Friday, July 24, 2015

You know you live in Guinea Bissau when...

You know you live in Guinea Bissau when it starts raining and everyone runs for buckets to put out to collect the rain water. 

...when you have to check for lizards before entering your bathroom. 

...when you rejoice for rain but a part of you is sad because your batteries won't charge. 

...when you can only charge devices or computers a few hours a day. 

...when you wait on the ice truck that may or may not come. 

...when you put your mattress on the roof to sun bleach. 

...when drinking a warm coke is a treat. 

...when you suck the chocolate out of the wrapper. 

You know you live in Guinea Bissau when you know what the 24 hour rule is. 

...when a 12 passenger van fits 34 people. 

...when 80 degrees is cold. 

...when you think you might freeze at 70 degrees. 

...when you warm your shower water. 

...when you use rain water to shower. 

...when you sweep your yard. 

...wake up to women at your well. 

You know you live in Guinea Bissau when you use a brush to scrub your feet. 

...when you scrub your flip flops daily. 

...when you travel three hours one way for a tank of propane because the only gas station near you blew up. 

...when you feel like it's Christmas when you receive a package. 

...when you call your cupboard the refrigerator. 

...when you talk with other missionaries and the topic always goes to where you can find western food. 

...when rain or soccer games stop life in the village. 

...when your dresser is a suitcase. 

...when you know why there is a teapot of water in the bathroom. 

You know you live in Guinea Bissau when cashews are considered currency. 

There could be so many more but that is all we have for you. 

We hope you enjoyed these!! 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Storms of Life

It seems as though we have faced many trials since we answered the call to Guinea Bissau.  Through all the trials though, we have seen God. He has never left us or forsaken us.  This last trial was a hard one though.  When you face something yourself it can be hard, but when it is your child, it seems unbearable.  The only thing we had was Christ.  

Josiah got pink eye on a Friday, so I went to the clinic and bought an ointment and started him on it three times that day.  He cleared up that same day and Saturday he had nothing.  Sunday, Lydia woke up with the exact same symptoms, her eye was stuck shut from gunk and swollen, so I started her on the same ointment. I put ointment in her eye three times a day but her symptoms continued to worsen. Monday afternoon she started with a high fever, so I again went to the clinic.  Our nurse thought malaria, so we started her on malaria meds as well as an antibiotic because she complained of a sore throat.  She started sleeping Monday afternoon and continued until Sunday.  She would wake for a short time to take medicine or for me to clean her eye, but she would go right back to sleep.  Thursday I added an eye drop to try to stop her eye infection, but her eye continued to worsen.  By Thursday evening, our nurse wanted her to go to a nearby hospital.  She went by ambulance, as we have no car, and the doctor at the hospital prescribed the exact ointment and eye drop we had already been giving her.  Friday her eye worsen drastically and by Saturday she felt an intense pain in her eye.  Her fever continued this entire time with the exception of Friday afternoon when our church came to pray over her and anoint her.  That was the only time she had a low grade fever and was awake for several hours.  All while Lydia was battling this, three of our other kids had some sort of illness as well, whether it was boils, returning pink eye, or severe stomach pain, they were all battling something except our one daughter.  We were praying for a miracle.  We were all believing in a dramatic miracle, praying it would lead many, if not all, in our village to the Lord. 

While we didn't see a dramatic transformation of her eye, we did see little miracles along the way.  We were able to have internet and ask for prayer all while supposedly the entire internet of Guinea Bissau was down.  We got an email from GB news saying the mobile internet was paralyzed and not working, all while we were using our mobile internet to read the article.  Our phone worked with internet until I posted on FB for prayer, then the internet stopped. We believe God wanted us to seek others for prayer and once we had done that we no longer needed the internet.  

We called our friend that drives us to Ziguinchor each month to come get us Saturday morning to go to the hospital. He came, drove us to two hospitals, the first one didn't do eyes, and then waited with our other children while Michael, Djibi and I were in the ER with Lydia.  He didn't leave until he knew Lydia was being cared for and he never once came and asked us if he could leave or how long it would take. His only concern was Lydia. His time is money, the time he waited for us meant he lost a car load of people for his normal Ziguinchor to Sao Domingo run, but he didn't complain or charge us extra. He even told Michael to call him when we wanted to return to Catel so he could take us back, so he could know Lydia was okay. 

When Michael got to the hotel, they told him they had no room.  This is the hotel we stay at each month we come to Ziguinchor.  Djibi had called that  morning and reserved the only room that holds our family.  There Michael was at the hotel with four of our children, not able to speak any french and being told there was no room.  He sat at the table, prayed with the kids and then the man that we know came to him and told him his room was available.  We have no idea what happened except one moment there was no room and after prayer, there was room.     

Every step, whatever we asked for prayer on was answered, whether quick travel, understanding, translation, or issues with nurses. This was a work of how powerful our God is and that we are in this together. We may be the people living here and serving, but we have an amazing amount of support that helps make this possible. People need Jesus and we are all a testimony whether in Africa or America to serve our ultimate goal of sharing the gospel. We are in this together.

Going to the hospital in our neighboring country was a decision only led by prayer. We wanted the Lord to do the miracle, but now we see that he had a plan for us to meet the people we met in that hospital and to be an example to more than just the people of Catel. At the hospital we wanted a private room for Lydia, but that was not an option.  We were in a room with five beds and about seven cribs, but there were only three patients in that room.  We bonded with those other families.  There was a language barrier but God is bigger than language barriers.  The one dad could speak Creole, another dad spoke English and we had brought Djibi with us and he as well helped translate. Through these relationships we were building, we were able to share the gospel with a family in the hospital. Michael was able to read the Bible with the husband and pray with him. We got to be examples to the nurses and the doctors. God opened all these doors for us to bless many while we were at the hospital. God works in every situation for his honor and glory and keeping that as a focus gets us through the dark and rough times no matter the outcome. 

While we were in the hospital we learned that Gambia has the #1 eye hospital in West Africa and the guesthouse we often stay at had openings and were quite flexible with us.  We also learned that a nurse was at the guesthouse already and a physicians assistant was coming.  This was God's plan.  The woman that is a PA was coming to Gambia for the first time to serve for 6 months, and it happened to be the exact week that we were having medical problems.  That is only God and His perfect timing. 

Lydia's eye looks amazing and she hasn't had a fever since she was in the hospital. Josiah started the eye infection, but the pediatrician at the hospital thought they were twins so he saw him also and started treatment right away. He was also put on an antibiotic and has recovered, never getting as bad as Lydia. Micah started a fever and pink eye, but because we are here at the guesthouse the PA looked at her and put her on an antibiotic and we started the same eye treatments. 

Through this, we have had a chance to share verses about not being afraid and trusting in God. We have seen the faith of our kids and us tested and grow in this trial. We were praying for a miracle so that people of Catel and the hospital could put their faith in Christ, but maybe God wanted our children to have a deeper faith in Him.  We don't know how God worked through all of this, all we know is for our family we have grown.  

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  James 1:2, 3

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.  Matthew 7:24, 25

The rains fell, the floods came in, the winds blew and beat on our house pretty badly, but we did not fall. We are all stronger because of this. I do not mean stronger physically or emotionally, but spiritually, and that is what matters. One day we will all stand before God and we want to hear well done my good and faithful servant.  

We praise God for all he has done in this situation and will continue to do as we serve him in West Africa. We thank all of you for praying with us in our time of need. We could feel the prayers and the Holy Spirit surrounding us. Our church in Catel came that Friday to pray and they said they could feel the Spirit at our house. We praise God in all of this. He never left us. We were praying for one specific miracle, but God had many little ones he wanted to do.  He didn't answer our prayer the way we were asking, but he answered our prayers the way that was best for us.  

When you have trials, it isn't because God left you, it's because he wants you to grow.  We pray that you are able to see God in a new way through our story and if you haven't put your faith in Jesus, we pray you do.  Why wait? This is the time, this is your time.  Trust in the Lord.