Monday, September 27, 2010

First Day of School...Last Day of Nigeria

September 15th was a bitter sweet day for me. On one hand, excitement, as the school we'd been preparing to start since January had its first official day of class.

On the other hand sadness, as the 15th was my last official day in Nigeria. As I said my goodbyes and got on the plane I couldn't help but reflect on how much God had done over the past year and a half.

Arriving back in Austin I was greeted at the airport by my mom, stepdad, and a few friends. After some much needed sushi mom dropped me off at my dad's where I surprised my little sister for her birthday. She had been under the impression I wasn't coming home until next month. The family reunion as a whole was something I had dreamt about for months!

While I am not exactly sure what the next chapter of life looks like, I am certain of one thing; my time in Africa will forever change they way I live and appreciate life as we know it.

To all those who supported me along the way that I haven't got to tell in person yet...THANK YOU and God bless!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

5 Month Project Complete

Since early this year our care center at Gyero decided to start an internal elementary school for our 100 plus kids.  The main reason for making this move was the lack of quality education the public school system was offering.  Here's a picture of the previous school:

As you may have seen in the video posted a few blog entries back, my role for helping to get this school up and running was to paint the 5 classrooms needed to teach the kids.

Don't be fooled by the pictures below, I'm not an artist...more of a glorified tracer.  Upon taking the assignment, I recalled my friend Matt Golly telling me when he worked for an interior design company in Austin they used projectors to create high-end art work.  Taking that advice here's a few pictures of the work I've been doing:

Friday, July 30, 2010

Band Hero & Pool Party

 The kids at our care center at Giden Bege are fresh off the streets and struggle with structure and disciple.  Over the past few months we've started rewarding them for good behavior.  Typically we do this by taking them on some sort of field trip.  For example, a couple months ago we brought them to a friends house to play Band Hero...which proved to be quiet over stimulating for kids who have never played a video game before.  

More recently we took them to the pool. For many of the boys it was not only there first time swimming but there first time to be fully submerge in water. 

Whether helping a boy learn to swim or teaching him how to play Band Hero, I realized these are some of the moments I'll truly miss.  I often find myself enjoying these first time experiences as much or even more as the kids themselves.  

Monday, May 31, 2010

Video From Nigeria

To those would did not get this via email....Here is a link to a 5 minute video which shows you a small glimpse of what life is like here.  Its intention is to show you some of the work God has allowed us to do here through your prayers and support.  I want to thank you once again for your partnership.  I hope you enjoy!  

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Northern Outreach

Two weeks ago a team of eight westerners including myself and six Nigerians headed 10 hours north to the Nigeria/Niger border for a week long outreach.  We spent six days in three different villages on the fringe of the Saraha Desert. 

During the week we offered free medical care and played games with the kids.  We used this as tactics to build relationships with members of the community in hopes of creating avenues to share the gospel.  

Here some stories and pictures from our journey:

Village 1

Wada is a Fulani convert that joined our team at the last minute, which I must say was a God thing.  Brief background...Fulani's are the largest nomadic people group in the world and are 99% Muslim.  By nature they're a very closed people group and untrusting of anyone who is not Fulani.  

At the first village Wada immediately connected with the only Fulani within the community.  Shortly into their conversation this man shared with Wada that he'd never met a Christian Fulani and didn't even think you could be Christian if you were Fulani.  He mentioned that he enjoyed some of the teaching that he heard from Chrisians within the community but never felt comfortable enough to take it to the next step. 

After just a few hours of the two talking one on one he decided to take the next step and give his life to Christ!  Wada spent the rest of the night and the next morning talking with the guy.  Upon leaving we were able to share the good news with the pastor of the community who agreed to disciple him after dark to prevent persecution.    

Villages 2

The second village we went was a stones throw away from the Niger boarder.  In fact, one of the first things Stefan (western teammate) and I did upon arriving was made the short trek through a dried riverbed into the neighboring Niger village to greet the chief. 

After getting settled in, we set up for medical care.  Within minutes women were lined up by the dozens.  

One of the more difficult things you see in the north is the oppression these women are under by a male dominated culture. In fact, men and women don't interact publicly.  This happened to work in our advantage as the women who came to see us for medicine felt free to speak openly with some of the ladies on our team about Christ.  More than one mentioned they had heard of Christ on a radio program but never talked openly about it due to the consequences they may face.  They asked a lot of questions and almost all asked to be prayed was amazing!        
Village 3

Our final two days were spend in a village in Kano state.  For the first time during our journey, we ran into some difficulties.  After spending 3 hours greeting local & district chiefs (proper protocol), we were told we didn't have the approved stamp from the commissioner of health. This was an indirect way of letting us know we were not welcome, even though all the drugs we were handing out were nonprescription and could be bought at any drug store in a major town.

Although frustrated with the situation we prayed and decided as a group to take a different approach.  With obvious oppression from local leadership, we decided to spend the rest of our time loving and encouraging the local church body.  A few ways that we did this was by providing a meal of rice, beans, and yams for the church members and handed our soccer jersey to the youth of the community.  Even though our time didn't go as we had planned God used it for His purpose of serving His church.

We are such a small part of this world, and he chooses to use us to be His vessel to carry the message of Jesus Christ from neighborhoods to around the world...What a privilege!

For additional photos from the trip click here 

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Miracle Healing

I have a God glorifying testimony to share with you.  Six months ago I traveled to the North, which is 95% Muslim, to visit 10 Nigerian 'church-planting' missionaries to offer encouragement and see how we can help with their church plants.  While at one of the village we were approached by a Muslim mother who's 1-month old baby had been infected with tetanus during birth when the umbilical cord was cut.  As seen in the  photo of the baby below, Tetanus affects the central nervous system by causing painful muscular contractions.

With the mothers permission and in the presence of 20 to 30 members of the village we laid hands on the baby and asked God to do a miracle. Three days after we left God healed that baby!  When I heard that I got so fired up! Last month I had to a chance to retrn the village and visit a 7 month old health baby!

According to in the US (not a village with no electrical or running water) tetanus has a mortality rate of more than 90% in infants. God's still using miracles to being glory to His name....I just can't believe I got to witness it first hand.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Week of Free Medical Care

Last week a colleague and I traveled to southwest Nigeria to team up with an organization called FamilyCare, which provides free medical care to rural villages.  Working with local governments, hospitals, and churches FamilyCare sets up mobile hospitals that offers the locals free surgeries, drugs, dental work, eyeglasses, and more.   

Our role during the week was to help with the logistics of the outreach and evangelism to the large crowds waiting to get treated.  With the days starting around 5 in the morning and not finishing sometimes until 10 at night, its safe to say we were quite exhausted.  Halfway through the week I opened up my bible to Proverbs 20:13 which says, "Do not love sleep or you will grow poor; stay awake and you will have food to spare." this humorously kept us going on some of the longer days.  

All-in-all we had an amazing time seeing God work through this ministry.  Below are some pictures from our adventures:  

This is one of the film shows we did early in the morning before the doctors started seeing patients.

This is the line to see the general doctor

One of the evening we setup our film show at an open field in the center of the town

During the week Matt and I had the privilege of passing out the medical cards (the tickets for seeing the doctor). This was not as easy as it sounds as you can tell by this picture taken at 5:30am (can you find us?).  At one point I had to managed to break free from the crowd, run about a quarter of a mile, and climb a water tower in order to pass out the cards with out getting mobbed.

One of the volunteer doctors checking the BP of a patient.

This is Noel, a volunteer businessman, praying with a young man who was interested in receiving Christ.

This photo is from one of the film shows we did at the local schools.

The entire volunteer team

On Friday we got to due a little site seeing of the local lagoon villages via boat

This is Matt and I in Lagos, Nigeria.  We got to see the ocean on our way home for the first time since being in Nigeria.