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

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Truly, It's Not Just About The Food! (grin)

Hi Everyone,
It's not so different the way we celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday with friends and family here in Jos, as compared to the states. You spend all day cooking, all evening eating and all night wishing you had used more restraint. grin!

Just wanted to share some pictures of the 23 of us at the ministry center's living room, where we moved all the furniture back and just set up plastic tables and chairs for everyone to sit on. We had the usual foods, except chicken instead of turkey (and it was DELICIOUS - cooked to perfection!). We formed a prayer circle before eating then had our dinner with everyone sharing what they were thankful for. Then we played a fun game for all ages (kind of like a simplified "Charades") - very non-threatening. There was lots of laughter and I think everyone had a fun evening. We had one missionary who is from Canada and he was able to laugh at himself all evening as being the "outsider".

I'm sure each of you back home had an equally good Thanksgiving. We truly do have much to be thankful for. Without having to worry about "after Thanksgiving sales", today will be a "business as usual day", but that's okay. Crist and I need to work off our food from yesterday anyway. "I'm not eating ANYTHING today!" Isn't that what we all say? Grin - (until lunch).

How can November almost be over? The other day at the little grocery store we go to alot - we did see a little Christmas tree. But it's 85 degrees now during the daytime, so it's hard to feel "Christmasy." I think I need to put some
Christmas carols on our computer one of these days very soon.
Chat with you again soon.
Eileen and Crist

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Reflections

Hi Everyone,
Well.....there we are - in living color! Grin!
I just got back from my Tuesday morning Bible Study on I Peter - so much to think about. For all of us women, it seemed that the verse that spoke to each of us the most in Chapter 3 was in verse 4: "......with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God." A gentle and quiet spirit which is eternal and precious to God - what does that look like? We talked about that for a while and came to the conclusion that we thought it meant to "be content in all situations" - to have our total being so immersed in our inheritance as God's daughter (son) - that we can have that gentle and quiet spirit regardless what is going on around us, whether it be persecution, ridicule, abuse or even a different culture. I think we all needed to hear that from the Lord this morning - at least, I KNOW, I needed to hear that this morning.

We see God's purposes so clearly lately as to why we were to come to Nigeria. We love the people we work with and the people in the village and the children - so many children. But...there's no easy way around saying this - this is a totally different culture with totally different ways of doing things. In dealings with others in this culture, much of the time it can be soooo very difficult. Crist and I are finding that the Lord is dealing with our sin nature like never before, since we have been living here. Oh I can "bite my tongue" in most situations, but underneath there is anger and self-righteousness. In Verse 9 of I Peter 3 it says, ".....but giving a blessing instead (instead of an insult); for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing." This encourages me this morning, because most of the time it convicts me!! We want so much to be a blessing to others - to give a blessing! (but it can be so hard!) Please pray with us for a "gentle and quiet spirit". We are so THANKFUL TO THE LORD that He continues to refine and shape us (even in our winter years).

There are NO SIGNS of Thanksgiving here in Nigeria. Even many of the foreign missionaries are Canadians, Dutch and German. But there are a few of us Americans and we're celebrating on Thursday evening - gathering at the ministry center to celebrate our thankfulness to God. We're each bringing different food items and instead of a turkey we're having four large chickens that we'll bake. I suspect we will each think of our family members that are in the states and we will miss them all - but I know we will be sharing all the many blessings that the Lord has graced us with. Crist and I are thankful for:
LIZARDS THAT ARE EVERYWHERE HERE (they really are cute!)
HOT FUDGE SUNDAES (which by the way, we haven't had in over six months - Yikes!)
(and last, but not least - the beautifully bump-free, paved roads in the U.S.)
We'll be blogging again on Friday! Be blessed - be thankful and chat with you soon!
Eileen and Crist

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Some things To Chat About

Hi Everyone,
I just wanted to share with you all some of the things that have been happening around here this past week. In many respects, life here has its own routine just like in the states and much of our days are spent with this routine. The picture above is of the women I do Bible Study with on Tuesday mornings at 6:15 am (yes! you heard right - that early - grin). Our daughter, Corrie, is to the right in the orange shirt and she leads the study on I Peter. She does an awesome job and I'm learning so much as we're studying this book inductively. Having two Nigerian women in the study with us is opening up so much discussion!

This past week we also had two birthdays in the family. Sami turned nine years old and John turned 47 (oops - sorry John - I meant to say 38!) We were invited to both parties and besides not having to cook (hooray!), it's always special I think to celebrate with family. Sami got a fish tank with three gold fish and some fuzzy bear slippers. I think she was thrilled!

This other picture of a tree with orange blossoms is one of those fun things here in Africa. This tree is located on the Hillcrest School campus. During the rainy season it's just a green tree - not particularly pretty, but when the hot dry reason comes (we're in it now!!) all of a sudden all these BRIGHT ORANGE flowers appear. In another week or so it will be completely covered and look like a big orange flower. It's beautiful, especially since in the dry season everything else seems to get brown, dusty and yuckky and then to see this beautiful bright tree - it just makes you smile! I love it!!
Well, we're getting ready to go to church in the village once again so I better git going. I just wanted to share this past week with you. Be blessed and chat with you again soon!
Eileen and Crist

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Village Outreach

Hi Everyone,

Crist and I have talked alot about doing a village outreach, but usually it's at the Education Center or the Viewing Center or at the Doctor's compound. I don't think we've actually shown you "the village". Well, yesterday, several of us went into Kisayhip B Village to follow-up with the widows from when we took all of their pictures a month ago. We went late afternoon, knowing that we would be leaving no later than 6 p.m. because it's very dangerous to be driving when it gets dark. We saw maybe half of the widows and we'll continue next Tuesday. We handed to each widow their individual picture that was taken. They all LOVED that. Having their picture taken is a wonderful treat and in the Nigerian culture it also is a "hand of friendship" extended.

We walked from hut to hut, calling on the widows and praying with them. We also invited them to a "Forum" that we're having at the Education Center for them on Nov. 28th. It will be a time of getting to know them better and to hear from them what some of their immediate needs might be. It was a sweet time and, of course, we had oodles of children hanging onto our arms and wanting to accompany us on our way. You can see in the pictures a little bit of what the village is like. There are chickens walking all over the place, as well as pigs and dogs. Corn is in the process of being harvested so in the various compounds you could see ears of corn drying on the ground. Some were already beginning to pound the corn (see the two boys). In a way it's like going back in time. Everything is done by hand here, so there is a real sense of how it probably was in the United States back in the 1800's.

All the children were so excited to just be with us. They fight over who's holding our hands and each wants to be the one with that honor. They have so little yet they seem quite content. In the village it is very common to see the littlest ones walking around with no clothes on or at least with no bottoms on. I'm guessing that they're being "potty trained" and it's so much easier without having any pants on to worry about.

We're excited about what the Lord is beginning to prepare for us as we reach out to the widows and orphans in the village. But more important than just meeting immediate needs, we want to establish a long-term relationship with them that will have eternal benefits. It's fun being a part of God's long-term plans.

Well, we'll chat with you again soon.


Eileen and Crist

Monday, November 15, 2010

Random Thoughts and Sights

Hi Everyone,
Just wanted to share a few pictures with you of some things that have been going
on around here.
A week or so ago, Crist dropped me off at Pastor
Dauda and Ladi's home and I put them to work. I had brought from the states a book entitled "50 Things to Make with A Paper Plate." I had been noticing that the Sunday School has NO materials or anything for the kids to do except sit and listen or go outside to play. So I came equipped with pipe cleaners, crayons, paper plates, glue, stickers etc. Over the next two hours, we made "Jesus Loves Me" plates that were colorful and cute. We made 65 to make sure that every child would get one. As people dropped by to visit with Ladi, I put them to work too, so by the end of the craft session, we had 6 people helping. They're going to be handing them out this coming Sunday to the children. We prayed over the plates, so please pray with us that the children will experience God's love for them in these plates.
The next two pictures are of plumbing pipes in the apartments that are almost completed. Will and Theresa will be moving into their apartment this weekend. They are very excited. Crist and John have been working hard the past few weeks to get them finished. Crist helped John with the plumbing and electrical stuff. The electrical picture is of what our electrical stuff looks like. ("stuff" - that's the best I can do in naming things that have to do with electrical "stuff." ooops, there I go again!) For some reason, the past few weeks, we have only had electricity a couple of hours a day and usually that's at night. It had been getting better, but now we've digressed once again. I know many of you wonder how we can use our internet without electricity - here we get internet "cards" that allow us 50 hours of internet time. When our hours are up, we get a new card. It works pretty well. And we're really thankful that we're not dependent on the electric company for our time on the computer. And it's not uncommon for the washing of the clothes to be done at night! We do have a generator that we run every five or six hours for an hour or so to keep the things
in the refrigerator at least cool.
And, of course, what would a blog be without the usual picture of a man and his monkey? grin This isn't a common sight, but as we were driving into our compound, there in front of us was this man. Corrie quickly got out of the car and asked if she could "snap" his picture. He thought she was crazy, but he said she could. Just an interesting sight I thought you might enjoy.
It's hard to believe we're at the half-way point of our time here in Jos. It's been fast, it's been slow and it has certainly been a challenge, but God has been so faithful to Crist and I. We feel His leading and we feel His love - I think we'll stay to see what this next half will be like!! grin
Eileen and Crist

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Living Water

Hi Everyone,

"I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward." Mark 9:41

Back2Back works alongside a ministry called "Self-Sustaining Enterprises"; a ministry that tries to find ways that can get Nigerians involved with enterprises that will give them work and a way to produce an income for their families and SSE also drills boreholes in areas where there is no water supply or where wells no longer produce a viable water source. RCH is a childrens' home that we have had work teams help at, and (picture of the home with the red roof - see above) their water supply never lasts a full year. Now that rainy season is over, in another month or so, their well will produce only muddy water. A family from the states donated the monies needed for the borehole to be drilled and Crist was there a couple of days ago to watch this process. After tests were done, it was determined that they would need to drill about 35 meters (Crist said that is around 38 yards) down. Katerina and Israel (the Directors of RCH) and their daughter, Jireh, are very very thankful for the generosity of the donors. They are so excited to be able to drink clean, safe water from now on.

The picture below looks like the bushes have snow on them. Crist said it was all the mud that was thrown out of the drilled hole. Water is such a precious and necessary commodity and one that we very much take for granted in the United States. Most Nigerians do not have running water. Most have to lug these huge yellow plastic containers around as they either go down to the river or local waterhole or they pay for their water to be trucked to their home.

It makes me think of Christ as the Living Water. So many people are living dry, empty lives. But He came to give refreshment, new life and water that will never go stale. On a hot, dusty and dry afternoon - there's NOTHING better than a big glass of water. But in eternity, the Living Water is much much better.
Chat with you soon!
Eileen and Crist

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Jehovah Rapha - The Healer

Hi Everyone,

It had been a while since Crist and Moses (the young man to the right in the picture - the village doctor's son) have gone shopping for medical supplies. Some dear friends in Illinois provided the funds for this shopping trip and they were needed badly. A mattress was also purchased with plastic on the top which enables them to wash it down more easily when a patient leaves. They don't use bed linens so having a washable top is better for everyone. We're hoping also soon to be able to begin work on a pit latrine for the doctor's compound. I think I've shared before that all who live there use the bushes to go to the bathroom (even the patients). We're planning on having some hygiene lessons once the pit latrine is built so that the villagers will see the need for it. Sometimes "doing what you've always done" is so much easier - even though a newer and better way is right before you.

We pray that all will see Jesus in these acts of love.

"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us." Ephesians 3:20
Eileen and Crist

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Picture Says A Thousand Words

Hi Hi Everyone,
Well, yesterday morning we had twenty-five, 9th and 10th graders from Hillcrest come and do a service outreach at the Education Center. They were a good group - hard working (for the most part - afterall, we are talking about teenagers - grin) and very much wanting to serve. John had alot of projects for them to start and some projects to complete. Some painted the water tower; some painted the first coat of paint on the ceilings of the two rooms at the center; some dug a ditch and laid some wires and then covered up the hole. Some pulled nails from pieces of wood so the wood could be recycled; some worked in the "donation room" at the VC sorting through donations and putting some order to it all (that was my group) and some walked around picking up debris and papers etc. to make the property look clean.

How about those rocks in the above picture (have I told you before how much I love those rocks - grin) of course, the kids had to climb the rocks and see the view from up there. Each time the rocks are climbed, I say a pray that no one will fall and hurt themselves. No one did!

And, of course, anytime we do a project at the Education Center, within minutes the children begin to arrive. By the time the morning was over, I would say we had around 20 children watching and playing. And, of course, like every other time that Crist and I are doing physical labor - we went to bed early - grin!

Chat with you soon!

Eileen and Crist

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Hi Everyone,

One of the sweetest benefits of Crist and I being in Jos, Nigeria is being able to serve along-side our daughter, Corrie, and John and the kids. When your kids are young and you're still in the "Mommy & Daddy" stage, you discipline, guide and just love your children to the next stage of life. Well, we're into "Stage 4" now with our "kids" and all that is left to do is to just love them - which is the fun part. This past week, Corrie and the 8th grade girls at Hillcrest School had an outing to OLA to love on the babies and I went along to help and assist. Wow! It's been a long time since I've been on a bus with a group of 8th grade girls! I even turned my hearing aid lower -grin. Such enthusiasm and zest for life would have been enough to get that bus to OLA even without any fuel in the gas tank. And once we had arrived at OLA, they jumped in and just did what had to be done. It was fun to watch and see how Corrie related to the girls and to see "my own girl" be a a great role model to them. All the pictures, except the first one to the left are of our trip to OLA.

The first picture was of yesterday morning at Hillcrest School at the High School/Middle School Chapel service. Corrie was the "speaker" and she shared about B2B's vision statement which is "Care for Today and Hope for Tomorrow." A group of high school students will be doing a work project at B2B's new Education Center on Saturday morning helping with electrical work, painting and any other odd jobs that need to be done. Corrie shared at Chapel service how education is vital for the orphan and how B2B is trying to come alongside Childrens' Homes to help in this process, knowing that Christ's heart will always be for the "least of these." Corrie was joy-filled, enthusiastic, and 100% authentic and I think every high schooler's ears and eyes were attuned to what she had to say.
All this to say, as a parent watching your child grow, mature and become the person God has called them to be - it was awesome and humbling. It's okay to be a proud mamma, right?
Chat with you again soon!
Eileen and Crist

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Man Named Crist, and Now a Baby Named Crist

Hi Everyone,

At the Tuesday afternoon Bible study that Crist helps to facilitate, a man named Friday comes from time to time when his schedule permits. He attends the ECWA church we go to and he and his wife recently had a baby boy. The first time he came, he didn't have a Bible, so Crist purchased a Bible for him and when they see each other, they'll talk very casually to one another. Well, after Bible study a couple of Tuesdays ago, he told Crist that he and his wife were going to have their son dedicated at church on the 31st of Oct. and they wanted to name him Crist and would we come to the dedication service on that Sunday. Crist was honored and, of course, we attended church on Sunday not really knowing what would be expected of him.

The dedication was almost at the end of the service and they called Crist up and he prayed for Friday and his wife and also for their son, Crist. After the service, we took a picture of their son and another picture of their family and friends. The service lasted close to three hours and it was warm inside the church, to say the least. But it was a good morning and a great honor to have Crist's name passed to a child in the village. And, if I might add - if this baby Crist grows up to be anything like his namesake Crist - then he will be one blessed fella!!

Proverbs 22:1 - "A good name is more desirable than great riches, to be esteemed is better than silver of gold."
Chat with you soon!
Eileen and Crist
P.S. We were told afterwards by Corrie and John that when a baby is named after you, you are then responsible for paying for their education. Oh my! grin
P.S.S. Did you notice the picture of the baby and he is wearing a wool hat and is swaddled very very warmly with several blankets - it was in the upper 80's - amazing!