Saturday, June 30, 2007

A review...

Over the next few days we are going to review some pictures of our last few days in Aplahoue. We are so thankful for the memories we are taking with us from the whole experience of our years in Benin. However, the memories made in the last 10-12 days of being in Aplahoue are especially sweet! Glory to God!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Last few days in pictures...

The atmosphere in Benin for a pedicure is a bit different than I imagine it will be in North Richland Hills!

Randy and I went on a date last night after the kids were in bed! Thanks Mom! Our first date since Jonathan was born!

These pictures are from last weekend...

My dear friend Judy Miller. I will miss her so much!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

We have everything in hand!

This morning the US Consular called saying "Halleujah! We are rejoicing in the Embassy! Come with Lael and get your visa and paperwork!" It was so much fun to walk over there with Lael. I think she was very excited too! The Consular was literally bubbling over with joy as she placed these papers in our hands. It was obvious that for her a burden has been lifted as well. We are SO relieved and SO thrilled!

All important papers have been put in a secure place!

Tickets have been purchased and we will be coming home soon! For details call any one of our family members and I am sure they will be happy to share.

With papers now in hand we can truly set our minds to enjoying our remaining days here in Benin. To just say thank you for your prayers and participation with us through this process seems too minimal. We love you and truly eagerly anticipate with JOY our reunions with you.

May the Lord bless you from his abundance.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Fight Goes On....

Becky here once again...

As stated in the previous post Randy and Kelly returned to the Embassy to pick up their paper work at the appointed time and were met by the consular who with much emotion in her voice informed them that it was not there. She stated that she so hoped they were keeping a written record of everything so that someday Lael would know how hard and long they worked to get her.

It appears there is now a glitch in the computer system in Washington DC that is for some reason not allowing her Visa to go through. They said every other Visa issued today has immediately gone through however, whenever Lael's is entered in, the system crashes. The Benin consular spent 3 hours on the phone with the Washington DC office trying to get it sorted out to no avail. The Washington DC office assured them that this would be fixed and that they would have every technician on it this afternoon. With that being said, we once again ask your prayers that all would come through and Kelly and Randy would have the paperwork in hand this time tomorrow.

Everyone's voices are still filled with great hope and anticipation over the phone...We are in the closing pages of this particular chapter...We are turning the pages more quickly now. We thank you again for being main charectors in this story through your prayers and encouragement. We love you so!

Good News!

We Have Heard Good News!

This morning the US Consular called and said that our paper work had arrived from Ghana! Lael's visa should be ready by noon today and they are preparing our packet for our Immigration interview that will take place in Washington DC upon our arrival there! PRAISE GOD!!!!!!!!!!

We will feel even greater relief when these documents are in our hands. We will post later in the day hopefully when these are in our hands and when we know more details about our departure date.

Thank you for your prayers. They are literally carrying us through this time.


Monday, June 25, 2007

Words are few...

Becky here- I have stared at that title line for the past 30 minutes trying to figure out what to write...

We all know so many are checking this blog with great hope, with great anticipation...Kelly and Randy went to the Embassy early this morning with that same anticipation and hope. They spent the day waiting...and left again today when the Embassy closed with no news.

We continue to cry out to the Lord asking yet again that tomorrow be the day...Thank you for joining with our families in that cry.

We will keep you posted...

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Last Thursday Randy needed to return to Lokossa, a town about a 30 minute drive from our house, to pay our final telephone bill. We took the opportunity to go as a family and we asked Sossa and his family, as well as Laurance to meet us there for lunch. Our kids were very eager to see them again. Timothy had been especially sad because he could not remember saying goodbye to Sossa and his 2 younger brothers. So Timothy had his chance as well as the rest of us. It was great to be with them and sad to say goodbye again...yet very good for all of us.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Today was not the news that we had hoped for.

Randy and I were at the Embassy this morning for several hours. Our Consular told us that our file is complete and the visa is ready to go except for the final code that must accompany the visa. She said that the code must be sent by the American Embassy in Accra and they had said it would be here today before the Embassy closed at 1:30. At 1:30, we were still waiting. Extremely discouraged and frustrated we went back to the guesthouse to tell my mom and our kids.

We are now waiting through a silent weekend and will be at the Embassy again on Monday morning.
Please continue to pray that those working on our file in Ghana will perservere and keep their word.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


6:30p - Wed (12:30p Texas time)

This afternoon I went to the Embassy just before closing with a heavy heart and low expectations. When the Consular saw that I was in her office, with a huge smile on her face, she began waving to come on in. My heart lept as I knew immediately that she must have some good news. She was finally able to make contact with the officer in charge in the Ghana office. She explained that their entire systems are down and that is why they have not responded to any of our emails. She did not even know that our fingerprints had cleared. When she heard that they had cleared, she discussed with our Benin Consular a way to fast-track our file. The details are too complicated to explain here. However, Friday at 11:30 AM I am to meet with our Consular again and discuss Lael's visa! The Benin Consular is a dear lady and she is determined to see us through to getting on that plane. Friday we should have some good news about when that will be!

Things can change in an instant! We are praising God for this breakthrough. We have been desparate for it.



We are filled with a flood of different emotions and attitudes. Trying our best to maintain a positive, hopeful outlook as we pray for God to do a BIG thing in getting our paperwork processed out of the Ghana Immigration office so that it can come here to Cotonou (where Lael can be issued her immigrant visa). Giving it all we have to act on various leads, make at least 2 daily appearances at our local embassy pleading our case, and doing what we know to do to mobilize friends and family at home to act on our behalf (which so many are…thank you!!!) Our minds are consumed with this task. It is taking every emotion we have.

We pray incessantly in faith. We believe in an All-Knowing, All-Powerful God! Yet honestly, we see very little with our eyes that would give us hope of getting out of here anytime soon. But as we stare into the face of a disappointing reality, we know that hope and faith is not in what you can touch or see with any human sense. In the heavenlies, God is well-aware of our situation and is orchestrating things exactly as He would have them be. Each day rolls on as we wrestle in prayer but battle the consistent message of discouragement launched in our direction. We struggle with anger, frustration, and hopelessness. And yet simultaneously, we throw ourselves at the foot of the throne of the One who knows all things.

We do trust God. We are aware of His Sovereignty. We know He is the One who controls the plans of mankind. He moves mountains that seem stuck. He parts waters that seem as solid as concrete. He opens doors when our eyes see them bolted shut. And best of all, God never sleeps, so He is completely active even when it is nighttime in Benin (and daytime in the U.S.) or when it is mid-morning on this continent and our Senators and U.S. contacts are in a deep slumber. God Almighty is always at work.

We also know that there is often silence from the heralds of heaven. We wait in intense anticipation to hear what the mighty team of God has accomplished. Yet we are not always privy to every detail of God’s creativity as it is happening. We pass each moment trying our best not to be anxious about anything, yet our ears are so attuned to the sound of each cell phone ring in hopes that each call will be the word that we want to hear. But there is nothing. There is quiet.

The only things we do hear are words out of the mouths of human beings that challenge our good attitudes! Some people have a way of trying to encourage yet leaving us deflated. We grapple between the activity-minded-plan-making that is so inbred in our human (American) nature and the command of heaven to be still. God lays before His people His blessings that are often not realized without the hard work and persevering effort of mankind. We would never wish to relent in our pursuit of this blessing if God wants us to persistently track its pursuit. And yet there are times when all the runnin’ around leaves us nothing but fatigued and frustrated. Sitting still and letting God do His amazing work is not something we know well how to do. Where’s the balance?

We thank each and every one of you who pray on our behalf…thank you all so much for your encouraging emails! While the timeframe is His, we wait in anticipation and expect the blessing of God that is soon to be ours.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Our hope is in God!
This morning at the US Embassy I was told that our only hope is that the US Senators we are contacting can get through to the places that we cannot. We heard from John Cornyn`s office this morning that they have received many emails and faxes from you and they will do what they can to help. They needed me to fax them a privacy release and it has taken me literally hours today to get that done! Thankfully it just went through!
We are doing everything that we can and will do anything that we learn is necessary! We want to come home!

Thank you for your prayers, emails and phone calls!
Keep praying!
"This is my Father's World! Why should my heart be sad? God reigns, Let the earth be glad!"
Having packed up everything, it has been awhile since we have heard any music. This morning I found an Amy Grant CD that had been in our car and put it in the computer! The whole atmosphere in the room changed as my heart was lifted and the kids danced around the room. Thank you Lord! It is good to praise you!

Randy has returned to Aplahoue today to take care of final business. My mom and I are holding the fort down here in Cotonou trying to keep the path well worn between our hotel and the US Embassy.

We have received lots of encouraging emails today and even one from John Cornyn's office!!!!!

Things are stirring! We will keep you informed!

Expecting Blessing!

Monday, June 18, 2007

This morning at 8AM all 6 Vaughns and my mom were at the US Embassy to speak with the Consular. We spoke with her at length. While we were there she tried calling the Accra Ghana office. She had 7 numbers to try and not one of them would go through. She defintely sensed our desparation and we sensed her willingness to do whatever she can to help us. We will return there later this afternoon to speak with her again. She is a retired Consular and has worked all over the world and said that she has never encountered a situation like this before.

We are so encouraged by the fact that so many of you are praying for us and writing your senators and congressmen. We are eager to see what unfolds!

I am writing from Judy Miller's home where we (my mom) are once again doing laundry. Randy is back at the hotel with J and L who are taking a nap. He is busy getting papers in order so that he can return to Aplahoue tomorrow and close out things with our landlord regarding the telephone and utility bills. Tori and Timothy are here with my mom watching a DVD which happens to be The Grinch Who Stole Christmas!

Thank you for your continual prayers and notes of encouragement. We are absorbing it all!

Keep checking in! We will let you know when we hear anything!

Expecting Blessing!


Saturday, June 16, 2007

Here are a few pictures since Wednesday of last week. It is a strange feeling to still be here and yet to no longer have our house, our car, the kids' toys and on and on. We are thankful to have found a small hotel with a pool that is right next to the Embassy. We are so thankful for the prayers and encouraging emails and phone calls that you are sending our way. We have needed every bit of it! We are especially thankful for the ones of you that are writing our senators on our behalf. We are expecting this to make a difference!

The following pictures show a glimpse of where we are right now! Kids in the pool or watching a DVD in our room, Jonathan and Lael eating their breakfast in the shower! (They do not mind this one bit!) My mom and I have been doing laundry at my good friend Judy Miller's house. And you see Timo taking a nap at the restaurant while Tori enjoys some ice cream. Everyone of us are tired! The sweet picture of Tori shows her wearing a new outfit from Aunt Becky that she absolutely loves!
Thank you Aunt Becky!

Randy pulled us altogether yesterday for a family meeting. We were all struggling with our attitudes and reactions to our circumstances. This definitely includes me!!
He asked us each to say one thing we are thankful for about where we are today. A little difficult but we were able to do it and then we talked about what is hard for everybody...then he had the idea for us to sing the song "God is so good" preceded by the phrase "even when" ...and we would mention one of the things that someone had said was hard about our circumstances. We went through the song several times.

This was a time that I was so thankful for my husband and his leadership in our family!

This was a good exercise for all of us. We are going to look for the good and do our best to find the blessing in these days of waiting.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

With many tears and thankful hearts we put our visitors on the plane last night.We treasured every minute. We so wanted to be on that plane with them. The Lord has another plan and we are eagerly waiting for it to unfold. For now we are at a guesthouse that is right next door to the US Embassy. We do not have email access here so our communication may not be as frequent but we will be trying.

We are waiting to be told the next step. Since we heard the initial word that we had received the fingerprint clearance, there has been silence. We have tried repeatedly to get through to the office in Ghana with no success. No one answers the phone. We have written emails and received no response. Our paperwork must get from the Ghana office to the Benin Embassy in order for us to get the visa for Lael. Because we can not get a response from the Ghana office we have no idea what kind of timeframe that we are talking about. There are not words to express the frustration of this situation.

We are so thankful that my mom is here with us. Pray that we will use this time to rest and process what we have experienced this past week. It has been wonderful and so hard. Tears come very easy right now.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Thanks for all of your prayers for me (Kelly). I am feeling much better.
We have more pictures to share and more details to explain. They are coming soon!

Tori says goodbye to her special friends.

Monday, June 11, 2007



We received an email tonight from the FBI office that our fingerprints have been cleared!! That news was copied to the U.S. Immigration office in Ghana which is overseeing our case. We’ll be working on plans on Tuesday that give us a better idea of our exact departure date. We’re hoping it will be around the 20th or 22nd, but still too early to tell!

Today was the day we departed our house. Too many emotions right now to put into words the tears we shed with our dearest friends. And we have a thousand pictures documenting the day, so get ready!! We also enjoyed a rich time of communion and fellowship with our church leaders who presented us with a beautiful gift. We’ll hopefully get pictures up tomorrow. We left our house about 4:30p and arrived into Cotonou almost 8:30p!! With a bunch of kids, that ain’t easy! We are wiped out!! But it feels great to know what a unique blessing today was. Thank you Lord!!

Pray for Kelly as she is down with a sinus infection, or a really bad head cold. These last couple of days with our visitors are precious, so pray that God will give her strength as she rests tonight!

More pictures tomorrow but I wanted to get the good news out there! Thank you for each and every one of you who prayed for a speedy fingerprint clearance!!!


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Wow, What a Weekend!

This has been a very emotional and memorable weekend! We are so wiped out that I barely have time for these thoughts…so pictures will have to speak a thousand words!

Just as we shared a meal at Sossa’s house on Friday, we enjoyed a good homestyle African meal at Ega’s house! Four good-n-hearty-n-starchy courses with as many Coke’s as we could figure out how to drink! (These are like 72 oz bottles!) It was traditional flare, much like other American’s have eaten…but yet still SO unfamiliar to the American palette! The hospitality was incredible, though, and Ega’s gift of making a visitor feel at home could rival anyone’s! And we were the first people to eat a meal in his new home and with his new wife! (Unfortunately, as I got home I realized I had not one picture of his bride, sorry).

You’ll also see in one of the collages that we were also given a special gift from our friend, Louise. Before going to Ega’s, she gave us a wall plaque that has a Daddy and Mommy elephant with 4 baby elephants following! It’s a great gift we’ll always cherish!

Our all-together church send-off today was a very special blessing!! Hundreds of people gathered from all the different churches, some coming from over 75 miles to worship together. It was a LONG day…9a – 4p! Fortunately we enjoyed a little overcast and a slight breeze…although I wouldn’t say we were physically comfortable at all! We still sweated like crazy! The worship time was very encouraging. The Word was preached by a number of people including myself. My lesson had to do with the fact that without the saving blood of Jesus, we’d never be able to glorify the Lord! We talked about the fact that creation is longing for reconciliation with God yet as Jesus reminds us, even if His disciples are silenced, the rocks will cry out and the mountains will applaud with a loud thunder! It was my “farewell” address, challenging them to continue the mission of God that was started by missionaries over 10 years ago and yet that really was stirred in their hearts long before that. It was so good to have Jim Kennell (friend and former teammate here) here to give a brief word of encouragement, too. As well, a short email from Greg Bailey was read aloud to all the Christians (GB, also a friend and former teammate). This was an important symbol…as we are preparing to depart; we represent the “final” phase of the missionary presence among the Aja people (“final” as are as we can see it). So it was good for the Aja people to see Jim’s face and hear Greg’s words…reminding them that even when missionaries leave, it’s not the end of a relationship! Phil Martin and Don Box, two of our elders from Texas, also challenged the believers today and Morton led an enthusiastic charge prior to the closing prayer!

At the end of our service, we again shared an African meal alongside some of our brothers in Christ. What a wonderful blessing! Don reminded all of us what a unique honor it is to sit inside a traditional African house and share a fellowship meal with African brothers…we are all SO very different from one another but we enjoy unity all because we love the same Lord Jesus!

For literally about an hour after eating, Kelly and I posed for pictures with SO many people! It was hysterical…we felt like George and Laura Bush at some fund-raising gala where everyone just lined up for a photo-op! I told a friend from America on the phone later in the evening that, one day, we’re gonna be in a America and find ourselves laughing wondering why masses of people aren’t lining up to take their picture with us! Such a funny experience to be such a spectacle and as well, what a blessing to be friends with a number of people of a different language and culture! It makes a farewell Sunday very memorable!!


Saturday, June 09, 2007

Just a quick note for those of you who are checking in daily...We have had a wonderful productive day! We are all exhausted and going to bed earlier tonight. We have some great pictures, yet will have to post tomorrow. Almost all of the furniture is gone and is in its new home. Tori had some special time giving gifts to her friends and has shed many many tears today. Please continue your prayers for her through this transition. Tonight we had an incredibly sweet time with Ega and his family. The goodbyes are becoming more difficult as we near the end. We anticipate tomorrow being a very special day.

Our visitors are contributing minute by minute to the specialness of this time! We are so blessed to have them here. How would we have done this without them? The Lord knew we needed them! Thank you Richland Hills for sending them! We are SO blessed!
God is good!

Friday, June 08, 2007


We concluded our day at the Village of Hope, an orphanage that has become very dear to our hearts! We arrived as the sun was setting and received a quick tour of the the home and school. We were so blessed by the director David, and by seeing the children. The presence of the Lord is in this place. They sang for us and we sang for them! We had the great priveledge of presenting them with a large gift that was given by many special friends over the last week! This was the Lord's timing and we heard wonderful testimony that encouraged us all to always respond when God is prompting! The teachers had not been paid in 4 months and the women who prepare the food for the children had not been paid either. The food supply for the orphanage had almost completely run out and their were no funds to replace it. Just last week several of the teachers had refused to continue their teaching until they were paid something. The remaining staff was very discouraged. The director said that he had had many sleepless nights recently wondering how the Lord would provide.

Our gift which represents many compassionate generous people from Richland Hills will cover all of the previous unpaid salary, as well as allow them to restock their food supply! Thunderous applause and laughter were expressed when this good news was shared!

Thank you to all who responded so quickly to our request. There will be more opportunities to contribute to this wonderful place that is literally saving the lives of children.

We all went to Sossa's house for a 4 course meal! We were truly honored and shown such love in this home! We were so thrilled to share this experience with our visitors! Tori had brought gifts that she gave to 4 of her friends who happen to be 2 of Sossa's brothers and 2 of his sisters! She said in French, "I am giving these to you because you are my good friends." Tori was very emotional as she spoke to her friends and later as we prayed with ALL of Sossa's family, she was really crying. Oh I love my Tori and my heart is aching watching her walk this road and yet I am so thankful that she loves so deeply!

We were all touched deeply by our time there today! God is good!
Everyone is sharing in the task!

Today the leaders came for a time of blessing. It was a time for them to exchange thoughts, ideas, and even pose some big questions to our elders concerning matters of doctrine. Most importantly, Randy enjoyed having our elders speak words of encouragement and offer a charge to the Aja leaders.

We served a large meal of rice and fish heads! They were thrilled about that! Our elders opted out of this meal and saved space for lunch that we had at Sossa's house later on!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Yesterday we started the day with a time of blessing and prayer at Laurance and Ben's new house. We wrote scripture and blessings on the walls of their home in each room with chalk. We each took a turn sharing our favorite scriptures and our hopes and prayers for them as a family. We then circled around them and my Dad and Phil prayed for them....then my Dad and I left for Cotonou to pick up Don Box and Kellye Stone. What a great moment it was to see them, hear their voices and hug their necks! We returned to Aplahoue as quickly as we could today, driving in the pouring rain! We arrived in time to help prepare and serve a meal for our workers. After sharing a meal together, my parents had prepared blessings to share with each one. My mom spoke to Ega and Louise and my Dad spoke to Sossa and Laurance. It was a precious time. Afterwards the 4 of them spoke back blessings and voiced their thoughts with much emotion and many tears. They all 4 recounted events in their lives that had been difficult that we had walked through together. Again at the end we had a time of prayer led by Phil, Don and my Dad. Kellye and I had a fun time taking them all home later this evening.

We are making so much progress. We cannot imagine how we would be getting these things done without the help of our visitors! What a supreme blessing we are receiving. And so much love!!! We are blessed. And our children are absolutely loving the special attention from our Richland Hills friends! God is good.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Arrived !

Tonight, Don Box and Kellye Stone arrived into Benin! As well, ALL the bags arrived, too, including the bags that didn't arrive Monday night. Kelly and Morton are there and they'll all return to the house tomorrow. It's going to be a busy day, but one we're looking forward to. Just as we have done several times in the past, we're having a luncheon with our special African friends, those who work at our house day-in-and-day-out (and have so for almost 8 years). I know everyone's looking forward to a day of blessing Sossa, Louise, well we always invite's going to be blessing both ways!

Also, we got word on the DHL website that our fingerprint cards have ARRIVED into Lincoln, NE (as of 9:40a this morning). If anyone is reading this in Lincoln Nebraska, we'd love it if you'd walk our fingerprint cards all the way through their processing!! Seriously, we're praying for a speedy expediting of this background check!!

Keep praying!!


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

We have entered into our last week of living life in Aplahoue. My parents and Phil and Brenda Martin arrived safely last night. Don Box and Kellye Stone will arrive tomorrow night. We are so thankful to have them here. They are all so generous with their love and encouragement and we are soaking it all in! Here are a few pictures from last night and our day in Cotonou. We are back in Aplahoue tonight. Keep checking in with us. We have a busy week, yet we plan to post often. We appreciate every prayer lifted on our behalf