Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Pain in the Foot

When I told you about student camp, I mentioned going door-to-door sharing Bible stories. One of the houses we came to had Neria.

She sat all day long, doing nothing, while flies just hovered around her foot, which was bandaged in a piece of material.

We didn't see her foot that day, but her family was so open to the message of God's word, that we promised we would return.

I didn't see the wound, but heard the story.

When she was in exile in Congo during the war, she developed a "spot" on her foot. About 10 years ago, the "spot" opened and started to grow. 5 years ago, she saw a doctor who told her she should have an amputation to save her leg. She hasn't seen a doctor in 5 years, but her daughter (on the right in the picture below) cleans it faithfully every day. (I was incorrect in my first post where I assumed the wound was dirty).

With this knowledge, I pretty much knew that I wasn't going to be checking on her foot. I didn't know what it looked like, but I have learned since becoming a parent, that I am NOT "nurse" material.

When my kids throw up, and I see it or smell it, then I start gagging. And apparently, I'm not so good with blood either. Lucky for Doug, huh?

Anyway, I went along with Doug and Florence armed with prayer, all the medical supplies needed, and a camera (hoping to get a glance so we could show an expert).

Thank you, Doug, for being the hands and feet of Jesus to Neria. It was such a blessing to watch you serve and love her.

She has never been tested for diabetes, but it looks like she might have it. Some medical personnel in the States suggested she get the dead/black skin burned off, to give it a chance to heal.

We are returning this week to tell her more Bible stories and pray with her, and maybe she will agree to go to the doctor with us, if we promise her we won't let them take her leg.

I've been at the hospital a few times this week, and I know the medical care isn't great, but God can provide someone who knows exactly what to do. You can pray for that with us.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A look back...

I was listening to a wrap-up session of Beth Moore’s “Esther” Bible study last spring, and my mind started wondering. I heard her say something about “looking back to see how it all fit,” and I started thinking about my own life.

Each person’s past is preparation for what God has for him.

Your life is not an “accident.” Every person you come in contact with, experience you have, and place you live is to prepare you for something more.

This is not an all-encompassing list, and the things on it don't make me any more special than the next guy, but it was precious to look back on some of these things.

I grew up in the country. When the power went out with a storm, we not only had no electricity, we also had no water or toilet usage since the water was pumped from a well with an electric pump. Now, I am regularly without power and/or water, so somehow...I got a head start :)

In the country, we planted a large garden, and even though I hated working in it, the education it provided me is really coming in handy as I plant my own food now.

My parents “allowed” us to try foods that might not be highly favored like liver, cactus, and snake. But it was just a warm-up for the caterpillars, grasshoppers, and termites I have tried since being here.

Also growing up in the country, I had several opportunities to “relieve” myself when there were no toilets around. It made me an “expert” so I could teach my girls the tricks of the trade. Toilets (to sit on) are a rarity here.

My mother cooked fresh vegetables from her garden most nights, so I was well-trained for the foods available here (nothing pre-made, preserved or found in a box).

I think camping every summer with my family whether in a pop-up trailer or a small camper helped me learn how to cook in small, cramped spaces, like my present kitchen.

My parents always gave to those in need, and it was always modeled for me long before I arrived in Africa where “need” is always at my gate.

My parents taught me how to work hard and have a good work ethic. Every summer, my siblings and I got up before the sun rose to either pick corn or spray Mesquite and Huisache trees. So I was prepared long ago for the extra work that is required on a daily basis to live here (of course, this picture is not something we do on a daily basis, but it's fun to see Kylie imitating the African women, isn't it?).

My mother taught me how to cook at an early age. If I had only known how to open a box or defrost a frozen bag, I would have been in a lot of trouble.

I remember my mom cooking with powdered milk in my younger years (which I am forced to do now), and before microwaves, she had to heat up all the leftovers on the stove (which I am also forced to do now).

I wore my sister’s (and my sister’s friends) hand-me-downs, so I was never attached to brand names. It comes in handy when the only place I have to shop is the used clothes market.

My hometown was 45 minutes from a mall or movie cineplex, so the 7-hour drive I now have to a “city” is not too far of a stretch for me.

My college education was focused on “education,” and now I am in a place where I have no choice but to teach my own children.

Five ladies in Mississippi prepared me to homes chool my children, even though I never knew in what capacity I would be doing it. Thank you, Lisa, Colleen, Anna, Angie, and Debbie.

The large university I attended has an old tradition where you greet everyone you pass with “Howdy.” Now, I’m in a culture that also expects you to greet everyone you pass, but I just say, “Mi ngoni,” instead.

I started going on mission trips in college. Now I'm "living" a mission trip.

Thankfully, God had already moved Doug and I away from “home” twice before. So this move wasn’t my first time to leave Texas, but my third.

We applied for foreign missions the first time before being called to Baton Rouge. After arriving in Baton Rouge, the pastor left within a month, but because of us serving there, I went on my first mission trip to Uganda. I also found life-long friends (who still encourage me) within months of moving there.

The last few years in America, we moved so much that we didn’t bother hooking up cable, so I thankfully got used to not having a TV. Besides growing up, I only had CBS, NBC, ABC, and PBS anyway. Anyone?

The DVD screens in our minivan went out while we lived in Baton Rouge, so my kids were already trained to make a 7-hour drive with no entertainment but what they made themselves.

I have been blessed to sit under many great teachers of the Word: Chris Osborne, Gregg Matte, Tommy Politz, Chip Henderson, Stuart Rothberg, Richard Bowden, David Welch, Tommy Nelson, and Neil McClendon, among others. Thankfully, I have had a lot of teaching, because now I am responsible for feeding myself the Word.

My sister has also lived overseas for 20 years, so she paved the way for me, and was a great resource before I ever left American soil.

Isn't God good? Everything we go through is for a reason.

I just never knew He had been preparing me for the mission field L O N G before it was ever a thought in my heart.

Take a look at your journey. What do you see?

Hardware for the Face

I can go days and not see anyone wearing glasses or braces here.

I’m pretty sure this isn’t a “contact-wearing” culture, and I’m also quite certain they don’t all have 20/20 vision.

That leads me to believe that some of these boda drivers can’t really see a thing in front of them.


I’m pretty sure there are not any glasses or contacts sold in this town.

A lot of people cannot read, but those that can and have trouble seeing, can you imagine their struggle??

My houseworker is one of those. When I write her a note, she gets so close to the paper, her nose is touching it.

And about braces…for the most part, the people here are blessed beyond belief with a great jaw structure.

They have the most beautiful teeth. And funny enough, you will rarely see them brushing with toothbrush and toothpaste. But you will see them every morning with a piece of stick sticking out of their mouth. They walk around doing their morning routine while they rub this stick up and down on their teeth. Pretty amazing, huh?
When you don’t make do.

Dispelling the Darkness

Our town has been without power for a month, and all of a sudden, it came back on the last day of September...last night. It surprised us all because we had heard it would be November or later. (And maybe this is just a trial run for some cruel experiment, and it is still going to go off again soon – who knows).

Anyway, because we are blessed with solar panels, our life has pretty much been normal except for no hot water for baths. Heating water on the stove for the kids, limited kid-bathing, and letting out small screams when the cold water hits your back, just became the norm. No problem. Our solar was also a blessing for the people who live around us and work for us, because we are able to charge all their cell phones for them.

When I was in town two weeks ago, I was just making small talk with the “grocery store” worker about the power, and he said, “We have been in darkness for a month,” and the thought struck me. I wanted to say, “No, sir, you have been in darkness for a lot longer than that.”

As I’m sure you have heard before, when it is dark in Africa, it is REALLY dark. There are no street lights, no night lights, no televisions in house windows, no nothing. You can’t see the hand in front of your face. It is an eery feeling. It’s like you are floating in space with nothing around.

This must be the kind of darkness that those not in Jesus are surrounded with. It’s eery, unnerving, and frightening, whether they will admit it or not.

But because of the lack of light here at night, the people’s eyes here (not mine) have adjusted, and they can actually see pretty well at night (not me).

This is also like the person who lives spiritually in darkness. For example, while living in Mississippi, Doug and I had a conversation with a student who had just accepted Christ. He said that before Christ, he thought he understood peace and he thought that his life was “good.” But after accepting Christ, he saw clearly that what he thought was peace and goodness was NOT. He said, “I just THOUGHT I was happy. I didn't know how different my life would be with Christ.”

People in “darkness,” have adjusted to the lack of light in their life and learned to live with it. They don’t even realize they are squinting and straining to see the beauty around them. To them, it’s natural. They just don’t know the difference.

Pray for the darkness to be dispelled in all the places of the world where they need the true light of God’s SON.