Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Hardships of Life in Catel

I would like to introduce you to Jonsinu. You may call him Jon. Jon has been working at our house by weeding the peanut fields. He asked us if we had work for him so he could pay for his school registration. He has been working through the hot sun and through the rain showers without complaining. He cut his finger with his machete, but after we cleaned and bandaged it he continued on with his work without even a wince. 

Jon is entering the 7th grade and is 26 years old. In 2008 his father died and he had to drop out of school. Since then he has worked, gotten married and now has a 2 1/2 year old daughter. This last year he built his own house. He says he has no other preoccupations, so he can finally continue his education. He says he wants to study hard so he can provide for his family.

In a culture of give me's Jon is working hard so he can pay for his schooling. I wish I can end this story telling you he is a believer, but I can't. His story is just beginning. We pray he comes to know the Lord. We invite him to church, we share the gospel with him, but it is not us that can change a man's heart, only our Father Jesus. Would you join us in praying for him? 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Photo Time!

It has been a while since we did a blog of photos, so we decided to post a lot of photos to give you a glimpse into our life through photos. We hope you enjoy these! 

Dave recently came down to do some work on the new clinic building.  We had missed his birthday so Jada made him a chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting.  It was delicious!

To bring some fun to our lives we decided to eat our evening meal with serving utensils.  Meals can become so mundane here being the same few meals repeated over and over, so eating with utensils made it a lot of fun.  These kids ate a lot this night! 

Fellow missionary, Beryl Forrester, had a birthday so we partied it up together! When the guys all left to run some errands in Ziguinchor the kids and I decorated his house to surprise him.  He was quite surprised and loved it.  We also made carrot cake with sort of cream cheese (we used laughing cow cheese) frosting. 

Two neighbor kids, Sally and Beniceo, playing at our house.  The photo bomber is Zeke who is now serving with us in Catel. 

With so much of how the kids play in our yard being filled with violence we wanted to find an alternative way to use their creative energy.  There was a sand house building competition in our front path/yard.  This one in front won. When it was finished it even had a thatched roof and a veranda, very authentic.  

We started having some of the teenagers in the church over to practice looking up Bible verses quickly.  Lydia and Jada's friend, Elizabeti, liked it so much she wanted to turn it into Bible studies.  She has come many times to study the Bible with the girls.  

Hair cut day! Nothing is ever done in secret when you live in a small village.  I cut three boy's hair (well one young man and two boys) with a huge audience each time.  Not to mention all the little boys asking me to cut their hair too.  I told them all that my razor only can cut white people's hair.  :) 

Oh these four.  We could just name them all trouble, walking trouble. These four spend almost every day together and often times get into trouble together.  This particular day they had just gotten back from looking for fish out in the rice fields.  

I don't really know how to explain this picture, other than invasion of the flying termites!!! In the rainy season on nights after lots and lots of rain these flying termite drones come out and are drawn to light.  This night our new homeschool room, that was apparently built on a nest of them, was invaded.  When we woke up the next morning we could hear a buzzing sound through the door to that room. When we opened it we saw that the room was alive.  Yes, ALIVE.  These bugs were covering the floor of the room as well as in every nook and crany of the room, including their school books.  It was a rough way to wake up, but hey we still had breath so it was a good day.  

Every Sunday we cook for any children that are in our yard during the time we serve lunch.  We never know if it is going to be just our kids and the neighbor kids or much more. This day we ended up feeding 25 kids during a heavy rainstorm.  It was complete chaos, but was a wonderful blessing.  

What was just a typical soccer game in our yard turned into a mud fest when a downpour started.  Isaiah, however, enjoyed mud wrestling. 

Our children enjoy playing Uno with their friends on quiet days.  Uno is a game our kids have taught many children to play.  

Last, but definitely not least, is a picture of Rebekah.  If you don't know yet, Rebekah is our laundry lady's daughter.  She is like another child for us but her favorite is Michael. The other day I was at her aunt's house and Michael walked up, Rebekah took off running, throwing whatever was in her hands down and took a flying leap into his arms.

We hope you enjoyed these pictures! It is a joy to be a part of the lives of people in each of these pictures and so many more that aren't pictured.  Blessings to all of you! 

Transformation from Darkness to Light

Binta is a small, fiesty, mother of three boys and a wife to one of our church members.  When I first met her two years ago, my first impression was that she was a tiny, little lady that seemed nice, but was quite shy.  As the days went on and I got to know her a little better I quickly realized she was much more than that. She may be small in size but she is quick with her temper and wasn't shy about letting it be seen.  I had seen her beat her children many times and my children had witnessed her attempt to slam a wooden stool into her husband's head (she missed).  She had been beaten by her husband many times and when you looked into her eyes they were dark and lacking of life.  Her children also were filled with anger and often were beating up on other children.

Her story doesn't end there, she is also from one of the poorest families in our village.  In fact, her immediate family, (her husband and her with their children) do not even have their own house. They have one room in her brother-in-law's house.  As if this is all not difficult enough, Binta has struggled getting pregnant and has had many miscarriages.  She has suffered much, as have so many women in Guinea Bissau.

Binta has been coming to church for a long time and has heard the Word of the Lord but had not committed her life to Christ.  Her husband is a believer, and has made many mistakes along the way. Binta is a woman that needs Christ and she has finally made the choice to give her life over to Jesus.  A little over a year ago Binta sat in front of our church congregation and confessed her life of sin and committed to live her life for Christ.  Her transformation has not been a small one.  She is a dramatically different person today.  She speaks with love and kindness.  She reminds her children of God's Word through her disciplining. I have seen her endure another woman insulting her and speaking badly to her and she did nothing.  It reminded me of when Jesus was beaten and spit in the face and he did nothing in return.

One day I was sitting with Binta on a bench outside of a house on her compound when her four year old son and his cousin got into a fight.  The two boys proceeded to start punching each other but quickly stopped when Binta called to them to come to her.  They slowly came over, possibly anticipating a beating, and when they got to us, Binta gently spoke to them and asked them to tell her what Jesus says about hitting others when they hit you.  Her son slowly lifted his eyes up to meet his mom's eyes and started to quote a Bible verse. She then asked them to apologize to each other, which they did, and then they walked off with their arms wrapped around each other as if nothing ever happened. Binta had been transformed.  She was no long filled with anger and hatred, but is filled with love and compassion.  She has the fruits of the Spirits and they are overflowing out of her.  

A few weeks ago we had a women's Bible study and I used Binta's life as an example.  The other women there all nodded their heads in agreement and the oldest woman there, Mama Mane, kept repeating "Amen" over and over and saying it was true. I used the example of how Binta treated her children before she was a Christian and how she treats her children today. This is what Christ can do.  Christ can transform our lives to reflect him.  I think of Galatians 5:22,23 - But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  When we are true believers, our lives should reflect these fruits of the spirit and that is exactly what Binta's life does. 

We can only praise God for this transformation.  She is an example to all of us and we pray that she will continue to grow in the Lord.  

Binta collecting salt dirt from the dried up rice fields.

Today, Binta works for us by cleaning our house Monday - Friday. This little bit of money helps her to be able to buy fish and a little bit of vegetables for their daily rice dish, pay for schooling for her boys and buy clothes for her family. She enjoys interacting with our children daily and our children call her mom. When they see her they run into her arms and she interacts with them much like Michael and I do. When she is at our house if she sees one of our kids goofing off during school hours she will ask them if they should be doing school.  Our children have many moms here...we aren't sure how much they like it, but we sure love it!

Our children have enjoyed playing pranks on her with a toy lizard friends sent over for them.  Our children will hide it in different places just to hear her yelp and run. We all bust up laughing and then she ends up laughing along with us. She also enjoys it when we have baked a cake.  She loves the baking we do in our house as well as the occasional delicious American breakfast.  Her favorite is Amish baked oatmeal. Binta is a part of our family. 

I have been blessed to see this transformation in her life.  Binta is illiterate and will probably never be able to read, but her faith is real and she is growing in her walk with Christ every day.