"There are two great moments in a persons life: the moment you were born and the moment you realize why you were born."

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Joyeux Noel :) [Merry Christmas]

Joyeux Noël 
[Merry Christmas]

Joyeux Noël everybody!! I hope it was amazing for you and your family. I had the privilege of being passed around on the phone with some family back in California and one of my aunts (love you Aunt Leanna) asked me if we celebrate Christmas here in Cote d’Ivoire…the answer to that question is yes we do  haha

Christmas Eve and Day was packed like no other!! I don’t remember a busier Christmas. On Christmas Eve our church had an all night church service where Rod spoke. It started around 9, but in African time that means it didn’t really start until 9:30 or later. My Sunday school class preformed their play and it was HILARIOUS!! Especially since only a third of the kids showed up, but I think they did an amazing job. (I could be biased, but that’s ok). It was the coolest experience being with people whose only focus is on worshipping the Lord! Since Christianity is a minority here, only Christians celebrate Christmas, unlike the states where it can sometimes turn into a secular holiday. The Ivorians danced and sang like nobody’s business. They even taught us how to dance, although we can’t do it very well, we all still tried. I pray that I can learn how to worship like they do, with absolutely everything I have! It was the best way to celebrate that our Savior was born.

Christmas Day, we started late…which was so very much needed, in order to rest and catch up on sleep from the night before. Then all of the families living here on campus came over to our dorm for a late pot-luck lunch. I can’t believe we had that much food! We ran out of counter space, which hasn’t happened yet, haha and we had SO many left overs! (that’s what we are eating for lunch and dinner today). It was great fun! Later that night we exchanged our Secret Santa gifts. I had my friend Devin. I really did want to make something special for him, but I just didn’t know what to do. Haha However, I knew he really missed pies, so my friend Steph got her grandma’s apple pie recipe from her mom and we baked all morning long. (of course Devin, having the servant’s heart he does, asks to help…and my heart almost stopped haha). The great thing was that he had me for his Secret Santa. His gift was the perfect gift for me!! A certificate for unlimited hugs (he knows me so well: first of many in photo) and soon a video from my family, because I miss them lots. I love it! Haha he even cut up paper snowflakes, because we both miss snowboarding.

Although I miss my family and my friends at home, and this is my first Christmas away from home, I am so thankful to be here. It was an amazing opportunity and experience. It’s really cool to miss people you love, and wish that you were with them, but yet still be so content where you are. God had his loving, comforting arms around us. It was the picture perfect African Christmas 

Scripture of the Week:
“Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has visited and redeemed his people. He has sent us a mighty Savior from the royal line of his servant David, just as he promised through his holy prophets long ago. Now we will be saved from our enemies and from all who hate us. He has been merciful to our ancestors by remembering his sacred covenant-the covenant he swore with an oath to our ancestor Abraham. We have been rescued from our enemies so we can serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness for as long as we live.” ~ Luke 1:68-75

And my favorite 
“So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.” ~John 1:14

Dude how freaking cool is that…Jesus…like GOD came and humbled himself as a baby, because he wanted to reunite us to God the Father. It’s a beautiful story ain’t it? 

Prayer Requests:
~We will be leaving for four days for our Christmas break to see different ministry opportunities in Korhogo (north). Please pray for safe travels.
~The political situation...attached is an email from our patron, Rod about the situation. http://sn139w.snt139.mail.live.com/default.aspx?wa=wsignin1.0
~God would prepare our hearts for our Home Stay.
~Our world’s would continue to get rocked.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Finally! an update

Wow I am so lame…I said in my last blog that I would be posting updates more often, but…I’m lame. Haha internet wasn’t working for a week, and then I just got lazy. I’m sorry friends 

My Ivorian Family:
Anyways!!!! I will update you about what has been going on for the past two weeks. Last weekend (12/10) we were split up into groups of two and separated for our first time to go live with Ivorian families from our churches. I had the privilege to stay with M. Saro-Salif and his wife Madame Laurentine, with my friend Steph  I can’t express how unbelievable this experience was! Our family was so patient with us, and we ate food like you wouldn’t believe! Hospitality is held to such a high standard!! It was nothing like I’ve experienced before. Our family introduced us to all of their neighbors and friends at church, and even their family members in the market-place. For the first time since arriving to Cote d’Ivoire I have felt a part of the Ivorian church and a part of the community here. It’s amazing. People ask us now, where we were if we skipped church and if we’ll be with them for Christmas and it’s just SUPER COOL! Haha

Now for this last weekend…(12/18) our families had the opportunity to come and return the visit. We showed them our dorm and ate lunch together. They also got to meet our Journey Corps family and the families all interacted with each other and laughed about their weekend with us.

Last Thursday we started community service projects and mine was at L’arche. L’arche is a home for mentally disabled young adults. Due to the crisis the classes have been cancelled and a lot of things have changed, but they still hold onto hope. M. Coffee (such a fun name!) has only been working with L’arche as the director for a year now, but has huge hopes and dreams. The awesome part of L’arche is that they don’t see it as an asylum to just help these adults, they’re a family. And they make that known. That was the first thing that was said in our introduction that they were a family, and they wanted to invite us to possibly be a part of it. They also emphasized that not everyone has the opportunity to be a part of it, so I feel extremely honored. Please be praying for this family, and that the situation here would lighten so that classes could start again.

Sunday School:
So Sunday school has been a roller-coaster of confusion for the past two weeks. I was left alone with the kids two weeks ago to teach them Christmas songs. I totally don’t mind that at all, but two things complicate things. 1-I don’t speak a lick of French and 2-I can’t sing. Haha PERFECT  Thank the good Lord in heaven, who is amazing, that my friend Jason was randomly with me, and he is an amazing singer and guitar player! (he actually leads the Journey Corps worship usually). Then after that, Timothy asked me to come up with a play for the following week. I seriously thought he was kidding, but of course he wasn’t. So, I came up with the idea of just going through the bible and making different sections of the Christmas story and writing them down, and then the kids have to come up with the play. (I thought they could handle this, since they’re the older kids) So this last Sunday, Timothy and I split them up into groups of 4 and we’re making it a competition. So on Christmas Eve they’ll all be performing their sections of the play to the entire church and the best group wins. I am so stoked to see what they come up with.

Verse of the week (or two ):
“O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; My whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory. Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you! I will praise you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer. You satisfy me more than the richest feast I will praise you with the songs of joy. I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night. Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely.” ~Psalm 63:1-8

Quote of the week from a book I think everyone should read, “Meeting God in Quiet Places” by F. LaGard Smith
“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could begin each day recognizing our great need for spiritual nourishment and strength and praising him for being the true source of our life, the One in whose image we want to be continually re-created. The more we come to know God, the more we appreciate how very much he desires to satisfy our hearts with their every longing and need. Nothing is too much for us to ask. Certainly he is our Source, but even more, he is our Sustainer. He suckles us [like a mothering lamb] with life and love!”

Prayer Requests:
 Political situation: It’s still tense, but life goes on as normal as it possibly can. I did get to see a little piece of a march, but it was peaceful.
 Christmas: For our Christmas here and the preparations for the 24-hour Christmas Eve service at church.
 Home-sickness. We’re all feeling it especially during the Holiday season, also please keep our families in the states in your prayers. They’re missing us also.
 The leadership team is now discussing where we will be living and working in Cote d’Ivoire. We leave in just four weeks! Wow! So please be praying that God would have us exactly where we will best be used for the glory of His kingdom. Also that He would be preparing our hearts to be transformed.

Thanks so much!! I miss you all like no other and I am praying like crazy for your Christmas season. Especially, that we would learn what the Christmas season actually means. Please tell me how else I could be praying for you guys. And as always keep me updated on life! Love you lots!! And pictures are coming super soon! (As soon as I can figure it out haha. ) they’ll be on a website called Picasa.

Monday, December 6, 2010

En la Village

Bonjour ya’ll! So this weekend a few of us woke up early to greet families. (It’s a custom to go and greet your neighbor, whether you know them well or not, and you just sit with them & talk). However, we did not know that we were going on a walk to do this : ) Needless to say, it was quite the adventure. On our journey we met a few old ladies, one of which escorted us to a courtyard whose son had just died, and we wanted to go and greet the family there. So instead of walking back out onto the main road, she took us the jungle route!! It was so cool. We met a man making moon shine at the river and he asked if we wanted any..Anglekia politely declined and said that it was too early in the morning for alcohol, maybe later. Haha it was great!

This morning we were paired up to go back out into the villages we visited (by ourselves!) and given certain questions to either ask or observe within a courtyard setting. The questions were for a class on hygiene that we are taking. My partner, Jamie, and I went to a lady right across the road named Amina. She works a fast food stand…now when I say fast food, it’s not McDonalds!! It’s a little shack looking thing where farmers, bicyclists, pedestrians or anyone using the main road can sit on a bench out of the hot sun and eat fish, atteike, beans, rice and vegetables or take it to go in a little baggie. Haha, I cannot describe the situation well enough, so thankfully Jamie took some awesome pictures. When we first saw Amina and greeted her I asked if she would teach me how to cook. She laughed at me (my French really stinks!) and said ok. So..Jamie and I were given a bucket of raw fish heads, fish tails and various cut up fish parts and another bucket of flour. We rolled the fish around and put them into a pan of boiling oil. Since this stand is randomly on the side of the road there’s no electricity or stoves or anything, so the pan of oil was balanced between three rocks with wood burning underneath. After all of the fish was done she offered us some food…AND I ATE IT!!!! It was actually the best atteike I think I have ever had! (Atteike is African couscous and for those who don’t know what couscous is it’s a root) and the fish wasn’t bad, and what I’m excited about is that I didn’t get sick from it : ) The customers got a kick out of the fact that we cooked the fish and everyone was super friendly and greeted us. [picture is me eating...more pictures will be up hopefully tomorrow on Picasa, be looking out for a link]

Side note:
After the elections…we now have 2 presidents!! Haha people joke around with us Americans saying that America hasn’t even done that yet. But in all seriousness, things have been heating up here in the country. Thankfully being on ICA campus is probably one of the, if not the most, safest places to be in the entire country and there has been no hostility towards foreigners where we are. We have already prepared for evacuation drills if need be. However, my heart breaks for the families here! People are truly sick of war and are yearning for peace. There’s a refugee family staying with us for awhile, because things were getting hectic where they were. When the president with the minority of votes was sworn in the mother of this family seemed overwhelmed holding her 4 month old baby boy in her arms. She got up and left with a few tears in her eyes. That’s when it hit me. My safety is totally secure (thus far) but these families lives are here...this is their home, their work, their everything!! We have the option of leaving and being evacuated if things get bad, they can’t! My heart breaks for them! This mother’s heart is breaking for her young child’s future. I’ve never been so thankful for freedom and safety at home, in my entire life. Freedom and safety are not a need...they’re a luxury! And it’s a luxury that we take for granted every single day! Please keep these families in your prayers along with the country. I heard Cote d’Ivoire made front page news back in the states, so hopefully you know a little bit more about what’s going.

Prayer Request:
~The country
~The Ivorian families living here
~Against spiritual attack

I can’t help, but think of the similarities in events between the crisis here in Cote d’Ivoire and in the Old Testament, when Judah was exiled and the Babylonians finally conquered them after 2 ½ years. However, I think it’s important to hold onto the truth that our Lord is a good God ALWAYS!! Even when times are bad…I like to remember
“For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” ~Jeremiah 29:11-13