Monday, October 19, 2009

Praising God

One of the guys on staff here at the Youth Center, Tolentino, came down with Yellow Fever about two weeks ago. It’s a pretty serious disease and when he was younger his older brother died from it. Yellow Fever, true to its name, turns your body yellow and gives you a super high fever, among other things. Tolentino’s fever was so high that for days he wrapped himself in a cloth and every 5 to 15 minutes poured a bucket of water over himself just to keep cool.

On Thursday he was sitting in front of his house with all of the people who had come to see him. They were all talking about how bad he looked and how serious the disease was. Tolentino listened until he couldn’t take it anymore. He asked everyone to leave him alone for half an hour. He went inside the house, shut the door and started singing praise to God. Tolentino has a big voice, so when he sings, you hear it. Everyone outside starting telling Tolentino’s family that the disease had affected his brain. After singing for about 10 minutes he started praying. He prayed for the rest of them time and then the fever left him. He stood up, went outside, and started eating for the first time in days.

Since then he’s been gaining strength. He was in staff meeting this morning giving praise to God for healing him. He said that as he was sitting there listening to everyone and thinking about how sick he was he remembered that God knows the number of our days. He could choose whether he was going to sit there and feel terrible before he died or if he was going to sing praise to God. He chose to praise God with everything he had left and leave it in His hands.

After hearing that testimony this morning I just had to share it with you. I don’t always choose to use the time that I have to worship God. When I’m faced with difficult situations many times I focus on the situations instead of taking time to push everything else aside and focus on God. I think it’s in those moments that true worship happens. When we say to God, I don’t know if I’m ever going to make it through this, but I know that my purpose here it to worship You, so I’m going to give you what I’ve got.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Parking triumph

The other day I parallel parked for the first time. I was with Katie going to the market to buy some baby clothes for a friend of ours (Jason was with us too, but he was headed to a different section to pick up some bike parts).

I know the picture makes it look like the car behind me was really far behind me, but hey, you've gotta start somewhere. I pulled up and then turned the wheels to get really close when I backed up and then straightened it out, not bad for a first-timer :-) hehe

This is Katie and I headed in.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Exciting News!!!!!!!!!!

One of the coolest things about being a Christian is seeing someone come to Christ! As a missionary I get to see it and hear about it often. I love it. There is nothing more exciting than celebrating along with the angels when someone lays down all of their own efforts and runs to Christ to save and be the Lord of their life!

I think I’ve mentioned it before, but about a month or so ago I was put in charge of our morning staff meetings at the Youth Center. We sing for about 10-15 minutes, have a time of prayer and then I give a little 5 minute devotion. It’s been really good for my Creole. Enough so that I have to prepare but not so much that it feels overwhelming. Apparently I’m a fairly entertaining speaker because more and more students have been coming each day to sit outside of our circle and listen to what I have to say. The past two weeks we’ve been talking about the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-17) – why we need it, what it is, what it symbolizes, how to use it, etc. I’ve really been enjoying it and I’ve been getting a lot of “amens” which always makes any teacher happy :-) hehe

Last week after I shared Pastor Ze Agusto (the director of YFC Bissau) felt compelled to say that he knows that a lot of people around the circle are not Christians or are baby Christians and if they ever want to know more about anything that we talk about there are lots of people at the Youth Center who would love to take time to talk to about it. He asked three guys who are in the seminary here to stand up and said that any of them would love to chat about God anytime.

Right after that one of our students, Sabino, who had been coming to listen approached one of those guys. He said that as I was sharing about the armor of God everyday he was starting to really understand that Jesus is powerful. He realized that he needed Jesus in his life and he wanted to become a Christian!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He had wanted to talk to me but he’s terrified of white people so he’d been hanging back (a lot of the tribes around here discipline their children by telling them that if they’re not good a white person will come and kill them – nice huh?). When pastor said that other people would love to share more too, that was exactly the invitation he’s been looking for.

Moses shared with him about what becoming a Christian means and Sabino said he was ready he prayed with Moses and Moses asked him to go and tell his family and then to come back the next day for discipleship if he was really serious. When he came back the next day he wanted to know if Jesus is more powerful than the witch doctors. When Moses asked why Sabino showed him an idol that he was wearing around his waist. Sabino said that his brother had lots of money so he went to the witch doctor a while ago and had him do a special thing to this idol so that his brother would favor him and give him money. Moses explained to him that yes, Jesus is more powerful, but the real heart of the problem is that money that you gain deceitfully will never satisfy. This opened the door to talk about the way a Christian lives and by the end Sabino decided on his own that the idol was worthless and he threw it away.

Please pray with me for Sabino that God would continue to open his eyes and that he would continue to be open to change his life to glorify God. Isn’t God amazing?!?!?!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cooking with Emily :-)

Jase and I made this video a few months ago, but I forgot about it. It's part two because we did a part one about taking the heads off of shrimp that we bought on the street here - it didn't really turn out that great because people were talking loudly in the background, but this one is much better. It's meant to be a little silly, so feel free to laugh :-) hehe

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ponderings from the Tub

The past two weeks have been HOT! Today it’s 114 degrees on our roof and inside our house it’s been hovering around 90... Unfortunately my body picked right now to have an allergic reaction to something so my skin is going crazy - itchy, swollen, red, yuck! I’ve been fanning and taking lots of showers, but today I decided to try an ice bath (at the suggestion of my brilliant husband). I filled the tub with cold water and added as much ice as our freezer has been able to make today (it’s hard work freezing something when it’s this hot). It was great.

I’ve been reading the gospel of Luke a lot lately and as I was chilling in the tub my mind was wandering around in some of Jesus’ parables. The parable of the talents is a familiar story – a master leaves for a trip giving three servants different amounts of money; two work hard and double the money while he is away, but the third (who was given the least) gets scared and does nothing with it. When the master gets back he’s pretty put out with the third servant for not even trying to use what he was given.

When that story came to mind I asked God if this had been a pattern in my life lately. Have there been opportunities / skills / stuff, that I’ve been to scared to use. One word came to my mind – language. I didn't understand where God was going with that one at first, so I kept praying. The first two times we were over here I didn’t really do much in Portuguese Creole. I was teaching English and teaching English teachers, and, let’s face it, I don’t really like to do things I’m not good at (anybody with me???). When we decided to come back as full-time missionaries for four years I knew I had to get serious. I took my Creole Bible and my Creole-English dictionary back to the States and during the year that we were fundraising and training I was studying.

This time back I’ve been working hard at Creole – memorizing scripture, leading a morning staff meeting everyday, doing discipleship and business training with Guinean women – and it’s been good for me. I’ve gotten to know people more, understand them better, and I’ve had lots of new opportunities for ministry. But, the best part is that every time I try something new my Creole has been getting better and better.

As I was thinking about all of this I asked God where I fit in the story. I felt an assurance that right now I’m using what He’s given me and He’s blessing it. I also felt a sense of loss for the first two 8 month blocks we spent here. Sure my knowledge of the language was a lot less then, but what if I had used the small amount of language that I had instead of waiting to get more before I jumped in? Right now I’m being faithful with the “two talents” of language that I have, but what if I had been faithful with the “one talent” that I had before?

One amazing thing about our God is that He’s a God of second chances. Just because you messed up before doesn’t mean you can’t jump in now. What do you have that you’re not using because it’s not all that you would want it to be?

Friday, July 24, 2009

An Interesting Friday

Lots of days missionary life is not super exciting. I clean the house, cook food, go shopping, teach classes – fairly normal stuff. It does have some different wrinkles, being in a different language, in a strange place, but the things themselves are not extraordinary. But, every once in a while, I have a day that reminds me that I’m a missionary. Friday was one of those days.

Friday morning started with a princess beading party. Wade and Katie’s daughter Abby had her 10th birthday and for her party she wanted me to make necklaces with her and her friend Anna. So on Friday morning I was in my kitchen with beads spread all over the table teaching two little princesses how to make lovely necklaces and bracelets to accent their royalty. We were having a good time when I looked up and there was a woman with four little kids and two bowls standing in front of me.

I knew that she had probably come to ask me for something because she was holding out empty bowls, but she was using a word that I didn’t know so it took me a little bit to find out what she wanted. She was from the islands and she was going to return there the next day and she wanted me to give her some food for her children.

It’s really normal in Guinea-Bissau for people that we know to ask us for help when they need something and almost every time we do help them; however, it’s not really that normal for a Guinean to come into the house of someone they don’t know and ask for help, so I was totally thrown off. Sometimes people come to the Youth Center for help and then when they see me they ask me, but since our house in the back of the Youth Center people never really come into the house to ask for things. Every month we give money to the Youth Center’s giving fund and then when people come that we don’t know we refer them to the guy at the Center who’s in charge of that fund. That helps us a lot because they know way better than we do if someone is trying to scam us and they also know how much help is appropriate.

For some reason in this case I was caught really off guard. I asked her to wait and came upstairs to talk to Jason. As soon as I walked in the door tears welled up in my eyes. I was really feeling the weight of this woman’s problem and I couldn’t figure out why it was so heavy and overwhelming on my heart. Jason talked to me for a bit then I went back downstairs talked to her a little more and then took her to William. As William started talking to her I left because a friend of mine stopped by to talk to me. The cool part of this story is that when William was talking to her he felt like he should share Jesus with her. He did and she accepted right away. He made it really clear that we were going to help her out and that accepting Jesus didn’t have anything to do with her getting money for food from us, but she told him that for a long time she had had questions about her life and no one had ever told her the story of Jesus before. She wanted to become a Christian because when he was explaining it, it all made sense.

Wow. When William came back and told me that I was amazed! Then all my feeling of uncertainty and the weight of this woman’s problem made sense. Satan knows when someone is in the right place at the right time and the last thing that he wanted was for someone to share Jesus with that woman. When I realized that, I was so convicted. I’m the missionary, right? Shouldn’t I always been on the lookout for people that need to hear about Jesus??? I’m so glad that William decided to share with her, but if he hadn’t she would have spoken to two Christians and walked away with her heart still searching for answers! I prayed right then that God wouldn’t let me miss another opportunity.

Don’t you love it when God answers your prayers right away? Well, that’s what happened to me…

Right after that Katie and I went to the market to buy some black lining material for some bags a friend of mine is working on. While I was in the little shop buying the material a Muslim man sitting outside turned and asked me if I was buying it to make myself a burka. Obviously the man could take one look at me with my uncovered head and tell that I am not a Muslim, so he was just trying to provoke me. I thought about what he said for a minute and then I was reminded of my earlier prayer.

So, I took a deep breath, got myself mentally ready for a good amount of Creole, and answered him – no, I wasn’t going to make a burka, I was going to make some purses - and as long as we are on the topic why do Muslims put such a weight on their wives to have no identity and be so hidden away from the world? Well, that sparked a conversation about Islam in general and I was able to explain to him that the way I see it Islam is a very heavy religion for its followers. They live everyday of their lives with the uncertainty of never knowing what’s going to happen to them after they die. When they die they believe that all of the good that they’ve done is added up and weighed against all of the non-good and that decides their future. I told him that I only know of one person in history who could pass that test, Jesus.

We talked about that for a while and he agreed with me that it is a very heavy thing. Then I explained to him that the reason that I’m a Christian is because God knows that no one is good enough to get to heaven on their own, so He sent Jesus Christ to come and die for my sins. When I accepted Jesus as my savior He came into my life and cleaned away all of that sin and He continues to do that everyday as I walk with Him, so the life of a Christian is a life of freedom and relationship.

He said that Jesus was a great prophet and that he believes every word that Jesus said even though he hasn’t read the Bible yet. I told him that he cannot believe every word that Jesus said and be a Muslim because Jesus said that He is the only way, the only truth, and the only life. We talked for about 15 minutes and in the end he told me that if someone brings him a Bible he will read every word of it because he wants to know more about Jesus!

As Katie and I walked away from that conversation we were both amazed. It’s not very often that a Muslim man will listen to the words of a woman, let alone a Christian woman! It was just so obvious that God was at work in the situation. His name is Zakarias (Zachariah in English) and I would appreciate your prayers as I go back and take him a Bible.

All that to say, my eyes are peeled. I’m ready. I’m pumped. And, I can’t wait to see what God is going to say through me to the next person :-)

Monday, July 13, 2009

New Veggies!

This past month and a half has flown by!!!! It's been fun, stressful, strange, familiar, and good. We really are so blessed to be here with this opportunity to really make a difference!

A lot of things have changed in Bissau since last time! One very exciting change is that there's a new store!!!! They call it a super market, but it's just a little room with some shelves and refrigerators. The thing that's exciting about it is that on the last day of each month they get a shipment of vegetables. You may ask why I'm so pumped about veggies, but wait, you don't know what kinds.... This month they got red peppers and (drum roll please) frozen broccoli! That's right I found broccoli in Bissau! You have no idea how excited I was. I bought a whole kilo!

That's not all! After I left that new little store I went to another little store that gets cheese sometimes and they had cheddar cheese. There are no words in the English language to convey my shock. I seriously almost passed out with joy!!!!! It was only like double the price of not-on-sale cheddar in America so I snapped up the three little squares that were there. Then I found the manager and told her that as long as they kept ordering cheddar I would keep buying it. I actually told her several times because I was just gushing. I think she got the point :-) The thing is here just because a store has something once that doesn't mean they will ever have it again!

So with the broccoli and cheddar powers combined I was in heaven for dinner that night. I had Jason take a picture so you could share in my joy :-)

Before Eden and her family moved to Dakar we had a Kool-Aid party. Like a tea party - little cookies, little crackers, little tea cups, but with Kool-Aid which is much better in Africa than hot tea :-)

Me, Eden, Abby, and Anna
When we first got here I got a bad rash from the heat and the mango trees so after lunch I would take a shower, get a pack of ice, and sit in front of the fan with the ice on my rash. It was my own little homemade air conditioning. I liked it so much I thought that Sydney might like it too, so one day I got out the ice pack and cooled her down. She liked it :-)
Sydney in the "AC"

Sydney is actually doing really well here. She doesn't really seem to mind the heat - she's hardly ever panting and she's full of energy.

So, that's the latest from around here :-)

Monday, July 6, 2009

a few thoughts about a bad day

You know how some days you just have “one of those days”? That was yesterday. I woke up feeling totally off, and it seemed like everything that happened was more frustrating that the last thing. I ended the day thoroughly soaking my pillow with a steady deluge of tears (my most effective stress reliever) and finally falling asleep completely and utterly exhausted.

I woke up this morning wondering, how do I start over from a day like that? I’ve done it before – cried myself to sleep and then woke up thinking, ok now it’s a brand new day. But this morning I didn’t really feel that way. Everything was still off. I cracked open my Bible and turned to the Psalms. I started reading without really noticing what Psalm it was. As I read just one chapter themes started leaping off the page – “I will praise the Lord at all times” “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him and He delivers them” “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them” Then I got to verse 16:

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

It was one of those moments when everything else fades and the Bible speaks directly to you. I closed my eyes and just prayed. I confessed my selfishness and bad attitudes that had made every problem bigger than the last yesterday. I praised God for so many things that He’s done in my life and I thanked Him for the promise that He is close to the brokenhearted.

As I did that my breathing got slower, like the air cleared, and I knew how to start over. When life gets tough (like yesterday) I have the tendency to grit my teeth, buckle down, and power through. The only problem with that is I don’t actually have the power to do it. Believe me, yesterday I tried and you see how well that worked out for me and my soggy pillow. God reminded me today that life isn’t about how much I can cram into it, it’s about how closely I can walk right next to Him. There were a million times yesterday when I could have dropped everything and focused on God. I could have gone to Him when I started struggling instead of waiting until my spirit was totally crushed. Today I’m going to take those opportunities.

When I finished praying I read the chapter again, Psalm 34, and I realized something that made me laugh. In level three of our English program here at the Youth Center (the level that I wrote the curriculum for and have taught to six different classes) they memorize Psalm 34 in the Message translation. They do a couple verses a week over the three months and by the end they can say the whole thing. It’s funny because I’ve taught that chapter so many times I could quote it at any moment. Today I was reading a different translation of the Bible, but all of the themes and even some of the phrases are the exact same. If I had looked at the Psalm before I started reading it I might have moved on to another one, because after all, I know that one by heart… Sometimes I forget that the word of God is living and active and that God uses even the most familiar words to continually challenge and change us.

So, it’s about 11 am and I think I’m ready to start my day. Thanks God!!!!!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Sweaty and Happy :-)

So far we are loving Bissau. It's pretty much the hotest time of the year, so we're sweating, a LOT! But we're drinking a lot of water, so it's like our own sauna. I have a few more photos from the past few weeks that I thought my be interesting:

This is Jason picking out his sweet new running shoes right before we left for Africa. If you are asking yourself, "do those shoes have toes???" The answer is yes, yes they do. So far he LOVES them.
Here's Sydney chillin' with all of our carry-on luggage in Detroit.

A very pregnant goat eating some trash in Dakar

Eating lunch with friends in a little restaurant by the ocean in Dakar.

This is the boat we took from Dakar (in the north of Senegal) to Ziguinchor (in the south of Senegal). It was really nice, but the people we shared the cabin with were interesting... I don't really understand drunk people...

Some new friends we made on the 14 hour boat ride. We sat at the same table for dinner and the girls were just too cute! He's German and she's Senegalese. They have their hands full with two 17 month-olds!

Jason and I preparing breakfast for everyone (the three families that make up our team) on Saturday morning. We sent over dried blueberries and real maple syrup, so we had some amazing pancakes and Jason made some killer breakfast potatoes (his speciality).

Our new favorite place in the whole world! Right outside of the guest house where we live in Bissau they built this lovely little cabana. It is shady, breezy, and heavenly! You can see our little dog, Sydney running towards me as I'm taking this picture. She growing so fast!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Right now I am sitting in the middle of a huge pile of stuff trying to organize it, but tears keep clouding my eyes – not in the way you think. I am so overwhelmed by how blessed we are! We arrived in Guinea-Bissau on Sunday afternoon and since then we’ve been eating, talking, reuniting, and gathering all of our stuff – from last time and from the container that our team sent over last May. My main goal today was to unpack all of those boxes and make a list of what we need to go buy downtown, but each time I open a box I’ve just been blown away! I found vitamins and nice conditioner for my hair, good pens and Ziploc bags, parmesan cheese and dried fruit, our plastic plates and some knives that actually cut things, an oven thermometer and some screens to get the bugs out of our flour, my very favorite books and a bag of potpourri to make our house smell nice, and the list goes on and on.

This trip to Guinea-Bissau feels different because it is different. We aren’t volunteers coming for 8 months, we’re full time staff moving here for four years. We really are making our home here and that’s good and hard and exciting and just different. Jason and I have been so blessed and we have always had everything that we need, and it’s just so fun to feel like we have some things that are ours as we settle in. So many of you have prayed for our stuff to make it safely over, have given generously to us and our work, and have been part of the whole journey with us and I want to say thank you. From the bottom of my truly grateful heart, thank you for letting God’s love for us spill out through you. Wow, ok I have to turn off the waterworks before I dehydrate myself - hehehehe

Friday, June 5, 2009

Last update before we leave for Bissau

The last two times we've been in Dakar were disasters, but this time has been really really nice. It's different than Guinea-Bissau - the Muslim calls to prayer are a lot louder, it's more crowded, and it's a lot dirtier (we are staying in the industrial district, so that could have something to do with it). Some things are the same - it's hot, the air is humid and salty, and for lunch we ate mangoes, fish, and rice.

I took a few more pictures so you can get a little feel for a small part of the capital of Senegal

Sucking on the pit of my first African Mango in a while :-)

Jason about to dig in to some African rice and fish. All that for $.80 - Amazing.

The kids at the guest house LOVE Sydney and they have been tiring her out!

Sydney chillin' with her belly on the cool tile.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

We are in Dakar!

We are in Dakar!!!!! I'm a little tired, so here are the bullet points:

Flight to Atlanta was great. Sydney hardly even moved.

At the Atlanta airport Sydney ran around in the family bathroom, ate, and got generally worn out.

Flight to Dakar was perfect for Sydney. No crying from her and whenever we took her to the bathroom she peed on the diapers :-) However there were three babies in our same row as us and there wasn't more than 20 minutes of the 10 hours where one of them wasn't screaming, so we didn't sleep much.

When we arrived at the airport in Dakar we ran into an American pastor that we know who works in Senegal. He helped us with our bags and drove us to his hotel. We are here right now, chillin' by the pool and wrestling with Sydney on the grass to her heart's content. It's about 6:30 in the morning and in an hour or so we are going to get a taxi to the missionary guest house where we are staying and then do some serious sleeping.

Thank you so much for your prayers. We got all of our bags, no one said anything about Sydney at customs, and the flights were smooth. It smells like the Africa I know - ocean salt, fish, humid... It's nice. We can't wait to get to Bissau!

I took a few pictures:

Here's Jase playing with Sydney in the grass right now.

This is the view of the ocean from the hotel balcony. Beautiful!

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Last summer, a few months after we got back from Africa the second time, we were camping with Jason’s family. I was sitting outside crying a little and Paul (Jason’s dad) came up. Now Jason is not really very emotional, and he comes by it honestly (I however, need a good cry every few weeks). Paul asked me what was wrong and I told him that I was having a sad day, which probably seemed a little weird to him at the time. He asked me why, which seemed a little weird to me, don’t people just have sad days for no reason? (ok so maybe that’s just me…) I thought about it and realized that I was missing Africa. I tried to explain how I was missing Guinea-Bissau when I was finally with my family that I had been missing for the past 8 months. The only words I could really come up with were that my heart has two homes now and as long as I’m in one place my heart has times where it feels separated from the other.

There’s a weird dynamic that happens with missionaries. You have a home, and when you go to the new country where you work almost everything reminds you that that place is not your home. You feel awkward, and isolated, but you jump in. You learn the language, you meet the people and try to understand them, and slowly it starts to feel like home too. I remember praying everyday when we were in Guinea-Bissau that God would give my heart a home there; and sometime in the second trip, He did.

[As a little side note, I think it’s the same with heaven. Sometimes when things happen that I don’t understand (usually loss) I’m reminded vividly that I wasn’t made for this. My “home” here on earth is temporary and I’m so happy I’m made for the home that’s eternal. I think that most Christians have experienced that heart longing for the home that they were created for at one point or another.]

Jason and I just bought our plane tickets and we are headed back to Guinea-Bissau on June third. In so many ways I am excited to go back home and at the same time I’m deeply sad to be leaving. I am through and through a 100% homebody. I love being home. I like to take vacations to visit people I know (not new fun places); I like to eat dinner at home, to have people over, I love to be with my family (and my friends that have basically become my family) and I would always rather rent a movie and snuggle up with a blanket than go see one. Home… it’s a strange word when you think about what it means – the place where you belong, the place you know, the place that’s familiar, the place that has the people you love, the place you’re meant to be…

I guess I’m just processing my emotions a little bit. People have been asking me a lot a questions as they have been finding out that Jason and I are headed back:
“Oh Africa, so it’s really like a vacation, right?” (not quite)
“Are you scared because it’s so different?” (sometimes)
“Are you sad that you are going to miss some important things in America?” (yes)
“Do you miss your friends in Africa?” (yes)
“Are you ready?” (mostly, hehe)

The one question that really got me thinking was when someone asked me, “Why are you so excited to go somewhere that’s so hard and do something that you don’t know if you can do? Why don’t you just stay here and be normal?” I giggled a little, and then thought a lot. It’s hard to explain, but in many ways Guinea-Bissau is where my life is right now. The job that I have over there isn’t a job; it’s my purpose – maybe not for the rest of my life, but right now. The people that I’m helping and the lives that God is changing, that’s my point.

So we’re leaving, and I feel like part of me is complete again, my purpose is restored, and my life fits; but I also feel like part of me is missing – you, the people that have made me who I am, the places I know, the life that makes sense. As we head out please be praying for us, that God would protect our hearts, and that we would truly make our home where He is.

Monday, April 27, 2009


I love the wind. I don’t know why because wind seems to symbolize change, and I’m not a big fan of that (and the fact that it always blows my hair into my mouth…). I think I love the freshness of it. Wind always reminds me of how big the world is. It travels so fast and some days my life seems so slow. I just want to jump high into the air and be carried away.

Wind also reminds me of the Holy Spirit – unpredictable, refreshing, and making things move. I am sitting in the living room now, looking out the window and seeing even the toughest old trees dance in the wind. I love the analogy there – dancing with
joy at the movement of the Holy Spirit.

Lately we’ve had some crazy wind around here. Roofs have peeled off of buildings, trees have crashed to the ground, and gazebos haven’t stood a chance! Sometimes God’s power is like that in our lives too. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like dancing with the Holy Spirit it feels like being ripped into the air and tumbling end over end for miles!

When Jase and I were on the way back from Colorado in February we came across a huge wind farm. There had to be 200 gigantic windmills all turning, peacefully cranking out the megawatts. Jason was in heaven so of course we got off the freeway and did some exploring.

What a stud!

A few of the windmills that had Jason drooling!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bummer... :-)

Yesterday I took Jason to the airport in Detroit (more about where he was going later). On the way down, at about 26 mile, we passed a sign for Caribou Coffee (which I LOVE). I didn’t want to make Jason late for his flight so I decided that I would get some on the way back home. I made it down to Metro, dropped Jason off, and then proceeded to think about how awesome my latte was going to be once I got back up to 26 mile.

In my dreamy state of anticipation I barely noticed that the sky was getting a bit gray and cloudy. I was only thinking of the warm, perfectly steamy foam that was going to sit beautifully on top of my latte. I passed a Tim Hortons – nope, some Dunkin Donuts – sorry, and even a few Starbucks – not a chance! Nothing was going to distract me from the luscious Caribou Coffee that awaited me.

As I neared 26 mile road and visions of caffeine rapture danced in my brain, I saw a construction sign. I paid it no attention… then came another one. When I glanced at it I saw something about 26 mile road… gasp! I looked again. The exit was closed… road construction… Right at the moment when I realized that my latte dreams were evaporating into thin air the sky blackened, the wind blustered, and the heavens opened. Just like that I was in the middle of a furious downpour. I choose to believe that God was also disappointed by my lack of latte. Thanks Big Guy :-)

For those of you who are wondering why in the world Jason was headed to the airport, I guess that part of the story is interesting too… hehe For the past two months Jason has been working tirelessly to get a shipping container ready to go to Africa. For those of you who don't have experience with that sort of thing (most people) a shipping container is basically the same size as a Semi truck. The church in Tulsa who donated the brick making machine ('the dirt smasher' as Jason affectionately calls it) is also donating several other pieces of equipment that will be really helpful to have in Africa. So they flew Jason out there to help them collect all of the equipment and speak to their Sunday school class about what we're going to do with it. So today he's in Tulsa and after that they are headed to San Antonio to pick up a few things and then on to New Orleans to load them all up in the container. He's pretty excited :-)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I am pleased to announce that I am awesome at cheese making! :-) We can't usually get mozzarella cheese in Bissau and Jason and I really miss it! I found out that it's not really very hard to make it - unlike cheddar, provolone, swiss, etc it doesn't have to age in a 55 degree cave for months on end. In fact you can start with milk and two hours later be eating delicious mozzarella!

I got a kit from so that I could try it out and hopfully perfect my technique before we head back, and it worked! I've only done it twice so far and the first time it turned out pretty creamy, more like cream cheese; but the second time it was perfect! I took a few pictures of the process, so check it out!

I bought milk from Kroger, mixed in the citric acid, and heated it up on the stove

Once it got to 90 degrees I added the rennet, heated it a little more, then let it sit so the curd could form. Once the curd was pretty solid I cut it up, put it back on the heat and waited 'till it got to about 110 degrees.

I thought about trying it, but it didn't really look very appatizing...

Despite it's somewhat gross appearance I had faith! I drained off the whey, added salt, and then heated it in the microwave carefully to 135 degrees

At this point I was starting to doubt that it would all come together since the only step I had left was to stretch it like taffy. Majically, as I started stretching, the cheese came together. This step was definitely the most fun part of all!

Nice huh?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Fun in Colorado

It's really been a crazy new year so far! We left Michigan January first and we just got back this week. We were in Little Rock visiting my parents, Kansas City visiting my sister, we spent a week in Denver helping Jason and Erica get ready for their wedding and then after they got married we went to Palmer Lake, Colorado for three weeks of missionary training. It was great to see my family (I've already posted a few blogs about that part of the trip) and we had a great time seeing Colorado!

Over the past month I've come to the conclusion that it's pretty hard to be in Colorado and not be impressed by the hugeness of God. Everyday when we woke up, we looked out the window, and just stared at the gorgeous mountains surrounding us. They were breathtakingly beautiful. It was really weird that everywhere we went had such awesome scenery. You just don't expect to see a McDonalds with a spectacular mountain view!

This is the building where we had slept, ate,
and had all of our classes
for three weeks.
t was really well designed and we had a great time.

This is another shot of our building on a really frosty morning.
There was a lot of open space around us for hiking.

I love hazy mountains in the distance!

One evening a group of friends and I climbed this mountain
(just behind our building) to watch the sun set. It was so worth it!

Another picture from the hike.

One cool part of our training was that we had both of the weekends in the middle of the three weeks off. So, we spent both Saturdays trekking up some pretty sweet slopes and visiting some awesome natural wonders with friends. Since we were already at 7225 feet when we started hiking we got quite a lung work out! One cool place we visited was the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs.

When we were in this crevice a pigeon made a
loud flapping
noise right behind us but because of
the acoustics in the cracks
it sounded like an
army of pigeons!
I jumped and almost fell out of the rock!

So, maybe even after just this little glimpse you can agree with me - God is huge!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

New Game

There's this funny looking game that I keep seeing people play during the evenings here at MTI. I got so curious that I finally tried it out this past weekend. It's called Settlers of Catan and the best way that I can think of to describe it is a combination of Risk and Monopoly. I'm still learning the ropes, but all in all I really like it. If you're looking for a new board game you should check it out!

I actually won the third time I played, so it's not super-hard to learn. (Jason would like it noted that he traded me the cards so that I could win on that turn and if he hadn't traded me he would've won on his turn - so technically it was a co-win... hehe)

Monday, January 26, 2009

hiking at over 7000 feet

For the past week we've been at MTI (Mission Training International) in Colorado. It's a three week training, so we're just really getting started. So far it's been pretty good. There are 40 different missionaries here from all different missions organizations, so we've had a good time getting to know them and hearing about where they're going and what they want to do there.

Yesterday we and some of our new friends went on a hike up a trail that goes by a few reservoirs in the mountains nearby. We're already at 7225 feet, so hiking up the mountains on the trail was a serious lung workout!!!!!

Since it was snowy and the water was frozen we took some videos to show when we get back to Guinea-Bissau. I think our friends there will get a kick out of them.

I took a few pictures, and I thought you might like to see them.

Yes, you are seeing this picture correctly, Jason is wearing his Chacos on a hike through the snow. He insisted that his toes were not cold, but I was not buying it :-)

At the second reservoir the water was completely frozen so we took a video of Jason jumping on it.

This is our friend Ian standing on some boulders in the middle of the frozen river.

Our classes end at 4 each day so we have some time to get a few things done and hang out in the evenings. We brought the game "Pit" along with us and we had a rousing game on Friday night!

This is right before the market opened!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Big Dog

I never really grew up with any pets, but Jason definitely did! His family had (at one time or another) rabbits, a chinchilla, various birds, a cat, fish, chickens, geese, hamsters, a mouse (that Jason randomly caught and fed until it died... yuck), and lots of Golden Retrievers. Out of all of those pets I think the dogs have the largest place in Jason's heart. He really loves big, playful, friendly dogs. When we were staying at Amanda and Scott's apartment he had a lot of frolic time with their dog, Mocha.

Mocha is super cute. He's mostly chocolate lab and he loves to play (although he is frequently distracted from whatever game you are playing with him). He is also apparently very interested in the world of computers...

You can't fool us Mocha, we see you looking out of the corner of your eye at that magnificent laptop!

Like I said before, I've never had a pet before, so I've never really bonded with an animal. Maybe all of you guys are pet people and you are just shaking your head at my callousness... hehe It's pretty obvious that Jason will always be a big dog lover, so I hope to join you one day :-)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Song of the Year

I know that a lot of people make New Years Resolutions, I don't know a whole lot of people who actually stick to them... hehe Human nature I guess. I used to be a big resolution maker, I really like goals, so it fits. A few years ago I was in a chapel service at Olivet (ok, that was probably my junior year in college so at least five years ago... yikes!) and I heard a song that literally changed my life. I think that most of us have had a moment where a song perfectly captured exactly what how we were feeling at the time, and this one captured how I had been feeling for years. I decided that I would make the song a mission for my life. It's really simple so I put it here for you to read it:

One Pure and Holy Passionby Passion

Give me one pure and holy passion
Give me one magnificent obsession
Give me one glorious ambition for my life
To know and follow hard after you
To know and follow hard after you
To grow as your disciple in the truth
This world is empty, pale, and poor
Compared to knowing you my Lord
Lead me on and I will run after you

I think about that song whenever I'm making a big decision and it just seems to bring the focus that I need. The reason that I bring this up along with New Years Resolutions is that for the past few years I feel like there have been a lot of times where God has given me a song that teaches me something I really need to hear. Sometimes they are for a year and sometimes they are for a particular season. All of the songs really made a huge difference to me and in light of the New Year's season I thought I would share a tiny bit about them and how God used them.

The first time we went to Africa we had been there for a month or so and I was listening to some music that Jason had gotten right before we left. There was one song that I had heard a bunch before but when I heard it surrounded by the particular circumstances that I had the song took on a whole new dimension. It became my motivation to seek God's plan for me everyday in Guinea-Bissau. Sometimes I would really doubt my effectiveness as a missionary, English teacher, etc and this song would really give me reassurance. The whole song is awesome, but here just the first verse:

In the Blink of an Eye by Mercy Me

You put me here for a reason
You have a mission for me
You knew my name and You called it
Long before I learned to breathe

Sometimes I feel disappointed
By the way I spend my time
How can I further Your kingdom
When I'm so wrapped up in mine

If I knew I was going to have a hard day I would put on my MP3 player when I was getting ready and just play that song a few times. I usually ended up singing along at the top of my lungs... The second time we were in Bissau God gave me a song that really helped me focus on His most basic plan for me – that my purpose is to love God and to be loved fully by Him. Here's the chorus:

Made to Loveby TobyMac

I was made to love You
I was made to find You
I was made just for You
Made to adore You
I was made to love
And be loved by You
You were here before me
You were waiting on me
And You said You'd keep me
Never would You leave me
I was made to love and be loved by You

I say all of this to say that right around January first I was listening to the radio and a song just touched a major nerve in my heart. The guy singing is just asking God to pull him out of his self-centered way of seeing the world and to open His eyes to really see people the way that God does. Sometimes in Guinea-Bissau it's hard to see people the way that God does. They are so different and sometimes it can be really frustrating struggling to understand the culture and the people. This song reminds me that what I really really need, more than anything else, is to have God's perspective when I see the people around me. So here's the chorus:

Give Me Your Eyesby Brandon Heath

Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken hearted
Ones that are far beyond my reach.
Give me your heart for the ones forgotten
Give me your eyes so I can see

So, that is my song for 2009, or at least this phase of it. When I look ahead to the rest of the year I know that in a lot of ways I've never been more excited or nervous or sure about any other phase of my life. I can't wait to see the changes that God is going to make in the people of Guinea-Bissau!

Happy New Year!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Daddy-Daughter Date

A few times when I was younger my Dad picked me up from school and took me out to lunch. We called it a Daddy-Daughter date. I don't know if any of you ever had this tradition in your family or not (maybe we're just weird... ok not maybe... probably?... No, I think I have to go with definitely... we're definitely a little weird). When Jase and I were in Little Rock after New Years I made my Dad take me out on a lunch date. We went out for Mexican food, which is a shared love of ours and we got to talk for about 2 hours. We had a good time and I felt kinda like a little girl again.

The whole family was in Little Rock for New Years and since our last good family picture was a little while ago we took a new one. Not a bad looking bunch :-)

Back Row: Jordan, Scott, Amanda, Emily, Jason, Rachel

Front Row: Dad, Mom