Sunday, November 29, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!-- and sorry the post is a few days late!
We wanted to share about some of the things that we are thankful for:

- first and foremost, our Savior and God's Son, Jesus Christ, coming to the earth to die on the cross for our sins, resurrecting to life, and giving us the hope of eternal life through belief in Him
- the privilege, through faith in Jesus, to come blameless in prayer before a holy God because of what Jesus did on the cross (2 Corinthians 5: "God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.")
- Squanto (the Indian that helped the pilgrims- amazing background story of Squanto:
- our family and friends back home that love, support, and pray for us
- our friends here in Ghana
- our girls (just celebrated Abigail's 2nd birthday and about to celebrate Rebekah's 4th) growing well
- our health
- electricity and running water (both of which were out for a period of hours on the day before Thanksgiving :)
- ceiling fans that help it not feel quite so hot
- the opportunity to serve the people of northern Ghana at Baptist Medical Centre for the past 1.5 years
- the extra doctors that we have now at BMC (3 long-term Ghanaian medical officers, a Belgian general practitioner, an American general surgeon, as well as US volunteers that sacrifice time with family over the holidays to be here to help us out at the hospital)
- Samaritan's Purse and World Medical Mission for supporting us and making it possible for us to serve at BMC
- turkeys, cornbread dressing, sweet potato pie, etc.
- and many more!


                                                         Thanksgiving night at BMC          
        Countries represented in this photo: Belgium/Burkina Faso, Ghana, Germany, and the US

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Wilderness

   I will start off by saying that we serve a good God who loves us dearly. I have known for many years that God wanted me to serve Him on the mission field. That did not change when I entered medical school, got married, or had children. I still knew that was what God had for me and my family. It has been exciting to watch how God has brought our family here to Nalerigu to serve Him. I have to admit that I did have an image in my mind of what things would be like for us here. Tim and I had been here once before for a month, so I had seen the town and ‘knew what to expect’. We were so excited when we arrived. It was almost like having a baby, waiting and anticipating what is to come and being overjoyed when it arrives. Then the reality sets in. You have to get up all hours of the night to feed and change the baby. You need to make dinner, but she keeps crying every time you put her down. You just changed your clothes and fixed your hair to go somewhere, and he spits up all over you. Well, that is a little bit like how things have been for me here. I know that God has brought us here and I know that it is a blessing to be here, but sometimes I have to ask why. Why did you bring us here to this wilderness?
   A large part of our first year has been filled with ups and downs and frustrations to the point of complete exhaustion. I have often felt like I was in a physical as well as spiritual wilderness. At times, it felt like God brought us here and just dropped us off. I would look for God and couldn’t seem to find Him. Things just seemed to sink more into a valley of wilderness. We don’t know the language; we don’t have many friends; we don’t understand the culture; we can’t find a church to be a part of; Tim seems to be working all the time; the girls have a talent for finding new ways to frustrate me…. Finally, I see it through all the distractions… what God was doing. He is bringing me into the wilderness for me to learn more about Him. He has brought out ugly character flaws to purify them. He has shown me His faithfulness in walking with me and giving me strength through this time. He loves me as I am, despite all this ugliness, because of Jesus. It is similar to the Israelites going through the wilderness on their way to the promised land.

   These times of wilderness can be seen as unpleasant when we focus on our pain or losses. Or we can choose to focus on the fact that we will know and trust Him more at the end and find great joy in spite of our circumstances. I will not say that I have weathered this wilderness well or that I am completely out of this time of learning, but I can say that I am grateful that He has brought me here. We serve a good God who loves us more than we can understand.

Visit to Paga's Chief Crocodile Pond. You may be able to tell that Rebekah and I are pretty unsure of all of this.
 And yes, the crocodile is alive and awake and others are directly behind us in the water pacing back and forth as they eye their next lunch.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Quick Recap of First 6 months of 2015

So we are having to apologize again for not posting on our blog for awhile. It has been very busy and we often don't have good enough internet to post anything. We have written a couple posts over the past few months but have been unable to post them, so this post will include a couple of them plus additional items and updates. Unfortunately, due to internet issues, we are going to have to post just words without pictures at this time.

January Birthdays

Happy birthday Rebekah and Lori (well, a little bit late--actually, really late now)! We remember celebrating Lori's birthday when she was pregnant with Rebekah. The next night we went to the hospital with Lori in labor. On the morning of January 10th, we were holding our new baby girl. That was almost 3.5 years ago now! Time sure does go by quickly!

For Rebekah's birthday, Lori planned a fun day of games with the missionary families at BMC and one from Kumasi, as well as a few other people from Nalerigu. The theme for the day was apples. The games included bobbing for apple slices in a bowl of chocolate pudding and balancing apples on the head while walking, among other things. Lori also prepared a delicious cake for the celebration.

Every time that Lori has a birthday, Rebekah's comes so quickly after. It is hard to celebrate two separate ones so close together, so we settle on either doing it together or at least only one cake being made. Lori has traditionally had a strawberry cake for her birthday, but strawberries are a little difficult to find in Ghana. However, she was able to get a hold of some, so we made her a cake and celebrated her birthday a little while after her actual birthday.

Our First Nalerigu Wedding

   On Saturday February 7th, we attended our first Nalerigu wedding. There was a nurse at the hospital who was getting married and asked Tim to come. We tried to prepare ahead of time, not knowing what to expect. We had wanted to have some Ghanaian outfits made, and this was our perfect opportunity to wear some. We all picked out some fabric and a design to have made.  Unfortunately, the girls dresses were not completed until after the wedding, but Tim and I were able to try our new outfits. We also began asking about what would be happening at the wedding and what Mampruli phrases we should try to say.
   Although Tim was on call for the hospital, Dr. Coppola graciously covered for the couple of hours that we were gone. We chose to walk to the wedding, which took more time than we anticipated. It was fun as we saw people's reactions to us wearing native clothing. Several people also were stopping us along the way in order to speak to us and to try to teach us more Mampruli. As we were nearing the area where the groom's house was, we saw a group of mostly young men proceeding away from the groom's house. We found out they were part of the wedding, and they had us follow them to the bride's house.
     When we approached the bride's house, most of the group stayed outside the compound, but a few went in to let the bride's family know that they had come for the bride. After standing outside the house for a little while, we were then escorted to the groom's house. There we were ushered into the house where the groom was sitting surrounded by some of his friends. He quickly came to greet us and found a place for us to sit. He then gave us bags with take away lunches. Various friends and relatives of the groom came and went while we were there. It was interesting to meet and speak with so many new people. The most interesting was a group of sisters. Rebekah enjoyed playing with one of the ladies' 3 month old daughters, while we were able to focus on conversations. Tim and I both laughed at their expressions as Tim explained to them that he will only marry one woman with whom he will not abuse or cheat (to which I am very thankful). They proceeded to ask about if Tim would find another wife if I were sick or if I died. They went on to explain their family situation, same father with different mothers. Their father had 5 wives, but has divorced 2 of them. They spoke of how there was always fighting amongst the wives. We were not able to share the gospel with them in words, but they seemed open to conversations in the future.
   After sitting for about an hour, we had to begin our return trip home. We gave the groom our wedding gift and thanked him for the invitation. As we began our walk back, we came across the group of young men that we had met at the beginning. They announced to us that the bride would be coming soon. I wanted to see the bride, so we waited for a few minutes near her house. When she did not come quickly, we had to return to the hospital. Tim had to return to work. We were sad that we could not be more of a part of the experience of a northern Ghanaian Muslim wedding, but we were glad to better understand the culture here. We were told that the bride would eventually come and there would be celebration and dancing until daybreak the next morning.

The Escarpment

   In Northern Ghana, about an hour drive away from the hospital is a beautiful lookout towards the north, called the escarpment. We had been to visit this place once before when Lori and I were here in 2010. At that time, it was the rainy season, and all of the grass on the path from the car up to the top of the hill was about shoulder level or higher. This time, in February, it was the middle of dry season, so all of the grass had either died or was burned, so it was much easier to see where we were going. We went with the Hauns, the long-term IMB missionaries at BMC right now, as well as several of the volunteers that were here that month. Rebekah enjoyed running around and laying on the rocks that were at the top of the lookout. Abigail had actually taken her first steps the day before we went to the escarpment (and two days before her 15 month birthday), but she stayed mostly in the carrying pack since the terrain was a bit rough. Since February, we have been to the escarpment another two times with different volunteers, and Abigail has enjoyed getting to climb around some more.

Mole Park and goodbye to the Coppolas

   There is a game park in the Northern Region of Ghana, about a 6 hour drive away from the hospital, called Mole Park, and it is well known for watching elephants, especially in the dry season. There were some extra volunteers at the hospital in March, so we took a week's vacation and visited the park. We stopped in Tamale, about a 3 hour drive away, on the way to and from the park, and this allowed us to get some car problems fixed (new battery and two new tires), do our bulk grocery shopping, as well as visit some of the places that we never get a chance to on our usual whirlwind one-day grocery shopping Tamale trips. It was a much more relaxing time doing it this way.
   At Mole Park, we were able to finally eat many of the Ghanaian dishes that we had heard about but not had a chance to try yet, including TZ (tuo zaafi), rice balls, and okra stew. They were all very delicious. We ate at the park's restaurant, and we had visitors (monkeys, baboons, and warthogs) for breakfast and lunch. One of the monkeys even jumped onto our table and took our bowl of jelly one morning, and then he proceeded to sit next to the pool and lick the bowl clean. One morning, we took a walking tour down to the watering hole to see some elephants. It was fun to watch them interact and play with each other, and we were able to get some good, relatively close up (~50 yards away) pictures of them.
   We arrived back at the hospital the day before the Coppolas left, so we were able to say goodbye to them. Thank you Mark and Lynn for your service here in Nalerigu! Rebekah still sometimes refers to their house as the Coppola's house, even though it has now been a few months since their departure.

April, May, and June

   We had our first resident from JPS, Mariah, come and do a rotation at BMC in April. It was nice to have a familiar face from back home for a little while. She was a big help at the hospital, and we hope that she learned a lot while she was here. The hospital also hired a new Ghanaian doctor, Dr. Emmanuel, during April, and it looks like he will likely be staying here for long-term.
   In May, we had two other JPS residents come for a rotation, Chris and Allison. Chris came with his wife and two kids who were close to the same ages as Rebekah and Abigail, and our girls enjoyed their visit a lot. 
   Both April and May were very busy at the hospital. I tried my best to pass on to the residents what I had learned over the past year working at a mission hospital. I did a handful of surgeries for ectopic pregnancies, several C-sections (for placenta previa, uterine rupture, twins, and others), and Mariah and I tried out a make-shift bubble CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure- used to help keep the airway open on babies with certain lung problems). Unfortunately, the bubble CPAP did not work very well for the first baby, but I have used it a few other times since then with success.
   In June, there were some veteran volunteers that came, Dr. Faile and Dr. Shumpert, so we took a vacation and got to see our parents for a little while (and more importantly, they got to see their grandchildren). 
   The day after we got back from our vacation, the Hauns had their baby-naming ceremony (a common tradition in the region) at their house on the compound. Heidi had delivered a beautiful baby girl at the hospital a week or two previously. There were lots of people from town and the hospital that came to support them and pray for the new baby.

So that is the quick recap of January to June 2015. We hope to post future blogs a little more regularly, as well as some pictures, if our internet allows :) 


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Damba festival

The NaaYiri's drums
   In the first few days of January, we were invited to attend another Mamprusi festival, called the Damba festival. This is a festival that celebrates the Mamprusi people (and any people groups that derived from them), the NaaYiri (the paramount chief), and his chiefs, and it is the largest celebration in Nalerigu. They celebrate for about a week  based on the lunar calendar. We could hear drums and music each day from our house, as they were preparing for the final day of celebration. Different people from different people groups would come out in the afternoon to perform their different traditional dances. The girls and I went with our friend Abena to part of the festival on the last full day (unfortunately Tim had to work).
The MC
The NaaYiri's horse
The senior drummer
a man who danced
   When we arrived, there was already a large crowd of hundreds of people in the center of town. There were bus loads more continuing to come. With Abena's help, we were able to move to the front in order to see what was happening. As we moved to the front, we saw a clearing of the people from the NaaYiri's palace over to a portico area several yards away. Several of the chiefs were already under the portico, awaiting the arrival of the NaaYiri. In the clearing there was a man who was the master of ceremonies of the event and a finely dressed horse being walked around. I later found out that this horse was the NaaYiri's horse that, when he was younger, he would ride into the ceremony. Just underneath the portico there were a couple of men sitting behind a set of large special drums, the NaaYiri's drums, which are only used on special occasions. The men began playing the drums to announce the entrance of the NaaYiri. The NaaYiri proceeded out of his palace under the shadows of a large umbrella dressed in finery and surrounded by his closest chiefs. He walked over to the portico and sat down on his mountain of pillows. Next to the palace there was a line of several Djembe drummers who began playing. At the front of this line was a very old man who sat on the ground playing his Djembe drum, who was the NaaYiri's senior drummer. As he played, he would recite the history of the Mamprusi people going through each of the paramount chiefs and their accomplishments. As he was speaking he would slowly scoot forward, so as to finish his recitation as he approached the portico. When he completed his recitation, there were three men who came out from the portico and began dancing. One was a  chief warrior and the others were priest chiefs who performed a choreographed representation of something from their early history. After this display, there were a few other men who came out and danced as well. After a certain period of dancing, the NaaYiri went back into his palace for some rest. After he was in his palace, several men began shooting their guns. This frightened the girls, so we quickly left.
another man who danced
man preparing to shoot gun
   I am told that late that evening, many of the people congregated again outside the palace for more dancing. They danced and continued to celebrate throughout the night until just after daybreak. The NaaYiri comes out with his chiefs again at dawn, and many of the chiefs come out and dance. After a couple of hours, the NaaYiri returns to the palace and the festival ends. There are apparently a few other rituals associated with the end of the festival, including sacrificing a cow.

Little boys with their Djembe drums

crowds standing trying to see
crowds sitting and watching

the Naayiri (pic from another missionary)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Merry Christmas Nalerigu

Rebekah making ornaments
    We have now experienced our first Christmas in Nalerigu. It was an unusual Christmas for us, since we actually celebrated over several days, but we had some traditions that we tried to keep. Previous missionaries left an artificial tree for us, as well as a few ornaments. After putting up the tree, we had an ornament making day. We cut out some angels and Rebekah colored them. We cut out some circles, decorated them, and glued them together to make ball ornaments. We also made stars of various colors. I've never had a tree almost entirely decorated with paper, but it was a colorful, beautiful sight to see.
Rebekah eating a decorated cookie

   A few days later, several homeschooling, expat missionaries who live in northern Ghana came to Nalerigu. One of our neighbors is part of the homeschooling group for northern Ghana, and they offered their house for the monthly activity. They celebrated Christmas during the December monthly activity by making toilet paper tube Christmas carolers and decorating cookies. All the children had so much fun with each other. It was also such a blessing to make new friends by meeting many other missionary families who live in northern Ghana.
our 'Christmas day'

   Tim was given 3 days off at the beginning of Christmas week. We enjoyed Sunday, relaxing with the family and preparing for Monday. On Monday, we had our first Christmas celebration. We started off the morning by eating a big breakfast together, followed by reading the Christmas story and discussing with Rebekah why it was so important. Next, we each opened a gift that we had been given. Several of you were so gracious to send us things to enjoy for Christmas. As expected, Abigail enjoyed the wrapping paper the most, and Rebekah just wanted to open everyone's gifts in order to call them hers. It is so fun as a parent to watch your little ones' eyes light up with excitement. Tim then went over to our neighbor's house to see if they could figure out why we didn't have internet, while we girls straightened up from breakfast and opening presents.

Tim and Rebekah giving oil and rice
    When Tim returned (without discovering our internet problem), we prepared to go to town. This Christmas we wanted to make a point of sharing with others as a family. One of the ways we decided to do so was by giving food to those in need. There is a small fund set up by previous missionaries called the Naomi fund, which was set up to help provide food for some of the beggars in town, and we are currently in charge of the fund. Every other Thursday, when our schedule allows, we go to First Baptist Church of Nalerigu and help hand out corn to the people who come. Rebekah enjoys
helping put the corn into the bowl. We decided to give a little something extra to the families in order to help them celebrate Christmas. Many Ghanaians enjoy having Jollif rice when they are celebrating, so we gave each family a bowl of rice and some oil. All the families gathered together as we shared the story of Christmas along with a short gospel presentation. We used a friend to help translate for us. After Tim and the pastor of First Baptist prayed for everyone, we began giving out the food. The people were so thankful to have something for Christmas, and we were thankful to be able to share Christ and to have our young children begin to see that Christmas isn't all about receiving gifts.
some of the women who came to get food
   After we came home, we had our more traditional Christmas dinner. We had canned ham (that someone sent us), sweet potato casserole with pecans (another gift we received), green bean casserole, and fresh pineapple. What a treat! We talked with Rebekah again about why we celebrate Christmas and sang a few carols per Rebekah's request.
   The next morning, we headed to Tamale (the 'big city' in northern Ghana). We had a pleasant three hour trip. We ran our errands and did our grocery shopping, and on our way out of town, we stopped by to greet some missionaries that we had recently met, the Federwitz's. They are a lovely couple with 4 children. The youngest was a little girl who loved playing with Rebekah and who Rebekah adored. We were leaving Tamale late, but they were so kind to offer us dinner. We were not able to stay too long, but this last stop made our trip to Tamale enjoyable for all. We ate a wonderful meal, had encouraging conversation, and the girls were able to get out of their seats and play. To top it all off, they sent us home with a plate of homemade Christmas cookies that we enjoyed on the ride home.
caroling at the surgical theatre
Caroling on the wards
    Even though we arrived home late, Tim had to return to work the next morning. We girls were sad not to have him home, but we enjoyed the time we did have with him. After dinner on Christmas Eve, we met up with the other missionaries at the hospital to sing Christmas carols to the patients and to hand out oranges to them. One of our fellow missionaries worked on an introduction in Mampruli to explain what we were doing and why we celebrate Christmas. It was a wonderful experience for us all and brought some joy for many sick patients. Rebekah still occasionally walks around the house singing, "Go tell it on the mountain...".
Giving oranges in the pediatric ward

making cookies
Tim playing drum
   On Christmas day, we all woke up early so that we could have breakfast together. Over breakfast, we kept asking Rebekah questions to see if she remembered what the day was and to find out what she could remember of the Christmas story. The girls opened another gift (we wrapped almost everything, from the dolls that they received down to each shirt or pair of pants). Tim headed off to work, while we girls got to listen to Christmas music and watch a movie about the Christmas story called "The Promise". Tim was able to come home a little early from work. While he was home, a man and his niece came to our front door and were serenading us with djembe drums, and the man even allowed Tim to play the drum a little. We also made cookies that day so that Tim could take them to the nurses the next day (for Boxing day- a British holiday that the Ghanaians have continued to celebrate after independence from Britain). Boxing day, from what we understand, is like an employee appreciation day where you give your employees gifts. Here in Nalerigu, it is another reason to ask everyone for gifts. We only had a few people stop by asking for their box, so we had plenty to give to those who we actually knew. That afternoon, Joanna, a teenage girl that we have begun a friendship with due to her selling us vegetables at our door, stopped by with her siblings to wish us Merry Christmas and ask for a Christmas box. We gave her a loaf of banana bread and they gave each of our girls a small gift. We had so much fun with them as we asked them about how they celebrated Christmas and why they celebrate Christmas. They told us about the black powder that they use to stain their soles and palms black and the glitter they use to look beautiful for Christmas. They showed us their nice outfits and some games that they enjoy playing. We had so much fun that we lost track of time, which made us late for our dinner plans that night. That night, all of the missionaries on campus and some other expats gathered together for Christmas dinner. It wasn't our traditional American meal, but instead we had a wonderful Ghanaian meal of ground nut soup. We enjoyed singing more Christmas carols together and reading the Christmas story again. Over the next several days, we finished opening our gifts and stockings, Christmas cards, and lost mail packages that we had to hunt down.
Joanna and siblings on Christmas day
Cahills opening stockings

 We also had another unique opportunity- we were able to see Samaritan's Purse shoeboxes being handed out on the day after Christmas. Our neighbor mentioned to us the week before that there would be shoeboxes given out at the TB village. He thought that we would be interested, since we are here through  Samaritan's Purse. What he didn't know was that we have actually packed shoeboxes for several years. We were excited to have the opportunity to see these boxes given out, especially in the area where we are serving. Our neighbor also showed the Jesus film in Mampruli that night. We only were able to see the first scene, as Tim was called into the hospital.

Shoeboxes in the TB village
Fire behind our house

   The next evening, we had a huge surprise. We were sitting down to eat dinner and we looked out our back door to see a large fire sweeping across the dry grass in the fields behind our house. We watched as it grew closer and the sky grew darker. I was very frightened, especially when Tim was called into the hospital leaving me with the girls. He was kind enough to place a few calls, which brought the man in charge of maintenance over to our house to take a look. He reassured us that they had burned several feet of grass along our fence, which should keep the fire out of our yard.  As the fire spread to within a few feet of our fence and a few feet tall, I was quite concerned. Then the fire just quickly petered out. The fields that had been so brightly ablaze, almost instantly became as black as the dark night sky above it. As I sat pondering the situation, I thought about how this could be a picture of one's life. If you try to live life striving and working hard on your own, you may burn brightly for a while but you too will peter out. The constant hard work trying to achieve your goals will be like the bright fire that was burning, but it will end and fall short when you are burnt out and have nothing left to give. You may be giving light and doing good things, but if it's not with God's strength, you will burn out. However, if you are looking to God and relying on Him, the fire will continue to burn like the bush in Exodus. The Holy Spirit's fire will burn in you, but it will not turn dark, having left you consumed. You will have plenty of light to share with others without growing dim. So then I have to reflect on my own life. Am I trying to work for God on my own strength? Am I burning on my own and eventually will be burnt out? It sounds so easy to rely on God, but it isn't for me. It is a daily struggle for me, as I want to have control and say, "no worries, I've got this one God." Even the easiest of tasks becomes a struggle as I try to do it on my own. What about you with the work you are doing each day? Are you struggling through it, coming closer to burning out each day, or are you living your life with the Holy Spirit's fire within you?

Caroling on the pedi ward

Monday, February 9, 2015

Thanksgiving (from back in November)

  Thanksgiving is always a wonderful family time when we are in the U.S. As it approached, we were very aware that our families were so far away and that we would have to learn new traditions for our special holidays. The wonderful part was that we had a new missionary family right here with us. We had no need to figure out what days we would spend with each part of the family and no traveling for hours in the car with two fussy little girls, because we were all right here. That part was relaxing. We did still cook more food than should be consumed in one day and ate plenty of it. All the families on the compound, American and Ghanaian, and some other expats and friends in the area gathered together for a potluck dinner. With all the typical Thanksgiving foods (turkey, cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, salad, fruit, deserts...), it almost felt like we were celebrating in the US. We ate until we were content (or maybe a little stuffed), had a quick pop quiz on Thanksgiving trivia, and had our group devotional time. We were very thankful to have this extended family to celebrate with this year. We are also thankful for so many other things, such as God , our families, our friends. God has blessed our little family, and we look with anticipation on what He will do.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Happy 1st Birthday Abigail!

   In November, we celebrated Abigail's first year of life. It is hard to believe that more than a year has passed since we brought her home from the hospital. We are so grateful that God added her to our little family. She has brought such joy and laughter into our lives. This beautiful little girl who loves to make people laugh (by doing funny things or by tickling your belly), who likes to dance, who loves her family (especially her big sister), and who can quickly scoot across the floor to find some sort of mischief. We look forward to watching her grow up and being a part of her learning about our Savior. We pray for her daily, not only for her protection but also for God to use her so others can know Him.
   We had a small party on her birthday and invited the other missionaries, volunteers, and a few Ghanaian friends. We had a time of fellowship, eating, and opening gifts. Abigail discovered on her birthday that she likes cake and ice cream and playing with tissue paper (from gift bags).  She enjoyed all her gifts. Thank you to those here and from the US who remembered Abigail on her birthday. Happy belated first birthday Abigail!

Monday, February 2, 2015

festival and surprises

fire festival
    Back at the end of October or possibly very beginning of November, we were able to experience our first cultural event with the Mamprusi people. We made it back to Nalerigu from Tim's test in Accra just in time for our first festival here. The festival is called the fire festival and it is only celebrated in Northern Ghana. The stories behind the festival depends with whom you talk. Some say that there was a Nyiiri (Paramount Chief) a long time ago who lost his son. He sent all of the men, with torches, out to find his son and they succeeded. This festival commemorates the occasion for the traditional religion. The other story says that Noah lost a son after coming off the ark. He then lit torches and went looking for his son. The festival commemorates this occasion for Muslims in the area. The festival begins with the elders going to summon the Nyiiri. The Nyiiri then enters preceded by the playing of instruments and dancing reserved for this specific festival. The elders surround the Nyiiri and walk with him out into the town. Once he has walked far enough, he lights a torch and then throws it on the ground. People rush toward the torch to light their torches. Everyone then takes their torches, swings them around their head three times (for prosperity in the coming year), and passes it to the next person to do the same. The Nyiiri goes and sits outside his palace for a little while, as men load their guns with gun power and shoot them into the air. They also bring out a bucket of some sort of liquid that people rushed to drink and rub on their arms. I read that this is supposed to be a gift from the Nyiiri to his people, giving them magical powers. The Nyiiri then went inside and we left. We are told that some mayhem starts after that: throwing flour at people, people randomly shooting off guns, and further celebration (confirmed by Tim seeing multiple patients that night in the hospital with gunshot wounds and burns). We enjoyed being able to see more of the culture here, but the girls and I are not fond of all the loud gun shots.

video of fire festival
   Also, right after returning home from Accra, we began receiving packages and mail from friends and family. We love keeping in touch with all of you from home! It is extra special to have you shower us with your letters and gifts. Rebekah seems to think it is her birthday or Christmas all the time and loves opening all "her presents" (any card or package we get). We appreciate all that y'all have graciously given to us, and we pray that God will bless you many times over. 

Tim opens a package from a friend

girls making fish faces

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Sorry and Thank you

   I want to start with another apology about not posting. We have had more complications with our internet and computer, and then some things at home preventing me from posting. There have been many times that I have wanted to post something, but I was not able to do so. I hope that things will be more regular now, but I will make no promises. I am not in control of the internet or electricity here, so I can only write when God allows for it.
   Most of what I have to write is just to catch everyone up on what we have been doing. I will likely have forgotten many of the details of events, but I should have some pictures (maybe even videos, if my internet allows). There will likely not be any life lessons on the next few post, unless God impresses something specific on our hearts. This is mostly for seeing a bit of the culture and seeing how we are enjoying celebrations of life. I will try to put out several new posts over the next few days.
   I also want to say a thank you for those that have been praying for us. Recently, we have known God to be working in our lives. We have felt many of your prayers. Please know that God is hearing your prayers for us, and that we are very grateful! Knowing that the body of Christ is interceding for us is encouraging, and seeing God work answering these prayers reminds us how much He loves us. Again, thank you!