Sunday, 21 June 2009

Coming your way ;)

Here we are yet again, I'm writing and you're reading a blog that should have been written a long time ago.

It's sad to say that this one will be short because of the many things that are on my list to do today. But I thought that while I had just a few minutes I needed to sit and write.

I want to share so much with you about America and what it's like. What it's been like and how things have gone since I got home. What my reaction was when I saw my family at the airport. The tears I shed while saying my last Fulani goodbye. But there is a time for everything and now is not that time.

I do want to let you know that I have not forgotten you. My plan is to continue writing as much as I can and make this a fun blog filled with the Lord and life.

But right now I just want to update you quickly about what's going on in my life.

I have accepted a job position in Hannibal MO as a Dorm Director at Hannibal LaGrange College. It's the same college that I graduated from in May 2007. I will be moving to Hannibal the last week of July and I start work on August 1st. I am SO excited about this position and I am thrilled that the Lord would give me an opportunity like this one to minister to the girls going to school in Hannibal.

I just got back from a week at Bates Creek Camp with over 20 grade school girls from my church. Bates Creek is a Southern Baptist Camp that many people and churches go to and have fun with every Summer. I'm headed back to Bates Creek tomorrow to be with the youth from my church. I will be cutting this week short though because I'm headed to SC on Thursday with my mom! My Aunt, Uncle and 5 of my cousins live there but are moving back to MO next week! My mom and I are headed down that way so we can help them pack up. I am also going to be speaking to a couple different groups within my Aunt and Uncle's church while I'm there next weekend. I can't wait to meet so many that have been praying and lifting me up for more than two years while I've been away.

That's all the time that I have for today.
Love you all and thanks for your prayers and being so faithful to me!
Happy Father's Day!

Friday, 1 May 2009

My Last

Believe it or not I am writing my last blog from West Africa. I will leave for America in just a few short hours and be with my family late on Saturday night.

Because time is short I am just writing a huge thank you for all you have done during my time here. There is so much that I wish I could write now, but again, time is short. I will update soon after I get settled in America.

I said goodbye to my people in my villages and in my town last weekend and I made my way to Niamey (where I will fly out) last Sunday. Please pray for me as I travel home and get readjusted to life in America.

Before I go, I want to let you know that we have a new Fulani believer! He accepted Christ the first week of April and is excited about his new faith. I will fill you in more once I'm home. Please pray for Hue as he desires to learn more and is dealing with persecution from his family for following Christ.

I love you and am more appreciative than you will ever know for who you are in my life,

Thursday, 23 April 2009

The Stinger

It's been almost a month since I've written and there is so much to fill you in on.
I have talked to Stephen and he and his family are doing ok. He was given two baby girls (his cousins) to watch and take care of for an inevitable amount of time. He wanted to travel with the girls to the village his mother lives in many hours away. But within about a week there was another one his family members that was able to take the babies and they are no longer in Stephen's care. He is ok with that.
He was a little stressed when he had the girls. He told me, "Anna, I have no wife and I have never had babies to care for before! Pray for me!" It was kind of a humorous situation and he's doing fine now. I have not heard what the killings were a result of. I don't know if it was religious or cultural or if just happened for no reason. But if I do find out I will let you know.

I have had my ticket for America for a few weeks now and I was leaving on the 1st of May. I was planning on being reunited with my family next Friday night a
and spending all day Saturday with them... But as it seems to be a pattern in Niger with the airlines, my flight got cancelled and changed. I am leaving on May 2nd instead of May 1st. I just found out from Deanna, who is a Guest House worker in Niamey, also with the IMB.
Disappointment and frustration shot through me. "Why can't anything go like I want it to?" I was really upset at first and then the Lord brought to mind how useful it is for me to be upset about something that I cannot change. What good will it do? It doesn't justify anything nor does it help me or my attitude.
So I let it go and although I may still have feelings of disappointment, I know that regardless of when, I will be home with my family one days soon.

I have said goodbye to two of my villages and I'm saying goodbye to my family in the chief's village tomorrow. I spent the night out there on Monday night. It was dark and "my" little boy, Irahi, was sitting on my cot next to me when he said "I like it that you live in Niger. I never want you to leave, you make me happy!" I couldn't believe what I heard him say... it broke my heart to tell him that I was leaving for Niamey in a week. He put his head down so his chin touched his chest and he told me that he wouldn't accept for his mother to leave him. Before I realized it, I had tears streaming down my cheeks. I couldn't help it. I wrapped my arms around him and held him close as I cried. One of my sisters came over and shone the flashlight on me and Irahi and them told everyone that I was crying. It wasn't a big deal. We have talked for a long time about what our goodbye would look like when it finally came. My sister ask me to stop crying because if I started now then it would break all of them and it wasn't time for tears yet. I dried up at that time but let the tears come later.
My youngest sister in my village got stung by a large scorpion that night. I had heard different things about which ones were poisonous and which ones were only painful. I texted a doctor that works at a hospital about an hour from my house. I told him the situation and he told me not to worry about her that it would only be painful. She didn't sleep well that night and cried for a long time because of the pain. I felt for her. I wanted to take the pain from her for myself. I can't stand it to see other people hurting - it kills me.
The scorpion reminded me of how faithful the Lord was a few days ago when I found a scorpion in my bedroom. I was getting in the shower and going to bed after that when I saw him. He was sitting on the wall above my bed. It could have very easily fallen onto my bed and stung my foot/feet in the night. I caught him in a jar and kept him for a couple of days before I gave him some poison that I use for termites in my house. He died in the middle of the night.
So, so far I have seen 3 scorpions. Two in my village and one in my bedroom. I'm praying that I don't encounter anymore while I'm here!

Pray for me as I pack up. There is so much to do and I feel like there's not enough time to do it in.
B has been gone for about 3 weeks now. He got a job with a bus station and they sent him to another town to work. He said that he would be back in a few days. I haven't seen him and K and Fati tell me that he won't be back before I leave. Pray for me as I deal with this. He was so like my brother. I didn't even get to see him the day he left. I didn't even know he had left until I came outside that morning and asked Fati where B was. She told me he was gone. I took a motorcycle taxi to K's work (at the bus station - he works there every morning)and asked K where he was. He told me was already gone and not to worry because he would be back in a few days. That was 3 weeks ago. When I talked to K the other day about it he told me to have patience. But at this time I'm so sad...

I hope to post again soon. I want to tell you all so much more! Pray that I will be diligent with my time that I have left and use every minute that I can to invest in people and share Christ with them.

Thursday, 26 March 2009


My friend Stephen, who I've written about before and is a Christian Fulani, and I talked on the phone last night. Monday a group of Hausa people attacked his family's compound killing 15 family members and two friends (all Fulani). At this point no one knows why the attack took place. I'm not sure if the family members killed were Christians or not. It could have been cultural or religious attack, Stephen doesn't even know at this point. His mother's sister and husband were both killed leaving 5 children parentless, one of which is only 3 weeks old. He said many more of his family are also left without parents.
Please be praying for Stephen and the rest of his family as they walk through this together. Pray that it would pull those who don't know Christ closer to Him and that Stephen can be a witness to them during this time. Pray for peace and comfort.
Thanks for all you do and being faithful pray-ers.

Friday, 20 March 2009


Oh, the wind! It seems that just before rainy season every year that the wind picks up and makes things dreadful for everyone. It blows dust and dirt and sand all over everything, in your eyes, down your shirt, through the air vents in your car, etc. This is the time that I wish it would just rain! But it's not quit full fledged hot season yet, we still a few weeks to go. By the time I leave here I will be ready for cooler days. Right now the temperatures haven't been above 110 and that's been nice. It has even been cooling off nicely during the night (low 90s). So much that I pull my sheet up over me just before sun-up. I have my ceiling fan on in my room to keep the mosquitoes off of me and to keep it cooler before the sheet time of night comes. But just the same, it's nice to have the lower temperatures for the time being.

Things have been very different here since Karissa has been gone. It's been funny having just me at the house. I will be talking to myself about something and think "I should tell Karissa!" and then I realize "she's not here anymore:("
The people have asked since the day I got back from vacation where she was and why she didn't come back with me. The work world in America makes no sense to them and they have no clue as to why we can't just stay here forever! Some can, those who are career, but for Karissa, she was a volunteer, so it's different. They always ask me when I talked to her and how she and her family are doing. They ask if she was tired of Niger and if that's why she left. Then when I tell them that she loved Niger but needed to go back to America to find a job and be with her family the Fulani consensus is "Ohhhhhh, she has a boyfriend! She had to go back because she wants to get married!" And, well, that's not the truth either... The Fulani for some reason think that when us single girls head back to America it's so we can get married. It was that way for a Journeyman two years ago, but not for the journeymen since that point. When they hear me talk about leaving in a few weeks, they all tell me to send them pictures of my boyfriend and to tell them when the wedding is. Sometimes I just want to "make-up" a random guy so that I won't be told I'm lying to them! But then to make someone up would be lying, so I'm sticking to my "single" story, even if they don't believe me.

B has been excited about hearing more stories. Him and I sat down the other night and I told him about the story from Luke 5 about Jesus healing the paralytic. I told him there were so many people in the house listening to the teachings of Christ that the men couldn't get in with their friend on the mat. They had to go to the roof and lower their friend down on the mat in front of Jesus. I told him that once Jesus saw their faith that He told the man his sins were forgiven and for the man to get up and walk. B was amazed! He thought it was awesome that Jesus healed the crippled man right then and there! As always, B repeated the story to me to make sure that he understood all of it. Then I ask him if was liking the cassette tapes that I had given him to listen to. He said "yes I do! But I'm finished listening to both of them and I want another. I also have one that Jay gave me and I like it a lot too." I went in the house and got the third "Look Listen and Live" book and cassette and he made sure that the tape worked in his cassette player. He was so excited about it!
Please continue to pray for him. I feel as though he may be finding it difficult to tell those he is closest to about his new found faith. You see, K has many friends that have become B's friends as well. They all hang out on my compound in the evenings for a few hours. Many of them pack the bread on nights that it is brought. I find B very reluctant to talk and very watchful when one of his friends walks by us or sees up talking with the cassettes and the Bible story cloth laid out. He says that he has been telling his friends at his work and they all listen to the cassettes. But I do believe that K and B deal with a certain amount of persecution from the guys that they are with in the evenings. K has told me for as long as I have been here that the guys are always nagging him about not praying during prayer time or not fasting during Ramadan. K tells them the truth about his faith in Christ. B hasn't said much about things his friends in the evenings have said, but I know he deals with it too. B and K need prayer as they try to live out their faith in the midst of this Islamic culture. Pray that they would be bold and not hide their light from those that need to see it.
Fati, K's wife, and I have been able to begin building our friendship again. She returned to my town in late January after being with her family for a few months. Karissa had the opportunity to love on her and become friends with her as well. She has never seemed interested in the Bible or listening when I've wanted to share. But lately she has been more open to anything concerning Christ or the gospel. Pray for her and she sees K, B and myself live out Christ. Pray that she would let the walls fall down around her heart and that she would believe. It would bless my heart to know that Belki, K and Fati's daughter, would be raised in a Christian home and not a divided one. Pray the Lord's salvation to take place on my compound even more than it already has!

As you know, Susan has a night guard just like I do. His wife was very pregnant up until last Monday when she had the baby! Altine and Aissa, Susan's guard and his wife, have three boys and Aissa has wanted a girl this entire pregnancy. I have prayed for the Lord to give her what He willed, but I prayed selfishly that His will would be a girl for them. And... she had a GIRL! Altine called me (at my request) in the middle of the night on Sunday into Monday morning. I popped up out of bed, made myself decent and drove to Susan's as fast as I could. Altine had said on the phone that he wanted me to take Aissa to the hospital. Before I left my house I called Susan to let her know I was on my way over.
I got to her house and ran to check on Aissa and she had already had the baby! There was Aissa's mother giving the tiny baby a bath in cold water and holding her up by her little right arm. I couldn't believe it! Aissa sat on a stool watching. She had her head and body covered with a light cloth and didn't say much as I and Susan stood by and took everything in. The baby's body was so light in color that she could have been mistaken for a white child. I told them right off that the baby was really mine and not a Fulani... They all laughed!
I called my mom right away and told her about the baby. I ask her many "baby and birthing" questions knowing that she would more than likely know the answer.
After the baby was bathed and placed in a clean cloth Aissa laid down and they put the baby next to her. I encouraged Aissa to nurse the baby even though she wasn't going to. She said that she didn't have any milk but that her milk would come in a couple of days and she would feed her then. Aissa's mother has been with her for a few weeks waiting until the baby was born so she could help out. You have to be careful in this culture to not go against what the older people say. They are "older and wiser" and I didn't want to offend her at all. I did though want to throw my opinion out there and then let them chose whether or not to heed my advice.
I told them "I just talked to my mother on the phone and she has had nine babies! She wants you to know that even though you may think you don't have milk right now you have to nurse the baby and it will come." I continued to talk to them and tell them how good it would be for the baby if she nursed right away. Aissa and her mother were both very surprised by this and Aissa's mother handed her the baby right away and told her to feed it! Amazing!
Aissa got to the point that she didn't feel the need to go to the hospital so I left her house a little before 5 that morning. Susan had already gone back to bed.
After I had slept some more and eaten breakfast I went back over to hear that the baby had eaten again and was doing great! Praise the Lord that He worked in that situation! I couldn't even begin to imagine Aissa going two days without feeding the baby just because she thought she didn't have milk for the baby. Just because she thought that her breasts were dry. The Fulani have some crazy ways of thinking and this is just one of them.
I have taken some cute pictures of the baby and I will try to post some of them once I'm back in America. The baby naming ceremony will be on Monday when the baby is a week old. I will let you know the name after the buki! (A buki is a ceremony of just about any kind. A wedding buki, a baby naming ceremony buki, a graduation party buki, a going away party buki... they are all called the same thing - Buki).
She is a cute as a button and perfect in every way. Her eyes are as black as night, yet her skin color is just a little darker than a white baby. Her hands and feet, knobby elbows and knees have been formed without flaw. This baby was known before it was conceived. Her nose sits in just the right way and is "flat" as the Fulani say their noses are. Her ears are tiny and fragile and her hair is as black as coal. This baby is beautiful. She sleeps all the time and I've only seen her eyes twice. I've seen her everyday since Monday but only her eyes on the day she was born and then again today.

Once I was home on Monday morning the night air was cool. I closed myself in my house and felt a wave of unrecognized tears flow down my cheeks. Many of you may not know of the desire I've had for many years to be a mid-wife. My plans through the beginning of college were to go to school to be a nurse then continue my education and get my midwifery degree. The Lord had other plans in store for me. Although I know it's not His plan for me to be a mid-wife, my heart swells and cries when I think of how much I desire that sort of thing.
My mom had my last four siblings at home with a mid-wife and I couldn't get enough of that kind of work. I wanted to know all I could. I wanted to soak in all the knowledge on the subject that was available to me. But after my first semester in Nursing, I knew that the Lord was leading me in a different direction. I always wanted to be able to help with births and build a ministry overseas that was centered around babies. I wanted to use it as a way to share the gospel and love on women.
Since I was in ninth grade I knew that the Lord wanted me to work with women. I didn't know how or where or in what way. Well, when I began to desire all of the above, I thought midwifery was it. But now, after being led from that I know that the Lord is leading me somewhere new. I love high school and college age girls and would love to do ministry with that age group. I would love to work with youth (or be a youth pastor's wife) and be a Sunday School teacher. I have also thought and prayed about pursuing Biblical Counseling in Seminary. And I am definitely not opposed to serving overseas on the mission field. There are many options and I know that the Lord can use me in each one at one time or another. I also believe that I have the gift of teaching and speaking. I am anxious to see where the the Lord will lead me in the near future.
Please pray for me as I seek Christ about the next chapter in my life. If you didn't catch my drift, I'm very passionate about working with women and I would love to pursue that, but only if that's what the Lord wants. So my prayer is that I would step out of the way and allow the Lord to work in my life. He will give me the desire to do what He wants me to do and I want to be out of the way so He can do that.

I've had a bad cold this week that has slowed me down some. Pray against illness for me so that I can end strong and do as much ministry and village visiting as I can. My time here is short and I don't want to use it sick in bed!

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Leaving Asia

This is Mallory and I on the underground metro

This was a really cool graffiti wall that we found along a main tourist shopping street.

I have more pictures for you! I have placed three links on the left of my vacation here in Central Asia. I would love for you to check it out.

I am headed back to Niger tomorrow afternoon and will there sometime in the middle of the night. Please pray that I will have a safe trip and make my flights at both places. I am flying from here to Morocco and then catching another flight from there to Niamey.

Mallory and I were able to talk to our friend Casey on the phone tonight. He lives in Asia but on the opposite side from Mallory's. He is on vacation right now and Mallory has a vonage phone. So we called him and put him on speakerphone so we could all talk. That was such a blessing! Pray for Casey as he is on vacation and continues the Lord's work in Asia.

My computer is not working at the moment. It fell off a chair a few weeks ago and the hard drive is messed up. It can't be fixed until I get back to America but I'm going to try and use Susan's computer to post blogs.

Thank you all for your prayers and support in many ways. My plan at this point is to wrap up my time in Niger within the next few weeks and head back to America at the end of April. Please be praying for me as I finish up and say my goodbyes.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

City Life

This is Mallory and I at the water's front in her beautiful city!

Right off the bat let me tell you all that I'm posting pictures from a link on the left. It's titled "Pretty Pics" and you just click on the link "Niger Photos #1" and "Niger Photos #2" and you can take a look at a few photos that I posted on my facebook. There are several of Karissa and I and many of the safari that we took at the beginning of February.

I have been here in Central Asia for 4 days now and it feels like just yesterday that I was in Morocco waiting to get here. Yesterday Mallory and I had brunch and headed to a mall across the water - which meant that we had to take the boat! It was so fun getting to ride and see the birds, not to mention the city from a completely different view. The mall was so much fun! I bought a t-shirt from "United Colors Of Benetton" and looked in tons of different stores. They have Adidas, Nike, Reebok, and many other athletic stores as well as many dressy clothing stores too. It was a lot of fun to just browse. I didn't have a change to go to the mall in America when I was there in September but I did go to one in South Africa. But this one was a bit bigger with more of an American selection. Mallory and I went to a bookstore were I read an article in the "People" magazine about the pilot who landed a plane on the Hudson river. I hadn't heard that story before and if you haven't read it yet either you should get online and check it out. It's pretty amazing.
Mallory and I made a stop at Starbucks and I had my favorite - A cold chocolate chip creme. It was so good! We left after dark and took the bus back to the water where we then took the boat back to her side of town. It was raining and the bottom of my pants were soaked which meant that my shoes and socks were soaked too. I thought that I was going to lose a toe from frostbite or something!
We stopped at a vegetable and fruit stand and bought some of each. We made vegetable and chicken stir fry in a tortilla wrap and it was so good! Then we ate the most amazing orange I've ever had for dessert.

This morning Mallory and I left for her language tutor's house. Her name is *Aleah and she lives a ways away. We left and hopped on a bus where we rode for about 25 minutes before hopping off and climbing a killer hill to Aleah's house. She is a very nice 28 year old who knows how to speak English but refuses to do so around Mallory in order to help improve her language skills. She talked to me through Mallory the whole time and it was a great cultural experience for me. She served me Chai (the same tea drink that we have in Niger only not near as strong) with a little chocolate chip cake and a warm croissant. About halfway through Mallory's language lesson I put on my winter gear and took my camera out to take some pictures of the city from a distance.
Mallory and I left a little bit later and went to her office where I met up with a couple of people from my FPO two years ago! It was great to see Ryan and Laura. We are headed to their house for dinner tomorrow night and I will take a picture. I will get to see their little girl, Selah, again too. Laura told me that regardless of the fact that she won't remember me, she will be my best friend in less than 5 minutes:) I'm excited about tomorrow evening.
I was also able to meet another Journeyman, Jeremy, today and talk to him a little bit too.

Jana (Mallory's roommate) returned from the States today from a work conference she was attending. It was great coming in from the freezing cold to be greeted by her! Jana and I walked to the Post Office to pick up a package that she has there. It's quit different than my Post Office in Niger. I have one for the whole town that I live in and there are well over 10 here in this huge city. Jana and Mallory talked about which one she had to go to in order to get her package. So Jana and I took off and left Mallory talking on the phone with a friend that's in America. We walked a few streets and went through security at the mall and down a flight of stairs to the Post Office where the man told her to come back tomorrow morning because they were closing up. So we came back up to their apartment and sat down to check email and facebook. We then began talking about what to have for dinner when they informed me that they could order just about anything and have it delivered... WHAT?! That's awesome! So we all decided on McDonald's and Mallory got online and ordered us all Double Cheeseburger meals. It was at our door within 10 minutes! We put in the movie "Top Gun" which I had never seen before and I ate my first McDonald's in over 5 months:) Boy, was it good!

Tomorrow morning Mallory and I are hitting up the gym for a good workout. So I'm going to close at this point. I hope that you all enjoy the pictures and stories thus far. Be watching for more!

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Update + Two Pictures

I am writing to you from one of Central Asia's largest cities! I know that this information may come to a shock to some of you, but I am on vacation right now with my girlfriend Mallory were she is serving here in CA. I will have plenty of time to blog more later but while I have a few minutes at this time I want to post a couple of pictures for you all to see... Enjoy!

As you read at one point, I have a guy friend that bags all of his bread on my compound and then sells it at the bus station the next morning. He is a Zerma guy and his name is Yawo. Here is a picture of him in the blue and colorful shirt with a friend. They are hard at work one morning at the bus station that I was leaving for Niamey. I decided to snap this one.

This was the day when Karissa and I were buying gas off the black market.

These are the only two that would upload at this time but Mallory just said that I can upload more and do it faster during the morning. So be watching for more!

Sunday, 15 February 2009

He Need Us Not

Writings from Karissa...
Haba! (an expression used here similar to “holy cow” in America)… Where to start my dear family and friends?

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. HE guides me in paths of righteousness for HIS name’s sake… Psalm 23:1-3

Maybe this passage would be a good place to start. This probably was not the passage I would have thought my heart would need while I was here in Africa but the Lord has used it to humble me and still me in moments of discontent…

On January 28th a team of four from Perryville, MD came to Kondike (Anna’s hometown) to serve and continue building relationships with the people here and in the surrounding villages. This team has come here twice a year for the past four years. Anna and I had a blessed time getting to serve with them while they were here. Our translator and driver for the week were both Muslim men that the team uses each time they come. We are praying that these men might come to know Christ through the presence of these believers in their lives. Jay is a man from Nigeria that has a heart for the people here and worked with us as well. He was able to translate and already has relationships with many people here. He reminded me very much of the apostle Paul and his presence was invaluable.

There is a village that Anna had been invited to a couple months of ago because the Fulani, her people, had a desire to learn about Christ. She was able to share with them truth and the Gospel. As the team was here, Anna shared this with them and the team told us that they had been to that same village years ago and yet the Lord had not really allowed them to share and build relationships like the other villages they had been to. After hearing of this open door, the team got very excited about the opportunity to go back and share more with them.

It was on the afternoon before we were going to this very village that my heart began to struggle in discontent. There was a married couple from the team that were going to be sharing some Bible stories with the people and I wanted to share a story as well. I was trying to figure out my place within this group and had it set in my mind how I wanted to serve the Lord that night. When it didn’t seem that this was the way things were going to work out, I became frustrated. I wanted to share truth! I wanted to DO something…Wasn’t this a good thing? Wasn’t this why the Lord had brought me here? Being still and waiting on the Lord’s timing went against my heart. As I called out to the Lord, He gently brought me to Psalm 23. This Psalm was His answer to me that day. He stilled me and brought me to a place of surrender and willingness to do whatever HE wanted. That night I helped hold up a corner of the story cloth as others shared stories from the Old Testament. And it was a pure joy… The Lord is funny isn’t he. The Lord has had to humble me time and time and time again since I have been here and I am so thankful. I don’t know what you all are praying for me over there but keep them up. I would have been very disappointed to come back to America the same as when I left. The Lord disciplines those he loves. I am his daughter and have definitely experienced His faithful love since being here.

Many months before I had decided for sure the Lord was leading me to Niger, He spoke to me Isaiah 55:5… Since I have been here, he has reminded me of Isaiah 55:8 which says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts”. It is this truth that He has been teaching me to me to believe…

Last week Anna and I and a couple of other girls that serve here were able to spend a couple nights in a safari park… He had our very own tour guide and armed guard… We didn’t see any lions but did see an elephant, antelope, crocodiles, cranes, deer… It was precious time being in God’s creation. Oh yeah, and I got to swim in a pool! This was also a pure blessing.

The Lord has also brought about the opportunity to teach English to an 18 year old girl here in town. You can be praying that the Lord would bless my relationship with her and use it for His glory.

Thank you again for all your prayers. They are so needed. Please be praying for Anna and I this next week and a half that the Lord would give great wisdom and discernment how He would have us spend our time. Pray that my spirit would be yielded to HIS guidance. Pray that I would fully support and encourage my sister in Christ (which was my main purpose in coming). God Bless and see you all soon!!!

Writings from Anna...
Here we are, almost two full weeks into February and I feel like Christmas was yesterday. I feel as though the New Year has gotten away from me just like my evenings with Karissa seem to fly! Just about every night her and I will look at our watches and it’s around midnight or so and we ask ourselves “what happened to the last four hours? What were we doing?!” The evenings and nights have been good for us because we are both more night people than we are morning people, although some say that her and I are “all day” people… We are able to work best in the evenings after dinner and often have our best conversations and times with the Lord then. I have also seen myself fall into a much more regulated pattern of many things since Karissa has come. I eat three square meals a day (if you count cereal for dinner every once in a while), I am consistently in bed after midnight (haha!) and my workout/running schedule has been wonderful for me to keep up my physical activity. Another big thing is that when Karissa spends time with the Lord, so do I. When she first got here we didn’t want to leave one another’s sight so we forced ourselves to have our quiet times at the same time so we could be together more. I was teasing her the other day saying that when she first got here I wanted her near all the time, now that she’s been here a few weeks it’s ok if we are in separate rooms for a while doing our own thing… but now that she’s leaving in a couple of weeks I want to have her near all the time again!

All that to say I LOVE KARISSA! She has been a true blessing to me and the Lord has taught me a lot in her time here. We have bounced scripture back and forth and sought the Lord through His word and I feel as though she has been my iron that Proverbs talk about in chapter 27 verse 17 “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” I had forgotten what it was like to have consistent accountability. I had forgotten was it was like to be loved by a friend in a tangible way. She has continuously been encouraging and loving, patient and kind. Gentle with her words and her heart is so soft to the leading of the Holy Spirit. I praise the Lord for the friend I have in her.

The Perryville team was so fun to have around. There were two ladies and two men. The pastor of the church, Pastor John, always comes and then will bring two to four people with him every time. There was a married couple, Michelle and Jack, Pastor John and Akiko who is from Japan. Akiko was the cook for the week and has a gift of mixing ingredients together to form delightful tastes for the tongue She made me want to lock her in my kitchen until I leave!
Saidou was our Muslim translator from Niamey area and we also had Jay whom I’ve talked about before. Jay is the man who led B to the Lord last month. And then the driver was with us as well and his name is Yahiya and didn’t speak English or Fulfulde. So we all had fun learning new Zerma and Hausa words in order to include everyone in the conversations.

The team was able to go to four different villages during their time here and one of those villages more then once. Every year the team has a gathering on Sunday mornings for the few believers that we have and anyone else that wants to join. This year my favorite day of their trip was the Sunday gathering.

We had made arrangements beforehand to go and pick up our believers in two different villages. One of those villages being my village where my Fulani family lives. I wanted the whole family to be able to come but wasn’t sure how that was going to pan out knowing that there was work that had to be done. I went out with Saidou and Yahiya (in Yahiya’s bush taxi that the team rents every year) to my village to pick up those there. The chief wasn’t around because someone had died in Nigeria and he had to leave to be with the family. But Dez came with two of my older brothers and one of my younger sisters! There were four from my family that made it! All of them are believers. Last year we only had the chief from my family. So this was a large increase to the amount of people from the trip the team made here last October. We loaded everyone up, including three other people that are friends of the family, one of them being a Hausa guy, and we took off. I felt that I was helping run the bus ministry for the day! We stopped alongside the road at the other village and picked up four more people that were waiting. Two of which were my two believers from that village (a man and a woman from different families), one was the chief and the other was a friend of them all. We got back and Yahiya dropped me off at my house so I could drive Michelle, Akiko, Karissa, Fati and Belki over to Susan’s while Yahiya and Saidou took the “bus” full of people to Susan’s. Akiko and Michelle had prepared the drinks for the day (a ton of ice tea) and deviled eggs and I had asked Aissa, Altine’s wife (Susan’s night guard), the day before to cook a meal for about 30 people. I asked her to make it for that many because I wanted to make sure that we would have extra incase we needed it. She had agreed happily and that Saturday Akiko, Saiduo and I went to the market with Aissa to buy all she needed for the meal. Aissa made a wonderful rice meal with a vegetable and meat tomato base sauce. It was so good!

After I dropped the ladies off I went to find B. I had told him about our meeting and he said that he wanted to come. So I drove to his work and told him that it was time for church to start. He took large pieces of cardboard and covered his table of tea making supplies, grabbed his purple sock cap that he wears religiously and hopped in the truck. When we got to Susan’s I was amazed at the amount of people that were gathered for church that morning. My heart rejoiced! We had over 30 adults and several children including Yahiya’s wife and young daughter that had come to my town for a couple of days.

We took turns telling Bible stories and after each story was told there were two questions asked. 1) What was sweet about this story? 2) What was not sweet about this story? These questions got the people’s head turning and we had many speak up with answers that were very appropriate, showing us that they understood everything in the story and for our believers, that they trusted that the story was true. My two older brothers, Gary and Doo both spoke up at different times with truth in all they said! I have known that they professed Christ but had never really heard them talk openly about Him. This is a huge step for Believers here and I was very proud of them to say the least!

After the service was over and the meal had been eaten we all loaded up in the “bus” again and Saidou, Yahiya and I took everyone back to their homes. It was a long and exhausting day but… So worth it to see people from four different nations come together to glorify the Lord and hear stories from His Word. It blessed me beyond what I am able to express with words. The Lord is so faithful in all He does.

I want to just take a paragraph and love on the Perryville team – They were amazing! They did nothing but love on Karissa and I and blessed us beyond measure. They were fun to have around and we had a great mixture of hilarious personalities that made everyone one to look forward to everyday. But above all else, they love Jesus and that shined through all they did and in every conversation we had. They were gracious and helpful, giving and kind and I’m so thankful for all of them! Not only those on this trip but the two teams that have come before as well. I just want to thank you all by name – Pastor John and Pastor Chris, Michelle and Jack, Cathy and Scott, Akiko and Brandon, Saidou and Yahiya – Thanks for bringing so much joy to my life!

Karissa and I made our way to a really cool safari park for a couple of days of rest and fun. I would say that the two days we were there were more fun than restful but we had a great time. Our gun holding security guard was a Tuareg man that grew up around Fulani people so he spoke Fulfulde. Our quieter but funny tour guide was a Zerma man (I think) and spoke a little bit of English. So between Karissa and I and Melissa and Emily and the two guys we had a good time and were able to appreciate the creation of the Lord before us. And to top it off, Karissa and I swam in a pool that made the trip even better! Just to let you know, Emily is a career missionary not too much older than I am and is working with the Tuaregs past Niamey toward Burkina Faso. She’s a good friend and I always enjoy her company

The Lord has been good in teaching me a few different things these last few months. One of those things I am going to share with you now…

I have kind of been struggling with this for the past few months and just this last month has the Lord really revealed Himself to me through it and taught me the lesson that He has desired that I take from this struggle.
I have been dealing with having to leave Niger when things have just seemed to pick up a bit. B is saved and I have K and Fati that live here for me to share with and encourage. I have found the M village where the people want to just listen to stories from the Word and hear more. My language is getting better everyday and I am so comfortable with this town and all my people around me – why would the Lord ask me to leave when it would be so easy and beneficial to stay? What would I do elsewhere that would compare to what I could do here for the kingdom? There’s work here to be done and people to be discipled and so many others to tell. And one of the biggest kickers for me is that there is no one coming to replace me…
The Lord, trough scripture and others around me, has revealed that He doesn’t need me. Period. His word never returns void and His faithfulness will endure forever. His mercy and grace will be lavished on those that He wills and in the end He will be glorified regardless of if I’m here through it all or not. He doesn’t need me to expand His kingdom or to take the Word of the Lord to the world. I am simply allowed the beautiful grace of the Lord to be spilled over on me to even have been able to be here for such a time as this. He will do what He desires to do and He doesn’t need me to do it.

Please be in prayer for B. He is so anxious to learn and grow and my Fulfulde dialect being different from his makes it hard to communicate at times. Pray that the Lord would work through this barrier and that B would benefit greatly from the times that Karissa and I meet with him.

Pray for the young girl that Karissa is teaching English to. She has a sweet spirit and a desire to learn. She was supposed to come for her second lesson this week and didn’t show up. K often sees her on the road because his work at the bus station in the mornings is very near her school. He hasn’t seen her these last couple of days. Pray that before Karissa and I leave for Niamey that we would be able to connect with her. Pray that Karissa would have great opportunities to share Christ with this young girl.

Pray for me as I am getting ready for vacation in Central Asia! My girlfriends, Mallory and Jana, serve there as Journeyman and I will be with them for about 10 days. Karissa and I are flying out of Niamey on the same flight to Casablanca, Morocco and then we will split ways there. Pray that my time in Central Asia will be refreshing and encouraging to Jana and Mallory. Pray that we would experience the Lord’s presence as we get together and love on each other during the few days that I will be there.

Pray for my ankle because it has started to bother me a bit during my runs with Karissa. It has never bothered me before but it’s begun to flare up a bit and is often painful just after we run. We did a much shorter run today and I ended with lots less pain. I’ve been icing it a few times a day these past three days and it seems to be helping. But that would all I needed – to have myself back in the doctor’s office because of my ankle…

Pray for Karissa and I as we spend these last 11 days together. Pray that the Lord would bless it and we would soak up one another as we praise Jesus for bringing Karissa here these last few weeks.

We love you and appreciate your faithful prayer support to us. We are more than excited to get back and share what the Lord has done here! Not only that but also the pictures that we are not able to upload as we wish…

We are headed to my village tonight and will sleep there for two nights. We will be back in my town on Tuesday. Pray for our time out there that we would be an encouragement to my family out there and also have opportunities to share new Bible stories with them.

Love you all!

Rakiya and Hawa

Thursday, 12 February 2009


Sooooo... Karissa has been here for 4 weeks today! We are shocked and can't believe how fast time has flown and we know that we only have a little bit of time left before she will head home. The Lord has been faithful in all that He's done and given both Karissa and I amazing experiences and time together. We are looking forward to her last two weeks here and what the Lord will do.

Today also marks a year from the day I went to the bush last year for my first full week. I spent a week with my family out there. It was one of the hardest times of my time here because I was new to the culture, family and language. Oh how far the Lord has brought me - my love for these people and desire to serve here is truly from the Him...

Be watching for a blog in the next couple of days - we have a lot to say so you should make time for a sit down date with us!

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Truth = Freedom

Tom and Connie, My (Karissa's) dad, Dana, Rachel, Claire, Amy and Anonymous for posting comments on our blog and encouraging us as you have. Thanks for the prayers that you send to the Father on our behalf. We couldn't do what we do without your dedication to lift us up to Christ.

This is a compilation of writings from Karissa and I over the past few days. Please remember to take note of the names of who is writing as you read...

(Writings from Karissa)
Monday January 19

Pure eagerness and joy was painted all over B’s face as Anna and I shared with him the true creation story… We also shared with him what a relationship with the Lord looks like and how God wants him to talk to him all the time… On his way to work, when he is sad, when he is overwhelmed with joy. I spoke to B and Anna translated in Fulfulde and made sure that B was understanding. B was sitting on the edge of his chair and after almost everything Anna would tell him, B would readily repeat it in order to make sure he remembered what we were sharing with him. The Holy Spirit was so evident in Him. This young man BELIEVED and was ready to learn all he could. I am so excited to see this young man share Jesus with his friends and how the Lord might use him to affect future generations! The hold that the Muslim religion has on this culture is great, more than I could have ever realized without being here. Another thing that I have learned is that this is a culture that is controlled by the man… Men here do not have relationships with their wives like I am so used to seeing in the Christian marriages around me growing up. It makes me sad and gives me the great desire to pray that the Gospel might permeate the Fulani family here in Niger.

Today was “doctor day”. We took Anna’s teammate Susan, to a hospital about 40 minutes away. While there I asked about a missionary named Linda that my home church supports. She works at the hospital! I saw her in a picture with some other nurses and doctors and look forward to talking with her some time while I am here. We found out that the missionary staff at the hospital has a little cinnamon bun gathering on Wed. mornings and we were invited to come ANYTIME.

Another fun adventure for today was pretty unexpected… As many of you know I enjoy running. Well, I didn’t really think this was going to be an option while I was here due to the fact that women wear long skirts all the time… running in a skirt just did not sound all that appealing! Well, last night we were talking to K (the guard for Anna’s compound) and he said it was no problem for us to run if we wore pants and t-shirts. This was very surprising to Anna mainly because you don’t really see women running here EVER! To make sure we were getting legit information on this subject we visited one of the older women here in town (Mama, the Fulani lady that lives across the street from us). She is the type to tell you like it is. She said that it is no problem if you are playing a sport (including running) ☺. So today, we went on a couple mile jog out of town. There was a lot of exhaust and dust in the air…. It was an intense breathing situation, but such a blessing all at the same time!!! Who would have thought.

(Writings from Anna)
Friday January 23

I have to echo what Karissa said about running. I also enjoy running but have just gone this past year without it because I didn’t know that it was an option. I ran with my sister, Naomi, a few times back in September when I was home. It was fun and refreshing and like running has always has done, just made me feel good. Well, here, since my house is just a little ways from the outside of town we leave my compound gate and start running right away. At the end of our run when we are coming back into town I pick up full speed in order to end as strong as I can. It’s kind of funny here because the people on the road (mostly men) all yell and cheer for us as we finish our run! I feel like I’m in a race and being pushed forward! It’s really funny and gives me that extra boost that I may not have without 57 (est.) Africans hollering at me in 5 different languages…
Once Karissa and I are inside and have stretched we normally do a short workout in the house on our core. I tell you what, carrying buckets of water on my head and cleaning rice and cooking is not going to work the core muscles that I haven’t paid attention to in the last couple of years. So Karissa’s name while we are working out and running is “Coach”. I have to say that she is quite the coach. She’s good at motivation and pushing herself as well as me when either of us wants to quit. She also ran Cross Country in college and is in better shape than I’m in at this point – but not for long – look out Karissa! So as we are doing our short workout inside one of the exercises we do is “The Plank”. I would like to refer to it as “The Killer”. You have to position yourself on your stomach and then lift yourself up on your toes and forearms and make your body as straight as you can. Then you hold it until your coach says to let go. In this case, my coach says one minute is a good amount. But we don’t just do one, one-minute plank. We do two or three or, etc… I say that if I have to do another one-minute plank then she’s fired! No, but for real, our whole bodies hurt after that. I told her that’s why I don’t like doing them and we need to find another one that’s a little easier on our bodies… Coach reminded me that if it hurts my muscles that bad then it must be working! So I’m going to stick with it while it’s working and I’m feeling it (unless I die first!). It was pretty intense though after the first few days of working out when I had to roll out of bed and I couldn’t sit down or stand up without feeling pain every muscle in my legs. NO PAIN, NO GAIN.

Just an update on Susan, she is doing much better. She had developed a rash on her arms around Christmas time and it spread to her eyes. When Karissa and I visited her last Saturday she was in a lot of pain. Then on Sunday she asked that we take her to the hospital to have her rash looked at. The doctor there (American) said that he thought it was an allergic reaction to something that’s she’s been eating or maybe a soap she’s been using. Pray for her that she will be able to figure it out so she can discontinue using it and not have to worry about the rash anymore.

Things with B have been very encouraging and Praise the Lord he is sticking with this! It’s a very exciting thing to witness his enthusiasm for learning all he can. As Karissa shared above, he was literally sitting on the edge of his seat as if he couldn’t get enough of what we were saying! At the end of our time Karissa prayed in English and I prayed in Fulfulde for B and that he would stand strong in his faith and that the Lord would bless him with wisdom. Karissa and I gave him a tape with about 30 Bible stories from Creation to the Ascension of Christ on it for him to listen to and learn from. I also gave him a small cassette player to use. When we were finished with our story telling he took the cassette player and hit the play button as he walked away with it next to his ear. Everytime I’ve seen him since then he’s had the cassette player in his pocket or sitting beside him and he’s had his earphones in, listening away. My heart has been so happy!
This precious new brother in the Lord has faith like a child and the smile on B's face reflects the freedom in Christ that he has.
Please continue to lift B up to the Lord as he desires to live out his faith and learn all he can. He told Karissa and I that he wanted to meet often because he didn’t want to forget anything but also because he wanted to learn all he could and quickly. Lift him up that he would gain understanding as we share scripture with him and that he would develop a mature faith as he learns. Pray for him that he would desire to walk in the Truth of the Gospel.

Please pray for Pastor John and his volunteer team. Pastor John’s church comes to my town twice a year to do ministry in many surrounding villages. They are scheduled to be in my town by this coming Wednesday evening. Pray for the Lord to open huge doors and soften hearts as they share the Word of God. They will also be visiting the new village, ML, which I have been to. PRAY that the people will be responsive and that they will ask questions that they have. Pray that the Holy Spirit would work there and that we would see salvation.

Saturday January 24
Today Karissa and I got up at Melissa’s a little later than we should have. We wanted to be in town and doing our internet work by about 11. Well, here we are and it’s almost 1pm and we just got here. We did some of our laundry this morning and just underestimated the amount of time that it would take us. So last night we were up talking and reading and writing the blog until about 3:30 in the morning. Karissa made a very true statement when she said that we are both night owls… When you put the two of us together it means late nights! We have also noticed that this past week that we have been together that our evenings have flown and we’re not really sure where they go or how the times just shoots by… Time is a thief, that’s for sure.

We are posting this now and heading to the pool for a day of relaxation. Tomorrow we will go with Melissa to her market and then we are headed to a ceremony that is a tradition amoung the Fulani. I’m not sure what it’s called but it’s the process for the guys here to go from boyhood to manhood. I’ve heard it’s kind of intense and I really wanted the opportunity to see one of these ceremonies before I left. I’m also glad that Karissa is able to see a new part of this culture as well.

Pray for us as we continue to seek the Lord over His will for our work here. May His glory be what we strive for and our lives reflect Him alone.

Thanks for stopping by – we are encouraged by our supporters and readers in so many ways. Love you all!

Rakiya and Hawa

Friday, 16 January 2009

The Green Truck is BACK!

This is Karissa writing... On Anna's way to Niamey, her little green truck began to get slower and slower as she went. SO, it was brought into the shop. Yesterday, we asked everyone to be praying that the truck would be fixed but really didn't even pray for it ourselves. We were given a different vehicle to take to Anna's home and as we stopped to get gas this morning before heading out, Anna looked over and there was her truck! She didn't even know where it had been taken... This was a blessing this morning and we were thankful that the Lord provided even when we didn't ask Him... So, thank you all for praying!!! He is gracious and HIS mercies are new every morning!!!

Yesterday, we went into the market. It was definitely a new experience... It is amazing to me how different this culture is. I have been taking everything in and learning more about the people here. Anna asked me what I thought about everything and I said I didn't really have words. It is just altogether different,

The IMB missionary that let us stay in her home here in Niamey was precious and her hospitality was encouraging. I really enjoyed hearing about her ministry here as she teaches English.

We will probably be heading out here shortly... Have a blessed day!

Thursday, 15 January 2009

My God Can

Isaiah 40:29
“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”

*B has always been a fun guy and I’ve never seen him without a smile. Every since I met him I’ve seen him as my kid brother, never really knowing how old he was. B is K’s nephew and lives on my compound.
B goes out everyday with his tea making supplies and walks the streets. It’s not just your typical tea, it’s called shy (that’s not how you spell it but it’s how it’s pronounced). It’s what all the men and some women drink here. It’s done in three courses and you only take a little bit because it’s so strong. The first one is very bitter with very little sugar. They use the tea remains from the first batch to make the second and third batches. They get milder and sweeter until all three have been taken. They are given in small quantities in shot glasses about a quarter to half full. So it’s not very much, but if you take all three it will give you a buzz. I have to be careful and not drink it in the evening or I can’t sleep for hours after that because of all the caffeine it has in it. But the men here drink it all day, everyday.
When I go out and walk through my town or to Susan’s or the post office, I often see B on the streets and he always greets me like he would his good friends. His Fulfulde is a bit different than mine because of where he’s from in Niger but normally we are able to communicate without much of a problem.
Last week B was really sick. He came home in the afternoon and I found him sleeping outside on my large porch. When I went outside the door woke him up and I asked him how he was. He said that he had a fever, no strength, an ongoing headache and a very bad cold. Naturally I wanted to feel his head or neck for warmth but because he’s a guy I had to go off of what he told me. I ask him if I could give him some medicine and he agreed. I gave him some Daytime Tylenol for fevers and colds and just prayed that he would get better. Flashbacks, terrible flashbacks, shot through my mind as I remembered K and how sick he was back in April. I didn’t want this to be a repeat of that time.
Later that night B said that he was feeling a little better and went out to sell his tea. For the next two days I found B sleeping in the middle of the afternoon and getting worse each day. He told me that he was having hot/cold flashes and I knew that was (normally) a sure sign of malaria. Although I wasn’t excited that he was sick my heart was relieved to know that he could have been sick with something that was curable with a three day malaria treatment.
The third day he was sick was this past Sunday. Susan and I and our Christian, Fulani friend from Nigeria, Jay, all went to church service in my new village. We went to the pastors church and worshiped in a tiny mud-brick building with 4 Hausa Believers. Susan and I made up a quarter of the congregation! Jay speaks very good English and is a translator for some of our volunteer teams that come. Jay helped translate the service from Hausa to English for Susan and I.
Being there that day made me feel as though I was in Nigeria again. We sang and it was all in Hausa just as it always was for me before I moved to Niger. It was a good reminder to me that this is what we are striving for among the Fulani… to build up a body of Believers and form a church!
Jay rode back into town with my truck because he had left his motorcycle at my house. As he was leaving my compound I heard B clear his throat from inside K’s covered porch area. I, nor Jay, knew that he was there. I thought better of greeting him because if he was still asleep I didn’t want to wake him. I knew how sick he was because he’s never home from selling his shy during the day.
As I was getting ready to walk back inside the Lord told me to greet B. I hesitated. “I don’t want to wake him up, Lord”.

“Anna, greet him.”

That’s all I heard from the Lord. So I called out, “B? A jamo? No bondu?” (B? How are you? How is your body?) AS SOON as Jay heard me greet B he left his motorcycle and walked to where B had struggled to stand. Jay just asked how he was feeling and how long he’d been sick. Just as you and I would do in America. Jay turned to me and said that he was going to talk to B and pray with him for his health. I left them alone and went inside after telling Jay that I thought he had malaria and I had some malaria medication if B wanted to start it that day.
I prayed for them both as they say outside on my porch in my chairs. About 10 minutes later Jay came to get me. I walked outside and Jay asked B “how is your headache?” B shook his head and said “komi wala, hoore am jam plem” (it’s no problem, my head is fine). I stood and listened in astonishment as every symptom that B had been dealing with had been healed while Jay prayed for him. The only complaint that he had was a little stiffness/pain in his neck that he hadn’t felt until that point, and he still had a little bit of a cough. Now that’s God! But it only gets better…
Jay began telling me in English what had taken place after I went in the house. He said that he asked B questions beyond his health. I don’t know all the details but B related to Jay that he was having dreams and visions of his mother and it was bothering him so much that he was afraid of going to sleep at night. Jay felt that the Lord was asking him to pray for whatever was causing these dreams and visions to leave B’s body in the Name Of Jesus. (I believe that B’s mom died a while back).
Many of the Muslims here deal on a regular basis at times with what is called “Ancestor Spirits”. Satan attacks in many terrible and effective ways and this is only one of them. Jay has seen and prayed for others before who have been affected by this and the result is always similar.
Jay had asked B to close his eyes while Jay prayed and then after the prayer was over he asked him if he saw anything while he prayed. B told Jay that he saw darkness. Total darkness. “It was everywhere.” Then he said that a great light came and fire fell from the sky and forced the darkness from his sight. “After that, all I saw was light and brightness everywhere.” At the moment that B saw the fire force the darkness away he said that all the pain and the fever left his body immediately.
I felt that this was the most amazing thing I had ever been able to witness. How amazing that the sickness and fear that B was dealing were gone after Jay had prayed for him?! I was praising God within my heart and asking Him to use this for His glory and that B would see beyond his own physical healing and realize his need for inner healing that only Jesus could bring.
I sat down and listened as B told Jay how thankful he was that he had healed him. Jay jumped on the opportunity to share with B that Christ was the one who had done the healing. “B, I am nothing. I prayed for you. I prayed for you in the name of Jesus that you would be healed and HE healed you. Not I.” Jay went on to ask if B understood this and then laid out the plan of salvation for him. Jay explained the “Jesus road” for B and the whole time B was nodding and smiling. When Jay was finished talking B said quietly “I want to follow road to Christ.” Jay asked him if he was sure that was what he wanted to do and B smiled and said “yes!”
At this point I was bubbling over with joy and gratitude that Christ had not only heard my prayer, but answered it. I could hardly sit still and I wanted to shout at the top of my lungs so all of the heavens could hear me! But I knew that heaven could hear my heart and I’m sure that was enough to make heaven feel as though I was with them and getting ready for B’s party!
Jay ask B to repeat after him as Jay prayed. They closed their eyes and B followed after Jay in a prayer to repentance. Tears made their way to my eyes as I watched B ask Jesus come into his heart and save him… He repented of his sins and asked for forgiveness!


He is saved and free from the bondage of sin and no more will Satan have hold of his heart. The God of the universe made His presence known that day and called another to Himself. Not only is there a new Believer among the Fulani, but there is a vibrant, young man with loads of personality and love for those around him that is now on the loose!
Just after they prayed I saw the most miraculous physical change I’ve ever seen in my life. The smile on B’s face was shining… It was real, because B was now sitting in the palm of the hand of GOD.
B got up and the first question he asked was “can I pray before I go to bed tonight?” Jay assured him that it was great to pray all day and whenever he wanted to. B was still nervous about going to sleep at night and I told them that I would pray with B before bed that night. The three of us talked about B and I setting a time to meet regularly to talk about scripture and share Bible stories. He was SO excited! He kept telling me not to forget and I assured him that I wouldn’t ☺
B went to where he’d been sleeping and put away his bed. He grabbed his hat and with a huge, happy smile told us goodbye and walked out to the streets! It was amazing to see not only his health, but his strength fully restored. I was reminded of Isaiah 40:29 – 31 at that point:

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak, Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.”


I don’t know about you but I agree with my mom when she said, “Well, praise the Lord! It’s about time!” PRAISE HIM WITH ME! Whether you have tears in your eyes, are laughing from excitement or awed by the beauty of our creator I want to ask that you would pause right now and tell God what’s on your heart. This story is too big to not share with Him how it’s made us feel. So go ahead and share with Him and I’ll wait right here.


I know that was a long story but I think it was worth it! I know that many of my readers don’t comment on my blog but I would say that this story of the power of God deserves a few comments! Let’s get together and praise HIM in the comment section!

Karissa made it here last night and we had the best reunion at the airport EVER! Please be patient with us as we won’t have the internet everyday but will both be posting as often as we can. Karissa will have her own stories to tell and share as well so be looking out for that as well.

Please be praying for us as we make our way back to my house tomorrow. Pray for safe travels.
Also be praying today that my truck would make it out of the shop. It’s not a major problem but may take more than today and tomorrow to get it fixed. I have another vehicle that the mission has given me to drive but it’s always nice to have your own truck.
Please be lifting up B as he learns more about this new walk of faith and that he would stand strong in the midst of persecution that will come.

Thanks for all the support, love and prayers that you send my way – you are all appreciated!

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Foto Fun

I'm in Niamey at the moment. I came in so I can pick up Karissa from the airport tomorrow!
So her visa situation was solved yesterday when it came in. We were getting antsy and wondering why the Lord would procrastinate with it... He has taught me a lot over the past week about trust and faith and what it means when we put both in Him alone. That's all Karissa and I could do. And we prayed - a lot!
She should be leaving on her flight at 11am Central time and she will be here tomorrow night... I can't hardly sit still!
Below are a couple/few pictures that I have uploaded. They were coming in really fast at first and then it slowed way down. So I'm posting the ones that uploaded. Enjoy!

This is Mama who lives across the street from me. This was taken on *Tabaski in December. She got all dressed up and put on her jewelry and then made the picture complete by holding her cell phone. (The Africans think it's cool to have a cell phone in their picture!)

This picture was taken on Tabaski. The people will kill many sheep on this day and then line them up like this and place a fire in the middle...

This is a picture of Ussa and Altine. These are Susan's guards and they are brothers. They are also Fulani. Many Fulani men wear this traditional headdress. This was also taken on Tabaski so they were a little more dressed up than "normal". They were excited that I would capture a holiday photo of them!

Here are three of my sisters in the bush modeling the new earrings that I'd given them from America.

This is Iissa putting henna on my feet the week before Christmas

Funny Story behind this... I use an old peanut butter jar for mixing up my dry milk. Well, I used the correct measurements to make milk for my cereal one morning and after shaking it up I sat it down to pour my Lucky Charms. When I picked up the milk to pour it, it looked like this... it had completely separated in the jar. I was curious as to why because my milk has never done this before. So I tasted it. I do believe that I used cornmeal. But I'm not sure if cornmeal separates like that or not... I'm still baffled by this. But the funniest part about this is that the Chief came to visit me last month and him and K were sitting in my living room talking while I was making them coffee. Well, coffee is not coffee without milk... or in this case - Cornmeal! I have no idea how it tasted but I do know that I put a load of "milk" in it! I'm just not sure how I mixed up my powdered milk container with something else!

I think that's about all the internet will upload for today. So enjoy these pictures to the max and be looking out for a few more posts in the next couple of days - I have a PRAISE GOD story to tell you! But I want to write it all out and make it good and not just post the details - it's too good to not share all of!

Tabaski is the most important Muslim holiday. On this day, celebrants slaughter a sheep to commemorate the biblical story of Abraham, who was on the verge of sacrificing his son to obey God's command when God interceded by substituting a ram in the child's place.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Partner in CRIME

So I've officially been in Niger for a year and a day today! How about that? And I'm in the same town today that I drove into a year ago from Nigeria.
I drove Melissa home yesterday from my town because she was with Susan and I for the New Year. So we came back yesterday and I made my way here to check my email and write a short blog.

Things are going good. I have been sick with a bad cold these last few weeks but I think that I've finally kicked it out of my system. I also went to Niamey last week for one night to pick up the truck that the mission has given me to use! I will have it until I leave in 4 months and it's a blessing to be able to travel everyday to my villages and not have to take bush taxis or ask Susan for rides. I can now do things on my own schedule and it makes it a lot easier.

Please pray for Karissa right now. She informed me this week that the Niger Embassy never got her passport and visa application. So her and her parents got everything together over New Year's and they are having to express everything to have it done in time for her to leave on the 13th (Which is very expensive).Please pray that the Lord will be in this and she will have her passport and visa by next Saturday when they are saying she should get it in the mail.

In the next week and a half before Karissa gets here I'm going to be studying Fulfulde a bit more and doing more Bible story translations along with visiting my villages. Things seem to be coming along nicely. I just CAN'T wait til she gets here! It will be like I have a partner in crime (ministry)!

Sunday, 28 December 2008

The Shepherd And The Star

I laid there on the ground in the dark and stared into the night sky. There was no moon this night, and there was only one star. It was the brightest star I had ever seen. I wondered if maybe there were no others because this one was so bright that it didn’t allow me to see the other stars that were really there. I won’t ever know.
I laid there and thought to myself of how unreal the feeling that I had was. The animals were sleeping just a few feet away but they continuously made their animal sounds. The breeze was warm and I didn’t have a cover over my body, only the clothes that I had worn that day. Voices were carried from a distance as the wind blew slightly. The voices were speaking a language that I didn’t understand. With every big gust of wind I could feel dust cover my body and I would close my mouth and eyes to keep it from getting in.
As I felt the warmth of the air on my body and the hardness of the ground below me and as I tasted the dirt in my mouth and smelt the animals nearby and as I listened to the voices from a distance, I looked deep into the black sky for something more than was visibly there.

I felt like a shepherd.

Now I know that the shepherds didn’t follow a star to find Baby Jesus, but I do know that I hadn’t ever imagined feeling like someone else like I did that night. I pictured the sky filling with angels and thought of what my reaction may have been. I wonder if the shepherds were the only ones able to see the angels or if the glory of the Lord that accompanied the angels could be seen from miles away… I wonder what the stable looked like that Jesus was born in. I can’t even imagine. I thought “surely there is something here that may resemble a stable” but I have yet to see anything that may be even remotely similar to what a stable in Jesus’ day may have looked like. They don’t house their animals here and I have never seen them in pens or corals. Only tied up.

My mind thinks a lot when I’m in the bush and have nothing else to do… This is only one of those many times…

My Christmas went very well and I celebrated it with Susan and Melissa, my teammate and supervisor. Melissa’s brother was here from America for the holiday and it was nice having a new face around. It was the first time in my life that I’ve opened my gifts on Christmas morning alone. It was weird but ok.
My favorite gift this year was a CD set of “GT and the Halo Express”. I was SO excited when I opened it up that I grabbed my camera and tried my hardest to capture my thrill with snapshots to show my family! For those of you who don’t know what “GT and the Halo Express” is I will explain. The closest thing that I have to compare it to is “Adventures in Odyssey”. They are children’s CDs and GT (for short) sings all scripture. The first CD in the pack of seven starts with a brother and a sister that are preparing for a scripture memory contest and the brother just can’t get the verses down. All of the sudden there is a loud noise in the closet and out walks an angel. The children are scared and before too long a second angel appears. They introduce themselves as Good Tidings (GT) and Guardian. GT and Guardian explain that they want to help them learn Bible verses the Heavenly way – by singing them! Guarding tells Michael, the younger brother, “that once you’ve learned the song, you’ve learned the verse!” The Halo Express band is brought in with many instruments from heaven and they begin playing and learning verses.
My sisters and I grew up on these tapes and I have been keeping my eye out for them for quit some time. I mentioned it to my mom a while back that I wanted the set but she said that they were really expensive. BUMMER! I looked online a few times and couldn’t even find them (limited internet access) and just thought that all hope was lost, until… Christmas morning!
When Susan and I got to Melissa’s on Thursday I was playing one of the cds in the kitchen and singing away as I made the pie crust for the chicken pot pie. Later at the dinner table I told the others that I loved the movie “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” which is a musical and also a Christmas gift that I got from my sister Naomi. I went on to say that I always like to drive alone because I can blare my music and sing really loud. It was then that Melissa’s younger brother told me that I’m the type of girl that he makes fun of in the states! We all got a great laugh out of the fact that he did not like the GT cd that I played and sang to while I cooked, he hates musicals and thinks people that sing in their cars are crazy!

I want to share with you all the most exciting news of my last few months here…
I had the opportunity to visit a NEW village last week! It’s a village that I’ve never been too either. The village has Hausa and Fulani in it and the population of people there is over 80, 000. There is a Pastor from Nigeria working in that village to reach the Hausa people and he only speaks Hausa and English. Although Fulani speak Hausa and Fulfulde, he is targeting the Hausa. He told the Fulani chief that he had heard of a white woman in a nearby town that spoke their language – Fulfulde. The chief and his wife were very excited and said that they wanted to meet me. The pastor there also told them that I was a Christian and would like to talk to them about Christ. The Chief was VERY happy to hear about this. The pastor tracked me down and found my house the week before Christmas and asked when I would be able to come and share the plan of salvation with these Fulani people. I told him “Tomorrow works great for me!” He came the next day with a friend and we took motorcycle taxis back to his village because I didn’t know the way.
A couple of hours later we trekked to the Fulani Chief’s home (The village is HUGE) and found only three young girls there. We were then told that everyone had gone to get others because the white woman was coming to talk about her god. A few minutes later over 20 men, women and children all gathered on the ground around my chair and listened as I introduced myself, told my testimony and then shared Jesus Christ. These people were sitting on the edge of their mats the whole time! They told me later that evening that they are all ready to follow a different road than the one that leads to Islam. They asked when I was coming back and if I would share more stories from the Bible. They wanted me to stay and keep talking all night long, but they had convinced themselves that I was cold, tired and being eaten by mosquitoes. All three were true but I would have stayed for days had they let me.
All of this was in the dark so I didn’t get to see anyone. The next morning I went back to greet them all and meet them “face to face”. What a wonderful blessing these people are. They gave me a very warm welcome and a good size plastic coke bottle filled with fresh milk – the best gift that the Fulani can give.. Many of them have never seen a white face and many of the children were so scared they refused to come into the compound.

I am SO excited to see what the Lord will do in my last four months of being in Niger. There is nothing that I want more than to see salvation come to the Fulani people. It would be glorious to see it happen in my time here if the Lord wills.
• Please be praying for the people of the ML village. They are eager to hear and learn about Christ. Something that I have never seen from any Muslim here.
• Please pray that their hearts will be open and they will see the Lord in and through my actions and that I would speak Truth into their lives (1 John 3:18).
• Please pray that as I plant seeds here that the Holy Spirit would water them and that we would see fruit come out of the work in ML.
• Pray that we will have many new sisters and brothers in Christ soon!
• Pray for me that I would be bold in sharing the gospel and that I would not hesitate when the opportunity comes to tell them about Christ.
• Pray AGAINST spiritual warfare and ask that God would grant me wisdom and grant the people understanding.
• Pray that Satan would have no room in this village and that the Holy Spirit would make himself present there.
• PRAY PRAY PRAY FOR SALVATION! I believe that I may have found not only one Person of Peace, but many!

May the Lord bless you all as you walk into the New Year. Thanks for bathing me in prayer and caring for me as you do. I love you all so much.

Karissa will be here in 17 days and I can’t hardly sit still I’m so excited! Please pray for her as she prepares to come. This last week there was a young girl that came to me and ask me to teach her English. This is a great opportunity to share the Word of God. Please pray for her heart and that the Lord would be working in this situation. I’m hoping that between Karissa and I we can not only teach her English, but also the love of Christ.

I’m going to call it a night. My family in America is gathering today for Christmas with my mom’s side of the family. My grandmother (my dad’s mom) is there also. I just got off of skype with them and I got to SEE them through the video! This is the first time since I’ve been overseas that this has happened. I have been able to video with my cousin Stephen but this is the first time I’ve been able to see everyone. It was a blessing and there were MANY tears on my side.

Until next time!

P.S. I was reminded this week of why I never put up pictures with sticky tack. The air is so dry and it’s so hot here that the pictures just slide off of whatever I attach them to. I walked into my room today and below where my pictures hang was my open dresser drawer… with my mom hula hooping inside!

Friday, 5 December 2008


Last Friday night I got on a plane and headed to Dakar, Senegal. I went for the region wide ReNew conference for all West Africa, IMB personnel in their first terms.
I landed about six hours late and then stood in line to go through immigration for about an hour. I waited with about 1,000 other people and was later told that this is the time of year that all the Muslims make the trek to Mecca. They can go anytime, but I guess that this is the most popular time of year to go. The airports reflected that so I'm guessing it's true.
I slept a lot of Saturday while the other Journeymen did their own thing. That night we went to Hamburger joint and it was so good! It was called Steers and I think I've eaten there before, maybe in South Africa, but I'm not sure. Then my friend, Alyson, reached into a deep freezer and pulled out ice - cream bars for the two of us! How convenient!
Sunday, I led a session on Language Learning where we all got together and talked about the ups and downs of what LL involved. We debriefed on that subject and it was good to hear what others had to say about how they learn, what things work for them, etc. It was a great time to bounce ideas off of each other.
The rest of the time we covered other topics like: relationships, supervision, CPM (Church Planting Movement), Stresses on the field, Ending Strong, etc. The "Ending Strong" session was good because it helped me to see the little time that I have left and how I can make the most of it.

The CPM session was really good for me because it opened it my eyes to not only the need in West Africa, but the need worldwide for missionaries. While we were talking about it a thought rushed through my mind "How can I leave?" "How can I not come back?" There are so many people that need to hear and no way to know about a relationship with Jesus Christ unless they are told. Why shouldn't I stay? Or at least come back? The Lord reminded me that even those in America need to hear and a life that accepts Christ is His child just the same - no matter where they are from. He gave me a peace about where He is leading me next (America) and just prodded me to stay tuned to His voice and ready to follow when He leads.

I took my camera to take hundreds of pictures and my batteries were dead. GO FIGURE! I hated that. But others took many pictures, so maybe if I can get my hands on a couple of them I can post them on here.

I flew back to Niamey on Wednesday and am headed back to Kondike in the morning. I talked to K yesterday and told him that I would be back today and when I didn't show up by noon he called. I felt bad for not letting him know sooner that my plans had changed. "K, I'm sorry I forgot to call you and tell you that I'm not coming until tomorrow!" He was worried for just a second and then realized that I was ok and said that he would see me tomorrow. I love how these people take care of me. They are always checking in on me and making sure I'm ok. They always want to know where I'm at and where I'm going and when I'm coming back. I am loved, I am dearly loved. I can't believe that I only have a few more months here. I dream about the day that I walk into the arms of my family again, but I dread the day I say goodbye to my family and friends here.

In the past, during the process of hellos and goodbyes, I would get discouraged when I would have to leave or watch someone else leave not knowing if I would ever see them again. Since then the Lord has taught me that relationships are for seasons. Some of the seasons last a lifetime and some only last a little while. But the season that you walk through with those people will forever change who you are.
I pray that I'm changed for the better because of the seasonal relationships I've been blessed with. But more than that I pray that those around me have been changed for the better because of the Jesus in me. Because without Him, my life would be in vain.

I don't think I've informed my blog readers about the good news! My friend, Karissa, (whom I wrote about in my last blog) is coming to serve as a volunteer here for six weeks! She will be here in the middle of January and she leaves at the end of February. I'm looking forward to being in the bush with a friend and allowing her to help me with ministry. We have been praying about this for months and the Lord has led her to pursue this and I believe is preparing the time that she will be here as well.
Please be lifting Karissa up as she is graduating from college this next week. She has a busy holiday schedule and then she'll be coming here. Pray for guidance and direction and clarity as she packs and gets ready to come.

This blog is about all I have time for at the moment. If Susan's internet works in a few days you may find another blog.
Love you all and thanks for your support.

Thursday, 27 November 2008


There were things eaten that I didn’t eat and little turds left in my kitchen drawers that I didn’t leave there… I have a little “demon” in my house (maybe more than one) that chewed into my last package of Blueberry Poptarts. I’m now on the hunt and out for blood. This little mouse has caused me more grief in the last couple of weeks than ever before. I was packing yesterday for Niamey and Senegal when I heard him (or her) chewing on something in my clothes drawer. I went and sat in front of my dresser and opened the drawer as fast as I could. Nothing. I opened the bottom drawer. Nada. I pulled the drawers out and set them on my bed and still came up empty handed. I had a little handbag in-between my dresser and the wall and I knew Mouse had to be somewhere. So I pulled the bag out and away from the wall quickly. Mouse scrambled to get away and ran over my foot and out my bedroom door and into the room across the hall. I got up and closed my door and the door across the hall and went to get K to help me find Mouse. Even with K’s help we did not succeed in the capture of Mouse. We couldn’t even find him. So…
K had gotten me some demon medicine a few days ago at the market and I used it like K told me to and Mouse left my kitchen and apparently went to my room. He didn’t eat the poison and K says (literal translation) that Mouse “has a head” or he’s smart. I agreed. When I was at Melissa’s over the weekend she told me to put the poison in peanut butter and then Mouse won’t be able to smell it and he’ll eat it like he does all my other good food. Well, I have a hard time justifying giving Mouse MY peanut butter but I guess if it will kill him then it’s worth it. I don’t need nor do I want little Mouse Juniors all over my home.

I’m sorry about not blogging when I said I would. I tried several days to get on the internet at Susan’s and every time I tried it didn’t work. I’m in Niamey now and am able to blog for a little while until I head back to Konni next week.
I’m spending Thanksgiving in Niamey with other IMB missionaries and then Friday I’m flying to Dakar for a short – term personnel meeting. I will be able to get together with many other Journeymen and a few married couples as well. I will be able to see Sara and Katy from Nigeria too! I haven’t seen them since July when I was in Abidjan. Melanie and Kav, who were also on my team in Nigeria, have both ended their terms. Kav is doing another term in a different region and Melanie headed back to America a few weeks ago and will begin seminary in the Spring. So it will be just me, Katy and Sara and I’m really excited about this reunion ☺

I was sitting on the Delta plane Wednesday, September 11th and still trying to run everything through my mind. “Anna, are you really going to America?” “Will you really be with your family in less than 18 hours?” (even as I write this, I’m getting choked up). I had other emotions running through my mind as well, “Grandpa really won’t be there when I get to see everyone.” “Is the reason I’m flying home really for a funeral?”
All of it seemed too surreal and like a dream and nightmare all at the same time for me to believe it until I landed in Atlanta, Georgia. My Aunt Amy and her family weren’t going to be able to make the drive to Missouri from South Carolina for the funeral. But I had talked to Amy the day before and she said that there was a possibility that she could drive from South Carolina to Atlanta for my four hour layover. But there was nothing set in stone by the time I left South Africa on the 10th.
From the air America was beautiful. Everything that I remembered it being. But once I landed I felt like I was walking on air. I was nervous and hungry. I didn’t know if I should wait outside for Amy or just go to my next gate. I made my way to a pay phone but realized that I didn’t have any change. And I know that my South Africa rand coins wouldn’t work. I opened my little folder with my travel papers and extra moo-lah in it and found some American dollars. I put them in the exchange machine and waited. It ate my money. I tried a different one. It ate my second dollar. I only had one left and tried for a third time. Finally I got four quarters. I went to the pay phone and followed the instructions. I was putting my fourth quarter in when I realized that it wasn’t going all the way. In my frustration I forced it and knew at that time that the pay phone had eaten my third dollar. I don’t remember what happened next, all I know is that somehow I exchanged a larger bill and got more quarters. I just wanted to talk to my family! I followed the instructions again and within seconds the phone was ringing. My 14 year old brother, Luke answered the phone and I began to cry slow, desperate tears. My hands were shaking and I felt like if I spoke then I would wake up from this American dream. I tried to collect myself and I asked for Mom. She got on the phone and the only thing I could say was, “Mom, I’m in America!” We talked for a very short while and I ask if she knew if Amy was coming or not? Mom confirmed that Amy was on her way! I got off the phone with Mom and called Amy’s cell phone. She was about an hour and a half away from being with me! The plan was for her to pick me up outside and then we were going to go to breakfast.
I found a plug-in outlet and sat down with my computer on the floor. I had to do something to keep my mind off the waiting. I started the movie “Braveheart” and soon realized that I was being looked at/watched by every person around. It couldn’t have had anything to do with the fact that I was sitting on my African wrap skirt on the floor and not in one the many open seats nearby (there were no plug-ins near the seats) and the bottoms of my feet were covered in what looked like a solid, black tattoo. It was really just henna. I didn’t care. “Let them look” I told myself as I tried to focus on the movie.
A few minutes before Amy was supposed to be there I packed up my computer and headed outside. My watch and cell phone (that didn’t work in America) were both still set on African time so I continually asked people walking by what time it was. I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t way too early or way too late. Nope, I was right on time. Before too long I could see Amy coming my way and she was waving at me frantically with a huge smile on her face! I picked up my backpack and ran toward her van as she put it in park and jumped out for a good, long hug. Oh, how wonderful it felt to be in the arms of family. We were both crying and I didn’t want to let go for fear that if I did she would disappear and I would find myself hugging a tree in South Africa… (haha) But our embrace ended and we were still both there. We jumped into the car and made our way through traffic to McDonalds.
Once inside I had a little bit of trouble figuring out what I wanted because there was so much to choose from! I’m used to having a menu of Couscous and sauce or rice and sauce with onion rings or fries. But we ordered and found a seat in a corner. Amy took my picture of my first meal back in America.

We knew that we didn’t have all day so we tried to pick what was the most important to talk about during the little time that we had. How do you do that when you’ve not seen one another in over a year and you only have an hour?! But between Amy and I we didn’t have trouble finding things to talk about. I showed her a lot of pictures from here and my house and my people. It was fun to show someone in person and not just over my blog. And it was fun showing her because she’s never been here and I was able to see her expressions and here her questions about the photos, etc.

The time with Amy was all too short and it felt like we had just said hello when she dropped me off and I had to say goodbye. There was so much that I wanted to share with her and so much I wanted to hear about from her and we just didn’t have the time. We had a teary goodbye and I didn’t want to let go. But I waved and made my way inside as she maneuvered her van back onto the road.
I got myself checked in, to my gate and on the plane with no trouble. Once on the plane the whole idea of being back in America was real. I had just had breakfast with my aunt and was hearing English and speaking it to everyone around! THAT was amazing by the way! But on the flight I was feeling anxious about getting home. In Atlanta Mom had said on the phone that we were going straight form the airport to the funeral home and I laughed at her. “Mom, you must not know what I look like right now! You have to let me shower and change my clothes.” She had just been teasing and was planning on taking me to Granny’s house first anyway. Granny and Grandaddy’s house is near the funeral home so it made it easy. She told me that her and Daddy were going to be leaving in a few hours for the airport and they were excited about seeing me. As real as it felt to be in America it was still unreal!
I got to St. Louis and I couldn’t get off the plane fast enough. My whole body was shaking and I just wanted to run. I got through the gate to the waiting families and I looked around. I didn’t see Mom and Dad. I walked to the baggage claim and they weren’t there. “Maybe they got the airline mixed up…” my luggage came and still no parents. I propped my backpack and my suitcase against the wall and I just prayed as I paced and looked out the doors. I kept telling myself to be calm but every once in a while this small pitiful cry would leave my lips and my heart just ached to be with my family. I was so close to being with them! I looked one way for a few seconds and then the other… that’s when I saw my mom walking toward me and she had tears in her eyes and a smile on her face. I let go of my luggage that I had been carting around by that time and it fell over and hit the ground with a loud bang. I didn’t care. I was with my mom. The hug lasted a long while and I savored how it felt to be so close to her; it was almost more than I could take. I was so happy! Mom and I talked back and forth through tears about not believing the moment and how good it felt to be each other’s arms. I ask where Dad was and she said up the stairs waiting in the car along the sidewalk. I jetted that way after my mom and we headed up the stairs. “Mom! Where is he?!” I didn’t recognize any of the cars and I couldn’t see in the windshields very good because of the sun. “Right there, Honey!” She pointed to the red car pulling quickly toward us. I was already emotional and then seeing my dad about put me over the top. He jumped out and I fell into his arms and again let the tears flow. Dad wrapped himself around me and held me close. “You’re home, Baby. You’re home.” We got in the car and Mom sat in the back with me. Everything about St. Louis was the same. Nothing had changed or moved or anything. It was the same as when I left it. But it did feel different to be back. I don’t know what I expected things to look like and I had no idea how I was supposed to feel in the midst of the moment. By the time we got to Festus I was ready to see my sisters and brothers. We pulled up to Granny and Grandaddy’s house and all but Lettie was outside jumping up and down and laughing and waiting their turn for a hug. I wanted to hold them all for so long but there are so many in my family! Grace, Abbie, Naomi, Luke Phoebe, Lily and Levi were all there. I gave good hugs to them all and then repeated them. Words can’t express what it felt like to be surrounded by so much family. Granny was taking pictures until I made my way to her and hugged her and then Grandaddy (or vice a versa, I can’t remember the order of the hugs, you wonder why with so many people to give them to☺).
I showered and changed and PUT ON MAKEUP and then I straightened my hair! I hadn’t worn makeup like that or straightened my hair in over a year. A few of the family had already left and the younger ones asked to stay until I was ready so they could go with me. I think that Grace drove and drank up all that I could of everything around me. We got to the funeral home and my older sister, Lettie, was at the door with my nephew Tucker. He was so fat! He was 3 ½ months old when I left in 2007 and now at 1 ½ years he looked so different than before. I had seen some recent pictures but they don’t do justice to real life sometimes. I hugged her and all my cousins (but not Tucker, he wanted nothing to do with me) and I was looking for Theo, Tucker’s older brother. Around the corner he came and I got on my knees and held my arms out and Theo gave me a wonderful hug! Not too squeezy, not too light, but JUST perfect! Lettie told me later that they had been practicing and talking to Theo about a good hug since I had been gone for so long. Thank you Lettie!
I walked into the other room and saw my grandma from a distance. I had to keep myself from bawling right then and there. When I left America last year I wasn't sure if I would see her or Grandpa again. I walked to her and tapped her on the shoulder and she turned and asked who I was. “I’m Anna, Grandma. I just got off the plane from Africa. You remember when I left last year?” Recognition filled her eyes and she gave me a bug smile and placed both her hands on my cheeks and said, “My Anna! My Anna! It sure is you isn’t it?” It was a wonderful reunion with her. I also met up with my Aunt Sis, Uncle Loyd, Aunt Karen and Uncle Charlie, my brother-in-law, Ted, and my cousins Linda, Eli, Jaime, Lacie and Bobbie.
The henna on my feet turned many heads that night and into the next day as everyone around wanted to know why my feet were black. Many people thought that the henna was a substitute for a pair of shoes, which is not the case. It’s simply a sign of beauty for the women here. Had I known that I was going to head to America from South Africa I wouldn’t have done my feet. But there was no turning back then. The henna would be wearing off a little bit by the time I left but until then I told the story of my henna about 124 times. It was amazing to me how many people noticed it, but it was hilarious how many people wanted pictures of my feet!
The next day, Friday, was the funeral and two of my friends from school came to spend the day with me. My dad had to run an errand before the funeral that afternoon so he took me to Panera (St. Louis Bread Co.) in Festus where I met up with Dana and Karissa. There were hugs and more hugs and lots of talk as we visited and showed pictures and stories. The time went fast and we headed to the funeral home where the funeral took place.
The rest of the day was filled with family and visiting. After the funeral and burial we went to my cousin Eli and Jaime’s home to be with family. I said goodbye to Dana and Karissa (which was so sad!) and stayed with family for the rest of the evening.
It was a blessing to be with them all. I showed pictures to Granny and Grandaddy and Tucker and had a good evening of laughs and remembering Grandpa.

More on America is to come and I'm trying to get more photos up but the internet has decided to slow down at the moment.