Saturday, August 19, 2006

ONE YEAR WITH LAEL!

Tomorrow is our monthly cluster convention…a time each month where all 7 congregations gather together for a time of praise, testimony, fellowship, communion and study. It is always a good time to see their camaraderie in Christ. This month the host church is Gbotayidohoue, which we affectionately call the “bowtie” church, not because of their attire, but because that’s kinda how the name is pronounced (“bowtie-yee-doe-way”). This is a young church that has continued to meet despite a number of young people who got wet in the baptismal river last November and rarely showed up after that. The faithful are still strong after 10 months! In these parts, that’s really something to celebrate! I also will start a week-long intensive study through the book of John in early September at this same church (every evening from 4p-8p). This is one of those newer church plants that had very little to do with any efforts of my own (in this line of work, that’s something you brag about). The primary evangelists and pastoral leaders have been Aja men. As we look to our departure next year, these experiences are encouraging and invaluable. Encouraging to me and invaluable to these Aja leaders who are demonstrating, mainly to themselves, that indeed they can do this with or without a missionary presence. I’m a little nervous because the theme they declared for the two lessons tomorrow is MONEY! Never a preacher’s favorite topic, but especially not a rich white missionary standing in front of brothers and sisters who materialistically and physically have so little in their possession. It is not easy to declare to poor Christians that they should be giving more than they are. Yes, there are biblical examples and I will use them. But it is still hard to do. But the good news is that it was their idea! And the “money” theme does not have to with how to get more, but how to GIVE more! So I am selecting a number of passages (the first preacher is basing his lesson around Luke 6.38) highlighting the generosity of God. Ultimately, I will draw them to the great theme of God’s gift of salvation for us…the best model for giving. May we all praise God for His wonderful generosity so that we can claim VICTORY in Jesus Christ!

On Wednesday of this week, I had to take Jonathan across the border to Togo. Why? Because just after he was born in America, we had to get his visa to enter Benin. The visa is valid for 3 years, but he can only stay in the country for 12 months at a time before he has to leave and come back again. Explain this to me! We drove down to the border, got his “exit” stamp in his passport, and then we entered the country of Togo. We drove 30 minutes down the road, grabbed a snack at a small bakery, and then returned to the border where he exited Togo and then got his new “entry” stamp for Benin. So now his new 12-month stint begins! Took half of a day to satisfy some formality for Immigration….and he’s only 1! We got it done, but things like this drive me crazy.

On the way back, Kelly called and said one of our church leaders had sent word to our house that a little girl in his village was sick. So I detoured my return to swing by Mathias’ village of Ainahoue (yee-NAH-way). As I arrived, he said the girl was not in his village, but in a village nearby where he has been working to find an open door of receptivity. So I thought it was “strategically” wise to accompany him to visit this sick girl (not to mention our compassion for the family). With Jonathan in my arms, we walked into this warm mud hut. In the dark corner, on a reed mat was a young 10-year-old girl shaking and obviously in a lot of misery. Mathias had told me he thought she was very anemic which I affirmed when I looked into her eyes. She could not speak, but just moaned with every ounce of strength she could muster. Mathias held Jonathan as I knelt down beside her, held her frail hand, and prayed for her. Oh, I prayed hard! After I prayed, Mathias announced to the family our intention to offer some financial assistance if they needed to take her to the nearby clinic (up to this point, the father of the girl had used what little money he had to take her to a witchdoctor). At first, the unbelieving family was hesitant, but with Mathias’ strong encouragement, they accepted. Jonathan and I left to return home so I could attend another meeting. I prayed over and over for that little girl, hoping that God would do a mighty miracle to demonstrate His powerful love and care for that girl’s life. I knew Mathias would do everything he could do be the love of Christ to this family. But on Thursday afternoon while I was out, Kelly got the call from Mathias…the girl had died within minutes of arriving at the hospital that night. Today, Mathias finally made it to my house so we could debrief the situation together. He was very discouraged and we shared together our confusion and frustration that God didn’t heal that girl…. “What a testimony to God’s power it COULD have been!” we both grumbled. But in the end, the conversation came back to the truth that God is the author of life. But we wrestled with how much negligence can play in the death of a young child…the father had access to funds but did not want to spend it on anything but sacrifices of chicken blood. And to Mathias’ disbelief, the father made no effort to sell any of his earthly possessions so that his daughter could get the care she needed (Mathias is convinced it was the father’s negligence that killed the girl). Difficult questions and difficult situations. But in the end, I encouraged Mathias to use this time, not to blame the father, but to speak to the entire family the gospel of hope in their time of mourning.

Yesterday, another woman from the church at Tchatehoue (cha-TAY-way) came with her sick infant. She and the main church leader came to my house for prayer. Oh, again, I prayed…wrestling on the spot with doubts, yet wrestling with knowing that it is the mighty hand of God that can sustain the life of this little 5-month-old little girl named Hope (Espoir in French; Nkudodo in Aja). It was a little girl that Kelly and I got to name when she was born, so I was eager to pray despite the grave news of the previous day. Please pray for her…I haven’t heard anything today…which I am counting as good news. I know the church leader well, and he lives nearby. So I feel like I would have been informed if Hope was not better. Hopefully, at the convention tomorrow, we’ll see Hope and her mother (ah-FEE-oh-wah)…hopefully getting to hear a testimony of God’s healing power!

Well this is long tonight…a lot more to share, but that’ll do for now. Enjoy some more pictures below of the cutest kids in the entire world! I love being their Daddy. Tonight, our sweet 3-year-old Timothy got up from the table and exclaimed, “My tummy is so full I can barely beave!” All of us laughed so hard…

We are praying for God to direct us to an American social worker who can perform a homestudy for us as we work toward satisfying all the requirements necessary to adopt Lael and immigrate her to the U.S. next year. Not easy to come by in these parts, but we believe God will provide!

Speaking of Lael, TODAY (August 19th) is the one-year anniversary of the day that Kadi Lael came to live in our home. What a blessed year it has been! We know the heart of Ega, Lael’s birthfather, and he, too, rejoices in the growth we have all witnessed in Lael. We know it is a difficult decision to put your child in the arms of another family, especially when this little girl was the last child delivered into this world by his late wife, Lokadi. Ega has a heart full of love for all of his children and we are so blessed that he chose us to raise Lael…he eagerly desires for us to fully adopt Lael. She has brought unspeakable joy into our home. We ask all of you to pray today and ask the Lord to shower unspeakable joy into Ega’s home as well!

-Randy

4 comments:

Brooks Inc. said...

Just in from the vacation adn read every word...I loved every single picture. What does one do with 4 kids that cute? What joys they are to me!

Kelly- YOU look beautiful in the first day of school pics...I loved the one of Tori hiding behind the door. Lael is a doll! She gets cuter each day.We rejoice with you in this wonderful year...can't wait to hug her close!

I love you!

BJB

Randy & Kelly Vaughn said...

Welcome Back Beck! Can't wait to hear about the vacation! Got some good pics of the boys, right?!
-RV

Donny said...

Great entry. Can't believe it's been a full year. She's such a cutie as are all of your kids.

Love you guys!!!

Judy & Ronnie Vaughn said...

Saturday marks one year since we left for Africa. You had just had Lael a few days when we got there. I can not believe it has been a year. Man, I miss being there right now. I would love to see all of you! Jonathan was only 8 months old and Tori and Timo are both a year older and different.

Miss you so much!

Mom