Thursday, July 29, 2010

Happy Birthday Juliana!

Hi Everyone,
"For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God." John 3:17 & 21

Let me introduce you to Juliana. Doesn't she have the prettiest smile? I won't go into a lot of detail but let me share a little of her testimony. First of all, yesterday was her birthday and she works for Corrie and John (Corrie met her through a Bible study she was leading a while ago) so I went over to their apartment in the morning and Corrie had some cards, a gift and some cupcakes with candles lit and we all sang "Happy Birthday" to her. I asked Juliana how old she was and her reply was "I don't know." She doesn't know when or on what day she was born so many years ago she just picked a date and July 28th became her birthday.

As a small girl she was sold as a slave and her early years were ones of physical, mental and sexual abuse. At the age of 12 she was sold to her husband (he was not a believer at the time) and her life continued as before - much abuse, no education - no hope of escape. At this point, I want to stand up and shout Halleluhia because only God can do this. Her husband became a believer in Christ and by his witness and the changes in his life, Juliana also accepted Christ. She and her husband have 5 children, the oldest being 21 years of age and they love the Lord and one another. In fact, Corrie said, "her husband treats her like a princess." I love that!

To be around Juliana you would never know of the horrors of her childhood. Because "she is a new creation in Christ," she is serene, joy-filled, a loving wife and mother and a servant of the Lord. God took what was broken and without hope and fashioned (as only He can do!) a woman of God with a purpose and a plan. I imagine her story is the story of many women here in Nigeria. But God is in the redeeming business and the restoring business. He makes all things new!!!

Happy Birthday Juliana!

Eileen and Crist

Monday, July 26, 2010

Esther's Special Day

Hi Everyone,
This is Esther and it's her special day. She's the oldest child at OLA and she graduated on Saturday to the next level. She just finished our equivelent of 8th grade. I wouldn't imagine that Esther has had many "special days" just for her so we went to her graduation ceremony.
Crist, John and Jason were working, so Emilee, Corrie and I plus Jessica made a day of it. We were told to be there at 10 but in true Nigeria fashion, the ceremonies didn't start until 11:15 and we were finished by 2 p.m. Because we were bitori(sp?) (white people), they seated us behind that stand in the picture to the right and because I am bitori and "old", they out of the blue just announced that I would be handing out the first set of special honor certificates to some of the younger grades. There's a picture of me doing the honors somewhere below.

These next two pictures are of Esther inside her classroom. Remember the blog a couple of weeks ago of pictures of some classrooms in the village school - well, these classrooms are of a private Christian school. The biggest difference is they have desks.

The graduation ceremony was delightful, however. Christ was honored and glorified and as each class did their performance (could be music - most were - a fashion show, native dancing, drama) Scripture and/or praise songs were lifted up and it truly was a hectic but joy-filled day.This class that did the native dancing was incredible. Those kids could move their bodies and they were really "playing to the crowd."

The last picture was after the ceremonies were finished, we all went and had our picture with Esther. Nigerians don't smile much when they have their pictures taken we're finding out. In this picture is Sister Fedelia and "Big Momma", one of the OLA caregivers plus Daniel, Joseph and Hope - three of the oldest children left at OLA. Our prayer is that Daniel, Joe and Hope will see Esther's efforts at school and will strive to achieve the same for their lives. Jesus and education are what will save this country.
Eileen and Crist

Friday, July 23, 2010

Rock Reminders

Hi Everyone,
"The Lord is my Rock my fortress and my deliverer, my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation." Psalm 18:2
This rock is my favorite rock. It's almost on the B2B property by the village and looks to me almost like a spinning top. It sits on an angle and somebody please tell me - HOW COME IT DOESN'T FALL OVER?
I mention this rock because I'm feeling somewhat discouraged today and I just need to be reminded once again of my Rock, and why we're here in Nigeria.
Last Friday evening, our pastor (Pastor Dauda) and his wife, Ladi were riding on their only mode of transportation - a small motorcycle - and they were on their way home. A car hit them and left them both in the middle of the road. The driver took off, never to be caught or held accountable. No police got involved - you're on your own! Someone took them to the nearest hospital which was in Bossa. Pastor Dauda came home from the hospital on Wednesday using a cane and VERY VERY sore and very frail looking Crist and I thought. Ladi had a deep, long cut on the sole of her left foot which required many many stitches so they won't release her until they take the stitches out on Tuesday. All of this requires money that this humble couple does not have, plus their motorcycle is badly damaged.

These two pictures above are of the hospital (yes indeed!). The one on the left is the hospital entrance and the other picture is the corridor you walk down as you continue inward. There are probably less than 20 beds total and the entire interior was dark, dark, dark. There was no electricity so you just put up with the darkness. Family members essentially take care of the patients, bringing in their food and bed sheets etc. Crist and I visited twice and it just makes us sad. How can one nation have sooooo much and another nation have so little?
Please keep Pastor Dauda and his wife, Ladi in your prayers, okay? They're a lovely couple and our brother and sister in Christ.
Eileen and Crist
P.S. It's been raining two days straight - a cold chilly rain - and we're on our 4th day without electricity. Many things contribute to the discouragement, huh?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What We're About

Hi Everyone,
Crist and I have begun to realize that many of you might not know what Back2Back is really all about. You know that this is the mission organization that we are serving with, but do you really know the heart of this ministry? We thought this might be a good opportunity to share a little bit about B2B.

Our Vision: "We desire for every orphan and impoverished child to have the opportunity for success through "care for today and hope for tomorrow." Our goal is that each child would experience restoration to a life of purpose in which they can become fulfilled and mature Christian adults."

Our Mission: "Back2Back Ministries is an international Christian non-profit organization that is dedicated to being a voice for orphans. We exist to love and care for orphans and impoverished children, by meeting their physical, spiritual, educational, social and emotional needs that they may overcome their life circumstances and break free from the cycle of generational poverty."

Several years ago Back2Back began in Monterrey, Mexico and four years ago, B2B began doing ministry in Jos, Nigeria and in India. Each country's facility/compound has the capability to host work teams throughout the year. Through work teams, the various national ministry partners have projects on their sites completed and ministry outreaches into the communities fulfilled. Every activity is organized with the purpose of accomplishing the vision of the ministry.
Each year, a theme is selected for that year and a week's worth of daily devotionals are compiled by various staff people that are used for the work teams that come during the year. This year's theme is Hungering for God. Taken from "The Message", Hebrews 12:16 reads, "Watch out for the Esau syndrome: trading away God's lifelong gift in order to satisy a short-term appetite." This year as we HUNGER for God we are challenged, staff and work team member alike, that spiritual hunger is only satisfied when we submit it to the Lord.

Many of you reading this have given financially to support Crist and I here in Jos, Nigeria. We thank each of you for that sacrifice. But, we would be remiss if we didn't also mention that if at any time, the Lord puts on your heart to give to the ministry of Back2Back; thus aiding the life of the orphan child here in Nigeria, please just click on the link to B2B on this blogspot and it will take it from there.

At our staff meeting yesterday, we were each given "Hunger" staff t-shirts and so, of course, we had a picture taken of all of us (and children) for you to see. I've got lots more to share, but that will be for another time. Until then.....

Eileen and Crist

Monday, July 19, 2010

Cleansed -Inside and Out!

Hi Everyone,
"He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior." Titus 3:5-6

Last Thursday the B2B women had an outreach to the caregivers to OLA (the children's home we come alongside). These women are from the village and they work two to a shift doing the cooking, bathing, washing of clothes, feeding and cleaning. There are eleven total and we were hoping that we would have all eleven there to "love on". But Crist and I are quickly learning that things in Nigeria run differently than our expectations and we have to just "roll with the flow" and just respond to whatever the Lord brings our way.
We had cooked a lunch and put them in "take-aways" (that's what they call an aluminum pan the size of a small loaf pan) and we brought the tables, decorations, mineral (soft drinks) and had hired two women to come and give manicures and pedicures to the caregivers. The very top picture is of some of the caregivers, except for the woman in white in the center. That is Sister Fedelia and she is in charge of the whole compound - the hospital, orphanage, and everything else within its walls. She has only been there a little over a year and she has brought with her new vision and hope and she is very willing and eager to allow us to help and assist in new ways that will improve things for everyone, especially the children.
The picture above is of the two women giving the manicures. The women on the right in yellow is pregnant and just lost her husband so we were thankful that we were able to bring some business her way. And let me tell they ever give a good pedicure. This was the first pedicure any of these women had ever had so their feet (which are used to sandals or barefeet) were rough and calloused. But after the treatment their feet were as smooth as a baby's bottom (I'm not kidding!). We gave them each a little gift bag with some toiletries and perfume and they were very appreciative.

Corrie had a short devotional on God's heart for the orphan and as the children's caregivers, His heart was for them too. We included a daily devotional for each of the women in their gift bag. We don't know where these women stand in their relationship with the Lord, but we know the Holy Spirit is alive and well and working at OLA so we leave the results to "Him who is able to do more abundantly than we could ever hope or imagine."

It was a great day and one that we pray will be an encouragement to the caregivers. It sure was an encouragement to all of us at B2B.
Chat with you soon!
Eileen and Crist

Friday, July 16, 2010

Hi Everyone,
Wednesday night, all the staff had our monthly dinner get-together and the theme was "An African Luau" and we were supposed to dress festively. I went to our little store and they had colored bows, so bought 36 of them and tied them onto chains that Crist and I had and voila a lei!!! The leftover bows I stapled to a hat that I had brought with me. At the table with Crist and I are Victor, his wife and Mabel, their daughter. Victors helps B2B alot and he feels like part of the "family."

The picture above right is all of us and children as the evening is winding down. It was a fun evening. I was told that I was the most festive of the evening - grin!! The below pictures are of Moses (the village doctor's son). He and Crist went medical shopping once again on
Wednesday afternoon. Just thought I'd send along some pictures of some of the things that were purchased. We are so thankful for individuals who have contributed monies so that the village doctor can have these supplies. The Body of Christ - amazing!!

I thought you might find these next two pictures interesting. What do you think they look like - these "things" on the ground right outside our entry door? We are told that this is a strange thing that happens during the rainy season. These are the THOUSANDS of wings left over from the flying frenzy that the bugs make every few days or so. The bodies are about the size of a small pea but the wings are much larger. They frantically hit up against the doors and windows trying to get inside to the light. Their life span is only a matter of a few days. After they die hitting up against the walls and doors - they die and in the morning THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO TRACE OF THE BODIES - only the wings. Unfortunately, our doors and windows are not sealed had on Wednesday night probably 20 of these critters flying around our apt., which we swatted and killed and swept out the door. It will happen again in a few days or maybe even tonight - just another interesting aspect of living in Jos! God doesn't want us to get bored with living here, so He continues to surprise us with the unexpected!
Eileen and Crist

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Little Bit of This and a Little Bit of That!!

Hi Everyone!

This morning and into this afternoon we woman are having an outreach at OLA for the care-givers of the children. We're having a "Thank-You" celebration, complete with food, feet pedicures, hand manicures, a short devotional by Corrie, balloons and little thank-you gifts. We're excited about it. If they all come, there will be 11 Nigerian women to honor. I say all this, because I will be leaving very shortly and won't have time to do a blog on our outreach until tomorrow or the next day.

So, we thought we'd update you on how the building project is coming along. Considering everything is done by hand, and we've had rain every late afternoon and evening, we think the progress is great!

I just got home, it's time for supper (the outreach was great) and I'm bushed, so will blog tomorrow with some things we've been up to. We just got the news our friend, Steve Whitton, is doing better, so we're very very thankful for that!
Eileen and Crist

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Day with the OLA Kids

Hi Everyone,
This past Saturday, we had an outing with the OLA children. This was for the children not in diapers. We had originally planned to have a swimming party, but we woke up Saturday to a cool, overcast day so changed our plan quickly. We picked up the kids, packed lunches, and went to the Viewing Center (OCC - Oasis Community Center) where we showed some cartoons (which the kids loved), ate lunch and then for the fun part - we let them loose!!
We brought water squirt guns and gave them to the kids and just let them run around and be children. And, of course, they all climbed the rocks (and, of course, led by Crist). I stayed behind. I could barely watch as the children, in their flip flops, climbed those high rocks enjoying every minute of this new adventure for them. At the Children's Home they are in a confined area (the hospital/home compound) so to see them running and jumping and just playing hard was a well-spent afternoon.

I include these pictures of the "rocks" because there is something so beautiful about them. The rocks below are some of my favorite. Just look at them for a minute. Don't they look like a big puzzle with all the pieces fitting in perfectly? God's Word said "that the rocks will cry out" declaring the glory of God - it really is true - I see God everywhere in the rocks!

As you can see below, the day wouldn't be complete without Crist and I having our own water-gun fight. I even had to take out my hearing aid because I was getting so wet. But, I'm sure I won! grin

Abigail in the below picture is the nicest woman. She is 40 years old and has been at the Children's Home since she was 10 years old. The children love her and she has the sweetest disposition. She and I stayed behind while the kids were rock climbing and I noticed she watched all the children very carefully the whole time. At the end of our time togethr at OCC, we all sat upon one of the smaller rocks and had our picture taken. Young and old alike - smiles everywhere - a good day for all!!! (Of course, Crist and I were in bed by 8 that night - grin - just kidding!)

This is Daniel and I sitting together watching a cartoon. There's something about a child resting against you in trust that warms your heart.

Eileen and Crist

The "Acts Church" no more...?

Hi Everyone,
I was doing my Bible study this morning from a workbook called "Sent" by Ed Stetzer and in it was a modern parable on the Church. I've been praying about whether this would be my blog this morning because it impacted me so. Please bear with me - it's a narrative - no pictures this time - just a story and it made me sad. Tomorrow I'll be back with pictures and how our Saturday outreach went.

"On a rocky seacoast where shipwrecks often occur, there once was a crude little life-saving station. The building was just a shack, and there was only one boat, but the few devoted members of a crew kept constant watch over the sea; and with no thought for themselves, they went out day and night tirelessly searching for those lost in the dangerous waters. Some of those who were saved, along with various others in the surrounding area, wanted to help with the station, so they gave their time, money and effort for the support of its work. New boats were bought and new crews trained. The little life-saving station grew.

Then some of the members of the life-saving station grew unhappy that the building was so crude and poorly equiped. They felt that a more comfortable place should be provided as the first refuge of those saved from the sea. They replaced the emergency cots with beds and placed better furniture in the enlarged building. The life-saving station became a comfortable gathering place for its members, who began to view themselves as a kind of club. Fewer members were now interested in going to sea on life-saving missions, so they hired lifeboat crews to do this work. The life-saving motif still prevailed in the club's beautiful decorations, and there was a liturgical lifeboat in the room where the club's initiations were held. About this time a large ship wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in boatloads of cold, wet, half-drowned people. They were dirty and sick. The beautiful new clubhouse was in chaos. So the property committee immediately had a shower house built outside where victims of shipwrecks could clean up before coming inside.

At the next meeting, there was a split among the members. Most of the members wanted to stop the club's life-saving activities since they were unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal social life of the club. Yet a few members insisted on life-saving as their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still a life-saving station. But they were finally voted down and told if they wanted to save lives of all the various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own life-saving station. So they did.

As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old. It evolved into a club, and yet another life-saving station was founded. History continued to repeat itself, and if you visit that seacoast today, you'll find a number of beautiful, exclusive clubs along that shore. Shipwrecks are frequent in those waters, but most of the people drown."

Eileen and Crist

Friday, July 9, 2010

"Lions, and Tigers and Bears Oh My"

Hi Everyone,
Honestly, we're doing ministry too. But on Wednesday we had an opportunity to go to the Jos Zoo so off we went. Corrie and John have two teachers visiting from B2B Mexico so we all went and had a great time. And we love sharing with you how things are here in Jos, so we took lots of pictures to just give you an idea of what this zoo is like.

Okay, let me explain. There are zoos and there are zoos (you know what I mean?) We each paid 100 Naira (about 67 cents) and 200 Naira for bringing in our cameras and we were loaded down with apples, carrots, bananas and watermelon all cut up. In ways, it's a kind of sad zoo. There aren't alot of animals and it's kind of dirty. spite of that.....animals are animals, wherever you might be. The cages are right out there and you can walk right up to them and feed the animals. Can you see me feeding the horse and the camel (the brown animal behind the horse) in the picture to the right? These two animals are just walking around hoping you'll feed them.

Let me tell you about the boa constrictor to the left. For a very small fee, you can purchase a live baby bunny rabbit and they throw it into the pen with the snake and you can watch the baby rabbit get squished to death and listen to the squeals of the rabbit as it is eaten. Fun, huh? (NO!!!! We DID NOT pay to get a rabbit - shame on you for even thinking that!).
There were two lions (a male and female) and they were sitting on the rocks sunning themselves. There were two peacocks (a male and female) and the male peacock to the right was really beautiful. We tried to get it to spread his tail feathers, but he wouldn't.

We had one almost scary thing happen while we were there. Gus, our 10 year old grandson, was standing by the baboons near the cage and he turned his back without thinking, and the largest baboon of the family quickly reached out and grabbed Gus's shirt from behind and pulled really hard. Gus quickly pulled forward and his shirt was ripped but we were thankful that he didn't get scratched or cut by the baboons sharp nails. One of the hazards of being able to be so close to the cages. But he's okay and now he has a great story to tell his friends.

After being there for about an hour, the heavens opened up (it's rainy season here now) and it poured down rain. We left the zoo but we were glad we went.
Tomorrow all of us here on staff have an OLA (The Children's Home) outreach for the kids there. There's a hotel with a pool not too far from OLA and we're taking the kids swimming and bringing lunch for everyone to enjoy. The next blog will be about that.
No two days look alike here. We wake up and see what the good Lord has in store for us for that day. Some days are easier than others and as you can see from this day at the zoo - this was an easy day - grin!!
Until next time....
Eileen and Crist

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

"A Time to Tear Down and a Time to Build..."

Hi Everyone,
This fall, B2B will be having a new couple coming on staff and they need a place to live. John, our son-in-law, is in charge of all the building projects and we thought we'd show you how things are coming along. The above picture shows you what the property looked like before anything began.
Everything here in Nigerian is done by hand - no Bobcats digging, no cement mixing machines. Just alot of hard work - but as you can see, it's progressing. First, John and Crist, using string, marked off the dimensions and the rooms etc. and then a crew of four young men began digging the footing trenches . Crist and John (see picture below) made the steel rods that go into the trenches. I'm trying to sound like I know what I'm talking about, but the reality is, I haven't a clue. Two days ago, they poured concrete into the trenches.

There were three women who helped with the mixing of the concrete and they would fill those baskets up with rocks/concrete and put it on their heads and walk to where it needed to be dumped. Crist said they were having a good time with lots of laughter among them and teasing back and forth.
In the coming weeks, we'll keep you posted on how the apartments are doing. Corrie and John have two friends from the states visiting them for the next few weeks and this afternoon we're all going to the nearby local zoo. We worked on 4th of July Monday, so we're taking off this afternoon to "see the sights." Corrie said for a very small sum you can pay to buy a rabbit and watch as a python slowly squeezes the rabbit to death and then eats it. Yuck! I don't think we'll do that. But, we'll take pictures so plan on seeing the Jos Zoo in a future blog.
Eileen and Crist

Monday, July 5, 2010

Away During 4th of July

Hi Everyone,
"I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts." Psalm 119:45

"If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free." John 8:31b-32

"You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love." Galatians 5:13

Ahh, means different things to different peoples and nations. We in the United States are truly the free-est of all nations yet people are in bondage to so many things that hold us back from God's plan for our lives. Others are in bondage to their governments yet their souls are free and joy-filled. Which do we prefer? Which is best? Hard questions.

I LOVE fireworks so we really missed not being able to sit under the stars (with gazillions of mosquitoes) and watch them this year. We had been invited to a get-together for the 4th at Jason and Emilee's but it wasn't meant to be. Saturday night, through the night and all day on Sunday found me with the 24-hour stomach flu bug (or something). It was miserable - I was miserable. When you're going through it you think it will never end. Saltines and 7-Up were all that would go in and even they didn't last for long. I spent all day in bed yesterday (we missed the outing - phooey!) but Crist took such good care of me. After sleeping most of yesterday, who would think I would be able to sleep last night - but I did - and very very well at that. Today I feel like a new person.

Crist and Jason (he took the picture up above) are co-leading a Bible study with some of the village men. They asked to learn more about the Book of Romans (whew! - that's a tough one for your first study!) so the picture above is of the group. Crist said he felt the guys asked some insightful questions and they really WANT to grow and learn. That's so encouraging. They're meeting once a week at the Viewing Center. (Ah - maybe that's the real purpose behind the Viewing Center...) Please keep this group in your prayers. Many Nigerians call themselves Christians but there aren't many opportunities for spiritual growth and discipleship. Pray that these men will grow to be mighty warriors for the Lord in their families and village.

Hope you had a blessed 4th of July!

Eileen and Crist

Friday, July 2, 2010

Our Hats Off To You'all!!

Hi Everyone,
Everytime you see a picture of a Nigerian woman (almost always), you will see that she has a head covering and if she's at church, her hat will most likely be elaborate and colorful. My new friend, Dorcas, who lives next door, invited me to come to her house this week and she would show me how EASY (I've heard THAT before - grin) it is to make a Nigerian hat.
You can make the hat two ways. One, you can use an upside down coffee can or mixing bowl (the size approximately of your head) and shape your hat on your lap or you can put the material on your head and get it wrapped just right, then take it off your head and tweak it then on your lap. I tried both ways, but liked the second option better.
The material you use for the fancy hats feels almost like paper but Dorcas said it is a polyester blend. But it is very stiff and you think you're going to rip it as you work with it, but you can't.

The most important thing as you're making the hat is to get it really tight around your head and to get the knot you've made in the back, very secure. From that point on, you truly just "play with it." Dorcas would tuck here and tuck there and then change her mind and start over again. There was no pressure and she just worked on it until she liked what she saw. She had her mirror handy and a few pins, if it would become necessary to use a pin to keep something in place within the hat. She had many many different colors of fabric which she keeps on hand and on Sunday mornings she just whips something up to go with the dress she is wearing. Don't you love the pink hat I'm wearing in one of the pictures. It was gorgeous material.

I wish I could say "I'm a hat person", but I'm not. After just a few minutes of wearing one, my head begins to itch and I get a headache. But Dorcas looks stunning in every single hat she showed me that she had. When I go to church on Sunday mornings, I just take some material and twirl it around my head and tuck it in the back and that's it!
But, creating a hat makes for a great morning of enjoyment when done with a friend.
Eileen and Crist