Monday, March 24, 2014

Help Needed

My roommates and I have decided that we would like to do all we can to support and care for the kids who we visit every Sunday. There are some very real practical needs that can be met and I want to ask you for your help. Read the flyer for specific needs for the organization.

The Unforeseen

If one of the things that frustrates me about teaching here is the lack organization and clear communication, it also happens to be the thing that frustrates me most about the country.

Yesterday, we were one our way back from Jesus Kids, a local orphanage for special kids. No sooner had we turned onto the main road, that we realized that there was a hold up of traffic in front of us.

After waiting for around an hour in stand still traffic, the rest of my car left me at the wheel, to go check it out. They came back to me later with the news that Ibadan was hosting a marathon and had blocked the roads.This meant that we were stuck until the end of the race.

After another hour of waiting, we decided to find a place to park our car and try to walk the rest of the way on foot. (I think that our overheated, delusional minds told us that it wasn't too far to get home. I mean, we could walk the 3 miles back, right? Let's just say it was probably twice that distance)

 After a fair bit of negotiating with a local shop, and a bribe or two just to make sure our car would still be there when we got back, we finally set off on foot. After we had walked probably 3/4 of a mile, cars started to drive past us and we realized that they had opened the roads again.

We got home tired and sweaty, close to 3 hours after we left the orphanage. We missed our worship service and were slightly cross.

Long story short, well there is no moral of this story other than to say that it sure is a whole lot easier to be joyful when things are going our way than it is when you're hot and stuffy and in a situation that could have been avoided had there been clear communication. What does it take to be like Paul who said, "I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content." - Phil 4:11

I want to live my life so centered and focused on Christ that the minor inconveniences that pop up, don't overwhelm or take my eyes off of my focus. I want to be able to find joy in those hot, sticky, smelly, mundane moments of my life.  God give me the grace to see You when things are going well and even more so in the moments when things aren't going the way that I think they should be.

I Thessalonians 5:18
Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

Friday, March 21, 2014

My Soul Thirsts for You

Psalm 62:1

    Oh God, you are my God;
I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
    my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land
    where there is no water.

It's amazing what a little bit of water can do to restore life. If you've never experienced the rains after a drought, or in this case, the dry season, it is wonderful to behold.

Within a day, the same plants that were brown, begin to show green. Months without rain cause the ground to grow hard. The dusts blows, plants wither, wells dry up. Life goes on with the knowledge soon the rains will come.

I get a glimpse of what Noah must have felt. No rain, then all of the sudden, sheets of water falling from the sky. The rain brings life and wakens my own soul. On an impulse, I drop everything in my hands and run out in the rain, arms wide open, singing prayers of thanks to God. With reckless abandonment, I twirl in circles, singing as loudly as I can, yet the rain is louder still.

Psalm 143:6 "I lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain."

Hallelujah grace like rain, falls down on me. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Atamora Village

Today I went back to visit the pottery village with my roommate and her sister who's visiting from the U.S. It was nice to visit without the responsibility of the students being with me.

It was fun to meet the school aged kids from the village, who had just gotten back from school. 

 Brother and sister pose for a picture.

 One of the village women sorting palms to make palm oil.
 These lizards are all over the place, but are usually hard to get a picture of, because they always scamper away.

There were several little piglets in the village who had been orphaned.

 IBK's daughter tried to make a pot like her dad, out of a tiny lump of clay.

The kids were fascinated by my skin color and kept stroking or pinching my arms to see how it felt.
 With no electricity, one person has to crank the wheel, while the other one throws the pot.
IBK was focused on centering the pot.



Monday, March 17, 2014

Borehole of Life

In John 4, when Jesus is talking to the woman at the well, he tells her that HE is the living water. Throughout the Bible, God continually uses to wells as a picture for us to see how God nourishes his people.

The past few weeks, we have not had much water. On our compound, our house shares a well with the school building, as well as the two other families living beside us. Especially since we're in the 3rd month of the dry season, this means that by the end of the day, we don't have water. Usually we have a little bit of water later in the evening, but for the past week, I've had to take a bucket across campus fill it with water from a small spigot, and carry it back for a bucket bath. 

So even if I have a well, a pump to draw the water, a water tank and a nice tub, none of it matters, unless there is actually water.

We can live our lives like this. We think that we have things together from the outside. Sometimes we deceive ourselves as well as the people around us into thinking that we have the source of life, but unless we're being fed from, we are a dry empty well. We fool ourselves into thinking that we wells, overflowing to nourish the people around us. We pretend that we are great Christians, when we don't even spend time with the source of life. 

 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
 -John 4: 13-14

Wells run dry. Wells run dry. Wells occasionally have dirty water. We cannot live our lives being wells like this. What is the remedy for these dry wells? How do we get fresh water? We have to go deeper than the surface, we have to tap into the clear, cool waters that don't run out.  

My boss was telling me about how she wishes she could have a borehole dug on our campus. The people who have them never run out of water. They have more than enough for themselves, so they often put a spigot on the outside wall of their compounds for people in the community to have a source of fresh water. That is a picture of true, life giving waters. We have not only enough to satisfy ourselves, but plenty to pour out to the people around us in need. 

The encouragement for myself and for you is to tap into the borehole-spring of life. Go to the source and He will never run try. Continue to stay tapped into this borehole, and your own well will not only continue to be watered, but overflow for others.

"Guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." - Prov. 4:23

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Weekend Respite

I've been going gung-ho for over two months straight, and was so thankful for the chance to take a break. My boss, Karen, treated both new teachers, Sam and myself to a night away. Although I only went away for 24 hours it was still quite wonderful. We stayed at IITA, which is a research center for tropical agriculture here in Ibadan. New  species of rice, yams, and cassava are developed and bred at IITA, to withstand some of the heartier climates and regions. Although they do a lot of research the Nigerian government is so disorganized that it can't process the research, so seeds are often sent to Antarctica to a seed bank.

This place was sort of an oasis in the middle of a crowded and dirty city. With its sprawling lawns, green trees, lake and hiking trails, it really feels like you've stepped out into another world.

I found myself breathing in deeper, just to get clean air that wasn't polluted with petrol fumes.

Our afternoon was spent reading by the pool and later went to get pampered with a pedicure and massage at the salon.

We got to walk around and explore, and just enjoyed the fact that it was the first time walking around anywhere after dark since arriving in Nigeria.

There are so many different trees an animals than I am used to, so it's always fun to just sit back and observe. Outside of our bedrooms, we noticed a large flock(or herd, colony, cloud???) of bats around the pine trees outside of our room. We probably watched them for a half of an hour, fascinated by the creatures. It was better than watching an episode of Planet Earth  because we were seeing them firsthand. These bats were nothing like the little things we have back home, they were much bigger. When they were in flight, their wingspan looked like it was around 12 -15 inches long!

As fascinating as the bats were at 9:00pm, they lost some of the appeal when at 1:00, 3:00, 5:00, they were still outside screeching as loudly as ever. In fact, the didn't leave until dawn.

Sunday morning we rented bikes and explored the grounds for an hour.

We rode around the lake, fascinated by some of the trees, birds and insects that we saw. 
(Giant ant hill) 

Our running joke when we saw anything different from the norm, was to just put the adjective, African before it. "Wow, look at that giant African ant hill!" Or "Check out the size of this African millepede!" And, " that tree looks so African."
Rice paddy
We saw several trees by the lake that were inhabited by beautifully bright colored yellow weaver birds. The nests were so incredibly detailed.