Free to Be!

Free to Be!

Psalm 130:7 O Tina, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. This verse has spoken to me in so many different ways this week. Of course, the Bible says “O Israel”. But this verse is a personal one for me. I have found that with totally trusting the Lord, I have found unconditional love and total freedom to live and “be” as He made me.

The picture above is Dan addressing all of the staff at our meeting on October 29. It was a wonderful time for us to tell all of the staff a little more about us and what our vision for the future is and to also hear feedback from those that wished to speak. We also made sure each of them knew we are open to their ideas and opinions and stressed the “team approach” to ministry and celebrate the wonderful miracles God has already done through and in GECHAAN, and looking forward to the future!

This is pretty much on the same wave-length of what we have been doing all week. We have met with some of the FHI staff that are in the area doing training in hospitals, meeting each of our staff members every morning and most afternoons to touch base and see how things are going. Dan is also working on organizing offices and moving people around and we are continuing to clean and organize and figure out the resources that are here. Tina is also working on a Days for Girls project and getting an AWANA program going in the area churches. The thing that has encouraged me the most are the young adults we have encountered here.

We were blessed to have a conversation with a young woman who works for another NGO and she explained her discouragement that Nigeria is a country where people will die for their tribal group but not for their country. It seems to her that if Nigeria could all come together, regardless of tribe, and work toward a common goal, it would change their country and they could move forward. Another conversation that we had this week was with a young man who wants to work in the community as a volunteer helping youth with abstinence clubs because it has affected his life so positively.

You see, Dan and I have been blessed to be able to encourage and love a lot of young people in our lives and we are blessed and invigorated to see their energy and drive to make their communities a better place. They don’t understand and are annoyed with needless red tape and questioning. The part that needs great wisdom is encouraging them, yet remaining realistic. There are processes that seem needless, but are there for a reason, and to explain that in a way they understand.

We have been very surprised that the big “C” word here CHANGE is not as much an issue as we thought it might be. This is encouraging to us as we celebrate and realize the wonderful work Art and Dorothy have done that has changed this whole area of Nigeria and the possibilities for GECHAAN’s future.

My biggest prayer this week is healing for Dan’s leg. Please continue to pray that it will heal. We are traveling to Abuja on Saturday and Sunday and request prayer for travel there and safety as we pack up the Abuja house and start that process.

Todays’ point: Are you living the life God made you for? Do you have a venue to use the skills and talents God made you with? Do you realize the freedom of His unconditional love for you? I pray that you too can experience this in your life.

Life or Death?

Life or Death?

Boaz passed away on Friday, he was not able to recover from whatever was making him sick. Thank you all for praying. I’m thankful we have the female guard dog, Ruthie left.

This week we had a new experience.  We attended the funeral of Mama Jacinta.  Mama Jacinta was a 53 year old mother and grandmother who worked at the Life Line Center.  She was HIV+ and has done very well for a good many years with that status.  We closed the clinic and the offices and all attended the funeral.  John, our carpenter made the coffin.  It was in a Catholic Church, so we got to experience a Nigerian Catholic Funeral.  It was amazing how she had touched many of our staff, as she was a cleaner in the Life Line Center for many years.  They called her, “Mommy”.

The life expectancy in Nigeria is 52.  In the United States it is now 79.  Mommy had beaten the odds here by a year.  There have been staff gone to many different funerals this week. Just in one accident on the road, 18 people were killed two days ago.  Death is just part of life here.  They look at death differently.  Maybe you do if you experience it as much as people do here.  They seem to understand that REALLY we are not guaranteed tomorrow.  I know in America we may say that, but it is a shock to us when someone we know passes away.

We love going to church here in Nigeria.  Last week we went to a Pentecostal Nigerian Church.  The Pastor’s message was wonderful, even though we were a tiny bit uncomfortable during prayer time.  The thing I love about when people pray on Sunday mornings at church, they truly thank God for bringing them together again another week.  They thank God for peace in their state currently.  They thank God for travel safety and pray for those not with them who are traveling or sick.

In America we pray those things as well, but is it a heartfelt cry?  Not very often.  Here many times they pray to “Papa”, I love that!  It gives me a wonderful mind picture of a great big God with great big arms wrapped around His children.

This week my greatest concern was Dan’s leg.  Dan has vein problems which will be fixed when we are in the States in December and January of this year.  Well, with all of the traveling we have done he has not been able to put his legs up at all.  On Sunday Dan showed me the ulcer on his leg and it looked very infected.  I googled what I should do to possibly help.  We didn’t have peroxide, gauze, much of anything so I soaked it in hot water with salt.  By Monday morning it looked horrendous!  We talked to one of our doctors here.  Dr. Ameka started treating it by cleaning it out twice a day and put Dan on a strong antibiotic.  ALL of the staff has been very concerned about his leg since we got to Nigeria. Every day they check and see how it is looking and how Dan is feeling. Now I know why! They have seen people die from infections and seemingly harmless illnesses because care is “survival care” here. In America we have been blessed with “comfort care”.

I would love to personally send every 18 year old to a Third World Country for a year. I think it would give us all a totally different perspective on our lives and priorities if this were the case.

We took the picture of the praying mantis yesterday morning. We were walking around the clinic visiting with everyone and here is this guy hanging out on the step. I’m not sure why he was there instead of blending in to the leaves at the bottom of the step. I laughed because it made me think of us. Dan and I haven’t seen a white person for a month now. We kinda stick out here in Gembu. We aren’t hanging out, blending in with the crowd.

Here is my thought to share with you this week. How about you? Are you blending in? Do you look like the world around you? OR is there a light coming from deep inside of you that can only come from our “Papa”? Think about it.

October Morning

October Morning

It has been a good week.  Tomorrow we will leave at 6:00 am to go to Jalingo.  We need to get our passports stamped at the Immigration office and want to meet with FHI and get a few supplies.  We will then stop in Bali on the way home Friday to see how much food is left so that we can plan accordingly.

We are getting to know the staff a bit and can recognize most people by name.  There are a few names we have a hard time pronouncing however.  We have also started using a “How to learn Housa” program as we would like to be able to understand some Housa and have an inkling when we hear some words.

Boaz, the male guard dog is still sick.  The vet’s assistant first thought it was worms, gave him meds for that, then a urinary tract infection, gave him meds for that and he is still miserable.  In my “Other Life”, I didn’t realize that guard dogs are truly part of the security team.  People are afraid of them, as both Ruth and Boaz are big German Shepherds and if you are not supposed to be in the compound, they will definitely stop you.  Here is a picture of Boaz, he is a wonderful guard dog and is usually very perky and jumping and barking around.  He really hasn’t moved or eaten, or done anything for over a week now.

This gets me thinking about health.  Physical health is easy to see and to know.  Either you’re healthy or you’re not.  Spiritual health is another thing.  It can creep up on you.  Gradually.  Insidiously.  Dan and I can not be effective here if we are not physically as well as spiritually in tune and healthy.

How about you?  Are you just as concerned about your time with God as you are with caring for your physical body?  I have to say, for a good share of my life this has not been nearly as important than it is now.   Make a plan today to nurture your soul with you “Papa” God by talking with Him and hearing from Him from the Bible.  Have a wonderful week Friends!

Growing and Changing

Growing and Changing

Well, this week has been good, but challenging in a strange way.  We are familiarizing ourselves with the staff here at GECHAAN, policies and procedures in place, and resources available.  We have been cleaning out cupboards and closets and offices.  Dan and I each have an office space now, we know what is in the pantry,  and what supplies are available for ministry.

After the past 2 1/2 years of sorting and organizing our work places and home to transition into ministry here it seems like the obvious next step, we really like to know where things are when they are needed.  Here in Gembu there are many resources not available or very expensive, so it is good to know what you have and where it is at.

The Mambilla Plateau is a beautiful place and yesterday as I was “making the rounds”, greeting staff and clients in the clinic, and familiarizing myself with the property a thought occurred to me as I was soaking in the beauty of our surroundings.  The picture above is of a passion fruit blossom.  Art and Peter the Gardener have planted many very pretty and useful plants and trees on the property.  This week we have had fresh bananas, papaya, green beans, and cabbage grown right here on our property.  We also have a new favorite food – fried plantain.  So good!

Well, if you look at the passion fruit blossom, it is kind of prickly and odd looking, I noticed it right away because it looked different than any of the other flowers.  I thought to myself, “that’s kind of like me, I have never felt like I was like other people and I used to be very “prickly”.  God has been so awesome to show me that my protective walls hinder me rather than help in ministry.  Over the years, He has smoothed my edges, softened my heart, and allowed me to live without fear – He has it covered!!

fruitThis is the developing fruit of the passion fruit.  It is not ripe yet, it doesn’t have the wonderful flavor that it will have after it ripens.  It occurred to me that right now we are kind of like that green passion fruit.  We are growing, learning, opening ourselves to new experiences, people, lifestyle but we are not “ripe” yet.  We will ripen as we learn, trust, and grow in ministry here.

This week it was so awesome to be able to experience people coming to thank Art for the work that he and Dorothy have done in this whole area.  The person that has touched me forever is a mother.  12 years ago Art provided her with the medicine  that a mother can take so that she doesn’t pass HIV on to her unborn child.  She also started on the medicine,  as well as the diet that Dorothy wrote down for her to keep her healthy.  Today 12 years later, her meds haven’t changed and she is very healthy and still eating the diet!  Her beautiful, healthy daughter was with her.  She cried and said, “thank you for saving my life and my daughters’ life”.  Here you need to save their physical lives before you can even begin to talk about Jesus saving their hearts.  I truly hope and pray that we will ripen in the way that touches lives and the community in this way.

My prayer requests for this week are this:  Please pray that God will make it clear how to proceed with ministry here in Gembu.  With the US AID funding gone we have much less funds to do work here and we really feel that possibly a quality care hospital is the best way to touch the community in addition to the HIV/testing, treating, and counselling .  Please pray for wisdom, funding, and relationships with staff and the community here.