Greetings from Africa! It is hard to believe that it has been almost 2 months since we said goodbye to you all. We have seen many changes and many blessings, as well as some discouragements. But over-all, we can see the hand of God working in so many ways. It is always exciting to serve the Lord and watch Him work!
In many ways, when we arrived back in F-town, it felt like we were coming home. We saw familiar sights, familiar faces, and familiar places. Even driving on the left side of the road didn’t seem so strange. Some things have changed—mostly for the better. There is now an ice cream shop in town where you can order sundaes and milkshakes! It is not as good as Dairy Queen, but it is a good substitute.
Much of our time this past month has been consumed with trying to get things ready at our house. When you are starting from scratch, it takes awhile—and it is very costly. It is almost like getting married again—except there are no wedding showers with gifts to help you out. But the Lord has provided in many ways. We found out about 2 American families that were leaving, so we were able to get some furniture, a gas grill, a washer, and a dryer from them. When we went to buy a refrigerator, the salesman told us that the one we wanted was going on sale the next day, at a significant savings. One of the stores we were shopping at had a clearance table—with a toaster, some towels, ceiling fans, and dishes—all at reduced prices. Donna Kuzel gave me several boxes of kitchen things, a floor lamp, and an ironing board. They are moving to a new house this week, so as she packed and sorted, she shared some of her overflow with me. That was a real blessing! George & Kristin also gave us several things that they were no longer in need of – including a water filter which is VERY needed!
Thanks to you wonderful ladies and your generosity, I am getting a wooden dining room table and chairs handmade out of teak wood. My husband talked to the man who makes the furniture. He even went out to his shop and saw his whole operation. He had him make a table for our Riso machine, and it is beautiful. I am hoping that he will have our dining room set done by Christmas time. I will be sure to send you a picture when it is done!
The house we are renting had been sitting empty for several months—except for the spiders and the ants. I thought we had cleared out most of the spiders. Then when we came back home after being gone for 3 days, we found a whole new crop of very tiny spiders that had hatched out. So it looks like we will be chasing spiders for awhile. As for the ants—anytime you leave something sweet sitting on the counter or in the sink, they find it in record time. But that is good incentive to keep the dishes washed up! The other day when I walked in the kitchen, I saw an ant trail going up the wall, so I traced it around the door frame, down the wall on the other side of the door, along the countertop to the corner, then all the way down the countertop to the other corner of the kitchen (a total of about 24 feet). The trail ended at a package of mints someone had left open on the counter. It takes a lot of ants to make a trail that long!
Slowly but surely we are making contact with many of the people we worked with last year. Some of them have moved away, some are not interested anymore—but we have met with several that are excited that we are back. If you have been reading my hubby’s updates, you know that he is very busy right now working with several men and holding Bible studies in several villages. Others are begging for training. It is exciting to see how the Lord is opening doors all over. We are still holding Sunday services in town and have a good group attending.
We enjoyed celebrating Thanksgiving with our family and the Wilhites. It was a wonderful time of fellowship and good food. Now we are looking forward to Christmas. Thanks to the Kuzels, we will have a Christmas tree (the artificial variety) this year. They had an extra so they shared one with us. We bought a few ornaments and lights to put on it, and some paper to make handmade ornaments. They celebrate Christmas here much the same way we do in America—with gifts and parties and decorations. It is strange to hear Christmas music playing in the stores when it is 100 degrees outside!
Doug wanted to take cupcakes to give out after the service on Sunday, since it was his birthday. So I made chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing. None of the Africans that were at the service had ever tasted cake before, so we had to try to explain what it tasted like. They all tried one, and they all loved it! Thankfully we had taken a roll of paper towels with us, because by the time the service was over, the chocolate icing was very runny and messy, due to the heat.
We were warned to be more vigilant during the coming weeks. Break-ins, thefts, and robberies are more common this time of year because people want something to give their family for Christmas. Since they don’t have money to buy gifts, they steal from others. And since we are Americans, everyone thinks we are rich—so we are prime targets. This is true all the time, but there is an increased danger around Christmas time.
You all back home are missed very much. It is different than last year when we knew were coming home after 3 months. But we are thankful that the Lord has brought us here—and we are thankful for your faithfulness in giving and praying. When we count our blessings, you all are right up at the top of the list! We wish each of you a very blessed Christmas season. And remember—the very best gift you can give to Jesus Christ is your whole heart!
Love you all,