A New Year
We are so grateful to all of you who have read our blog. Its been viewed over 5 thousand times in 2015. That means you are all on this journey with us. That is such a wonderful blessing. We couldn’t be here without people like you who care about missions enough to invest in us in prayer and giving. So, thank you!
Christmas was a little hard here. We have been told holidays are hard as a missionary, and we see why. Being away from loved ones and all that is familiar is a daily sacrifice we make. When times come and go where we would normally have traditions and memories to make, we feel a little isolated. However, it is not without its rewards. Both seen and unseen. We know God promises us to redeem every moment that we struggle and hurt when we put our Hope in Him. So, we made some new traditions this holiday, and spent our first Christmas Day at home. We had not done that ever in our 10 years of marriage.
We started our celebrations early in the week by having a lunch with the other Millers, Rick and Paula and their daughters Grace and Faith. We took communion with one another and talked a bit about hopes and dreams for the ministry. We are so thankful to have friends who feel like family to do life with. Its such a gift from God that they have gone before us to do all the work they have, and have allowed us to come along side them to partner in what God is using them for. This month they will have bible stories being told on the radio in a couple different languages people here speak. This is a huge way to reach masses of people as radios are constantly playing- silence is a rare thing in this country we have found. It is loud all day and most of the night. The radio stories will allow people to hear about Jesus for the first time in some cases. There will also be a weekly call in time for people to ask questions about the things they have heard. This has been a dream and labor of love for Rick and we are so thrilled to see how God has moved in this. Some other big plans for Lifegate include work on the church and orphanage- in ways of plumbing and structure. Ty has been so excited about working on a few of these projects.
Another exciting thing recently accomplished was our getting approved for our business visas that allow us to live in Sierra Leone and work for Lifegate. We went and got photos taken at a shop outside Waterloo. We were so excited that while we waited they had cold Cokes and Sprites in a cooler! This is a rare find and a special treat. The owner also painted a mickey mouse on the sign out front which is funny because most people don’t know who Mickey is. Sullivan was elated to see this though!
To celebrate Christmas with the kids at the Lifegate Childrens Home, The Millers and us had a party with the kids. Paula made cakes and we sang happy birthday to Jesus. We brought a cotton candy machine that was donated to us a couple years back and that is a gift that keeps giving. Those kids (and the adults who work in the children home) all went crazy for the cotton candy. Effie (Fatmata is her given name but her nickname is pronounced Eff-ay) was given the first treat being the youngest girl. She was so scared of it! We couldn’t get her to try it but with a few minutes of watching everyone try and love theirs, and some help from Grace, she came around. And Smiled from ear to ear about the cotton candy. I made the kids some decorated sugar cookies as a treat, too. They had so much sugar they were buzzing around like crazy! We felt like grandparents giving our kids all this sugar and then leaving later, haha. We also went to the church to rehearse the Christmas program the Miller girls had helped them practice. They did a fantastic job and it was too precious for words. As always, we had the best time playing with the kids, and leaving at the end was rough. The kids are our family and we love them so much. Thank you for helping us be here to be in their lives. Its such a blessing to us.
On Christmas Eve we went to Tokeh beach. Its about an hour drive to this particular beach but its the nicest, cleanest beach in our opinion. Its a slice of paradise. There’s a restaurant there so we can eat a meal I don’t have to cook-which is a huge luxury. There aren’t drive thrus here. You eat at home or grab a chicken foot from a vendor off the street, which could make us very sick from the way its prepared. In Freetown there are a few restaurants where you can eat a meal thats safe, but its a 2.5 hour drive and something you don’t do often. We met the Millers at the beach and played in the water and searched for sea shells all day. It was a wonderfully relaxing day.
Christmas Day we stayed home and watched movies and opened gifts we brought over in November. Our parents made sure they sent us with Christmas gifts for the boys, knowing a barrel would take at least 2 months before arriving to us. I made cinnamon rolls for breakfast and we watched Home Alone. The boys played with their new toys and we talked to our family through Facebook video calling. I am so thankful for technology that allows us to stay in touch with our family and friends.
Lately, Ty has been working on metal signs for the Lifegate Childrens Home and the Lifegate Church. Ill post pictures of the finished products as soon as they are complete! He’s also going to start tiling the front of the church in the next week or so. We are praying specifically for the church to grow in size in 2016. We know God has big plans for this church and the community it serves.
We have also had some pest control issues. Its not unusual for us to see a lizard but we find them in our house at least three times a week. We also had a snake in the pantry/laundry room a while back. I ran out screaming. The newest pests have been rats. Giant rats! Several mice have also come in. Ty has been on a hunt trying to rid our house of these. Sticky traps, poison, and so forth ( if you are concerned about the humanity of the rats, I assure you they have caused terror in our house and this is for the best. If you are still sad then come trap them, by all means :)) After many days and sleepless nights we finally have caught 8 mice and 3 rats. I am serious, please pray over our house. I don’t handle critters well and this country has a lot of them. On the plus, at least the mice outnumber the snakes inside. I can’t do snakes.
(in this picture Ty is waiting to smash the rat with a board. Huzzah, Africa)
We have been blessed with a great day guard. His name is Foday Conteh. He has really bonded with us all, but he loves when Ty is working on projects in the yard so that he can help and learn. He’s 27 and studying to be an accountant. He has recently told us he is Muslim. He is the kindest guy, and we love having him. We are always taking advantage of opportunities to minister to him and we pray that he will be a lifelong friend.
Our night guards have been less than great, as we often find them asleep and it has been a bit of a headache. We have had to replace one already and we hope that we find a good fit for us soon. This is just one of the tough parts of the reality of living here though. You need guards as robberies are a concern at times. However, we know we have a big God protecting us all. One day in particular we were having some concerns. Our night guards had been found asleep and we had heard a few stories of bad things happening to missionaries. Discouragement is a tool satan uses often and this day was one where things just felt heavy. Ty and I decided to do a devotional this morning to help us get the yucky stuff out and it was about a missionary in Africa who had to travel along a dangerous road for supplies. He found a man who had gotten hurt and helped him by treating his wounds and getting him medicine. He left him in a large city and then returned to his village. The next week he returned and the man he helped came to him crying. He admitted he and some friends were going to ambush him to rob him and take his money and supplies but they saw that he had 27 armed guards surrounding him. The missionary insisted he was alone but the man he helped argued otherwise. Months later the missionary traveled home and shared the occurrence with the wounded man at his church. One of the attendees of the church asked about the day he spoke of and was in total shock when he heard the date. The congregation member shared that on that same day, he woke up early and felt overwhelmed that he needed to pray for the missionary. He felt so strongly that he asked more men to come pray with him. After asking those men to stand, it was discovered that 27 men had gathered to pray that day. GO GOD!! This story spoke directly to Ty and I. We share it with you all to encourage you to always pray for us please. Your prayers are heard and they matter so much! They are what encourages us on the hard days and helps keep us safe.
On that note, I want to thank you for your prayers and support. We ask that you pray for us to do what God wills and keep our focus on Him constantly. Please pray for the ministry to reach many people. Please pray for our continued safety and health. Please pray for God to send the donors we are currently lacking so we can have our monthly needs met. We are about $300 short at this time. Which is small in Gods kingdom! Also please pray for God to reveal His plans for us here in Sierra Leone for this new year. We look forward to this new year with excitement and hope to be useful tools for God’s plans.We love you all. May God bless you in this new year with His goodness.