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.