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!