Joys of Family

December and Christmas time have always meant special family memories and activities for me.  So, it was a little hard for me when Joel & Andi and the boys took off for Tanzania the first week of December not to arrive back until the 23rd.  There wasn’t much time to mope around though as God filled the days.

 img_6030-version-2We welcomed new family to our Crossworld team here in Senegal as Jiz Thomas arrived on the 8th.  She is living with 2 Senegalese women, learning French, and learning how to integrate into Senegalese life and culture.  Thank you for praying for us in all the details of receiving new workers, and please continue to pray for Jiz in her adaptation here.

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Bruce had the honor of sitting on the jury as Roger Derpilus (Haitian missionary to Senegal) defended his master’s thesis.  Roger did a superb job in his presentation and also in his defense.  We are so proud of him.  Others also recognized his good work and commented that it should be published because it would be helpful for the ministry in Senegal.  Thanks to all as you’ve prayed and supported the idea and the reality of Haitian missionaries being sent out.  God is at work.  We love having part of our Haitian family here with us in Senegal.

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Our church organized 2 Christmas box distributions in 2 different neighborhoods as an outreach to Muslim families.  Pray that some kid’s clubs might result from these endeavors.

 

 

Christmas Eve we gathered together as a church family to celebrate Christmas – JOY TO THE WORLD:  JESUS HAS COME!  We worshipped together praising God in song and dance; all the different groups presented songs, skits, and dances; we read and were encouraged by Scripture; and we feasted together with a meal at 10 p.m.

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Christmas Day Bruce preached at church.  Our Senegalese neighbors always share meals with us on their special holidays so we do the same.  So, after church we distributed chicken meals and sweet breads to 9 of our neighbors in celebration of the birth of Jesus.  Then we gathered together out in the village of Joel & Andi’s host family to celebrate with our Senegalese family and friends.

New Year’s Eve we all relaxed at home doing things we enjoy and then early evening we went out to a bluff outside of Thies with friends to roast hotdogs and marshmallows, play some bocci ball and set off fire works.

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We are grateful to God for the abundant life He has given us here in Senegal, for the opportunities to build into the lives of those around us, for His faithful presence with us in everything during 2016, and for the expectations we have for 2017 because of our hope in Him.

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Ladies camp in Senegal 2015

Ladies camp always includes babies – I think almost every lady from the village came with a baby/toddler.

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All the ladies with babies or expecting a baby were given a gift.

We sang and danced together.  I enjoyed hearing the village women singing praises to God in their language – Serer.  And ladies camp is never a proper camp without the ladies showing off their different dances.

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We laughed and cried together.  I think we laughed more when watching the video of us playing on the beach than during the actual playing.  The ladies had never done a jumping jack before and done relays so it was quite funny.  We cooled off in the ocean – a treat for all as they don’t get to the ocean often if at all.

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We celebrated Esther’s 40th birthday by placing heart stickers all over her face and neck.  She wore them proudly the rest of the day.  She cried tears of joy as she thanked God for his many blessings in her life.

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We ate delicious food….I’m still loving most Senegalese dishes.  By the look of our plate at the end, it looks like everyone else thought it was delicious too.

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I was asked to do something for our craft/handiwork time.  I chose fabric flowers made from old t-shirts or scraps of material from their beautiful outfits they have made at the tailors.  They enjoyed the time sitting around working on their flowers together and then having something pretty to wear in their hair or on their dress or one lady wore it around her wrist.

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I gave a short devotional thought at the end of our time using the flowers we’d made as a reminder of how God took us when we were useless (scraps or ripped, holey t-shirts) and his enemies, and made us new, adopted us into his family, and even planned ways for us to be useful in serving Him and bringing glory to his Name.  I was blessed to be with these ladies and challenged by their steadfastness in their faith in spite of their difficult circumstances.  Please pray with me for their continued growth in their relationship with God and for God to use them in unimagineable ways to draw the lost to Himself.

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RECENT HIGHLIGHTS FROM OUR LIFE IN SENEGAL

A picture is worth a 1000 words so I think it’s the best way for me to share with you all that’s been going on with us during these past few months.

Birthdays are such joyous occasions as we celebrate life and all God’s blessings during the year just lived. We had great times making the most of these special landmarks in the lives of those we love.

Cecil and I share birthdays so we had a good time celebrating together out in their village.  I made multiple cakes because we knew that as soon as the word spread that there was cake, there would be a line-up.

Cecil and I share birthdays so we had a good time celebrating together out in their village. I made multiple cakes because we knew that as soon as the word spread that there was cake, there would be a line-up.

Our try at Andi's favorite b-day cake made Senegalese style flopped, but we still celebrated this amazing woman.

Our try at Andi’s favorite b-day cake made Senegalese style flopped, but we still celebrated this amazing woman.

We celebrated Joel's day with several couples from our church.

We celebrated Joel’s day with several couples from our church.

Tyler turned 6 in style with strawberry shortcake, a treasure hunt to find presents, and treats for his school class.

Tyler turned 6 in style with strawberry shortcake, a treasure hunt to find presents, and treats for his school class.

Fireworks on our roof in Senegal celebrating the 4th from afar.

Fireworks on our roof in Senegal celebrating the 4th from afar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was so great to be able to celebrate my Dad's 90th birthday with family and friends.

It was so great to be able to celebrate my Dad’s 90th birthday with family and friends.

English classes came to an end for this school year. We had a nice ceremony honoring the students who had completed the required number of class hours. We will be interviewing and doing placement exams in September/October for the new semester. Please pray for us teachers as we build relationships with these university students with the desire to speak truth into their lives.

here's what one of my students wrote to me after classes ended: hello my dearest nice teacher english really you a lot healp me to cheer speak english  i have not not fo you to thank that got you consecrated in paradise  peace and love you and your familly   never i dont forget you.  [I think I have more work to do with this student]

Here’s what one of my students wrote to me after classes ended: hello my dearest nice teacher english really you a lot healp me to cheer speak english i have not not fo you to thank that got you consecrated in paradise peace and love you and your familly never i dont forget you. [I think I have more work to do with this student]

Weddings are important events anywhere. I was exhausted after our 3-day involvement in one for a young couple from our church so couldn’t even imagine how the bride and groom were still managing to smile and interact with everyone after their 5+ days. Friday, Andi and I worked all afternoon and into the early evening with the church ladies cutting onions (100 lb. sacks), garlic, vegetables, and making juices. Saturday, all day, was the actual wedding. Sunday, Joel, Bruce and I went to the family’s home after church to join with 200+ others celebrating this couple and their marriage.

Each people group has their style of dance and they love to show them off.  Here the bride in blue is making things lively.

Each people group has their style of dance and they love to show them off. Here the bride in blue is making things lively.

We all wore an outfit made from this material.  It was so fun to see all the variations/styles.

It was so fun to see all the variations/styles.

Men had shirts and even babies and small children had their outfits.

We all had outfits made out of the same material. Men had shirts and even babies and small children had their outfits.

June was the month of short termers. Zachary, who also spent 2 weeks with us in Haiti, arrived in Senegal to get some exposure to life/ministry with a NTM missionary, our family here, and then as part of Becca’s team leading the kids program for a NTM conference.

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Every spot was filled as we housed 10 extra people for several days. It was fun to reconnect with a classmate from Multnomah Bible School days who was part of the team and to have 4 young adults come from one of our supporting churches: Evergreen Bible Church in Vancouver, WA.

Becca with a group of kids during the conference.

Becca with a group of kids during the conference.

Baptisms are always a thrill. Last Sunday 8 youth publicly proclaimed their faith in God by baptism. It was good to hear their testimonies and to join in with the church body in jubilant celebration.

Church leaders praying for these youth being baptized.

Church leaders praying for these youth being baptized.

This pretty well expresses the thrill and joy we all were feeling.

This pretty well expresses the thrill and joy we all were feeling.

Relationship building is a big part of life here. I must admit, there are still times when I don’t feel like making the effort. Please continue to pray for us as we develop relationships both with those in the church and outside the church.

Sitting for hours in the blazing heat out in a village with loud music blaring for a first communion party - not my idea of fun, but it means a lot to our friend Vero.  Or sitting, just sitting with a woman whose Dad just died - taking the time speaks volumes.

Sitting for hours in the blazing heat out in a village with loud music blaring for a first communion party – not my idea of fun, but it means a lot to our friend Vero. I also made the cake which was greatly appreciated. Or sitting, just sitting with a woman whose Dad just died – taking the time speaks volumes.

Some of the young girls that Andi and I have started discipling.  We'll do a craft, sew something simple, etc., along with discussing life issues and learning truth from God's Word.  Please pray for growth for these girls in their knowledge of God and in a deepened relationship with Him.

Some of the young girls that Andi and I have started discipling. We’ll do a craft, sew something simple, etc., along with discussing life issues and learning truth from God’s Word. Please pray for growth for these girls in their knowledge of God and in a deepened relationship with Him.

A Muslim family - 2 women and 3 kids in the middle - from our neighborhood that came to the village with our family to celebrate Easter and birthdays.

A Muslim family – 2 women and 3 kids in the middle – from our neighborhood that came to the village with our family to celebrate Easter and birthdays.

Last week we enjoyed time with Becca as she stayed on a few days after her conference responsibilities ended. It was sure fun to have her here. We had some long talks, went to the beach, and enjoyed doing things together with the family here.

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Goodbye was hard for all of us.

Goodbye was hard for all of us.

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At Home In Senegal

We shared in our update how hard it has been to uproot so completely from Haiti and from the ministries and people we loved and were so involved with. It has hit us in the face as we’ve arrived here in Senegal and it seems we’re back to zero.

But the most wonderful thing (besides knowing that God is in control and has a plan) is that we’re living with our kids – Joel & Andi – and our grandsons – Ethan & Tyler!! I lay in bed last night thanking God for this extra special blessing. And we’re not just doing it because we have to, but we want to and we love being together. And besides, it’s so normal for this culture, so we fit right in.

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How fun to have your grandson move his chair right next to you in order to work on computers together!

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Bruce never dreamed he’d be doing another motorcycle trip with Joel…let alone in Senegal!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I certainly never thot I’d be exercising in Senegal with my grandsons!

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We sure are loving the Senegalese food!

 

Here’s a picture of our place from the outside. We’re on the upper floor – the bottom has the same floor plan but has never been finished so no one is living in it yet. The middle balcony lines up with the hall and living/dining room area. The 2 balconies on either side are off a spare room on one side and the office on the other side. Inside there are 4 bedrooms, 3 full bathrooms (2 connected to 2 of the rooms; the other by itself), and the kitchen. Up on the roof is for laundry, where Joel built a storage depo and has a water cistern, and where the boys ride their scooters and jump on the trampoline.

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the new furniture

God truly answered prayer and helped us find wonderful furniture in mint conditions and at a great price on Craig’s List in Florida.

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Our quiet corner in our room with a bit of Haiti decorating the walls.

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A new office chair and his books – he’s a happy camper.

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This is walking into the office. It’s still getting organized. Bruce has his cubby behind the back of the shelf with the Haitian painting on it.

 

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It’s been a lot of hard work, but after a week of unpacking and getting organized, I think we’ve made it. Bruce is taking a well-deserved rest on our new-to-us comfortable couch.

Praise God with us for all He has done to help us in this move.  Please pray with us as we continue to look to Him for direction in the days ahead as we adapt and integrate into life and ministry here in Senegal.

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Got some material and now we’re matching…..what couples do here. I’m all for it.

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The Senegalese say that you eat for yourself but you dress for others. They dress like this whenever they go out of their house.

 

 

 

 

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Here We Go!

Picture8I don’t expect Senegal to ever replace our life in Haiti, but, because it is God’s plan for us, I do expect it to be right for us.  I realize that “being right” for us could include joys, sorrows, accomplishments, disappointments, fruitful relationships, or unresponsiveness.

I do expect God to keep his promises though – that if we seek him, we will find him; that he will never leave us; that as we leave our requests with him he will give peace; that his Holy Spirit will teach us and empower us.  The first image that came to Bruce’s mind was when Peter stepped out of the boat – took the risk – and then began to falter – Jesus’ hand was immediately there to take hold of Peter’s and to help him.

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So, we’re excited to be moving to Senegal.  We don’t yet know what all we’ll be involved in.  Upon our arrival we’ll spend time getting to know the Crossworld team there; learning about their strategic ministry involvement and where we might fit; we’ll be observing a new group of people and learning a new culture; we’ll have to unearth our French and at least learn some phrases in Wolof.  We’d appreciate your prayers in all this.

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We fly from Portland to Fort Lauderdale March 26th.  We are going in on a container with 5 other families.  Since all the other families are already in Senegal, the responsibility of this container has fallen on us – that means lining up the shippers and then loading it.  We are using Missionary Flights International’s (MFI) facilities  – they are receiving all the items to be shipped and will help on the loading day.  Please pray for us in all the details of shopping, organizing and loading the container for shipment.  Pray the container will arrive safely and smoothly go thru customs in Senegal.

We fly from Miami to Dakar, Senegal April 9th arriving early morning in Senegal April 10th.

Be excited with us as we “step out of the boat” on this new venture planned and directed by God.  Please pray

that we’ll stay in constant communion with God so that we hear his voice and respond in obedience.

that we’ll be patient and take the necessary time to observe and be teachable.

that we’ll fit in with our team there.

that God would lead us to those He wants us to disciple and to those activities He wants us to be involved in.

We’re nervous, but also at peace; there are lots of unknowns, but we’re excited to experience all that God has for us; we’re older, but trusting God for energy to be and do as He has planned; we realize we have short-comings, but hope we have gained some wisdom over the years; we’re sad to leave friends and colleagues in Haiti, but look forward to developing new relationships in Senegal.

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Depending on your prayers as we go.

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Saying Goodbye to Haiti

IMG_3427It’s really hard for me to know what to share about leaving Haiti…..the process started over a year ago and there have been a myriad of decisions, activities, and emotions during this time.

It’s true, there are things I won’t miss – the challenges of daily facing the physical needs of those around us and knowing how best to respond to them, the roads,

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and of course, the man preaching/singing/blaring out over the megaphone late at night and into the early morning right near our house….just to mention a few.  Oh, and how can I ever forget the roosters crowing beneath our window all thru the night and really early in the morning??!!!???

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On the other hand, Haiti is familiar – we’re used to it; we’re comfortable there because we know it; God directed us to Haiti and He planted a deep love for Haiti in us; we know the language; and over the years, it has become home to us.

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But, more than anything, it’s our friends, the relationships, those we’ve worked closely with for so many years that keep coming into our thoughts.  And then the desire to drop in for a face-to-face with them floods over us.  When we call/skype and hear their voices, it brings a smile to our faces and joy overcomes us.  And news, any news of what’s going on with those we love in Haiti thrills us.

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Jehu’s boys at our last get-together

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Johny & Rosadite wore their Senegalese outfits to our farewell party

Becca and Michelle came for 3 weeks over Christmas and into the New Year to be with us for our last days there and to say goodbye to their home and friends.  It was great to have them and we enjoyed so many memories and traditions together.

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Haiti has even changed the way we decorate Christmas cookies. An angel becomes a palm tree and a snowman becomes a Haitian blowing the conch shell…do you see them?

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Here’s the Haitian man blowing his conch shell.

Michelle did a photo post of their trip.  If you’d like to look at that, here’s the link:

http://ayitinihongirl.blogspot.com/2014/02/haiti-odyssey-not-for-faint-of-heart.html

The reality is that Haiti and its people will never cease being a part of us.  Haiti holds a lifetime of memories we’ll always cherish.  We are grateful that God allowed us abundant life, ministry, and so much joy during our 31 years there.

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Annual evaluations….Anyone out there really like them????

The one that our mission requires each year is long, takes a lot of time, asks hard questions, and gets very personal.  But the reality is they’re necessary – they help keep us on track, they bring to light good things to keep doing, and other things that need to change, they keep us focused, and they help us put into writing things that could otherwise remain vague.   In addition, the Bible says we can’t get away from them…. all we do will be “shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light.  It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.”  I Cor.3:13

We recently completed our mission one before leaving Haiti.  As we talked over our evaluations with our team leader, he encouraged us to take some time to write down the good things, the accomplishments, the relationships developed, the fruit produced so we could look back at that and be encouraged and motivated to keep on during the months/years ahead especially in light of our move & new ministry in Senegal.

We are planning to do what he suggested because we believe it will be a good reminder and an encouragement.  But in my reading today in I Corinthians, this is what I read:  “For who makes you different from anyone else?  What do you have that you did not receive?” (4:7) And, “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” (3:7)  I’m not going to preach….you can draw your own conclusions, but it always comes down to the same thing, doesn’t it?!   It’s all about God!

So please, we covet your prayers for us especially as we’re beginning a new ministry in Senegal:

  • that we will stay in close communion with God,
  • that we’ll seek his counsel,
  • that we’ll recognize and listen to his voice,
  • that we’ll obey Him, and
  • that we’ll always be willing and available to be used by Him according to his plan and in any way He desires.

Then we can be confident in the evaluations that all we do will stand the test of fire.

And the great thing is, He is the one who is responsible for producing fruit!

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