Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Wound Care & The Word

It's almost midnight here and since my lovely wife announced to the world about this blog, thought you'd oughta have something fairly current (akpe kv).

Today, my teammate, Steve Price, and I continued our weekly meeting at Dekpo (deek-po). We do a holistic ministry here in Benin and today was a good example. Steve's specialty is minor wound care. The two Aja men who went with us helped him cleaning wounds, changes bandages, and translating. We pray for their wounds, some of which come by way of bicycle accidents (sometimes falling off, sometimes from ripping their skin on the pedal!), insect bites that get infected and then start eating away at the flesh and then the bone (have I grossed you out yet?), and then the most surprising of all is always, "I whacked my leg by accident at the farm with my machete." Ah, life in Benin.

Steve's ministry is fantastic and so well received. For free, he'll clean their wounds, bandage them up and provide follow-up the next week. For some or even most, these people are not bringing wounds that they got yesterday. Most say at least a month or two, but even surprising is how many say, "oh, I've had this for about 3-4 years." Wound care at the hospital costs precious money and rarely is it deemed valuable enough. So they sit out in these remote villages with chronic wounds. Steve's ministry brings hope to these people. It was the main reason that a church started here at Dekpo last December when we were on furlough.

We trade places after a couple of hours of wound care and I continue my study of the Book of John. All of these people are non-literate, so my teaching requires a style based on such. Alot of REPETITION and storytelling. Trying to get them to tell the story once they've heard it. And we do alot of memorization. Haven't found good success with verse-by-verse memorization, but certainly certain key verses. Last week was....of course....John 3.16. However, there's nothing like sharing that scripture with people who have NEVER heard it before you tell them. The light in their eyes is really something.

Today's lesson was 2-part. The first was a lesson about the woman at the well. We focused on (1) Jesus' willingness to speak to a Samaritan....POINT: Jesus has no enemies...only desires reconciliation with everyone. (2) Jesus is the Water of Life.....POINT: If we put our trust in Him, we will never dry up! The second lesson was about the official's son being healed at a distance. Still an amazing story....that when the father returns to find his son well, and he asks about what time it was when he got better and BAM!!!....he figures out it was the exact hour he was with Jesus. He's more at amazed at Jesus, but we all should be amazed at his faith!!

Our study of John is focusing on the following FIVE TRUTH STATEMENTS (we work on these each time....after 3 lessons, most are getting most of it!):

#1 - God is Light and has from the beginning of time desired peace with all mankind!
#2 - Sin is Darkness and we stand condemned because of it!
#3 - Satan is the Deceiver and the Enemy of God and all believers are at war with him all the time!
#4 - Jesus, God's only Son, came to earth to be:

- the Water of Life
- the Bread of Life
- the Light of the World
- the Healer
- the Conquering Victor
- the Sacrifice for Sin
- the King
- the Way
- the Truth
- the Life

#5 - We are Jesus' disciples and His witnesses. We continue the ministry of Jesus so that all mankind would repent in anticipation of the return of Christ!

These truths all come from John (we could add more but these are the ones God helped me come up with). Like John 3.16, these are truths these new believers are hearing for the very first time.


My mom has recorded tons of different TV shows from the States and we are loving watching them (a real escape from this place!) Just finished LOST....confused and bored at first, but as the season went on, I got hooked....loved the finale (not because a kid gets kidnapped but because it's truly a cliffhanger). We're big West Wing fans, and although I was not surprised by the finale, it does make it fun to think about the next season's election of a new president. NYPD Blue is a rough show, and have only watched a few over the years, but this is the finale season. It's always interesting (Law & Order is that way too). No, we don't watch TV all day long, but at nights, we are certainly not pulled in different directions like in the States so we have more free time in the evenings. Alot of times, I'll just love watching the commercials just to feel "current".


Some dear friends gave us a VERY NICE financial gift this past month...we are SO thankful for their generosity. They, too, are in ministry so they understand how special such gifts are....as I said in one of the recent posts, we are SO BLESSED! Thanks dear friends!!!

Just asked the Blogger to run a SpellCheck on this posting and guess what word was not in their dictionary...."blog".... :)

-Rockin Randall

Sunday, June 26, 2005


On Thursday, we had the privilege of being treated as royalty! Our dear friend and international ministry colleague in Christ, Judy Miller, had a group of visitors coming from the States. Judy is a Southern Baptist missionary, and the group was coming from her home church in Kentucky.

We were invited to a luncheon at a super nice beach resort in Benin (yes one does exist despite this being one of the poorest nations on earth...obviously the target market is rich expatriates like ourselves, not the locals). As lunch was being prepared to be served, the American visitors starting handing out gift bags for all the missionaries. They were stocked with goodies from home, including toys for all the missionary kids. So nice of them.
Lunch was paid for by them and included our choice of chicken or steak kabobs, roasted chicken or fish with rice and french fries, plus chocolate crepes for dessert! It was all their treat. Incredible.

We enjoyed an afternoon at the pool with the sounds of the ocean waves just 100 yards away. As we were packing up to leave, a lady came by to each missionary family with children and handed us a large sack full of macaroni and cheese!! She said at their Baptist church, all the kids were studying missions and the teachers were explaining how life is different on the mission field. To one kids great shock, "you mean there are kids on the mission field who can't eat macaroni and cheese whenever they want???" As a result, admission to next week's bible hour was a box of macaroni and cheese. Our kids' eyes lit up and guess what we had for dinner when we got home at 8pm?!

We just thought we were finished. An older couple then opened up a trunk and proceded to explain that they had heard that our DVD player had gone out a couple of weeks ago (when they were generously asking what they could bring to bless all the missionaries, Judy told them that our DVD had went kaput; they said immediately, "we'll buy it for them.") So they pulled out of the trunk a super nice DVD/VCR combo that we got hooked up the very next morning. Everyone is so happy around here!

There are many days where life as a missionary is hard. Sometimes it is so hard that you want to just say, "enough, I'm going home." (And yes, HOME for us is America...we have a home here, but HOME is still the good ol' USA!) Somedays, the distance from family and friends, and candidly, the absence of luxuries and conveniences just puts a damper on life here. But on days like Thursday, we recognize what a privilege it is, and are so very thankful for Americans who have a heart for missions and for missionaries. Their generosity was overwhelming! And while denominationalism on the mission field is not prevalent like it is the States, it is still amazing that some Americans from Baptist church would be willing to spend their money on some Church of Christ missionaries they don't even know. A spirit of unity and generosity all in one day!

As we were laying in bed ready for sleep, Kelly joked and said, "there'll come a day, when we'll be back in America and strangers won't buy us such nice gifts because we're no longer missionaries"! HA!

-Rockin' Randall

Monday, June 20, 2005

Well it's back to work . . .

After a week of relaxation here in Ghana, it's hard to go back to work!! 7 full days of having fun, eating good food, resting, fellowshipping with friends, all with no demands on our time (or money) and no stress (relative to life in Benin). It's hard to go back tomorrow.

We have to cross two borders to return home. The first is the Ghana/Togo border, which is a huge hassle. On both sides (leaving Ghana and entering Togo), there are constant demands for money, "gifts" that will encourage the police official to treat you fairly and without hassle. Such a pain. If you give in, you perpetuate a faulty system of corruption although it is occurring all around you. If you refuse, you can create long delays for yourself (not that big of a deal if you are alone, but with the wife and 3 kids in the car on a 9-hour road trip...well, it's just a hassle you don't want to have to think about). There are men and women who "work the border" for you, offering to facilitate some of the paperwork in hopes that you reward them in the end. I usually follow this route, because it's not a bribe and the man or woman is doing me a service by talking directly with the customs/border officials face-to-face so I don't have to. Costs me about $10/USD so it's worth it in my mind. But it's still a hassle I wish didn't exist. Why can't the borders be straight-forward, hassle-free, and most importantly, corruption-free. Why can't it be like crossing from Texas to Oklahoma (where all you do is honk at the Texas sign when you drive by!)

So it's back to work....a Leader's Meeting on Saturday and an All-Together (all 5 churches) Worship assembly on Sunday. Wish I could say Sunday was something I absolutely loved...in some ways it's a big stress. Not only do I have to prepare a lesson and actually present it in another language that I still struggle to express my deepest thoughts, but then it's the barrage of requests I get at the end ("Randy, I need to see you..." means "I need money and it's urgent!") Usually on the Sunday of the All-Together, I can get up to 5 different requests for money, or at least requests for appointments (where they come and ask for money). I love being generous, but it is hard to discern when everyone is in need. Our churches are full of people without food, orphans (who in their teens need lots of help), and women who have all but been abandoned by their husbands (who say they go the capital city to get a good job so they can send money home...only they never do). So the requests are all somewhat legitimate, yet the funds are limited. A missionary colleague in West Africa once told me,

"The hardest thing about being a missionary in West Africa is not the homesickness, loneliness or even culture shock...it's been a rich man in one of the poorest regions in the world."

True for me as well.

So while I have anticipation of reuniting with some of our close Aja Christian friends, there's the demands of ministry that I honestly do not look forward to at all! (Can I be candid on my own blog?)

Ega (old photo from 2002) Posted by Hello

Our dear friend Ega (above) and his wife are due to have a baby any day now (may have happened while we were away, but most likely by the end of the month). Pray for her, Lokadi (low-kah-dee). They have 3 other children. I have already been commissioned to name the baby! I got to name their last child. I chose Azari (ah-zah-ree) based on the Aja pronounciation of the English name, Azariah, meaning "the Lord helps." It is the Hebrew name for Abednego from the famous trio of the book of Daniel. Azari was Ega's first son, so I chose the name because in the Aja culture, to have a son is your "social security", someone to take care of you (including food, health, etc.) when you get too old to take care of yourself. "Daughters marry men from other towns or countries so they move away" is the thought. We don't know yet the sex of this new baby, so we'll keep this blog updated as we hear the good news.

-Rockin' Randall

I Sure Love My . . .

My kids and I have this thing we say to each other all the time. It's a thing that Tori and I started a while back for her and since we worked together to create one Timo (Jonathan's is TBD). Usually around bedtime, I express my love for her like this:

I sure love my daughter
More than my otter
Who swims in hotter water
No, it's COLD water!! (usually yelling as loud as she can)

Ok, it's really kinda silly and makes no sense, but it came out of a time when we were working on rhymes with her a few years back. Here's Timothy's:

I sure my son
More than my honey bun
That cooks in the sun until it's done
And then it goes to live in the honey bun house! (accompanied with tickling Timo's tummy)

According to Tori, the honey bun house is your stomach because that's where they go when you eat them. Cute.

Jonathan's is still in development....

-Rockin' Randall

Daddy & Timothy - Happy Father's Day

Daddy & Timothy Posted by Hello

I love this guy...he is all boy and takes every bit of energy I have! He can whack you upside the head if you're not watching, and then later snuggle up with you and give you a big fat lip kiss. At this stage in life, our hands are hurting from swatting him so often, yet our sides hurt just as much from laughing at the things he does that are truly hysterical. He calls his sister "Toe-Toe" (Tori) and newborn brother "Nawn-Nawn-Nawn" (Jonathan). He's in early stages of potty training and doing great with the easiest of the two. I love this guy so much!!

Daddy & Jonathan - Happy Father's Day

Daddy & Jonathan Posted by Hello

This little guy is so cute...in a "motor-mouth" stage where he runs his lip like a motor boat and sprays your face good! He is an eater and sleeper right now. You can do nothing better than to just put him down in his crib if he is tired...not much on the rocking to sleep thing. It's like he's saying, "put me down and let me work this out myself!" He also doesn't care much if you are holding him and NOT looking straight at him...it's like "what's the point?!" But when you do, you can get the biggest smile from this cutie kid and it'll melt your heart. Everyone says he looks like Kelly's dad....do you think so? Even all of our African friends who have met Morton on his trips to Benin agree.

Mommy, Daddy & Tori - Happy Father's Day

Mommy, Daddy, and Tori Posted by Hello

One of my Father's Day presents is to get pictures of all my favorite people...Kelly and the kids! I love this one of my girls. Kelly is as beautiful as ever and my very best friend. We still laugh so much together and I love her so much more than I did 10 years ago (it'll be our official 10 year wedding anniversary in December). She is the best wife and mother!!

Tori is a treasure! So incredibly smart, very funny, and super compassionate. She drew me a great Father's Day card....a cute rendition of our morning pancake breakfasts that happen at least once a week. I love the respect she has for me, and at the same time, love receiving those great big Tori-Bug hugs from her. Sometimes she loves to show her love to me by punching me in the stomach as hard as she can (usually I prefer to be looking and be forewarned...sometimes it doesn't work that way). We love to hug as well as get into some pretty awesome wrestling matches. Or better yet, "king of the mountain" which is who can be the last one on our bed. She is strong and has on numerous occasions actually outwrestled me and pushed me off our king size bed! I love you, Bug!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Relaxing in Ghana

Greetings from Accra, Ghana!

Yesterday Kelly and I arrived, along with our kids and teammates, for a week of much-anticipated and may I say, well-earned time off! We joke to each other that we can't believe we get to spend 7 days spending all of our time, money, and energy on ourselves!! (Those in ministry will understand this selfish sounding tone).

Ghana is great....well not all of it, but Accra is so much fun. We don't have any place like this in Benin. The capital of Benin is nothing like Accra. Here, we get to eat at fast food restaurants and go to large nice grocery stores!! Just so you can appreciate, we bought the following items here because we can't get them ever in Cotonou:

Welch's Strawberry Squeeze Jelly
Betty Crocker Cake Mixes (with tub icing!)
Frozen strawberries

and well, there's alot more but Kelly did all the picking out so I can't think of each item....I just know we spent alot of money, but got alot of good stuff (stuff is cheaper here in Ghana, too....much better prices than in Benin).

Tomorrow we're going swimming at this super fancy 5-star beach resort hotel....amazing, can't wait. Yesterday, we ate at the Food Court where there is a Pizza Inn!! Later in the week, I think for Father's Day I've been told, we are going back to the resort hotel where there is a Japanese habachi grill restaurant! Lots of fun things to do, eat, and great souvenirs/Christmas presents (hey, we gotta plan early when we have little access to things in Benin!)


We thought you'd enjoy seeing a picture of us and the Prices at the Japanese Hibachi restaurant...yes, in West Africa! This is located inside the 5-start resort hotel located in Accra, Ghana. The chef is showing off for Tori (who applauds at each trick, so he is having a blast). The back of Timothy's head just looks cute, huh?! Austin Price and his mom, Dawna, are sitting next to Tori. We had a great time, and although expensive, it wasn't near the cost of these types of restaurants in the States. What a treat!