Friday, July 4, 2014

The Grand Finale

Honestly, I don't like the title I chose for this post, but my brain refuses to be creative these days... "The Grand Finale" it is.  Really, it's just a blast of recent photos (kind of like the blast of fireworks that comes at the end of the fireworks show. OH!  Happy July 4th!)... Maybe eventually I'll get to writing my feelings and reactions to these most recent events, but for now, enjoy the pictures.

After a series of unanticipated circumstances, I got to see the inauguration of Guinea Bissau's president!

Our friend Adon stands out in the crowd. 
Anxiously awaiting the processional.

 What does church look like for us?  Here are some pictures of my church family.

I hope my kids are this cute!

My dear friend Nyima.

I like matching my friends.

My nephew! ... well almost. His name is AbrĂ£o (Abraham in English).

Here I stand with my friend Adramane.  

 Random activities:
I have traveled about an hour away via public transport to come to market.  Here I am with my favorite storekeeper Alfa.

My teammate Dave found me again in a different part of the market.  Here, I am bartering for yarn.

Cooking is something I really enjoy, and cooking with Nyima just makes it even better.

 What does a birthday party look like here?  Pera n mostra bos (wait - I'll show you).  Adramane's 24th.
Birthday cake isn't a "normal" part of a birthday party here, but we had a special treat that day.  This cake survived a 45 minute motor cyle ride, a 20 minute walk (because the motor cycle got a flat tire), extreme temperatures, and children.  I'd say it looks pretty good!

I shine a light for Mai as she cooks spaghetti in the dark.

Cutting the birthday cake!  I think there's some kids excited to eat it!

The dancing!

It got late.  Everybody kind of "zoned" before their "second wind" kicked in.

Nyima and I finish off the evening with another picture.

I am currently sitting in a hotel in southern Senegal awaiting the arrival of my parents.  I'm sure there will be more pictures to follow.  They will spend a few days with me here in Guinea Bissau meeting my friends and learning about what the last two years of my life was like before we head back to the states together on July 9th.  We will arrive in Pennsylvania on July 10th. Prayers for these last few days of touring, tearful goodbyes, and travels, as well as direction for the future would be much appreciated!

He Leadeth Me

One thing that has been particularly impressed upon me in my last two years in Guinea Bissau is the depth and the richness of hymns.  The confessions of a 23-year-old.  I love hymns.

I did not grow up in a hymn-singing church, but have always enjoyed music deeply.  I remember very early in my childhood, my parents created a rule "no singing at the supper table" because I would sing instead of eat.  There is almost constantly a song on my lips (whether published or one I created myself). Long story short - my long history with music has helped me to learn and appreciate hymns later in life.

Since moving back to Guinea Bissau in April, I have been living with my teammates Dave and Delores (who DID grow up singing hymns!).  Our spontaneous hymn sings have especially ministered to me over the last month. "He Leadeth Me" has been on my lips these days.  Below is an excerpt.

"Lord I would clasp Thy hand in mine,
Nor ever murmur nor repine;
Content whatever lot I see
Since 'tis my God that leadeth me."

As you will read in the letter from my MST (Missionary Support Team) below, there have been some recent changes in my assignment here in Guinea Bissau.  Feel free to email me for more details or with questions, comments, or concerns.        -A-

Letter from Adrianne's MST        
June 15, 2014

Dear Weaverland/Supporters,

As the Missionary Support Team (MST) for Adrianne Huber, we want to update you on recent developments for Adrianne. Because of the current circumstances and ongoing changes within the Guinea-Bissau environment, Eastern Mennonite Missions, in mutual discernment with Adrianne, has discerned that Adrianne return to the United States in early July. She will continue to receive support for two months of transition. Below is a letter from representatives from EMM, the Guinea-Bissau EMM team, and Adrianne [please email me if you want a copy of this letter...I didn't copy it below -A-]. This letter explains the reason for the changes in her assignment. Throughout this process, EMM had considerable dialogue with Adrianne’s parents, Floyd and Elaine Huber, Nick Martin; MST Communications Coordinator, and Pastor Brian Martin.

We wanted to let everyone know that whether you have supported Adrianne financially – or through prayer – that we greatly appreciate your continued support through this discernment process. All finances will be held by EMM until proper discernment can take place about a possible future assignment for Adrianne in another location. Also, everyone who has remaining pledges for Adrianne is released of this pledge. However, we also wish for continued support through this discernment process until we see where God leads Adrianne in the future.

The MST would like to again thank everyone for any support that is given during this time. We appreciate your willingness to walk with Adrianne through prayer.

Adrianne’s MST

Holly Saylor - Chairman                      Ron and Karen Horning                 Tracy Musser
Greg and Juanita Huber                       Sijia Qiu                                         Nick Martin

Friday, June 6, 2014

Just another day in Paradise... oh wait! Gambia

Here's a little peak into my life since Monday.  Our entire team is at a missionary guest house in Gambia, where we are holding our annual missionary retreat.  I am definitely not one to be attached to modern conveniences (and actually like the more "difficult/primitive" lifestyle I live), but occasionally, it is nice to get a break.  Here is what our break looked like:

I am enjoying foody things that I don't get to have; apples and peanut butter (we have pb, but no apples), GRAHAM CRACKERS and peanut butter, and granola.  Also featured is a cup of coffee, but I can get coffee in Catel.... I was just saying that I enjoy it :)

Graham crackers and pb is a special snack that my brother and I used to share a lot growing up.

[P.S. If you don't care about what our apartment room looks like, skip the next few pictures, and go to the last one... it's worth your time]

The inside of our guest house apartment.  Check out the sofa.  and the refrigerator. and the coffee maker.  and the microwave.

The beautiful compound with trees and playground stuff and flowers.

There're more flowers.  And there's air conditioning, but you can't see that.... So you can turn the air down really low and cuddle up under covers.  Awesome.

The guest house has running water.  HOT running water (which is only useful anyways if you're pretending that it's winter inside your apartment...'cause outside it's still hot)

 One of my favorite parts here has sincerely been the landscaping.  It's nice to see flowers.

Check out my awesome teammates having fun!

 My very favorite picture from the week. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Get nuts for nuts!

This season is a very busy season for all here in Guinea Bissau.  It's cashew time.

Maybe after this blogpost, you will learn why cashews are so expensive in America.  Unfortunately, I only have pictures of the very beginning of the cashew process, but my team mate Andrew did a very nice video that I would recommend you watch  He explains the entire process in great detail.

On the way out to some of the cashew orchards, you cross over rice fields.  Here, women are burning grasses, which they will eventually use for fertilizer.

A deeper look into the orchards

After what is remotely like a 4 hour candy scramble (bent in half, picking up cashews one by one), you get comfortable on whatever rock or log you can find and dig in!  One by one, you twist the nut off the fruit. The nicer fruits are saved in a tub to make juice.

After all that hard work, Mariama is finishing up some left-over lunch.  By this time of day, it's about 5pm.  Women will tote juice, buckets, leftover nuts that didn't fit in the sack, their kids, firewood, etc and head for home where they will shower, get water and start cooking supper.

Alfuseni is gathering up his handful of nuts that he set aside for roasting.  He will soon tie a full feed sack of cashew nuts we picked today on the back of the bicycle and pedal home.  Alfuseni is about 12 years old.

The rest of the process is explained in Andrew's video that I mentioned earlier.  All that day's work, and guess what they sell each kilo (about 2.2 pounds) of raw, unprocessed nuts for.  

50 cents.  

That's right.  And this commodity is what floats and drives this ENTIRE economy of Guinea Bissau.  It gives a new perspective to eating those yummy nuts, doesn't it?

Food for thought for your Sunday.

From a hot and humid Guinea Bissau,

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Un di Mayo

So, you've heard of "Cinco de Mayo," (a Mexican holiday celebrating the Battle of Puebla) but I'll bet this is the first time that you've heard of "Un di Mayo".  If you ask people on the streets of Guinea Bissau, many will tell you "It's just a holiday."  Very few know the reason behind the holiday, but it has been an excuse for young people to have sex, get drunk, and "live life up."  People flood the beaches and will spend hundreds of dollars on food and drinks for the weekend (huge money here).

Something we've been sorting through as a church here is what cultural things do we keep, what are some things that we need to let go, and what are some things that we can still celebrate in a clean and God-honoring way.

A group of my church friends and I decided that we could still have good, clean fun on "Un di Mayo".  We went down to the "beach" of Catel (the rice dike) and set up a picnic.  We took lots of pictures, blared the radio, had a special meal of spaghetti instead of rice, and drank soda. Later, we sat around and talked and ate a Senegalese rice dish.  We had such a fun night celebrating friendship!  Here's a peek into our evening:

Adramane and his cousin Gibby enjoyed Catel's "beach"

Nyima and I relaxed by the water.

Bintu at our picnic area showing off the yummy food!

Me, Sadja, and Nyima pause for one of many many pictures.

Nyima, me, and Adama pretend to be "ganstas".  I didn't get the "let's be serious" message.

After an evening at the "beach," Nyima and I (and others) hung out and took more pictures.  Look at that joy!

Hoping that you, also, enjoyed your first of May!


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

I am so glad that God is my strength for today and my bright hope for tomorrow!  When you've lost your way, when things are going well, God is somehow working out His plan in all of it.

"Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow" has been a personal theme of mine for a while now.  It goes well with one of my favorite songs by Rend Collective Experiment called "My Lighthouse" [click here to see all the words]

I won't fear what tomorrow brings
With each morning I'll rise and sing
My God's love will lead me through
You are the peace in my troubled sea

I wanted to share with you some things that I'm rising and singing about these days - my bright hopes for tomorrow".

First up, the clinic!  When I left in December, they were still leveling the land.  Now, it's well underway!

Some people who have been working really hard on the construction of the clinic (Dave Shirk not pictured although he has worked quite tirelessly on the clinic):




The inside corridor

A bush started growing in the floor of the clinic.  If it hadn't been dug out, it would have broken the cement of the floor. This is an extremely resilient plant.

Fitting the windows.

Ever since I've set foot in Catel, people have been asking me when I'm going to start up English lessons again.  I too, was getting anxious to start.  I picked up my tub of books on April 16 in southern Senegal and decided to grab some sandpaper and chalkboard paint while I was at it.  Now, I will have a "brand new" chalk board to start a new school year off with.  And finally, there is an announcement taped to the cashew tree (which is the Catel equivalent to Grand Central Station) inviting all interested parties to join me for an English School organizational meeting on April 21 at 7pm in the church.  School is starting soon and I am SO EXCITED!!!

In case you were wondering, this was a piece of wood painted and disguised to look like a chalkboard.  As you can see, I am "ALMOST DONE".

My "classroom", which will soon be packed with students in the evening hours.

This is also the church in case you didn't know.  We're often very thankful for the more "open air" feel on a hot, Sunday morning.

Ah, yes!  It is because of Jesus that I have bright hope for tomorrow!  Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Exploded Oatmeal and Other Stuff

It feels good to be home.  I am thankful to report that the trip was relatively un-eventful.  Unfortunately, my bicycle got all the way to the airport, but had to make the return trip to my parents' house because of baggage restrictions.   Ah, dear bicycle, do not fret. We will soon be re-united.

I was seriously wondering how I was going to manage both my bags on my final leg of my journey from northern to southern Senegal (I discovered that I no longer have the muscle that I left Guinea Bissau with), when God surprised me with an awesome solution!  Some of my missionary friends who live in southern Senegal were staying at the very same guesthouse in northern Senegal, and offered to take one of my bags in their truck (free of charge!) if I was willing to wait 2 weeks for it.  No problem!  Who was I kidding?  I wasn't going to start teaching English in these first two weeks anyways.  So...  I unpacked to repack again, putting all my books (which probably comprised 2/3 of the weight I brought) in the tub to come later.

What I found when I opened my suitcase gave me a start!  Do you know what 7 pounds of oatmeal looks like exploded in your suitcase?  Well, I didn't either.  Apparently it didn't matter that I had double bagged it.  

I saw that I had two choices - to cry or to laugh.  Oatmeal is very precious here, but I decided not to think about what my life would be like trying to clean all that out of my suitcase later.  I chose to laugh.  I mean seriously - it was EVERYWHERE!  

Crisis averted, joy overwhelmed me as I made my last and final descent into southern Senegal.  Not only was I still quietly giggling about the oatmeal ALL OVER my suitcase, but I was just downright giddy with excitement.  I was finally home.