Saturday, December 13, 2008

November 2008

It seems like so much has been happening, and life has become more full, charged, and filled up than before—yes, I know where the time is going.  Every Saturday in October was someone’s birthday, so I had the blessing of doing school all week and waking up on Saturday to make birthday cake and plan a party.  On top of that, Dan got a new computer, and I am always the last to learn how to use these new-fangled devices—tools, as most of you would call them.

We did vote and know that some Americans are in turmoil over the results.  Last Thursday, right after the election results came out, we heard a great and timely message on Daniel 1:1-2.  Messages do not come out in letters as you hear them, but the main points were: 1. God is the Lord of Consequences. Judah and Jehoiakim were reaping the judgment they had sown. (Habbakuk and Jeremiah had been warned and begged to repent.) We WILL always reap what we sow, and there will be consequence—good or bad for our actions. 2. God is the Lord of Current Events. It was God who delivered the Israelites into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar. Christians should be the most calm, confident people because we know that God is in control—all the time. 3. God is the Lord of the Details. In verse two, the Bible records how Nebuchadnezzar took the vessels from the temple of the Lord with him to Babylon, and later on we learn how that played out. God is in control of even the little details of our lives, and they matter to Him (our tone of voice, what we do daily, etc.).

We are studying the book of Daniel; it is so rich! I am teaching that on Wednesday night to the kids, and last week two young teenage boys got saved. It is great when you see a change come over them. A while back, one of the more rough boys got saved, and it was super to watch the Holy Spirit change him. We are always reminded that some plant, some water, but it is God Who gives the increase. The Holy Spirit must do the work in their hearts that only He can do. We must remain faithful, give out the Word, and leave the Holy Spirit to do His work.

We told you that Rebecca died. We have now heard that once someone is having ascites (fluid dumping into the abdominal cavity), it is too late for anything—especially if you live in Africa. But, out of all that, her brothers-in-law have been faithfully coming to church, and one of them has gotten saved and is attending Bible school. In fact, it was his son who got saved last Wednesday. The rest of the family is coming and hearing the Word. This entire group comes from an area where Dan would like to start another church next term. If this group stays faithful and grows, we can start another church with them as the core group. This is our goal.

I have started a ladies’ Bible study on Wednesday afternoons, besides the one that continues every other Sunday after church. Dan has started a men’s Bible study every Sunday evening. We are finally seeing people who are saved, wanting to grow and change to become better wives, mothers, and husbands. Instead of gearing down before we leave for furlough, we are gearing up. We are going through a transition time as Dan prepares Paul to be the future pastor. I am translating the material (not as big a thing as it sounds) and helping prepare a young man to teach. Dan has been doing a great job with Moses, and it is helping him grow as well. Dan is also starting a teacher-training class whenever they can all decide on a time. God does not choose the qualified, He qualifies the chosen. Just be available, faithful, learning, and growing, and God can use you. This is what we are teaching the people.

On the home front, Tabitha is helping out with home schooling. I have a first grader and a second grader each needing one-on-one attention. Today I asked Ruth to teach in my place, and she and Tabitha are handling the schoolroom so I can be at the computer. We do school from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day. The kids from Stephen on up are learning piano, and some are also learning guitar from Seth who now plays way better than I do. Ruth, Hannah, and Seth play for all the services at church. Ruth plays the piano, and Hannah has been playing the guitar along with her. The English church (in a different location) is without leadership, and Seth has been able to do some teaching/preaching out there. In fact, he is the only one available. Dan has given him great sermon notes and that is what he uses. This is great for Seth. Maybe next term he will be ready to lead a group like that. Since he is still in school, he only has time to be there on Sunday and Wednesday to speak and play the guitar. For a church to grow, it takes extra time for counseling, visitation, and lots of prayer.

The dogs are all faring well. Cupcake had puppies; I cut the tails, and they are all fine. We will now be trying to sell them all before we come back to the States. Pets do not fare well when left behind. I just want to sell them all sooner than later to have fewer things to take care of around here. 

Happy Thanksgiving to you all and Merry Christmas!  I know I probably will not write again until January. We have Christmas programs, films, and a church get-together planned. Those are small words for big events and lots of work. Also, between Christmas and the New Year, Tabitha’s sister and two other girls (friends of a girl staying with Becky and Andy) are coming for a quick visit. On December 26 Dan will go to get them in Abidjan, and Andy will take them back in January.


Thanks for all your prayers for spiritual growth. The church is growing spiritually and in numbers, and we are encouraged. Continue to pray for safety in driving and for all the activities to not just be activities, but that God will be glorified and the Holy Spirit will work.

Again, we are thinking and praying for you.

Love in Christ,

Dan and Joan, Ruth Marie, Hannah, Seth, Lydia, Susanna, Isaiah, Stephen, Rebekah, Josiah, Joseph and Esther


Tuesday, September 23, 2008


How to begin? – Rebecca died.  It was a sad ending to us, yet also happy as we believe she was saved and is in heaven with no more suffering, poverty, or pain.  Money was given to help her husband take the children to another town to be with her family and to hopefully go to school.  

            The great news is that the three girls accepted Christ before leaving.  They seemed to understand and the Bible says we must have faith as a child.  Just accept Jesus Christ’s finished work on Calvary and take it for yourself.  

            Please continue to pray for Laurent and the kids.  Her family has offered another wife for him among her sisters.  We will wait and see the outcome of this –if one is saved and ready to take on a family.  

            Right now we have another baby girl staying with us for a week while her mother is at a ladies’ camp.  I am beginning to feel like we are running a foster home.  This is a ministry as well as it lets the mother get some intense teaching on how to be a Titus 2 woman which is what the camp/seminar is about this year.  

            School is in full swing and Tabitha has made it here safely to help me with some of the home schooling.  


Saturday, August 30, 2008

August 29, 2008

  • I have not been on here in ages and so much has been happening. I have been heavily involved with Rebecca’s care and going back and forth to the hospital with food and buying medicines. It would take too long to tell of all the ups and downs with the hospital and what goes on there. The final outcome was that she died at Messer’s house (my sister and brother-in-law). We tried very hard and still do not know what she had. She was treated for most of the possibilities –even TB though there was never a positive skin test. She was so malnourished and even with all that we know “Our days are all numbered.” So, we did our best and leave it with God.
    Meanwhile, the baby boy has been staying with us for these three weeks and the three girls have been with Andy and Becky. Our washing machine just broke two days ago and the diapers are all dirty – I reckon we’ll use hand towels tonight. Dan is in the process of borrowing our brother Sammy’s to help us out till the piece can be brought from America. We have a girl coming out to stay with us for a year and she is coming Sept. 11th.
    I will tell you about one day at the hospital in the midst of the corruption. No one takes care of patients there. The “doctor” (really a nurse) will write a prescription and the patient is to go get it filled at whatever pharmacy he can find it in and then give it to the patient as he sees fit. He can ask the “doctor” and then he has to remember to give it or the patient will not get it.
    Meanwhile when they do labs. or procedures – also up to the family to go get the vials, tubing, cotton, alcohol, or whatever you need; some of them were taking money on the side. We would give the man money to buy food, help buy medicines if we were not around, and they would come and do a procedure and ask for money though that was the part that was their job – like hang the IV, or take out the fluid from the abdomen.
    Well, someone had taken $12.00 for a procedure and I was a bit tired physically and just tired of the whole situation so went and talked to the director. I explained everything and he then went and talked to the head doctor of the medical department. I had been in the room about 10 minutes when he walked in and wanted to know, “Who took this woman’s money?” He got a description of the man who had done the procedure and there on the spot pulled out his own wallet and reimbursed Laurent. I was pleased to say the least. If you know anything about Africa you know that this is almost unheard of.
    In all of this, I had an opportunity to again offer myself to teach a class to the midwives. They are now pursuing that possibility. I sort of did not want to think of that –where will I find that time?—but do think it is important if the opportunity comes my way. The first step will be to show that we are all God’s creation ---establish the importance of life, created by God and a clear gospel witness.
    Rebecca died on Sunday night and the burial was Friday. Dan and Andy preached and clearly gave the gospel. The three little girls accepted Christ with Becky, so that is wonderful. This couple is saved and baptized. The great thought is that Rebecca was living in poverty and pain and truly did die and go to heaven. What a contrast there has been for her.
    Her family has said to bring the children to them. They also said that Rebecca has sisters and he could come and pick another wife. Isn’t that what they did in Bible times? Smile. Maybe this will be a good solution for him. We cautioned him to make sure she is saved and bring her over to visit us.
    We have been going along with school; the kids are great and can do so much on their own. Some sort of headache with chills bug went around – bizarre. Was just like malaria but the kids got better without the treatment; eight of them had it so you can imagine that stress. We are ready to settle down ---is there such a thing? We pray a lot, rely on God and He keeps us sane. Where would we go if not to Him?
    Thanks for all the prayers.

Friday, August 22, 2008

If We Could See Beyond Today...

August 2008
Hello again from Cote d'Ivoire. I know it is easy to forget where people are with email like it is. Thanks for all your prayers for us. It seemed like the last letter was full of hard times and the puppies dying. We are still here battling hard timeswhat a depressing way to start a letter!
First the good news: we are all fine, in great health, and love each other. The chalk art conferences went very well with many saved and has boosted church attendance as well. We praise the Lord for all the decisions that were made. Now we are doing follow up and wanting to see growth. A new family has started comingman and wife and four kids, and we are excited about that.
I was able to get the school project finisheda huge job. I had all 12 grades laid out, trying to figure out who was coming and going out of each grade, what I need for the States next year, what to use this year, and what to leave here. I call that a brain-drain. But it is now all in order and inventoried, so I will easily be able to tell what we need to order in the States. Ruth graduated from high school, and I have yet to put together some pictures and information for her. I want you to know our beautiful daughter.
Dan was able to get the electricity back on. That cost us an extra $1000 that was definitely not budgeted. We are scraping the bottom, tightening the belt, and trusting God to take care of us. We THANK THE LORD for the electricity. Dan is trying to get an elementary school started at the church this year. Pray they can get the paperwork and red tape completed so the school can start up in October. We want to use it as a tool to reach more into the community and the parents and also, of course, help the kids have an education.
A man got saved on visitation last Sunday. It was so great
to go through the whole plan of salvation and make clear to him that you get saved by faith but that it is also a choice, and you must ask God to forgive your sin and save you. Just repent and ask Him for eternal life. He had been in church a long time, knew a lot, had been "serving"
God, but had never asked for salvation. He was mixed up with dreams and other ideas, and it was wonderful to see the light come into his eyes when he clearly understood the Gospel. Leading people to the Lord always makes living in Africa worthwhile. The harvest truly is ripe.
I probably should not be writing this right now, so then don't. It has been a hard summer and is almost over. Right now, the same woman who earlier had the horrendous experience in the hospital is back at the hospital. Her abdomen was completely distended, and they were able to drain out a liter of fluid on four different days. The symptom they are treating is ascites, but they have no clue as to what is causing it. There are so many causes. Here you can not just put someone in the hospital and trust the doctors to do something about it. I have been reading my medical books on all the causes, talking to a stateside doctor to get his opinion and advice, getting the medicines at the pharmacy and bringing them to her, making sure it happens, and bringing them food. I even went and scrubbed the bathroom that stunk so badly you had to hold your breath before you went in. Everything moves so slowly here, and no one works on the weekends or holidays. The patient just needs to be patientsmile and hang on until someone can figure something out. They are not doing all the tests needed and basically treating potential causes. I went from thinking chronic-active hepatitis, to just severe malnutrition, to liver flux, and now we are thinking tuberculosis of the abdomen. Meanwhile, we are buying and giving medicine for all of these; today we bought the treatment for TB, which will continue for six months. The woman is very skinny and could easily have TB. The old name for that was consumption, and that is what it looks like for sure. Pray much for her. She is still in the hospital, and I do not know what more we can give her. There was also an IV of albumin that Andy and Becky were able to have sent up from Abidjanthat was to treat the malnutrition.
Meanwhile, her two-year-old son is staying with us. He looks like the typical cases you see on TV advertising for malnutritionskinny
arms and legs and big belly. I have treated him for worms and am feeding
him well. Tomorrow I will get the TB test done for him. Becky and Andy Messer are helping out a lot with trips to the hospital (a friendly face and some food go a long way), and also are taking care of their three girls. Momma has been helping with the money side of things, and we are all praying. This is a family in crisis for sure.
Another meanwhile: Ruth's beautiful, well-trained, loveable dog, Angel, the white dog in the picture, seemed to have bitten her tongue and it got infectedshe had done this once before. I immediately started an antibiotic, but two days later (yesterday) she died!!! It has been so bad around here. How could a bitten tongue lead to all that? How come it went so fast? Could I have seen it sooner if I was not so distracted with this whole hospital thing? Whatever the case, she died, and we are all so sad and Ruth has been crying a lot.
I am sorry for this depressing letter. Pray much for us. We will be excited to see you in about a YEAR. We are looking forward to Ruth being able to do chalk art for you or at camp or for ladies' meetings. Dan is doing a lot of mentoring with the man we will leave as pastor here. Paul is doing great with his preaching and now lives on the church property. Dan helped him get a house built and electricity hooked up last Monday. Dan just had to run all the wire and the lightsnothing to do with the city this time. When I write that little word "just," it really means about five hours worth of work. Seth was able to help out and also have some on-the-job training.
Seth was able to preach last month, and it went well. We are looking forward to you seeing the kids and them being able to minister in camps, AWANA, or wherever God would use them as we travel. We now feel instead of it being just Dan and me, it is also Ruth, Hannah, Seth, and the others. We love each other and are a team. It is great.
As far as us coming to the States next year, if anyone (probably a church) has a 15-passenger van we could buy, that is what we will need. It worked quite well last time to drive a van and haul a small trailer.
Pray for us. Grow in grace.
Love in Christ,
Dan and Joan God can see. But we can't. And so we cling to Him the more.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

May letter

May 2008

So much has happened this past month and a half that it is hard to know where to begin. We have been keeping you up to date on some of the more in-depth events, so maybe I can keep this short. I feel sometimes like when I go to teach—there is so much to teach that it is hard to focus. The ladies have so much to learn and so far to go, it is hard to know where to begin. I have to remember that growth takes time.

I just thought it was time to start out with a big THANK YOU. Another missionary wrote so well about the rising costs (there have even been demonstrations in Abidjan because of all the rising prices) along with the falling value of the dollar. I wanted to copy what he had written, but I am sure you have already heard it, so I will just say “ditto” and thank you for your faithfulness in praying for us. Thank you for letting God use you and for your interest in us and the ministry here. We greatly appreciate you.

I wrote about a terrible hospital experience with a lady friend of ours––she almost died. If you didn’t hear about that incident, please write and ask. I went and talked to the administration of the hospital with all the points of malpractice and offered to teach a class to the midwives. So far nothing has come of that, but I do plan to go again and see if they are doing anything about the problem. The administration and the doctors are very knowledgeable and professional. It is carrying that information down to the hands-on people that is not being done.

I have not gotten back to the hospital because the very next week our neighbor (46 years old) died of a possible brain aneurysm. She had high blood pressure, got a headache, and was dead within ten minutes. I am so happy I had the opportunity to clearly present the Gospel to her, but still feel that I could have done more. She was very nice and Catholic. We were to be “neighbors for life” she had said. Dan and I were busy going to the “wake.” They set up a big tent in their yard and people came all day until 11 p.m. and just sit there. The difference here than in America: In America, friends bring food and do not stay long; in the Ivory Coast, people come empty handed, stay a LONG time, and expect to be fed. It is a huge strain on a family––worse than a wedding. This goes on for a whole week. Dan and I were able to witness to the uncle who was very interested, asked many questions, and I think will be saved when he’s alone. We also invited the nephew home for lunch, and he DID GET SAVED. I was so excited. We have known him for a while—nice man (24 years old). He also asked many questions, had been reading the Bible that Dan gave him a long time ago, and had already tried Catholicism, the Moslem religion, the Celeste Church of Christ (a group out here), and the Pentecostals. He was saved on a Tuesday and came to church with us on Wednesday!

This brings us to the next bit of news. The electric cable going to the church was stolen again, so we are without electricity. Dan wanted them to put in street lights on the electric poles, but they would not do it. Now they are saying they will not replace the cable and that we just have to buy it again. (It is not even on our property). This is 210 meters of heavy electric cable coming from the main road up to our church property. Dan has to call the main boss who will not be in his office till next week.

Meanwhile we are taking a little generator back and forth, and Ruth is ready to do chalk art that we have been announcing for a while. The generator acted up, and we were not able to have the chalk art. That was sad because our neighbor came Wednesday night to see it. Anyway, it was nice that he could experience a normal, God-honoring service. Ruth will be doing chalk art every Tuesday and Wednesday of this month and into next month, since we are getting a late start. They will start at the other church on Tuesday that has a larger, more reliable generator, and then bring that one to our church for the Wednesday night service. They will also go to the village where we are trying to get a church started. That group is going well, and last time there were six baptized.

A short update on David: He is doing super and is completely back to normal. The doctor truly did get saved and is growing––but very slowly. He is in Abidjan, and there is not a good church near him. He is so very busy, yet we can see the change in his lifestyle. We continue to pray for these who are newly saved and without the support system that we are used to. There is the doctor, Laurence (our neighbor) and Landry and Audrey (Seth and Hannah’s friends). These are all saved and living where there aren’t any good churches nearby.

During all of this, we had two dogs have their puppies on the same day, and now they are six weeks old. Not only is this a lot of work but also a super-sad time. The puppies got some sort of virus and have been dying one and two at a time. We have had five die so far, and some of the others do not eat well. It has been so sad and depressing on our spirits—you know how we love our pets. It seems to be something that attacks the nervous system. They slow down eating and then fall over–– fading puppy. I am thinking about the people who lived during the bubonic plague. At least these are dogs and not people, and we can thank God for that!

On a lighter note, Josiah asked Ruth on his fifth birthday, “Do you wish you were me?” Ruth: “Why?” Josiah: “I have lots of candy you know, and I can color real good.” The kids are a constant joy and such fun to be with.

Thanks again for your prayers. If you want a summary of our prayer requests, it would be for the newly saved to grow and others to be saved; that we will get electricity back at church (either find the thief, buy more cable, or have the electric company replace it); that no more puppies will die; and that the chalk-art conference would go well and people will be saved and grow in the Lord.




Dan, Joan, Ruth Marie, Hannah, Seth, Lydia, Susanna, Isaiah, Stephen, Rebekah, Josiah, Joseph, and Esther


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

hospital experience

Already I can feel myself getting desensitized and detached from the situation I wish to describe in this email.  It has been a hectic, stressful three days.  The goal of this letter is not for you to feel sorry for us here—God is always in control, every day and every hour—but for you to be so thankful for the American medical system that you enjoy and to better pray for our lives and work here.  We just started a chapter in our book with the sentence, “The medical team sprang into action.”  Not a scenario you’ll see often in this country.


This case started on Sunday afternoon while on visitation.  We saw a pregnant woman from our church who hadn’t been there that morning and wasn’t feeling so well.  When we visited she was lying on a bench, the four kids were unattended and there was no food or joy to be seen.  I went home and fixed some food for them and got my fetal scope to check on the baby –a 7 month pregnancy.  I heard nothing – no baby, no placental noise –quiet - so the next morning decided to take her for a sonogram.  Dan was just leaving for Abidjan, so Becky drove us to the hospital.  The sonogram confirmed that the baby was dead.


I can feel myself getting bogged down in the details ---you know I am a nurse and we are taught to document everything and the time it happened – smile.  I might just give a run down like that.  The hospital here is a compound with different buildings for everything –lab, maternity ward, pharmacy, operating room, waiting room, sonogram----each place is in a different building.  Remember that as I am running back and forth for this or that.  


We went from the sonogram to the doctor’s office –he ordered lab tests, an antibiotic, and medicine to soften the cervix.  Then we went to the lab for blood tests and waited there till 12:30 for the results.  She needed blood.  Next we went to that doctor who had to sign out the blood ---he was out to lunch, so we waited there till 3:30 PM.  He signed out the blood and I went to the lab to get it.  Meanwhile I went to the pharmacy for the tubing, needle, gloves, etc.  Every time there was anything to be done I had to go get the supplies from the pharmacy there on the compound and go get the medicine at a pharmacy out in town to put in the IV.  Are you getting the picture?  If at any point you don’t have money for the next step your treatment stops.  She finally was getting the blood around 5 PM (that I had picked up from the lab. in a plastic bag and sat there by her on the bed till they were ready to put it in.) and now they are not going to do anything more till the next day when they can again check the lab to make sure the platelets came up.  I got home at 5:30 PM.


Tuesday started with lab work ---go to the lab, don’t forget.  They don’t come to you and do anything.  Wait for the result –all is good.  Ready to start inducing labor – out to the pharmacies for supplies and medicine – and I mixed it ---water with methergin.  Back and waiting.  Doctors out to lunch ---so I left from 12:30 to 3 PM ---everything stops here, even the hospital, during the mid-day.  At 3 PM they put in a catheter and she started drinking one cup of the mixture per hour – given by me.   When the contractions started, the idea was for the catheter to come out and they’ll know she is about ready to deliver.   That is another thing ---all her medicines are there on the bed and we just administer them or the patient takes them, if they remember.  I stayed with her until all the medicine was in –1 liter of water – lasting till 6 PM.  I walked her around, didn’t seem like too much was happening. I talked to one of the other doctors and he said it took a long time.  The doctor we had seen acted like it was going to happen today.  So, I got her some food and left around 8:00.  Her husband was there for the night.


Now it’s Wednesday morning and we just checked on her – labor going super slowly.  Wed. afternoon the catheter was removed and I went back to be with her at 3 PM.  I need to describe these rooms –peeling paint, blood or whatever spattered on walls, plywood ceiling tiles hanging down, lights that don’t work; including in the bathroom, which is crawling with cockroaches; a non-functioning dirty toilet sitting there, the hole that used to be for a shower is used as the toilet and one uses a bucket of water to wash it down; vinyl mattresses – bring your own sheet and pillow, one outlet in the room – bring your own fan, screens dirty and torn.  Becky, my sister, bought an outlet strip – there were 3 ladies plus families in the room to use the one outlet which was only close enough to one bed.  I won’t provide details about the smells, though I was happy to see that in the delivery room they were using bleach in the water to clean with.  Dan was in Abidjan, so Becky was driving me back and forth – though I walked a few times.  The hospital is not far from our house ---maybe a mile.  It was great to have Becky there some of the time – cheerful and someone to talk with.  I could call her, “Bring more money.”


At 4 PM the midwife hung a pitocin drip ---remember, out to the pharmacies for the medicine and all the related supplies.  Meanwhile there was a girl, 17 year old there on the floor waiting for a C section.  She was eclamptic at 7 months and was in a coma though trashing around.  Her breathing was fine (this detail is important later on.)  With the drip going we were there for an hour when we moved to the delivery room – at which time (5PM) the breathing of the girl on the floor was sounding rattley.   In the delivery room I told the midwife that the girl’s breathing did not sound good.  While waiting for our friend to be ready to deliver, I watched the midwife and assistant do some bad deliveries (unnecessary episiotomy, no care of the women, just let a woman lie there and she “better not make any noise until the whole head is out,” then they go and push on the woman’s stomach while pulling on the baby’s head. They are routinely doing abdominal thrusts on the top of the fundus – the top of the uterus.  Talking about the placenta—they wrap the cord around their hemostats and pull it out.  I was cringing, and I had gloves on to help ---“just let me do one for you” – no way and they were getting a little upset—so was I.  They just wanted me to stay out of it.  In the interest of our friend I went back to our patient ---it is one big room, same peeling paint, but there was an air conditioner that periodically let out a lot of water into a drum where they kept their bedpans.  On the other side of the plywood partition we heard them slap the other woman at least 3-4 times.  What a mess.


Since it was Wednesday night, Becky left for church and I stayed and called to tell Ruth and Hannah to plan on going to church with the piano in a taxi by themselves.  They, along with Susanna and Lydia, have been great keeping up the house, helping the little ones with school and taking care of Esther while I was gone.


Our friend had the baby breech at 7:10 PM.  Here is where the story goes from bad to worse.  The midwife pulled hard on the baby, was reaching up inside and pulling even harder –plus getting mad at me when I was saying there was no need and no rush.  She finally pulled the baby out and ripped the cervix (that could have happened anyway, but I’m sure she didn’t help the matter.)  Then in the time I turned to take off my gloves she had pulled out the placenta.  Our friend started hemorrhaging big time and then going into shock.  The doctor was called.  The midwife had now started another IV line and was squeezing the IV bag for all she was worth to get fluid in.  The doctor came and checked around 8 PM went out –they were cleaning the operating room.  He said that with that much blood he feared a ruptured uterus and he would have to open up the abdomen to see and repair.  I am praying, “God, don’t let her die and please have it just be a cervix repair!”  At 8:30 p.m. they wheeled her away – I’m out getting more tubing and blood from the lab.  Then we waited and prayed and prayed some more.  Becky came back at 9 PM and we all prayed.  Our friend came out at 10 PM sleepy and only the cervix needing repair.  Praise the Lord for that.


Meanwhile I looked in on the other woman ---very congested and breathing badly.  Went back to the midwife ---“the woman is really not breathing well.”  No action.  Went back to the operating room to find the doctors.  Now all empty, except a guy cleaning the floor—all the doctors went to eat; they planned to do that C-section when they got back at 11:30 PM.   I went to call home (here they use cell phones like a phone booth) – to tell the kids, “don’t wait up for me.”  Our friend still needed more blood and the doctor said that if she started bleeding again they would have to open her up.


When I got back I found out the doctors had returned and had taken the woman to surgery – though she didn’t even make it to the door.  They said her throat was too swollen and that they couldn’t intubate her.  She died.  In the room there were some of her people.  One of the men said it was our fault, that we had taken her spot in line.  I said, “No, the doctors went to eat.”  I said I was sorry, so sorry.  Needless death – they had the money, were lined up.  I thought last night of our kids – we expect them to obey right away.  Saul – delayed obedience was disobedience.  The doctors – very good with their work, but not done in timely manner, and people die.  The girl might very well have been saved.  The people seemed to be Christians– from an Assembly of God church.  While we were out buying medicine and waiting, a girl we talked with trusted Christ!  That was neat.  She truly understood and prayed to get saved.  I’ll visit her again on visitation on Sunday.  She sells water outside the hospital gate.


Becky and I left at 2 AM – the blood was going and we figured our friend would be okay from there.  Praise the Lord that the bleeding had stopped.


Thursday our friend ate breakfast and was discharged at noon.  We took her home and got her situated.  Becky kept her kids until after dinner and then took them home.


Now it is again Sunday – she is doing better though still weak.  I went by yesterday to “complain” and to point out some of the unethical practices and I have an appointment for tomorrow ---or later if I can’t get there tomorrow.  Mondays are always hectic around here.  Anyway, it is not to just criticize – what good is that?  They are already understaffed.  I hope to arrange to teach a class to the midwives or something along that line.  Maybe I’ll be able to demonstrate how we do deliveries.  Today we witnessed to a big group ---there are always a lot of people in front of the hospital passing time.  Maybe God planned all this for another outreach opportunity ---though He surely knows we are short of time here.


Bye for now.  Praise the Lord for His grace that you were born where you are.


Love in Christ,




Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Fabulous Trip

March, 2008


            I should have written about this trip when I first got back – fresh and exciting on my mind.  On a Wed. night after church Ruth wants to go to Abidjan to sell two puppies for some friends.  Hair-brained for sure!  The other thing is that I agreed – to go on the bus, spur of the moment.  I told Dan that night this is crazy and must be destiny of some sort.  So, Ruth and I took off on the bus at 7 AM – great trip.  It is so great to witness to a captive interested audience and pass out tracts to people who want them and want a stack of them to pass out to their friends.  I usually give out a God’s Simple Plan of Salvation tract along with a John and Romans booklet.  

            We got to Abidjan and made contact with the people who wanted to choose ONE puppy (brought two so they would have an option).  Well, the woman couldn’t decide so invited Ruth and me to their house so her husband could see them as well.  Short story, they bought them both - $425.00 each, wealthy Lebanese and then invited us to spend the night there.  Ruth and I had made no plans so agreed easily enough.  Ruth and the Sylvie went out shopping for food, etc. while I was reading and preparing for my ladies’ class, when the man came back home around 4 PM with a police friend and started visiting – why was I here, when would we retire.  Well, the first response – “missionary” could have given him a clue to back off with the questions – but he didn’t.  It was so good – witnessing for 3 ½ hours, going over Scripture after Scripture ---again started with the Evangi–cube.  First picture shows us separated from God by our sin –Rom. 3:23, Rom 6:23 –we are all sinners on the way to hell dead in sin.  If you don’t change your direction you will get where you are headed.  There are 2 births and there are 2 deaths.  God told Adam and Eve “The day you eat of the fruit, you shall surely die.”  Did they die?  Did God lie?  Of course God did not lie and they did die.  Death is always separation.  Physical death is separation from our family and friends.  Spiritual death is separation from God.  Adam and Eve used to talk and walk with God in the garden.  After their sin they were dead to Him, separated, they hid themselves.  All the prophets have been making sacrifice to cover their sins.  God sent His Son Jesus to pay the price for our sins – the Perfect Lamb of God.  Rom. 6:23 – the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

             The 2nd picture on the cube is Jesus on the cross.  The payment for our sin is death – Jesus took our place – paid the price.  John 3:16 – God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  Many people call themselves children of God ---God only had one Son.  How did you get to become His child?  John 1:12 – For as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.  I tell about the two thieves that were also dying that day, one on either side.  One said, “If you are the Christ, save yourself and save us.”  (He wanted out of his problems to carry on his life as before.)  The other bad guy said, “How can you say such a thing?  We are here because of our sins -  justice.  This man has done nothing wrong.”  He looked at Jesus and said, “Lord, remember me when you come in your kingdom.”  And Jesus said, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”  That man got saved.  He believed that Jesus is God and that He has a kingdom.  You wouldn’t ask a man dying to invite you over to dinner – would you?  Jesus said, “Today you will be with me.”  The man didn’t get down from the cross to do good, to go to church, neither to get baptized.  He died and went straight to heaven. Rom 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and if you believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead you will be saved.”  Believe and ask.  Rom. 10:13 – “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  You might know I have apples in my house.  I might say I’ll give one to anyone who asks for it.  But if you don’t ask for one, it will not be for you.  Saving belief and faith takes action ---call on the Lord, ask Him for His free gift.  You can’t work for it.  He died on the cross for the whole world, but everyone is not going to heaven.  Many know God and about God, the question is, “Does God know you?  Are you His child?”  You will never fool Him in the end.  

            The 3rd picture is the tomb.  Jesus was buried.

            The 4th is the resurrection.  Jesus rose again.  Our faith is based on a living person.  How can the Moslems say that Jesus didn’t die?  Even the Quran says Jesus rose again.  How can someone rise again who didn’t die?  (Lebanese are mainly Moslem).  How can you say that someone took Jesus’ place on the cross?   That doesn’t make any sense at all.  If you died wouldn’t your mother know if it were you or not?  Jesus’ mother, brothers, disciples were all there – they knew that He died and rose again and they were willing to die for the truth.

            The 5th picture is the cross as a path.  John 14:6 Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No man cometh to the Father but by me.”  Jesus said, “I am the way” – all other ways are not leading to heaven; they are leading to hell.  “I am the truth” – anything else is a lie.  “I am the life” – all else leads to death. 

            The last picture is a hand clasp in the middle with hell fire at the bottom and heaven’s glory at the top.  Now it is your choice.  You can choose to accept Christ, or you will keep going in your same direction and end up in hell.  Now is the time of salvation.  Choose to accept Christ now.  Who is paying for your sin?  All the prophets did sacrifices.  “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.”  (Heb. 9:22)  Jesus is the only one who could pay and did pay for your sin.  

            After telling all this to the man – Nasser, he asked more questions.  I did some gospel magic – more on salvation. Then he asked the question that I usually lead up to with Moslems especially (They are taught from birth that Jesus is not God.)  Just why did the Jews want to kill Jesus?  Because Jesus accepted worship, because Jesus forgave sin - only God can do these things.  And because Jesus said, “I am God, the Son of God, The Son of Man.” Each of these titles to the Jews was clearly Jesus saying, I am God.  You’ve seen me you’ve seen the Father.  I could send my daughter here and she could tell you all about me, she even looks like me.  I am a wife.  I am a mother. I am a sister.  I am one person.  We could go on with many earthly examples of the trinity – three in one.  None would quite do God justice ---we are human and cannot understand all about God.  That is why the Jews wanted to kill Jesus.  They understood He was saying, “I am He.  I am your Messiah.  I am God in the flesh.”

            Moslems say that Jesus is a great prophet – the greatest.  How could He be a great prophet if He said I am God?  You either believe Him or you call Him a liar or a fool.  His disciples died for this belief.  Were they following a mad man?  The Pharisees were always trying to trick Jesus with some question.  Jesus one day asked them, “Is John the Baptist from God or the devil?”  I ask you, Was John the Baptist a good prophet or from the devil?  The Pharisees thought a minute, “If we say he is from God – John the Baptist called Jesus the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  John the Baptist pointed people to Jesus as the Messiah, then He will say, “Why don’t you believe him?”  And we can’t say John the Baptist is from the devil – so they said, “We don’t know.” 

            After that there is a way to fold and cut a piece of  paper that goes through the entire life of Christ.  Since this is getting long I won’t tell it all.  Start at the birth – Jesus came to die.  It was not a second ditch effort.  Through all the prophecies that Jesus fulfilled with His birth, to Pilot, to the cross, the only way to heaven  - do you want to accept Him now?  Repent, accept Him and go to heaven.  Reject and hell is your choice.  God doesn’t want to send you there, but that is the choice of anyone who rejects Jesus. 


About this time Sylvie and Ruth came back and started fixing dinner.  The questions and discussion went on.  He said, “I am not claming Islam nor Christianity.  I am just good in the middle.”  Well that went to all the verses: There is none righteous, no not one.  All our righteousness is as filthy rags.  You can’t be in the middle.  Doing nothing is taking you to hell.  You must choose Jesus and His finished work for you.  He is calling to you.  There were two boys – say Peter and John.  They played together and one day Peter fell in the pond and John jumped in and saved him.  Peter grew up to be a bad guy – robbing and eventually killed someone.  John became a lawyer and eventually a judge.  The day came for Peter to come before the judge.  Peter looked up and saw John sitting there.  “Ah, this is my lucky day,” he thought.  But John sentenced him to death.  Peter said, “Wait a minute.  How can you do that?  Don’t you remember we are friends?”  John said, “That day I was your friend.  Today I am your judge.”  Today Jesus is your friend.  He is there to welcome you with open arms, but one day He will be your judge.  Then it will be too late. 

            Meanwhile Sylvie said to Ruth, “This is the first time I’ve had a man of God in my house.” 

            We then had a 6 course meal –soup, salad, shish-kabobs, fries, cheeses, fruits, and dessert.  Around 10:30 Nasser went to bed and Sylvie started talking to me.  There we were going over the same thing till after midnight. She already knew a lot – even had a Bible.   She said, “How many times does someone come selling puppies and you invite them to spend the night and talk about God?  This has to be all of God.”  I totally agreed.  I said, “Why don’t you just get saved right now?”  She said, “I can’t.  It would put me in a dilemma.”  Now I see – they are not married and he is probably paying for everything – rich Lebanese with a young Ivorian girl.  It was so sad and an obvious knowledgeable rejection of Christ.   

            Well, they are both now our friends and have invited us to stay with them whenever we are in Abidjan.   We’ll see.  I have since given him a Bible with a letter with many more passages to look up and also tracts written especially for Moslems.  I am praying for them daily.  Please pray with me –Sylvie and Nasser to get saved.  Since it seemed all new to him I didn’t push for a decision.  The Holy Spirit convicts – that is one of His jobs; but I will get in touch with them next time we are in Abidjan to see if he is ready.  Pray much.

            If you are not saved, you can get saved now.  You can be sure you have a place in heaven.  Change your direction.  It is only through Jesus Christ.  Pray and ask Him to forgive your sin and ask Him to save you.

            Our trip home was another story.  We got to the bus by 10 AM and waited till 2:30 PM!!!  We got home at 11:30.  A 4 ½ to 5 hour trip was stretched into 9 hours.  All I can say good about that is that I had lots of time to witness to everyone, passed out all the tracts (and I had a stack), finished another book, and had a good time with Ruth.              

            Just this last time in Abidjan, we gave them a list of prophecies in the Old Testament fulfilled in the life of Christ.  Moslems do believe the prophets – you have to witness as if you were talking to a Jew.   Pray for them and pray for us to have more contact with them.  Our belief is based on logic and faith, not blind faith that makes no sense.  Bye for now.

Love in Christ,



Sunday, February 17, 2008

Trip back home

            I see that I didn't even tell folks of my trip on the "bus" home.  Should I somehow add that into the already long letter?  Not only is the road bad, try it in a bus crammed with people, some who don't smell very good, no AC and on you go.  Well, I got to the bus by 1:30 PM; the bus was to leave at 1:00.  I thought, good, it hasn't left yet and they said they would be leaving pronto.   Hey, this is Africa and we are on African Standard time ----Late. 

            Due to the African Soccer Cup being on and Ivory Coast playing and other things, the bus didn't leave till 5:30.  This is for a 5 hour trip ---we don't like to leave at night, but they wouldn't refund the ticket and I was ready to get home.  So, on we go ---I have my book, music, and a flashlight.  After witnessing to the woman next to me ---very good discussions as well, I think already saved, but untaught; it got to be around 8:30 (it gets dark here by 6:30 to 7) and we were just getting to the worst part of the road.  I felt us doing a U turn --I sit up, what is happening?  I don't know if he saw an actual barrage in the road (like bandits ready to steal whatever on the bus), or what.  Better safe than sorry.  He turned around and came to these few huts/houses on the road, pulled over, got out and announced that was as far as we were going tonight ---leaving again at 5 AM. 

            What a mess.  Well, God has us here for a reason --more witnessing.  I don't know if you've ever seen an Evangi-cube, great for witnessing.  So, there I was with the cube and my flashlight to shine on it and going through the whole plan of salvation with the crucifixion and the cross, only one way to heaven, etc. over and over as more people came up --about 4-5 times and in French.  It was actually fun and the wind was actually chilly.  Well, there were at least 15 to 20 there for that, very good discussion with a Moslem man, two others got saved.  So, God has a plan in everything and I can just relax in that. 

            Around 10:30 the crowd started thinning and people trying to find a place to sleep ---as on outside tables, in the bus.  I went to the outhouse and then opted for the bus.  I went to find the bus was very full ---had to get someone to move out of my seat - poor guy, but I couldn't just stand outside all night.  There was absolutely no thought of sleep for sure.  Not only were we crammed in there and hot, windows shut to keep out mosquitoes, there were cockroaches crawling in all the cracks of the seats and by the windows.  It was bad.  After killing a few of those, I figured to relax and read my book.  I had already tried many contortions (see the white woman trying to twist and turn in the seat) to get comfortable enough to sleep and figured that was hopeless.  I thought I'd try a table outside, but saw a rat crawl over it and thought the mosquitoes might get bad.  Then later the men were breaking up a table for firewood --it did get chilly. 

            Well, we started out again at 5 AM and I got home at 9:30.  So much for the simple 5 hour trip.   I don't think I'll take that line again and next time I won't give any money till I am sitting on the bus --that way I can change my mind if they get late.  Maybe there won't be a next time?  Life in Africa.  You have to have patience and know God has you where you are for a reason. 

            Well, I am surely long winded.



Saturday, February 16, 2008

February Prayer Letter

February 2008

It has been ages since I have written. SO much has happened. It seems overwhelming, and I don't know where to begin. This will be a lot of medical stuff—skim along if it gets too gory for you.

Some time ago we were going back and forth to Abidjan (five hours over very bad roads) selling puppies with Ruth and Hannah—12 puppies total (that might not seem important, but you'll see the significance in a moment).

Then Ruth's favorite African Civet, Simba, started to self destruct. He had some sores and was somewhat wild, as in you weren't going to lay him down and have a look at him. I gave him three Valium, but to no avail, trying to get him to sleep so we could see the problem. Finally Ruth was able to pick him up by the tail and get him into a large dog kennel so we could take him to the vet. He weighed about 60 pounds—not an easy feat. At the vet we gave him eight Calmivet, a medicine that would only take two to knock out a grown man, and still he was not asleep. He WAS out in the office however, and we were all up on counters and the desk. It was funny to see the vet and his assistant up on their desks. Finally we got my brother Sammy to come help hold Simba’s head so the vet could give him a shot to put him to sleep. It was so pitiful and very sad. If you know how much we love our pets, you can imagine the tears over that decision. It was super sad.

Since Simba was gone, Ruth decided to sell the other civets as well; she had two baby wild ones and another full grown one. We sold the whole batch, and she got all her money back. She can still go see them if she wants, which she does frequently.

Then David Messer, my nephew who is nine years old, got malaria. Becky gave him Plasmotrim, which is a good malaria medicine, but it didn't work on the type of malaria he had. It went into cerebral malaria, so they took him to the hospital/clinic here on Sunday. I went and spent the night with him Sunday night. Here it is not like the States where you feel like everyone knows what he is doing and you can relax. Here I stay awake and watch the IV, watch the nurses, ask just what they are giving. With IVs you do not want them to infiltrate, start going into the surrounding tissue, or get blocked off or clotted over. Also, you do not want any air in the lines. We didn't realize it, but David was having mini seizures or muscle cramps and talking in a bizarre way—all part of cerebral malaria. We thought it could be a reaction to the meds, or nightmares, or etc. The doctor didn't really know how to treat all this. He had one med in the IV and decided to stop it—thought it was causing the seizures (David got agitated as soon as the med started going in). Instead of changing the IV tubing and bag, he just turned off the IV. This was Sunday evening. (Are you getting the picture? IV off all night, clotted off, blood backed up in the tube though not so much, not to get the medicine in the bag.) The nurse came in the room in the morning and got ready to flush the IV, just push it through into David. I said, "Stop, stop." And when she continued, I reached over and clamped off the tube and said, "Stop! Go ask the doctor. This is not to go in." She went and checked. Another time it was a tube of air.

Around noon on Monday we were calling other doctors to figure out what to do. Our missionary friends in Abidjan have an excellent doctor, and after Andy talked to the doctor that is where we were headed. About now we realized what we were dealing with, and David was not responding well. We were trying to get to Abidjan as fast as we could, and Andy called to get an airplane to come for him. Out here it is all cash—no money, no service.  Banks will only let you draw out money in small increments. Andy came to our house to ask for money, and there were Ruth and Hannah with puppy cash in their room to cover the bill! God is always on the throne and is always good. I do so love that song that says, "If you can't see His hand, trust His heart."

I went with them to Abidjan, leaving Dan to run our house and Ruth and Hannah to take care of Andy and Becky's five girls. I know this letter is already getting long so will try to be quick. I was in Abidjan for 10 days. The doctor is excellent and has had many cases of this with coma, etc. David was in stage 2 coma, responding to pain, able to pull back from the pain, but not waking up.

We still had to be on our toes, but the staff was much better than here in San Pedro. I stayed by the IV. The nurses would go to sleep, bags would run out, medication would run out, etc. Since I am a nurse, I told them about IV pump machines which beep if the IV is messing up, running out, etc., and also that we would get fired if we went to sleep on the job. Not so here. If you get a couple of hours, find an empty bed and climb in. They do set their cell-phone alarms to wake them up for specific medicine times, but other than that, you are on your own. We (Andy, Becky, and I) were sleeping on cushions on the floor in David’s room. Sometimes when there were empty beds Andy and Becky were able to get a better night’s sleep. Twice Andy went home with a Moroccan man whose son was also in the hospital. Andy was able to witness to him and I to the wife and her mother. They were all so open, listened well, and accepted a Bible. I always slept in the room. I worked third shift as an RN, so this was my time.

During these 10 days, I was witnessing to the doctor and reading some wonderful books (Max Lucado, And The Angels Were Silent, and When Life and Beliefs Collide). I felt like I was in a spiritual warfare and a conference all at the same time. I can’t really describe it, but the doctor was so in tune and so very close and would come and talk for hours at a time. He is a Moslem (Lebanese) and has been really searching for answers. I gave him my own French/English New Testament––one I have used a lot, underlined in, and made notes. He is reading the Bible, and now it is the Holy Spirit who must draw him. I told him that he was there for David, but maybe even more so was that God had sent us there for him. The last day I was there he came to draw blood and said, “I prayed in the name of Jesus the Messiah.” That is a big step for a Moslem. I also witnessed to so many of the nurses. So many out here think they are Christians, know so many verses, but have never realized that they need to just pray personally to accept Christ as their Savior.

After 10 days I felt like I wasn’t really needed as much in Abidjan and came back to Dan and the family. David doesn’t have any more malaria, his IV is out, and he is eating a bit. He is not over this by far and needs lots of prayer. Andy and Momma have been sending out updates, but this is the first chance I have had. David walks with a shuffle and doesn’t have his coordination at all. Pray that God will restore him to full capacity as before. One quote from the second book I read: “There is no plan B with God. Plan B is a myth. God is still on the throne, and we are in plan A.” It is comforting to know that our God is good, and He is in complete control of our lives.

Dan thinks all this might have happened so that he would realize how much he misses me and loves me. He is so sweet. I am still praying for David and especially for the doctor. Andy has been able to continue the discussions. The last thing the doctor said was, “If I do believe that Jesus is God who came and died for us, then Moslems and the Quran are in error.” He is so close–– pray for him. Andy and Becky have been having many other witnessing opportunities there as well. We do pray that God will give us boldness.

This letter is WAY too long, but what am I to do? The reason I haven’t been on the computer is also because Dan has been working on the church constitution in French. This was a huge job, and it is finished!!!!!! Our church is ready to organize, have members, deacons, etc. It is exciting to see people growing. I had 18 in my ladies’ class today, and that is encouraging to me as well. People continue to get saved.
Keep praying!

Love in Christ,

Joan and Dan