Monday, October 31, 2005

Wish this had a sound byte so you could hear all the laughter! Posted by Picasa

Timo and Tori loved getting out the new pool we brought back from America last time. It's been getting alot hotter lately.  Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Laurance is a great help with the kids! Posted by Picasa

Tori inspecting some of God's creations Posted by Picasa

Timo loves pudding! Posted by Picasa

Pringles Picnic on the Porch Posted by Picasa

Andy & Melissa Johnson (missionaries in Burkina Faso) - we loved having them in our home last weekend Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 28, 2005

Back Online!

Written on
OCT 28 2005

As of 7:30p tonight, we are back online! It's been 2 weeks without a phone line so we've missed blogging and more importantly, catching up on other blogs!

During our absence:

The baby-naming ceremony was at our house for Adrien and his wife...and their baby boy...named...Jeremiah (Jeremie in French; with those little accent things).

Another baby was born just last night to Gabriel and his wife…a baby girl! Miracles, I tell you, when a baby is born healthy here in Benin! Praise the Lord!! Gabriel came to my house earlier in the evening just to tell me that his wife had gone into labor and that they had rushed her to the clinic…then a few hours later deep at night, to tell me the good news! He was so thrilled he could have busted. He was full of praises for our Almighty God. Since we just named the son of his other wife (the boy was named Etienne, the French name for Stephen), I would suspect we’ll get another invitation for this new girl with the other wife. Don’t ask about the polygamy, too complicated.

Our friend for many years, Joseph (also our landlord and our former language teacher and former evangelist and teacher) declared a divorce from his first wife, Josephine, last weekend. It was an ugly scene apparently, and their girls are devastated. His wife (and what he once called his best friend from when they were younger) has been told to leave the house and return to her family. Last year about this time, Joseph was secretly engaged in the taking of a second wife, unknown to any us of around him and in rebellion to church practice. The second wife had a baby boy in August and now it is believed that instead of trying to manage two homes, he just needed to divorce the first and is supposedly having the other woman move in…can’t see that working…we know his girls and they love their Mom (kids stay with the father in situations like this because he has the official rights). Divorce is ugly in any culture. After disfellowshipping Joseph in December of last year (hoping for repentance), our hearts have wavered back and forth…certainly angry about the secrecy, betrayal, and the consequences of his actions on his family and the church…but missing our special friendship we’ve enjoyed with Joseph since the day we arrived in Benin in 1999. Even Thursday, Kelly was in town talking with the phone company when Joseph pulled up on his motorcycle…they had a nice cordial visit. Upon returning home, we mulled over how to exert our influence to get Joseph back into the church (not a well-thought-out-thought; just emotions). And then to find out just today of the events that took place last weekend. Pray for Joseph’s repentance and a strong measure of comfort for Josephine and the girls.

I spent the afternoon and evening (from 3:30p – 9p) going with a church leader, Matthias (mah-tee-ahs), to the leprosy treatment center. Matthias’ cohort, named Janvier (john-vee-ay) has the beginning stages of leprosy and was in need of some treatment, so they took him to the leprosy center last week. Then they got word that Janvier’s uncle had died, so Matthias was going to again have to make the 2-hour trip on a motorcycle to go and get him. I was already scheduled to teach in Matthias’ village (Ainahoue; yee-nah-way) in the evening, so we left a little early and we went to get Janvier with our truck (I “thought” we could make the run in about an hour). About half-way down the road, Matthias says, “you know, when I was there last, the road was kinda bad.” I take notice when I hear that. “How bad…is it passable?” Matthias very calmly said, “let’s just wait and see.” As the storm rages around us and the rain starts pouring down, the sighs from the passenger side seem as ominous as the clouds and lightning around us. As we head down the dirty path, I can tell pretty quickly that this particular road is not passable…we were skidding and sliding like we were on ice. So we managed to turn around and Matthias suggested we go back home. Ever the optimist (or more likely a glutton for making everyone happy), I said, “well I bet we could come at it from the other direction.” Matthias was happy (mission accomplished). So we head WAY out of the way (no longer fitting into the 1-hour route)….only to find ourselves slipping and sliding on another dirt path! And this time, we just about slid off into the deep ditch. So with me driving and four Africans (only one I knew) pushing, the Lord got us back on the road and we eventually made it to the sign on the road “Leprosy Treatment Center”. I was thrilled! Then I asked, “how much farther off this road is it…I can’t see the facility, can you?” Matthias most optimistically replied, “only 3 more kilometers” (that’s 2.5 miles). And this was not even a road…roads have visible flooring and some semblance of pathway. This was just a warn-out mud puddle that lasted for a few miles. Not near as eager to people-please, I flagged down a motorcycle and I told Matthias, “we’re gonna negotiate with this guy to take you down this path and get Janvier and bring him back to the truck…I’m not risking us getting stuck here!” In typical African form, Matthias spent 10 minutes negotiating the price, starting at $2 and finally ending up at the equivalent of $1.45. At this point, candidly I will admit to being a frustrated American rather than a selfless servant. As I watched the sunset with nothing but anxiety, I was imagining having to spend the night on this lonely dirt path in the middle of Nowhere, West Africa! So I sat there, for almost an entire hour, turned on the car and AC and thought, “I deserve a nap.” That didn’t last a wink before passerby-after-passerby knocked on the window to see what the troubled white man needed, obviously out of place and possibly in need of assistance. I was amiable at first, then I just ignored them. Real missionary-like, huh? Guess I should have seized the moment for a spontaneous roadside evangelistic campaign.

Anyway, I did go ahead and review and revise my lesson I was still planning on giving when we got back to their village. Then about 6:45p, Matthias and Janvier showed up. I was so happy, but honestly I was already overwhelmed about driving those slippery muddy roads at night (after 7p) that I didn’t even greet Janvier in the proper Aja greeting. Now it was pitch black dark and we’re still navigating small dirt roads with lots of school kids, bicyclers and motorcycles (and a few other daring autos as well)…not my favorite time to be driving. I was so tired that I hardly even spoke to my two friends until we got back on the highway (we do have a paved road here, you know…only one though). We returned to their village (they are too far out for electricity) and found the meeting place abandoned and also pitch black dark…I guess since we were 2 hours late they gave up on us. We then drove to the other side of the village where I was to just “drop Janvier off.” That’s an American concept you know. You don’t do curb-side drop-offs here. I was trying to do it when I got the look from Matthias that said, “get out of the air conditioned car, you silly American, and come in to greet all the family that has gathered for Janvier’s uncles’ funeral.” Yes, the Lord reminded me that I was there to be Light and I promptly agreed and we were able to be a blessing to Janvier’s cousin who had lost his dad. My flesh is often weak, but praise God for His Spirit.

I came back home about 9p and found our phone back on and Kelly looking at her sister’s new blog. We’re so excited to have the phone line back working again!

We had a great visit with our friends, Andy and Melissa Johnson, last weekend. They are missionaries in Burkina Faso to the north of us and we loved having them here for 2 nights. What a blessing it is to share fellowship and community, even when you have to drive hours to find it! We are excited about seeing some of our other missionary friends from Togo (a half-day’s drive for them) at Tori’s birthday party in just over a week (a cowgirl theme…at the beach! to come)

Here’s some fun pictures of the kids….Tori and Timothy love playing together (even if they competitively bring out the antagonistic side of one another!)…they loved having a Pringles Picnic on our front porch surrounded by our dachshunds (Booker and Sparkle).

Timo is also shown having a super time making chocolate pudding with Mommy! Tori had a homework assignment to go on a tour around our house to explore the wonderful world of God’s creations…here she is inspecting some exotic West African bug with her magnifying glass. The picture at the bottom is of Laurance, our dear friend who helps us several days a week with cleaning the house and with the kids...what would we do without her?! When Kelly’s doing school with Tori and I’m working, Laurance is a lifesaver with Jonathan and Lael…here she even gets a little overwhelmed when both kids are hungry at the same time!


We have our monthly leaders’ meeting tomorrow and then Sunday is our cluster-wide convention (again, every month, rotating between the different villages where we have congregations). This Sunday is the grand opening of our church plant at Gbotayidohoue (remember “bow-tie” for short). This past week, we baptized 55 young people! There are several adults already in the church and I’m told another 15-20 baptisms will be Sunday morning before worship. God is doing something really big there…and I’m thrilled because this church plant is primarily the work of Aja Christians).

HarvestSunday at the Richland Hills Church of Christ is coming soon…November 13th. We are joining our home church in praying for a provision of over $1.3 million for reaching lost people through domestic and international mission efforts!

That’s all for now…had a lot to tell after being out of pocket for 2 weeks!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Well let's see, the most significant outage is our phone...
it's been out for a couple of weeks now. Very frustrating.
At first we thought it was all over town.  Then we learned
that it was OUR phone only.  Service is what you might expect
in West Africa...slow.  We solicit prayers that it'll be back
up and running by this week!
The water is out as we speak. 
A flat tire earlier in the week.
The bathtub drain valve thingamajig broke 2 weeks ago.
The front gate key snaps in two as we leave for church. 
The AC in our car went out to the tune of $300. 
Two light bulbs burned out yesterday.  AAUUGGHHH!!!
Things are just shutting off, breaking down
or falling apart all over the place!  If you're happy
and you know it, clap your hands.
Even Timo looked at the sky the other day,
examining the low clouds and said,
"sky is coming down!"
I thought,
"well, that'd fit right in with everything else this week!"
Last week, during a pretty nasty storm, I was getting ready
to turn off the transformer/regulator that we have our TV,
stereo and DVD player hooked up to.  Normally, I simply turn
off the power switch during storms.  But as I was looking at it,
I heard that voice urge me to just UNPLUG everything, not
just turning it off.  Within 2 minutes, we heard a loud POP! 
As I opened up the door to inspect the area around the
cabinet where the transformer is, smoke poured out of the
socket where I had things plugged in!  Pretty sure the thing is
fried, and so thankful for those angelic voices who prompt
us with things (prompting the question: does God care about
small things such as protecting my TV from a lightning strike? 
does God care if I get a close parking spot at the mall?
does God care if which team wins the game, even when
people on both sides of the field are hailing up last-minute
pleas for His Sovereign intervention?) 
We just sent out an email to several hundred people telling them
that we would no longer send our email updates, but instead
communicate via our blog several times a week...
...the very week that our phone goes dead!  So if you are one
of the newcomers to this blog, don't lose hope.  Don't give up!
Keep checking in!  Hopefully this week, we'll be back up.
Another baby dedication tonight.  A little boy this time. 
Name TBD (by 4pm today I'm hoping for a little divine
guidance concerning the name).
We DO have some good news concerning the inauguration
of a new church plant in the village of Gbotayidohoue
(we call it "bow-tie" for short).  A huge group of
young people and adults will be baptized later this week. 
More later....
(I am posting this from the phoneline at the Baptist Guesthouse,
in Cotonou, 3 hours away from our home)

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Check back later !

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Thanks for checking our blog. Unfortunately, our phone line is out of service so we are unable to update our blog at this time. Please pray that our phone service will be functional soon so we can keep everyone up to date on our work and life in Benin.

Check back later !

-Randy & Kelly Vaughn

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Two Different Worlds


Talk about two different worlds. Sunday is a work day for me, never a day of rest. I was down the road a bit in the village of Kaiteme for worship this morning. I walked back home in the scorching heat. Took a brief nap (poor Kelly gets “day care” with the kids all day pretty much), then I was off again by 4pm. I stopped by one village to pick up a some of the Christians in another village nearby. We were heading to a village called Gbotayidohoue (just call it “Bow-Tie” for short). Our evangelism team has been working in “Bow-Tie” for several months. We are just about ready to launch a new church plant there. It’s a typical rural African village. We were meeting under an open-air meeting place of palm branches laid on top of 5”diameter sticks. Nothing fancy and certainly no A/C (by the way, the A/C is out in our truck, too!) The red dirt floor turned to mud from the rains we’ve had the past couple of days. Some of the team preached a little, others prayed, and we called for a list of those who wanted to follow Christ and be baptized. (Note: Although I believe we have and are teaching a high view of baptism, since water is 15+miles away, we “schedule” baptisms, often it seems as if we do them about every three months or so; we rarely do any on-the-spot-Ethiopian-eunuch-style baptisms.) Anyway, that’ll come in about 2 weeks. After we were done, we headed back just as it started to rain again. The dirt paths around this area were washing away right in front of us, so the one-lane truck path converted to a narrow motorcycle path quickly. Thankfully, with four-wheel drive, we made it through by using the water-filled ditches for traction. Definitely some off-roadin’ going on! After dropping off the guys in their village (where there is no electrical power), I came down the road closer to our house where we do have power…normally. Whenever a storm approaches, the electric company shuts off the power all over town until the storm passes. Needless to say, we love storms (the smell of rain is great wherever you are and the cooler temps are nice), but we dread them in the evening when the power goes out…get out the candles!! Kelly’s gone through just about every candle we brought back from America last time (we are at the end of rainy season). Fortunately, just as I was pulling up, the power was restored! Don’t know what context your kids learned the phrase, “Hallelujah!”, but for ours it was not in church…it has been when the power comes back on!

I’ll confess something to you. I am “suffering” from a bad head cold (so is Jonathan and so is Lael). No, that’s not the confession. With my head throbbing and finding it virtually impossible to breathe, it’s a little hard for me to concentrate on speaking the Aja language, and even harder to understand it when others are talking really fast. So during the evangelism meeting, my mind tuned out for a while to nothing but English. What came to my mind? The Cowboys’ game vs. the Giants! It was going on at the same time I was sitting in this hot and dirty African village…I was imagining myself sitting alongside my brother, DV, watching the game at his house, or better yet, sitting in the stands eating nachos and drinking a Diet Coke (or is it Pepsi products at Texas Stadium?) I’d snap back to reality from time to time, but I will tell you, that as soon as I walked in the door, I went to our computer.

After several days of frustrating phone connections (or lack thereof), I was able to get connected to the internet right away. I went to my FoxSports website to catch the scores and saw the Cowboys were up by 4 points in the 4th quarter. The site refreshes itself after each play, so I could keep up…but then the game just got too exciting. So I did a Google search and found LIVE streaming audio of the Cowboys’ game (with Brad and Babe!) broadcasting from…a Spanish-speaking Catholic radio station out of Laredo (TX)…it was such a clear connection (got knocked off a couple of times, but got right back on…no that’s internet talk, not talking about riding horses). I got to listen to the rest of the game, even as it went into OT! Great game Cowboys…first place in the NFC East!!! When I am in America, I prefer listening to the Dallas Cowboys Radio Network (with Brad Sham and Babe Laufenberg) over listening to the TV commentators…so it was like old times!

I dragged Kelly to sit with me and listen to the last part of the game (actually she got into it…it was just that it was almost 9pm here and she deserved a night’s sleep after a day with all the kids by herself…thanks SBG for watching it with me!) When it was over, I called Donny and we talked about the game and about ACU Homecoming Weekend. When I got off the phone, Kelly and I were talking about how amazing it is that we can be in such different frames of mind at various times in our living here in Benin…sometimes, we are 100% in the Africa thing…and other times our minds think about home, we get to connect with friends and family in America on a blog or on the phone, or even get to listen to America’s Team win a game on a Sunday afternoon (night here)!


Saturday, October 15, 2005

ACU Homecoming Weekend

This weekend is Abilene Christian University’s Homecoming Weekend.  We are homesick a little for ACU…wish we could be there to see lots of friends.  Plus, this is our sister-in-law’s Coming Home court…Kendra was Homecoming Queen back in 1995.  Wish we could be there to see that!  Missing Gamma Sigma Phi’s club breakfast, too….(except for the food throwing!)  Kelly was Class of 1992; I was one year before.  I have lost touch with so many ACU friends over the years…occasionally I’ll run across someone’s blog and reconnect…that is fun.  Next year will be my 15-year Class Reunion…can’t believe time has passed so quickly!


Thursday, October 13, 2005

I sure do love this little Kadi Lael! Posted by Picasa

Tori enjoying some sweet talk with Lael Posted by Picasa

What do you do when your hands are occupied with another baby? Teach your 2 year old to help out with serving breakfast! Posted by Picasa

Cute 2 year old Timo Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

School Supplies

Four years ago, we started a benevolent work that has continued every year since 2001.  As students prepare to return to school starting October 10th, we have once again shared some school supplies with them.  We started this several years ago with a dream that everyone in the church would bring some small offering (money or supplies…such as a pencil or a few pieces of chalk).  Well that first year, I was told that no one had any money and that it would be too hard.  I accepted that candid expression, knowing times are always tough on these folks, and we gave ALL the money for ALL the supplies.  Well that tradition continued year after year.  It’s continued to be a fun time each year around the first of October getting to distribute supplies to the students in the churches.  

Now those of you up on your Mission Principles 101….you know the principle of “reproducibility” or some like term.  It basically strongly advocates missionaries to not engage in ministries that cannot be duplicated, reproduced, copied, or sustained by the nationals once the missionary presence is gone.  We try to operate under this guideline as much as possible.  With the school supplies, I realized from the beginning that we were doing something that the locals could not replicate.  But we did it anyway as a way of providing some immediate “relief” to a difficult financial problem each year for students and their parents.  Last year however, the week after the supplies were distributed, what burdened me a lot was the realization that we were only doing something that would bless people for a few short years and it would stop!  This tradition has become so exciting for the students in the churches…even as a witness to the community that we show love to one another in the church.  But as I pondered the remaining years toward phasing out, I was burdened by having started something marvelous that the Aja people couldn’t sustain or continue.

So I shared my burden with my dear friend (and Lael’s birth father), Ega.  Knowing his generous heart (yet nervous because he’s a very poor man), I asked him if he could think about joining me in giving some money toward the school supplies for 2005.  He immediately jumped at the chance and agreed to it!  Granted I was thrilled, but honestly, it would have to be one of those “I’ll believe it when I see it” kind of things.  A lot of people in this world can make promises about giving money.  I then asked Ega if he thought I should invite our mutual friend, Sossa, into this effort.  Being in the same extended family, Ega insisted Sossa participate.  Well, while he was a little more reluctant at first, Sossa did contribute each month.  So did Ega.  Even during the month that his wife died, Ega came to my house with his offering.

All total, including what I contributed, we spent $200 on the school supplies for all 5 churches (120 students altogether).  I’m so excited to tell you that Sossa’s and Ega’s combined portion was about $48!  Now we’re a little far from this being 100% Aja money (it will have to be, once we phase out in a few years), but I’m so thrilled that we’re up almost 25% from last year!  As we distributed the supplies this year, I didn’t shy away from giving some recognition to my dear Aja friends, Ega and Sossa.  You should have seen the looks on the faces of their peers when it was announced!  Those of you who have been here and met Ega, it’s not hard for you to imagine that Ega would take the floor after my “speech” and he rallied everyone together and began asking for names of people who would join Sossa and him in contributing to next year’s school supplies.  I told Ega, “I would love to have 50% of this offering funded next year by Aja people.”  He said, “No, how about 60%!”  We’ve already had a few folks “express” intentions to participate.

Ega did some research before we bought the supplies this year, determining what each student needed according to his/her classification.  I know we didn’t provide everything they needed, but we got some blissful feedback when the students opened their sacks filled with pens, pencils, rulers, chalk, erasers, and notebooks.  We called the students from each congregation to come a different day last week to our house.  Ega and Sossa joined me to distribute the sacks, pray and give exhortation.  In the previous years, this has been a 100% funded-by-the-missionary project…this year, it was a great joy to share this with some of my dearest Aja brothers.  I love thinking about this specific benevolent work continuing long after we are gone.  And now Ega, Sossa and other Aja people are getting the idea that they CAN be just as generous long after the rich white missionary is gone.  We live in an impoverished region of the world and one of the greatest hurdles is having the new Christians trust God in relation to finances, especially giving.  One of the statements that brings me fear and sadness is “once you are gone, we don’t know how the church will continue to grow and be exciting for everyone” (I don’t hear it all the time, but more than I wish).

This offering of school supplies is a tangible project that benefits their young people and I know they have told me it is a great witnessing tool in their communities.  And it’s not just a missionary project anymore.  May the Lord receive ALL the glory as we join with our Aja Christian friends in living out the generous heart of God among the people here.

Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices.
Then they'll be won over to God's side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.  (1P.2.12, from THE MESSAGE)

Saturday, October 08, 2005

First Week of School

Tori and I (Kelly) just completed our first week of first grade. We have had so much fun. There is so much more material to cover in first grade and so we are getting use to a longer school day. We start at 8:15 and finish around 1:00. That is the plan and we were able to keep to it 4 of the 5 days this week. Normally, my house help and good friend Laurance is here to help me with the other children and keep my house in order. However, this week due to taking care of her very sick mother, she has been unable to come to work at my house. Whenever she returns I am thinking of doubling her pay!!! I am so thankful for Tori’s abundant energy and enthusiasm for school because I know this provided her with needed endurance and flexibility as we did school and at times entertained little ones.

When Tori and I go to school we play a game that Tori seems to really enjoy. She does not want to call me Mom. I am her Teacher. This is especially thrilling for me as her Mom, because she talks to me about her family and her thoughts about how and where her family lives and her various thoughts about different aspects of her life as if I were someone other than her mother. Our day begins with getting ready for school and when it is time to go, I kiss her goodbye and she walks out the door. She then either walks or rides her bike around the house and comes to the schoolroom door. As she has circled the house, I have gone on to the schoolroom so I can then greet her as the Teacher when she arrives. After our initial greetings, we begin with the pledge of allegiance and prayer. Last year when we were in America, for a brief time Tori attended Fort Worth Christian. Apparently each morning after saying the pledge, they would alternate singing God Bless America one day and the FWC school song the next……………so we are finding ourselves doing the same thing! As a very loyal and proud FWC alumnus, this is a very tender thing to me to hear Tori sing the school song and it also helps us feel connected to the special friends that we made there last year. We pretend that our school is the Benin branch of Fort Worth Christian!

Our curriculum includes the subjects of Bible, Spelling, Language Arts, Social Studies, Math, Science, and Penmanship. We are using a Christian curriculum and we are so blessed as we are finding ourselves in the Word all day long. This is a quality time with Tori that I truly treasure right now. I am a blessed mother and teacher!

Once we have finished school we return home and every minute has been filled with feeding two babies, playing with Timothy, preparing meals for the family, laundry, washing bottles and dishes, greeting and spending time with our African friends, and practicing reading with Tori. No naps this week! I have missed having a helping hand in Laurance and I am hoping that she will be returning soon. Randy has been a wonderful help when he has been available and yet he has maintained a very busy schedule as well with the churches this week (I know you will be hearing more about that soon in a post in the next day or two!)

- Kelly

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


With the skill of reading improving each day, Tori loves the reading corner of her schoolroom. Posted by Picasa

Tori loves her desk inside the schoolroom (which also doubles as a guestroom...hence the bed in the background). Kelly worked so hard last week getting the room all rivals any 1st Grade classroom anywhere in the world! Posted by Picasa

Timo, being bashful?????? Posted by Picasa

Tori's favorite teacher is eager to greet Tori with a 1st Grade hug and a kiss!  Posted by Picasa

Our schoolroom is adjacent to the house, so that's where Tori goes every morning at 8:15am! Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 03, 2005

Weekend Update

Back to school! Yes, those of you in America may think we are running a bit behind, but actually, the Benin kids start there school Oct 10th (“summer break” months of Aug/Sept). Since we homeschool, we are getting a jump and starting tomorrow. Kelly has been preparing our schoolroom during her “in-service” this past week and everything is ready! Tori will start 1st grade. She is very excited! We’ll try and post some pictures of the first day of school (like all of our American friends did back in August!)

Today is our day off (school is Tues-Sat). We treat this as best we can as our Sabbath day…a day of rest. It’s a challenge with 4 kids to find “quiet time” in the day, but we certainly enjoy the day without any ministry responsibilities. Our minds need the rest! We try our best to incorporate prayer and Bible study into our rest day; as well, allowing ourselves the freedom to enjoy whatever offers our body and mind true rest and relaxation (yes, naps count...).

This is our second day with no electrical power. For a few hours yesterday the water was off as well. Thankfully the water is now back on and we can cool off and clean up with showers!

Today is a little different. We have been invited to a lunch at our friend Sossa’s house. He and his wife just had a baby and we were given the honor of naming the baby. A few weeks ago, just after the delivery, they came asking for a name to put on the birth certificate. Today, we have been invited to a more ceremonial opportunity to pronounce the name, and more importantly, its significance. We chose the name AndrĂ© (from Andrew in English). Most Christians really want their baby names to come from Scripture so we went there as our source. Kelly of course has a fondness for the name…her youngest brother is Andy. Then we thought more of the example Andrew is in Scripture. (1) A man of missionary conviction: from John 1.41, we see it was because of Andrew’s evangelistic heart that Peter was shown the Messiah. As someone once said, “while Peter was spiritual father to the many disciples at Pentecost, it was Andrew who was their spiritual grandfather.” A good example of when we introduce Jesus to just one person, we never know how many people that one disciple will lead to Jesus! (2) A man of optimistic faith: when Jesus faces daunting task of feeding the crowd of thousands, it is Philip (Jn 6.7) who first offers a pessimistic outlook on the situation (“it’d take 8 months’ wages…”). When asked by the Lord to “go and see” how many loaves the disciples could find (Mk 6.38), it is Andrew (Jn 6.8) who returns with 5 loaves and then a couple of fish on top of that! (3) A man of abandoned discipleship: from Mk 1.16-18, we see the characteristic describing many of the disciples, “at once they…followed him.” It is always a privilege to participate in such an intimate responsibility as naming someone else’s child!

Some day I’ll post about the first time I named a child here…short version: my former teammate and I inadvertently give a girl’s name to a boy! (We were so new, how were we to know?!) Reminded me of the ol’ Johnny Cash song, “Boy Named Sue.”

We had a busy weekend, but a good one. Our monthly leaders’ meeting went really well. Two or three leaders (or those aspiring to be) from each of the congregations attended. We study the Word, talk about problems in the churches, share prayer requests, handle administrative stuff, and usually share a meal together (thanks Kelly!) Saturday, I added a new dimension: pastoral counsel training in a case study format. Like most missionaries, I have hundreds of “cases” in my head file that I could draw from over the years of ministry. I chose a recent one (based on a recent question from a church leader in a different region). I then gave the leaders at the meeting some time to mull over the dilemma facing the Christians in the presented simulation. For almost 2 hours, these guys shared thoughts from Scripture (some knowing actual verses; some just knowing the idea was in the Word) or personal experiences/testimonies that helped the group formulate a response to our case study. I was very impressed, not only with their resultant response, but super impressed with the PROCESS of getting there (very communal which encouraged me; everyone participated, not just a few dominate personalities). We’ll add this dimension to our leaders’ meetings from now on. I think it is good training. If you missionaries out there care to offer other suggestions on how to offer good real-life pastoral training, please pass them along!!

Sunday was our monthly all-church cluster worship (all 5 congregations worshipping together). It was a big event and seemed to encourage everybody. These monthly gatherings are important, especially for the congregations who may only have 20 Christians in their village….but to meet with hundreds of others once a month, it’s like fuel for their soul! But it ain’t no drive-through service! We started just after 10am and I got home just before 4pm! We were also thrilled to have a great big crowd from the village of Gbotayidohoue (I call it “bow-tie” for short). We are real close there and I believe we’ll have a large group decide to follow Jesus there real soon (probably in the next couple of weeks). That’ll be our 6th congregation in this cluster! Praise God for His Spirit moving among the Aja people!!


PS: All you RHCC folks out on the lookout for our teammates, the Prices. They arrive at DFW tonight to begin their furlough. Shower them with love for us!