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!



Donny said...

Don't know if Kendra knows the '24' reasons that I love her, but we did watch that show on Monday night??? Does that count?? HA I got to have lunch with my bride and the 2 little boys Friday which was a special treat as well as some fun Valentines to share Wednesday morning. Any update on the adoption? Did the lady finish her work on Friday? Just curious and anxious.

Murray & Jaime said...

Welcome, Becky and Payton...we CAN'T WAIT to see pics and here how the trip went! We love you!