Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A much needed GET AWAY!

For most of the month of January we had power and water with out any interruption. This was very nice after going almost 2 and ½ months without either!! However, starting last week, the interruption of power and water has begun again. We are back to using our generator some days, around the clock. When the ration of power began we had only a limited supply of gasoline on hand and it ran out before we were available to go and purchase any more…therefore Monday (day and night) we were without power….the night was a sleepless one for me and one dear child whose name begins with J who refused to sleep.

Tuesday morning I was beyond exhausted! Randy took over with the kids and let me sleep for 2 wonderful hours. When I woke up, he had worked out a plan for me and Tori to leave and go to Cotonou and stay one night in our favorite hotel! We were so excited! I had not been outside of our house and the surrounding village in almost a month!!

Tori and I had SO MUCH FUN!!! We went straight to the hotel which has been under going much needed renovations. We stayed in a room that had been redone and we loved oohing and ahhing over the new look…this is a hotel that we have stayed in many times over the past 8 years and we know it well! We ate a late lunch at the restaurant and then rested for a bit in our room. Around 4 we went to run a few errands which included stopping at only the stores we considered fun to go into! We stayed out until we were too tired and then we got dinner to go from our favorite restaurant and went back to the hotel. We ate our dinner and it seemed liked we laughed all night long! We were just plain silly!!!

It felt so wonderful to change the scenery and really have some time to just laugh and play! We went to bed around 10, which to Tori, seemed like the biggest treat…and it was for the both of us!!!:)

This morning we got up, ate breakfast, and did some grocery shopping before heading back home. We were hardly gone 24 hours and I feel so refreshed! I am so thankful that my sweet husband was proactive in making sure I got away when I did!!

Back at the house there again is no power and no water….

An update on the strike in the courts….Our lawyer called and said the strike continues, however the court will be working this Friday. He is on schedule to be there Friday morning and will be speaking with someone there about our situation. He said that he will access the situation and then come directly to our house on Friday and we will discuss where things stand. Please pray for favor in the courts on Friday and for PROGRESS!!!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Our kids are always thinking about cowboys...if there is time to play, it is time to play cowboys and indians...these pictures are from over the weekend...I am always amazed with their creativity and resourcefulness....You can see Tori and Timo riding their horses and galloping around the one picture Timo is tying up his horse...the first picture is Timo counting his money after he robbed the of the pictures was a play they put on for me this afternoon on the deck in front of the house...Timo was supposed to be the robber, but Lael beat him to the money...Jonathan put on his hat to watch the show!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Happy Birthday Precious Bailey Jeffrey!
Three Years old Today!
We sure would love to be at your Fancy party!
We found you a very fun present and we can't wait to get it to you!
Be looking in the mail!
We love you so much!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Some thoughts from Kelly

This week has been one full of emotion for me (Kelly). We have been selling our furniture and household items daily to missionaries and some African friends. The items remain in our home but are tagged for others now and will soon begin disappearing as we make arrangements with others for them to be taken.

Our departure seems to be a constant topic of conversation. Conversations between Randy and me, with our kids, with our workers, family and friends back home….eagerly anticipating the future and at the same time, beginning to feel the emotion of the separation to come from our life in Benin. I find myself feeling ways that I cannot even explain or make sense out of until I step back and reflect on the magnitude of the transition that we are in the midst of…

This week we have started making plans for our beloved dog Booker. Sossa has said that he very much wants to keep him and that he will start building a wall around a portion of his house next month to prepare for taking him. We are all happy about this plan…

Another week has passed and the strike continues in the courts of Benin. This has been very discouraging to me. I know that the Lord is aware of all of the details and nothing is unfolding in a way that surprises him….even so, patient perseverance is tough and I have been struggling….

The father of one of Tori’s closest friends died somewhat suddenly this week. He had been sick for about 6 days. Tori’s friend is named Jackie. He came to our house immediately after he found out and wanted to see Tori. She came in and said, “Mommy, we have to do something for him!” I was pondering what to do, while she ran out to the school room. She came running back in with a box of new crayons, and a box of pencils with some paper. She said, “Jackie really likes to draw so maybe this will help him right now.” She took it out to him and they sat outside and colored for awhile. He seemed a little happier. He asked her to please come to the funeral. Randy, Tori, Timo and I went to the funeral yesterday. It was just across the street from our house and we were walking in the sea of darkness that Randy referred to in an earlier post. We were surrounded by people who have no hope and who live in fear. We have lived here for 8 years and it is still stunning to see the effort and sacrifice made for gods of the darkness that have brought nothing but continual suffering and oppression for these poor people. No blessing. No favor. No mercy or grace.

We serve the One and Only God beyond all understanding that loves with abandon and desires that no one would be without his mercy and grace. I pray that the Lord will continue to show us his heart for the Aja people and that in our remaining months in Benin, that he will be reflected in our lives…that we will be his hands of blessing, favor, mercy and grace so that as many as possible can know the realities of life in Christ.

Tonight Randy participated in a Baby dedication of one of the Christian couples at the church in Dandihoue. After yesterday’s experience at the pagan funeral, it was a blessing to celebrate a new life being dedicated to God. This young couple, Anthony and Angel, represent the hope and future of the church in Benin. Randy said that it was so refreshing and encouraging to hear the prayers of Anthony for his young son, who at the dedication was given the name Emmanuel. A new generation of disciples is already among us. May God continue to multiply and bear fruit in the lives of the Christians with whom we have had the privilege of working.
Tori and her
creative friends again....
Today you will notice there is a movie star who is being caught on video camera ...
not sure if he is just making an appearance or if he is putting on a show....
look closely at the rocks in the hands of the kids...
our movie star has been seen previously on this blog playing Jesus on the cross, and as a sick patient attending our clinic...
Today, he is a superstar!!
Yesterday I was so thrilled to see that Timothy had his own friend that he was running around with, playing and talking peacefully too! Sometimes his relationships are a bit more interactive as he is fighting for the attention of his sister...yesterday was different. I asked Timo the name of his friend, he said, "This is a special kind of friend that you call Moses!" I don't know if that is his real name or not....but I sure did like the special way he played with Timo!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Yesterday I visited two churches. I don’t usually do such a thing, rather preferring to rotate among the 7 congregations, spending a full Sunday worship with each assembly. But this week, I wanted to share a special Word with both congregations who happen to be close to one another. So I joined one a little after 9a and then left there about 11a (after I gave my lesson). I arrived at the other 11:20a and worshipped with them and shared the same lesson, finishing up at almost 1p. I was encouraged by the size at these small communities of faith…these are not mega churches…churches of 200+ in the States seem like mega churches to me now. But considering the size of the small villages, I think the size of these congregations represent a significant beacon of light in the midst of a sea of darkness. Practices offensive to the One and Only continue to stun me as we shine the Light of Christ, but not because I’m unaccustomed to voodoo (I’ve walked these dirt paths for 8 years now!) I am continually arrested with the thought that what we do and who we proclaim is truly as different as Light and Dark. In one village, I parked my truck about 10 feet from the gigantic village shrine, freshly adorned with its recent chicken sacrifice. In the other, I always park next to the home of, and greet a voodoo priestess decorated with an array of amulets warding off the evil spirits. We minister in a place where we Christians are the minority; we are the ones who stand out as peculiar, different, bizarre and even wicked (we come here with an impression of how wicked voodoo is…then we find ourselves counseling new persecuted believers who themselves are deemed “wicked” for refusing to join the rest of the village in the annual sacrifice to appease the gods and the host of ancestral spirits).

These two churches also invited me to attend a meeting they were having together to discuss the growth of the church in their particular region. I drove a half dozen from Gbotayidohoue back to Dandihoue were we joined about 15 from there. They addressed the strengths and struggles of their two congregations, noting that while that while a strong group of members have remained faithful through the years (Dandihoue, “donny-way” was planted in 2004; Gbotayidohoue, “bow-tie” was started in 2005), they were quick to acknowledge that many baptized believers have failed to continue in their journey of faith, and as well, there were no new churches planted in 2006. I appreciated their humility to recognize their weaknesses. I was very blessed to hear of their desire to not stay the same, but to move forward. They briefly discussed plans for organizing a workforce of believers committed to reaching out to former baptized believers who have lapsed in their activity in the community of faith. As well, they promoted the idea that in early 2007, they wish to collaborate together to reach another nearby village for Christ! I love their missional spirit and their heart for strengthening existing churches.

This coming week is filled with opportunities to encourage. On Tuesday, I am looking forward to spending the entire day with 3 of my favorite leaders. We are making a road trip to the capital city where we are going to pick out some quality Christian books, commentaries and theological dictionaries (in the capital city, the evangelical and Catholic presence is much stronger and thus more access to resources for believers). Our leaders are trying to strengthen themselves spiritually for when I depart; we are partnering together to provide them biblical literature that will help them in their studies, lesson preparation and spiritual growth. I have other scheduled meetings with other leaders throughout the week and then a baby dedication on Friday evening (gotta come up with a Scriptural boy name by the end of the week…any suggestions?)

I also start another study through the gospel of John this coming Sunday night. This time it is at the congregation of Aflantan (ah-flah-TAHN), each night from 6-10p. I’ll spend a lot of time this week in preparation.

We continue to think so much of the family of the missionary and church leader in Uganda who lost their lives this past week. We pray for the families of Adam and Moses, and for the many believers who were impacted by their Kingdom service. Last night, Kelly and I were finally able to watch the “End of the Spear” DVD. In light of the week’s tragic events, the emotions of that movie were almost too much. In the 1950’s, missionaries in Ecuador were killed by the very people they were trying to reach for Christ. In the movie, we see years later, that those same faces express deep remorse for their actions, repenting for having taken the missionaries lives. In the end, the son of one of those missionaries reconnects with the Waodani tribe and has an intense encounter with the very man who had speared his father to death. The Waodani man is weeping wildly, asking forgiveness from the son. The son, while fighting the rage of facing his father’s murderer, ultimately relents, poignantly speaking a profound truth about his father’s service in the Kingdom: “No one took my father’s life,” said the son to his father’s killer. “He gave it.”

We ask your continued prayers for Lael’s adoption…we continue to ask God to open up the doors as the courts in Benin have been on strike for the past few weeks. We’re praying for patient perseverance!


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Happy Birthday Mom !
You are so loved!
We talk about you all the time with smiles on our faces!
Timo is still asking daily, "How many more days till I can go back to Gandmother's house?"
We pray that today is filled with blessing and reminders of the love that surrounds you.
You are Precious!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Happy Birthday Sam Jeffrey!
Tori drew this for her uncle in Washington DC...this is a big birthday month for the Jeffrey side of the family...and you know how Tori loves to draw, so keep watchin' for more b-cards* to come!
* Blog Cards

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Today all 4 kids were enjoying some apple slices with peanut butter, outside in a little fort they have made. Lael grabbed the plate that had some peanut butter left on it and took off running!

Jonathan was hot on her trail!! These two are so hilarious to watch together, either best of friends... or not!!!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Harmattan is still hovering and giving us cooler temperatures, dirty faces, dirty everything for that matter, scratchy throats and some runny noses. Tori and Timothy enjoyed some fun times this afternoon with their friends.

An update in regards to Lael's adoption....The courts in Benin are in the 3rd week of a Strike....thus we are in a complete standstill at the moment and have been unable to proceed. We know we will proceed, but at this time do not know when the day is coming. Please pray with us as we perservere with patience and trust that the Lord is working in the details even when we cannot see. Please pray that the Strike will end soon.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Nap time ain't what it used to be!

These 2 have become quite the conversationalists and the past few days at nap time I have discovered various scenes when I have gone to check on them. Jonathan is always out of bed, sometimes he is in Lael's pack-n-play with her, yesterday he had climbed on to the top bunk (Tori's bed) and turned on the air conditioner and today he was marching around the room playing Tori's kazoo!

I have come up with another plan! Much to their dismay, they must be separated!! Jonathan is now taking his nap on Mommy and Daddy's bed and Lael is on her own. That works great!


Some of you have let us know that you are having trouble making comments on our blog. Not sure why this is happening (since we switched to the upgraded version of Blogger). Someone has had success using the generic username and password that we created....give it try and see if you have better success!

(both the same for easy remembering!)

Just know that if you use the generic “CommentRV” username, please identify yourself in what you write to us in the post!

Sossa was taking a moment to eat his lunch and 3 of our 4 kids found him and were not shy about asking for a bite or two....

Tori has started cursive writing and LOVES IT! Talk about exciting...she rarely complains any more about her assignments as long as she can write the answers in cursive! When asked why she likes it so much, she says, "because it looks like a many loops, it's like writing with her rope."

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Churches are Doing Well

In any ministry, there are days, seasons, and even prolonged periods of discouragement, weakness, and certainly lots of failure. I can say I have experienced all of that here in Benin since we arrived in 1999. All of it!

But I am so thrilled at what I’m seeing these days! Praise the Lord!

I am confident first and foremost that the fruit we are seeing is the result of so many prayers, many in this country, a lot on this continent, and countless prayers lifted up from nations around the world! Kelly and I love talking to our Aja brothers and sisters here and sharing with them that people in Thailand, Brazil, South Africa, USA, Mexico, Uganda, Togo, Burkina Faso, Belgium (and more!!) are praying for them…I love knowing we have friends, family and missionary colleagues in all those places! May God bless each one of you as you intercede for these Aja Christians from your ordained places of prayer.

As well, the collaborative efforts we have experienced with our Christian Church brothers and sisters have no doubt played its part in producing such fruit! Unity is a blessed promise of our God and it affords good and pleasant feelings of strength when we join with others in Christ to advance the Kingdom!

This past Saturday, the members of our Leadership Council met. I’ve said before, that at this stage in the game (with us leaving in a few months), I am thrilled to report that they did not want me involved in their meeting!! And the subject of the meeting was discussing the action plan for 2007! It gives me great delight to see their confidence and to hear of their prayer considerations for joining what God is already doing here. They met in a meeting place adjacent to my house, so although I was not invited, I admit to sneaking around and listening in on their conversations!! And while I honestly couldn’t make out much of the actual mumbled words through the steel door, what gave me great joy was to hear lots of laughter! This is a culture where seemingly vicious conflict is commonplace in their daily conversations with one another, even in the church! So I loved hearing these men (during my periodic missions of espionage and eavesdropping) find it easy to laugh with their fellow brothers. In the end, they sent word and asked if they could have me come in to hear their tentative plans, their concerns for the year, and then ask for me to pray with them about their initiatives. What joy!

On Sunday, I visited the congregation of Aflantan (ah-fla-TON). This is a church special to my heart – mainly because it was the first church I was involved in planting, back in 2000. These guys were so patient with me…it was here where I was clearly practicing my language…it’s a wonder anyone understood a word I said! While the numbers have fluctuated, a majority of them have remained faithful. I have probably spent as much time in this village as any of the 7 villages where we have churches. And yet over the years, while I would marvel at their perseverance in spite of their small size, I would also get frustrated in their unwillingness to grow and seek out the lost. But on Sunday, I was struck that this church had no doubt grown from where they were a year ago! Again, what joy! They kept having to go and get more and more benches as more and more people poured in. At the end of the service, 3 younger adults came forward to express their repentance, while also asking for prayers for their families to permit their conversion to Christianity. I loved having the privilege of bringing such a challenge to the Lord’s throne! He delights in making a way for those who love Him!

Again, while the work of the Lord is wrought with challenges of finances, jealousy among brothers, separation of spouses, sickness and death, and a host of young weak believers falling away because of discouragement, the work of our God is also teeming with victories over sin, freedom from fear, overcoming oppression, and most evident to me lately, unity is breeding strength and confidence among His people!


Sunday, January 07, 2007

Brothers Having Fun

Looking for the boys earlier this week I discovered they can find fun just about anywhere!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Happy Birthday Jonathan

God, we feast on the abundance of your house and we know that you give us drink from your river of delights!

Psalm 24:1

When I was pregnant with Jonathan the scripture above jumped from the pages of the Bible and seem to take on special meaning, so much so that Randy and I felt somehow it spoke to us something of our baby to come! We chose to give Jonathan his middle name of Ruisseau based on this Scripture and several others that refer to rivers being a source of strength for the righteous.

Jonathan Ruisseau Vaughn was born January 3rd, 2005! His middle name is pronounced
"ree-SO". It means stream or river in the French language.

Yesterday we celebrated his second birthday. We plan to actually have a birthday party for him sometime in March with presents and a fun cake….placing some time between Christmas and his birthday so that his birthday does not get lost in the activity of the holidays!

Jonathan is kind and gentle, tough and loud. He loves his family. His body is so strong and when he falls he is quick to get back up. He is easily consoled although he does not let you console for very long! Many times I wish he would let me hold him just a little longer!! He loves to sing and we continually hear him singing throughout the day (Laurance always says she thinks Jonathan is going to sing in the church someday!)

Randy and I know the Lord has great plans for Jonathan and we know they are good!

The following pictures show our day with him yesterday, from starting the day with Daddy's pancakes to a party with a small cake at lunch with our family, to afternoon with a popsicle and then getting ready for bed! (Randy plans to make him a fun cake later in March…he did not want this cake to give out any impressions that he is beginning to slack on his birthday cake making skills!)

Today he looked different to me! He looked like a big boy!

Happy Birthday Jonathan! We love you!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Jonathan is ready for bed! He is actually snuggled up in a blanket because this is one of the 3 chilly days of the year in Benin! Because of Harmattan it has been very cool here.