Merci beaucoup (many thanks) to all of you who have been praying for us and helping us get to International Christian Academy in Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa. Our trip went smoothly other than loosing 2 pieces of luggage which have since been delivered. We are getting settled in our little home on campus. Our container has not arrived here in Bouake yet. The container must go through customs first, and we are told it would be unusual for us to see our things for another 4 weeks, even though they are actually sitting in port. So we continue to live ‘out of suitcases’ with some borrowed furniture that the school keeps around just for this purpose.
Lois has been busy with many computer and network problems that are normal to the beginning of the school year-much like she did in the states. Part of her job is maintaining the e-mail system which has become very important to all the missionaries and their children. We understand that even better now that we are here. We also understand in a new way how special it is to send news home and to hear by return e-mail that people are praying for us.
I have been preparing for my classes as I wait for the students to arrive. I’ve also been spending quite a bit of time talking with the workers on campus. The Ivorian people are very friendly and very willing to talk to us in French. There is one security guard named Antoine whom I have been getting to know. Each evening we spend time communicating in French at the guard house. This is great for me because it helps me learn to speak and understand French, and Antoine benefits, too, since he is trying to learn English. We’re helping each other.
We’re definitely not in Kansas anymore. There are many bugs, bats, and birds here. Every morning we feel like we are waking up in a zoo since the bird calls are so much different than what we’re used to. Shopping is quite different as well since we buy our meat, fruit, vegetables and bread all in the open market-and get to practice our French at the same time. Meal preparation is a challenge for Lois (more than usual) as there’s no fast way to fix anything, but once school starts, we will be able to eat in the cafeteria with our students.
The campus is beautiful this time of year with its lush vegetation. We sometimes feel like we’re at camp, although our house is much nicer than a camp cabin! We’re also learning to define safety a little differently: being where God wants us is the safest place for us. One of the missionary families in Bouake with whom we ate dinner last Sunday was robbed at gunpoint in their home 2 days later. Incidents like this are increasing as there doesn’t seem to be much police action against them. But this is where God wants us; He can protect us and give us the grace to minister in a culture and environment that is not our home.
Teacher orientation starts August 15th, and school officially begins August 22nd. We’re enjoying this time before school starts getting to know many missionary families here. One of the families was in candidate school with us several years ago, and we met two of the other families in our recent Pre-Field Orientation. It’s certainly nice to see a familiar face, and to have so much in common with our neighbors.
In the midst of all the radical changes in our lives, God has given us peace and strength. Leaving friends and family was not easy, but we praise God for e-mail interaction. Often people dwell on the things given up to go to the foreign field, but we can see all the things God gives in return. We look forward to the arrival of the students, the missionary kids, and the beginning of our ministry here.
We ask for your prayers for the following:
continued political stability and domestic safety;
expedited delivery of our container;
additional teachers needed at ICA;
safe arrival of the students as they travel from all parts of West Africa;
our efforts to communicate in the French language; and
additional funds in our Outfit and Passage for the purchase of a vehicle as we cannot continue to rent from the school.
For the Lord is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.