Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Life of a Guinea Bissau Christian Woman

I (Karen) want to introduce you to a woman that faces a struggle as a christian like no other believers in our church.  She is a widow with three children.  She has been a widow for several years and has a desire to marry once again.  Her family is also wanting her to be married, because for this culture, it is a shame to not be married.  The job of a woman in this culture is to be married, birth children, cook, clean, draw water and care for her husband and family.  In their beliefs, there is no other purpose for women. Women are to do everything for her husband and his mom.  However, for this christian woman her desire to be married is not solely based on her culture.  She is forming a new culture in her faith.  Her desire to be married is to serve her husband in a Godly way and to have a partner in this life.  She seeks to be married to a christian man.  

The problem she faces is finding a christian man.  There have been many men that have come seeking her for a wife, some for their second, third or even fourth wife, but all are non-believers.  Currently, she has one man, an unbeliever, that has come to her family to ask permission to marry her. If her family would accept this proposal she will then need to spend a week with the man and act as husband and wife for him to see if he still wants her.  If they would end up being married, this woman would have no choice in her life.  If he would want to do a ceremony to an idol, she would have to cook for it.  If he beats her or her children, she cannot say anything about it.  If he would decide she cannot attend church or talk about her faith, she would need to be obedient.  

This woman has been asking for prayer for this situation.  She does not want to be married to this person.  Her prayer is for her family to not accept his proposal.  I have read scripture with her and we have talked in depth about what Christ asks of her life.  She has been begging me not to forget to pray for her.  There are no christian men in our church that she could marry.  She is losing hope that she will ever get to marry a christian man.  I have repeatedly encouraged her telling her that God will bring someone when He wants her to be married.  She asks us all to pray that God will answer this prayer.  

I share this with you so you can understand just a little bit about what people here face, but also to ask you to join us with praying for her.  We believe that God cares about everything, even bringing her a husband.  Please pray for this woman that her faith will remain strong and she will not doubt God’s faithfulness.  Please pray that God will bring a christian man into her life.  

Saturday, April 18, 2015

My Baptism - by the oldest Baker Bean

My mom and dad popped the question around March 18, 2015.  They asked me if I wanted to be baptized.  Of course I said yes! I wanted Catel to know I believe in God and that he is my Savior.  I could not wait for the date to be settled.  Finally, I found out I was to be baptized on Easter and I was going to be baptized with four other people, Elizabeti, Tomas, Timotiu and Ambros.  While I waited I asked my friend, Saba, to come to the baptism, she said yes. Later I learned she also was coming because Tomas is her brother.  I read a lot before I was to be baptized.  I read three sections from Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective.  I also helped with every day chores like always.  The chores I do are drawing water, watering plants, running or biking to the store, and the hardest one, scrubbing my little brother Isaiah.  You would think he rolled in the dirt he is literally black by the end of the day.  

Finally, Easter Sunday came and I put on shorts and a flowered shirt.  I had my junk skirt, a shirt and my hairbrush in a bag for when I got out to the water.  The junk skirt was to get in the water with because my Dad said that the water ruins everything.  Well, I went to children's church, and after that the grownups sang a few songs.  We then headed out slowly but loudly with songs of praise to the river.  Finally, we got there, but some of us kids ran ahead and found baby crabs and some kids stayed with the grownups.  When we were all there we sang a few songs and me and Elizabeti got shorts on.  The five of us who were getting baptized stood in a straight line and it began.  We all got baptized and the grownups wanted to take more pictures so we all got back in the water. The water was freezing! We then all prayed together and got in another straight line. Djibi, the guy who baptized me with my dad, lost his balance and fell causing me to lose my balance and I went under the water.  I came back up laughing and coughing while Djbi was trying to say sorry.  

This is me once I came up from the water. My dad and my African dad baptized me.  
Afterwards, we were trying to get out and the older kids around my age decided to jump from the bridge into the water.  The little kids did not think that was fair. Even though they could not swim they jumped in. Then while we all were trying to pull them out of the water somebody shoved a one and a half year old in my arms saying he wants baptized. Of course he started crying because of all the commotion so I gave him back and helped get more kids out.

On the way back to the church everyone sang and danced while we walked back into Catel.  Once we got back to the church the grownups sang and danced for a long time.  As they were singing people just started running around the church in circles. Everyone was so happy and celebrating the birth of Christ and our baptisms.  

This is what you call a crazy baptism! 

This is by our special guest blogger, the oldest of the baker beans.  

Thursday, April 16, 2015

No Smoking

Be thankful for what is in front of you, rather than constantly hoping for what you don't have. I have found myself saying that to our kids a lot lately.  It is actually ironic because I have been hoping for a four burner stove with an oven for a long time.  The entire time we were in America I was looking forward to getting the stove on our way back into Catel.  When we came back, we decided it wasn't wise for us to get the stove on our way back to the village, so we decided to wait for our first trip into Ziguinchor.  During our first trip into Ziguinchor we decided to wait until the next trip.  We thought for sure next time we would buy the stove. Buying the stove would be easier for me to cook for our family and I would have a wider variety of options with the oven. The next week we went into Sao Domingo for market day and on our way home we passed by the gas station where we buy our gas from, the gas station was no more.  A large rock truck sparked a fire, or the man's cigarette, at the gas pump and everything burned up, the truck included.  Now, we have lost our ability to buy gas (propane) for cooking.  About a week later we ran out of propane and Michael bought me a little propane tank (it's maybe 18 inches tall) with a burner on top for cooking.  It has made cooking so much more challenging.  The gas is difficult to regulate and where the pot sits is far away from the actual burner making everything take so much longer to cook.  This has been a challenge in front of us, but I am thankful for this little burner.  No longer am I hoping for a stove with an oven.  I am thankful I still have a means to cook for my family inside and I do not have to go out with the women to get firewood to cook over outside.  

This is what happens when you smoke at a gas pump.
Up close and personal with the burned truck.

On the floor is my new cooking source.  Behind on the counter is my old stove, which is now unusable. You can kind of see the large gas tank underneath the stove behind the washcloths.  The red bins hold our veggies. 

Being thankful for what we have can seem impossible with a world of wants in front of us.  When things are taken away we realize what we had and therefore realize we need to be thankful for what we still have.