Tuesday, October 22, 2013


God gives us small gifts everyday.  Do you recognize them?  For me, life can get so busy that the gifts just pass me by, and I miss out on them.

Yesterday though, I enjoyed having three 4-6 year olds braid my hair.  It was pretty awesome.
Mbale, Sadju, and Micah braiding my hair

The end product (notice the little pink butterfly barrette)!

Me with one of my hairdressers, MBale.

Thank you, God, for little girls!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

"God had finished His work, so He rested"

Coming from a cold climate culture, it’s very easy to say that we live in an action-oriented world.  Even in a warm climate culture [to understand a bit more about cold/warm climate cultures, see this link: http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/teaching/esl/cultural.cfm], there’s always someone (or something) who needs your attention.  I might be weeding my garden when a friend comes to hang out… People come selling bananas at our doorstep at 7 am, and we often have people hanging out at our house late at night.  There is a near steady stream of people coming and going from the mission house.  Quiet/alone time is very difficult to come by…. Nearly impossible, actually.  I have admittedly shut myself up in my room before and pretended that I wasn’t at home, but people are persistent – let me tell you!

The only un-interrupted rest I get is when I actually get away. So, that’s what I’m doing this weekend.  I canceled English class, excused myself from worship practice, sacrificed hearing a sermon in English on Sunday (Mike’s preaching, and it’s being translated), and said, “Peace out!  I’ll be home to make supper Sunday night!”

Now, I’m sitting here in my little hotel room trying to figure out what it actually means to “rest.”

I know in my head that rest is important… to avoid burn out and stuff.  I often feel like a weakling though, admitting that I need rest every once and a while.  I went on a Scripture hunt to define what it meant to take rest.  Here are my findings (likely not an exhaustive list, but a start).
  • By resting, I am imitating God.  After all, the God of the universe rested (not like He needed it, but He rested nonetheless). Genesis 2:2-3
  • Rest means stop doing and just being. Genesis 2:2-3
  • It’s a commandment, and focuses us back to the original reason why we were created… to give God glory. Exodus 20:8-11
  • God called the Israelites to leave their land fallow (un-worked) every 7th year, so during the 7th year, when they had no harvest, they needed to rely on God to have provided enough crops in previous years (Leviticus 25:20-22).  Rest is reliance on God
  • When we are letting God be our Shepherd, He makes us lie down in green pastures and leads us beside peaceful streams and restores our souls. Psalm 23
  • Rest is living in the shelter of the Most High and seeking refuge in His presence. Psalm 91:1
  • Rest is trusting in God’s provisions. Psalm 127:2
  • I should not feel overwhelmed if I am constantly handing my life over to Jesus.  Matthew 11:28-30
  • Rest is to be at peace with God now and for eternity.  In true rest, creation is being renewed and restored.  It is also believing in God’s good and perfect work in us.  Hebrews 4

I came to the conclusion that “resting” is dwelling in my Maker’s presence and allowing Him to restore my soul.  It involves letting go…. To stop doing, and just be with my Master… Refocusing and giving Him the glory.  Yes and Amen.

And.... just because I haven't posted a picture in a while, here is me "resting" in my hammock.  Yes folks, that's a banana tree in the background. :) 


On Education and Politics

On Education:

I continue to teach English in the church here every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.  I have discovered a HUGE love of teaching within me.  I love coming up with creative teaching tactics to engage my multi-age, multi-level class.  The class has dwindled a bit from its initial 35issh students because of private schools in Guinea Bissau starting (there are no private schools in our village, so people move far and wide to be able to attend private school).  The students who are left have shown a very remarkable work ethic and drive to learn.  

I recently assigned a group project (writing a newspaper) to help them to practice past and future tenses.  I fully expected them to rebel.  Afterall, writing a short article would be a very stretching exercise for some of them.   Additionally, it is a free class… they technically get no grade and have nothing invested in it, so why “waste” the extra time in doing something that isn’t completely necessary (especially considering that each of them keeps a very busy schedule).  To my surprise, they were very eager to show off to me what they’ve learned and our class paper will be published next week – complete with a Sports, a Religion, a Local News, and an Opinions Section.

My students are pretty awesome!

You may have noticed that I mentioned the private schools have started, but made no mention of the state (public) schools.  That’s because they haven’t started yet.  The teachers are currently on strike through December because the government refuses to pay them. 

It is a very sorry situation indeed as families of teachers are starving from no income, and as the young brains of Guinea Bissau are hungry for knowledge.  The last school year was almost completely thrown out for the same reason – too many school days missed due to teacher strikes.

Imagine being a student here in Guinea Bissau.  You want to learn so badly to be able to further yourself and maybe get a decent job eventually.  Your family doesn’t have enough money to send you to private school, and so you are forced to wait while your government figures out what/how they are going to pay the teachers.  It’s because of these sorts of situations (and others) that it is completely normal here for a 23-year-old to be studying 9th grade, or to have simply put school on a “long pause” while they work to get enough money to study somewhere else.

On Politics:

Politics is something that I absolutely never involved myself in.  Firstly, they were something that I was simply not interested in, but secondly, I have never voted and therefore have absolutely no excuse to complain about how things are in government because I did not do anything to make it be otherwise.  I know in my circles where I grew up, the concept of voting is debated.  My intent with this blog post is not to start a political debate (please!), but to shed some light on the politics of the country in which I currently live.

The first election in Guinea Bissau after the coup in April of 2012 [for more information on the coup, click on this link http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2012/04/2012413232852260513.html] is to happen in November.  Interestingly enough, voter registration has not even started yet, so people are starting to doubt that it will happen on time.

1 Timothy 2:2 tells us to pray for people in authority [to read this passage, visit this link: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Timothy+2&version=NIV].  On our team here, we are praying for a just, intelligent and compassionate president for the Guinensi people.  Elections are usually very…. Well… “political” for lack of a better word.  A lot hangs on what tribe you are from, how much power you demonstrate, who you know, etc.  I’ve been told that very high up leaders of Guinea Bissau have the education up to 4th grade, and many have not finished high school.

Join with us in praying (to a God who knows better than we do what Guinea Bissau needs) for good leadership that will bring change and development for Guinea Bissau! 

Hard-Knock Life....?

After another writing hiatus, I'm about to overwhelm you all with some thoughts... the first of three blogs to be posted today. - A

I really have it easy here.  “Are you crazy, women?”  Some people might say, “Pit latrines, no running water, and limited electricity are not elements of an ‘easy’ life.”  To you doubters, I respond, “It’s all about perspective.”

Sure, I may have involuntarily become a vegetarian because of the diet here, I may still be living out of a suitcase because wood is so expensive (and have therefore not yet bought a wardrobe), and rain water showers may be ice-cold, but if that’s all I have to complain about, what a life I live!  I do not face daily government persecution.  I do not face heavy persecution from other religious groups on a daily basis, and  the path has already been cleared for me as far as evangelism goes among the people groups I work with (figuratively and literally… however pot-holey the roads actually are).
It’s not like this all around the world, and it didn't even used to be like this in Guinea Bissau.  I am currently reading a book called Lus Numia na Sukuru about the history of the evangelical church in Guinea Bissau from its foundation in 1940 until Guinea Bissau’s independence in 1974.  If it wasn't written in Portuguese Creole, I would definitely recommend it to all of you, however, I imagine that most of my readers are not fluent in Creole. J

The story shares of the trials, journeys, and exciting times of the (then) single missionary Bessie Fricker.  In 1940, Guinea Bissau was still under Portuguese rule and Catholicism was the main religion.  The sending mission board was told by the government that “there were enough Priests already in Guinea Bissau to satisfy the spiritual wants of the Guinensi people,” and they therefore rejected Bessie’s application to enter Guinea Bissau. 

Bessie was strong in prayer in the face of sickness, religious persecution, and “sorry, I can’t help you” ’s.  Today, the Evangelical church of Guinea Bissau, though centralized in Bissau, is wide-spread, locally led, and full of sincere believers in Jesus. Whooo God!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Back to School!

I was reminded, after seeing many of my teacher friends in America talking about decorating their classrooms, writing lesson plans, etc and then seeing many people talk about the first day of school, that I completely forgot to tell you guys that I went back to school!  At the beginning of this month, I did something that I used to say I would never do... I started teaching English.

I have a (pride-based) tendency to avoid stereotypical things, and teaching English in a foreign country seemed to me, to be a very stereotypical thing to do.  Thus, I said I would never do it.  Here I am, a year into living here in Guinea Bissau (I celebrated one year on August 15!  Woohoo!) and I started teaching English.  The fact is that many of my students will probably never use English, but just to be able to say that they know a little bit of English means something to them.

I have about 30 students (depending on whether or not it's raining during lesson time), which is A LOT!  They range from skill levels "I-lived-in-Gambia-for-a-year-and-could-be-conversational-if-you-made-me-talk-to-you" all the way to "I-can-say-good-morning-and-that's-pretty-much-it".  Ages range from about 12 to lower 50's.  Up until yesterday, there were only males attending.  Yesterday, someone brought their 2 girl cousins.  The girls will have some work to do to catch up, but I am so excited to have some female company in the classroom!

Is it a lot of work?  Yes.
Is it a challenge?  Yes.
Does it take a lot of patience?  Some days more than others.

Do I love it?  Surprisingly, yes!  I have discovered that I really love teaching, and I am so encouraged by the perseverance and hard work ethic of many of my students.  It gives me great joy when I catch them outside of class struggling through a conversation in English with a fellow classmate, when I know that they could much more easily communicate with them in Creole.  They really really want to learn, and many of them will take any opportunity they can get to practice! I love seeing their faces when they grasp something for the first time, when they think I'm making a total fool of myself charade-ing in front of them, and when they let go of their own pride and join me in my crazy charades.

These days, my black pen, red colored pencil and a homemade London Fog (earl grey tea with milk, sugar and vanilla) are my constant companions as I make lesson plans, grade quizzes/tests, and look at homework.

Please note:  This is not meant to be an advertisement for Mountain Top Construction LLC... it's just my favorite mug.  Nor is this picture meant to be a promotion for that soccer player... that's just my lesson plan book.  :)

With that being said, cheers and well wishes for those heading back to school - students and teachers!  Maybe some day I'll actually get around to showing you a picture of my classroom and students.


Monday, August 19, 2013

Thoughts from Adrianne's Mother

Adrianne asked me almost 1 month ago to write as a guest on her blog and I agreed but then "life" got in the way (chaperoning a youth missions trip, a mini vacation with my sister, getting two other children ready to leave for college, canning, garden/house work etc).  So now that I'm finally getting down to writing this blog, I hardly know what to write!

I guess I'll start by introducing myself:  My name is Elaine.  My husband Floyd and I have four children the oldest of which is Adrianne. Anthony, our son is next.  He lives at home with us and works full time.  Next is Justine, who is currently enrolled in the Physical Therapy program at Duquesene University.  And last, but not least, is our youngest, Courtney, who just graduated high school and will be attending Immaculata University this fall to study nursing. 

It is definitely hitting me this fall that my children are full grown and that I am no longer a young mother.  I am definitely facing middle aged square in the face!  I am still determined to try to enjoy every day that I am given on this earth (though some days, its really hard to find the joy and others are just plain wonderful).

Anyway, I thought I would share in this post some frequently asked questions that parents with children in foreign missions get asked on a regular basis and our answers to them. 

How is it or how does it feel to have a son/daughter so far away from home?
Well, this depends on what day you ask me.  Some days it really stinks.  Like when she is facing some kind of crisis, health or otherwise and you feel like hopping on the next plane over there to "fix" it.  Other days, you feel so proud of the difference that they are making where they are serving.  You see tangible progress with their work and are encouraged that God is moving.  The wonderful age that we live in technology wise helps us stay in contact with her fairly frequently.  Almost as much as when she went off to college in Indiana!  We can share in her ups and downs.  So much better than 20 years ago when you got a letter once a month if you were lucky and a phone call only in an extreme emergency.  We hear from our daughter at least once every two weeks.  Usually more often than that.  And of course the obvious point is that WE MISS HER but we know that she is right where God wants her for now and believe me, there is a certain peace that comes with that knowledge.

Do you worry about her safety?
I am not by nature a "worrier" which sounds strange for any mother.  I was never one to lay awake at night and fret about my kids.  It doesn't mean that I love them any less. I guess my "natural" bent is not to worry (but I can find plenty of other ways to sin as do we all).  I could tell stories that would curl your hair as a mother.  Usually though, we hear about her "situations" after the fact, after everything turns out "ok".  In reality though, are our kids any safer in the U.S?  I read the newspaper and bad stuff happens stateside too.

Will you go visit her?
Yes. Yes. Yes.  We hope to!  We would love to see firsthand how God is working in that little village in West Africa and maybe even get our hands dirty with the work over there. We had plans to go this past spring, but plane ticket prices jumped out of reach so we put the idea on the back burner for now.  We WILL try to get over there within the next two years.

All in all, it has been a great experience having a daughter do the Lords work overseas.  Our (Floyd and my) goal has always been to raise our kids to be independent, aware of the world around them and to serve the Lord wherever he leads.  It is gratifying as a parent to see your kids grow up strong in their faith and serving the Lord and, along the way, we do a little growing ourselves!

Well, I guess I'll close for now.  I hope you have enjoyed my ramblings!
Elaine Huber

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Day in the Life of...

I found this blog post that I had written a little while ago in my saved documents, and I was like "YES! A free blog post!"  It's almost like finding $20 in your sweatshirt pocket.  Too bad it doesn't have pictures to go with it - I've been really lazy in the "taking pictures" department.

It’s an interesting time here in Catel (when is it ever NOT?)  The team here in Catel is in a time of transition again as the YES team has left us, and we are expecting new additions (a family!) to our team in August.  It’s not the first time that the mission team here has been in transition; many people have come and gone already in the (almost) year’s time that I’ve been here.  It’s exciting and sad at the same time, but I’ve found that I am more and more able to relate to the locals through our team transitions.  They are used to having people come and go in their lives, and I am learning too what it looks like to invest deeply, but be able to let go when the time comes.

One of the most common questions I get asked is “What is a ‘normal’ day like for you?”  My first response is usually “What’s ‘normal’?  Everyday holds its surprises.”  That was one of the harder things for me at the beginning of my time here in Guinea Bissau; there seemed to be no semblance of a routine.  Now, I’ve come to expect it.  If I were to define a typical day these days, this is what it would look like:

Wake up 6:18 with roosters crowing, birds singing, and crickets…. doing what they do
Warm up hot water (for instant coffee with a scoop of powdered milk and a pinch of sugar) on the 2 burner gas stove and figure out what I’m going to eat for breakfast.  It’ll either be couscous with natural pb (no sugar added – it’s literally JUST ground peanuts) and fresh smoked honey (smoked because to harvest honey, they burn the hive) or ½ of a French bread from yesterday with said pb and said honey. If it’s a Thursday morning, I will be in the process of making pancakes for our team meeting of pancakes over Bible Study, which starts at 7am.

By the time I’m finished with breakfast, the rest of the team is starting their day.  If it’s a Tuesday morning, the team will be gathering at the big mission house for our time of prayer to kick start our prayer and fasting day. Otherwise, people will be scrounging the kitchen to scare up something that volunteers itself for breakfast (likely some bread from yesterday).

Before I start garden work, I help my friends get water from our well here at the house.  This involves several full, heavy tubs on my head (one at a time, of course) and some very skillful, careful walking.
When I get back, I sweep our veranda and dirt yard with a local broom.  Yes, I sweep our dirt – everybody does here.  It really does make a difference – I promise.

Recently, I’ve been looking for grass to mulch my garden with.  I’m pretty excited to start working in the soil again.  I’ve planned out what it will look like this season, and have some ideas about how to involve the community in the demo plot.  My students from the agricultural seminar who live in Catel will start work in the garden they made – that should be exciting as well!  I’ve just recently made a trip to the capital (Bissau) to pick out some corn and bean seeds.  Okra, cucumber, peanut, and a local green called “bajik” (bah-JEEK … it looks like what English calls “sorrel” I think) seeds were graciously given to me by some of my friends in the village (I didn’t even ask for them!).  The remainder of the seeds that I would like to plant will come from an organization called ECHO, a US based organization established to help missionaries working in ag development (www.echonet.org).

If it gets too hot to be working outside or if I get distracted by an interruption (it’s amazing the work that actually gets FINISHED with how many people come to the house asking about stuff, looking for the clinic, asking for water, etc), I usually end up either cleaning our house or going over to my friend’s house to help them finish up their housework. 

After cleaning or working outside, I come in and make lunch for us – usually rice with some kind of bean sauce.  Vegetables and fruits are pretty rare and expensive during the rainy season, so we “make do” with what we have.  There is a great leafy vegetable called “chaya” that we often add to sauces to supplement nutrients (to learn about chaya, click here http://www.echonet.org/content/100underutilized/717/chaya_cnidoscolus_aconitifolius_ssp_aconitifolius).  Fish are super common around here because of the tidal rivers very close to Catel, and most people eat fish every day.

Because the afternoons are much too hot to do intense manual labor, afternoons are generally saved for more indoor activities such as writing an occasional blog post or newsletter, planning gardening plots, organizing agricultural development events, making lesson plans for the English class I will start this rainy season, preparing for Bible study, doing pig project visits, having quiet time, or hanging out with friends.
Everybody on the mission team comes together for supper at 7:30.  If it was my turn to make supper, I will have started preparations at 6:00ish for a rice dish.  One of my favorite dishes to make, especially when we are limited on the vegetables we have is a curry/tomato/peanut sauce over rice. 

Something I miss because of being in the rainy season is baking.  We do have a solar oven, that is much like a child – one has to babysit it all day to make sure the sun beam is still on it.  Unfortunately, on cloudy overcast days such as we have every day in the rainy season, banana bread, baked fish, etc cannot bake very well, as one can imagine. 

In the evenings, our house is usually bouncing with activity.  Many of our friends not only frequent our house for supper, but many stay on later into the evening to hang out.  Some nights, our hang out times just include talking or telling lively stories.  Other nights though, they include card games, checker games or watching an occasional movie (if there had been enough sun that day to charge my laptop).  Sometimes my child (otherwise known as my ukulele) wakes up from its slumber and joins the party.

The day ends with hand-drawing up water from the well in our front yard and taking a cold bucket shower (which is often very refreshing after a humid day in the 100’s). Lock the room, scramble into bed, pull down the mosquito net and fan yourself until you fall asleep.  You start to sweat just as soon as you leave the shower, so you pray that sleep comes faster than the yucky, gross, sweaty feeling.

The next morning will start a beautiful, new day with new life and new conversations and new things to learn here in Catel!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

On the Shores of Bambadinca

After my weekend trip with my friend Di, I became convinced that “Adrianne” must mean “adventure” in some other language.  It seems like I can’t go anywhere without some kind of excitement following me.  Please excuse the sea of words as I relay to you the story of my trip to Bambadinca (Bahm-bah-DIHN-kah).

Two weekends ago, I went to Bambadinca with Di (Bambadinca is a fishing town about a five hour drive east of where we live).  I had an incredible time and learned a lot first-hand about Guinensi hospitality.  

While we were there, we stayed at Di's friend's house.  Upon arrival, Sonsinha (Sohn-ZEEN-yah), Di's friend, presented us each with a tie-dye dress that she had bought.  She ended up killing two chickens for us also over the weekend.

You know, I used to not be a huge fan of tie-dye, but it's really popular here, and the style has grown on me.  On of my favorite things about this dress is that it has pockets!  Di and I like to wear our coordinating dresses on the same day.

There are too many details to write of my adventures in this post, but it included narrow, pot-holey rods with ravines on either side, walking to a deep bush village through some cashew orchards and over a rice field, a funeral, and breakfasts of goat meat and mayonnaise.  If the trip to Bambadinca was interesting, the travels home were even more so!  I traveled home by myself (which is not an uncommon thing for me to do - it's very safe here).  Unfortunately, my phone had run out of charge because we had used it as a flashlight the night before.  Di had been sick the entire night, which was one of the reasons why she didn't come back with me.  I said goodbye to my new friends in Bambadinca and left with peanuts, sweet potatoes, and a new tie-dyed dress in hand.

Di and Sonsinha as we trek over the rice fields and through the cashew orchards to get to a bush village where Sonsinha's twin sister lives.

When I got to a town called Safim (near Bissau, about halfway home), it was 6:30ish in the evening... I was trying to get a public transport car back going towards home, but the ones that were passing were full.  I had made conversation with a woman waiting next to me who was traveling the same way.  We decided that since the full cars were coming from Bissau, we would go to Bissau to try and get a car.  We got to the car garage in Bissau only to find out that all the cars that would pass our villages had left already... What to do?

We waited at the entrance of the garage and literally flagged down like every single car that passed us on the road... whether it was a big dump truck or a personal vehicle... We flagged it down (Getting public transport here is kind of like flagging down a taxi in a big city).  It finally got dark and we didn't have a way back.  This woman (Emilia was her name) asked if I had a place to stay.  I racked my brain.  We have missionary friends in Bissau, but I've never been to their house... Augustu (see previous blog posts to learn who Augustu is) also has family who live in Bissau that I know quite well, but I didn't know where their house was either (don't forget that my phone didn't have charge... I couldn't call anyone).  I only had enough money for transport home (youth hostels were therefore not an option), and all the banks were closed at that hour. I did NOT want to stay with this woman!  I didn't know here from Eve!  It seemed as though I didn't have a choice.  

I told her I'd go with her and from then on, I was her guest!  She paid for everything for me... transport from the garage to her house, etc.  She said that once we got to her family's place, she would charge my phone, and I could use her brother's phone to call Andrew to let him know of my whereabouts. She led me down a very very dark alley to a part of Bissau I didn't know, and the only people at "her house" were men.  She set up the bed in the common area of her brother's house (her brother wasn't there when we got there, by the way).

Talk about being nervous!  She said we would get up early the next day and travel back together.  The brother eventually came back really late, and I made a short call to Andrew to tell him where I was.   I didn't know whether or not to sleep or what I should do.   Was I going to get robbed or was I safe?  Sleep eventually took over, and I woke up early the next morning.  It took a little while for Emilia to wake up and I wondered what I should do in the mean time (I am an early riser).  Because we had arrived so late the night before, they hadn't shown me the bathroom, and the door was locked, so I couldn't leave to look for breakfast.  Eventually she woke up, we took showers, and she sent one of the guys at the house to go look for bread and butter for us. She made me lemonade, and we set off.  

We got to the garage again just as a full transport car to Sao Domingo was pulling away, which would have taken us where we each needed to go without any stops.  Emilia got on a car to Ingore with me (which meant that we would have to make a stop in Ingore before heading home) and we made our way toward Catel.   As we were leaving Ingore, I thanked her for her hospitality and she said something to the effect that it was no problem, she'd make sure to return the visit.... She wanted to meet my husband.  I had let her think the night before that Andrew, my teammate, was my husband.  It seemed safer at the time, in a house full of just guys that I didn’t know to let her think that I was a married and not a single woman traveling all alone. Oh man! Well, if she does actually make it here to Catel, I'll be sure to set the record straight that I am NOT married.

Poor Di learned of my travel excitement the night that she got back and was so distraught by it that she couldn't eat supper and couldn't sleep (she was supposed to have accompanied me back, and if she had, I wouldn't have slept in the house of someone I didn't know).  She came to see me first thing the next morning and apologized profusely for leaving me go by myself.  I assured her that I was okay and that nothing had happened. :)  
Dear Sonsinha had sent Di back with two chickens... one for me and one for Di.  Here is my new chicken, Irene (named after Irene Adler from Sherlock Holmes)... She has quite the spirit!  
I arrived at our house with chicken in hand, and the boys immediately asked me when we were going to eat it.  I informed them that the day we eat my chicken is the day that we will also eat their cat.  Problem solved.

I will never forget the incredible hospitality I was shown this weekend in Bambadinca!  
Me with my new friend Sonsinha, and Di (along with some of the many children that flocked to the camera).

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Hello London!

Last month, a dear friend of mine from America met up with me in London for a much needed week-long break before the craziness here (rainy season/YES team leaving/pig project) got into full swing and before Julia (my friend) left for East Asia.  That week was an incredible blessing to me; not only did I get to spend a week with a good friend of mine, but I got some much needed rest after some bouts of busyness and sickness.  My deep thanks and appreciation go out to a very special couple who made it financially possible for me to do so!

I thought you would share some pictures from the trip!  Enjoy!

Selfie!  One of the first things I did when I got to London was find some granola.

 Because of some traveling snafus, Julia and I were able to stay in this amazing hotel room for two nights.

Bedroom and kitchen.  Look!  There's the granola and some Earl Grey just waiting to be consumed!

A hot shower (WITH RUNNING WATER!) was sure a treat.  So was the flushable toilet.  The bathroom was even indoors (a change from my home in Guinea Bissau)!

The rest of the pictures are from Julia's camera.  Thanks for taking pictures, Jules!  NOTE:  I did not include pictures of the places we went sight seeing because if you really wanted to know what Windsor Castle, the London Bridge, Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, etc looks like.... I'm sure you can Google it.

Julia and me in front of Buckingham Palace.

We went out for afternoon tea a few times.  This place was listed as a "secret of London".  It surely was secretive!  I'm not sure how many times we walked around the block until we found it above a pub.  Anyone who knows me well knows just how much I love tea.  Afternoon tea with a good friend in a cute place like this was just perfect.

I was really really hungry for rice (it's hard for me to go a day without rice - rice has become such a staple in my diet)... So we went to Chinatown and had some Chinese. Mmmm!

Riding "the Underground" (London's subway) became an everyday thing.  This day, we were heading out to see Windsor Castle.  I had never seen a castle before and it was very awe-inspiring.  In case you were wondering why I was wearing a coat in pretty much every single picture...  50-60 degrees Fahrenheit feels extremely cold when your body is used to temperatures in the 100's.  The first day, we actually went out and bought me shoes because my toes were turning purple and I couldn't stop shivering.  I was SO thankful that Julia had thought about bringing me a jacket because tank tops and skirts are all I wear here in Guinea Bissau.

We took a picture with a guard at Windsor Castle.  The poor guy has to stand still for hours and endure people taking pictures with him.  Smile!

Now that I'm back, my time has been consumed with preparing the land for planting, weekend trips with 
my Guinensi friends, finishing our jumbai (hangout) bungalow, and preparations for the departure of the YES team.

May God bless you with an extra measure of his rest today!


Monday, July 8, 2013

This little piggy went to Africa...

Me:  What does Weaverland Mennonite Church's Vacation Bible School (VBS) and the Guinea Bissau Pig Project have in common?

You:  I don't know, Adrianne.  Tell me!

Me:  They are both being featured in this blog post!  Woot!

There are so many things to tell you, it seems, but so little time to write everything (and I feel like the longer I'm here, the harder it is for me to communicate in English, so you'll have to pardon me if my syntax is a little off).  Recently though, I've been hit with the generosity of the kids from Weaverland's VBS.  Every summer, Weaverland puts on a themed week where kids can come in the evening and learn about the Bible.  It often starts off with singing and a fun skit.  Later, kids break up into age groups for Bible lessons, crafts and snacks.  VBS kids also adopt a project and raise money for it during the week.  This year, they raised money for the Guinea Bissau's pig project.  I was absolutely blown away by how much they raised (enough to start 2 1/2 more pig projects)!

I know many of you reading this blog have also donated to the pig project, and I'm sad that I can't do a blog post on each one of you.  Each and every little bit has helped to better the lives of families here in Catel.  My many thanks goes out to Sheila Martin of Sheila Martin Photography (www.smartinphoto.com) for the following pictures and to the VBS Planning team for putting it all together!

Some of the kids and teachers during song time.

Steve Martin leads the kids in singing with the help of some mascots who might prefer to be left nameless.

I absolutely had to include this picture of my brother playing the part of the sheriff during skit time.

This mascot is also related to me, but he/she will remain nameless.  It looks like everyone had fun there, and I'm very grateful for their help in raising funds for the pig project!  Good work guys!

While we're on the subject of the pig project, I thought I would give you an update on how the projects that have already begun are going.  Honestly, I feel like sometimes I'm in a real-life story of the parable of the talents (if you are unfamiliar with this story, you can read Matthew 25:14-30 or click on the link http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%2025:14-30&version=NIV)

I have renamed the guys as "Guy 1," "Guy 2," and "Guy 3" to protect their integrity.

Guy 1: Guy 1 is doing an amazing job!  Every time I go over there, I am absolutely impressed.  He is really serious about keeping his pigs on the actual pig feed ration and cleans the pens and gives clean water every day.

Guy 2: Guy 2 seems like he's doing the best he can, juggling all the other responsibilities that he has.   He has also been supplementing the pig ration that we suggested with left over  rice, and his pigs have grown accustomed to rice to the point that they prefer it (though it has little nutritional value) over their vitamin-complete feed mill food.  They are still growing fine, but are not as big as I think they could be.

Guy 3: Over the last few months, Guy 3 has disappeared and has stopped coming to church.  I mean, he's around, but other stuff seems more important to him.  His barn is STILL unfinished, and since April, he's been keeping his pigs in one room of an abandoned house.  I haven't been able to get a hold of him to vaccinate his pigs either, nor have I seen his pigs since April.

Though we carefully chose three church leaders who we saw as responsible men, this stuff happens in business sometimes.  They were each given a loan agreement (the money raised for the pig project is a micro-loan, not a gift), and must pay the loan back regardless of how successful or unsuccessful their pig business becomes.  The way it is set up, each participant of the pig project borrows a huge sum of money at the beginning of the project (to build the barn, buy the pigs, etc), but gradually pays it back with the proceeds from each litter of pigs sold.  This way, the pig project as a whole can be sustainable, and many more families in Catel can benefit from it.

If you have any questions about the pig project, feel free to shoot me an email or leave a comment on this blog (email: sothatafricamayknow@gmail.com).

Hope you had a wonderful Fourth of July!  Until later!


Saturday, June 15, 2013

My family here in Catel

As per my normal, I have once again delayed in writing a blog post or newsletter (sigh).   There’s not a whole lot new to report.  The pigs are doing great and are growing really well.  I’ll update you more on them later.  I thought it would be more important to introduce you to the family (the DaSilva’s) that I spend most of my time with.  I have mentioned several of them in previous blog posts, but I thought I’d put together one cohesive blog post so you could better get to know them as a family. 

To give some preface to the names about to be listed in the following paragraphs, I’ll explain the “who’s who.”  The father of the family’s name is Fode (FOH-deh) and his wife is Tiri (TEE-ree).  They have several grown children: Braima (BRY-mah), Juan Pierre (Zhahn Pehr), Juan Paulu (Zhahn PAHW-loo), Agustu (Ah-GOO-stoo), Kintinu (Kin-TEEN-oo), and Mario (MAH-ree-oh).  Fode’s sister Nema (NEE-mah) lives with them as does a two of her grown children: Julio (JOO-lee-oh) and Jara (JAH-rah).

Apa (Ah-PAH), nephew to Fode, was the first one in the family that I met when he came to the clinic near the beginning of October with a tarsadu (tahr-SAH-doo, machete) wound.  Soon after that, he began coming to church.  He’s a hardworking thirteen year old who will start third grade next year when school starts again (it is very normal for a thirteen year old to be in third grade in this area for a variety of reasons).  He spends a lot of time hanging out with us at the mission house and really enjoys playing Guinensi card games with us.  He’s also started attending  a young men’s Bible study that one of the YES guys is leading.

Andrew with Apa and Mana (MAH-nah), son of Juan Pierre at Christmastime

The second person  I met in this family was Di (Dee), who is my closest friend here in Catel.  I met her in late October when she came to the clinic with her husband Braima, one of the brothers of the family) when they came to the clinic during Di’s first pregnancy.  I enjoyed watching them interact as a married couple; they were really cute together.  “Cutesie” is not something that’s common in marriages here in Guinea Bissau.  When I was getting their information, I noticed that they listed Catel as their residence.  These people really intrigued me, so I asked if I could go hang out with them later at their house later (I promise, that is not a creeper move in this culture).  That day started what would become a really deep friendship.  She and Braima became Christians in February and were featured in the last blog post about Catel’s baptisms.

Di braiding a neighbor girl's hair.

Braima with his nephews Mana and Diablu (Di-AH-bloo).

Around the same time that I was getting to know Di, Agustu approached Andrew on the path one day saying that he wanted to convert to Christianity because he believes that Jesus could save him from the demonic dreams he was having.   He gave his life to Jesus that Sunday (was saved from his bad dreams) and has been huge influence and evangelist in his family ever since.

Agustu just finished an annex that will become his room.  Here he is shown "pink-washing" it.  Pink washing is exactly what you think... white wash + red tint = pink wash.

Salifu (Sah-LEE-foo) is a friend of Agustu’s that lives with the family and is a product of Agustu’s evangelism. Salifu came to salvation believing that Jesus could heal him from seizures he was having (and Jesus DID heal him!).  He was also featured in the last blog post about Catel’s baptisms.  Salifu’s wife Loti (LOH-tee) is also a very good friend of mine, and their nine-month-old daughter Leonara (Lee-oh-NAH-rah) is the source of many of my smiles.  Leonara is just beginning to try her hand (or her feet) at walking.  Salifu and Loti are planning on building a house together when the rainy season passes.

One day, Salifu told me to take a picture of him, and I told him to "strike a pose".  

Jara is also an extremely good friend of mine.  Our friendship began at the beginning of the cashew season when she left Dakar, Senegal (where another family had been raising her, another common practice here).  Now, she’s here to stay!  She is the only friend I have my age that isn’t married yet and doesn’t have kids.  Our friendship began in a funny way as we stumbled to try to communicate with one another with hand motions and through the rest of the family acting as translators.  You see, I only know Kiriol, and she grew up in Senegal where they speak Wolof and French (and Manjako, a tribal language, because she was raised in a Manjako family); her Kiriol was super limited.   Now, she’s learned a lot of Kiriol and I’ve picked up a lot of Manjako in the mean time.   She’s a very fun-loving, happy spirited woman, and I’m super excited that she is sticking around for long-term!

I let my family borrow my camera one afternoon and I got some really great pictures (some of which appear on this blog post).  I think Jara was on her way to get water when she took this picture.  She is carrying her "ordija" (or-DEE-jah) on her shoulders which she will use to cushion her head from the heavy tub of water she will soon be carrying.  Ordijas also help you to balance stuff on your head.

In other news, it’s hot and really really humid – signs that the rainy season has started. We’re enjoying “mangoes out the wahzoo” (see the YES team’s blog at gbteam1213.wordpress.com) Oh!  And we are in the process of building a gazebo-type thing so that we can entertain guests in the evenings and others on the team who want to go to sleep earlier won’t be disturbed by all the noise...  The mission house gets pretty noisy when all our friends come over to hang out and play games – let me tell you!  Pictures to come!

Friday, April 26, 2013

It's a Beautiful Life

Well, the team here in Catel had another exciting weekend!

I have to say, baptisms are very beautiful things.  This passed Sunday, nine people publicly declared that they belong to Jesus.

Most times, I prefer just to experience life, and not photograph it, but these are the occasions in which I am very thankful for my teammates that are completely on top of the "taking pictures thing". [in other words... I took absolutely none of these pictures]

"We're marching to Zion, beautiful, beautiful Zion!"
just kidding... We're marching to the rice field dike.

Andrew is asking the participants questions as to whether or not each of them was prepared to leave behind their old life and be a light for Jesus.  Each of them responded with a resounding "YES!" (well... "SIN!" is what they actually said, which means "yes" in Kiriol)

The newest members of "Igreja Menonita" here in GB

Meet Neusa - she has been really involved in one of the womens' bible studies we hold here.  She also has a little son and is the wife to Rozalio (see picture 3).

Siaka - he's one of the guys involved in our cashew business here, and has recently been added to the church council.  It is Gibby, by the way, who is helping Andrew baptize new believers (see previous blog posts on the pig project).

Here's Rozalio - husband to Neusa.  He also makes beautiful clothes here in Catel.

Meet Lona!  Lona is a really dynamic personality and has an incredible talent for getting people hyped up.  As well as being involved in the pig project, he is a recent addition to the church council.

Tino - He's been a faithful attender of our church here and happens to be the son of the school director here in Catel.

And....Domingas!  On several occasions, I have been incredibly encouraged by her faith.  She is a light in her house and a leader of the women there.

Braima - The older brother of Augustu, and husband of my best friend Di (see next picture).  He teaches social studies to 4th-6th graders as well. If you look closely, you might notice Braima's younger brother Augustu, also a Christian and avid evangelist to their family, beaming.

Di!  If you every can't find me at the mission house or in my gardens, I'm probably hanging out with Di at her house.  

Here is Salifu, another result of Augustu's evangelism.  I also spend a lot of time with his wife Loti and their eight-month-old daughter Leonara.

So now you are all caught up on what happened recently.  Like I have said before, it's a beautiful and exciting life here in Catel.  God is doing amazing work!  We know for sure, though, that the devil doesn't like it, for he is also at work here in Catel.  Please pray for these new lights in Catel, that they would strengthened and blessed in their walk.

Until next time!


Saturday, April 20, 2013

All things Ag

Hello!  It's been awhile!

I have to say that last weekend here in Catel was an exciting one!  Men from Catel and some surrounding villages came to a 2 day agricultural seminar that I coordinated.  I know for sure that everyone had a lot of fun (including the teacher), and people left the seminar excited to implement principles in their own fields. And it's not over yet!  People who missed out on the seminar are asking me for the materials.  I am also in the process of translating materials for "farming rice fields God's way". As per my norm, I thought a photo gallery was appropriate to demonstrate to you what went on.  Enjoy!

Clearing the area that will become our "well-watered garden".

"Who dug a hole the size of Adrianne?" you ask.  I discovered all I have to do at this mission house is mention that I have work that would be really good exercise, and BAM!  Free labor comes running to help this damsel in distress!

Carrying "God's Blanket" (aka mulch) to cover our garden area.

Our discussion group was wrestling over some tough questions as to the biblical basis of "Farming God's Way" (the curriculum I used to supplement my teaching).

This was one of my favorite parts!  I got to explain about soil horizons (my field of study).

Some of my students, extremely interested in what I have to say about "dirt".

Salifu adding to the mulch - Good work, Salifu!

My students explaining to me how we could make our garden square.

Nemias is making zai holes which will become individual fertilization sites.

Sadja dominating the wheelbarrow.

 I was really excited to hear their responses at the end of the seminar - what they were excited to implement in their fields, what they still wanted to learn and what I could do better next time.  Thank you to each of you who were praying!