We have finally arrived back home from a one-year road trip. Furlough was fun, hectic, tiring and encouraging all at the same time. I have distanced myself from all the work so that you wouldn't be overwhelmed with the details.
June 3 was Seth and Paige's wedding in Illinois. It was God honoring and very beautiful. They are spending their summer ministering in Israel.
Ruth is keeping the home fires burning in Lattimore. She helps at the church playing the piano and teaching the kids and spends the weekdays in South Carolina working at a birthing center. I pray that God will bless her hands and bless the families she cares for. She is a great midwife. Hannah (in WI) and Susanna (in TN) are doing camp ministries this summer. They are loving it—all the contact with campers, counseling and meeting new friends.
The rest of us have arrived back home. The first amazing thing was that we were headed back with two pieces of luggage each, plus some excess baggage and lots of carry-ons. Groan. We were anxious/stressed about our excess baggage and Dan was trying to get clearance for it. I was fervently praying. Then, THE DAY before our flight, Dan saw that we were each allowed THREE check-ins. It was some special deal with whatever tickets we happened to have. Wow. So, no more stress on the luggage.
We got to the airport with plenty of time (good thing), since we had a lot of luggage and people. The next hurdle in the trip was that they did not want to let us leave since we did not have any proof of our visas upon arrival. There the airline people sat, looking at 33 large pieces of luggage and 11 of us—I think that might have made a difference; did they really want us to come back tomorrow or miss our flight? After much more fervent praying and showing our prayer card and that many of our kids were born here, they let us go. After that, they even checked through all our carry-ons. We were also traveling with ten musical instruments. It is a lot of work to move this group.
In Abidjan, it was so easy and great to be home and speaking French. We have a friend who had lined up all the visas. They walked us through WITHOUT opening or even scanning a single bag! What a blessing. Now, how were we going to get all that luggage to our sleeping spot? Another missionary met us with his truck, AND in the parking lot, Dan met a stranger Lebanese man who offered to take the rest of it to the guest house for us. Does God have Lebanese angels?
The trip from Abidjan to San Pedro was LONG. Because of the rain and bad roads, we had to take the longer route, which took us eight hours. The highlight of that trip was when Stephen saw a baby monkey for sale in a man's hand. Of course, we stopped and bought it for Isaiah, who is on his last year here. It has fast become his baby (very cute to see).
We arrived to no water and no electricity. The electricity did come on at 8 p.m. though, and we were very happy about that. I will let a few pictures speak for themselves of the dust, dirt, overgrown yard (that is a ankle /calf-height flowerbed), mustiness and laundry. None of us are very allergic, but after a while, it can be overwhelming. Bugs have again gotten in the woodwork, which made extra dust everywhere. We did laundry with rainwater and vinegar and laundry softener. It came out with an "interesting" smell, but was not as bad as it had been. Imagine having to wash every speck of material and every spot in your house. I guess next month would be a great time to come and visit us to a nice clean home.
The churches are doing super great! We will not take over anything that is going great. This year, we will focus on building up discipleship and evangelism. I am taking the market as a mission field. People are always out and are everywhere (it is only my energy that is lacking). Most of those ladies can't read. That makes it very difficult, because you can't even give tracts or reading material. I went with tracts—they all want them anyway and will find someone to read it to them, and I have taken the time to sit and explain salvation. Two ladies prayed with me just this week. There is such a great harvest. The fruit is ready to be picked. Even on the road from Abidjan, I witnessed to a man, and I do believe he prayed that night. There are so many "religious" churches that are not clear on salvation at all. Pray that God's Word will convict and convince and that we would be bold and faithful to give out the Word daily. Just plan a time and DO IT. Death and Life are in the power of the tongue.
May God bless you. Thank you for praying for us.
In His grip,
Dan, Joan and family