Monday, January 28, 2013

My Trip to Africa - Part 2

One of the days we were in Chad we had the opportunity to go to an orphanage. It was amazing to tour the small compound and to hear the story of Domtiné, the founder. He was inspired to start an orphanage when he read James 1:27.

"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans
 and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."

He had plans to buy land and build a nice facility, but when faced with lack of funds he decided that the Lord was telling him to start with what he had. So he opened his own house to orphans and has added more rooms as the money becomes available. They are very reliant upon the Lord for their meals and other needs, much like George Mueller.  
 A small girl drawing water from the well.
Domtiné showing us the nursery.
This is inside one of the boy rooms. Bunk beds line the walls.
The orphanage currently houses over 40 children.
After hearing Domtiné's story I have to ask myself, "What have I done for the sake of the Gospel?"

Very convicting stuff. :)
Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My Trip to Africa - Part 1

Written by Elliott

Thank you all for your prayers during my time in Chad. It was a very productive time. I hope to cover, in detail, everything that happened while I was there. It will probably take a few posts, so bear with me.

Our team from left to right: Jack Fuhrmann (the leader of our group), Josh Fuhrmann (his son), Elijah Meggs, Jay Craddock,  myself, and Tim Smith (not pictured).

We flew out of the Roanoke airport, on the 29th, towards Atlanta. We switched to a plane headed for Paris, then on to Chad. All of the sitting around on the airplanes was exhausting. Just still enough to make you sleepy, just uncomfortable enough to keep you from getting any good sleep.

When we finally made it to Chad (which was almost midnight on the 30th) we crashed into our beds. You can imagine that we slept pretty well after spending 30 hours in transit. Notice the mosquito nets.
The place we were staying was very nice. I had imagined that our living arrangements would be kinda rough but the worst factors were only undependable electricity and no hot water. Other than this, it was really nice.
It was great to come back to the compound each evening and unwind.
The next morning we walked through town headed towards the Oasis Center. As we walked we were able to see what the city was like. N'Djamena, the capitol city of Chad, is a lot busier than I would have expected. The roads are full of cars, motorcycles, taxi vans (with the floors rusting out), and people hauling stuff from place to place. They didn't seem to have any enforcement of  law on the road, or maybe they just didn't have any rules, because there was no attempt made to stay in ones own lane and the median was crossed over commonly to reach the destination. Needless to say, I was very happy that I was never required to drive in the traffic.
The northern part of N'Djamena is Muslim, a very moral people. The southern part has some other religious influences and has many bars and nightclubs that the northern part would never tolerate.
Many of the pictures were taken discretely, because the largely Muslim populace frowns upon having pictures taken of them. Much like the Amish.

The Oasis Center is a school that teaches English to individuals looking to come to America or other English speaking countries or someone hoping to work for a company there in Chad that is only hiring those that can speak English. The school is run by Christians, and they try to provide a neutral environment where parents can feel safe that their children aren't being indoctrinated. In the Koran, the reader is encouraged to read the Torah ( first five books of the Bible) and the Ingil ( the four Gospels). Also, among Islams 99 prophets is just about every figure of significance in the Old Testament. This leaves ample space to share the truth of God's Word without crossing the line of "heresy" ( in the Muslim's eyes). The second highest level of English is made up of Old Testament Bible stories that help bring to light the promise of a messiah, and our need for one. The highest level of English is New Testament stories that leave the student fully aware of the Gospel. You would think that with this much biblical teaching we would see hundreds of converts but the reality is that Islam is a very blinding religion and the culture holds family in such high esteem that it is a very radical idea to change religions.
This is one of the school rooms that we had to fix up. Due to some settling in the cement covered mud walls, the ceiling had become uneven. Also, the paneling on the ceiling had some water damage from the rainy season.

We had to reposition the framing in the ceiling so that it would look even.
The next step was putting up new paneling.
After nailing up trim and puttying cracks in the walls, we began to paint.

Here is the final product. I am very pleased with the way it turned out.

We worked on this project almost every morning we spent in Chad. In the afternoon we would do various other things like teaching classes, visiting a village outside the city, going to an orphanage and dropping by some of the locals houses. I hope to cover these and other events in  future posts. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Christmas in the Country


The celebration of Christ's birth.  

Is there a more exciting time of year?!

 Extra time for fun, family projects


Hearing from friends both near and far
Decorating gingerbread houses
Making yummy treats


 Even the older boys couldn't resist making a few candy turtles when passing through the kitchen.

Dressing the farm for the celebration

Updating the fridge with new pictures from friends and family

A contented mama who knows what it's like to give birth in a manger

A less stressed winter work schedule that allows for an early morning hunt
Good job, Elliott! 
         The enjoyment of involving younger kids in helping assemble topiaries 
from white styrofoam balls and boxwood clippings.

Multi-purposing the Food Bank apples and oranges for the pigs
 to first serve as ornaments on the tall cedar tree outside

Improvising with two tiny trees found outdoors when the pre-lit Christmas tree 
smoked and melted at what should have been the annual grand illumination

 Watching a documentary about Lee Strobel's "Case For Christ" 
while stringing popcorn for our make-shift indoor Christmas trees.
  Rather than a trip to Toys R Us, as has been the case for almost a quarter century, the kids all opted for shopping at Bass Pro Shop this year, complete with a Santa, shooting range games, and remote controlled trains.

Christmas - 
so much sweeter with Stephen, Meredith, and baby Margaret 
joining us as we made our rounds to the relatives' houses over the holidays
What a very joyful baby little Margaret is!
Sheridan loves spending time with her big sister.

The guys enjoyed a game of pool at PaPa and Pat Pat's house.

And Wii, too.

A very thoughtful second cousin gave Sheridan all of her American Girl
 toys from when she was young.

Margaret loves the new toys, too.
Sheridan blessed Nannie by reciting the 
Virtuous Woman passage from Proverbs 31: 10-31.

We enjoyed having Oma along with Meredith's family join us at our house for a fun,
 snacky supper while watching "Home Alone."

A great way to begin a day at the farm.  Good work, Stephen.

Sheridan got the one thing she hoped for: 
a pink BB gun.  
The pink cowgirl hat was a bonus for sure.
Stephen bought these sweet matching gowns for his two special girls.

Margaret loves books more than anything.

Amazing - it's Jesus' birthday but we're the ones getting all the presents!

Quickly becoming a New Year's tradition -
 attending the Crisis Pregnancy Center
 "Civil War Charity Ball"
We missed Elliott as he had already left for his mission trip
 to Africa several days earlier.

It's like stepping back in time with the girls in beautiful,
 old-fashioned dresses

Our good friends, Daniel and Rachel Heffington, with Sheridan and Harrison

Sullivan, loving every minute of it

Oliver, our bow tie-loving boy

Harrison and his patient partner who sweetly followed his lead although she really did know how to waltz.
This Christmas season, as others, we have much to be thankful for. 
 God has been so kind to allow us to make so many precious memories with our friends and family.