This week I have been struck with the realization, once again, that I love and live with an amazing man! I don’t want to be all braggy, but I do want to let you know what I see every day here in Nigeria.
I see a man who has stepped out of the world that he has known – business management in America. I see him, showing people how to fix something, or training them how to figure it out. I see him casting vision to leaders in what our organization needs to do and work toward to be a sustainable entity. I see him researching ways to do things better. I see him learning about solar and wind energy and generators and things he hasn’t been exposed to much so that he can help and teach others how to deal with these things. I also see him compassionately talking to a little child at the clinic. I see him preaching a wonderful message on parenting children and raising them to be Godly people. I see him talking each week to his parents and our children, being wise, funny, and loving. I appreciate and love him even more each day and marvel at how God is using him and changing him.
Don’t get me wrong, Dan has always been smart, funny, and adorable. I just see this now every day as we work together on some items, and separately on others. I see his willingness to learn, make mistakes, admit those mistakes, and laugh.
One of the concerns that we had in this Nigerian adventure is that I would be tired of being around Dan all the time. I am the type of person who does much better with some alone time every day and I really have been known in the past to need this. This has not a problem here in Nigeria. I enjoy every minute we get to spend together and love and appreciate him for this willingness to put his whole being out there to be used of the Lord.
I have no point for today other than do you know what it feels like to be sold out. I feel like I see it everyday in Dan.
This picture is of our pharmacy staff in our pharmacy. I took it this morning as I was down at the Clinic for devotions and to visit with staff.
A man and his family came up to me and one of the counselors that was working with him interpreted for him. He wanted to talk to me. This man had a beautiful wife and 3 beautiful children. The counselor told me that he comes from about 7 hours away and has been for years. He said that he and his family get better care here and he wouldn’t go anywhere else. He, his wife, and their 9 year old son are HIV positive and the baby and the four year old are negative because of the counseling and medication that GECHAAN has supplied for them. Friends, this is a very unusual thing here because of the stigma associated with HIV. To say this out loud was very open and brave of him.
The man thanked me for being there and said he was so thankful for GECHAAN and what it has meant to his family and life. This was very humbling as I told him that great leaders and people, as well as God’s goodness are what has sustained GECHAAN to this point. I promised him that Dan and I would do our best with God’s help and a lot of praying partners to make sure that this ministry continues and grows far into the future.
Dan is in Yola (about 8 hours away) at a NACA meeting. This is a State run Nigerian AIDS organization and Dan told me last night that GECHAAN was the only NGO that was invited to this strategic planning and direction meeting in addressing AIDS for the future. Another humbling event.
Today I want to ask for your prayers. We have such wonderful, prayer warriors out there, I am so thankful! But, seriously, people, this is not humanly possible to move forward here. It has to be a God-thing!
I am praying God-sized miracles here in Nigeria. What job does He have for you, in your sphere of influence, in your life that can ONLY be done with God-sized help? Are you willing to take the first step to see what that is?
This week I want to talk a little bit about our ability to strive. Do we strive in our own power or what are we putting our trust in? Here is a picture of one of the goofy goats that belongs to one of the guards here. These things are hysterical! I don’t care how big or small the goat is, they love to climb! Apparently God made them that way! You can frequently see them standing on the highest thing that they can find looking like they are king of the world!
This morning in devotions I read about Jeremiah and this verse stuck out to me “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5 NIV). Do you know that this applied to Jeremiah but it also applies to you too? Isn’t that amazing that God set us apart, He loves us, He knows much better than us what we are capable of doing with His guidance, love, and help!
I have no idea how this goat got on this stump, I am also “stumped” sometimes because of the things God does after me thinking they were impossible! Got something you think is impossible? God knows your skills, talents, and capabilities. Who knows what you can do relying on God’s guidance and direction?
My point for today is this: Are you going to do what He has planned for you to do or are you going to sit there and watch someone else do it?
We sang the song, “A Shelter in the Time of Storm” this week during one of our staff devotions. This started me thinking on something that I have really noticed is different here in Nigeria compared to Minnesota. Here is a picture taken from under a beautiful tree in our front yard.
In Nigeria trees are part of the natural resources that serve a number of purposes. If it is raining, it protects you a bit from the rain. If it is hot, it provides shade when it is hard to find anything that isn’t hot. Here in Gembu, we have a lot of eucalyptus trees. These trees are strong and very tall. Some farmers and ranchers have planted these trees in rows and have attached their fence to the trees. It is much harder to break through a fence that way and provides a natural barrier. A young man is building a home on the property behind the Clinic area and he asked if he could cut a few of our trees to use as rafters in his house. In many villages, the town meeting place is under a big tree. Our favorite mechanics “shop” is under a tree.
This week we have also had rain. One evening it was so loud in the house Dan and I couldn’t hear each other talk. We were very thankful for the sound, secure house to keep out the storm!
I am so thankful that we as Christians do have a shelter when life gets stormy. Problems with relationships, jobs, finances? Jesus knows and there is much peace that even though the situation may not have changed, it is a comfort and true shelter to know that you are not alone in life’s storms. I also got to thinking about how we as Christians CAN be a shelter for those that don’t know our Jesus. Are we willing to help? Do we lend a listening ear? Do we display grace in every situation? Do your loved ones AND others consider you a source of wise, non-judgmental, yet truth-speaking counsel? I pray daily for this, as this is not something that comes natural to us humans!
My point for today is this: If you know Jesus as your true shelter, how are you showing Jesus to your world? Is there something supernatural about how you handle what life throws at you?
On May 1, 1982 a significant event occurred in my life. I married Dan Gibbs and went from being Tina Bowden to Tina Gibbs. I remember the day so well! I was so excited to be FINALLY getting married, I did my hair and put the candles in the Unity Candle holders and in every picture it bugs me that we could not get that one candle to stand up straight! I digress!
Did I know what the next 33 years would bring? I knew it was going to bring castles, unicorns, and rainbows. Dan would always be my Prince Charming, I would never lack. It would also bring children who never argued, I would never have to raise my voice, I could just rationally speak with them and presto – they would obey! If you are not laughing hysterically yet, you should be!
I had an idea of what marriage would be, after all, I was marrying my best friend and the very cutest boy in the whole world! We were a very mature 18 and 21 year old for our age! (Riotous laughter should ensue here!) I was always going to get my way because, of course I was always right!
Well, it is probably good that I didn’t know everything the ensuing years would bring. I loved being a mom, I loved my boys, I loved homeschooling until it became detrimental to my relationship with our sons. I loved my jobs, my volunteer work, and life. I have to say that marriage is a lot of work, but a good marriage gives life to the soul and builds each other up, rather than the opposite.
I have to say the last 4 years have definitely been the most unique in our marriage. Our sons are 28 and 30 now. They are stable young men, independent, and funny. When Dan and I felt God was leading us somewhere else in ministry, I was thinking Branson MO was a stretch. We prayed and kept praying and two years later found that Nigeria was where God was leading us. Two years of praying is what it took to prepare us to realize that even though we didn’t have seminary degrees, etc. we could be missionaries and there was work God wanted us to be doing.
Our first trip to Nigeria was memorable. We were overwhelmed with the things Art and Dorothy had accomplished in a ten year period of time. We did not feel capable. They assured us, it was God, they just followed how God led and did the work. That was a little helpful, we could do that, we felt. Of course, then on the way back to the Airport as Dan and I are excitedly discussing different evangelical and compassion things we could do, I got shot. During the “shooting experience” God showed up in a big way. He calmed my panic, and as I was sitting in the bus that was not going anywhere because it was shot too, He told me, “this is where I want you and I will take care of you”. I have to say, without this promise, things would have been much harder for the next couple of years.
After we got back to the States, we worked at our jobs, worked on the process of becoming a missionary, raised our monthly support, got our house ready to sell and sold it. We lived with friends for 8 months while finishing up our support and built a small cabin in Pine River on some land Dan’s parents gave us. This was hard, a lot of work, but Dan and I have had so much fun! We have met so many wonderful, Godly, supportive people!
We love telling people about what God is doing in Nigeria, we love being together, and we are loving working together here in Nigeria. We are thankful for each other as we are the only non-Nigerians for hundreds of miles where we are serving. We celebrate today what God has done in us and what He will do through us in the following years.
I do have a point today: God is always preparing us for what He has next in our lives. We know that right now God is preparing us for what He has next. What is He preparing you for? Are you asking what His will is for you as a couple, a family, an individual?