Oh friends. Dave and I both feel that we really owe you- our supporters, our loved ones, our readership- a giant apology. 2013 was not a banner year for us in the realm of blog posts and update emails. We really strive to do better. In some ways I feel that I have so much to say, so many stories to tell, that I can’t organize my thoughts. Much has happened since I last visited this space. We had a lovely Christmas with my mom and sister. It was lovely because they were here, but at the same time many of us were was fighting sickness. For me this turned into four days in bed. Their visit was just not long enough (we love having them around), and that was amplified by the time I felt was wasted by myself, in my room, miserable. But they were total champs and really did save Christmas for the boys and for all of us. Yummy food, amazing presents carefully wrapped, stories read by the tree. It was beautiful. I am thankful. We said our goodbyes the very next Saturday. Because I was able to rest and feeling better, Dave convinced me to go with him and the boys (I was going to stay home) on our annual camping trip to Park W. But on our way out of town, we dropped Mohammed off with our friends at the orphanage (per their request). It was sad to say goodbye, but also it has been really good to have some time with “just us”. The camping trip was just what we needed. It’s always great to get out of the city.
And so, with that update out of the way, I would like to tell you about the trip out of the city that Dave and I took last week. After getting the kids off to school Dave told me that he was hoping to get out to the village to try and figure out if the plot of land he was currently considering for Restoration Village was owned by the guy trying to sell it or if it was owned by the government. Having not been out to this village for several years, I saw my opportunity and asked to ride along. “Just to see it, hang out, and take some photos,” I said with a smile. And so we did.
A truck full of onions. Where are they all going?
I love driving across the country side in this beautiful place we call home. Every single time I feel the overwhelming blessing of my life in this land full of people and places that are so different from where I came from. This trip was even more exciting because we were headed out to the spot where we hope that things will start. We saw our friend who pastors here as we pulled into town. He was expecting us and waiting by the main road. He took us to the house of the chief who was going to show us where the man lived who knew about the limits of the land we were looking to buy. As we drove through the village I was floored by its beauty. My secret dream is to live in the village some day. By the time we drove through the village and past the land we were there to find out about, the chief was pretty sure that it was government land and that we would have to look somewhere else. Upon finding the man with the info, it was decided that they should all drive around and scout it out. And they were all men. So, I was left with the ladies.
Armed with my camera and every thing I ever learned in a Zarma language lesson, I sat and tried to find out about these women. It was so. much. fun. We laughed and played and after more than half an hour I was invited into one of their homes. These women whose reality is so different from mine.
Salamatou with her beautiful smile and playful spirit is more than a girl. She is a fifteen year old bride. She is shy about her status of wife. I was so thankful that she has the support of these other women in the village.
And so this week I am beginning to settle into the new year and seek God for guidance about the habits I need to form and the things I want to focus on for 2014. The thing that keeps coming back to me is that with my whole heart, I desire to see our ministry begin. I desire to interact with these people in the village. I desire to have a little plot here to build a house for a mama and her kids. As we drove the streets of this village my heart overflowed with prayer for the things I hope will happen here- lives restored, schools made strong, ministry to the community, farming projects, and HIS NAME glorified. I want the season of waiting to be over.
Moussaodou is five and has special needs. His joy is infectious and his curiosity was a bit difficult to contain. He was REALLY interested in my camera.
Today in my Bible study I read through Acts 2 “Those who call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” and was reminded by a friend what it means to call on God. From Strong’s Concordance:
1. to put a name upon, to surname
2. when the name of one is named upon some one, i. e. he is called by his name or declared to be dedicated to him
3. to call something to one (cf. English to cry out upon (or against) one); “to charge something to one as a crime or reproach; to summon one on any charge, prosecute one for a crime; to blame one for, accuse one of”
4. to call upon, to invoke; to call upon for oneself, in one’s behalf – anyone as a helper, as my witness or as a judge, i. e. to appeal to one, make appeal unto
5. Hebraistically – to call upon by pronouncing the name of Jehovah; an expression finding its explanation in the fact that prayers addressed to God ordinarily began with an invocation of the divine name – I call upon (on my behalf) the name of the Lord, i. e. to invoke, adore, worship.
Immediately I thought of this song that my kids learned in Church. It says, “I’m calling on. I’m calling on. I’m calling on God. I’m calling on God.” And I am. I’m pronouncing the name of Jehovah, my provider, on my behalf as my helper. I make an appeal to Him to do this thing that He has put in our hearts. To build this village. To minister to these people who are HIS people.
Pray with us for these men who are helping make our dream a reality. RIGHT to LEFT: Dave, the chief, the pastor, a boy, and two village men.
Three times this week, I have been reminded of Isaiah 58:6-9
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.”
You see, friends, I know that this thing that God is putting in our hearts is a glimpse of His heart. He loves the widow and the orphan. He wants us to love the naked and the hungry. And so I pray that in His name and for His glory this will be the year- even the month- that we see this thing get its wings and take flight. Would you agree with me in this prayer. Would you pray for these doors that keep shutting (the land was not for sale this day) would fling open? Would you pray that the time become now? Would you pray that the widows we have approached with this idea would be filled with the desire and equipped to care for those here who need mamas. Would you pray that this village and these people get overwhelmed with the blessing of neighbors who love God and love each other.
I’m calling on God.