Monday, November 27, 2006

Monday Update

Mondays are our day off, our family day, our Sabbath day …but it’s been a lot of work today! We continue to persevere through the season of water rationing. We are still in reserve drums of water…which keeps Daddy (and a few small helpers if he can negotiate their assistance) busy with hauling in buckets of water throughout the day. We haven’t had more than a trickle of running water in our pipes for 10 days! While we’ve been able to fill up the reserve tanks twice in those days (for which we are SO grateful even though at a dribble-at-a-time, it might take 2 hours to do so), we have not been able to take anything but bucket showers (now, for most of the people living around us, this is normal, but I guess we are spoiled.) Plus it makes doing laundry in our machine virtually impossible, so Sossa has been helping hand wash some of our clothes. We did resort to filling up our machine by the bucket load, which works the same; it just keeps you having to listen close when it’s time for the rinse cycle. Plus, when you are limited on your own water (for bathing, dishes, toilet), it sure takes a lot of water to fill up a machine twice for one load (honestly, I’m just not aware of how many gallons of water those things take until you have to fill it up manually!) Anyway, we’re surviving by the grace of God and realizing that, while our life is majorly inconvenienced, we are simply wrestling by doing without some of life’s luxuries that most of the world knows little about.

Now I’ve mislead you if you think all of us have enjoyed rest today on our “day off”…Kelly and Tori hit the school books early this morning! After a couple of months off for the Stateside trip, it was time to get back to school to 2nd Grade. We were sure thankful to have the generator because right about 8a, the city power went off. We ran the generator until it ran out of gas about 2p (K&T broke for lunch.) To give the generator a breather, school took a reprieve and that’s when our life moved outdoors (still no city power). The timing was perfect ‘cause just about 3:45 the city power returned (I think our over-worked generator let out a “hallelujah!”) Kelly is such a great teacher, unrelenting in her desire and commitment to teaching Tori…conditions are less-than-ideal, yet my wife works tirelessly to make sure Tori is where she’ll need to be when it’s time to enroll in 3rd Grade in Texas next year. Fortunately, Timothy, Jonathan and Lael all took great afternoon naps so I was free to cook dinner while Kelly and Tori persisted through the day’s assignments until after 6p.

It’s been so good to reunite with so many of my Aja friends…I feel like the reunion is indicative of our deepening relationship. I know we are all aware that the time of our departure is nearing, so that intensifies comings and goings. I’ve enjoyed some good long conversations with most of the leadership council. These are good men who are proving that they have the faith and the confidence to lead. During my absence, a problem arose in the church at Dekpo (deck-po). The leadership was being heavily critiqued by a loud minority (sounds familiar to a lot of you in church work!) At one of the leadership meetings while I was gone, the problem was exposed. I was so proud to hear how the Executive council members handled the situation…they all went to Dekpo to worship the next Sunday (just before my return…I’m so proud that they didn’t feel like they had to wait on me to deal with this), and following the worship service, they stayed another two hours with some of the key players, listening and counseling until the problem was resolved. As a church-planting missionary focused on leadership training, these are the stories that provide reliable evidence of the fruit of God’s activity!

We also celebrated yesterday our monthly worship of all 7 congregations together. It was a HOT day, but I was so pleased with the turnout. This time of year, the mornings are even warm for a long 20K walk, so you can imagine the afternoon walk back! I am so humbled and impressed by the willingness of so many (especially the women with small children) to come, simply because I can imagine the 3p walk in the sun would discourage many from even showing up in the first place! Over 200+ attended, and we had representatives from all 7 churches in this cluster of the Kingdom. I joked with Kelly saying, “it was so great that I didn’t have to preach today.” Great because there were already capable men who could preach…and probably do even a better job (certainly much better in the local language!) As is customary, on Sunday I was bombarded with people wishing to come this week to see me…no one names their reason, so all I can assume is that some will want to come to welcome me back, some will come desiring spiritual teaching or council, others will present their dire straits with needs of food or medicines, while still others will come to present to me their ideas of how I can help them create income for their family. That gives you an idea of the kinds of things I deal with during a week. We have a national leadership meeting with our Christian Church brothers this coming Saturday. I’m still excited about the good things God is doing by bringing brothers from our Church of Christ legacy together with those Beninese brothers in the Christian Church. I love the unity and I love the challenge it presents to both groups. We are anticipating a formal celebration of this fusion at the end of the year, the weekend just prior to Christmas. More than any other end-of-the-year convention in the past, I am so excited about sharing in this 3-day event next month!

Enjoy some fun pictures of the kids! They are so much fun and such a blessing! We spent a considerable amount of time OUTSIDE today because, if we were in the shade, it was much more pleasant outside than inside our house. I love the picture of TJL all drinking their cups at the same time….they were sure thirsty!!

Have a great week!
The following pictures capture our 4 sweet fun kids making the best of a moment on a VERY HOT day when there is no electrical power or running water in our house!! Posted by Picasa
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Thursday, November 23, 2006

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We've had a very fun day being together. The "day" started out challenging yet exciting...after 5 days of no city water, we heard the pipes singing at 2a, so we abandoned our sleep to start filling up buckets of reserve water and do a couple of loads of laundry which had certainly piled up! We're so glad we did this because by 6a, there was no more water (and it's been off again all day). We have no idea of the schedule (if any exists) for these water and power outages...very random!

After a few more good hours of sleep we started off the day with a great breakfast and then later put Jonathan and Lael down for naps...then Kelly, Tori, Timothy and I shared a sweet time of thanksgiving conversation. It was so wonderful to hear the kids list all of our family members by name. It was also a special time this year to hear Tori read from her new Bible from Psalm 95.1-2! I was so proud of her and later on tonight, before going to bed, she agreed that it was fun to read the Bible out loud to everyone. We also memorized Philippians 4.8 from her NIrV version which says:


With some fun hand motions, Tori and Timo practiced it throughout the was fun to hear Timo trying to teach Jonathan as they went to bed at the same time.

We finished preparing our Thanksgiving lunch while the kids enjoyed all the new Christmas decorations that we have put up in the last couple of's a very festive place to be! My Mom had recorded the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade from 2005, so I thought the kids would enjoy watching it today....they were more intrigued by some Mickey Mouse Christmas DVD (so much for being traditional). It was after 1p before J&L both got up from their naps and we tried for a few pictures (somewhat successful...see below). Then we enjoyed a great feast of chicken, dressing, green beans, and corn casserole (Aunt Becky's recipe was a big hit!!) We saved our traditional Thanksgiving dessert for later when our friends and missionary colleagues here in town, Josh and Virginia Hamm, came over (see below).

As is tradition to inaugurate the Christmas season, Tori broke out the movie, "It's a Wonderful Life." We all had a great time watching it...Tori especially enjoyed it because we started late and she got to stay up until it was over...well after 10p!

Once the kids were in bed, I fast forwarded to the end of the Macy's parade where Mom had also recorded LAST YEAR's Thanksgiving Day Dallas Cowboys' game. I had totally forgotten how it ended up, so it was fun to watch it and hear all the references and commercials to Thanksgiving Day and the upcoming holidays! (We'll do anything around here to put us in the Christmas spirit!)

The power was off again from 6p to just after is a challenge, but we are SO thankful for our generator which helps us get through the hot days!

We are so thankful for all of our dear family in DC, FL, and of course TEXAS! We miss all of you so much. We are grateful for our spiritual many friends who share the love of Jesus with us. We are blessed to be sent to Benin with the generous support of the Richland Hills Church of Christ in Fort Worth, Texas....blessings to all of you this holiday! And we thank God for all the special relationships here in Benin, West Africa.

We are so grateful to God for His abundant love for us, His grace, His Son, and His constant abiding presence with us wherever we are! Thank you Lord!

We share our hearts of gratitude with all of you this Thanksgiving....enjoy the rich abundance of our God!

-Randy & Kelly
Tori, Timothy, Jonathan & Lael
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Doesn't Timo have a nice head? Posted by Picasa
Our friends Josh and Virginia Hamm with their son Timothy. We shared a very fun afternoon together that included delicious Pumpkin pie and brownies! Posted by Picasa
Cozy Sisters Posted by Picasa
Timo and Timothy Posted by Picasa
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I am thankful for my Best Friend! Posted by Picasa
Sweet Timo Posted by Picasa
Happy Thanksgiving! Posted by Picasa
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So great to be back together! Posted by Picasa
Good Morning! Posted by Picasa