Friday, June 30, 2006

Let it rain!

Today was one of my favorite kinds of days here in Benin. When we woke up the sky was still somewhat dark. The sky was cloudy and there was a cool breeze. Rain was definitely on its way. This is just about the only occasion for one to wear a jacket in this country. Tori and Timothy never miss an opportunity to put on their jackets. While every other person in this country sees rain as a reason to run for cover and shut every door and window tight, we see it as a time open every window! We love the scent of the rain and we want to feel those cool breezes. Tori and Timo put their jackets on, grabbed the umbrella and headed out the door. It was a wonderful way to start the day. Let it rain! Thank you Lord!

Here is our hunter...he is ready "to go kill somethin" with his bow and is really a long stick tied on to him with a red ribbon. Look out lizards, here Timo comes! He feels tough in his "cowboy shirt."

Tori and I have one day of first grade left...this has been a great year. She and I both have learned so much. Homeschooling is one of the biggest challenges that I have faced this year. I am so thankful for the helpful counsel and one month break that I received during the month of March when my mom was here and she served as Tori's subsitute. It was probably Tori's favorite month of her first grade year. I had forgotten temporairily that it is supposed to be fun to learn! My mother helped me to regain some perspective! My mother in-law Judy Vaughn has also been extremely helpful and encouraging as she has shared much from her personal experience as a second grade teacher and she has also been very helpful to me in obtaining our second grade curriculum which we will begin sometime around the first of August. Tori Vaughn is a blast and I love laughing with her. I love the fact that if I look at her in just the right way, she cannot help but smile. I love hearing her thoughts on any subject and I love the quality time that she and I share together as we go to school everyday. She and I both will miss the structure that school gives to our days for awhile, but the break will be nice as well.

Tori and I having fun with the camera...taking a picture of ourselves!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Here are my treasures

Day by day I (Kelly) am regaining strength. Recovering from this illness, malaria/bacteria infection is a slow process. The fatigue is intense and does not have a gradual onset. It hits me suddenly. I wake up in the morning feeling good and get dressed and ready. I then help Randy get the kids fed and ready for the day. Tori and I are finishing first grade this week. Yesterday and today as I was finishing school with Tori, the fatigue as come on to me so suddenly that I have had to lie down immediately. After laying down for awhile I am able to get up and do whatever I need to do. I am so thankful for an understanding husband and my dear friend (who is becoming dearer all the time) Laurance who is here to help me specifically with Jonathan and Lael. I am so thankful for your prayers and for the encouraging words that many of you have sent. Please continue to pray for our family. Pray for our health..for my recovery and for everyone else to remain healthy. Please also continue to pray for our adoption process with Lael. Pray that her future will be made secure in our family very soon. We believe that the Lord brought her to our family. The peace that came with this precious life was astounding. It was as if there was no other option other than for her to be with us. We have never once had a second thought or a question about this decision to take her into our home. We believe that the Lord is in the details and that he is working right now even when our eyes cannot see.

Here are some pictures of my treasures!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Handsome Nephews !!!

Okay, I am a very proud Aunt! My sister Becky has been telling me about these pictures for weeks and I have been dying to see them. For some reason she has not been able to post them on her blog. Finally, yesterday I received them in the mail! I cannot take my eyes off of these little guys. I keep looking at them over and over again. So tonight I had the brilliant idea that I would attempt to post them on our blog. Our family misses Payton and Benjamin so much. We talk about them all of the time and literally are aching to be with them. Today I was showing the pictures to Timo and he said, “yeah those are the guys that I ride 4-wheelers with!” We are fervent in prayer that the Lord bring us together with these boys soon! We dream of the days that Timothy and Jonathan will be making memories on a regular basis with Payton and Benjamin.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Thank you for your prayers

This is Kelly. For the past 2 weeks I have been very sick. Thank you so much for the many prayers, emails, blog comments and phone calls.  I am doing much better and am now just dealing with the fatigue.  My energy is returning slowly.  Here are some pictures of our cute kids taken over the past few days.
Happy Cowgirls Posted by Picasa
Sweet Kadi Lael Posted by Picasa
Lael will be one year old next month! Where has the time gone? Posted by Picasa
This cowboy is a little frustrated. Some days on the trail are rougher than others. Posted by Picasa
Jonathan loves to try and lock himself in side this metal door....obviously it never firmly closes but he is going to go down trying Posted by Picasa
This boy is officially potty trained. We are very proud of him. This picture was taken last week one night when the power was off. Timothy went to the potty and then just wanted to make sure that everything could be accounted for! Notice the flashlight! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Funeral Information for Cyndi Chowning

The funeral for Cyndi Chowning will be held this coming Saturday at 4:00p CST at the Park Avenue Church of Christ in Denison, Texas, where Richard's son-in-law, Wes Encalade, serves as the youth minister. Park Avenue's address, phone number, etc. is as follows:

Park Avenue Church of Christ
3000 S. Park Avenue; Denison, TX 75020
Phone: 903-465-1288; Fax: 903-465-1353

(from previous post)
One request from the family: in lieu of flowers, they have asked that donations be made to assist with the completion of a Clinic and Primary School in Benin. This work has been a passion of Cyndi's for some time now.

Donations can be sent to:
Homewood Church of Christ
265 W. Oxmoor Rd
Birmingham, AL 35209
Attn: Cyndi Chowning memorial

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Kelly's illnesses - on the road to recovery

I have not felt it appropriate to blog much in light of the tragedy of Cyndi Chowning’s death last week (see posts below). Still, her memorial service is not until Saturday, so I feel it is most respectful to Richard and his family not to blog too much this week either. I know the journey of grief will go on for years, but this is such a painful week for their family. I believe Richard is due to arrive tonight in America (Tuesday), but Cyndi’s body will not be arriving until later in the week. I cannot imagine dealing with the death of my wife, much less being separated from her body for so many days and for it to be across the world. May the Lord give the Chowning family all much grace and peace this week and beyond.

The events of last week (all of which I didn’t feel it appropriate to blog about) also included Kelly getting very, very sick. Again, in light of the tragic and senseless death of a servant of Christ, I just couldn’t blog about Kelly being sick…even as bad as it was. I think you all understand why.

It all started a week ago tonight….probably some mild symptoms prior to that….but it hit hard Tuesday night last week. Kelly was bedridden and sicker than I had ever seen her. Yes, I was scared many times, and candidly, the news of Cyndi’s death on Wednesday afternoon intensified every fear I had. Life is so fragile anywhere, but there’s something about being here in rural Africa where that feeling is exaggerated. So far from medical help and working alone heightened the reality that when we needed an extra pair of hands to watch the kids, it was a challenge. But God did provide through some precious African friends who work in our home who went above and beyond their normal work duties (including working on their normal days off) to help me watch the kids, cook food, and even do laundry. And our old friend Jim Kennell (a teammate here in Benin until 2002 who is visiting for a few weeks) also chipped in a whole lot with the kids and helped me have some sanity late at night, debriefing what was happening with Kelly (symptoms), reviewing medications (and deciding between the two of us some things that were not necessary), and just talking about life (a good distraction when Kelly was finally getting rest).

Today, Kelly was strong enough and we all went to Cotonou to do some additional blood work and see one of the European doctors that we are accustomed to using. After reviewing today’s blood work, the results showed that for the past week, Kelly has been dealing with a grave case of malaria (but now well on the road to recovery), slight anemia, and a serious bacterial infection that is impacting her liver and resulting in ruthless fatigue (worse than the fatigue you get from the flue or mono…deep, deep fatigue). The latter is still the enemy of the day and recovery (Rest! Rest! Rest!) will last for several weeks. There had been some suggestions from the doctors in our rural clinic about typhoid fever and even hepatitis. Both of those were ruled out today at the doctor in Cotonou! Praise the Lord!

Again, I hesitate to even write about this in light of the Chownings’ ordeal….please forgive me. But I know so many of you would want to know what’s gone on with Kelly, too. Her body has suffered a lot….taken some mighty hard blows….but healing is evident and the victory is clear! The fatigue will be conquered by God’s own design (shouldn’t we all rest more?!) But while my heart is light and leaps for joy over Kelly’s progress, I do so with hesitancy knowing Richard lost his wife this past week. The severity of my wife’s illnesses and his wife’s accident occurred on the very same day. This week, Richard is grieving Cyndi’s death alongside of his children. I spent today laughing with my wife and enjoying the color back in her beautiful eyes. Two very different emotions for our two families. I’m still trying to process it all in my head and I can’t. Why Cyndi? Why now? Why how? And why do we get to celebrate healing next to a friend in the deepest grief of his life? God is good and can make sense of it all, but honestly I can’t in my head.

For those of you who did know what was going on with Kelly, thank you so much for your encouraging emails and phone calls….they too played a huge role in encouraging us!


Sunday, June 18, 2006

Cyndi Chowning - A Humble Servant of Christ

Posted by Picasa

This past week, a great tragedy occurred...a servant of God was killed in a senseless accident. Cyndi Chowning died this past Wednesday afternoon after being hit by a motorcycle. Richard and Cyndi were out during their normal afternoon Bible studies, sharing the love of Christ with the Aja people when it all happened...she was rushed to the hospital but died soon from injuries sustained in the accident. We grieve the loss of a colleague in Christ among the Aja people. Cyndi was loved by so many Aja Christians. She served them humbly, quietly, faithfully and always with great passion. Richard will return Stateside tomorrow and Cyndi's body will be flown to America for a memorial service at the end of the week (details pending). Please pray for Richard, their children (Aaron and wife Janet, Heather and husband David, and Naomi and husband Wes) and their entire family (both in America and among the many in the family of Christ among Aja people).

Some other posts from missionary colleagues:
Anthony Parker (former missionary to Benin and Togo) -here.
Murphy Crowson (former missionary to the Aja people and currently serving in Togo) - here.
Patti Slack (former missionary in Togo) - here.
Posted by Picasa

Cyndi Chowning loved the Aja people, especially encouraging the women and children. Cyndi worked tirelessly in this country for 8 years putting together lessons suitable for women and children.

One request from the family: in lieu of flowers, they have asked that donations be made to assist with the completion of a Clinic and Primary School in Benin. This work has been a passion of Cyndi's for some time now.

Donations can be sent to:

Homewood Church of Christ
265 W. Oxmoor Rd
Birmingham, AL 35209
Attn: Cyndi Chowning memorial

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Big on Bush - Sick at Home

Call me unpopular, but I'm a big fan of PRESIDENT BUSH, especially when he does one of his secret visits to Iraq (like Thanksgiving a few years ago). I think it's gutsy and important. Call it a stunt if you want, but I think it's a bold expression of support for the Iraqi government and for our troops!


Timo and Kelly are both not feeling well...some sort of virus we think...Kelly is really trying to complete 1st grade with Tori by the end of June, but it requires every day to finish. Pray for her that she can find healing and strength! And of course, we miss our sweet funny Timo when he is sick. Pray for that little guy as well!
Tori the Cowgirl loves her Bow and Arrow! Don't worry grandparents, Timothy is just a spectator (although he doesn't quite understand why he can't shoot the lizards with his "bowarrow")...she loves practicing! Posted by Picasa
Bullseye!! (well, close enough) Tori got a strong enough shot that it knocked the target off it's stand!  Posted by Picasa
It's always fun to celebrate the opening of a new restaurant...and that doesn't always happen in Benin! In the capital city of Cotonou, we were among the first customers enjoying STEERS and DEBONAIRS PIZZA (a joint eatery). They are both big in South Africa I think and Steers is in Ghana too I know (other places too I'm sure). It was a little pricey, but it sure seemed worth it! The "fast" food is not American pace, but still not too bad. It is the only soft-serve ice cream in the country (although being "soft" to begin with may not be a blessing in all this heat and humidity!) We snapped this pic just before Timo's vanilla cone meltdown! Posted by Picasa
Two brothers who give us quite a ride sitting next to each other on long trips to Cotonou! Timothy does not like Jonathan in "his" space! Any of you have turf wars in your cars?!! Posted by Picasa
The wonderful view from the middle! (Tori usually occupies the back seat all to herself!) Posted by Picasa
Lael either being friendly or crying out for relief! Posted by Picasa


Sunday, June 11, 2006

One final team picture Posted by Picasa
The Prices in June of 2006 Posted by Picasa
The Prices in June of 2004 Posted by Picasa

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Au Revoir PRICE FAMILY! Goodbye!

Less than an hour ago, I dropped the Price family off at the airport. It marks the end of a chapter…and the beginning of a new one for both of our families! It was May 2004 when the Price family first arrived in Benin (I wish I had a digital photo of the night they arrived). Here’s a photo from June 2004 as our two families walked to the Kaitemey church one Sunday morning. Wow, now look at the other picture (taken just a few hours ago)….everyone’s grown up! The picture focuses on the external changes, but we know and even celebrate all the interior transformation that has gone on! As we prayed together one final time, I felt compelled to thank God for every good experience, as well as each personal challenge. Through this divine blend of encounters, each of our lives in this strange land has been changed. The Prices leave Benin different than when they came. And we are certainly better people (I think) than we were several years ago!

As a matter of fact, it was actually the year 2002 when the Prices first expressed the desire the follow the call of God to Benin. Preparation and planning consumed the rest of ’02 and all of ’03 and it was ’04 when they first landed in Benin as a family. Historically for our family, the year 2002 was a difficult year. Looking back, the years previous had rocked our faith, shaken our emotions, and tested our inmost character. Candidly, it was the latter half of ’02 when our family was at its worst, our very lowest point. It’s hard to say for sure, but having worked alone for quite some time at that point, we found ourselves facing a difficult situation…a series of devastating losses had rendered us depressed, disheartened, and honestly pondering the reality of a future in Benin. “Could we really continue there…did we even want to?” It was a hard time! But it was in the midst of those darker days when the Prices stepped up and answered the call of God to abandon it all to join us in Benin. While it was almost 2 years before they physically touched down in this West African country, we can sincerely look back with gratitude for their receptivity to join God in what He was doing here. Had they not been obedient, I’m really not sure we would have been able to stay. Simply put (and don’t think it was ever “simple” for them), because they were obedient to a difficult call, we stuck it out and have witnessed much fruit since 2002. And every single day we remain among the Aja after tonight…well, it’s hard not to acknowledge that, at least in part, it is the obedience of the Price family in 2002 that encourages our continuation in this ministry. We praise God for the years of influence the Prices have had and will continue to have in our lives and in the lives of some really close Aja friends!

The Prices will arrive at DFW on Sunday, June 11th, at 7:53pm, United Airlines # 359.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


On their last day in Aja land, the Prices pose with one of their best friends, Senou (see-new), on a favorite spot near Dekpo, where a church started in 2004 because of their family's witness. Out in this field, it is a high point where you can see for miles! This is one of those beautiful spots in Benin and a fitting picture for the Prices on their final day. We will miss them and so will many Aja people! Posted by Picasa


After leaving here Saturday night, the Prices will arrive at DFW on Sunday, June 11th, at 7:53pm, United Airlines # 359.
Dawna and Kelly Posted by Picasa