Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Work, Work, Work

Hi Everyone,
Proverbs 10:4 says, "Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth."
Okay, first a little background information - we can only use our washer and dryer when we have electricity and much of our electricity comes during the middle of the night and it might just stop right in the middle of the washing process. When that happens, we have a clothesline strung across our bedroom (it was either there or the living room) between the two opposite windows and we hang our wash and just walk around the clothes. It may not be the best solution, but it works! One of our guards, Atukum, is a really nice young man. This past weekend he went home to his village and when he returned on Sunday afternoon he began washing his clothes and hanging them out. How many other 20 year old young men do you know that do their own wash using a bucket and a clothesline? This is the norm for him - think about that!!

Now the two pictures below speak directly to the Scripture in Psalm 128:2 that says, "You will eat the fruit of your labor, blessings and prosperity will be yours."
For those who know me very well, you know that I very seldom make from scratch yeast baked goods. The thought of letting the dough rise, then punching it down and repeating the process several times - it's just too time consuming for me. But.....Monday morning, I just had the urge to do it anyway. I did ministry in the morning and just wanted to spend some kitchen time creating something. Crist and I LOVE any kind of yeast products. So you see the unfinished cinnamon rolls on the left and the finished product to the right. Were they ever good - YUMMY!
We put several in the little freezer section of our refrigerator for future consumption. I have to admit, there's just something about using your hands to make a delicious baked good that is very fulfilling. I used every pot, pan, spoon and utensil we have to do it but it was worth it!
Maybe I won't wait another five years till I do it again. Grin

In Joy,
Eileen and Crist

Monday, June 28, 2010

Did You Know?....... (Part II)

Hi Everyone,

Psalms 32:10 - "The Lord's unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in Him." Oh how true this is in Crist and my lives! His unfailing love is all around us as we make mistakes and gripe and complain. We are learning to trust Him more and more. Thank You Lord!!
Okay, part 2 of our "Did You Know!" Did you know that this is how you buy material here in Jos, Nigeria? There are many little stores just like this - very dark inside - with material hanging from ceiling to floor. You just pick out what you like and they rip the material with their teeth and viola - you're done!
Did you know that the man riding the choba below is taking the meat (yes, look closely - that's beef ribs on the back of the choba) to market. Hmmmmm

Did you know that the pile of rags in the picture above is where a woman and her children live during the day while they crack rocks (they're sitting on the ground with a big rock in their hand and a smaller rock on the ground and they pound the smaller rock until it cracks. They keep at it until the rock is the size they want it. They collect all the rocks and pile them on the side of the road and sell them. John has bought some for gravel in our driveway here on the compound. That's how it's done here. The huge boulders that you see all around Jos are free and people just smash them up to make an income. Very ingenious!
Did you know who is on the Back2Back Nigerian staff? The topmost picture was taken last week of all of us on staff here. Daniel (a Nigerian on staff) is to the far left, then Corrie and John (our daughter and son-in-law), then the "old" couple in the middle - wonder who they are? and Jason and Emilee are to the far right. Jason and Emilee are the Directors of Back2Back Nigeria.
Hope all is well with all our friends and family back home. We miss you all, but God is Faithful - we're settling in and keeping busy.
Eileen and Crist

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Did You Know.......?

Hi Everyone,
Did you know that these three lovely children up above are our grandchildren? Sarah and Gus in the back and Sami in the front with her newly Nigerian braids in place. They live right next door to us (maybe 8 feet between our bungalow and their home).

Did you know that the picture to the left is of a typical Nigerian car wash? Anywhere there may be some water sitting there; you'll find a carwash. This particular car wash is close to the village and many of these young men have come to the Viewing Center.

Did you know that our Back2Back property near the village has monkey families living in the boulders?
Did you know that the potholes shown in the picture below are actually fairly small compared to many of the HUMONGOUS (is that a word?) potholes we face and drive on to and from the village? Driving is an experience you will feel the next day!

Did you know that in John 14:6, Jesus says, "I am the Way, the Truth, the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
Did you know that right before we left Pinehurst to come to Nigeria, we celebrated Mother's Day and two of our daughters gave me a small key on a necklace chain? They gave me a Scripture verse that goes along with the necklace that has become very special to me. It is from Isaiah 33:6 which says, "He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear (the awe) of the Lord is the key to this treasure." The longer we're in Jos, the more in awe of the Lord Crist and I become.
Our next blog we'll finish with "Did You Know...?" Tomorrow we're going to church with some friends (we'll try to have some pictures).
Eileen and Crist

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Jos Campus Visit

Hi Everyone,
We thought we'd give you a short tour of the main Back2Back campus which is right around the corner from where we live.
We've shown you the Viewing Center, our place and other places around town, but we've been remiss in showing you where the Back2Back Nigerian staff director and his family live as well as this is where the work teams stay when they're here.
The picture on the upper left is of two lizards sunning themselves (look hard and you can see them). They are EVERYWHERE, all different sizes and colors and believe it or not, but I'm not at all scared of them. They're actually cute. I count how many I can see on the walls as I walk from this compound to ours and usually it's around 13 or 14. The other picture is the front gate you drive through with the guards shack right there. There are three guards on the main campus as well as a vicious guard dog that is let out to roam every evening at 10 pm. On our compound we only have two guards that rotate their schedule.

On Tuesday morning we had a Staff Meeting so I used that opportunity to take a few pictures so I could should you around. The picture on the right is the main house. Jason and Emilee and Peyton (she's a year old) live on the right side of the house and there are bedrooms and two baths in the left side of the house where work teams stay.

The picture to the left is where John, our son-in-law, is going to begin building on Monday an L-shaped building which will have two, two-bedroom apartments, each with a bath, kitchen and living area. Another couple is coming on staff full-time sometime this fall and they will get one of the apartments. This quiet little plot of land (in front of the main house) will very soon become a buzz of activity.

There is also a small office building on the property where meetings are held and office work is done. This is where I go when I work on the village census from time to time. We just took a staff picture, but haven't gotten it down loaded yet so will save that for another day. Hope you enjoyed the tour.
Eileen and Crist

Monday, June 21, 2010

Let's Go Visit OLA Again!

Hi Everyone,
Sometime this week, we'll be going to OLA (the Children's Home), and this is a ministry that is very special to all of us. As we go each week and begin to get to know the staff and children a little bit better, we're recognizing God's hand in putting us all together. People are people, wherever you live and we all just need to help and love one another. Little Mary is in the left picture and she's about 14 months old, has malaria and hardly weighs anything. She seems so fragile because she's so small, and I'm beginning to love her alot. Abigail is to the right and she is probably in her 30's, has lived at the children's home for a very long time and she has some physical deformities that keep her in her wheelchair. But she is the official "greeter" and she knows each of the little ones and all the children look up to her and take care of her needs.
The bunkbed picture is where the older boys live and there is another room like this for where the older girls live. Nothing fancy at all - just bunk beds - no rugs or pictures - just bunk beds. Sometimes we see sheets on the bunks and many times we don't. The kids really do seem happy; they've never known anything else and they have each other and that seems to be enough for them.

This picture to the left is the building that houses the children at OLA. You walk into the front doors and many times Abigail will be sitting right there near the entrance in her wheelchair. It's painted pink. To the left of this building there is some land (will have to get a picture of it all soon for another blog) where Back2Back has helped them build a chicken coop building, and a catfish fishery. They will sell the catfish as they mature at the market and the money will go back to the Children's Home. Their first fish have been sold and we had some of the catfish the other night for dinner and it was YUMMY!
Well, I guess I've rambled on long enough. We just wanted you to see a bit more of OLA. Chat with you soon!
..."I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for me." Matthew 25:40
Eileen and Crist

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

Hi Everyone,

Happy Father's Day! Today we're gonna show you around our bungalow a little bit. The first week we were here we took pictures, but we've added a few things to make it a bit more attractive and thought you might like to see the changes. The President of Nigeria is Goodluck Jonathan (that's really his name) and on many of the street corners there are hawkers selling anything from live chickens, rat traps, watches (yea right - "do I have a deal for you!" grin) etc., but a very popular item since the recent election of their President is the above picture of their President. Corrie thought her dad, in honor of Father's Day, might enjoy the picture so that was his Father's Day gift. We mean no disrespect to the President, but we had a good laugh. Oh, and by the way, the hanging tab on the back of the picture was on the bottom of the picture, so poor President Jonathan would be hanging upside down if we hung the picture up. Oh dear!

Crist is sitting at our dining room table which is directly opposit from the computer (picture to the left). There are maybe four steps between the two. The kitchen (below) is the room you enter into when you come into our bungalow. The green plastic tub to the left of the sink is the "rinsing" station filled with bleach water that we rinse all our dishes in. We change the water a couple of times a day. It's not the perfect system, but it works and so far we've remained healthy. (Praise the Lord!)

The top picture above is our living area, and where we spend the most time when we're home. At the end of the green rug is the computer station and on the other side is the table - comfy, huh?The Jesus poster we brought with us from the states when we came over and we like the message - it about says it all, right?

After church this morning (we went to a city ECWA church where one of our Nigerian friends, Daniel (remember, it was his sister who died two weeks ago) and his wife, Evelyn, were having their three month old son, Daniel, dedicated to the Lord. It was a lively service with lots of music and probably between 350 to 450 people packed into the benches. But we thoroughly enjoyed being a part of little Daniel's special day. After church, we came home, changed clothes and then went to Corrie and John's for a special Father's Day lunch - yummy.

Before we sign off, we wanted to praise the Lord for our son, Crist, and our three sons-in-law, Chris, John and Heath. Happy Father's Day to each of you. You are all such wonderful fathers to your children and we love you all. We thank the Lord every day for you!


Eileen and Crist
"Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." Galatians 4:6

Thursday, June 17, 2010

New Friends

Hi Everyone,

Yesterday, Crist and I ventured out once again to visit the Pastor and the village doctor. Pastor
Dauda wasn't at home, but his wife, Ladi, was home (women in the blue). She is also either a teacher or a teacher's aide at the village school (see picture below). School is only in the morning and as we arrived there after lunch, Ladi was home and took us on a "look-see" at the school. This little school is across the street from the church we attend and is for the first five grades. On Sunday mornings, they use the rooms for Sunday School.

Back2Back Ministries about two years ago made the school benches (above picture), but they weren't treated (we now know to do that), so very quickly they deterioate as you can tell by the picture. Back2Back also paved the floors. They used to have mounds of dirt and the children would sit on the mounds. The village is poor so conditions usually don't get better.

The "blackboard" is just black paint over the wall.....yet, inspite of these primitive teaching aids, there is learning taking place and we know the families are thankful that at least their children are able to attend some form of education.
Ladi speaks very little English, and I, of course, speak very little Hausa, but her smile is as big as the ocean and her hugs are warm and genuine. We communicate as best we can and friendship is growing.

This picture to the left is of Ladi and Respa (I'm guessing at the spellings of their names). Respa is a neighbor right next to the church. Her grown children live in town and she does farming in the village and visits her children during the weekend. This is the only way she can support herself. I value these relationships that are being formed; actually, I'm finding I need them. That's how we women are, huh?
Isaiah 58:6-7 ' "Isn't the fast I choose: to break the chains of wickedness, to untie the ropes of the yoke, to set the oppressed free, and to tear off every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, to bring the poor and homeless into your house, to clothe the naked when you see him, and to not ignore your own flesh and blood?" Hard words to read but even harder still to put into practice.
Eileen and Crist

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Beauty and the Beast

Hi Everyone!

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge." Psalm 19:1-2

This is truly a dry and dusty land but there is alot of beauty just waiting for us to discover. We were laying in bed last night and the window is right above our bed and I could look up and out and see all the stars and it was so beautiful. Without all the lights like we have in the states, you can REALLY see the stars at night here. I remember when we went to Kenya five years ago, Bill Leusink went also and he would show us the different constellations and as you see heavens' splendor, it's hard not to feel small and puny in comparison. God sure created magnificent wonders, didn't He?

Now the little green creature up above, this we encountered a few days ago as we were driving back from the village. It was the strangest sight. He was walking with his head up and very very slowly - not at all concerned with us talking and taking pictures. He put one foot down and then the other and it was soooooo cute! Bill, do you have any idea what type of lizard he might be? We were wondering if he was a chameleon. I called him the "beast" up above, but really he wasn't. I wonder if there were two of them on the ark with Noah?

This afternoon we travel to the doctor's place and to visit the Pastor - this is becoming part of our routine now and we enjoy this time of ministry. People are showing up at the Viewing Center to watch the World Cup and we're thankful that this outreach is continuing.

Back2Back is having all of their work teams through this year do a Bible Study on "Hunger" and Crist and I are doing it also. A question for you - "Are we hungering for less sin or more Jesus?" We've been thinking about that the past few days. I'm not sure what all of this has to do with flowers and lizards, but that's okay! It's all about God and His wonderful plans for you and me.

Eileen and Crist

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words.....

The Nigerian team lost their match against

"...a time to laugh, ....a time to dance." Eccl. 3:4

Yesterday was awesome! HOT HOT HOT and children everywhere! We were hoping for more young adult males, but as the word gets out, we think that they will come. Probably all total, we had about 150 people. But seeing the childrens' faces made it all worthwhile! Daniel, our Nigerian staff person, is in a Christian band and they played (see picture). We had face painting (Sarah and I did that) and the children LOVED that. We painted a little Nigerian flag on their faces. There was food and minerals (soft drinks) and bouncy castle (where we could tell many, if not most, of the children had no underwear - makes me sad).
Enjoy the day with us through these pictures.
Crist and Eileen

Thursday, June 10, 2010

"It is Appointed unto men once to die."

Hi Everyone,

We have a Nigerian man on staff with Back2Back, Daniel, and on Monday his 35 year old sister, Martha Peace, died of typhoid and yesterday was her funeral. Her home church was downtown (picture to right) so we all went to support Daniel. What an encouraging and comforting funeral service it was.
We had never met Martha but after the service, we felt like we had. Daniel gave a brief eulogy at the beginning of the service and then there were several testimonies given by people who had worked or served with her. Martha was one of 9 children and her life was one of service and discipleship. She had never married but she will one day have many "children" in heaven who will testify to her impact on their lives.
The church was crowded and you could tell that Martha's life had touched many in the community. Crist and I both felt moved to tears several times during the service. The Holy Spirit's presence was so sweet. In ECWA churches, during weddings, funerals, or any solomn occasion, many pastors, high and low in the hierarchy of the church, come and speak or say a prayer. And this was true for yesterday. The pastor who gave the sermon spoke excellent English so he would speak both in English and Hausa. It was an excellent salvation message and was so straightforward.
The service lasted almost two hours but felt like less. Our first day in Nigeria we had been invited to a wedding (were unable to go, however, because of our travel delays) and now five weeks later, we were attending a funeral. Life's full cycle in a month. Amazing! But whether you live in the United States or here in Nigeria, the message is still the same. How are we living our lives? Are we leaving a legacy that will impact eternity? I'm looking forward to one day meeting Martha Peace in heaven and getting to know her!
Be blessed!
Eileen and Crist

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Life and Random Observations

Hi Everyone,

I'm not feeling particularly talkative today and I'm not sure what to write on this blog. I suppose the fact that we live in Jos, Nigeria would make you think that our every day is filled with lots of exciting things......but the reality of it is that our lives here are not much different from yours - only the scenery has changed. (oh, alright, maybe it is a little bit different - grin!) After a staff meeting this morning, we each were left to do whatever ministry we felt led to do or do the "everyday" types of things.

Crist and I ate lunch and decided we both wanted to go to the village to spend some time with some of the patients at the doctor's place and then go pay a visit to Pastor Dauda and pray with him. Then on the way home we needed to do some "shopping." We went and visited Michael, Joy and Judith, three patients at the doctor's compound. We had some crayons and coloring books for Joy and Judith and some stickers. We sat and just visited for a while with the two girls and their moms. I'm not sure how much any of us understood the other, but the smiles and laughter transcend any language. We prayed with them and went to visit Michael, a man we had met a few weeks ago with a broken leg. We met his wife and visited for a few minutes and prayed with them.
From there we went to visit Pastor Dauda and we just chatted and talked and prayed there in his yard. It's nice getting to know him better outside of the church building. On our way home we stopped at one OF THE MANY MANY little markets along with way. I needed some potatoes, green peppers and bananas so you can see my back in one of the pictures of me shopping for those items. You try to ignore the gazillion of flies everywhere and just pick out what you think looks good, pay for it and off you go!! There's another picture of one of the "meat markets". This market we DO NOT go to. We get our meat only from vendors recommended by other missionaries. That meat will come clean, prepackaged and without flies!
The woman walking with her child on her back (a very ordinary way for all mothers to carry their babies to and fro) is a common sight everywhere you look. And there's something almost beautiful as the women carry household things, water, vegetables - whatever needs to be moved - on their heads. What at one time would amaze me is becoming a normal thing to see. I guess that means we're feeling more at home here. But we sure would love to hear from you; the home we left behind.
"Now the Lord said to Abram, 'Get out of your country, from your family and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you." Genesis 12:1
Eileen and Crist