Wednesday’s Child

Wednesday’s Child

Monday’s child is fair of face
Tuesday’s child is full of grace
Wednesday’s child is full of woe
Thursday’s child has far to go,
Friday’s child is loving and giving,
Saturday’s child works hard for a living,
But the child who is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonnie and blithe and good and gay.

Since I am an early childhood teacher and have read more than a zillion nursery rhyme books over the years this little verse is familiar to me. It is very old and I thought of it last Thursday.  I wondered how many children are full of woe like Wednesday’s child.
I was teaching our math class with our TTP students and Funmi and someone came to get me. There was an emergency surgery at the hospital and they needed a blood donor. Just the week before I had told the lab that if they are looking for a donor to give blood, I am available. Since my blood group is O+, I am considered a “universal blood donor”. This is why I used to give blood every 12 weeks or so when we lived in the States. 0+ Blood works for all blood types except 0-.
I rushed down to the clinic and they took out a test tube of blood so that they could test to make sure I didn’t have anything in my blood that would negatively affect the person having surgery. As I was waiting for the tests to finish (this is standard procedure here). We do not have a blood bank because of the safety issue of keeping blood without constant electricity. When a patient needs blood the family looks for people to give blood that will work for the patient, they test it for HIV, Hepatitis, TB, etc. and if the tests are good, our lab technicians collect a pint of blood and that directly goes to the patient.
Anyway, while I was waiting I found out that a little 7 year old girl was the person that was going to get my blood. Here is a picture of her. Her name is Naziatu. I feel very privileged to actually get to meet someone that I have donated blood to. Well, Naziatu was born with her legs turned in. She fell and broke one of her legs and her family took her to the native healer. The native healer decided that they should break her other leg and tie the two legs together so they could heal straight. That is not what happened though. When Naziatu’s family brought her to our hospital, she had gangrene in both of her legs and was very close to death. Our Doctor had to amputate both of her legs above the knee in order to save her life. I took this picture on Monday, so this is how she is doing four days after having her legs amputated. We are watching her very carefully for infection and making sure that she is healing well. She is asking the nurses when her legs are coming back.

Also, while I was waiting the nurses were changing the dressings on our two burned children, Mymoona and Sadam. Their cries and begging the nurses to stop broke my heart as it would anyone. But this is so necessary for their healing, but also so painful for them.

Needless to say, it was a somber day for me as I thought and prayed about what so many people on this Earth deal with and how are we (Dan and I) ever going to make a dent of a difference here with the huge cultural gap that we deal with daily. Dan and I talked Friday morning about our on-going challenge with village healers and the deaths that occur that don’t need to because of this very challenge. We decided we need to educate as many people as much as we can and pray. We covet your prayers in this for us please.
I am still not sure how Naziatu is going to be able to get around after she gets to go home. I don’t know if a wheelchair would be the best and easiest or what is really the best for her at this time. Then there is the question if she will ever be able to have prosthetic legs.
Friends, my point for today is this: Hug your children, be thankful for the healthcare we have accessible in the States, we still need to be our children’s biggest advocates. Pray for us please and continue praying for Mymoona and Sadam as well as Naziatu. That they will heal and be infection-free and be able to return to their homes and live life.

I Have A Dream~

I Have A Dream~

On Monday, January 15 America celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the day America stops to think about this man and his dream.  “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal. 

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

This is just a tiny portion of MLK’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech given in 1963, the very year I was born.

I was thinking this week as we got back into teaching that each of us needs to have a dream, few of us can verbalize it as well as MLK did.  Bill Hybels calls it the Moment of Holy Discontent or that Popeye Moment, “That’s all I can stands, I can’t stands no more!

That feeling that you can’t go on in life ignoring this injustice any longer, you MUST do something about it.

This week I was reminded again of my Holy Discontent.  Sitting around the table with young people in our Technical Training Program discussing their dreams for their businesses.  They have had to put work into this.  We aren’t just handing stuff out, they have to work for it.  First, they had to pass an entrance exam.  If they have challenges of reading and math, they have to change that by going to our reading and math classes until they can pass the entrance exam.  Then they spend at least 9 months with a trainer, it depends on what trade they are learning how long it takes for them to be able to either have their own welding shop, tailoring shop, panel beater business, catering, etc.

These young people have lost at least one parent, most have lost both parents, had limited education, and have no hope for their futures.  I know that in our American life, there seems to be HOPE somewhere.  We know we can come up with a way to make money, that opportunities are there for a person that wants it.  Here, it is different.  Education, books, creative thinking are limited.  Discouragement, death, and hunger are not.

In our Entrepreneurship classes this week it was such a privilege to discuss with these young people that are currently working with their craftsmen in their assorted trades about what they want their businesses to look like.  It was very special to be able to share our lessons on getting started in business and what sort of things you need to do and think about before starting a business.  95% of small businesses in Nigeria close within 5 years due to lack of planning and knowledge of record keeping.  One of my dreams is to be able to help as many young people as I can to be strong believers in themselves, their abilities, and that with God, they too can support themselves and their families.

It truly breaks my heart that children are the least supported people in our world.  They are taken advantage of, abused, and neglected.  I have a dream that I will do all I can to show God’s love and share His hope with the “least of these”.  I believe God loves children in a very special way, they are very near and dear to His heart. 

My thought for today is this:  How can you encourage or show His love to “the least of these” this week?  If you look through Jesus’ eyes you see so many different opportunities!


New Year Thoughts

New Year Thoughts

Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”  This is my daily prayer, and with this new year upon us, I have been thinking as I have had some reflection and planning time.  I also had something happen that you have to hear about!

Christmas Eve I went to take a sip from my Contigo water bottle and felt a very sharp sting on my tongue.  I spit out the water that was in my mouth and the stinging continued.  I grabbed the spider off of my tongue and threw it on the floor.  My brain kind of went through all kinds of scenarios.  Is this a poisonous spider?  In MN I know all the poisonous spiders, in Nigeria I don’t yet!  What do you do when a spider bites your tongue?  The internet had no help for that, apparently it doesn’t happen very often.  I swished Listerine around my mouth for a couple of minutes and put Tea Tree Oil on the bite and took a Benadryl.  My tongue continued to hurt.  I thought what should I do next?  I should probably tell Dan in case I die or something (sometimes I am dramatic).  I did, and he said, “What kind of spider is it, is it poisonous?”  He picked up the spider from the floor where I threw it and I started googling Nigerian spiders.  It turns out it was a yellow sac spider that likes to crawl into dark spaces (the tube of my water bottle) during the day and wander around at night looking for food.  The poison aspect of the spider ranged from very poisonous to annoying, but not poisonous.  I decided to believe the annoying but not poisonous information.  My tongue still has a little sore spot from the bite but no other ill effects, so I am thankful, so thankful for that!

After this incident, Dan and I were laughing because we do not know ANYONE else who has been bit on the tongue by a spider.  We also do not know anyone who is quite as inclined to strange and weird instances of extreme disaster as I am.  No one who has been shot in Nigeria on their first visit, no one who has fallen off of a zip line and lost their sense of smell and taste, no one who falls frequently and slips on nothing, no one (except our son Robert) who can fall up or down stairs every single time, and now no one who has been bit on the tongue by a spider.

If you don’t know me well, now you know a little bit more about me.  I’m kind of like an accident waiting to happen somedays.  BUT guess what?

I have a God who knows this, who made me JUST like this and loves me and wants me to serve Him.  Isn’t it amazing, friend!  All our God wants is us.  I am finally at a place in this life where He gets all of me.  I am not sure why He wants it, but I am here, and here to serve Him.  Don’t get me wrong, I am human and somedays just want to go to bed and never get up, or be selfish and scream, “I want my own way NOW”.  But God is helping me daily as I pray to be more like Jesus and that people will see Jesus not only in me, but through me as well.

My point for today is this:  If you are waiting to be “Perfect” before you give yourself to Jesus, He doesn’t want perfect, He wants YOU!  How much of you does He have?

Is Yours a Wonderful Life?

Is Yours a Wonderful Life?

Today we have internet! We have only had internet about 7 days this month so far (welcome to Nigeria)! I want to take advantage of this opportunity to wish you a Wonderful Christmas season as we think about the tiny baby in the manger and why He came to Earth.

It seems very strange that Christmas is less than a week away. As I sit in my chair, it is sunny and 85 degrees outside. The birds are singing and flowers blooming. Our sheets are drying out on the line (as the dryer has been broken for about a month and is currently being fixed.) Spending most of my life living in Minnesota, this is not the traditional Christmas weather. We have had three Christmas’s here in Gembu, and it is still a very strange feeling, but we do enjoy it! It is so funny how we are such creatures of habit and associate Christmas with snow, Christmas decorations, cookies, and stores!

Speaking of habit, I want to share with you my favorite movie that I must watch every year about this time. It’s a Wonderful Life. This movie was released in 1946, 17 years before I was born, but every year I love the reminder that is all over this movie, the quote that Clarence the angel says to George Bailey swirls around my thoughts, as I plan my next year of life and work. “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”

This thought echoes through my head this time of year. Will the presents you give this year change anyone’s life for the better? Will the tree and decorations be perfect? Will this season be memorable and special for all? When you are not on this Earth anymore will your absence be felt? Will your fingerprints and prayers be felt for generations because of anything you have done, given, or said?

In this stage of my life my goal is for people to see Jesus in all I do, say, and am. Jesus has given me life, a life I would have never dreamed of. Freedom and joy I did not know was possible! A peace and a joy that can only be from Him.

I pray that if I were to see what it would be like if I was never born, I would be surprised at the people who got to see a glimpse of Jesus through me. That I would not be THAT person who treats others poorly as I rush through my life with MY agenda. I pray that all would see Jesus in and through me. This includes first of all our family members who know us best and love us anyway. Sometimes we forget to treat those closest to us as precious. They are! Every moment with loved ones is priceless and should never be taken for granted. EVER!
My point for today is this: Are you spending this Christmas spreading “stuff” or the love that can only come from the Jesus that I serve?

The Scoop from Gembu

The Scoop from Gembu

I know that I have not blogged in FOREVER! While we were in the States this year we told all of the churches we visited that I blog every week while we are in Nigeria and post pictures every week. I think God must have a wacky sense of humor because we have been so busy I have not been able to blog as it takes more than two consecutive minutes for me to put a thought together. Then there is that always loved, always hated entity out there called “the internet”. Ours has had issues and I have also had issues loading pictures on my computer without it using up all of our internet.
So… I want to share with you what has been going on here and I am excited someday to be able to post some pictures as well so you can see what’s going on.
Funmi and I have been having reading and math classes and they are really going well. The curriculum we are using is awesome and the students of all ages that we have really enjoy it and are excited that they can read much more than they ever thought they could! This is truly a gift and a joy to see!
Our first group of TTP Students that we have been doing math with have all passed their math and reading tests now and have received their certificates, and when their trainers that they are apprenticing with approves that each is ready to have their own business, they will each receive their empowerment tools. We are so proud of these students! They have worked hard on learning their craft and the entrepreneurship classes as well. Our second group of TTP Students is doing very well and very soon will be testing to see who is ready to start their apprenticeship with our trainers.
The reading classes at the school have shown huge results and we are working with the school when they resume after the first of the year.
Miss Taraba invited me to talk at an event at Taraba State University and she also purchased 150 Days for Girls kits to distribute to women and girls that attended. It was an awesome time and I believe we made some wonderful connections for further training of women and girls. Miss Taraba will be coming to Gembu during her break for me to work with her and for her to pass her “Ambassador of Health” training so that she can go out and talk to women and girls as she has engagements all over our state.
Because of the additional DFG kits that I believe we will be needing I have hired Odelia to work Monday through Friday and we are making kits like crazy. Quality control is my very first priority during this part and she is doing very well with that, I check every day to keep things on track! The Kits are also quite a huge blessing to women that give birth at our Hospital, as we give them a Post-Partum kit and talk to them about charting their cycle and such before they go home. A big thank you to all the women who made kits that we brought back to Nigeria with us, they are soooo appreciated. Thank you!
We spent a week in Abuja getting supplies and emptying out the apartment. We are not in Abuja enough to justify this, and our plan is to only go once or twice a year now. We got to have American Thanksgiving with our friends, the Holmes, who are missionaries in Abuja, and it was an awesome time to spend with some dear people we don’t get to see that often.
We then were in Jalingo for me to speak at the University and to renew our Driver’s Licenses and get some additional supplies that we needed for World AIDS Day, which was December 1. In case you are wondering, we do not like being in Abuja or Jalingo as our Minnesota bodies melt in the heat!
World Aids Day was on Friday and IT WAS AWESOME! We had many distinguished visitors and marched through town and to our new hall. We talked about how HIV and some of the secondary infections are greatly affecting us here in Nigeria and we also graduated our first group of students from the Entrepreneurship Program. We had Jollof Rice, Malta, and banana bread from our awesome restaurant and celebrated! There was a lot of singing and dancing and love spread around on Friday!
All of this is in addition to the building projects moving forward, patients in the hospital and clinic, and ministry continuing forward.
I do have a point in today’s blog and this is it:
Dan and I have both felt spiritual oppression during these past couple of months. I believe that this is because much is moving forward here and we are impacting the community daily in many ways here. Please pray. Each morning Dan and I pray that God will show us what to say and do for that day and that we are discerning enough to do it. We have many expenses because of buildings. Prices here have at least tripled in this past year. We need wisdom on what is God’s priority first. Not our own. Thank you, friends, God is good and we are thankful!