Wednesday, February 28, 2007

On the some random thoughts from RV

Kelly just called from Cotonou where Becky and Payton are at the airport, heading home to their T - O - N - Y and B - E - N - J - A - M - I - N (I was really impressed with Payton's ability to spell!) It has been a great week with much packed into a few short days. They blessed us so much. Becky spoke encouraging words over us every day. Such words are not easy to come by in these parts. That's one of the things we miss so much....we miss being a part of a community of people who speak blessing over one another. We're looking forward to that as we return home soon.

ADOPTION "UPDATE": Rather than a court date, we were told by our attorney that the Tribunal president would like to talk to Ega personally. We are all scheduled to go on Friday at 8.00a . . . pray that Ega's consent will be clear to this man and that there won't be any more delay. We are praying that rather than scheduling a subsequent hearning for next week, that we'll just take care of the adoption hearing then and there. We're asking that God make known on earth what has already been declared in heaven!

I was blessed today to have some help watching Jonathan and Lael so that I could get out of the house to visit some believers in their home. I was on foot (Kelly has truck in Cotonou), so I got in some much needed exercise...time to clear my head and pray out loud to my God...except for the half dozen elementary kids who heckled me the entire 20-minute walk to Kaiteme. Now, I know I'm supposed to revel in a "Jesus-Model" mentality where I love having children following me wherever I go...but it was not fun today. But I have matured some over the I just kept walking and praying, not being so bothered by their obvious (?) lack of sensitivity that I was trying to have an alone-time with God (in years past, I have gone from, "wow, this is just like Jesus must have felt to have all these kids shouting my name" to "scram kids - beat it - you're bothering me - go home!"....)

Anyway, I arrived at my destination of the village of Kaiteme (ky-uh-tim-ay) where I visited Ega (Lael's birth father) and a newly baptized believer named Doto. It just happens that they were together when I arrived! Ega was in the middle of offering him counsel on a situation going on his life...offering him a new perspective on how GOD sees the situation. I was blessed that Ega was the one offering the counsel. As well, Doto told me that last night, Ega had gathered together several new believers for some intimate prayer for their journey of seeing the on-going maturity in this man. Doto left after an hour and Ega and I spent the next 3 hours talking about all sorts of things. It was a blessing to me. We got to recall our friendship history, brainstorm on how to help a man in a desperate financial situation, pray together and shared a couple of soft drinks together. As I walked home, the 20-minute walk seemed so short because I was thanking God so much for my friendship with Ega.

The past couple of days, I have been especially blessed by the live worship DVD by Hillsong, "Mighty to Save." It is so good! Kelly and I have loved their live worship albums for over a decade...we love the live DVDs. It is so cool to escape from the aloneness of this place and worship our Savior alongside thousands of other worshippers. One of the things that blesses me about Hillsong is how many original songs are birthed out of their own congregation. What a testimony to God's activity and a testament to the leadership's effort to equip the body for works of service.

I'm somewhat jealous of people who compose songs....believe me I have tried to write worship songs of my own but they never go anywhere. Even Ega reminded me today of a song that God gave him when he was studying the story of Cain and Abel (to my credit, I was the one who taught him the story?!!!) Anyway, I have a lesson that I am preparing in my will be the final lesson I give to the Aja people. I don't know when that day will be to deliver my sermon, but we'll talk about the family of nations on their knees in worship at the Throne of God! I love hearing the Vision of what the angels shout to God in praise (Rev 7.11-12)...I want to share those same sentiments in a song here...I just can't compose the melody. I'm praying God gives it to someone else so I can share the song when I give my "farewell address".

I have to be honest and say that since I did not grow up in a fellowship that permitted DANCE at all, much less as an expression of worship....well, I have not always appreciated the artful expression it is. On the "Mighty to Save" project (Hillsong), there is a worship song called "None But Jesus" where a group of authentic worshippers express their praise in dance. I have not always enjoyed the "dance teams" on all the Hillsong projects, but I have been blessed by the expression of this group. Of course, too, the Aja people are excitedly expressive in their dance as they worship God...nothing like Hillsong, but still an expression of what's in their heart!

One other lyric that blessed me tonight from the "Mighty to Save" DVD...standing before the throne of God declaring to our Father, "I know that you love me." Simple words of truth. Powerful confidence and reassuring faith. That's good worship.

Kelly will return tomorrow with what I'm sure is a full camera of photos taken the past couple of days at the beach and today's farewell to B&P. Check back soon for those!
I'm sure you're all ready for some thoughts from Kelly for a change......


* Can you believe it's already March???!!!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Waiting . . . on God's Sovereign and Perfect Time . . . Waiting


Yes, yet another day has passed and we still have no date for our adoption hearing. We continue to marvel at this "waiting game"...marveling at my impatience, and yet struck at the marvel that indeed the date is already set in heaven! But when do we get to hear?! Essentially, OUR need to hear is so that we can make other plans. Isn't the Lord a planner, too?! Doesn't He sense our need to know this date, so we can make plans for more dates down the line? It's absolutely crazy! For a split second, each time our attorney says, "maybe tomorrow", I get this rush of frustration and anger, and honestly I feel like punching my fist onto the table and screaming. Yet so quickly the Lord's reminder sweeps in with His great peace...a peaceful nudging to recall His faithfulness and that, in reality, HE was the one who set this whole adoption into our laps in the first place...He has the plan and He is in control. And we wouldn't have it any other way!!

A dear friend of our family loves to say, "God is seldom early and never late." (did I get that right?) I thought I was a pretty patient person before all of this...maybe God is us for something in the future. Or perhaps in the mystery of God's mighty plans, His untraceable, creative ways are just simply higher than our ways. The latter brings alot of hope and just requires faith! ha

Continue to pray with us that we will soon hear the date for our court hearing finalizing Lael's adoption here in Benin. Our attorney did say that in the petition, he requested a court date for March 9th...a perfect date as far as our calendar is concerned. He thinks we should be able to get that date...pray it is so!

Once the adoption is finalized in Benin, we have a host of other steps that involve US immigration and administrative details regarding Lael's Benin birth certificate, her Benin passport, etc.....

Kelly leaves on March 11-26 for a women's retreat in Kenya...we are praying with eagerness for the adoption hearing to be on the 9th so that she can be in attendance and not miss the Come Before Winter retreat.

We have some great guests coming our way over the next month...Mark Berryman (6-9), Greg Bailey (11-18) and my parents (18-26)! We love visitors, especially when they are people we love so much!

Persevere in prayer with us please.....
-Randy & Kelly

** Kelly, Tori, Timo, Becky and Payton all left today to spend a couple of days at the beach prior to their flight on Wednesday. I get to spend some Daddy time focusing on fun wrestling matches with Jonathan, sweet snuggle times with Lael and some serious obedience training for both!

Women Together in Great Joy!

On Saturday, over 40 women from various Churches of Christ and Christian Church congregations celebrated their fellowship together! Because of Becky's visit, we organized at the last minute a meeting at our house so that these women could come a greet Kelly's sister and have a good reason to praise the Lord together! Becky shared a powerful word from the Lord, challenging these women to meet regularly for prayer and as well, to assemble ALL the women together sometime this year for a celebration of worship! The women pictured are representatives of 7 of the congregations among the Aja people and from over half of the Christian Churches (in another people group). Later on this year, they will gather ALL the women together for a great time of praise and fellowship.

Kelly translated into French, and then we had one woman translate into the Aja language and yet another lady translate into the Fon language. It was quite the linguistic event! When it was all over, the ladies were given Cokes and cookies...eagerly served by the 3 best little helpers, Tori, Timothy and Payton!

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Happy Birthday to our February 25th birthdays!!! My dad, my niece and my sister-in-law all share the exact same birthday! Tori was sure proud of all 3 of was alot of work to do 3 b-cards!

PAPA: I think you can read most of yours, except the "I love you Papa" in blue on the right side. Thought she did pretty good drawing some of her favorite things about Papa!
LAURA: Of course Tori loves horses, so when I told her that Coronado's mascot is the mustang, she knew exactly what she'd draw for you! Hope your birthday was great!
TONI: Now this "double-T" thing is pretty complex, but I think she did a pretty job, huh?!

We took some fun pictures of the girls this morning....both are so pretty! I'm so proud to be their Daddy!

Friday, February 23, 2007

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God Bless Benin
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Village of Hope

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We had another great day yesterday as we visited an orphanage called Village of Hope just outside of Azove. We were so blessed and inspired by the children there and those that are caring for them. We had collected toys from our own home and we bought 6 soccer balls on the way and we took them all to the children. Our kids really were enthralled by the children as they came out and welcomed us with songs and dancing. We took a tour of their compound with the Director, viewed their school and Randy and I both had the opportunity to speak to the children and their caretakers. Tori lead us all in "Jesus Loves the Little Children" and Becky prayed for everyone at the end before we presented our gifts. The children were very responsive and we were so blessed to be there. Tori asked if we could return often so that she could start playing with these sweet kids. She was especially excited to meet some little girls her age.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Happy Times!

CHECK FOR NEW POST BELOW THIS ONE....for some reason, Blogger is not posting our 2/21 post on the right date...check it out below for our journey to see the HIPPOS !


Today was our afternoon excursion to see the hippos! (see more of the "journey" in the pictures below) Once we got down to the shore of the lake where we saw the size of the "boat" (see below), Kelly & Becky stayed on shore with the kids, but still within sight of the hippos periodically sticking their heads above the water! It was quite a sight...then Randy and two of our African friends hopped into the small dug-out canoe and headed out to look a little closer! Timo kept saying, "My Daddy is so brave." Some of you might choose other adjectives ! :)

The guide took us out several hundred feet, but we maintained a distance of the 3 hippos that were in this lake (we found out that this is a special project of an NGO to help promote tourism in the area...they put 3 hippos in this lake and hope to breed more (why I'm not sure?)...anyway, the guide knew right where they were...while we kept a safe distance, it was quite the adrenalin rush to be out in the same water with these huge creatures! I thought it was a fun experience, but my African friends were less impressed...they kept saying, "we want to see their whole body come up out of the water." To that, I said, "if I see that whole body start getting out of this water, I'm running as fast as I can to the truck!" It was a fun afternoon to spend with my family and my African friends as well. Anyone up for a visit to Benin and a trip to see the hippos up-close and personal?!!

In the above collage,
(Top Row)
Payton, Tori, and Timo are eager to see some hippos on the truck ride down to the lake; some kids in Djoukonta; the 30-minute walk from the road down to the lake was truly part of the "African experience"
(Middle R0w)
The kids kept commenting on the "walk through the jungle"; one of the kids who found us more interesting than any hippos (we are somewhat accustomed to the stares!); here Randy is getting in the boat with 2 of his African Christian brothers who made the journey with us
(Bottom Row)
here's a couple of more pictures of Randy on the dug-out canoe heading out to get a closeup view of the beastly creatures!; a few more of the on-lookers

The long haul through the "jungle" wore out the boys...Uncle Randy took his turn with Payton while Mathias (mah-tee-AHS) carried Timo.

Of course Tori did her part in helping out with Payton!

(Top Row)
the kids enjoy some pool time to beat the heat!; Lael & Jonathan looking cuter than ever (especially when they are sportin' their much-needed new clothes from America!)
(Middle & Bottom Rows)
Tori, Timo and Payton really love their new nerf guns from Uncle Tony!; Tori loves reading bedtime stories to her brother and cousin; fun cousin pictures of PTT; finally the bottom right picture is literally just 5 feet from where the other pictures were taken...Jonathan & Lael were supposed to be on their beds taking a nap when Kelly spotted these jealous cousins more interested in the fun outside than what Mom wanted them to be doing inside (resting!)

Happy Birthday Colby!

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Becky & Payton Arrived in Benin ! ! !

First of all, I'll post a B-Card* for our nephew Colby who will turn 4 tomorrow! We're so proud of you...hope you like the card Tori made! (* blog-card) UPDATE: Can't get the picture up there...we'll try again tomorrow!

Secondly, I got word just moments ago that Becky and Payton arrived safely to Benin! All their bags made it, too! Kelly, Tori and Timothy went to the capital city this afternoon to be there to pick them up (I'm hanging back to spend some fun time time with Jonathan and Lael). We're so excited to have B&P here with us...we have a full week ahead of us! Check back on Monday afternoon for some pictures! And then just back every day for more and more pics!

This week, I've spent alot of time out in the homes of some of our leaders. One lives literally next door...he's not yet married, so we talk alot about his hopes in that arena. But he's a man with a heart for the lost and wants to be the best evangelist he can be. I've enjoyed some simple heart-to-heart conversations with Senou this week. He's a good man and I'm excited that he is committed to the church here.

I spent another 4 hours with Mathias down in his village about 30 minutes from here. We talked and talked and talked about matters relating to the church. I love talking with Mathias because he is a visionary like me and he is energized by talking about the future and so many possibilities! They have some creative projects going on down there where they are trying to fortify their church's financial resources and enjoy the freedom of being self-supporting (and not in the hands of some foreign money). Chickens, pineapples, and other ways of incorporating incoming-generating projects into their ministry budgets. Anyone who has worked here among the Aja people has reinforced self-support and I believe it is going to be the best plan for them for the future. There are ways that we as outsiders can occasionally offer some assistance for certain projects where their offerings are not able to cover the scope of the project, but when we are talking daily ministry expenses, they need to be the ones to give. Toward the end of our discussion a couple of other men from the church (whom Mathias is training as leaders) joined us...gave me a chance to share some important things from the Word, and to hear of their concerns. We prayed together but not before Mathias' wife prepared a small snack for us. Fried yams and eggs...with lots of oil! Not going to appear on the menu at you local IHOP anytime soon, but I do like it!

I always enjoy my meetings with Yaovi. I've known Yaovi since 2000...spent countless hours with him around his small wooden table in his mud hut. We've graduated over the years from reading by kerosene lanterns to his new economic flashlight (the batteries last 10x longer than the old flashlights that were once sold in the markets...whoever introduced these newer models into the West Africa market must be making a fortune...I see them everywhere!) Anyway, this past Friday night, we talked about crafting and casting vision in the church. Yaovi was selected by his peers as the president of the leadership & organizational committee for the 7 churches. While still enjoying the blessing of congregational autonomy, collaborative leadership is a must in this place and Yaovi serves this capacity. He is a confident leader and one who leads humbly and quietly, but with strength. Rather than being a visionary, he is someone who has great skill in assessing the current situation and mobilizing and strategizing about where we are at right now. The leadership group admittedly was struggling with coming up with a vision and action plan for 2007...they solicited my help and Yaovi and I talked for 2 hours about that. It was very fun for me, and although I do have a tendency to overwhelm Yaovi with all my thoughts about the future, he said my thoughts were very practical for him some new thoughts on his leadership. We had to talk about about one self-designated leader in one of our churches who is teetering on thin ice...the words of his mouth speak alot about "doing the work of God" and "helping the church grow to its fullest potential." But the sting of some of his words, criticizing the current leadership and his tone indicating a level of arrogance...well, he's a difficult man to deal with. He came to my house last night and we talked for over an hour about the conflict (Yaovi had counseled me on how to handle this I'm thankful to have listened to another Aja brother's point of view). In the end, I just ask for your prayers for this man who I'll call "DD"....he has so much to offer, but in the same breath, everyone feels that he could just as easily tear things apart. Pray for DD to have humilty and all the rest of us to have the same humility when having conversations with him.

Ega (Lael's birth father) is also in our leadership group and I have had the privilege of hosting him here at my house twice this's refreshing to be with him. He's such an encouragement to me and vice versa. As well a visionary, Ega and I could probably talk for 2 hours every many ministry things we enjoy doing together. Some public things; some are quiet ministry efforts that go unnoticed to anyone other than God. Ega has his eye on a new bride and we are excited to see how things develop. This summer will be 2 years since Lokadi's death. I'm excited to see the Lord moving someone into his life to share the joys of life and ministry together. More on Suzanne as we hear more......:)

Kelly and I had a fun Valentines' could tell from the pictures that the kids loved it alot! Our romantic moment was sharing a fun strawberry drink that I bought in Cotonou the day before, as well as biting into this wonderfully scrumptious strawberry crumb cake made by this French pastry chef! While we feasted, we watched "The Notebook" on DVD. It was really good. Did any of you enjoy a romantic movie this week? Care to share your favorite romantic movie? Sleepless in Seattle would have been another choice (it's what Kelly and I watched our first Valentine's date in 1994!

OK, enough of the mushy stuff...hope to have several baptisms this week or next. Praise the Lord! We'll keep you posted!!

As you pray, please pray on behalf of the 4 different places where the Word is being preached right now here among the Aja:
(1) Seg-bay-JEE-way (2) Yay-WAY-may (3) Poh-bah and (4) joo-MAH-hoo

The Aja leaders are leading on each one of these evangelistic efforts....I'm excited about their initiative and excitement! Pray for them!


Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Happy Valentines!
Yesterday Tori and Timothy made Valentines after school and decorated our school room for today's class party. We invited parents and siblings to our special party.
Tori said, "Now when all the kids get here we will sit them down in a circle and pass out their Valentines!" I said, "Tori, you do remember who your siblings are don't you?"

After lunch we invited everyone in and even Daddy was able to come in for a little while! We did our best to sit everyone down, occupy them with a piece of Valentine cake (made and brought to school by Timo) and Tori stood in the center of the classroom reading the Valentines and passing them out! A fun time was had by all. We soon had to dismiss Jonathan and Lael because they were beginning to have a negative impact on our classroom. Smile Smile!! They continued their fun times outside the classroom!
Amazingly the fun family picture on top was taken with our self-timer and it is the first picture we have ever had that everyone is smiling!!!
If you want to see how much the family has changed in a year, check out last year's Valentine's Day post!

I wrote this and Tori read it to our family at the party!


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

This is truly a test ...

This is truly a test.
It is testing everything in us...

The strike continues. Work in the court continues on Mondays and Fridays only. The lady who was to have completed our paperwork on Monday, did not finish it before she left and she will not return until Friday. Ughhh....

We had our hopes set on this day that we would have a day to celebrate a forthcoming final hearing. We do not have that date yet and do not know when we will have it. Please know that we are doing everything we know to do to speed this process along.

Please pray for us as we endure to the end. It is our heart's desire to finish strong and to glorify the Lord all along the way.
We do get so angry and we do get so frustrated. It is a test and we know we must act wisely.

Please continue your prayers for our family. We know God is working out these details even though we cannot see. We trust the Lord.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Regain and maintain a calm sense of sanity!

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I am continually impressed with my husband. As mentioned in Saturday's post, our computer completely shut down Friday afternoon. This was discouraging to say the least. We have another old computer that runs very slow and that from time to time we have been able to use as a back up. Friday evening we got it out to try. It would not work either. It would turn on but we could not get it to boot up. Randy spent most of the day yesterday working dilligently to get this old computer working. Installing, Uninstalling, Downloading this and that....and the result is that we are back online communicating!!! He is brilliant! Have I mentioned how proud I am of my husband?

As well Randy spent yesterday morning trying to find missionaries who might have some visitors in the country this week who could take our laptop back to the States for repair. He called the Baptist Guesthouse to see if he could get a phone number from a call sheet they have posted there....thought maybe someone was staying there who could pass on a few missionary phone numbers. He didn't recognize the voice on the other end...turns out it is a volunteer missionary in the country until next week. He has graciously agreed to carry back our laptop to the States (he leaves on the same night Becky arrives)! Praise the Lord! We were exploring DHL in Cotonou (yes there is an office), but a simple one page letter costs over $100, so we were frightened at the cost of mailing a laptop! We'll arrange the details later, but we're hoping we can get it repaired and back to us before I leave for the ComeBeforeWinter retreat in Kenya March 11th.

Thanks for all your encouraging prayers and thoughts about the adoption. We are experiencing a peace that surpasses all understanding...really. His peace is guarding our heart. Normally, both of us would have pulled our hair out by now...but at each step, we feel the Lord's presence. We do pray that by early next week, we'll be able to announce to you the date of our adoption hearing.

Randy and I are people people!
We thrive on communication and connecting with YOU!!! We have absolutely no email addresses in this address book. If you have sent any emails and are waiting for a reply, please resend your email and we will be in touch as soon as possible.
You can email us at

If you have been following our blog for the past months, you are aware we have been facing continual challenges as we near the end of our time in Benin. Sometimes the stress can feel overwhelming! Friday when the computer went down, a quote ran through my head that I had heard last fall...."Regain and maintain a calm sense of sanity!" I told Randy we should write that out and post it up several different places in the house! The Lord is faithful. We get discouraged but we still have our sense of humor. That is a very good sign!

One week from today Becky and Payton arrive!
Fun and Memory making moments are on the way!!!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Adoption Update! /Computer problems!

Great News! Randy and Kelly heard from their lawyer today and he was able to get an audience with the President of the Court. The Lawyer was able to present the Vaughn's case and the President said to come back on this coming Tuesday when he will give the lawyer the date he will be able to make everything official. This is wonderful we are hoping that this means the Benin proceedings will be complete within the month of February. Randy and Kelly are absolutely elated!

However, in the midst of all the excitement they realized their computer is dead. As you can imagine, in a world where email and blogs are one of their only sources of communication, they are very discouraged by this sudden demise in their computer.

Please feel free to leave a comment of encouragement to R and K (they will be able to check comments at an internet cafe), a comment of praise to the God who is walking this adoption through the courts, a comment of joy that what the Lord sealed in heaven the day Lael was placed in Randy and Kelly's arms is now being sealed here on earth on paper! What a great God we serve!

So much love to you for supporting my sister and her family!-
Becky Brooks

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

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Fun Family Time

We are back from 2 perfect days at the beach! We were in great need of some family play and rest time...and some consistant power and water and a chance to eat some meals already prepared!!! We were not disappointed! This was our first trip without pack and our room we had 4 pallets on the floor and the kids loved it!! Jonathan and Lael even stayed on their own pallets...most of the time! Tori and Timo loved catching sand crabs and lots of pool time. Randy and I took turns taking naps!! And we had lots of fun play time together as a family!

Back at home we have returned to no water and we are again running the generator! Glad we have returned refreshed!

We are praying tomorrow we will hear a good report from our lawyer about our upcoming hearing for the finalization of Lael's adoption! Stay tuned!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Kelly has had the opportunity to write some great thoughts this week. I’m so thankful for my wife! Living here in Africa, especially lately with our all-day outages of water, phone, electricity and even gasoline for the generator, she still maintains a joy in our home that keeps things peaceful (even with kids tossin’ guacamole at her…yesterday’s post!)

This has been one of my busiest weeks in a long time. I am truly exhausted, but the good kind of exhausted. Starting this past Sunday night and continuing every night except Tuesday, we studied the Gospel of John (took a break for their market day). I have done this study now in all but 2 of our congregations. I enjoy the fellowship with the different churches and I get “fed” a lot myself by teaching the Word of God! We do tons of memorization which is brought to an exciting finish with an oral examination on the final day! They dread it all week, but in every church where I’ve done this, everyone has surprised themselves at how well they know the material. The church at Aflantan (ah-flah-than) was no exception. Over 35 people gathered 5 nights this past week to soak in the Word of God. Especially noteworthy is that only 5 of those had any abilities to take notes or read the Scriptures for themselves. We minister in a primarily oral learning culture!

It was in the year 2000 when the small assembly first started meeting together at Aflantan. They were truly my “guinea pig” when it came to church planting. I arrived in Benin in ’99 and spent a year learning language in a classroom setting. The following spring, I was ready to advance my learning into the field, and another Aja evangelist at the same time was wanting to proclaim the Good News at a village called Aflantan. So I went along as his sidekick and his apprentice. I don’t remember a whole lot from those days, but I remember well the days of getting aggravated that I had spent most of the day preparing my Aja language notes so very carefully, only to find out that when I presented my brief Bible story in their language, it was incomprehensible still! The amazing thing was that after 6 weeks, my evangelist partner decided he was done at Aflantan and left me in charge of this new body of believers! Oh, Lord, thank you for your mercy! It’s a wonder they are still a vibrant congregation! I committed plenty of cultural blunders out there (and probably continue to do so!) I am certain I became well-known for demonstrating a pathetic lack of patience with my African brothers that I didn’t know I was capable of having (aka, “extreme frustration!”) But all-in-all, the Lord has been gracious and so have the brothers and sisters in that church. Yaovi (yah-o-vee) and Honore (on-or-ray) and their families have become some of my favorites among these Aja people. I have poured hours and hours of leadership training into those two men and it is encouraging to see the fruit of such labor. Honore continues to grow in his confidence as a leader and Yaovi was chosen by his peers last September as the head of the Executive Leadership Council. Last night as we finished the final night of study, Yaovi and Honore invited Senou (see-new) and me to share a soft drink together. Senou has been my apprentice in this study for the past 3 times I have done it…he is now fully capable of leading the study on this own…I hope he’ll do it at the remaining 2 congregations. As Senou and I drank the locally bottled fruit cocktail drinks in Yaovi’s mud hut, he and Honore started recounting a number of tales about their American friend. Fortunately they had laughed long enough once they recalled the time THEY spent 2 hours trying to pull me out of a huge mud pit in the middle of a rain storm just outside their village 6 years ago (I was their new “pastor” and they would not let me lift a finger). I remember well the days of leaving their homes a bit discouraged and perturbed, thinking to myself that “surely my lessons were not sinking in!” Now, all these years later, to be seated around the table, laughing, telling tales, offering counsel, praying together, studying the Word together, and drinking a local drink called Youki (u-kee!), I know I will miss going out to Aflantan once we depart from this place in a few months. I see Yaovi at least once a week and we talk 3-4 times on his new cell phone (he’s promised to keep up the communication even when I’m in Texas!) I have thought about it a lot today, wondering how their individual lives plus the life of the church at Aflantan will progress long after we’re out of the way! God is good…always has been and always will be!

I only thought I was tired last night after having arrived at 5p and then not arriving home until almost 11p. This week, we’ve been without water and were down to our last barrel of reserve water yesterday as we climbed into bed. I know we were both praying fervently that we would not have to start skimping on the bucket baths we’ve been taking (it’s plenty warm to warrant a good shower without having to do so sparingly). Well, God heard our prayers, but seems like He’s on a different time zone (just kiddin’ Lord!) At 3a, we heard the gurgles in the faucets and immediately shot out of bed to start filling up our reserve barrels. The water was flowing, but was without much force at all…so the process to fill up one 50 gallon bucket took almost a half-hour! By 6:15a, we were all done!! But no time for a nap, ‘cause the kids were up and I was due to leave at 8a for an all-day leadership meeting with our national organization! It was a great meeting and although I could write a lot of good things about their vision for the future, their sacrificial efforts to creatively finance their own evangelistic efforts (through the raising of pigs!)…well, I’m just too tired. Maybe another day. Kelly has had a good day with the kids, but the discipline has been consistent all day long…my wife is tired as well. We’re blessed with so much activity in our lives…between the ministry and our kids, we live a life full of rich blessing!

We’re going to go relax at the beach for a day or so, enjoying walking and playing in the sand, swimming in the beachside pool, and enjoying some good food (prepared by someone else!) I would hope that on at least one of the 10 TV channels, I might find some coverage of the Super Bowl (it’ll either be broadcast in French or out of South Africa). Either way, I’m pickin’ Chicago…sorry JK (my Indy friend):
Bears 27
Colts 24

As we were waiting last night the customary hour for the folks at Aflantan to arrive, I took off onto a long winding dirt path and was doing some praying and thinking. One of the great blessings of our missionary life is the amount of time we get to be around our kids. I know this is the joy of other missionary colleagues and probably the envy of my Stateside friends who spend most of their working day apart from their kiddos. My office is on the other side of the wall from the TV and there are a number of videos playing throughout the day, depending on the age appropriateness of the viewer. I have spent a lot of my mornings this past week in my office preparing for the evening’s lesson in the Gospel of John. Somewhere on my walking path, a tune came into my head that I couldn’t shake. I began to whistle it as well…but could not place the song. I was going through all the Aja songs I knew plus as many of the new Hillsongs or Chris Tomlin worship songs we have recently heard. I was singing in English, Aja and in French trying to get words to fit this catchy tune of this mysterious hymn. I whistled and whistled some more. Finally I discovered the source of this energetic song when the words flowed right out of my mouth: “I love Clifford, the Big Red Dog!Gotta move my office or I’ll next start beginning to mix up Jesus’ words of wisdom with the wise counsel brought by Reverend Alden from the Little House on the Prairie!

We’ll be beachside tomorrow and Monday…we’ll try and post some new pictures when we return. God bless your weekend!


Friday, February 02, 2007

An update

I know many of you are ready for an update…thank you for your patience…it has been a busy day…Just as promised, our lawyer Maurice came directly to our house after leaving the court this morning. He informed us that the courts are still in negotiations and that until things are settled, they are working on Mondays and Fridays. Today, Maurice turned in our request for legal guardianship of Lael. He anticipates these papers being ready sometime on Monday. Sometime next week we should hopefully be receiving the date for our final hearing legalizing our adoption of Lael. He said that he anticipates the final hearing sometime the first of March. We are praying that it will be sometime before the end of February so that my sister Becky will be here to celebrate with us. We will keep you informed as more details become known! Thank you for your prayers. This is progress! God is working in the details!

Becky and Payton (my 4 year old nephew) will be arriving here for 10 days, 2 weeks from Sunday!!! We are all so excited! I can’t wait to hear Payton express his thoughts about being in Benin…I cannot imagine what he imagines this place to be. He has heard of it for so long, and he always knows that Benin is where we disappear too after our intense quality time visits to America! He and Timo are great friends! When we talk about Payton coming with Timo, he says “I just can’t beweeve it!” And I can't believe that I am going to have 10 days with my sister! This will be such a great time!!!!!

Our water supply is very low. Laurance told me that she heard on the television that the electric and water company are having a new generator installed in Cotonou and that we will have these shortages of power until the 16th of this month when the installation is complete. This is different than last fall because they are not turning the water on at all and the power is off most of the time. In this region the water is powered by the electricity…we can not have one without the other. Because we have a generator we are able to power our house most of the time. However, we can do nothing about the water situation. We are going to have to get real creative about how we obtain and use water.

Yesterday afternoon I got to talk on the phone to 2 of my very best friends…I cannot tell you what a burst of positive energy this provided for the rest of my day! I have still been soaking up the conversation even today…and I think they mostly just listened to me! What a blessing friendships are! God has placed in my life such dear precious friends and I am so thankful!!!

This week Randy has been working through the book of John with the village of Aflantan. They started Sunday night and they finish tonight! It has gone very well and he has been very encouraged. I know he will share more about this in a future post.

Just in case any of you think that our house is calm and quiet and that things are always in perfect order….they are not! I wish all of the pictures that we post could include sound! Our house is LOUD…sometimes I can hardly hear myself think. Most of the time every one is laughing and having a good time. Our kids are ages 8, 3, 2, and 1. Lately, there seems to be constant discipline taking place, reminders about staying on your bed, not throwing things in the house or at each other, talks about being kind and how important it is to help take care of each other and why we need to care when we hurt someone and the list goes on and on. Parenting never stops…it is exhausting, inconvenient, rewarding and fulfilling! I am so thankful for the precious 4 that have been entrusted to us. They are such a source of JOY to us every day!

I mention all of this because I was thinking about tonight at the dinner table and how crazy the noise seemed to be. Randy and I were trying to have a conversation and we realized that between our kids talking and the generator running, we were practically shouting at each other. I stood up to go and get something and felt something hit me in the back of the neck. Maybe Jonathan had been trying to get my attention and this was his last ditch effort…what hit me in the neck was his spoon that was full of guacamole. I was so stunned that I didn’t know if I was supposed to be mad or be laughing. I looked at Randy and decided in that moment it was best to laugh! He already was!

This makes me laugh out loud even now!