Monday, February 27, 2006

IT'S SNOWING IN BENIN???? No, as a matter of fact, we are sweltering through the very intense part of dry season here...the other day I put my temperature gauge outside in the direct sunlight...within 15 minutes, the thing shot up to 117 degrees!! Not that we stand in the direct sunlight much, but it gave reason to our feelings of extreme fatigue lately. PICTURE: Today is our day off and Kelly and I embarked on the job of defrosting and cleaning out our deep freezer (who knew we could be so much fun!) All of sudden the kids got involved, enjoying transporting all the shaved ice to throw away outside...but before we knew it, a "snowball" fight had ensued between Tori and Timothy! I guarantee that ice didn't last two minutes, but these wonderful kids sure made it a fun moment while they could. They came running in, screaming "our hands are freezing!" Not a line you hear often around these parts. Posted by Picasa
Steve and I were asked to join several other Christian leaders for a time of prayer for a woman named Audette and her child, Gnonlin (know-lean) who is sick. Tori on her own initiative came to the front because she was so eager to know what was wrong with this little girl...she has a precious heart, tender toward those who are sick and hurting. Posted by Picasa
Tori and her friend, Bensha, at church on Sunday. Posted by Picasa
Daddy and Timothy Posted by Picasa
We had our monthly leadership meeting Saturday. At the end of each meeting, Kelly and our long-time friend, Louise, serve the men a meal. This was the spread just before assembling all the plates...rice and fish (heads in the pot to the right of the rice)..and lots of "toppings"...most of which are too spicy for my taste. Tori and Timothy love to help serve the meals...Timo however loves to dig into the bowl of onions and tomatoes more than anything! Posted by Picasa
Timothy is Jonathan's alarm clock...early in the morning, Timo will climb into Jonathan's crib and they will play until Timo starts crying because he can't get out! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, February 25, 2006

How Beautiful are the Feet....Now Show Me the Money?

Today is BIRTHDAY DAY for:
(1) My Dad – I love you Dad!!
(2) My Sister-in-Law – Happy Birthday, Toni!
(3) and My niece – We’re so proud of you, Laura!

Thank goodness for the time difference…it’s just about midnight here on the 25th (their special day) and I just now got out the e-cards (it’s still early evening in Texas!)


Had a wonderful but exhausting 8-hour leadership meeting today. One of the topics on the agenda was their question about what the Scriptures say about paying preachers (they would all love to be on a salary paid for by us American missionaries…not going to happen I’m afraid). I was giving them a brief overview of what the Bible says....using examples of the life of Paul (tentmaking on some occasions so as not to be a burden, and at other times giving himself completely to the proclamation of the Gospel and receiving gifts from the Macedonian churches). Then I proceeded to explain a seemingly new thought to them concerning the Levites in the Old Testament. I’m no OT scholar, but I think I got the point across that the Levites received no inheritance (unlike all the other tribes of Israel) and were therefore totally dependent on the tithes and offerings of the other Israelites.

Interesting response ensued……

In America, not too many people are clamoring for a preaching post because the money is so good (although most ministered are blessed in America to receive more than adequate salaries for the most part). I don’t know many who think, “Wow, I’m a preacher, I’m set!” But that's America. Most people assume that, in thinking about the money issue alone, they can do better financially in a secular job than one can do in ministry.

In Benin, the leaders sat around the group today and upon hearing God’s plan for the Levites, they all said with shouts in their smiles, “Wow, it must be great to be a Levite!” Perplexed if by chance I missed something in the language gap…they said, “No, we think the Levites must have had it great. Everyone was obligated to give something to therefore, they had a stable income and it came in from all the other tribes.” It was like…in their mind, surrounding by a sea of poverty (and a lot of income instability from their rural agricultural lifestyle), if they were promised tithes and offerings for doing God’s work, then being a preacher could be a great gig! Different worlds, different perspectives.

I don’t mean to disrespect or insult American preachers who receive good salaries. Matt 10:10 gives you authority as a proclaimer of His Good News to receive your wages (and I personally think they should be proportionate to the Body you are a part of). And I don’t mean to mock my Aja brothers, somehow giving you the idea that all of them are just in this for the money. Far from the truth. Just a funny perspective.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

We heard about this fun idea from a friend. There is a website that will do a search on the words most frequently used on your blog and create this "word cloud". We had fun replacing a few of our frequent words with the names of family members. If your interested in doing this too, go to Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

An Interesting Take on a Famous Scripture?

My university is hosting its annual Lectureship this week.  Checked the ACU website to find the list of classes and keynote lectures (is that like saying I’ve got 7 best friends?).  Anyway, I thought all my dentist friends might want to tune in to this one Wednesday night:

7 p.m. Keynote Speaker
"You Shall Know the Tuth and the Truth Shall Set You Free"
Presenter: Dwight Robarts, Dallas, TexasLocation:  Moody Coliseum

Tuth be told, I’d love to be there.

Monday, February 20, 2006

TIMO: "Anyone wanna color?" Posted by Picasa
Jonathan loves his swing! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day!  Posted by Picasa
12 years ago today was our first Valentine's Date in Abilene, Texas. We're still having a blast together! I love my Valentine!! Posted by Picasa
Daddy's sweet Valentine girl! Posted by Picasa
Jonathan was taking his nap...sure wish he could have been in this one. Posted by Picasa
Sometimes these boys are hard to hold on to! Posted by Picasa
Mommy and her two handsome boys! Posted by Picasa
This sweetheart is on the move! She can scoot, roll and get where she wants to go! Posted by Picasa
Timo got some fun new glasses for Valentine's Day Posted by Picasa

Sunday, February 12, 2006

“Dig Down Deep and Give Your Best to God”

(See #6 below to understand the title to today’s post.)

Some highlights of the past few days:

(1) Last night, a black necked spitting cobra was killed five feet from our front gate.  I was out at a meeting until almost midnight and Kelly told me the news when I got home.  Sossa was leaving work last night around 8p as he has done since we hired him over six years ago.  He locked the gate, turned around and although he didn’t see or hear anything, he sensed evil in his spirit.  He stopped dead in his tracks and started looking around when the snake slithered across the ground in front of him.  He ran back in to get a flashlight from Kelly then spotted the snake curled up next to the wall just a few feet from the gate.  He had also grabbed his machete and took a swing but still the snake scampered away and hid under a cinder block.  He tossed a small stone at the brick and the snake shot out quickly, but Sossa’s reaction was quick and he killed it with the next whack of the machete.  Last year, one of our dogs had bravely fought off one of these cobras and lost her life protecting us.  

(2) I was gone all evening yesterday to the village of Tchatehoue (cha-tay-way).  At our last month’s leadership meeting, the Aja leaders decided they want to target each one of the villages where we have congregations with an evangelistic outreach.  One of the men in our churches has a small business where he shows DVDs for entertainment purposes in his village (he has a small generator when there is no power).  Once a month, he transports his equipment from village to villages and the JESUS Film is used to proclaim the life of Christ in an open-air setting.  I joined them in fasting throughout the day and later joined the leaders for a time of prayer just prior to the showing of the film.  Over 100 people hovered around a small TV watching the life of Christ.  A number of young people expressed interest in learning more.  We know the others, while not making any commitments to Jesus, had the Seed planted in their hearts.  While at the meeting, one of our leaders had invited a non-Christian friend to come and view the film.  He is newly married.  His wife’s father had given his blessing and permission for their union.  Apparently mother-in-law feels cheated and demanded the woman return to her home.  This young man is torn because his wife has temporarily left him because she doesn’t want to disrespect her mother.  The two parents are apparently in a heated fight over it.  Can anyone say “leave and cleave”? Pray for Anisay (ah-nee-say) and all the other parties involved.  Anisay is desperately feeling torn and also helpless because the problem is between his wife’s parents.  He is open to God’s promise of hope and was supposed to come to their church today.  

(3) Margaret Thompson returned to the States a couple of days ago.  A veterinarian by trade, Margaret is a missional believer with a heart for the nations.  She eagerly desires to use her skills and abilities to help people in caring for their animals.  Margaret was very helpful in educating us all about the most common diseases she saw.  Sometimes I just see them as pathetic looking pigs or scrawny goats.  Margaret’s knowledge helped a lot of us understand the various diseases or nutritional deficiencies plaguing them.  She was a blessing to have in our home (she always volunteered to do the dishes!) and was a real trooper with some of the inconveniences of life in West Africa.  In the 9 days she was here, she only had 2 real showers (our water’s been off more often than ever lately!)  She never complained.  She was great with the kids.  

(4) Care packages arrived this week from dear RHCC friends like Jody Allison and Jan Waller (thanks a million!!)   We also received in the same week some fun stuff from Kelly’s sister, her mother and my Mom.  Blessings to all of you!!

(5) Had two different conversations this week involving Christians involved in sexual immorality.  It is very difficult to see the affects of Satan….some rise up and defend their actions in smugness and pride; others run and hide in shame.  Some feel they deserve to gratify their flesh because they are suffering in a difficult marriage.  Others play with fire because they are young and careless.  Fatigue often fosters an environment where the enemy can make self-satisfaction seem justified.  Lord, have mercy on all of us.

(6) I have written before about some of the funniest things I’ve seen in church in Africa.  Today ranks up there among the best.  The worship leader declared to the congregation it was time for the weekly offering.  Out here in rural Benin, ladies don’t carry purses to church.  They will mostly like keep their small change tied up in a part of their skirt wrapped around their waist.  When it’s time to get out the money, they’ll untie that one section and pull out their coins.  Occasionally I have even seen a woman reach down to pull her tithe out of her bra.  Men traditionally carry their coins in their pocket.  Once in a while a man may pull out some paper money from a wallet.  As we stood up for the offering today, I couldn’t help but notice one of our senior adults standing next to the guy next to me.  This elderly man had unzipped and completely dropped his pants to the ground!  Obviously the only one culturally shocked by this “brief” exposure, I couldn’t help but stare as he reached into his briefs and pulled out this wadded up, worn currency.  I know every offering is sweet to the Lord, BUT…  

I am not mocking the man’s generosity (paper is worth a lot more) but simply thought we could have a little fun with the cultural differences between our Aja brothers and us Americans.  In light of this humorous scene at church, what would you have titled this post (see above)?  Make a comment and leave me your suggestions.  

A little afternoon entertainment from Tori and Timothy! Posted by Picasa
What a cute kid! Posted by Picasa

Friday, February 10, 2006

Lael in one of her new outfits from a party a few months ago hosted by our friend Jody Allison. Doesn't she look adorable!! She's also enjoying a new book that came from the same group of packages. We have been so abundantly blessed by dear friends from home! Posted by Picasa


I got tagged by Anthony Parker

Three of the Worst Jobs I've Had:
1. Roofing (one of the jobs I disliked the most, sorry Dad; Littlefield, TX; it was on those long day on plenty of hot roofs where my brother Donny and I would belt out that Restless Heart favorite “big dreams in a small town.”)
2. Waiter at Red Lobster in Abilene, TX (1 ½ years…of nothing but $2 tips from a bunch of cheapies…the largest tip I got was from a man who was somewhat inebriated!)
3. Computer programmer (all my friends are chuckling) for GTE (now Verizon). I spent a whole lot more time designing the covers for the programming manuals around the office than I did doing programming (my Marketing persona hard at work).

Three of the Most Fun and Fulfilling Jobs I've Had:
1. Present job as a church-planting missionary in Benin, West Africa; there are days when it is the most satisfying work I have ever done…having the privilege to walk with eager hearts wanting to know Jesus Christ!
2. Marketing Assistant for some company that makes hot dogs (forgot the name). It was actually a temporary assignment during the summer of 1991, but I got to use my Marketing degree and design a full annual report which they loved. The office environment was a blast and when we were done, the boss said, “Let’s all go to Old San Francisco Steakhouse…our treat!”
3. Assistant to the College Recruiting Director at GTE (Verizon). It was a fun summer just out of college (ACU) and I got to play the role of planning all the summers’ activities for all of GTE’s Summer Interns. It was fun and very enlightening to meet students from Purdue, USC, Penn State, Univ of Florida, etc...those happy hours were quite memorable…yes I do remember them (ha)

Four Movies I Could Watch Over and Over:
Saving Private Ryan
Air Force One
You’ve Got Mail
Steel Magnolias

Three Books I Could Read Over and Over:
I have never ever read a book over and over; but for a one-time-read I really enjoyed and could recommend:

1. DNA of Relationships (Gary Smalley; just finished it…very good!)
2. The Diary of God (Ron Rose; this is a great easy read about the history of God’s amazing and gracious work in our lives)
3. Waking the Dead (John Eldredge)

Five Places I've Lived:
Littlefield, TX – born and raised
Abilene, TX – undergrad (Marketing) and grad school (Missions) at Abilene Christian University
Fort Worth, TX – this is where I call home now
Quebec City, Quebec – studied French at Laval University…a great city!
Aplahoue, Benin – since 1999

Five TV Shows I Watch:
The West Wing
Without A Trace

Four Places I’ve Been on Vacation:
Quebec (went back a few years later)
Red River, NM
Estes Park, CO (a great honeymoon…10 years ago!)

Three Websites I Visit Daily (or whenever the phone line is up):
The Drudge Report
Mike Cope’s Blog
Blogs of Family & Friends

Four Favorite Restaurants:
1. Festival des Glaces (Cotonou, Benin) – it’s our usual anytime we’re in the capital city and you can get a bunch of different flavored ice cream (glaces); plus we’ve transformed the way we cook green beans at home because of the way they do it…garlic and butter make them taste great!
2. Taco Bueno (anywhere we can find one in America) – this is our family favorite whenever we are home on furlough; gotta love Mexi Dips n Chips. Tori was asked in school yesterday by Kelly to draw one of her favorite places to go to in America…she drew an incredible rendition of a Taco Bueno (right down to the perfect logo…gotta love it Ned!)
3. Creperie (Quebec City) – awesome crepes with strawberries and whipped cream
4. Spring Creek BBQ (Bedford, TX) – I think most of you would agree!

Three Places I’d Like to Be Right Now:
Texas (family!)
Washington DC (family!)
Colorado (because it’s cold and I’m hot here!....yesterday it was over 109 degrees in the sun and over 90 degrees in our bedroom at midnight!)

People to Tag:
The Vaughn 5

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Anyone know a repairman?

My husband is brilliant! Before we moved to Africa, I knew that Randy was a very smart man.  He works hard and he is able to discipline his mind to accomplish a complex task. Living in a remote town in the African bush presents many challenges.  One of those challenges is that when things break down, for example your DVD player or VCR, your stereo, your fridge, or your washing machine….there is no number to call, no handy repairman who can come, and there is no Best Buy where any of the above mentioned can be replaced.  All of the above mentioned items have broken down multiple times and have caused our family certain levels of stress. On many occasions Randy has been able to take apart what has been broken and repair it himself…..Amazing!

Randy has had no previous training in repairing any of these items.  He just is keenly aware of our options and sets his mind to figure things out.  Two weeks ago our washing machine quit working. This was a major stress. With 4 kids and one precious 2 year old in the midst of potty training, we have dearly missed this machine. It has also somewhat complicated matters that the water has been off for all but a few hours of these past 2 weeks. (Sossa has been hand washing our clothes in the meantime.)

Randy has been very busy the past week with lesson preparations and meetings. Yesterday was his first day off in a long time and rest, although greatly needed and desired, was not on his agenda.  His task was to discover the problem and repair our washer if at all possible. He worked for most of the day taking it apart, studying it, and putting it back together…..and it works!!!!!!!!!!!!!  How did he do that? He is brilliant and I am so proud of him. I am so thankful for his willingness to get back there and take on a task that he has never attempted before. He has certainly inspired our confidence in him! (we were not lacking any in the first place)  I love knowing that this is the example that is before my children every day.

The water has been on for almost 24 hours straight…that is the most it has been on in a very long time….and we have been doing laundry!!!

Thank you Randy!

I love you!
Timothy is working hard on the washing machine. He loves to be a helper to his Dad. Posted by Picasa
Margaret Thompson, a wonderful woman, a Veternarian, and a longtime member from our homechurch in Richland Hills, is here visiting for 2 weeks. She has been a great blessing in our home and as you can see Tori has had another sweet opportunity to play Princess Monopoly tonight. Posted by Picasa
Timothy loves to throw me a ball, pick up his bat and say "I'm ready Mama!" Today I took his picture before I threw him the ball.  Posted by Picasa
Timothy loves to ride his "motorcycle". Sam, do you remember putting this together for Tori in the summer of 2000? Posted by Picasa
Timothy and Jonathan love to be outside! Posted by Picasa