Friday, September 29, 2006

WWJD - School Supplies - More....

IN HIS STEPS, WWJD? – The stimulus for the acronymic question of the past decade comes early on in Sheldon’s book.  As the church “was filled with an audience of the best-dressed, most comfortable looking people” in town, the Reverend Henry Maxwell is eager to deliver his sermon.  Rev. Maxwell is proud of his work, “satisfied with the conditions of his pastorate.”  In describing the esteemed minister, “the First Church also had a similar feeling as it congratulated itself on the presence in the pulpit of this scholarly, refined, somewhat striking face and figure, preaching with such animation…”  You get the point early on that, while a good upstanding bunch of folks assembling regularly together as they should, the First Church is naively all about themselves.  That is, until a vagabond,  “the tramp” arrives (speaking not vulgarly of a woman of loose morals, but the more dated reference to a drifter or beggar…think “Lady and the Tramp”.)  The man appears earlier on, but he is thrust into the story when he silently slips into the back of the sanctuary at the close of the reverend’s fine sermon on “Following Christ.”  The man is down on his luck, jobless, and desperate for hope.   Without irreverence, he delivers a soliloquy that is the impetus to the change to come.  He respectfully repeats to the audience the words out of the reverend’s own address:  

“The minister said that it is necessary for the disciple of Jesus to follow His steps,, and he said the steps are ‘obedience, faith, love and imitation.’  But I did not hear him tell you just what he meant that to mean, especially the last step.  What do you Christians mean by following the steps of Jesus?”

Just before the dirty visitor collapses to the floor (not dead, perhaps from pure exhaustion, but I can’t remember what happens to him), and in response to the refrain “All to Jesus” so delightfully sung by the choir, he begs his question:

“It seems to me there’s an awful lot of trouble in the world that somehow wouldn’t exist if all the people who sing such songs went and lived them out.  I suppose I don’t understand.  But what would Jesus do?”

That’s the end of Chapter 1.  It’s been 15+ years since I read this book, but I remember some amazing things about to happen in the hearts, minds, and actions of the believers of First Church.  More to come . . .


Yesterday was the final day of distributing school supplies (the new school year starts here on Monday).  We’ve done this since 2001, and each year it is a blessing to give (and obvious that it is a blessing for them to receive).  Because the intent of this offering is certainly benevolent in nature, I always knew that it could be a huge testimony to the pagans around us if the local churches did this for their children.  But I knew even 5 years ago that my time in Benin was not indefinite.  So while I’ve unashamedly pumped money into this offering year after year, for the past couple of years, I have solicited the participation of the Aja church leaders (early on, it was 100% American money…missionaries and my sweet Mom, a former school teacher herself!)  Like I mentioned earlier in the week, the offering this year came in at 51% Aja financing!  So while I wish I could do more, I know that each dollar I might ante up would shift the percentage back in my court and that’s NOT what I desire.  It’s still yet to be seen if such a benevolent effort will continue when we’re not here.  I would like it to, and so would they.  They’ll have to give even more next year for it to be an offering of any substance (this year, because of the growth in churches since ’05, thus a significant increase in the number of students, each child actually received fewer supplies than previous years…but everyone seems happy for what they got).  We buy chalk, pencils, pens, erasers, notebooks, rulers…all the basics (though, we don’t buy textbooks or pay school fees).  In the past, the offering has been paid for by me and then distributed by me.  This year, because of needing to be in Cotonou to take Kelly to the airport, several church leaders stepped in to handle the distribution and they did a good job.  I’m proud of these men, most of whom occupy positions in the newly named organizational committee.  My personal challenge to the students I saw yesterday came from Colossians 3.17:  “whatever you do (going to school as a Christian student surrounding by mentors and peers modeling the ways of darkness!)…do it in the name of the Lord Jesus!”


Kelly, Tori and Timothy arrived safely last night in Texas!  Praise God!  Haven’t even spoken to them yet, so I can’t wait to hear their voices hopefully later on today.  Of course I’m happy for KTT getting to be there (I’ll get my turn soon) and thrilled for all of our family who get to spend these days with them.  America is a familiar place to Tori…she has made several trips over the years home and has many friends.  Timo was last there at the end of ’04 for Jonathan’s birth (only a few months in ’05), and that was the only time he’s been home since he was born (he wasn’t even 2 then).  So I’m curious how he’ll find it.  I am confident with the outpouring of love coming from grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, that he’ll have a blast!  

We’re well on this side of the ocean.  Jonathan is still into stealing sippy cups, so Lael has developed this lovely gruntlike frustration in response to his antics.  Early this morning, she was sitting in her high chair with a tray full of Cheerios.  Jonathan swept in and, while he managed to pilfer a few, he did not get far before Lael launched a 1-year-old style punch to his face.  Both ended up crying for a few minutes until Daddy stepped in with bananas.  Everyone was happy once again.  So goes Baby Boot Camp….


Thursday, September 28, 2006

In His Steps

Well, Kelly, Tori and Timothy got on a plane last night bound for Texas, USA! I’m back at home with Jonathan and Lael and after 18 hours, everyone is still speaking to one another (and not too much damage to the house!) J&L are working on SHARING during these 3 weeks of….Baby Boot Camp! (Most of you followed the tales of Daddy Boot Camp back last spring…it was quite fun!)

KTT will arrive Thursday evening at DFW…pray for them during their LONG flight…if you are reading this anytime during the daytime on Thursday, you can imagine they are on a super long flight from Paris to Chicago, then after a short layover mid-pm, they’ll board another plane bound for home! Pray for all of our family as we apart from one another.

More on school supply distribution probably tomorrow. It’s been going on this week, mostly in my absence since I’ve been in Cotonou taking KTT to the airport. But I’m back at home now and will get to participate in the final day (we have the students from one congregation come each morning, then another in the late afternoon, and finally one on Sunday…all together, 7 churches).

It’s been YEARS since I first read Charles Sheldon’s IN HIS STEPS…got extra credit in college in, of all subjects, Accounting (I needed all the help I could get)…all of my business professors were serious believers and my Accounting prof was so convinced this book could change lives, he offered extra credit for anyone who would read it and talk to him about it. I had made a pledge years ago that I’d read it once a year…well…uh….last time was 1990! This morning, I was exercising and trying to think about what book I might read during these next 3 weeks until Kelly returns (it’ll probably take me every bit of those 20+ days to finish it). I never came up with a good one. Then after breakfast with Jonathan and Lael, I was cleaning the kitchen and J&L decided it would be real fun to pull all the books off the bookshelf in the hallway. They started with a couple but Daddy quickly jumped in to put a halt to such rebellion! Then Jonathan kept at it and he kept bringing me books. I would say, “NO” and then I’d return the book to the shelf, never looking at it. The third time, I took a glance and it was Sheldon’s book (from where the "WWJD" got its start). I said NO once again, only to have him bring it to me again with a big grin on his face. Then I thought, “duh…perhaps Jonathan’s picking out my book for me!” He still got a pinch on the hand (hoping to deter him from suggesting 100 books for me to read!), but know that I’m already into the first part of the book and enjoying remembering why I liked the book so many years ago. Anybody read IN HIS STEPS lately? Ever? What was your reaction?

Gotta go…J&L need some big hugs from Daddy!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Excitement is in the Air!!!

This past weekend was a significant moment in the advancement of the churches here in Benin.  In various forms, God’s people have always needed and desired leadership, from judges to kings to apostolic leaders to elders to pastors to boards of elders to  . . . well, you get the picture.  Organizationally, churches often choose leaders to help facilitate the plans and vision, especially when a number of congregations are associated together.  Apart from the shepherding work of local pastoral leaders, this past weekend, a delegation of 4 people from each of the 7 congregations came together to choose those who would lead this fraternity of churches for the next 12-18 months.  Having anticipated this day for several weeks, nearly 30 people gathered early Saturday morning.  I had the designated privilege of administering the selection process (I didn’t get to cast my lot, but I sure would have like to!)  Candidly, I had been in much prayer all week long, notably wrestling with the notion that there was one particular “leader” who I feared might get voted in (he has followers, but his leadership style, in my opinion, is arrogant and detrimental to the collective group of churches).  There were 7 open positions of various functions and I was terrified at the thought of him filling any of those vacancies.  I wasn’t the only one, but again, this dynamic personality is persuasive, yet self-serving and domineering (several of the leaders had come to me over the weeks prior to beg me to simply appoint the leaders so that this man would not get a leadership post…I declined the responsibility and preferred that these maturing believers choose their leadership themselves).  The lead post was announced and among several “candidates” was our leader-in-question.  Oh how I prayed!!  The one that was eventually chosen was indeed a man of proven leadership and a man of humble heart.  Praise God!  On down the line, God showed us His power and in 5 of the most significant positions, I couldn’t be more thrilled with the quality of character chosen.  And as any missionary preparing for departure might think, it was such a thrill to see these men chosen by their peer group and those for whom they have responsibility of overseeing.  From all indications, everyone (well, minus one who left with an “attitude”…guess who?) seemed thrilled and there was a notable sentiment of joy in the air!  For those interested and who might know some of the names, Yaovi (Aflantan), Senou (Kaiteme) and Ega (Kaiteme) occupy the Executive Leadership Committee while Leon (Gbotayidohoue), Cyprien (Dandihoue) and Mathias (Ainahoue) come alongside the others in supportive roles.  These Aja delegates even demonstrated their own modernity and, with a roar of applause, chose a young female to represent the feminine side of the church! (ha)  Her task is a challenging role of organizing special events and making sure all the planning is well orchestrated.  These group of 7 makes up the leadership side of the association of churches.  There are many other men and women capable and still proving themselves as servants of the local church, pastoral leaders, evangelists, teachers and other necessary assignments in the Kingdom!  

I had the privilege of worshipping with a congregation that I secretly wish to reveal as one of my favorite places to worship.  It is a lively bunch with good leadership and a heart for the lost!  The church at Ainahoue (yee-nah-way) has existed since 2000 and has persevered in the face of consistent persecution, suffering, and frankly, lack of missionary attention.  But there are some faithful followers in that place and they continue to grow in size.  I was so pleasantly surprised by the size of the assembly!!  Praise God!  Again for the few who know this group, you’ll be pleased to hear that there 6 young adults and 2 women who have become regulars from the village of Djoumahou (joo-mah-hoo)…that’s for you, GB!  I have also been praying with this church about reaching a nearby village called Kpoba (poe-bah).  Out of some difficult circumstances, God is raising up faith, and there were a number of visitors from there (about 5-10 miles away, arriving by bicycle).  It was enjoyable for me to spend a good hour or so with them at the close of service in fellowship.  We shared together a meal of red beans that had its way of reminding me throughout the rest of the day of that special time of camaraderie!!  (  (for MC, a delegation from there will be visiting Batoe on Tuesday to visit the family who recently suffered the tragedy you mentioned in the Watchi Times).

This is also the week where we distribute a generous offering of school supplies to over 200 students scattered throughout the 7 churches.  While I wish we could give them even more (well, I could provide every supply for ALL these students if I wanted to, but then again, they wouldn’t be able to replicate such a gift next year when I’m not here), it is a significant demonstration of the love of God!  AND, again for a missionary heading toward his departure in less than 9 months, it is a thrill to say that the offering came in at 49% American money and 51% Aja financing!  From 100% American five years ago at the outset of this benevolent effort, we are growing toward more participation on their part.  That is exciting to me…while I’m not sure what will happen with my portion next year, they even surprised themselves when they totaled up all the coins they had given monthly since January, they had over $100!  More on this later in the week.

Finally, we’ve got some pictures to share (Blogger is so slow, or maybe it is our computer...but we will be posting more pictures later in the week).  Excitement is in the air for Kelly, Tori and Timothy’s visit to Texas this week. They leave out Wednesday night and I’ll stay back with Jonathan and Lael.  In about 3 weeks from now, the wife and I will swap places and I’ll enjoy a time of much anticipated time of rest and seeing all my family!!  Tori and Timothy will have the thrill of almost 2 full months in America, spending countless hours with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and many friends!   Don’t worry, we’ll have digital cameras on both sides of the ocean feeding this blog pictures of the kiddos!


I love my husband !

I love my Tori !
Timothy is doing his part here to break up a fight. These two (J&L) are struggling with sharing issues!
Where is Randy's face in this picture?
These boys love their wrestling time with Daddy!

I was actually trying to take a picture of Jonathan (notice the pink cap behind Timo) and Timothy ran in front of the camera
Timo is redistributing the toys so that everyone is happy! He is such a good big brother!
Going for a ride in the front yard!

Last week Laurance went with us to Cotonou to help us with the kids while we met with our lawyer and then later had our medical exams at the doctor. She is such a HUGE help to us!
In this picture we are enjoying lunch at Steers...our favorite restaurant in Cotonou!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Timothy was so good for the long 3 hours that we had to wait at the Notary office last Friday. Once the deluge started, Timo thoroughly enjoyed playing in the rain!!

Ben and Sossa look on as witnesses as Ega gives his consent.
Our computer crashed 2 weeks ago. Thankfully, we have an old laptop that still works, albeit very slow. However we have at least temporarily lost our address book, as well as access to all of our recent emails, and our long list of blogs that we love to visit! If you have sent us an email in the last month and are still waiting for a response, this is why you have not heard from us. Please re-send your emails to us and we will gladly respond as soon as possible. You can write us and or send your blog address to

We look forward to hearing from you!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Wanted to share with you a testimony of God’s hand at work in a way I cannot explain through human eyes.  I was in Cotonou the other day and someone had returned to me an envelope of $100 that I had loaned them.  My friend gave it to me while I was in the car driving, so I stuffed it into my left pocket.  Perhaps not good enough.  When we arrived at the place he wanted to go, I got out of my truck, went around to his side, said a few parting words, and left.  I was racing back to pick up Kelly to catch our 5p appointment with Maurice, our attorney.  I was mentally thinking through all that I needed to ask him and then pondered how much I would have to pay him for his consultation.  At a long stop light, I checked my wallet and had some money, but probably not enough.  So I reached into that left pocket to get the wadded envelope full of money….and….NO ENVELOPE!  Of course I panicked, looking all over the car as best I could before the light would turn green.  I never found anything, but proceeded to pick up Kelly and headed to the law office.  Fortunately, Kelly brought additional money and we were able to cover the cost of the appointment without issue.  On the way home, I was lamenting the loss of $100 and racking my brain as to what could have happened to it.  Since my friend had given me the envelope, I had not even got out of my car….oooppps….then I remembered the ONE time I had.  So now I had to think, “in a huge city of millions of people, if I had dropped a WHITE envelope on to RED BROWN dirt, what are the chances that it’d still be on the ground almost 2 hours later?”  But that voice of faith kept urging me to go back to the scene of the crime…uh….scene of the $100 blunder.  So I dropped Kelly off where we were staying, drove clear across town to where I had dropped off my friend.  Of course I was praying like crazy, but wrestling with the reality that likely I had to release that $100 back to the Lord!  “God,” I resolved, “if that money did get picked up, it’s just like YOU to know who could need it the most, so bless them Lord!”  Now, you’d think if I had come to such peaceful resolution, I would have turned back…but that was 100 big ones I lost and I wasn’t going to just turn away…I had to know!  As I pulled into this well-populated small dirt road in the middle of this huge city, my eyes were peeled!  I slow the truck to a turtle-like creep, intriguing all the bystanders as this crazy white guy is driving unhurriedly through their neighborhood, all the while staring intently at the ground as I drove by.  I approached the house where my friend was staying and I really started looking even though the sun was setting faster than normal (so it seemed!)  I was still peaceful, yet crying out, “Lord, it’s your money, and if it’s supposed to be in the hands of someone else, I’m OK with it, but if it’s supposed to be in MY hands, then open my eyes to that envelope!”  Now it had rained earlier in the day, the red dirt was transformed to mud with patches of mucky water puddles all over the place.  As I drew near to the site of the blunder, I was looking for anything that could be that envelope (on a side street where the world is a wastebasket so there was trash littered everywhere).  As my eyes canvassed the area, I caught glimpse of something that, at first, did indeed resemble a white envelope…but the problem was that it was sticking up out of one of mud puddles.  I pulled up gingerly to the puddle and much to the bewilderment of the many on-lookers, I opened up my driver’s side door.  As my hand reached down into the filth, I couldn’t believe it, but there was the white envelope that my friend had given me, ever-so-slightly raising it’s right corner from the sludge just enough to be recognized, still wadded up just as when I had received it…BUT, surely someone had already seen it, taken the money out, and tossed the envelope to the ground as trash.  So I gently peaked inside (again, mesmerizing the bystanders, wondering what this white guy is doing digging trash out of mud puddles!), and (as Tori shared later after her hearing of the story), I felt like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory peeling back just enough of the paper to see the golden ticket inside!  I certainly tried to keep my face collected so as not to rile up the neighborhood about some stranger finding $100 in THEIR street!, so I tenderly caressed the envelope, laying it gently on the dashboard as I quickly closed (and locked!) my door and drove away!  Once I cleared the vicinity, I’m certain my whole face lit up as if I had found the jackpot in the middle of the muddy back streets of this African capital city!  God is so good!!  A few days later, after giving testimony at church about it, my friend who had originally given me the money, said, “do you remember when God shut the mouth of the lions so they wouldn’t devour Daniel…well, this time, the Lord sent another angel to guard over that money until you could return for it.  God sent the angel immediately after it fell out of your pocket.  He stayed there for 2 hours with his hands covering that money, waiting for you to respond in faith.  That’s why you had that “feeling” in your stomach to go back.  That’s faith talking to you!”  Thank you God!

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Speaking of our attorney, we spent the day again in Cotonou today meeting with him to sign our first request to the courts regarding Lael’s adoption (see the Comments in the last post to understand more about what all is still left to do).  We are very impressed with him and feel certain he will be a strong advocate for us.  Later, we spent several hours at our doctor’s office trying to get general checkups for all 6 of us to satisfy the medical history requirements for our adoption agency in Texas (we are so thankful for all that Christian Homes & Family Services in Abilene is doing for us!!)  We still lack some information, so we’ll provide that to her next Tuesday when we go again.  

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We have some fun pictures from the day Ega signed his consent…but Blogger isn’t cooperating.  We’ll keep trying…..


Saturday, September 16, 2006


It’s been 13 months since sweet Kadi Lael came into our home. The road toward adoption has been long and there remain many steps until everything is completely finished. BUT….yesterday was a HUGE day in this process! We were finally able to obtain the certified written consent from Lael’s birthfather! If you’ve followed this saga, you know it is not from a lack of willingness on Ega’s part (he asked us just after her birth in July 2005 to adopt Lael and has never wavered in his decision). First we had to obtain Lael’s birth certificate which took 6 months or more. Then we first went to the Notary back in February and Ega didn’t have the proper form of identification. And ever since then, the prayer pursuit was to acquire his official Benin birth certificate. Once that happened a month ago, we’ve been waiting and trying to coordinate schedules with the appropriate legal authority. Finally, we were informed that Friday, September 15th, we could arrive at 11a!

With two witnesses (our friends, Sossa and Laurance’s husband, Ben), we left Aplahoue early that morning and drove to the Baptist Guesthouse in Cotonou (a little over 2 hours away). Ega, Sossa, Ben and Laurance followed in a taxi and met us there. Laurance, who is so great with all our kids, stayed with Tori, Jonathan and Lael at the Guesthouse, while the rest of us piled into our truck and headed across town to the Notary’s office. Timothy went along with us and he won the “best behaved kid” award (later celebrated with ice cream!) He was so good for the long 3 hours we had to wait at the Notary’s office. Later on, once the deluge started, Timo thoroughly enjoyed playing in the rain! It was just after 2:30p when the Notary finally completed the 2nd draft of the consent form (the first one had some misspellings and the witnesses’ names weren’t included). Because of his disability, Ega’s autograph is conferred with his thumbprint, thus requiring the two witnesses. We have been completely confident from the beginning that the Master ordained this adoption to take place. We have had plenty of conversations over the year ensuring us Ega’s unwavering decision to place Lael into our family. But satisfying the legal requirements of Benin is an absolute necessity, so we are filled with great joy that this consent form has been signed!

-Randy & Kelly

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

In between new hair styles, Lael's hair has to take at least one night is always amazing to see how much her hair has grown. I love the profile of her sweet face in the picture below.............The signing day for Ega's consent has been moved to Friday morning in Cotonou. Pray with us that all goes well as we continue to progress in all the adoption proceedings!  Posted by Picasa
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Randy and Lael have developed a special bond. He makes her fruit smoothies. This week Tori was excited to introduce Lael to the straw! Lael figured it out immediately. She starts sucking on that straw and does not come up for a breath until there is nothing left! Posted by Picasa
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Tori out in the rain looking for an opportunity to use her bow and arrow Posted by Picasa
Tori did an excellent report today on Texas Longhorn cattle! Posted by Picasa
Tori and I having some fun with the camera Posted by Picasa
I am glad that Randy and Timo were able to join us for lunch today at school! That is a special treat! Randy has been out a lot lately in the afternoons and evenings meeting with leaders and has not been around as often as we would like!  Posted by Picasa
Jonathan taking Timothy on a morning stroll around the yard... We are so thankful that our boys seem to be on the mend. They are not back to complete health but are taking some great strides towards that goal! We are returning to the doctor in Cotonou on Friday for a follow-up for all 4 kids. Posted by Picasa
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Sunday, September 10, 2006

A Sunday in Two Worlds

This morning we woke to cloudy skies…even started sprinkling just an hour or so before we were scheduled to leave for church. Since the Tchatehoue (chah-tay-way) church worships in a thatch-roofed hangar, I was concerned that people might not even have an assembly. But we pressed on and the raindrops let up as we arrived. The entire way there, I was preparing my speech “even if it rains, give God His due respect and come to worship!” I was assuming a small crowd. Wow, was I surprised (and humbled)! I haven’t worshipped at this particular congregation in several months (I rotate among 7 different churches, not counting all-together cluster Sundays…so it’s natural for me not to have the opportunity to worship in a particular village but every 3 or 4 months). When I stepped inside, I was surprised by the number of people! Praise the Lord! AND the rain had certainly not dampened their spirits.

Secondly, I noticed as I arrived late, that there were two other teachers visiting from other congregations (one from Dandihoue, one from Dekpo). The former was asked to give the first lesson and I shared the second lesson (we always have two sermons in the churches here). At the end of the service, it turns out neither of those two men made a plan with the other, either. They just both made the decision to go to Tchatehoue for Sunday. The leader at the church was so thrilled…actually said, “We’re so excited to have 3 good teachers here today, and we only have time for 2 of you!” He confessed that a few weeks back, their normal teacher was absent and that they went several weeks without hearing any lesson from the Word. Now a few weeks later, they had more teachers than they had slots on the program!

I was also thrilled when Antoine (ann-twahn) got up and entitled his lesson: “the return of Christ.” I love it when I hear these relatively new believers choose to speak about that topic! To me, it’s a sign that they get the importance of not only Christ’s first coming, but his second as well! I followed-up and continued the same theme, talking from Titus 2…where God’s grace teaches us to say NO to ungodliness (while we await the glorious return of Jesus!) I believe they heard the Word clearly (even though that particular lesson challenges me a lot!) I share with them a simplistic “W” illustration. The first descent of the “W” is when God, through His love, sends Jesus to us (John 3.16). Then we talk about what all Christ did while on earth and we come to a CROSS on the bottom of the point. Then I speak about the mighty resurrection of Christ as the line of the “W” bursts out of the grave and heads upward! But then I talk them about the difference between a “V” and a “W” (most of these people, while not strongly literate, are at least familiar with the letters of the French and even Aja alphabet which contains these characters). It’s a simple illustration to talk about the fact that the LOVE that SENT Jesus to earth the FIRST time, will replicate itself! So then, through that same LOVE, God promises to SEND Jesus again to earth, this time as judge. But when we have the confidence of standing blameless through the blood of Jesus (not because of anything righteous we have done, that’s for sure!), we can anticipate His return with exceeding joy! And the final ascent (I’m sure there are theologians who have a problem with my doctrine here) simply illustrates the certain voyage upward as we join the heavenlies for eternity! The lesson is not so much about instilling them a proper, exact doctrine of the rapture or some sort of end-times mentality…no, we talk more about recognizing the promise that Jesus is returning and what that means for us today! I talk a lot about living “between the Vs”! We can confidently know Christ came once and ascended once before. Now, because the Word is True, we can confidently know He will return and ascend again as Victor! And with this reality in mind, we take more seriously the task as witnesses and the responsibility of living holy lives through the power of His Spirit!


Kelly stayed back with Timothy, Jonathan and Lael…the 3 kids still the sickest. Everyone’s got their meds, but we are still praying for some evident progress by tomorrow!


In another world, today is the Dallas Cowboys' season opener against Jacksonville. As I mentioned before, I had all hopes of catching the game on what I once called “my new favorite Catholic radio station” (KHOY, 88.1 FM). (I missed all the pre-season Cowboy games because of scheduling conflicts.) Last year, that’s how I caught all the Dallas football games. So I clicked on the site and the streaming audio brought up a new media player that never did anything! I panicked! It was 30 minutes before kickoff….finally I googled “Cowboys streaming problem.” I got a clue from several sites that KHOY was not going to work for me…I then went to my secondary source for Cowboy coverage, Fox Sports. Through GameTrax, you can view a visual commentary (no live video, just helmet icons moving the length of the field, screen refreshing itself every time a down changes). On that site, I found a chat room (appropriately called “Trash Room”…some very INappropriate language going on between fans of the Jags and Boys!) I was parousing the chatter and someone asked where the game could be heard online…and they directed me to, get this…! I don’t think this was a feature last year, so I never thought about checking such an obvious source. There, clear as day, is a button “LISTEN LIVE!” Admittedly, I became teary-eyed when I heard the familiar voice of Brad Sham on the Dallas Cowboys Radio Network! (Although I loved #41 as a player back years ago, I’m not sure Charlie Waters has the best radio voice as an accompanying analyst…uh, DULL, or worse, DULL with a THICK ACCENT! Sorry Mom, I know you’re a big fan of your Charlie!) While the dial-up connection here in Benin is not the greatest, it’s not too bad. So I listened to most of the second quarter and the rest of the game. Guess I missed the best part (Dallas scored 10 pts in the 1Q, then….)! Good try, ‘Boys…maybe next week against the ‘Skins at home!


Finally, Timothy said a quotable the other day. Refereeing a squabble between the two of them, I was asking Timo to be kind to his little brother. Timothy replies, “I don’t like to be nice to Jonathan. When I do, it makes my tummy hurt.”


Friday, September 08, 2006

Diagnosis! Kids are Really Sick!! (plus some funeral talk)

After a flying trip (3 hours away) to see our family physician, it turns out that we’re not just fighting simple colds here….Timothy was diagnosed with a bad ear infection and Jonathan and Lael both with bronchitis!  So we have a sack full of meds and we are hoping for some quick recovery.  I’m so thankful we went…it was a lot of effort to make such a long journey...I had told Kelly that I was hoping we could just “wait out the virus”….turns out I’m glad we didn’t follow my thinking!  Timothy is miserable and not sleeping well at all.  Hopefully by the end of the weekend, he’ll be back to normal.  Jonathan and Lael both are unhappy and breathing so heavily, but they are troopers.  Kelly’s wrestling with it, as well, and got her meds, too.  Tori and I are doing fine (I think) although I’ve had a cough and Tori’s had some sniffles.  

Tonight we are going to bed to the extremely loud sounds of a BIG funeral just down the road from us…here in Benin, funerals are not quiet, somber events….rather they are filled with live bands, all-night DJs/music, and tons of people, food, and usually lots of alcohol.  Plus they go on for at least 3 days (the music actually started last night).  Apparently a rich young son is burying his mother (he’s from the city but she was from out here near where we live).  It’s a huge spectacle and the talk of the town.  On our way back in from Cotonou earlier this evening, we got stuck in traffic….yes, traffic!  We were following a slow-moving caravan of at least 20 cars all driving from Cotonou as well for the funeral….when the delegation arrived, there was a 10-gun salute and it was like the President was in town…the streets were lined with onlookers wanting to see the city-folk arriving in town.  The lead car had men sitting in the middle window of each side of the car, both carrying video cameras, documenting the entire event.  In this culture (much to the chagrin of several people we talked to), more money is spent on the festivities surrounding the death and burial of a loved one than when the person is alive.  If the family has money, the person is buried and then a slab of concrete is poured and even tiled to look as pretty as possible.  It is interesting to witness how different cultures handle things like death.  

Reminds me of the questions when we first started planting churches among these people years ago….some of the new Christians, wanting to do things in the “right” way, would ask, “what does the Bible say about how we should bury our dead?”  Before us missionaries could spit out the answer that there really is not an exact biblical method of interment, one of the new believers (who had just a very small knowledge of the Gospels) would respond, “Well, they buried Jesus in a cave and put a large stone in front of it.”  Then before we could make a reasonable rebuttal, the crowd would then erupt, shouting, “but we don’t have mountains and caves here, what are we to do!?!?!”   They were so relieved when we assured them they didn’t have to drive 4 hours north to find a mountain cave to bury their loved ones, just in order to satisfy the Holy Scriptures.

From your experiences, what differences have you noticed in the way different people and cultures bury the dead (funerals, graveside, etc…)?  Just curious……guess its’ a somber topic to solicit feedback on, but why not?!


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Timothy has been so sick. Poor guy has been miserable. This afternoon he turned on some praise music all by himself and started dancing around the room. I was happy to see him enjoying himself! Thank you Lord! Timothy, Jonathan, and Mommy are having the hardest time with this cold virus...pray it passes quickly! Posted by Picasa
Precious Tori Posted by Picasa
Mommy, here are your baskets! Posted by Picasa
Caught with the red boots!! Posted by Picasa
Timo is so funny! Posted by Picasa
Jonathan loves to push Timo around the yard..he prefers to push rather than be pushed! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Fighting Colds!

This week we are ALL fighting a virus running rampant through the house…it has hit every one of us!  Yuk!  Started with Timothy (definitely hit him the hardest), and then Jonathan and Lael, then Kelly and me and Tori (although Tori seems better already).  We’re all drugged up and going through the tissues like crazy!  We’re ready for this to pass!

This has been my intensive week of study through the gospel of John with the church at Gbotayidohoue (the church we affectionately call the “bowtie” church because of its pronunciation).  I’ve done this in several of our churches and gotten good reception.  We just highlight various stories that all demonstrate the divinity of Christ; that Jesus is indeed the Son of God (John 20.31 is our theme verse).  We do quite a bit of memorization…most of these folks are non-literate and only two people out of the entire group of 40+ even could read a Bible, much less have ownership of one.  So we do a lot of oral storytelling and repetition.  It’s exciting to me to see how quickly they pick up the memorizations.  Always amazing!  Tonight I finished the 3rd lesson and tomorrow we’ll wrap it up.  Because there are a number of junior high and high school age kids in this class, they wanted to do it before classes start again in a month (here in Benin, the months of August and September are their vacation).  It’s been very encouraging and I have been praying all week that the 4 hours a day we spend together will be fruitful and they will multiply!

Due to scheduling conflicts, the signing of Ega’s consent has been moved to next Thursday, September 14th.   Keep praying with us through all the steps of Lael’s adoption!  

Last night when I came back in after dark from my John study at Gbotayidohoue, Kelly told me that she had a big scare earlier in the evening.  While Kelly was sitting on the couch, Timothy crawled up and stood behind her trying to play a game with her.  Somehow he tumbled over backward and hit the tile floor with a thump!  I can only imagine how scared Kelly was (it’s been 5 years, but we remember well the two major concussions we had with Tori).  He got a pretty good bump on his head, but he never blacked out or showed any signs of head trauma.  Kelly watched him closely for several hours, even though within minutes he was seemingly himself (although scared himself).  He had a good night’s sleep (checked on him a couple of times in the night, too) and today has been completely fine (except for this nagging cold).  As a parent of 4 kids, I truly wish we could protect our kids from any and all physical injuries and falls!  But we certainly give praise to God for protecting our little Timo.  

Happy Birthday this week to Kelly’s sister, Becky, and my Mom!  Coming up later is Andy’s birthday (Kelly’s brother).  Also, this past Monday would have been my Nana and Pop’s 66th wedding anniversary (Mom’s folks were married in 1940; both passed away in 1998)….still miss them both so much (especially every Cowboy season, I can’t help think of the Dallas Cowboys’ all-time favorite arm-chair QB…guess he would have been pretty happy thus far.)  Now with the Cowboy season starting back up (and seemingly with a better prospect based on the pre-season), I look forward to my Sunday evening streaming audio games on my new favorite Catholic radio station, KHOY 88.1FM out of Laredo, Texas! (although because of the time difference, I only catch it when they play a 12noon or 3p game…those 7:30p games would have me sitting up all through the night!)

I love telling new Christians the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead in John chapter 11.  It’s always so much fun to see the thrill on their faces when Jesus says, “Come out!”  It’s a great prelude to His own victorious conquering of death and it also a great reminder that, while Jesus could have healed Lazarus (as he did several times earlier in the gospel), he chose to wait and let Lazarus die….for the purpose of bringing God the greater glory while also increasing our faith!  We serve an amazing God and a powerful Christ!

Blessings through the power of the One Who is the Resurrection and the Life!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

We had a wonderful couple of days with Darrell and Mary Lauer from Bardstown, Kentucky. It is an amazing story how the Lord brought them here. It is exciting to watch the Lord unfold his surprises as we walk this adoption journey as a family with Lael. As a part of the study, Darrell conducted interviews with our family, Randy and I together, Randy and I separately and Tori separately. Later this afternoon I was talking with Tori about her interview, which she had obviously really enjoyed. I asked her what she and Mr. Darrell had talked about. In Tori fashion she said, "Mom, I think if he wanted to interview me by myself, then he wanted the conversation to be private...." (said with a big smile on her face!) She felt big and important to be included in such a special way regarding Lael's adoption. We had alot of fun throughout the day discussing their conversation. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, September 02, 2006

A picture of all 4 kids! At this age, we have to take what we can get! This past week we had to spend several days in Cotonou...time for haircuts, grocery shopping, vaccinations, and more. This weekend we are hosting Judy Miller and Darrell and Mary Lauer. The Lauers are from Kentucky and they are here conducting our home study for the US side of Lael's adoption. Darrell is the Social worker that the Lord provided for us that was mentioned in a previous posting. We have already been blessed by their presence in our home today. Our kids are enjoying them being here and are enjoying the attention...should be a lot of fun! ..............Happy Labor Day! Posted by Picasa