Ministry in Homemaking . . .

The other day I had this brief moment of thinking to myself, “What am I doing here in Africa? What exactly is my role in ministry?”

So many times as missionaries we feel the pressure of this unspoken expectation that since many people are supporting us and making personal sacrifices that enable us to engage in overseas missions then every moment of our day should be taking advantage of the opportunities to make a difference and have an impact for the Kingdom of God.

With this notion always at the back of our minds it can be a mind battle at times when I find myself spending much of my day attending to the superficial needs of the family – cooking, cleaning, laundry, dishes, watching our children and striving to raise them up in the way of the Lord.

There are certainly activities that I do which are directly related to ministry work – writing quarterly reports for our sending agency, keeping in touch with donors and supporting church, sending in expense reports, developing ministry materials, etc. But these more specific ministry activities are more of the “occasional focus” for me, while the majority of my time is literally spent doing exactly the same thing I would be doing if we were living in the US – fulfilling my role as wife, mother, and homemaker.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

Of course, being a homemaker in Africa can look a lot different than being a homemaker in the US, especially without running water, without a refrigerator or oven, and without so many of the modern conveniences of machines that can wash your dishes, wash your clothes, dry the laundry, or mow your lawn.

At first glance it would seem like everyday life where we are in Africa is so much harder and the daily chores so much more time-consuming and energy-taxing. But then I think about the fact that instead of recruiting machines to help me with day-to-day activities I often call upon friends and neighbors to pitch in and help, and that right there really makes any activity less of a chore and more of a joy as we share in fellowship, companionship, and helping to carry each other’s loads.

IMG_3935

Another difference in homemaking in Africa instead of the US is the added challenge of there not being much availability or variety in the groceries we can buy or the household supplies that we can get here. I usually have to plan 3 months in advance and keep track of inventories of household supplies we have on hand just in case we need to have anything brought from the big cities (6-18 hours from where we live) or even sent over from the US.

There are also health factors that we deal with on a daily basis here that wouldn’t even be a concern in the US. The constant precautions needed to prevent malaria, the extra steps in food preparation to prevent typhoid, cholera, amoebas, and so many other likely health threats. And there’s the frequent trips my husband has to make, to travel at least 6 hours or more just to reach an ATM where he will spend 3 days trying to withdraw all the funds we will need to manage personal and ministry expenses for the next month before he has to make the trip again.

Yes, there are a lot of things that would just be so much easier in the US.

Picture 002

Take meal planning, for example. I cannot just plan our meals based on what we would like to eat, more often than not our meal plans revolve around what groceries are available and what we were able to find in market that day. And when it comes to meal preparations not only is everything made completely from scratch, but cooking also requires a degree of flexibility and creativity – especially when recipes require some improvising to make up for ingredients we just don’t have.

It may be hard to believe, but we don’t even have any restaurant in town where we would be able to eat without having to worry about getting sick from the food. The nearest “safe” restaurant would be a 6 hour drive from where we live, so we don’t even have an option for getting take out or deciding not to cook one day.

In fact, there are very few “quick and easy” food options at all — even with regards to snack foods. And this is part of where my “mind battle” surfaced the other day as I came to the realization that being pregnant would be SO much easier in the US, if for no other reason than the fact that I could easily make a quick run to town and purchase whatever foods I happen to be craving at the time, or even just to have a stash of snack foods on hand and available for whenever I’m needing a quick bite to eat.

The missionary, Ella Spees, once listed one of her secrets for contentment to be in never allowing yourself to “wish this or that had been otherwise”. Another of her contentment secrets included: “never picture yourself in any other circumstance or some place else”. So, even amidst crazy pregnancy cravings I have been striving to only think about food options from the selection of foods we have on hand, or the limited selection of groceries I know we can find in market. But there are days (like yesterday) when this can be really hard.

Yesterday I just stood in the kitchen for the longest time taking stock of all the groceries we had on hand and going through a mental list of all the food options that I could make to eat. Any pregnant woman can relate to the feeling of being very hungry but not having any food options sound appealing in the moment, but actually, in that moment I could think of lots of different food options that sounded appealing, but not one of them was something we could even get here in our part of Africa.

I went and cried in my room for a while and then made myself a cup of tea to cheer myself up. It was while sipping the cup of tea that I began thinking along the lines of, “So why am I here again? If the majority of what I do is stuff that I would be doing in the US anyway, and so many things would just be that much easier in the US, then what’s the purpose of my being here in Africa right now?!”

Well, the answer wasn’t long in coming. All I had to do was look over and see my husband and I immediately knew the answer to my question.

You see, the majority of what I do here in Africa would be the same and even easier if I were in the US, but so much of what my husband does here in another matter all together! And the nationals we have trained and continue to encourage in their own ministry work is a part of the fruit that we bear together, even amidst the mundane of everyday chores.

20171225_103554

During the last spiritual retreat that we held for the “Harvesters” we trained, we told the women in the group not to underestimate the vital role they have in ministry, even if it seems like merely a “support role”. Not only are they making it possible for their husbands to engage in ministry, but their interactions with the other people in their communities can be used by God in great ways, and their willingness to endure a harsher lifestyle is also a witness to the people around them, and who knows whether or not they are raising up the future missionaries and leaders of the next generation right there in their home.

So I had to give myself the same little “pep-talk” yesterday and bring things back into perspective again. The truth is, there is no such thing as being “JUST” a wife, or “JUST” a mom, or “JUST” a homemaker. If you live your life in obedience to God it really doesn’t matter what role He calls you to fill, He blesses it and uses it in amazing and incredible ways that we wouldn’t even be able to imagine!

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

Advertisements

“Mommy, Look! A River in Our House!!”

Last night I was entertaining the kids in our room, trying to get them wound down and ready for bed, when all of a sudden Keturah says to me, “Mommy, look! There’s a river in our house!”

I look over and sure enough a flood of water was pouring in under the door of our family room.

This was the very first heavy rain of the season — a real tropical storm! And being that our house is build on the side of a hill the water was literally pouring down the side of the hill and right in through the door of our house.

Fortunately, we were able to catch it quickly enough that there was no damage done by the flooding. We were able to put down towels to block the different rooms of the house to keep the water contained in the family room, and everyone worked hard at scooping up the water and pouring it into basins.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

Everyone pitched in to help clean up the water, including the two students we currently have living with us. The kids both thought it was great fun to play in the water and “help” clean up the mess.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

Of course, Caleb’s idea of “helping” was often counter productive, since in his eagerness to help move water from one place to another he was often taking water OUT of the basins and dumping it back on the floor. Both Caleb and Keturah were laughing and having a great time of it, though, and in spite of the huge amount of work and horrible mess the flood made we were all able to laugh about it and stay focused on the positive aspects of the experience.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

One thing that helped us to keep a positive perspective on things was to count the blessings . . .

First of all, we were very thankful that it happened at a time when we were all still awake and could respond to the flood in its earlier stages. How much harder it would have been if this had happened in the middle of the night when we were all asleep — there would have certainly been a lot of damage done if the water had managed to flow into the bedrooms or storage room in our house; we are thankful, indeed, that we were able to keep the water contained to the family room and spare the other rooms in the house from flooding.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

Next, we are very thankful that the flood happened while the two students were with us in the house. Flavin and Robartine were both a huge help in using towels and squeegees to keep the water away from the children’s mattress (which currently sits on a mat on the floor) . . . just trying to save the valuable spring mattress was a huge help! They also stayed through to the end and helped wash the mud and debris that had been carried in with the murky water. It was a hard, dirty job, but they stuck with it to the end.

Also, we were very thankful that in spite of having an estimated 50 – 100 gallons of water flooding our house there was no permanent damage done; so we really thank God for that!

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

The next day, Sammy met with the plumber to see about digging a trench to redirect the water and hopefully find a more permanent solution to prevent this from happening again.

All in all, it was quite an adventure — but one we hope we don’t have to deal with again any time soon!

Getting Settled in Our NEW HOUSE!!

This may be old news for some of you, but I am adding some extra pictures to this blog post so that there will be SOMETHING new for everyone here.

I have been WANTING to share this post with you for quite some time now, but all the busyness that goes into moving and getting settled has really made it difficult to do much else. But, I got the last box unpacked yesterday and the very last shelf in our house organized, so FINALLY I can feel safe to say that we are OFFICIALLY settled in our new house!

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

It was just last December that we purchased the property and began the construction of our house. We expected it to take longer to build the house, but God has really been blessing the project and it only took 8 months before it was finished and ready for our family to move in!

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

The carpenter was still finishing up some final touches on the shelves and cabinets on the day we moved in.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

I really love how the kitchen counters turned out!

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

Our neighbor was kind enough to let us set up our clothesline on his property. We do have a little yard space, but another neighbor had already planted corn all over in our property, so until the corn can be harvested we will be sharing a clothesline with our neighbor.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

The picture above shows me and Keturah sitting among all the boxes in what would become our parlor/hospitality room.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

The kids were really well behaved on moving day. Even amidst all the bustle and activity going on in the rest of the house, they were content to sit and play quietly in their new room.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

Caleb is thrilled. There’s lots of room for riding the tricycle INSIDE!!

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

<<Push me daddy!!!>>

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

Keturah . . . chilling out in mommy and daddy’s room.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

Watching a movie on the Kindle and just chilling while mommy and daddy are busy unpacking.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

For the first time EVER our family actually has a real kitchen and a dinning table that we can all sit around and eat our meals together. SO nice!!

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

Also in the kitchen . . . a nice cupboard for holding dishes. The dishes on the floor represent our “kitchen sink” . . . we don’t have running water in the house, so dirty dishes go in the large basins and are later taken outside to wash on the front porch.

The big “black box” on top of the shelf is our oven. It’s a solar oven that we use to bake things in the sun. We’ve even been able to successfully can meat in it. Very handy!

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

Playing with friends outside . . . Keturah loves playing with her toy dishes in the dirt (she pretends to make us all some chocolate ice cream!!)

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

There’s a spot right outside our door that is nice and level where the kids can run and play.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

Keturah enjoying a light snack in the kitchen. Sammy made a grocery run for us, so all the shelves are fully stocked now.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

A view of our parlor (aka: “hospitality room”) just off of the kitchen. We get a lot of visitors coming to our house at all hours, so this room is designated as a greeting/meeting area. The curtains can be closed to isolate this room from the rest of the house. This way we can be entertaining guests or holding meetings and the kids can still be free to move around the house without causing a distraction or having their daily routine thrown off at all.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

Setting up the printer! We provide printing services to the people in our community, so this is our in-home photo studio and printing shop!

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

Another view of the kitchen and our parlor/hospitality room.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

Storage cabinets just off the kitchen . . . leading into our family room!

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

The cabinets are great! Lots of room inside!

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

Keturah and Caleb’s room . . . lots of floor space for playing!

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

Of course, typically their room looks like this! Lots of activity goes on in this room!

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

Also in our family room I set up a little corner as my “office space”. It works great! I can be working at my desk while the kids play nearby.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

Keturah also enjoys sitting at “mommy’s table”!

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

Mommy and Daddy’s room!

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

This is my favorite piece of furniture in our house . . . a custom made medicine cabinet!

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

The doors even have little shelves that are perfect for holding all our essential oils!

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

And the medicine cabinet closes up nicely to conceal the contents . . . and it locks to keep the kids out! Love it!

The doorway next to the cabinet (with the red curtain) is the entrance to our prayer room.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

Here’s a look at the inside of the prayer room, as it is so far. Still working at getting it set up and nicely arranged.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

This would be our bathroom (obviously), though perhaps less obvious might be the fact that there is no shower/tub, we don’t have running water, so we use buckets for flushing and bathing.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

Keturah loves drawing with sidewalk chalk. The fact that all the floors in our house are cement means she can pretty much draw wherever she likes . . . and what a great artist she’s turning out to be!

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

Caleb . . . sacked out after a very busy day of moving and getting settled!!

04

Here’s the floor plan of our house (in case you’re curious about the layout).

A Prophet or God’s Son?

Jeebo had asked me (Sammy Weber) to come and talk with him and his two apprentices about God. He said he also had some questions for me about the Bible. He asked me to come on Sunday afternoon. That Sunday morning in church, a verse was read that confirmed to me the main point that I wanted to share with Jeebo and his friends. The verse was Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find me when you seek with all your heart”.

I spent some time in prayer before going to meet with Jeebo, asking God for the right words to say and the for the wisdom to know what approach to take and which topics to discuss. When I arrived at Jeebo’s place, he welcome me and we sat at his porch. His neighbors, whom he’d invited, ended up not coming so it was just Jeebo, his two apprentices, and myself. Once we were seated Jeebo bought us all some roasted corn and then said, “Okay Samuel, go ahead and share with us something about God”.

So I began by talking about how there are many religions today, all claiming to have the truth and how only one path can really be the right one. Then I went on to say that God is a real person who is able to reveal himself to us if we ask him to – but we must do this in humility and sincerity.

We talked about what this means for a little while, then we talked about the difference between what others think of us and what God thinks of us, and how other’s expectation can affect us. We talked about how if I were to become a Muslim, this could mean all sorts of persecution for me and in a similar way if they were to become Christians. But then we talked about how God’s desire for us is more important than anyone else’s expectations or pressures.

During the conversation I told them repeatedly, “I don’t want you to accept anything I tell you today just because I told you, go and ask God to show you whether it is true or not”.

After a few interruption with other people stopping by then leaving, there was just Jeebo and his one apprentice named Mohamed, and myself. Then Mohamed got up to go get something and Jeebo asked me a question that he wanted to ask when there was just the two of us . . . . “I have a question about Jesus. I’ve read in the Koran that Jesus was a prophet and I’ve heard Christians say that Jesus was the son of God. So which was he, a prophet or a son?

In response I asked him, “What do you think of when you hear the word prophet? What does it mean that someone is a prophet?” He answered, “A prophet is someone who God gives a message to”. Then I asked, “Then what do you understand is meant when someone says God’s son?” Jeebo made a face and said, “Well that’s more difficult because Allah never got married.”

“Yes” I said. “You are right that Jesus is not God’s son in the sense that we often talk about fathers and sons down here on earth. For God is not like a man, he has never married, and he does not desire a woman, for his hands have made all those things that we are drawn to here on earth. But is there no other meaning of the word son?”

I then told him about a child named Romeo who was like a son to me for time, long before I was married or had any biological children. I asked him, “Do you see how God could have a son like that?” He nodded.

“So back to your question, is Jesus a prophet or a son. Isn’t it possible to be both? I believe that Jesus was a prophet and he was also God’s son. But I want you to ask God to show you if Jesus was really His Son. I believe that He will.” Jeebo nodded and looked pensive for a while.

When Mohamed returned, I asked them if I could tell them a story. They both said yes and settled more comfortably on their bamboo stools. So I told them the following story (also known as an African Easter story) . . .

–  –  –  –  –  –

wp9079ea06_05_0b

In a very small village, in the jungles of Africa, there lived a very young (but very wise) chief. One day the elders of the village came to the chief and presented to him a problem. Several people in the village had reported that there must be a thief in the village. No one could say who the thief was, but there were several homes that had reported that food supplies were disappearing in the night. The chief began to look into the matter in all his seeking he was not able to find even one clue as to who the thief could be.

This problem went on for quite some time and became a real concern to everyone in the village and the elders and leaders in the village began to pressure the chief to take drastic measures to stop this thieving.

So the chief gathered together all the people of the village and spoke to them. He spoke to the villagers saying, “We all know that there is a thief among us, and you, the person who is doing the thieving knows who you are. We are a small community, and really, we are like one family.  We are all united in our love for one another. If anyone is struggling or lacking food there is no need to steal. You can simply come to us and we will see that you are cared for and all your needs are met”.

The chief went on to encourage the people, and to encourage the person who was stealing that they should come forward and confess. But no one came forward.

“If you come forward now,” the chief said, “the punishment you are to receive for stealing will be light. But if you do not come forward and instead wait to be caught, your punishment will be harsh. The punishment for stealing is 5 lashes with the whip. If you come forward now you will receive these 5 lashes and no more. But if you wait until you are caught the punishment will be double — it will be 10 lashes!” With these words he continued to implore the thief to confess. But still no one came forward.

It was with a heavy heart that he dismissed the people. That night he assigned a group of men to hide out in the bushes and spy on the village to see if they could catch the thief, but they had no way of knowing which house the thief would visit, and they were not able to catch the thief that night.

The next morning (the same as every morning) there was another report of missing food. So once again the chief gathered together all the people of the village and spoke to them.

He said to them, “Is there any need to steal food? Are we not as one family that cares for the needs of each person? If you are hungry there is no need to steal, you have only to come and tell us of your need and we will see that you are provided for. There is no reason why anyone among us should be stealing food.”

Once again he encouraged the person to confess, but no one among the people would admit that they were the thief.

“This cannot continue,” said the chief, “we are a small community, and eventually you will be caught. If you come and confess yourself that you are the one who has been stealing the punishment you will receive is 5 lashes. But if you do not come forward, but instead wait to be caught, your punishment will be harsh — I increase the amount now to 20 lashes!”

With these words he continued to implore the thief to confess. But still no one came forward.

With a heavy heart, he dismissed the people once again.

This went on for many days. Each night a group of men would hide in the bushes to see if they could catch the thief, but each morning there would be reports of stolen food and no thief was caught. Each afternoon the people would be gathered together and the chief would speak to them and implore them, and encourage the thief to confess, but there was never a person who stepped forward in response.

And each time the chief would increase the sentence . . . “If you come and confess that you are the one who has been stealing the punishment will be 5 lashes, but if you do not come forward and instead wait to be caught, your punishment will be harsh –it will be 25 lashes! . . . 30 lashes! . . . 35 lashes! . . . 40 lashes!”

But still no one came forward.

Then, early one morning the chief was awakened by loud shouts in the village. The thief had at last been caught. All the villagers gathered outside the chief’s quarters eager to see who the thief was. The chief stepped forward and called for the thief to be brought forward.

A sudden hush fell over the crowd. Even the chief himself was speechless as they brought before him the thief — the chief’s own mother!

For the longest time no one spoke. The chief stared, his knees growing weak. All the eyes of the village were upon him. They all knew the sentence that had been proclaimed — 40 lashes with the whip. But as they looked at the old, feeble woman who stood before them it was clear to everyone that a sentence like that would be death to her.

And it was the chief’s own mother. How could he possibly follow through with seeing his own mother beaten to death!?

The crowd waiting anxiously as the chief stepped forward to speak to his mother.

“Why?” he asked, “why have you been stealing from these people? Am I not your son? And the chief of this village! If you had a need of any kind could you not have come to me and received everything you need and more? Why did you not come to me? Why have you been stealing?!”

There was no response. The old woman simply lowered her head in shame and remained silent.

The chief turned and stepped up to his throne, then turned to address the crowd. “The sentence is 40 lashes with the whip. Take the woman and bind her in preparation for the flogging.”

There were murmurs heard among the crowd as the men stepped forward to do the chief’s bidding. The old woman’s arms were stretched out and her hands strapped to two poles exposing her back for the whip.

The designated man took up the whip and turned to look at the chief, awaiting his signal to proceed.

Breathlessly the crowd watched, waiting to see the nod from the chief that would commence the sentence — the full 40 lashes that would doubtless be the end of this old woman, his mother.

They watched as the chief stepped down from the throne and went over to his mother. Then he put one hand on each of the posts and stretched out his arms, shielding his mother with his own body. Then he looked at the man with the whip and gave “the nod”.

The whip cracked the full 40 times falling on the back of the chief. Justice was served. But mercy . . . mercy let the lashes fall upon the innocent back of the chief as he took the punishment on himself.  The chief acted in this way so as to be both the one who is just and the one who justifies.

–  –  –  –  –  –

At the end of the story I asked Jeebo and Mohamed, “Do you think that the chief in this story was a good judge or a bad one. They thought for a moment, then Jeebo said, “I think he was a good judge. He needed to punish the crime but he took the penalty himself.” Mohamed nodded in agreement.

“Okay” I said, “Now let me give you another illustration . . . Let’s suppose that someone breaks into your parents house and beats your parents terribly and steals all their belongings. Let’s suppose that your mother then dies as a result of the beating. Now let’s suppose that he robber is caught and you are in a court room before a judge with the robber there. Now let say that the robber says to the judge, “Your honor, I admit that I am guilty of all these charges being brought against me but I want to bring to the court’s attention the fact that this is my only offense, and before doing this terrible thing I was actually a very good person. I have fed countless orphans, I have build a mosque for a poor village, I have helped many poor people. So I have done a lot of good in my life.

Now suppose the judge then says, “We will now set this man free, since his good deeds outweigh the bad that he’s done”, do you think that this judge would be a good judge or a bad judge?”

Both Jeebo and Mohamed agreed that he would be a very bad judge.

Then I said, “My first story shows what kind of a judge Christianity believes God to be and the second story illustrates what kind of a judge Islam believes God is. So consider the two and think about what kind of a judge he really is”.

We talked for another hour or so and when I left they expressed the desire to continue further conversation on these topics.

Please pray that God would cause the seeds planted that day to germinate and bear fruit. Thank you!

“I Want the Pink House!”

Children say the most interesting things sometimes!

Keturah (being a very precocious child) always seems to be coming up with the most interesting ways to express herself and to share her perspective of the world around her. So, for today’s post, I thought I would let Keturah do the speaking for us as we share the latest updates and give a quick “picture tour” of the house we are building, all from Keturah’s perspective.

–  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –

Keturah: “Mommy, look, there’s my new house! Daddy’s building it for me!”

Mommy: “Yes he is! Daddy’s doing a good job building you a new house.”

02

Keturah: “This is my new room?! Daddy cleaned it for me and paint my bedroom white. But I don’t want the white room. I think I don’t like this house anymore.”

Mommy: “You don’t like this house anymore?! Why not?”

03

Keturah: “I want the PINK house down there!”

Mommy: “You want the pink house!?”

Keturah: “Yes, I think the pink one can be my new house. Pink is my favorite color!”

01

Keturah: “Look that’s my daddy and my Caleb! Daddy is a prince! And Caleb is the king! Me, I’m a daughter and a princess!!”

04

Mommy: “Keturah, what are these rooms?”

Keturah (from right to left): “This one is going to be the toilet and I think the other room is my baby room. And this one can be mommy and daddy’s room.”

09

Keturah: “Mommy and daddy’s room is ALL MESSY! Daddy have to clean it! Then Caleb can’t crawl in the dirt!”

08

Keturah: “This is my BIG room where we can walk outside. Then we need to open the toy boxes and I can play in the big room. But I need to put away toys first before I have other ones to play with!”

06

Keturah: “This is the ladder to climb inside the window!”

Mommy: “Yes it is, but what is this room going to be used for? Do you remember what we’re going to put in this room?”

Keturah: “Um . . . I don’t know how to say that one. That’s a trash room!”

Mommy: “A trash room?! Why is it a trash room?”

Keturah: “I don’t know” (giggles) “I think it’s a trash room because daddy need to clean it. Then we can put the tables and my chairs, and I think we can come and eat here. But daddy have to clean it first!”

05

Mommy: “Keturah, can you show me your room again?”

Keturah: “No, I don’t think this can be my room again.”

Mommy: “Why not?”

Keturah: “Well, I just don’t want the white room, I think my room has to be pink!”

10

Mommy: “Maybe we could ask daddy to paint your room and make it pink.”

Keturah (big smiles): “I think that can be good idea!” (laughs gleefully) “I like pink rooms! My daddy have to paint my room pink, then it not be white anymore. Then, when daddy finish to make my room pink, we can put my bed in my room, and my toys in my room, and all my dresses in my room, and my shirt in my room . . . “

Mommy: “Do you like that idea?”

07

Keturah (very excitedly): “Yeah! That’s a good idea! Let’s do that!!”

“Jesus can still hear me . . .”

Keturah really enjoys watching the “Hermie and Friends” videos. Her favorite parts in these movies is where the caterpillars go and “talk to God”.

Hermie-discovers-God-s-love.jpg

 

There have been several times in which I have found Keturah sitting outside on the step just quietly looking up at the sky. When I ask her if she’s okay she just smiles and says, “I’m fine. I’m just talking to God.”

Other times she would even pack a basket of “goodies” as if she were going to be gone a long time. Then she would head to the door and call back to me as she went, “Bye mommy! I need to go talk to God now!”

A couple weeks ago our family was sitting down for supper and paused a moment to pray. Usually the table prayer is a shorter prayer (since everyone is really hungry and anxious to eat), but on this particular day Keturah seemed to have realized in a deeper and more real way that God is the one who gives us EVERYTHING, so when we sat down to pray she told God thank you for the food, but she didn’t stop there. She went on (and on, and on, and on) thanking God for other things as well . . . so many things, in fact, that after a while we began to wonder if she would ever reach the end of her prayer. It was really neat, but we were also very hungry by the time she finished.

The other night, as I was putting Keturah to bed, I asked her if she wanted to pray. That’s when she made the comment, “Jesus is way up, up, up in the sky . . . but He can still hear me!”

Simple, child-like faith! She can’t see Him, but she knows He can hear her.

Well, today she made a new discovery about prayer that was really exciting to her . . .

Sammy had taken the kids out for a walk this morning. When they got back, Keturah was all excited and began talking so fast I could hardly catch what she was telling me.

“Mommy, I saw a butterfly! . . . Daddy didn’t see a butterfly . . . but then I saw a butterfly all by myself . . . then it went up, up, up in the air and I never see it again! . . .I talk to God and then I see a butterfly! . . . I saw over here, I saw over here . . . is yellow and purple and pink . . . and same colors . . . he have pink and purple . . . lots of colors”

Sammy came in while she was telling me about it, so he told me the story behind her excitement. Apparently, while they had been out walking, Keturah kept asking if she could see a butterfly. Sammy told her that he doesn’t have any control of the butterflies and didn’t know where any butterflies were, but he told her that if she really wanted to see a butterfly she should ask Jesus. So she prayed and asked God if she could see a butterfly.

While she was praying, Sammy turned to talk briefly to someone and that’s when it happened . . . Keturah spotted her butterfly!

How special!! Right after she had finished praying that’s when the butterfly appeared!

She was SOOO excited! And it was pretty exciting for the rest of us as well, to witness God’s answer to her prayer.

Butterfly on orange flower

(No, this is not the butterfly that she saw, but when we were looking at butterfly pictures online this one was Keturah’s favorite!)

 

All these stories that I share are really cute, but even more than that, it has been really precious to see how Keturah is learning to love God and learning to not just recite prayers but to actually think of God as a real being and to talk to Him the way she talks to any other person.

Her little butterfly story was an inspiration to me. I feel like this little answer to prayer was exactly what I was needing as well.

This last week has seemed especially difficult for us. We’ve been running on very little sleep and having days that seem even more busy than usual. It’s been a whirl-wind of activity, going from one thing to another, that I feel like I’ve gotten so caught up in being busy that I’ve forgotten how to stop and “smell the roses” (or in this case, look for the butterflies!)

But today is Friday . . . which in our home means that it is our day of Sabbath rest. Our one day a week when we can put work stuff aside and actually sit back and take a deep breath.

In some ways it feel more like a day where we can “crash” and give our heads a chance to stop spinning for a little while. A day to catch our breath, regain focus, and prepare our minds and bodies for another week-long sprint.

But today, as I have been thinking about what God really intended the Sabbath rest to look like, the one thing that keeps coming to my mind today is the realization that this is a day in which we can set aside the cares of the world and just take the time to “know that God is God!”

Keturah’s little butterfly story led me into a time of contemplation. A time of thinking back over the past week and about the different answers to prayer that God gave to me.

So many times in a day I offer up a prayer to God, but then I go on with life and don’t ever take the time to watch for the answer to come, or to appreciate God when He does answer my prayers. Sometimes I take God for granted and just expect Him to answer my prayers because “that’s what He does, right?”

Thankfulness. Gratitude. Excitement!

I think we miss out on a lot of excitement when we fall into the habit of just always asking God for things and not taking the time to marvel and rejoice when He answers our prayers!

I just think about the sheer joy and excitement on Keturah’s face over that one little butterfly and I just think how wonderful it would be to live with that joy and excitement each and every day!

Look what God has done!!

Even though Jesus is way up, up, up in the sky, He can still hear us . . . and He answers us when we call!

001.jpg

 

Building Our New House

In late December we purchased a piece of property for building a house. Ever since then we have been busy with leveling the property, laying the foundation, constructing the door and window frames, and building up the walls.

It has been pretty exciting, but also pretty challenging. You would not believe all the problems we have encountered so far in the process . . .

  • The property was not as “square” or semetrical as we had thought, so we had to redesign the house to fit in a narrower space.
  • The carpenter we hired got into a motorcycle accident and ended up in the hospital
  • The men laying the foundation didn’t know how to read blueprints and ended up having to redo much of it.
  • Bush fires burned up much of the wood that we had ordered for the rafters
  • The contractor building the house only showed up every other day and his workers didn’t really know what they were doing, so pretty much every other day we were having them correct mistakes or redo things.
  • There was some shifty business going on with our roofer, so we had to fire him and quickly find someone else.

 

Those have been the challenges but there have also been countless joys and blessings as well . . .

  • It has been a joy to see God’s provision of property in a choice location and wonderful neighborhood.
  • It has been exciting to plan out our home to our personalized preferences.
  • God has blessed us with some great friends who have been helping us with the building project.
  • Even in spite of the difficulties mentioned above, the construction is progressing rather quickly.
  • Our new home is only about 500 yards from where we used to live when we first moved to Cameroon (6 years ago), so it’s a very familiar area to us and we already have a lot of friends in the area.

 

Here is a picture of the property that we purchased back in December . . .

01

There was already the beginnings of a structure on the property, but it did not align with what we had planned for our house so we had this structure torn down . . .

02

There was also a small house already included with the property. At first we had considered adding on to the already existing house, but in the end we agreed that it would be an advantage to have two separate buildings. This existing structure can be used as an office space and a place to do our various ministry and development projects, as well as guest housing for visitors. In having this smaller structure for work and ministry related stuff we could actually have our home be more of a personal space for our family, which is something we’ve never had before.

03.jpg

Here is the layout of the house we are building . . .

04

The most important part of any building project is its foundation. The foundation for this house was particularly difficult in that the property we bought is on the side of a hill and the property was not level by any means. So in laying the foundation we had to first build a wall and raise the property on one side and make the area level . . .

05.jpg

Here is a shot of the property after the ground was raised for the foundation . . .

06

Once the ground was level we could start laying the foundation . . .

08.jpg

There were a couple measurements off when they first began digging the foundation, so it took a little longer than expected, and required a lot of extra work. But since the foundation is the most important part we needed it done right and didn’t want to rush it.

15.jpg

Keturah really enjoys visiting the construction site and pretending to help with building our new house. In this picture she is holding a bag of side walk chalk . . .

09.jpg

While the “big people” were up measuring out the walls and figuring out the dimensions of each of the rooms . . .

10.jpg

. . . Keturah was down below practicing her shapes and drawing on the wall of the foundation . . .

13.jpg

Here we are, sitting in the space that will one day be Keturah’s room. She likes to tell us about how she’s going to have a bed, and toys, and all her dresses in her new room. Needless to say, she’s pretty excited.

14.jpg

Overseeing the placement of the doors as the walls start to go up . . .

16.jpg

Keturah standing in the doorway of “daddy and mommy’s room” . . .

17.jpg

The walls are all mud bricks, but when it’s done we’ll be putting a layer of cement on the inside walls . . .

19.jpg

Keturah standing in her bedroom . . .

20.jpg

Now the walls are all up and the door and window frames are all in place . . .

21.jpg

All of a sudden it’s looking like a real house! You can see the kids’ room pretty clearly defined now . . .

22.jpg

Here’s the view from standing by the exterior door in the family room . . .

23a.jpg

As you can see below, we designed the home in such a way that the house is very “open” which will be great for airflow as well as making the rooms feel bigger than they are . . .

23.jpg

Tomorrow morning we will be starting on the roof. Rainy season is just around the corner so we’re anxious to get the roof on before it rains. Once the roof is on we can be a little more relaxed about finishing up the other details of the house, but the main thing right now is just to get the roof on before the rains return.

24.jpg

Here’s Keturah making friends with the neighbor kids. There are a lot of young kids in this neighborhood, which will be a lot of fun for our little “social bug”  🙂

07.jpg

Our current plan is to be moved into this new home by September — Lord willing!

I hope you enjoyed the pictures!