Beautiful Things

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving in Bouake!

What a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration we had!

The WorldVenture missionaries from all over Cote d'Ivoire were at ICA this week for their annual meeting. We all woke up extra early for a 7:30 am french class and then off to worship with the other missionaries. Thanksgiving reminds me of David's song of praise in 1 Chronicles 16: 7-36.

The missionaries shared stories of their ministries and I was just blown away by how they've committed their lives wholly to serving God in Cote d'Ivoire. There are people working in Medical missions, bible translation, and adult education/ discipleship.

The afternoon was spent cooking! Everyone was busy making green bean casserole, apple pies, potato salad, crescent rolls, creamed corn, and Beckie and I had a sweet potato adventure! (Sweet potatoes don't look or feel the same here, but they taste great!!)

Angelika decorated the basketball court with palm fronds and tropical flowers. A long line of tables was set up with enough room for 40! Talk about a feast! There was the Journey Corps group, the WorldVenture missionaries, and all of the Village Baptiste families. It was a wonderful time of gathering, eating until we could eat no more, and sharing stories.

It was impossible to ignore how much I have to be thankful for! I was nervous that it would be a difficult day to be away from home, but I feel so blessed to be able to share this day with so many wonderful people! At the end of the day, I was so FULL! Full of potatoes and full of joy. I was even passed around the Thanksgiving table back in California via my aunt's cell phone! God helped me feel connected to so many people at home and I heard many missed voices.

So here's my list of THANKFULNESS:
Unconditional love from a Wonderful Savior
Family...both far away and right here
Technology...which makes far away feel not so far
Comfort food...seriously mashed potatoes, so good
Community...Awa extending her hand as a show of friendship
The stars... in whose design I see the Mighty Creator and feel at peace
Support...I could not be here without an amazing group of people behind me
This year...full of love, growth, change, challenge, promise
And many many many other things!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sickness, Dependency, and Touching the Moon

So a reality of being a missionary in Africa is that sickness is inevitable.

Yesterday was one of those days where my body could not do all that was required of it and so I stayed in bed for a large portion of the day. I just didn't have the energy.

This is a difficult thing for someone like me. I like to be active and engaged. I like to be with people. Instead my company was a glass of water and a book.

Angelika was so sweet and made me mashed potatoes and carrots for lunch because she knew my stomach was upset. This was a great comfort, but my stomach could barely enjoy them!

This got me thinking about dependency. When we're ill or hurting, we immediately want to be with someone who will make us feel better. I would have loved to hear a familiar voice, but the reality is that I'm in Africa and things just aren't that easy. There are hard days when you realize that all of our dependency must rest in Christ alone. Technology fails us, communication is flawed and cratered with misunderstandings, people get busy, but Christ never fails. He's the ultimate Healer and Comforter. He speaks words of love and affirmation straight to our hearts when we need it most.

Other random happenings:
I'm reading Shadow of the Almighty. Every morning I read a bit of it as I have my oatmeal. I'm in awe of how Jim Elliot sought after God. He didn't have some secret way of talking to God, some secret connection; he was merely a man. But he was a man who chased after God, who sought him in the most mundane things of life. He saw Christ in everything. I want to live my life in that way. To give myself fully to the persute of Christ and His heart.

We're into our 3rd week in Bouake and trying to figure out how to dig in and serve in the community during these few months of training. So here some exciting news: I'm joining the choir at our local church! Yup, little ole me is going to be part of an African choir! It's going to be incredibly challenging, but I'm so excited! They're going to have to teach me how to dance. The choir sings in French, Dyula, and English occasionally. So this will be a great way to learn French quickly.

Saturday a few of us went to Hotel Mon Afrik to go swimming! It was really nice, like a little oasis. We all felt pretty silly being there, being missionaries and all, but it was really nice to relax and cool off. The hotel has a deer as a pet! and guess what? I pet the pet deer! haha! I was wonderful!


I've become the resident hair cutter on our campus. I've given 3 hair cuts in the last week- it's been really fun! A few of the girls brought hair cutting scissors, so we've all been giving each other tips and practicing- haha! It's so fun to have random gifts we can share with each other!

Rod took us all to the rock quarry on Sunday night. I got to ride on top of the land rover on the way there as the sun was setting. It was one of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen! We were driving out into the bush, passed a small village, and then drove on through 15ft. tall grass. The sky was stormy and every color. Rod told us the history of ICA (where we're living) as we at cold pizza on the rock face. It started to sprinkle and we were worried that we would be rained out, but it cleared up as the sun went down so that we were able to lay out under the stars and sing worship. Got to ride on top on the way back also. I felt like I was flying right on the surface of the world, like I could touch the moon.


Rod, our fearless leader

baobab tree

Friday, November 12, 2010

Little Moments

So I've been finding it increasingly difficult to sum up what I'm doing here and how I'm feeling about it all.

There is so much "new" and then things that I've forgotten are new.

So in my effort to capture my time here, I've been journaling in moments and facts.

Here are a few little moments from my African home:

Have been able to eat an Ivoirian favorite, atteche (at-check-ay), a few times. You eat it with your hands. This has taught me:
                    1. My stomach is at war with atteche

              and 2. I don't like eating with my hands. at all!

Steph, my roommate, and I found a bunch of pictures, while cleaning out the campus library, from someones family vacation to Oregon in 1980. They are now covering our walls. I'm extremely thankful that she and I feel the same way about white walls... they need to be covered!

Finding spots on our sheets is becoming normal (this concerned me the first few nights), the mosquitoes apparently need midnight snacks. We now wear bug spray to bed.

I've had 3 hair cuts in the last week. 2 of them were meant to "fix" the first one. I'm too impulsive. Feel like Jo in Little Women when she chops her hair. Last hair cut was successful, but short!

The Nelsons, missionaries from up north, are here this week. I was struck at dinner last night as Wayne Nelson commented that the hardest part of missionary life is being apart from family. They've been here since 1986. I'm a wimp.

Washing clothes is an adventure. Accidentally put a pair of underwear in to be washed by Tenenah, a young Ivorian who works on campus. I think he was more embarrassed than I was. Now I have nightmares about laundry day.

In the mornings, I sit on the lower field and read. I can see out over the wall to the countryside. The mornings are covered in mist because it's the end of the wet season and the birds are all singing their heartsongs. I'm always struck by how beautiful it all sounds together and how God must smile at the sound. It hits me how we should be lifting our heartsongs to our Creator as well- in declaration and praise to the One who formed us in love.

Finding a lot out about how I'm made and spiritual gifts. I feel called more than ever to look into counseling teenage girls. There may be an opportunity to work with a group of girls here in Bouake who have been rescued out of prostitution and trafficking. They want to look into art therapy- and I'm thinking that theater would be really helpful in this. I'm praying that I'll be of some use.

So that's a bit of life here! I'm really enjoying the change and growth, as well as the embarrassing and funny moments. God is constant through it all. 
That's all for now.
Results of 3rd and FINAL haircut. Won't be touching it for a LONG time!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Meet Cote d'Ivoire!

Just a note: I was going to post pictures with all of this, but the internet is too slow, so I have to wait for an internet cafe! So check back in a few days to SEE the campus!

Bonjour! Je suis a Cote d'Ivoire!
I'm living at the International Christian Academy outside of Bouake, the second largest city.

The Journey Corps crew is staying in a dorm called Beth Eden. There's a girls wing and a boys wing- and a common area and kitchen in between. We all eat here for dinner. I'll do a food post in a few days.

The campus is a gorgeous 36 acres! Since this place used to be a school for MKs (missionary kids) there are classrooms, a gym, a library, many dorms, houses and apartments, 2 fields (Upper and Lower), a Chapel, basketball court, and racket ball court. I would have loved to see this place in its prime! It would be quite a sight. 10 years ago, when it was evacuated because of the war, everything grew wild and the lizards and spiders took over. The place is huge and only has about 15 Ivorians who work on the upkeep alongside Rod and Angelika now. There is also a part of the campus gated off and used by the French military and holds about 25 French officers.

For the LOST fans: this place reminds me of the Dharma Innitiative! :)

My roommate is Steph. She just recently graduated from Acadia U. with an art degree. It's been fun trying to settle in and make our room feel like home. We put pictures on the walls- its pretty homey!

An average weekday looks like this:

6.00- up and at 'em! The sun is up and already warm!
Breakfast: usually oatmeal for me. Then devotions and my own worship session with God.
8.00- group bible study begins
9.00- Class on Ivorian culture or missionary living
10.00- tea break!
10.30- French class with Beckie
12.00- lunch! usually rice and meat with sauce. (I'll post more about this later!)
2.30- West Africa Basics with Rod/ Ivorian seminar
7.00- Dinner

Some nights we have a bilingual (French and English) worship service in the library. Other nights we have small group meetings, we worship together in the common room, or watch a movie at Rod and Angelika's. Saturdays are free. I'm just starting to get into the groove of life here. Definitely a different pace. For the next 2 months we'll all be on campus learning culture basics and language and we'll continue to venture into town to practice. I'm so excited for the seminars that are scheduled to be taught by the national Ivoirians!

Oh! and I got a hair cut! it's pretty hot here, so it was kind of necessary!

That's all for now! Au revoir!