Hello, from Cote d'Ivoire! A friend said, "Everything that could go wrong – did." I liked that, a nice summary of our start here ---but only physical stuff that will pass. Do not get depressed for me, for I am not depressed. When you have a mountain to cross, just do it one step at a time. I was going to start out with WAWA ---West Africa Wins Again. The humidity and dust sure can do a lot of damage in a year. Life in Africa can sure disprove evolution fast. Throwing time on things does not make them better at all. This letter is full of the nitty-gritty of re-entering life in Africa.
I almost forgot to tell you of our trip here to San Pedro. First we had a flat tire - no big problem there. (We were traveling with Andy and Becky and their group.) We heard a weird sound and steam coming from the engine ---I am telling Dan to be careful as he gets out to see what is the problem ---all sorts of stories of people getting burned with hot radiator water. When he opened the hood, not only was there steam and smoke but actual FIRE to be seen. I started yelling for all the kids to get out of the car NOW. We got out and started walking down the road ---no good to keep 17 kids by the car waiting for it to be fixed and no place to get off the road. On down a bit, we got a ride ---Gideon and I in the double-cab pick up, and all the rest piled in the back. They thought it was great fun. We went to the next town ---about 35 minuntes from where we were, and Dan and Andy picked us up there. The kids were ready to hitch-hike all the way home.
Someone had not tightened down the battery right, and it had shifted over to the brake line which had caught on fire. After Dan crimped off the brake line which had gotten a hole burned in it, we were driving along with half-brakes when they all quit ---no brakes at all. Then, we ALMOST hit the back of a big truck!!! It was scary. The truck was going slower than we were through a hole in the road - we could not slow down, no brakes, and no space to pass ---we did pass in the bush. That is the closest I have ever been to a bang-up for sure. So many prayers for us. We had all sorts of adventure.
For Thanksgiving, we did have a turkey, and Noelle roasted it outside. It was yummy. With the curfew going on (because of the uncertainty after the elections), we are not doing any late night get-togethers. We had the mashed potatoes a different day and will have the dessert a different day. That is a good way to do Thanksgiving - spread out the calories over a few weeks - smile.
We do not have the Internet yet, but Dan is working on that. That is the problem ---HE is working on it and not the ones who are supposed to be.
I was drowning in dust - buried in dust, and yet I live. The tornado (Ruth and Hannah packing, upheaval from Dan cutting his thumb, things not left in order) that hit our house before we left was still here when we got back. Every single room was waiting for me ---and I was tired and overwhelmed. The kids swapped rooms around, grew out of stuff, and put it all in the hall for me to deal with. It was all stinky and musty. I wanted badly to sink into self-pity and discouragement, but I refused to go down that road. Did you pick up that is all in the past tense? Little by little things are getting back in shape.
We arrived to a huge mess, and the water was OFF!!!! The pantry water heater had leaked, and water was on the floor, and all the shelves were growing visible mold. The rooms were all musty, and something was wrong with the electricity, so the lights and air conditioners would not work together ---take your pick. We picked cool air. If you turned on anything much - snap, off it would go. Dan worked and worked on that - trying to figure out which circuit it was - then called an electrician ---on went the problem. Dan changed all the lights - still snapping. Bad box (They had changed that while we were gone.) We were supposed to be getting 45 amps --only getting 16. So, fixed that. Still a few kinks, but on we go. Dan got a new box put in, and yesterday it was doing the same thing. He has bypassed the box for now - I do not know what the next step to that will be, but we do have electricity.
We moved everything out of the pantry to the porch ----remember no water. We got that room clean and Dan has painted it and everything washed, sorted, and put back. The floor - all buckled up ---cracked that out and retiled the floor with whole pieces he had saved and broken chips to make a pattern.
The FRIDGE did not work either ---the door would not even close! Dan plugged it in ---light came on - no cool. Meanwhile we are hot and dirty ---Gideon cannot be downstairs much, and he sneezes if I take him some places. The back storage room was terrible for mustiness, but I burned a scented candle in there for a day and that is fine ---Praise the Lord for that!!!! Dad took the fridge in town, and the guy got it working --only without for three days.
Meanwhile every room is filthy ---the school room is so bad - all those mounds of papers and books. And all is dusty and musty. I sneeze a bit in there. Now I have something going on with my eyes from the dust ---going to get some Murine or some sort of eye drops to help with that. The school room is now in order and the kids are so excited to be able to do school once again - not.
Think - windows, screens, blinds, patio, laundry, LAUNDRY ---all the clothes from the drawers ---most to give away anyway, all the towels from the bathrooms, sheets, kitchen stuff, --the living room rug was a MOUND of laundry ---quilts, couch covers, on and on. It was overwhelming ---remember - no water. We were getting water from the reservoir in the yard. We took all the laundry down the hill for them to wash - a little money and a job gets done. When we got the clothes back, the stuff stank - smelled like amniotic fluid to me. I went back ---what did you do? Didn't you use Omo? Of course, he said yes he had. Anyway, most of that I was giving away and was the sheets and stuff ---anything of mine went back for me to wash ---just use everything like a rag and then put it in the laundry for me to do later. Our personal clothes were mainly in the hampers. I told him it smelled like a hospital - stink. He had used some javel/bleach---maybe that was it. I think bad soap - or bad water. Anyway, the blankets and couch covers should smell better.
Then the water came ON. Super - with full pressure. Someone is playing with the water. I got ALL caught up with laundry. It was only on 2-3 days.
Praise the Lord for HELP. Many of our friends have helped with the moving of stuff here and there and cleaning. Karoline still works miracles around my house. It is so good to have her!!!! It is also great to get rid of stuff ---we sure do know how to accumulate! If it does not go in the room - out it goes. There are so many needy people, and it is Christmas time ---a good time to give things away.
Another great thing is the witnessing. I took at least 100 tracts to the market and passed them all out while I was waiting on the ladies to cut the greens. And here they say, "We don't just want this, sit and talk with us for a while." I talked to two groups of men and Amie listened very well again. Pray so much for her to get saved. Seth has the fire as well ---he went out in the afternoon ---same thing. It is so great to be able to talk to people - America is sad.
On top of that we have the cutest little puppy, Sugar. She was trying to play with the kitten ---yes, that too - smile. The joy goes on. The kitten is only four weeks old - cute, small, female, black and white.
I forgot to mention the political situation. The elections in this part of the country were calm. In the north, the rebels were hurting people and making them vote as they wanted them to ---therefore, not a fair ballot --so the opposition said. There was no result given. Everything is calm; there is a 7 p.m. curfew in place. Keep praying for us. Now both men have announced themselves president and are both in Abidjan at different locations. The new man has the United Nations backing him; the former president has the southern part of the country backing him. We do not know how they will solve that. The curfew is off - all is calm in this part of the country.
I forgot the other great news ---we get to eat our large salads, rice and soup, and mangoes - yum. Susanna gets to ride horse 2-3 times a week. She is having fun with that. Now that she did not bring any jeans - I need to go get her some.
Oh, and the water is back OFF again. At least we are starting out a little better --more clean things. The pantry is almost done. The laundry is not behind, and the tanks are filled up. Dan is thinking to put in a well with a pressure pump, so we can overcome the water problem. Nothing like some middle of the night activity --I went out and got two buckets of water from the tank in the yard. The toilets were disgusting. If it were a man he could have left them, but not the lady of the house. Hey, it keeps us fit, and maybe I will get caught up on the mail.
The church needs help. It is fun to be able to play the keyboard again with Seth on the guitar. We brought out some full-size pianos, and it will be super to have one of those at church to be able to give piano lessons. We want to help with the youth, ladies' class, and lots of outreaches while we are branching out to start a new work. Mr. Paul is a great preacher and is doing a good job. There is just too much for one person to do.
Please continue to pray for Ruth and Hannah in the Philippines. They are enjoying their time there, but are staying very busy. It will be the first time that our family has not been together for Christmas, so please pray for them - and for us. We know that they are where God wants them to be. If you have not been receiving their letters, and would like to, please let us know. They would love to include you in their email letter mailing.
Have a very Merry Christmas. Here is my Christmas card to you ---you may have seen it before; I have it framed on the wall. The WORD did not become a philosophy, a theory, or a concept to be discussed, debated, or pondered; But the WORD became a person to be FOLLOWED, ENJOYED, and LOVED. Wow, God with us. Think of Christ and His love for us. Have a Happy New Year as well!!!
Joan and Dan, Ruth Marie and Hannah, Seth, Lydia, Susannah, Isaiah, Stephen, Rebekah, Josiah, Joseph, Esther and Gideon
The water is ON - Praise the Lord. The electricity is off ---what is up with that? Dan is probably working on something.