Thursday, December 31, 2009
It’s great to see ‘snaps’ from this pre-Christmas Carnival! Looks like Father Christmas, Donald Duck, and Shrek all attended. Daddy Daniel was out of town during the party so adult friend Nnabundo escorted little Chris to the blue play equipment -- apparently he INSISTED on standing there with his balloon!
Dr. Chris says that “19th December was one of my happiest moments. Along with my kids, the Faith Alive Family had a carnival for our Orphans and Vulnerable Children at the Faith Alive Recreation Center and Car park as part of the Christmas celebrations.”
On another note, Praise God that Dr. Chris arrived safely in the United States this week, after much 'checking' at security.
(Photo of Little Chris taken by Marcey)
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Greg, one of Faith Alive's drivers, called me today and said that he and Baba are 'on leave.' My heart sunk because in the U.S. that might mean 'temporarily laid off with no pay'! But Greg went on to say that he'd be back January 5 -- whew!
I'm glad to hear they get a vacation while there are no out-of-town guests.
Can you guess which photo is of Baba REALLY asleep and which one he's just pretending?
Monday, December 28, 2009
By now you've most likely heard about the 23 year old Muslim man from Nigeria who tried to 'celebrate' December 25 by blowing up an airplane on U.S. soil. Praise God for the passengers and crew of that flight who acted quickly and successfully to restrain him.
Dr. Chris's words on the matter say it best: "Shocking and disappointing. God is still in charge." Contrary to what I published in an earlier blog, he won't be arriving in the U.S. until mid-week. Please do pray for his safe and uneventful travel.
Some of our Nigerian friends are joining a new facebook group that wants "to condemn the behaviour of a lone numbskull who has just dragged Nigeria's already sodden image more into the mud. Folks, this is not a group to speak about religion...we are talking about someone who is either mad, or a moron....and has put a BIG QUESTION MARK on d (sic) sanity or sincerity of purpose of 150 million pple (sic) who are already sick of other name-callings. Period!"
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Okay, one more birthday this week. My friend Caroline is a very compassionate and poised nurse. If you’ve been to Faith Alive, she’s the tall nurse who works in an ARV team, goes on home visits, helps deliver babies, does surgical post-op, coordinates daily health talks, sings, dispenses Plumpy Nut peanut butter, and helps with visitor hospitality. She truly is amazing, with a deep faith in and love for Jesus and people in need. Caro says she GETS to heal and encourage people at the clinic. She lets them know “there are still so many tomorrows.”
To celebrate, six neighbor children came over. They laughed, prayed, sang, and danced, danced, danced together – so much so that she finally had to ask them to leave when her knees started to ache!
On another note, please pray for Dr. Chris as today he begins a quick trip to the U.S. for a wedding. Because a Nigerian man lit an explosive on a flight to the U.S. yesterday, Dr. Chris may have to endure extra questioning. Let’s pray for traveling mercies, and respectful treatment by airline security and personnel.
Friday, December 25, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
It's no coincidence that Dr. Chris's birthday is so near to the day we celebrate the birth of Christ. Dr. Chris is so Christlike in his words and actions that I have to remind myself he's just a man.
Please join me in saying a birthday prayer -- specifically for another year of good health, safety, time with his dear family, and following where God leads him.
If you post a comment or blessing here for him, I'll be sure to pass it along to him.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Our dear friend and seamstress Blessing turns 29 years old today! I talked briefly with her on the phone today -- until I heard her say "low battery" before the dial tone. She's celebrating by wearing new clothes (did she make them?) and going to church where her pastor will say a special prayer for her.
Chances are good that if you have a sewn item from Faith Alive (purse, outfit, wall hanging, or pillow), Blessing created it from scratch (no patterns!).
Happy birthday, dear Blessing, happy birthday to you!
(Photos courtesy of Frank Lozano)
Saturday, December 19, 2009
I am SO very glad to hear that Faith Alive hosted a fun-filled party for about 300 children this morning at the rec center!!! According to Pastor Esther, each child received a pencil and book from Father Christmas, and everyone enjoyed cake and juice. (Yes, little Chris was there to partake of the juice!) This is extra good news to me; earlier this week I talked with a few Nigerian friends and they told me they might not have enough money to buy or make cake for their children this year.
The party included a dancing competition and some people dressed like Shrek and other characters. Some of the smaller children were frightened, but that doesn't surprise me. There's one little boy that shrieks and runs every time he sees ME!
I'll post photos if and when I get some, so that we can SEE the children's smiles. :-)
Thursday, December 17, 2009
On behalf of the 175 Save-A-Life patients, thank you (or in Hausa, ‘nagode’)! Many of you bought beautiful Nigerian items as Christmas gifts – for others or yourselves! The ‘hot’ items were the nativity ornaments made out of tin sand and the jewelry. There are many greeting cards and bracelets still available; please let me know if you want to buy any. The sale raised over $600 to send to Faith Alive for the Save-A-Life program.
We’re also SO grateful to those of you who are sending in money as donations above and beyond what you’ve already given. Dr. Chris will be delighted to spend the money for extra medications – mostly antibiotics – for SAL patients suffering from opportunistic infections like tuberculosis and pneumonia.
May you all be blessed in extra measure this Christmas season.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Maybe these pictures will make you smile. Our dear little Chris is so handsome in his Sunday suit! I asked his daddy Daniel to take more photos of him, so yesterday he took dozens. I’ve posted a really good pose, and then one where he’s saying “Daddy, please, no more pictures!”
Little Chris got the Mario shirt as a Christmas gift last year from his aunt. This year he wants a puppy, but that’s not practical since they live in a flat and it would be another responsibility. He’ll just have to wait a month or two for a new baby sister instead.
He LOVES to play with his dear friend Dr. Ben, and with other little children. Juice is his favorite drink – any kind of juice – and if he doesn’t get up in the middle of the night for some, he DEFINITELY wants it first thing in the morning.
Please continue to pray that he gets heart surgery so he can drink juice over a long and prosperous life.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Faith Alive’s spiritual theme for December is Returning to God. I facebook chatted with my friend John, Dr. Chris’s nephew, who gave a morning devotion last week. He spoke about humility as a way to return to God, and referenced Matthew 18:2-5 and John 13:14-17. Oh, how I wish their devotions could be podcast for us to hear and be uplifted by on a daily basis!
Friday, December 11, 2009
I’m thinking about dogs, mostly because my beloved 12 year old cockapoo is in her final days. Of course it’s VERY sad, but comforting to know that soon she won’t be in any pain.
Americans have the luxury of treating our pets like children: taking them to the vet regularly, buying healthy food and snacks, brushing their teeth (if we remember!), grooming them, and giving them cozy beds (which might be our own!). Our dogs are no exception – they even give and receive gifts at Christmas!
Dogs in Nigeria have different purposes. While some (mostly people in or from villages) prefer to eat them (including my Save-A-Life patient), dogs are usually most useful as guards. A large one named King lives in the guesthouse compound. His owner lets him out at night to roam the compound and shred everything that might be inadvertently left on the ground. During the day King circles the inside of his dog cage out back and our cook Baba says “He wants out.”
(Photos taken by Cindy Frost. You have to look closely for the dogs.)
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Faith Alive’s support group provides hope and encouragement for hundreds of HIV+ people. They meet each Sunday afternoon from 3-5 pm and sing, share testimonies, study the bible, and learn how to live positively. Their children are invited to come for kids’ activities and learning as well.
As with any organization, there are people who ‘make it happen.’ Every year they hold elections for President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Financial Secretary, and Public Relations. My friend Florence is running for Treasurer and the results will be revealed next Sunday. She says one of the Save-A-Life patients is also running for a position.
I hope the most God-centered people win, and that there aren’t any hanging chads.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Thanks to all who continue to pray for little Chris to get the lifesaving heart surgery he so desperately needs. His dad Daniel sent me a copy of the echocardiogram that I’ve sent to Rob, the Executive Director of Gift of Life International (GOLI) in New York. Praise God, Rob promises to personally ensure that the echo gets in the hands of a surgeon who will decide whether or not to take on the case.
GOLI just helped another Nigerian boy. His name is Austin, and he’s ready to return home after a successful heart surgery.
Please pray that doors continue to open.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Yes, there really IS such a thing. I read about it in yesterday’s New York Times Magazine. Apparently kidnapping is one business that’s very lucrative during the recession, bringing in millions of dollars over the last few years. There are even K&R (kidnapping and ransom) brokers who work with governments, kidnappers, and others to negotiate deals.
Of all the countries to highlight, guess which one they chose? Their focus was on the oil-rich Niger Delta in Nigeria, which isn’t close to Jos, but it’s still disconcerting. Some random tidbits from the article:
Apparently Nigerian kidnappers are in it for the money and not the violence. They tend to treat their hostages decently (that is, after they kill the hostages’ bodyguards). Some kidnappers reportedly even provide their prisoners takeout from Mr. Biggs (kind of like an American Kentucky Fried Chicken).
A well known Nigerian film star (and ironically the chairman of a national rebranding committee that’s assigned the task of improving Nigeria’s image) was kidnapped in August. He was freed after someone paid the ransom price of just $64,700.
Between 2006 and 2008 the total amount of ransoms paid in Nigeria exceeded $100 million. Over that time, “Nigeria emerged as one of the world’s kidnapping hot spots…and shows no sign of relinquishing that dubious distinction.”
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Oh, how I wish I could experience a Christmas in Nigeria and then tell you all about it. My friend Kate says that many of them travel back to their villages to be with family, which is especially important for the children growing up in the city to learn more about their rich, cultural roots. However, not everybody has enough money for transport fees to get to the village.
They sing Christmas carols (yes, the ones we know, like Silent Night and Joy to the World), exchange gifts (mostly new clothes and shoes for the kids), go to church, and eat together. I asked if they ‘do’ Santa Claus, and she said they don’t (but they HAVE heard about him from the movies). Also, only the wealthiest people decorate their homes. When it comes to protein or ornaments, they choose the one that’s going to sustain them.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Yesterday was a great day for babies! In Colorado, baby boy Grayson was born to mom Mollie, dad Rob, and big sister Kelty (see blog post 'Preparing Soup' on November 16). In Nigeria, little Chris’s mom had a sonogram and learned that the baby they’re having in January or February is a healthy little girl.
I asked dad Daniel what they’ll name the baby and he said it’s not Nigerian custom to talk about it before the birth. After the baby’s born, the new mom and dad pray over the baby and decide the name. Then eight days later they have a naming ceremony at the church. Before the ceremony, friends and family come over for small celebrations so the parents need to have Coke and other special things on hand to offer their guests.
Anyone want to go to Mollie's with me for a Coke?
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
I’m ashamed to say that it took me 20 years to care about AIDS. This shows my age, but I remember first hearing about it when I was in high school and the fear of catching it was enough to keep me (mostly) on the straight and narrow. Initially it was something other people had, and then later what was infecting a lot of people across the ocean. I was overwhelmed by the number of people infected, so it was easier to concentrate on my own problems.
Today is the 21st annual World AIDS Day and I finally care. What used to be an ‘it’ is now a ‘who’ for me because I’ve met some pretty incredible people living positively with the virus. I’m honored to know dozens of them in Jos, Nigeria who model positive living as doctors, pastors, parents, teachers, and businesspeople.
Please let me know if you want to add meaning to your life and be part of the solution to the problem of AIDS. You can literally save a patient’s life through the Save-A-Life Personal Sponsorship Program (be a sponsor or general donor), or travel with me to Nigeria and see how God might want to rock your world.