Sunday, February 28, 2010
For the last six years Faith Alive has received PEPFAR funds through Catholic Relief Services /AIDSRELIEF. While that partnership is ending today at Faith Alive’s request (due to several reasons), Faith Alive needs a new right-fit partner to take care of about 3,000 HIV+ patients who receive their lifesaving ARV medications. DR. CHRIS AND I ASK YOU TO PLEASE PUT THIS REQUEST AT THE TOP OF YOUR PRAYER LIST. So many lives are at stake.
PEPFAR is the United States President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief. Click here to learn more about it.
Friday, February 26, 2010
I’m excited to attend a workshop tomorrow called Writing Book Proposals: How to think like an editor, seduce a publisher, and land a lucrative book deal. It’s offered by Lighthouse Writers in Denver, which I just joined. Like the old American Express ads, let’s hope membership has its privileges. Or in this case that it equips me to find a right-fit agent, sell my manuscript to a reputable publisher, and produce a God-honoring book that thousands of people read and recommend to their friends and family. That’s not too much to ask, right?!
Lighthouse Writers is in this lovely old home (pictured), but tomorrow’s workshop is at Whole Foods. Bummer for the atmosphere, kudos for the lunch selection.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
According to the BBC, the 58-year-old's surprise return from Saudi Arabia comes two weeks after Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan took over as Acting President. Nigerian President Yar'Adua's condition is not being revealed, although an ambulance met his plane in Abuja (the capital city) when he arrived.
"President Yar'Adua wishes to reassure all Nigerians that on account of their unceasing prayers and by the special grace of God, his health has greatly improved," the president's spokesman, Olusegun Adeniyi, said in a statement. "However, while the president completes his recuperation, Vice-President Jonathan will continue to oversee the affairs of state," it added.
Dr. Chris has asked us all to keep Nigeria in our prayers.
Monday, February 22, 2010
It's not just choosy moms who choose Jiffy. People in Africa have realized that vitamin-enhanced peanut butter can bring a severly malnourished person back to life. The nuts (called "ground nuts" in Nigeria) are grown locally and in abundance. Based on the larger scale "Plumpy Nut" product, Faith Alive has developed its own. For more information, click here.
(Slideshow compiled by Cindy Frost with photos I took in spring 2009)
Sunday, February 21, 2010
If you haven't already listened to this interview with Dr. Chris, I encourage you to click on the video to the right (the one with his picture). I've seen it before. Actually I was in the room during the interview in January 2008. Dr. Chris had been so focused, even with a mouse running across the floor and occasional sounds of cheering in the distance for a soccer game. Anyway, please watch the video if you want to be inspired. I saw it again this weekend and remembered that God himself is at work at Faith Alive.
(Video interview by Chris Harper of Fort Collins)
Friday, February 19, 2010
Every now and then I search on youtube for videos about Jos, Nigeria. I found one from a Nigerian poet/rapper that's worth a listen. I say listen rather than look, because the entire visual consists of the word JOStified on the screen (and the camera's a bit shaky). If you have a few minutes and want to hear an insightful poem, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oupqQPPluks. It's a play on "justified," asking if the recent violence really can be. Let me know what you think.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Holly just sent me these great photos from her trip this month. She said that little Chris is “a sweetheart.” By the time she left Nigeria, he had finally started calling Holly by HER name (instead of calling her MINE!). He likes to play, but coughs and breathes heavy. Just last week he missed a bit of preschool because he didn’t feel well. Please, please, please, let’s ramp up the prayers to get Gift of Life International to say “yes” for heart surgery.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Let’s pray that a name is destiny. Last week, Nigeria’s Vice President (Goodluck Jonathan) assumed the role of Acting President. Elected President Umaru Yar’Adua left the country November 23, and is reportedly in Saudi Arabia receiving medical treatment for his heart and kidneys. A Muslim, he did not sign over powers to his Christian VP. I’m not clear who decided to make the transition official, or if it’s even constitutional, but Mr. Jonathan has assumed power.
He said, "I am fully aware of the responsibilities reposed in me, and I want to reassure all Nigerians that this is a sacred trust, which I shall discharge to my fullest abilities." In a country with a history of military coups, he thanked the armed forces for "their loyalty and devotion to duty during this trying period."
"The circumstances - in which I find myself assuming office today as acting president of our country - are uncommon, sober and reflective," he said. "More than ever therefore, I urge all Nigerians as a people who have faith in God to pray fervently for the full recovery of our dear president, and his early return."
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Zero. Nadda. Zip. Last night I watched athletes from each participating nation march into the Canadian stadium. They waved their country flags proudly. Sure, it was a long shot, but you never know. My suspicions were confirmed when a large Norway contingent appeared. No green and white from my African home. I’m actually not surprised, because about the coldest it gets in Nigeria is around 50 or 60 degrees Fahrenheit (10-15.5 Celcius). Which begs the question…what’s Ghana doing in the winter Olympics?
In addition to rooting for the United States, I’m going to cheer for Canadian speed skater and Olympic medalist Cindy Klassen. She visited Faith Alive in 2006, and appears in the video “When Life is the Prize.” It highlights Faith Alive and a Save-A-Life patient. Let me know if you want to borrow the video. Or you can order a copy at http://secure.mcc.org/mccstore/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=479. Cindy's personal website is http://www.cindyklassen.com/index.html#.
Just wait. Nigeria’s turn is coming this summer at the World Cup.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
I’m not sure if the correct term is homesick or heartsick, but I’m certain that I REALLY miss being in Nigeria with my friends. So much so that I’m considering a trip there this spring to reconnect. My excuse, albeit a valid one, is that I need to talk in person with Drs. Chris and Mercy about my book proposal and opening chapters before I meet with potential literary agents in May.
Plan A, which trumps everything else, is to be available for Daniel and little Chris if and when the heart surgery gets approved. Rob at Gift of Life International says the approval process takes months, and it’s already been three. Please pray that the answer is “yes,” and that’s it’s sooner rather than later.
Plan B, which I’m just exploring, is to go to Nigeria this spring (don't faint, Mom and Dad!). I appreciate prayers for discernment about my possible trip. Holly has paved the way, being the first U.S. visitor since the January crisis in Jos. Praise God, she’s on her way home after a safe and meaningful experience.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
“Okada” in Nigeria means motorcycle, and there aren’t many on Jos roads these days. My friend Nna says there’s an “embargo” on them, which means they aren’t legally allowed since the January crisis. Well, this is a MAJOR deal there because most people rely on okadas for basic transportation – to and from work, the market, appointments, etc. I wonder how Faith Alive’s home-based-care team is getting around; they depend on their okadas.
At least temporarily, Jos residents have to rely on car taxis, which are generally filled to the brim with passengers (literally!). Okada drivers who count on their bikes for income have to look elsewhere for work or sneak small-small rides, at the risk of getting caught. Because finding enough room in a taxi is extra challenging now, people have to leave work hours early to make sure they’re home in time for the 6 p.m. curfew.
I’ve never ridden on a Nigerian okada, and don’t intend to. Dr. Chris advises his guests to only ride in Faith Alive cars with Faith Alive drivers; they keep us safe. Maybe that’s why I like our drivers Greg, Goddy, Innocent, and Victor so much.
(Photos from Google Images)
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Some people I know in Maryland are without their electricity this weekend because of a blizzard. Unless they have one of the new ipads with a 10-hour battery (wait, ipads aren’t available until March), they are left, disconnected, in the dark. Being from snowy Colorado, I empathize with them. I have layered on sweaters and coats during the day, huddled under blankets at night (sometimes even WITH those sweaters still on!), read by candlelight, hoped my refrigerator contents didn’t spoil, and even relished a few days to slow down.
While it’s extremely rare in the United States, going without electricity is normal in Nigeria. There, people don’t know when the electric company will choose to turn on the power. Will they be able to have an x-ray today or wait until the tuberculosis has worsened before getting a prescription? Will they be able to iron their shirt before their job interview? Will they have light in the bathroom or will they shave in darkness again? You can bet that they don’t need light to get around.
Last month my friends in Jos were confined to their homes for 24 hours a day. They didn’t worry about their food spoiling, because most of them didn’t have anything extra. I bet they also didn’t take advantage of the time to do jigsaw puzzles by candlelight, catch up on their reading, and play games with their kids. No, their minds were soaked with fear and uncertainty about living through each day. They prayed, read their bibles fervently, sang praises to God, and slept with one eye open.
Fortunately, these crises don’t occur often. Well, that’s a matter of perspective. Are 1999, 2001, 2008, and 2009 regularly? A blizzard in America might come that frequently, but we’re equipped to handle it. The next time I’m homebound without electricity, I hope I remember to read the bible, sing praises as I stay safe and warm, and pray for those in the world who live in worse conditions on a daily basis.
Friday, February 5, 2010
I heard an author say recently that the writing part is easy. It’s the re-writing (and re-writing, and re-writing, etc.) that’s hard. Amen to that!
I’m not sure how to answer people when they ask about the book I’m writing about Faith Alive. When I say “I’m learning how long it takes to get five really good pages,” I imagine they think I move at a snail’s pace (not true). My new answer is “I’m working two different tracks at the same time – one is the actual writing, and the other is the publishing.” My Goal List has a line down the middle, with “Christian Writers’ Conference, May 2010” at the bottom. The left side lists the three REALLY well written, fully polished chapters I’ll need to submit to agents at the conference. The right side lists the promotional items I’ll need (REALLY well written 25-page book proposal, complete with market analysis, and a professionally developed website and business cards).
So feel free to ask me about my book. Just let me know if you want the short answer, “It’s coming along well,” or the longer version.
On another note, I heard that Russ arrived in Jos yesterday, and that Holly had a bit of stomach ailment (hopefully short-lived). Also, prayers are still very much appreciated for Daniel and Rahila. He said, “We are passing through a very hard time” after the loss of their baby daughter.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Every month Faith Alive has a spiritual theme. February’s is “that I may know him,” based on Philippians 3:10. That chapter starts out with an applicable warning to “Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh.” In just the last few weeks, many Nigerians witnessed and all saw evidence of “those dogs” and need reassurance that God is still on His throne.
“I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
On another note, I talked briefly on the phone this morning with Daniel and Holly. She’s offered to babysit little Chris tomorrow so Daniel and Rahila may celebrate their fourth wedding anniversary.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Routines are returning to normal this week at Faith Alive. According to Lydia, who along with Rita leads the sewing school, the girls came back to class yesterday after a few weeks away. I assume that's also true of the knitting and computer classes.
"Are all the girls okay?" I asked. "Yes, they are all fine," Lydia said. I've learned that "fine" means a host of things, so I reworded my question. "Were any of their homes burnt?" Praise God the answer was "No, they are all doing well."
However, the good news doesn't apply to a graduate of the sewing shop down the street. Her family's home was burnt and her father was injured; I'm not sure where they're living now but have faith that they're being supported.