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 . . .


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 . . .


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.


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


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 . . .


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


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


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.


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 . . .


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


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


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.


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


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


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


Keturah standing in her bedroom . . .


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


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


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


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 . . .


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.


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”  🙂


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

I hope you enjoyed the pictures!

Too Close for Comfort

This afternoon was rather adventurous. Today was a day that I have been both expecting and dreading — the day they burned the bush around our house.

We were enjoying a quiet afternoon. Sammy had just gone out to talk with someone in the community. Caleb was fast asleep. I was  working on my computer. And Keturah was sitting next to me, enjoying her chocolate banana snack.

I heard the crackling of a fire in the distance so I stepped outside to take a look. I could see that there were some people burning the brush down in the valley. It was a safe distance away, but it WAS on THIS side of the river, so I made a mental note to check on it again a little later to see which direction the fire would be going.


I went back inside and continued working a few minutes longer. Then, all of a sudden, I heard a huge gust of wind and the sound of the fire suddenly grew much louder. So I went back outside to look and, much to my dismay, the fire was creeping up the side of our hill at a rather quick pace heading right towards our house.

I knew there were people watching the fire, so I wasn’t too alarmed. But since the house we are staying in only has one door (and that door was the facing the direction where the fire was coming from) I didn’t feel comfortable about staying inside while there was a fire raging so close to the house.

The wind was picking up quite a bit at this point and the fire was approaching rather quickly, so I got Keturah down out of her high chair and went fetch Caleb off the bed. On the way out the door I grabbed my purse, my cell phone, and our shoes. I took the kids around to the back of the house and sat them down on the cement slab and proceeded to put Keturah’s shoes and socks on.

That done, we circled back around the house to see how the fire was progressing. It was right around this time that two men came running up the hill carrying branches that they were using to fight back the fire to keep in under control.


They were shouting more than usual and it didn’t take much to realize that the fire was not completely under their control. They seemed a little frantic and began calling others to come and help them.

People came from every direction to see what was going on. Some people were a bit upset at the men who had started the fire, lecturing them about how they’re not supposed to burn the bush during the “heat of the day” and how they really shouldn’t have done it on such a windy day.

But what’s done is done, so everyone pitched in to try and correct the situation.

They decided that the best way to control the fire would be to create a cross fire (which required starting a second fire). They asked me if I had any matches, so I ran inside quick to fetch the box of matches. How thankful I was that we had just purchased matches that morning as if we had had a premonition that we would be needing them.


The cross fire helped a great deal in directing the fire away from our house, but then, quite unexpectedly there was another gust of wind and the fire began spreading pretty quickly again.


We heard someone from a distance calling out and warning the men that the fire was getting too close to the road (and too close to the power lines!) so they set a young boy in charge of watching the fire by our house (which was pretty much under control by this point) and everyone else ran up the road to see if they could fight back the fire before it did any damage to the power lines.

I didn’t bother going along with the group, I wanted to stick closer to home and make sure the fire didn’t get out of hand again.


I could hear a lot of commotion, but couldn’t really tell what was going on. Then, from across the valley (towards the hospital) I heard new shouts ringing out, a frantic call for people to hurry and fetch some water. I looked over in the direction of the voices and could see several people running to cut down branches to beat the fire while others were rushing to fetch buckets of water. That’s when I noticed that the fire from the valley was making a direct path up the other side of the hill and heading straight towards the generator shed.


I don’t know how much fuel is stored in the generator shed but it was enough for everyone to be genuinely concerned. For the second time that afternoon I took the kids around behind the house as a safety precaution, and just peered out myself to see what would happen. I watched the group of people throwing water on the fire and beating it back with branches they had cut.

The fire came within 10 feet of the generator shed, but they were able to stop it in time.

The power lines were not as fortunate, though, so the power was out for a while this evening while the power lines were being repaired.

Well, that was our “big adventure” for today. It wasn’t as bad as I had feared, but with the strong winds we had this afternoon the fire did get a little too close for comfort. But, all’s well that ends well.

Once the fire started to die down, a bunch of kids came by with branches to snuff out the embers and small flames that still remained from the fire. They seemed to have a lot of fun chasing after the little fires and beating them with their branches.


And that was the end of our excitement for the day. Except for a few moments of “frantic” and a couple times of feeling “concerned”, it was actually rather fun to observe all the activity.


Here’s a cute picture of Keturah during all the activity. She was so chilled about it all and didn’t seem concerned in the least. I think her only real annoyance was being interrupted right in the middle of eating her chocolate banana snack (thus the chocolate all over her face 🙂





My Neighbor in Need

Last week, very unexpectedly, I felt a sudden burden on my heart to help someone in need. Without even realizing what I was saying, I found myself praying and asking God to show me people who have real needs that I could help to meet.

I remember thinking at the time that this is one of those prayers that you pray a little cautiously, never knowing just how much God is going to ask of you in response. But the burden was so heavy on my heart that I knew it would be wrong to suppress it. From that moment on there was a level of expectation as I waited to see what type of need God would bring to our doorstep.

That evening we received word that two Christian communities in Nigeria had been attacked. The raiders came with containers of Kerosene and literally burned up everything. They had gone with the intent of killing everyone who lived in these communities, but by the grace of God the people were warned in the nick of time and everyone made it out safe before the raiders arrived.


There were nearly 100 people in these communities who fled in the middle of the night. There wasn’t time to gather anything to take with them so they literally fled with nothing but the clothes on their backs and just barely made it away safely. Even as they fled they looked back and could see the flames rising in the village. Their homes, their animals, all their possessions . . . everything was destroyed in the fire.

We learned about this from a friend of ours here, whose sister was among those who fled. This friend took up a collection here in our community in an attempt to gather supplies that could be sent to help these people in their time of need.


When I heard this report I knew that this was the need that God had placed as a burden on my heart. These were the people in need that I had prayed for just a few hours before.

In the days that followed, as I sifted through our belongings and began packing boxes to send to the refugees, I found myself meditating on the following verses:

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” (1 John 3:17)

Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” (Luke 3:11)

I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. . . . Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:35-40)

If you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.” (Matthew 10:42)

Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38)


I thought of these verses and I thought also about how it would be if our community were to face such a trial, or our family were to lose everything. We have enjoyed years of peace and freedom of religion. But there is no guarantee that this peace will continue for us.

Christians in our bordering country of Nigeria are experiencing such intense persecutions now. Christian communities are being targeted their possessions looted or burned. There are very few survivors being left as entire villages are literally being massacred.


Those who are going around attacking the villages have been “good enough” to send an advance warning to each of the locations they plan to raid. They send a message ahead of them as a warning, but there is no way for anyone to know how much time they have between the time the message arrives and the raid begins; it could be a matter of days, a matter of just a few hours, or even just a matter of a few minutes.

Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak.” (Matthew 24: 17-18)

There isn’t time. If you want to be counted as one of the survivors you will leave everything behind and just run! And even then you can only pray that in running you will not run into the snipers hiding out in the bush.


For those of you who may be concerned for our safety, let me just say that this is not what is happening in our area, or even in the country where we are serving.

But at the same time I have to ask, why is there more concern for us who are living in safety than there is for those who are living out this nightmare?

These are our neighbors! The family members of some of our friends and colleagues. These are our brothers and sisters in Christ!


I would much rather be challenged by someone who would ask what we are doing to help then to be warned and asked what we are doing to stay safe. “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 8:35)

These days we hear a lot of reports and a lot of criticism about the U.S. government and most especially about our new president – President Trump. Many question how he could have possibly come into power. Some would even go so far as to claim that our president wasn’t even elected by the American people but was likely put in power by some Russian intervention. (Of course, those same people had some crazy ideas about how Barack Obama got into power and which “evil force” was secretly behind his campaign, as well.)

I think we, the American people, tend to thrive on drama and feed off of conspiracy theories. I think we do this as a means of diversion, as a way in which we can lay blame elsewhere and not be forced to take a look in the mirror and face the fact that WE are responsible for putting these people in power, and also, indirectly responsible for their actions in representing the American people.

I’ll admit that I would have never voted for Trump to be president, but now that he is in power I make it a goal to be supportive and to give him “the benefit of the doubt”. And I make it a goal to PRAY for him. Because the real answer to the question of how Trump became president really lies in the fact that God ordained it.

In Romans 13, Paul gives the command: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”

I think about the fact that at the time Paul would have been writing this, Nero would have been the Emperor to whom Paul owed his allegiance. I can’t imagine the injustices Paul would have seen under such an Emperor, certainly a lot more than we see under our current government.


Like many other Americans it does grieve me that our boarders are being closed to people in need, but at the same time I can’t say that I am surprised or even upset by this decision of the government.

In fact, something that grieves me even more than this is the fact that many of the Christians in America seem to be expecting the government to do their work for them!

The way I see it, the government is a reflection of the people that it governs and quite frankly the majority of people in American are not Christians. I think it’s time to wake up and realize that America is not a Christian nation anymore. We need to stop expecting Christian morals to come out of a secular government. We need to stop waiting for our government to address the issues that we as the body of Christ are responsible for addressing.

Quite frankly, the responsibility of any government is to look to the interests of its own people, to protect its own boarders, to defend the rights of its own citizens.

It is the responsibility of the CHURCH to be looking out for the interests of others. It is the body of Christ that is responsible for feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, welcoming strangers, and visiting the sick and imprisoned. “Love your neighbor as you love yourself” – that is not a government policy, it’s a Christian calling!


Instead of spending our energy picketing fences, writing petitions, and trying to convince a secular government to make Christian rulings, how about we take that energy and put it to use meeting the real needs that are all around us?!

If the government isn’t meeting certain needs then let’s see individual Christians and the body of Christ rising up to meet them!

If the government won’t let refugees come into the country then let’s see Christian missionaries going out to help them where they are!

Let’s stop criticizing President Trump for not representing Christ to the world and let’s start letting our own lights shine a little brighter.

There’s a whole world in need, and it starts with showing love to our own neighbors. It can be really easy to send a check to a distant land, but there’s so much more we can do beyond that. I bet there is someone a lot closer to you than that, a need that is right at your doorstep, a friend, a stranger, a “neighbor” by Jesus’ description.

It all starts with a willing heart and a powerful prayer . . . a prayer that God would open your eyes and show you specific needs around you specific needs that you can meet.



** Please note that most of the images above have been copied from news headlines. It is not my intent to violate copyright laws by posting these images, I am merely attempting to portray an accurate picture of the crisis taking place across our boarder.