Small Word

Things certainly have picked up around here now that school actually started today. For me, there’s the setting up and assignment of 200 accounts and passwords for e-mail use. And then there’s user support for all those who can’t figure it out, or whose stuff just doesn’t work. (And there’s far too much of that!) I’m also monitoring 2 classes as they take Online Courses from Northstar Academy, an ACSI-accredited online high school. These students are taking courses that we don’t presently have the teachers to teach. Bob had his first class in 6, 7, 8 Science and 7, 8 History. He even gave homework on the first day! Since most all the other teachers did too, he wasn’t the only ogre.

It looks like Bob will be going to Abidjan tomorrow to try and work out the final details for the delivery of our container. The business manager from the school is also going to start the paperwork for the school’s container which should be in port soon. Since he’s done this many times before, we have high hopes that we’ll actually accomplish something. 

Please pray that God will go before us and work for the release of our container. 

We received a very special visit from Jim and Rosie Johnson the other day. It made us feel a little more welcome to have someone we actually know from the states stop in to see us. They’ve invited us to spend part of the 6-week Christmas holidays with them at their station about 5 hours from here. I’m sure at Christmastime we’ll be glad for something to take our minds away from the fact that we’re not with family, although Dave and his cousin Ryan may be coming out in December. With the Johnsons were the Abernethys, missionaries here in Bouake who are supported by Gina and Brian’s church in Mount Vernon. What a small world we live in! They have 2 daughters here at the school. We had dinner with them Saturday night and will probably be attending their English-speaking service from time to time. 

Thanks for your prayers on our behalf. We’ll try to make this Wednesday update a regular happening for those of you with e-mail.

We appreciate America more…

As we start Staff Orientation today, the yellow flag of caution is flying outside the main office here at ICA. In addition to today being a national holiday so that workers are idle, the US Embassy has asked that all Americans stay at home until the response to a TV broadcast last night can be known. The broadcast was very critical of both the past government officials and the present government and showed graphic details about the massacres of last October. Most here are not even sure how the broadcast got past the censors to be put on TV.

Being in a country where from day to day, we don’t know the political and/or social climate makes us appreciate America all the more. But we don’t feel threatened or ready to come home. We are where we’ve wanted to be for a long time in spite of all those we’ve left behind.

The two families involved in last weeks hostage and robbery situation, Thompsons and Niehlsons, are letting God heal their hearts and give them peace. Amy Niehlson, the hostage, was to have spoken this morning during our devotion time, but followed the embassy order to stay home in Bouake. She called and shared verses from II Cor. 1:21 and I Cor. 2:5, and how that in the midst of evil men where at times her continued life was questionable, she remembered the verses she had been planning to share. She said the time was almost sacred and that God has used it in her life to draw her closer to him.

We’re on the front lines where the missionary stories are happening to people we know and work with. It certainly changes one’s prayer life!

Praise God — We are in Cote d’Ivoire!!!

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.
Psalms 84:11