Monday, May 31, 2010

Beauty Salon

One of my guilty pleasures was to visit Charity and Ann at Faith Alive's beauty salon where they massaged my hair or painted my toenails a scandalous red. No more. It seems that the salon is another victim of the economic downturn. The good news is that Ann is due to have a baby and Charity now works at the main FA building doing maintenance.

This photo is of me last fall with Ann, Charity, and Rhoda (a counselor whose office is right next to the salon).

Friday, May 28, 2010

I Pray With Joy

The words of Paul and Timothy in Philippians 1 ring true for me when I think about my Faith Alive family.

"I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you,I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

Yes, today I choose joy!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Children's Day!

How I wish I were in Jos today at Faith Alive's outdoor Rec Center! Hundreds of neighborhood and client children with smiles as wide as the ocean squeezing into the bouncy pit. I can just imagine them savoring the tasty snacks and sweet drinks, maybe the first they've had in weeks or months, playing games, and learning how to stay healthy and safe from HIV. This is fun, relational outreach at its finest.

I'll post the photos as soon as I get them. In the meantime, enjoy these pictures I took last fall of FA neighborhood children. Click here, here, and here to see previous posts about the Rec Center.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Children's Day Celebration

Tomorrow, over 400 children are expected to gather at Faith Alive's rec center for Children's Day. I can't wait to hear more about it, and will keep you posted once I get pictures. This pic is a preview to spark our imaginations!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Best Nurses Are At Faith Alive

Dr. Chris says, "I thank God for the wonderful angels in white He has given us at Faith Alive."

For over 30 years, May 12 has been International Nurses’ Day in honor of Florence Nightengale’s birthday. But at Faith Alive, it was just the beginning of a fun-filled week to recognize the ministry of nine important nurses. My friend, Nurse Caroline, said that last week they gave the staff their medical check-ups, handed out small toiletry gifts to their clients, and went into the neighborhood to raise awareness of HIV prevention and treatment. They also showed a documentary about nurses, enjoyed a drama, cultural show, and dinner, and even played an exciting soccer game with the staff. The final score was 1-1, but each nurse was a winner.

Monday, May 24, 2010

More Violence

What's the price of cattle? To Fulani Herdsman in Jos, Nigeria, the answer is human lives. This weekend at least five more people died. According to, three herdsmen tried to claim some cattle but were instead butchered on Saturday. Because violence begets violence, some Hausa retaliated with their own murderous actions, killing at least two people. Lord, have mercy.

Click here for a previous post about bloody cattle disputes.

(Mark took this photo in Nigeria last fall when he toured the countryside.)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Prayer Requests

On April 22, I posted the following list of Dr. Chris's prayer requests and think it's well worth repeating. On his behalf, I ask you to keep praying about these things:

1. Faith Alive (FA) to have a smooth & speedy transition to a new major donor/sponsor (in addition to Save-A-Life) for care, support and treatment for HIV/AIDS

2. FA patients to continue to get the best care,treatment and support

3. FA staff to be safe and encouraged that God is in control in Nigeria despite the recent crises in Jos

4. Peace and reconciliation in Jos among different groups of people

5. Nigeria Presidential leadership and 2011 elections, with outcomes for honest, wise, and compassionate leaders

6. The Isichei and Faith Alive Families

We're so grateful for your heartfelt prayers.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

No More Curfew in Jos

This just in from my fastest source of Nigerian news…the curfew in Jos has been lifted. Since the January crisis, people had to rush about, visiting friends and family only when the sun was shining, hurrying at the market to get home before it was a crime to be outside. Now, people can move freely, relying on their internal clocks rather than military and/or police with AK-47s to tell them when to come and go. The pre-dawn calls to prayer can once again blare over the loudspeakers to usher in each new day. Here’s to a new day!

Let’s all clap for Nna, Dr. Chris’s nephew, for his up-to-the-minute facebook updates. (Photo of me with Nna and his mother, Patricia, Dr. Chris's sister.)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sambo or Tae Bo?

Meet Namadi Sambo, a 55-year-old architect and father of six children, who rose yesterday from Governor of Kaduna state to Vice President of Nigeria. Hopefully he’s the “master strategist” that Vanguard Press says he. He’ll need to be to successfully pursue an agenda that benefits 150 million Nigerians.

Is everyone happy about this? Hardly. NPR News reports that apparently the legislative session descended into screaming chaos several times. It got so out of hand that the House speaker finally said, “I am pleading with colleagues to please to take their seats and take this matter with all sense of patriotism." Ah, so much more formal than “Sit down and be quiet!”

The issue seems to be about religious representation. No separation of church and state in Nigeria. Removing Sambo, a Muslim, from his post in Kaduna leaves his Christian deputy to take over as governor in the northern state dominated by Muslims. Also, Muslims fear that Sambo, instead of a more powerful Muslim VP, puts President Goodluck Jonathan in a better position to run for office against Sambo next year.

I’d say it’s all a bit of mumbo jumbo (only because it rhymes with Sambo), but Wikipedia says that’s a racial term. May this political process instead be like tae bo, an exercise to strengthen mind, body, and soul.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Super Fans

25. The number of days until all of Nigeria will be silent except for shouts, hopefully of joy, for their Super Eagles. The soccer team's green and white shirted players will first compete on June 12 against Argentina in Johanessburg, South Africa. Two days later they'll travel to Mangaung/Bloemfonte for their game against Greece. I don’t know if they’ll fly there or ride in the bus that proudly displays this slogan created by the Hyundai competition winner: “Super Eagles super fans united we stand.”

FIFA World Cup 2010, here come the super fans! Click here to learn more about the team, the tournament, and the trophies.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Hope Is an Appetizer

I’ve batted around a few different titles for my book about Faith Alive and gotten a variety of responses. Regardless of which title is eventually chosen, the word HOPE needs to be part of it. Why? Because Faith Alive is synonymous with hope. Both are appetizers of things to come. They are a first course, sample, and sneak preview of something bigger than the here and now, where God heals us from all affliction. No more illness, no more poverty, no more violence, no more pain. May we have a hunger—even a craving—for the main course.

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23 NIV)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Looking for Boaz

This week’s Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference has been filled with snow, classes, appointments with agents and editors, snow, interesting people, applicable learnings, and more snow. In addition to networking, my main goal is to find a right-fit agent or editor to help my book not only get polished and published, but promoted and put into people’s hands and hearts.

Dr. Chris is praying for me to find my Boaz. That’s right. Someone like the rich landowner who first noticed Ruth, then saw her situation, nourished her, protected her, and entered into a covenant that benefited them both. His advocacy secured her future. Yes, a Boaz is just what I need. God willing, my future contract with the right agent or editor will bless everyone involved in the process, the entire Faith Alive Family, and all those who read the book.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Little Chris Still Waiting

The reason I haven't blogged lately about little Chris is that we're still waiting to hear if he's approved to have surgery in Uganda this fall. Rob from Gift of Life International took Chris's echo to the American surgeon in Uganda a few weeks ago, and is now waiting for the surgeon to take the echo back to his American team. I guess THEY'LL decide. Please continue to pray with us. Little Chris's life depends on this surgery.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Writers' Conference

“If you long for your words to make a difference in the lives of your readers, if your heart's desire is to be encouraged and equipped to write about a God who is real, who is reachable, and who changes lives, you need to come to this year's Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference and trust Him to make it possible!” Count me in!

This promising conference is at YMCA of the Rockies. In addition to the 12-24” of fresh spring snow that fell there overnight, there are eight agents and editors I’ll meet with this week to talk about my manuscript (although I still like to call it a book since that’s what it’ll be, God willing!). Can you tell I'm excited? I haven't used this many exclamation points for a looooong time!!!!

Please pray that this investment in my writing about Faith Alive will refresh my spirit, sharpen my skills, and open doors to meaningful relationships. A great roommate would also be a plus (whoever she is)!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Drugs For Life

I don't want to be a downer today, but I just have to comment on The New York Times’ lead story yesterday: “At Front Lines, AIDS War Is Falling Apart.” It reminds us that we can’t check “Fight AIDS” off our to-do list, as if it were just a trendy, short-term project. This battle is going to last at LEAST for my lifetime, and people's lives depend on our involvement. Some of those people are my dear friends.

The article quotes one AIDS worker describiing what it’s like to not know where future funding will come from for lifesaving medications. “It feels horrible. Sometimes you wonder if you’re doing people favors. You start them on drugs, you give them hope, and then you’re not sure you can keep it up. We all knew these drugs are for life.”

PLEASE keep Faith Alive in your prayers for a speedy transition to a new PEPFAR provider. And as always, continue to choose hope.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Wellspring of Hope

Faith Alive receives a major portion of its funding from PEPFAR (the United States President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief). Right now FA is transitioning from one PEPFAR provider to another, and it’s easy to get discouraged while waiting for everything to be in place. The thousands of patients at FA really need those funds to start flowing again so that they’ll continue to receive FA’s high quality of care and lifesaving medications.

I think that’s why FA’s spiritual theme for May is from Genesis 26. It tells us that Isaac was flourishing in the land. However, people were jealous and filled Isaac’s wells with earth, so he had to dig again. His crops, and hence his health and livelihood, relied on available water. He was finally successful on his third dig, and named that well Rehoboth, saying, “Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land.”

While we’re waiting for the wellspring of funds to flow again, we’re reminded of God’s faithfulness. May that bring hope and encouragement until the new provider is fully in place.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


To Nigerians this might just be another Sunday, but to Americans it's Mother's Day. I heard from both my kids (actually three of them if you count my wonderful son-in-law), and had my parents over for dinner tonight.

Click here to read about an earlier Mother's Day in Nigeria.

Dr. Chris's wife, Dr. Mercy, is like a mother to many at Faith Alive. If I were Sarah Palin (and many people say I look like her when I pull my hair back and wear my glasses), I'd say this blog is a "shout out" to Mercy for her deep compassion and care.

This photo is of her with her three children last fall on a very special day -- Emily's birthday.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Back to Work

Heigh ho, heigh ho, it's back to work (and school) they go after a National Holiday yesterday in honor of former President Yar'Adua. While the new President and government workers continue their seven days of National mourning and flags fly at half mast, the regular citizens are going back to life as normal today.

(Nigerians, the snap is of the Seven Dwarfs, some silly little fairy tale men. Hopefully they'll bring you a smile.)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Nigerian President Yar’Adua Dies

Seven days of National mourning have begun for 58-year-old President Yar’Adua (from northern Nigeria) who died yesterday. US President Obama praised Yar’Adua’s “profound personal decency and integrity” and “passionate belief in the vast potential and bright future of Nigeria’s 150 million people.”

Acting President Goodluck Jonathan (from southern Nigeria) has been sworn in as President. His next step is to appoint a Deputy (Vice President, from the north), who will most likely be next year’s presidential candidate.

Here’s some background that’ll hopefully explain all these parentheses. In Nigeria, a President from the north (Muslim) serves, followed by a President from the south (Christian), and so on. Now that Jonathan (Christian) is the President, the President to be elected next spring is supposed to be from the north (Muslim). This might be contested, however, since Jonathan’s term is just for this one year.

Whatever happens, we pray for a peaceful transfer of power. According to the BBC, Yar'Adua's election in 2007 marked the first transfer of power from one civilian president to another since Nigeria's independence in 1960.

We also join Nigeria in mourning for their President.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Jane's New Baby

I absolutely love to share good news, especially when it's about my friends' babies! At my stage in life as a new empty nester, I'M certainly not going to have any more so I live vicariously through them. Anyway, Jane had her fourth child on Monday. This healthy baby boy completes a matching set for her of two boys and two girls. His name means "one who is like God," but the phone connection wasn't good so I couldn't hear how his name's pronounced.

Jane's on maternity leave from working with Save-A-Life. She knows each of the 176 patients by name, sees them during their appointments, counsels them well, and assists Dr. Chris with them in whatever way he needs. I imagine they'll be very happy about her baby, but miss her dearly until she returns. Click here to read more about her.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

May First

I thought the first day of May was just an excuse to dance around a maypole or place flowers outside your neighbor’s front door very early in the morning. When they go outside to get their newspaper, they’ll see the gift from an anonymous giver and feel loved.

Not the case in Nigeria (and most other places in the world, it seems!). Daniel tells me that May 1 is International Workers' Day (much like our September Labor Day). Some quick online research says that this day commemorates the historic struggle of working people throughout the world, and is recognized in every country except the Canada, South Africa, and the United States (despite the fact that the holiday began in the 1880s in the United States with the fight for an eight-hour work day!).

Because May 1 fell on a Saturday this year, it was celebrated yesterday, and I think only the emergency and on-call staff worked at Faith Alive. Daniel, whose job is to manage the storeroom, celebrated that rainy day by watching an Arsenal game at a neighborhood television.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Little Chris to Uganda?

This week the director of Gift of Life International is at the Uganda Heart Institute. Among other things, he's taking little Chris's echocardiogram to ask doctors there if they'll agree to take his case. If it's a right-fit, they'll wait until later in the year when a surgeon from the United States travels to Uganda to perform the surgery with the aid of Ugandan docs.

While little Chris's echo is getting frequent flier miles, he's learning a LOT in school (and by watching his Barney DVD when the electricity is on!). His teacher says he's at the top of his class, which doesn't surprise me a bit. One day, God-willing, he'll be a great Christian leader who'll make his mom and dad proud.

Please continue to pray for God's will to be done in this dear family's life.