Saturday, July 19, 2014

Home 7.19.14

I'm posting this 7 months late, but here it is...

Today I arrived home after 7 months and 13 days of being away and 11 months since I first embarked for Nigeria.

This past year has given me the opportunity of living overseas, getting immersed in new cultures and making some amazing new friends.

I haven't added the exact minutes, but approximately 10 full days out of the last 365 have been spent on an airplane. 

The travels started a year ago today when one of my college roommate's and I visited another roommate in Colorado. After returning, I had just weeks to prepare for my journey to Nigeria. 

In the past year, I've been in 19 different airports in 12 separate countries and in 4 different continents. (And some airports multiple times) I've flown with numerous airlines.  I've stepped foot in 6 new countries.  

This marks the end of one chapter and the beginning of a new one. 

Friday, July 4, 2014

All Heaven and Earth Sing

The past several weeks have been filled with constant busy-ness. From writing and grading exams, packing, then saying goodbyes to an amazing trip to South Africa with my brother Brian(more on that later).

This past weekend Briand and I went to an Afrikaans church in Wellington, SA. Although I couldn't understand the songs or sermon, there is a sort of joy that comes with worshipping with believers in other tongues and nations. Although we speak different languages, we worship the same God. Our same Lord is praised from one end of the earth to another. 

As I was thinking about this today, a thought came to me. We don't just worship God with fellow believers accross the world, we are also joining in a heavenly chorus. I guess I've thought about it before, but it never really registered with me. We sing and join in the chorus with the angels and with those who have gone before us to heaven. All of heaven and earth sing his praises in one giant chorus!

Revelation Song
"Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
Holy, holy is He
Sing a new song to Him who sits on
Heaven's mercy seat

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
Holy, holy is He
Sing a new song to Him who sits on
Heaven's mercy seat

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty
Who was and is and is to come
With all creation I sing praise to the King of kings
You are my everything and I will adore You

Clothed in rainbows of living color
Flashes of lighting rolls of thunder
Blessing and honor strength and glory and power be
To You the only wise King

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty
Who was and is and is to come
With all creation I sing praise to the King of kings
You are my everything and I will adore You

Filled with wonder awestruck wonder
At the mention of Your name
Jesus Your name is power, breath and living water
Such a marvelous mystery

Oh, You're worthy, mystery
You are worthy

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty
Who was and is and is to come
With all creation I sing praise to the King of kings
You are my everything and I will adore You, I will adore You"

Sunday, June 8, 2014


Funke is one of the most beautiful people I know, but I'm afraid that the pictures may not do justice to the beauty that she exudes. She will never win a beauty contest. By the world's standards, she could just be at the bottom of the totem pole, but she's at the top of mine.

Not much is known about Funke, she had no home, no known family. No one knows her age or the day she was born. Funke can't speak, so even if she did know about her background, she couldn't tell us. She was found on the side of the street, and since that day as been part of the Jesus Kids family.

Several weeks ago, we had a birthday party for one of the girls, and we could see that Funke was quite jealous, but also upset that she didn't even know when her birthday was.

So we decided to have a surprise birthday party for her today. We started out, just like any normal Sunday morning, with singing and then a Bible lesson. We read to them from the Jesus Storybook Bible, which has such a great way of putting the Bible stories.

I love the way they write the story of the woman who anointed Jesus feet with oil from the alabaster jar. The book makes the parallel to Samuel the prophet in the Old Testament anointing David as King. But there was no prophet to anoint Jesus as king. Instead, God chose a woman and a renown sinner to be the one who would declare that he was the Lord. She understood her sin and came to the Lord for forgiveness, whereas the men that Jesus was seated with considered themselves to be pretty good people.

I had just finished reading to them and said, I want to also recognize another very special woman, and we are going to look at a book about her. I pulled out a photo album I had made, full of pictures of Funke with the rest of us. When she realized what was happening, she just started squealing with delight.

She couldn't stop squealing with happiness for the longest time, as she asked to take pictures with all of us.
 Funke, showing off the new jewelry she got for her birthday.

She was so excited with all of her gifts!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Happy 2 Years!

I thought this went out yesterday, but I think the internet must have cut off while it was loading, so here it is...

Today is a celebration for me. It marks 2 years since I had foot surgery and got new feet! After having bunions for most of my life, I got them removed.

What are bunions? Don't old ladies get those? These large bone protrusions at the base of the big toe, typically are on older women, unless you have the misfortune of inheriting them genetically.
Not only did they look bad, and make it hard to buy shoes, but they were also extremely painful.
Surgery day!
I wish I had gotten a picture of my feet, but you can see how  they looked with the socks.

For several weeks after surgery, this was the only sight of my feet that I saw...these mutton chops!
After several days of crawling on my hand and knees to use the restroom, my parents gave me the gift of industrial knee pads!

My best friend, Liz, had knee surgery around the same time, so the two of got to be cripples together.

I was so thankful for a friend to share in the misery and monotony of life as a bedridden cripple.
On day, when Liz and I were just getting back on our feet, we went shopping together. I noticed a couple of stares when we pulled into the handicapped parking at the grocery store. I'm sure they were thinking, "What were two, young, perfectly healthy looking girls doing parking in this spot!? " That was, until we opened the doors and both hobbled out to the closest 
eventually, I didn't have to wear the gauze wraps around my feet, and were able to use these.
For two months I was bedridden and completely at the mercy of  gracious friends who would come and take me places, just so that I could get out of the house. My surgery changed me in more ways than one. Yes,  I have beautiful strait feet now. For the first time in my life that I can remember, I am able to find shoes that can fit. But even more than that, I've learned some things along the way. I've never been so completely helpless and reliant on others. It's not fun being helpless! When you have to get down on your hands and knees to do the simplest thing, such as using the restroom, it's humbling. 

It's hard to have to watch people have fun, play sports, or dance, when you love to be active and want to join in. It's frustrating to be bound to a wheelchair, that can only be pushed around by other people. It's hard to know I was running 6 miles at a time, only to stumble with pain at 6 steps.

Through this time, I have learned to be empathetic to those who can't get around as easily as I can. I see the people here in Nigeria, on the sides of the street whose bodies have been twisted by polio, and I know their pain. Because of this experience, I have learned empathy and I hope it's something I won't soon forget. The scars down the side of my feet remind me of what was and what I went through, and I give God thanks for it all!

When I say... I'm a Christian

“When I say... "I am a Christian"

I'm not shouting "I'm clean livin'."
I'm whispering "I was lost,
Now I'm found and forgiven."

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I don't speak of this with pride.
I'm confessing that I stumble
and need Christ to be my guide.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not trying to be strong.
I'm professing that I'm weak
And need His strength to carry on.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not bragging of success.
I'm admitting I have failed
And need God to clean my mess.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not claiming to be perfect,
My flaws are far too visible
But, God believes I am worth it.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I still feel the sting of pain.
I have my share of heartaches
So I call upon His name.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not holier than thou,
I'm just a simple sinner
Who received God's good grace, somehow.”

― Maya Angelou
(in loving memory April 4, 1928 - May 28, 2014)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Miss Mary

There is one woman I have failed to mention in my blogs, but she has been a critical instrument playing in the background of my life here at ACA.

Her name is Miss Mary. Until tonight, I didn't know much about this woman, her age or full name, whether she lives with a family, or by herself, but I see her just about every day.

Miss Mary comes every day to clean our house. Maid is not the right word, maybe housekeeper? In some ways, she's become part of our little "family" at the American House where I live.

Don't misunderstand me when I say that I have a maid. I'm not living a life of luxury while I have hired help to do the work. Hiring Mary means that she has a means to live. We are able to help her by giving her a job. (And it is nice to have someone help keep the house tidy)

Miss Mary has some kind of medical condition that makes it hard for her to work at times, and keeps her in pain most of the time, but yet, she is always one of the most cheerful  people that I have ever met. She goes about her day humming hymns or praise songs. She even makes up her own songs during the day and sings them as praises to God.

Throughout the day, when she hears good news, she often responds with a, "praise Jesus!" The more the year has progressed, the more I've seen Mary's faith that has guided her life and overflows in every aspect of her day.

Last December, just as I was about to leave for the Christmas holiday, I was anxious and nervously trying to gather everything I needed to head out. Flying into Nigeria was a completely different experience from anything I had been used to and I had no idea what to expect on the flight out. The Nigerian airport is not like any airport I've ever been in, not to mention the drive to Lagos. Before I left, she prayed with me and my anxiousness left as I was filled with such peace.

Several weeks back, we had a bad mouse problem at the house. For days, she would come in and tell us that she had been praying that the mice would be caught. "God has told me that there will be no more mice, praise Jesus! The mice shall not come and spread sickness" She would say.

Then, one day as I was sitting at the table, Mary walked into the pantry and starting singing praises to God. "Thank you Lord Jesus, you are mighty! You have kept your promises. Thank You Lord, the rat is dead!" (and so-forth)

This Monday, I walked into the kitchen after one of my classes and Mary asked how my cold was and if it was gone. I wasn't sure what she was asking at first, because she was using the Yoruba word for cold, but when I realized, then I wondered how in the world she knew, since I didn't really talk to her the past week when i had a cold. Without even asking, she said, "When I was praying for you, God told me that you had a cold, so I have been praying for it to go away!"

Tonight, I was even more in awe of Mary than ever. We invited her to dinner, as we are all leaving Nigeria soon. We intended to pray for her ask to Lord to bless her, but it ended up being the other way around. While we sat around the table, she barely touched her food as she told us about her life, and how she came to live in Ibadan. She was born in a village close to Calabar. Her father had four wives, and she was the fifth child on one of the wives. When she was just born, someone gave her a blessing and said that her life would be spent as a servant of God. As she got older, she left her village with an uncle. She's never returned to the village, saying that the people in her church are now her family.

Her life has not been easy by any means, but she is one of the most cheerful people that I've ever met. She turned to us and asked, ok are we ready to pray.
"But Mary, you've hardly eaten anything, please get some food!"
"Oh no, I never eat much before I'm about to pray!"

So we moved to our living room where she proceeded to sing songs and pray for us. She asked for requests and prayed for each of our particular needs and requests, then proceeded to go to each of our rooms to pray for us specifically.

I thank God for the faith of this woman and for her example of faith. Although she cannot read, she quotes scripture to us. Her life shines with an overflow of her love of God!