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)!