenance workers butchering five cows on the outdoor basketball court. They got there right after the cattle were killed. The meat will be divided among the Hillcrest Nigerian workers as their Christmas gift from the school. This is quite a treat and they do it every year. Meat is very expensive in Nigeria and most Nigerians don't eat it because they can't afford it.

What a crazy world we live in - there's good, bad and ugly things that happen around us all the time. We stand in awe of an Almighty God who
wants to bring order out of chaos, bring peace to a troubled world and hope to the lost.
For those who have been asking - we are safe and we continue into this new year of 2011 with hope and joy. We have two work teams coming in the next week, so our blog might be sporadic at times. We see that most of our friends and family are experiencing LOTS OF SNOW!! Well, we're not! It's in the 80's here - hot and dry and dusty! What a contrast, huh?
Happy New Year to everyone!! Chat with you again next year.
Eileen and Crist

Friday, December 24, 2010

And His Name is........

"For a child will be born to us, a Son will be given to us; and the government
will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful
Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There
will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the
throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it,
with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The
zeal of the Lord of Hosts will accomplish this."
Isaish 9:6&7
Merry Christmas!!
Happy New Year!!
Eileen and Crist

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bringing Smiles To The Children

Hi Everyone,
It's been another busy week but alot of fun things to celebrate the Christmas season too. Last Friday, the B2B staff had a Christmas Celebration for all the Nigerian workers that help us here (guards, househelf, drivers etc.). Those who could, brought their families and we played silly games; even musical chairs - which THEY LOVED. We had refreshments and each family was given a live chicken for their Christmas meal. The picture up above is of the group. We are noticing that Nigerians work six days a week and they really don't "play" like we Americans do. So, it was sweet to watch them relax and really participate in the games. The children did some crafts, they had their pictures taken as a family and we'll be giving them all their pictures at a later date. There's no money in a Nigerian budget for "picture taking", so this will be a great treat for them.

Also, thought you would enjoy seeing the construction of the playground swings we're having built by the Education Center. This will be such a treat for the children that come for the lessons. We're hoping sometime in January to have the dedication of the Education Center and tutoring will begin shortly after that. Everyone in the village is very very excited about this - but initially we'll have room for maybe ten children.

Last week we also had a pool outing with the children from OLA. We had been promising them for a while and someone donated the funds for this to happen. Our granddaughter, Sami, was sick that day, so I stayed home with her and Crist and Corrie and John and other staff members gathered for this fun day. Crist said the water was ABSOLUTELY FRIGID. Lunch was prepared, bathing suits provided and promises kept - a wonderful day for all! Christmas is two days away. We'll be eating with our kids and two other couples. It will essentially be a duplicate Thanksgiving meal (chicken, potatoes, stuffing etc.) but YUMMY nonetheless.
You are all in our thoughts and prayers.
Eileen and Crist

Saturday, December 18, 2010

2nd Annual Banana Bread Bake-Off

Hi Everyone,
This past week the staff women of B2B plus the three women who help with cooking and cleaning for the ministry, we all got together and baked, baked and baked some more. This was the second year for the Banana Bread baking but it was my first time and it was really a GREAT morning.

Here we are above after arriving at the ministry center with our aprons on and we're ready to go!!
We were each given a "station" and we all knew what had to be done.

We made 75 loaves of banana bread which we cooled, then put into colored plastic bags with a Christmas greeting stapled to each bag. Then we each were responsible to giving the loaves away to our neighbors, our guards and other Nigerian staff, to businesses we've used this past year, to Nigerian ministries we come alongside and to our pastors and other ministerial friends. We started at 9:30 a.m. and were finished delivering the bread by 5 that evening. Everyone who received a loaf were amazed and so appreciative. It is truly better "to give than to receive." We all had such a good time. It's beginning to feel more like Christmas!!
Eileen and Crist

Friday, December 17, 2010

1966 - An Important Year!

Hi Everyone,

Forty-four years ago today, at 5:30 PM at Nichols-Bethel UMC, Odenton, Maryland, Henry Crist Hamilton III and Eileen Hoffman were united in Holy Matrimony. What an absolutely wonderful, FAST, blessed and joy-filled ride it has been so far. We started out just the two of us and end up with all these wonderful children, "married into the family" children and these beautiful grandchildren. We are blessed beyond measure and very excited about what the Lord has in store for us the next 30 years or so.

I love you Crist!
Happy Anniversary!
Eileen and Crist

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

You're Gonna Chuckle

Hi Everyone,
Now to really see this picture above you're gonna have to squint your eyes and really concentrate. Can you see it? Do you see the two horns and the large white body? Who can guess what you're looking at? Green and yellow cars in Nigeria are like taxi cabs but much much more than that. Since most people here do not have any means of transportation, these cars are used for ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING. So, I guess it's not uncommon to see a cow sitting in the back of a taxi cab, right? Only in Nigeria!
Are you chuckling yet? We just thought you'd enjoy seeing something unusual - even for Nigeria! I wonder if the cab driver hesitated at all?

Chat with you soon!

Eileen and Crist

Monday, December 13, 2010

"These Are A Few of My Favorite Things" (come on hum along)

Hi Everyone,

I was just looking through some of our pictures, and thought I would show you a few of our favorite things. have to get into the right frame of mind. Remember that famous song from the movie, Sound of Music - "These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things"? Okay, start humming that song. I actually tried to make up a poem using those lyrics, but it just wasn't flowing very good. So, your humming will just have to do.

The list could have gone on and on - but these are just A FEW of the things we love here. Of course, THE ROCKS! And little Lucky at the left and Daniel and Joe below.

Ocachee is to the right and you gotta love those lizards that are everywhere, right?

And we love the flowers that are blooming now around our compound. But we love also our children and grandchildren and each and every person here on staff. Then there are, of course, Alphonsus and Atukum and Hosea and Dan and Eveyln and little Daniel. Our list gets longer and longer. We have many "favorite things" here in Nigeria. Okay, you can finish humming now. I think "favorite things" is synomonous with things/people we are thankful for. It still doesn't "feel" like Christmas here, but our hearts are thankful!


Eileen and Crist

Friday, December 10, 2010

From the Very Beginning to the Almost End

Hi Everyone,
Some friends from Illinois felt God leading them to contribute to having a pit latrine (aka - outhouse) be built at the doctor's compound. What a blessing this will be to the patients as well as all those who live in this compound. It's very close to completion, so wanted to show you how it has looked from the very beginning.

This first picture is of Dr. Zamani on the left and his son, Moses. They are standing where the pit latrine will be constructed.

I think we have mentioned before that at the present, everyone needing to go to the bathroom has to walk (or be carried) into the bushes where they take care of business. This pit latrine will bring so much more cleanliness to the area. When we have the dedication of the latrine, we're going to have the Doctor explain the reasons why it is so important that everyone USE IT.

The familiar "way of doing things" is very strong in the village setting, so we really want this latrine to be used and for everyone to see the benefits of using it. Pray with us that this will, in fact, happen.

There will be a side for the men and a side for the women. It still needs to be painted and cleaned around the area. I know this doesn't look like much to those of you reading this, but, trust me - this is really an awesome undertaking for these people. God is so good in His provisions for these people in Jos!!
Eileen and Crist

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

"Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire"

Hi Everyone,

Such a wonderful time of year!! How excited Crist and I are to go to under the bed and pull out the big box filled with Christmas decorations. I hope we can do this without breaking anything. We'll put some Christmas music on and "away we go!!"

First, we're gonna decorate with Christmas lights on our little porch overhang and then into our two-room apartment we'll hang more Christmas lights from the windows and around the bookcase. I'm so excited - now to have some hot chocolate and chocolate chip cookies - yum!!!

Okay, that's done - so now it's time to put up the modest Christmas tree. There's not much room in here, but we can do it!! It's not the perfect Christmas tree, but it'll do. I think we'll decorate the front door next. We always do that at home in the states and it's nice to have alot of color on the door. Okay - we're standing back to see all that we did - it's BEAUTIFUL!!

Okay - so we lied!

We didn't bring any decorations with us from the states because of weight limitations and here in Nigeria anything Christmas IS VERY VERY EXPENSIVE! We didn't want to spend any money on things that we couldn't bring back with us (we're very practical - grin) so the picture up above is "Our Christmas Decoration". All of it!! But you know it's okay. Christ's birth wasn't fancy - probably even smelly. But He did have music - the heavenly angels singing!! So, this year we'll put on some music, read the Christmas Story once again and be very very thankful for all of our family and friends that we love and care about.


Eileen and Crist
P.S. Guess where we got the bow that is taped to our front door? It was from a jar of cookie mix that we bought at a craft fair at Hillcrest School. See, I told you we were practical! grin

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Our First Nigerian Wedding

Hi Everyone,
It is seven o'clock in the evening here in Nigeria and we arrived home from our first Nigerian wedding about two hours ago. I'm going to take you through a very typical village wedding. I'm hoping just to show you exactly (as we saw it) the day, without too much editorializing. Stephen, an elder at our ECWA church was marrying Esther and the invitation said 10 o'clock. Now, in Nigeria NOTHING starts on time (they even joke about it) so we knew we shouldn't get there right at ten...but American habits die hard so the first picture is of Crist and I as we're heading out to the wedding. How about that fancy hat ladies?? We arrived at ten and the second picture shows you the empty church when we arrived. In fact, they were still hanging balloons and the band was practicing. We sat and we sat.

The band began playing at around 11:15 (very lively music and LOUD) and the church began filling up.....and filling up.....and filling up. All the children were told to go outside and probably when the wedding started at 11:30 or so (yes, 1 1/2 hours late) there were three hundred people inside the church and another hundred or so outside the church. The normal way the wedding party comes into the church is by DANCING. The groomsmen (ten or eleven) come shuffling in, followed by various family groups (you can tell because their clothing is made from the same material, but with different styles), and various church groups etc.

The picture to the right is of the groomsmen coming down the aisle. Then six little girls all dressed in pink come dancing down after them (I mean really dancing!!). Then the eleven bridesmaid and then some more family groups follow. The bride walks herself down the aisle (or should I say "dances herself down the aisle.") without accompaniment. The mothers and fathers of the bride and groom don't have a special part, so I was never sure which couples they were. There were about 7 or 8 pastors up front and for the first few minutes, it's very official - signing of documents etc. Then various church choirs sang songs, the wedding vows were said and the exchange of rings (similar to what we do in the states) and all the pastors praying. Next came a twenty minute sermon (which was very good - he spoke on "the two becoming one flesh." Then an offering was taken, another prayer and everyone began to leave the church. It's now 1:30 in the afternoon and Crist and I haven't eaten anything since 7 in the morning, plus we haven't gone to the bathroom.

Once everyone got outside, they just stood around talking and taking pictures. We probably had at least an hour wait before we rode over to the reception area (at a nearby hotel).

It is now 2:30 and people are streaming into the reception area which is held totally outside. There are tents all over (kind of in a horseshoe circle) and for the next hour there is an MC who introduces various people and dignitaries of the village. The bride and groom arrive and almost immediately the band begins playing and they have Stephen and Esther in the middle of the semi-circle and they begin to do a kind of shuffle style Nigerian dance and people begin to crowd around them throwing money at them. (not big bills - mostly ten and twenty Niara bills - which are the equivelent of 7 cents and 14 cents). About every ten minutes or so, they dance some more and more money is thrown at them. I would imagine that by the end of the day, they have acquired several hundreds of dollars. In between, Stephen and Esther cut the cake, then dance some more.

The picture right below is of Crist throwing money at Esther while she is dancing by herself and the men are supposed to throw money. I would imagine most of the people in the village are at the reception and everyone seems to be really enjoying themselves. Stephen asked me to be "The Honorary Mother" since his mom is passed away and that means at the reception I have to say some encouraging words.

This last picture is of me talking to Stephen and Esther with my "encouraging words". I very briefly gave them three gifts of "Faith, Love and Joy". I was nervous and everyone was talking so I doubt if Esther and Stephen heard a word I said, but that's okay - I said what I felt the Lord wanted me to say.
Crist and I left the reception at 4:30 (still having nothing to eat or not going to the bathroom) and arrived home at 5 o'clock. Whew! It was a LONGGGGG day....but we experienced our first wedding here. It was a very joyous occasion, lots of dancing and music - but for us "old folks", we're really tired. Well, I have chatted long enough. Hope you enjoyed the wedding!
Eileen and Crist

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Moving Right Along.....

Hi Everyone,

There's so much going on and it seems like I don't have a chance to blog about something before something new happens. So today I'll show you three things that have been happening. God is on the move here and it's so exciting to see the Spirit of God blowing into people's lives. Last Sunday we had a widow outreach at the Education Center. Any and all the widows in the village were invited to a "Forum" to just share about their greatest needs and for us to meet them and begin to know them and to build relationships with each one. Thirty-seven widows, young and old, showed up - all walking and for some it was a long walk. Two of the women were blind, but they showed up, eager to give their input to the afternoon.

I can't begin to tell you all their stories. A young widow stood up and shared about losing her husband, and struggling to raise her five children and losing one of her daughters and then having to raise her daughter's three children as well as the man "who has inherited her", raising his three children. He doesn't contribute to the household. There are no jobs - everyone just lives from day to day sharing what little they have with others in the village. There was such a sense of hopelessness. Each story was similar with regard to their great needs. Leaking roofs, lack of food, lack of education for their children and grandchildren, a sense of bleakness, no jobs - the list goes on and on. And in a very real sense, all these women are looking to B2B for something - anything. "Will anyone listen to me?" "Can anyone help me?" I had to frequently lift up a prayer to the Lord so that I wouldn't feel hopeless with their situations too. But we serve a mighty God and we KNOW He loves these women. We're hoping in January to have a clothes giveaway and each month we will try to respond in some ways. We cannot abandon these women and with God's help we will persevere with them into the future.

Today is our granddaughter, Sarah's 12th birthday and we celebrated it on Monday night. It was a fun evening eating some of Sarah's favorite foods, sharing encouraging things we like about Sarah and, of course, the opening of the birthday gifts. She liked everything! It has been such a joy for Crist and I to be able to live next door to Corrie and John, Sarah, Gus and Sami. They've always lived away from us so this is such a wonderful opportunity to get to know these grandkids better and to be able to love them "up close and personal."
The third thing that is happening which is very exciting is to see what the Lord is doing with the Tuesday afternoon Bible Study that Crist has been a part of for several months. It started out with Crist and Jason and three or four young men and gradually it went down to maybe two young men. But Emmanual (I've blogged about him before) has a heart for the men he works with at the carwash and he's been witnessing to them and over the past few weeks, more and more of them are beginning to come. On Tuesday there were 11 at the Bible Study. They just finished Romans and now will begin II Timothy, which will get them up to Christmas. Bibles have been given to the latest newcomers, but Crist is beginning to realize that there is a possibility that one or two of them might not be able to read. Crist took a picture of the young men and it's one of the first pictures in this blog. They're all eager to learn. Please pray that they will have ears to hear and hearts that are open to the Gospel message.
Tomorrow, Corrie and I will be going to OLA to visit the kids there and on Saturday morning, we're going to our first Nigerian wedding. One of the Elders at our village church we attend is getting married (after a ten-year courtship) and his mother has passed away and he asked if I would be the "Honorary Mother" at the wedding. I have to give "words of encouragement" at the reception. (Yikes! what to say, what to say!!) A neighbor made a special Nigerian hat for me to wear - I'll show pictures in the next blog. It sure is BIG, but that's what they all look like here. I bet you can't wait to see it - grin!
Eileen and Crist

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Project Runway

Hi Everyone,
Over the last few weeks, I've been trying to take pictures of Nigerian women that I see so that I could show you how beautiful the Nigerian dresses are. These pictures are of all walks of life, but I must admit, there are no pictures of the wealthy women' dresses. There are some Sundays when we are driving to church and you can see EVERYONE walking to church alongside the road there are some absolutely STUNNING dresses with their head wraps. There are many dresses worn here for church in Nigeria, that our daughters would wear to their proms. Some are glitzy and shiny and some just elegant and beautiful. I'm hesitant to just "snap" a picture - but before we leave to return to the states, I'll try to get some pictures of that type of dress.

We had an outreach yesterday afternoon from 2 until 4:30 for the widows in the village. It went so well. I'll share about that in the next blog. All I know from what we can see after living here for seven months is that the Nigerian woman has a very very hard life in the village. After listening to the 37 women yesterday that came to our "forum" - my heart aches for each and every one. There is a BIG gap between the upper class and the village women - a HUGE gap.

We want to help bridge that gap. We want to be a friend and their sisters in Christ. Listening to their stories yesterday sure makes me thankful that this is not our "forever home."

I think I just digested the last of our Thanksgiving dinner a few minutes ago. grin
Eileen and Crist