Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Girls, Giggles and God

While some of the team was at Bobo, I spent Friday and Saturday with 4 terrific teen gals. We had a dance party, painted nails, walked the neighborhood doing a photo safari, and laughed a lot. It was their FIRST retreat ever! We focused our spiritual time on Psalm 139 and took time to remind ourselves that being different is good, that means that we are unique and special, just like God made us.

I spent the rest of the weekend at the Nesselroad home which was a wonderful time to reconnect with their family. Although we are continents apart, we have so many things in common!

As we put away the last suction tubing, the last 4 by 4, and the last ambu bag today we stood back in amazement at what the Lord had done. Truly, last week I was beginning to doubt that this warehouse project would be finished before we left. And then, all of a sudden, it turned a corner and began to take shape. Things are on shelves, you can see the floor, and every box is in it's section. Truly a miracle.

As I type, I can hear someone playing the xylophone, it's a full moon and it is still really warm. It is hard to believe that tomorrow night that we will be on our way home to cooler climates and familiar faces.

Thank you again for your love and support and most of all your prayers.
loving you,

Where have all the workers been?

HELLO! We want to quickly say that the internet has not cooperated with us at all this past week. We are so sorry that we haven't been able to keep you up to date on what is going on. We have been living the fun and the frustrations of missions work, not only here in Koutiala, Mali, but also is Bobodiaoulasso, Burkina Faso.

We have had such a great time working and laughing and sharing with the missionaries and the Malians and in some ways it is difficult to believe that it is time to come home. God has blessed our team with a spirit of cooperation, which has grown into a love for one another and a deeper love for the Malians.

As we look back at the work that has been accomplished these past few weeks and it is truly miraculous at what the Lord has allowed us to do. ALL the boxes that had previously been stored in the Pediatrics Building has been moved, sorted and repacked if necessary and stacked on racks built as we worked in the new warehouse. It is amazing to see how much has been donated from our friends across the United States.

The x-ray room is completed and ready to have the x-ray unit installed, and none too soon because word was received just today that the x-ray unit is ready to be shipped.

Wiring of the warehouse is well underway and much can be left for the Malians to complete. The main trunk line to the new Women's Building has been completed but there will need to be much more wiring done in the future as the building is constructed. When we first came there were only a few of the support "cages" built for the new building, many, many more have been constructed in the time that we have been here.

The hospital staff, missionaries and Malians are feeling the pinch of the increase in the workload and are scurrying to teach/learn all the new things they need to learn about for taking care of pediatric inpatients.

There has been a total of three teams here while we have been here, each overlapping in one way or another. In addition to us, there is a medical team here offering support for Dr. Dan and the nursing staff as well as teaching ultrasound classes. There has also been a work team from Omaha here that worked on the fiberoptic cables for the computer system that will be installed at the hospital. Lots of work being completed.

Our devotions this morning were from Mark 6, where Jesus fed the 5,000 with five loaves and two fishes. What I got from that lesson is there is much to be done and how the disciples must have felt so overwhelmed and frustrated when Jesus wanted to feed them, much like everyone at the hospital must feel with so much to be done. But we were reminded that Jesus can do this work all by himself, He doesn't need us (just like he didn't need the offering of the five loaves and two fishes) to complete His work, but He has allowed, yes, allowed us to be a part of the work, just like he allowed the disciples to be a part of feeding the 5,000, He is completing here in Koutiala.

Some of us traveled to Bobo in Burkina Faso over the weekend to visit a school in Dedougou and the Bible School at Pondue as well as to visit some of the work in Bobo. It was an eye opening experience to see the level of dedication from the pastors in the area and also to see their great needs. It seems that God continues to enlarge our territory every time we visit here.

Well, as a play on words from an old song, "all our bags are packed, we're ready to go, we're standing here inside the door . . . . . . "we're leaving on a jet plane, can't wait till we get back again, oh Lord, we hate to go." Yes, we hate to go, but we are all homesick and anxious to see our families and share with them the excitement that we feel seeing God's hand at work here in West Africa.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Earl for President

Hair cuts, tailor made clothes, more boxes, and soccer. Barb has a steady stream of women missionaries getting beautiful hair cuts and perms.....a refreshing start and a wonderful encouragement when you are a long way from home.

Jean, Barb, Sandy, and Jerry have made the grand adventure to the fabric store and the tailor to create special outfits made just for them. So, watch out world, here they come! They look like true Malians.

We have only 1 more room to empty of boxes and get into the warehouse. So, the tide is turning. Still a lot to do, but we may be winning the war after all.

Earl and Brent have been steadily working on the x-ray room. First the metal z-channel went up, then the pink insulation which we decided was not a good color for them. Next came the fiberglass reinforced polyester which is white. The rumor is Earl is moving into the white house! We are thinking of electing him president of Mali.

Jack and Jerry are busy wiring and Erv is doing all the heavy lifting for the warehouse move.
So, each day is an adventure.

As we headed home today, we stopped briefly at a soccer match. Imagine playing on a dirt field, surrounded by a huge crowd. They have it announced by loudspeaker...it is quite an event. We drew a crowd of children as usual as we stood for a few minutes. They love to be greeted and absolutely love to see the photos of themselves that you have taken.

We greet you in the name of the Lord. Tomorrow Jack, Barb, Jean, and Sandy head to Burkina Faso to greet other Alliance friends. Jan has a mini-retreat planned for the 4 teen girls this weekend and the other guys will be be working and fending for themselves.
We are grateful for your support and prayers.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Internet is working

Work is way ahead of schedule for the Omaha team installing the fiber optics at the hospital. It will be a real blessing when their job is completed. The internet comes and goes here. That is the reason yesterday's posting is here today. That is also the reason emails have not been sent to family and friends on a regular basis too.

Everyone is well and work is progressing at a good pace for both the men and women on our team. It is 4:30am here and breakfast needs started before the rest of the team awakes. So this will be short and sweet.

Just wanted all to know, while the internet is up, that we are doing exceptionally well mentally, physically, and spiritually. Thanks for the prayers and keep it up for eight more day. You are loved and missed each one.

Monday, March 2, 2009

One Big Happy Family

It is 10:30 and I am sitting here alone. The rest of the team are all asleep preparing for another day's work. Tonight is one of those nights where I am tired physically and just too wound up emotionally to sleep. It will be a long night and even longer day.

We welcomed two other teams today...one from the Washington/Oregon area and one from Omaha. The first is a medical team doing training in ultrasound and procedures; the other is installing fiber optics at the hospital. As is normal when teams arrive, everyone gets together for a potluck dinner and a time of fellowship to meet and greet. There were over 50 people in the upstairs of the guesthouse eating spaghetti, salad, and garlic bread, chatting around tables and meshing together as one big family. The evening ended with cake for dessert to celebrate Earl's birthday.

It has been a birthday to remember for Earl. We have picked at him nonstop all day. Although that is not much different that any other day. :=) At lunch, Jerry came out with a stack of cards for him from home. He was pleasantly surprised with the special delivery. Then the cake and everyone singing was the finishing touch to his big day.

The light at the end of the tunnel is becoming visible as we continue to empty rooms of the boxes in the Peds building and move the supplies to their permanent storage area in the new warehouse. Jan and Jean have provided the medical knowledge to accomplish this task with Sandy, Barb, Erv, and many others sorting, repacking, and storing the hundreds of boxes. At times we felt like we were making it worse instead of better; where now we can see the order coming out of the chaos. This will be such a huge help to the hospital staff when they restock and are looking for specific items.

As I sit here, the peace and quiet of the day is settling on me. The hum of the fans, warm air circulating, and the squeaks of the bats hanging from the trees outside the windows is very calming. This could be a warm summer's night at home minus the bat squeaks. In the light of day, you see the yard is surrounded by a high wall and a gate opens to head out. The red dirt and dust, flocks passing with their shepherds, donkey carts, bicycles, motos and people make you aware you are not in Ohio. A short term trip has it's excitements and thrills and is just that...short term.

Our missionaries live around the world with third, fourth, and fifth world conditions on a daily basis. The magnitude of what they give up to serve the Lord cannot be fully comprehended on a short term trip but can be seen and felt. They need our prayers, love, encouragement, and support. We need to be the passionate prayer warriors that hold the ropes as they battle on the front lines for His kingdom. We are all His children; part of His family. Remember our brothers and sisters who are serving as missionaries around the world.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Worship African Style

Rhythmic drum beats, smiling faces, little boy's feet swinging off the bench, the congregation singing for an hour and the sermon being translated in Bambara and French. Worship for us was much different than what we are all usually used to, but our hearts resonated with our brothers and sisters in Christ at Bethel Church. Today's sermon was based on 1 Peter 2:2 about continuing to grow in your faith by reading the Word and imitating Christ in your life. Great words. We hope your days of worship were uplifting.

Last night we had the 3 teaching pastors from Bethel and their wives for dinner. It was a spaghetti dinner American style. We learned a lot about their culture, the Bible and they asked us all about American Farming. (there is a joke here about being a "bean eater") so to be a soy bean farmer was over-the-top! We talked about how difficult it is to be a Christian around the world: Here in Mali where you will be disowned by your Muslim family, or in France & America where people think you are narrow minded. We learned that kids are named after the idol that "brings" them to their family. When they come to Christ, they change their names. Changed from the inside and the outside. These families are overflowing with the joy of Christ and there was so much laughter. We wish you could have joined us.

One of the untitled jobs of the short term missionaries is to encourage those who serve here full time. It has been our pleasure to bring treats to the wonderful people that work here, listen to their stories, and pray for them. Please join us in remembering them in your prayers and supporting them through the Great Commission Fund.

We have enjoyed our day of rest. I especially liked my hour of photography with Rachael with the local kids following us. But tomorrow, it is back to work. God bless you.

Sunday in Africa

It has been a couple of days since we posted anything. We have been so busy and so many people have been in and out of the Guest House and we have been having a problem getting into the blog when bobojula couldn't get on. So, it has been great. It is very, very hot, which is uncomfortable, but do-able. We invited Daniel & Naama, Enoch & Dorcas and Daouda and Tabitha to dinner here last night. It was a great time of laughing and rejoicing in what God has done for us.

The men completed pulling all the wire from the electrical building to the new building yesterday and were pretty wiped out from working outside all day and the heat. The women went to the tailor yesterday and spent yesterday afternoon preparing dinner for last night.

We are on our way to church and hopefully having a relaxing day. Please pray for us as many of us have heard from family members who are struggling with health issues and other things. Will post more soon, with pictures.