Friday, October 28, 2011

Voices......Part 2

During this recent journey to Niger, for economy, Paul and I decided that emailing and texting each other would be fine. The trip was only two weeks. We would avoid the cost and frustration of dropped calls, voice-mail, and time zone confusion. Who wants to get called at 3:30 AM for a cheery check-in or romantic tĂȘte a tĂȘte? The deal was that I would call Paul as I was leaving the USA from JFK in New York and when I arrived back there again. Meanwhile we would communicate via cyberspace daily. Simple, right? Everyone texts and emails all the time. Who needs to actually talk for most communication? Of course, this may be fine for some but......I missed the sound of Paul's voice sooooooo much. The first thing I wanted when I cleared US customs and took care of rechecking my bags, was to get a Starbucks? (NO!!) It was to call Paul on the phone and hear his voice! Words cannot describe the delightful sound of my precious husband's voice on that call. It was sweet, kind, gentle and reassuring. He promised to meet me at the Cincinnati airport in a few hours. Paul's voice was full of love and appreciation of our relationship. It was full of hope for our reunion and a special weekend trip to Atlanta for a friend's wedding. How could I get all that from a few moments on my iPhone? I know Paul well. Our first date was October 19, 1974....since then I have been learning his use of words and what each voice inflection, tremor, and tone means. For me, this is a reminder of my relationship with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ......

Do I long to hear His voice through scripture and the Holy Spirit's promptings?
Do I get excited to talk to the Lord in prayer regularly and often?
Are my communications to My Heavenly Father like text messages--abbreviated? 
Do I recognize the tone of intensity, urgency and love of my Savior as I read the Bible?
Does His name thrill me?

How sweet the name of Jesus sounds in a believer's ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.

It makes the wounded spirit whole and calms the troubled breast:
'Tis manna to the hungry soul and to the weary rest.

Dear name! The Rock on which I build, 
My Shield and Hiding Place,
My never failing treasure filled with boundless stores of grace! 
(Public Domain)

Yes, coming home to hear Paul's voice has been so exciting and reassuring! Better still, what a blessing to know and hear the voice of the Almighty God of all nations as He speaks graciously and personally through the scriptures. What about the times when I am too tired, too lazy, too jet lagged, too distracted or have a hard time getting into God's Word? This is when I must recall Philippians 4:13.....'I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength' wonder His voice is so winsome!

The sound of voices....

It seems eerily quiet this morning. Paul and Marie are at work. Zachary who is visiting on his fall break, is quietly studying downstairs. Things seem so odd.....where are the familiar faces of the hospital staff, the dear patients and their caregivers? Where is the desert terrain.....and who turned the outdoor thermostat down so low?
 Yes, these are the normal discombobulating senses of returning from Niger. I miss the sounds, smells, faces and noises of a place that has caught my attention and a people who have captured my heart!  Perhaps the sound of silence has struck me the most this morning. I appreciate the rain that keeps the lawn and garden green. I am grateful for the alone time to rest and think. Yet, I am missing the voices:

...of the Islam's call to prayer broadcasted 5 times throughout the day-reminding ME to pray for the lost and least of these dear people in need of physical and spiritual healing of the Great Physician, our Savior Jesus Christ
... of the many hospital guards and other employees greetings, Bonjour, Ca, va? Mamma Maureen!
...of the caregivers and patients in the outpatient hostel.  Fou, Fou! Bangagie, Madala.....words of greeting and gratitude in local languages.
Caregivers at hostel
Caregivers calling out a morning greeting as we visit them
"Papa Toureg" selling bracelets

...of the hawkers on the street selling everything from phonecards to floor tiles up and down the streets.
 ...of the donkeys, sheep, goats and camels bleating, bellowing and protesting under their loads and severe treatment!
Nurse Rabi and I enjoying a joyful moment in the OR
...of the nursing staff as they chat, argue and joke amongst themselves in several dilects....who knows what they are saying about me right in my presence :)

The sounds of CURE Niger were missing from my first day back! Readjustment and reorientation will take several days. Voices of people are an important part of daily life. They remind us of where we are living and what activities are happening about us. Voices also remind us of the relationships in our lives.

The one voice that can be heard in my heart everyday is the voice of God's Word speaking...

truth of who God is and His character
an invitation to join Him in joyful obedience and fellowship
direction for His kingdom work
help to think, speak and act in a manner pleasing to the Lord
comfort for the hurts and issues that challenge the life of faith
assurance that I am His and He is mine
all this in the pages of my Bible!

"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one."
John 10:27-30

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Happy Anniversary CURE Niger!

Samna our HR director giving a welcome speach

Joyful singing, music and lots of picture taking!

Marcia Lanoha and her Madala team join the celebrations upfront and center

Leron Lehman, CURE NIger Executive Director gives a warm welcome to all

Issacou works joyfully and loves to listen to Christian music tunes. He has is own personal style for using earbuds :)

Dr. Jean Francois and family came to celebrate too!

Habib taking pictures wearing  outfit made from a panga of fabric from CURE

What a joy and privilege to visit CURE Niger on the first anniversary of it's grand opening. Wow, the Nigeriens know how to party. We worked pretty much a normal day. Some got to leave a little early to return home and bring back their families. We were treated to three hilarious skits. We had a band from Mr.Karazi's church. They even played a few familiar hymns. It was such a great testimony of God's goodness and faithfulness. We all came in our best duds! We were served snacks followed by huge plates of rice and chicken...a real feast! Everyone got a bottle of soda...a real treat!
We laughed and greeted one another. We prayed, celebrated and snapped pictures of each other! What a sweet foretaste of heaven. I am so aware that there are many families and employees who are far from a relationship with Jesus Christ. It is a blessing to be here and to be involved with the important work of sharing the good news and love of God!
This side of heaven there will be tears, strife, disappointments but....with Christ, I can do all things for He gives me strength...and somedays are truly a party!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Stepping out and stepping back...

As I prepared to go through security at the Cincinnati airport, Diana, Elaine and I put our arms around each other and joined our hearts in prayer. Diana lovingly spoke to our Heavenly Father, committing me to His call to Niger, for these next two weeks. Indeed, I have stepped out in faith to serve obediently. At the same time, as we prayed I am so aware that this is God's work to be done God's way for God's honor and glory! So I must step forward in faith but step back, step aside and see the power, strength and glory of God!! Now who would want to get in the way?! I can do this through Christ who gives me strength step by step!

Jesus Loves the Little Children...All the Children of the World....

Singing Sunday School Songs is always a delight in any language!
Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world
Red and yellow 
Black and white
All are precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world!

Jesus loves me this I know 
For the Bible tells me so
Little ones to Him belong
They are weak but He is strong
Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me
The Bible tells me so!

My God is so BIG
So strong and so mighty
There's nothing my God cannot do
My God is so BIG
So strong and so mighty
There's nothing my God cannot do
The mountains are His
The rivers are His
The stars are His handiwork too
My God is so Big
So strong and so mighty
There's nothing my God cannot do...

Look around at the nations; look and be amazed! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn't believe even if someone told you about it.
Habakkuk 1:5 NLT

Friday, October 7, 2011

October 12-26 Heading back to Niger-Do your best, forget the rest!

Our wedding photo August 19,1978
Why do I have a wedding picture for a blog entry entitled 'Heading back to Niger'? Perhaps it is because weddings are on my mind...Marie and Zachary are getting married in 12 weeks, 11 hours, 27 minutes, as I type this? Yes, that's true but the real reason I have included this photo is because I am going to Niger, and I am going to miss Paul very much. Sure we have been apart for much longer stretches of time, but it is still hard to be away from the dearest partner God gave me. Please don't stop reading! This blog is not going going all mushy and TMI (too much information-as my kids tell me).
Those of you who know Paul, know that he is calm, steady and generous among other things. He keeps me in balance. When I travel, it is easy to want to sprint resulting in burnout or illness. Paul teaches me to pace myself. When I travel, I want to pour myself into whatever I do and do it with excellence.....sometimes I do not have the capabilities to meet expectations. Then it is easy to fall into the trap of feeling inadequate....then it is all about my feelings instead of being all about God, His Kingdom, His mission and His ways.  Paul teaches me to give what I have and leave the results with the LORD. 'Do your best, forget the rest' It is a challenge for sure as I anticipate what lies ahead. Yesterday and this morning, the Lord brought to my attention the gospel of John's account of the feeding of the 5000. ( John 6:1-14) The simple lesson is this, just as the young lad gave his little lunch to the Lord, I can do the same. I can give my limited skills and resources to the Lord. He will multiply them.  He will use others alongside me to fulfill His purposes. Jesus not only used the young lad's lunch, He used the disciples to distribute the food. In this way, the disciples had their hands-on experience with the miraculous provision for the multitudes. How am I going to participate in God's kingdom work in Niger? How will I adjust my attitudes of nervous inadequacy to vibrant confidence? I am rehearsing and reviewing this truth:

I can do everything through Him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

Yes, the countdown is on for departure. My bags are nearly packed. The real preparation must be in my heart, to do my best, forget the rest for Christ is my help, strength, refuge, wisdom, comfort, guide, provider, healer, Savior, friend, counselor, Rock, King, Bread of Life, Living Water, peace, joy.....!!
What a joy to anticipate God's results and lives changed for eternity! God is so Good!