Friday, December 14, 2012

Praise God....we've made it back to Conakry safe and sound!! I was hesitant to send a prayer request in our last post before our road trip since I didn't want to make a big deal out of something, but it turned out that it really was a big deal. The town of Geckedou was having some major political problems which were erupting in rioting and and violence. Different rumors surfaced, but it sounds like at least 10 or more have been killed and 50+ injured by the time we would have gone through. Knowing this could present some real difficulties getting through town, so we decided to take an alternate route that is actually shorter, but so rough and difficult that it takes several hours longer. There was a medical team from Mercy Ships at Hope Clinic doing some complicated surgeries while we were there, that also needed to get back to the ship currently anchored in Conakry, and so it was decided that it would be good if we convoyed. The "Coffee road" is so rough and brutal that it would normally be avoided as much as possible, but it truly was a great idea, and the only way of by-passing the danger. We ended up having to winch their cruiser out of one mud hole, but only because he didn't choose the best way around. Such is life in Africa.

Our last day in N'zao was spent discussing the future. What is our partnership with the Mano Church going to look like? What is the next project going to be at Hope Clinic? When will it be? When will we go back and for how long? Prayer, prayer, prayer. At this time it's looking like the next project will be in about a year or so, which will be a 30 bed patient ward. This is something that could use a lot of help and organization, so it looks like it could be a good fit for us. We'll see.

Tomorrow evening, we're on a plane for Paris, a 7 hour layover to snoop around Paris, then back to the USA on Sunday. This will likely be our last post, so the blog will likely go silent again until the next trip.

God bless each of you over and over and over again for your care, concern and prayers for our journey. We would have no interest in this ministry if it wasn't for all of the support! God has been so good and so faithful to us during this trip, with so many little things happening that could have only been a result of God's special intervention through many prayers. Our heart and passion is still for the people in Southern Guinea and especially the Clinic and Church there. We trust that Jesus has been presented, magnified and hopefully been seen in a very real way by all that we came into contact with.

Sandy and Sara with Tonga

Buying some coffe in Godi

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

It's Wednesday afternoon, and we're already faced with the unpleasant task of packing and preparing to leave. This is such a short trip that it hardly seems like we've even been here. When I stroll around the clinic, there are so many projects that I see needing done that it makes it very difficult to leave. On the other hand.....writing this post with a rumbling stomach and sweat beaded up on my forhead, home is looking good also.

Since returning to N'zao, we've been pretty busy. Dwayne and I found several small projects that we knew we could complete before we left, and Sandy and Sara have been helping with household things, going to market, and helping some of the missionary ladies. Today we drove to the village of Bonouma to visit a small Christian school that Moise' and Jon are trying to get started. There is a great need in that village, so they are currently renting a delapidated two room building and trying to teach about 75 1st through 3rd graders. We then drove across town to see where they have layed the foundation for a new school, but have exhausted the current funds. Someone from home sent a very large sum of money with us to spend wisely, and we feel like this will likely be one place where some of the money will be spent.

Next we went to visit the village of Godi where our friend Ce'Kona lives. We had a lunch of fried plantain and onions, with a side of bananas at his house, and then walked into town to watch the village bringing in the harvest and preparing it to load on trucks to go to market. Large bags of coffee, Koala nuts, Bananas and other unnamed items were scattered everywhere and there was an atmosphere of hustle - bustle that made an exciting atmosphere. It was also good to be able to visit and greet some other believers that we've learned to know and stay connected with. Dwayne and Jordan decided to use the day climbing nearby Mt. Golo, which didn't seem like the best idea in the heat of the day. It's not a long hike, we've done it in 6-7 hours before, so they should be home before long.

Tomorrow morning we load up and head back on the two day drive to Conakry. We would appreciate your prayers about noon our time tomorrow, or about 7:00 AM Ohio time. We've been told that there has been some political unrest and some rioting in the town of Geckedou which we have to pass through, so we'd appreciate additional prayer that we would get through OK. Such is life in Africa.

Internet is too slow to post any pictures today, so we'll have to keep it simple.

God bless all and we truly pray for his protection and safety for the journey home.  

Monday, December 10, 2012

Wow....back at the clinic again, back into good food, warm bucket baths, and clean beds. The conference was in the village of Dieke', which is about a 2 1/2 hour drive from the clinic here at N'zao. We arrived to Dieke' on Wednesday afternoon wondering where we would be sleeping and eating. We had taken tents and cots that are used by the clinic for outreach trips into the bush, thinking we'd be prepared for anything. As it turned out, the "head Elder" of the church in Dieke', and their next door neighbors totally moved out of their houses and gave them to us. This is African culture. They wouldn't just give you a guest room, they would give you their best room, or in this case, their entire house. Now, this isn't a house like most are thinking right now. This is a plastered mud brick, 3 room home. A large room (10' x 15') where there were some chairs and a low table and two bedrooms with beds that have foam mattresses on them. The bathroom/shower was a door on the back that led to a small open roofed enclosure with a hole in the floor. That was our toilet and our shower. YUCK! A cold bucket of water from the well served as our bath. The family that moved out also served several of our meals and took very good care of us.

Thursday morning we drove to the church, which is one of the larger churches in the region. I (Brian) shared a message each morning and one evening, Dwayne shared a message each afternoon, Jordan shared messages each day with the youth and one evening, Sara shared devotions with the small children, and Sandy and Katie led devotions and teaching with the ladies each day. Jordan, Katie and Sara were quite busy with youth activities throughout each day.

Attendance varied from around 450 people on Thursday to over 800 on Sunday, including youth and children. The building was jambed on Sunday, with many standing in the back and outside. It was the kind of setting that really gets me excited and their was quite an atmosphere of celebration, praise, worship and joy in the air for the entire 5 hour service.

The weather has been very nice. In the mid/upper 80's during the day and cools down the the low 70's at night. I would call that perfect except for the suffocating humidity.

The food on the other hand, has been anything but perfect. I'm guessing we all shed a few pounds over the last 5 days and would have lost even more had it not been for the extra snacks that we had along with us to hold us over. Every meal consists of rice with some kind of "sauce" over the top. This "sauce" may be chicken, fish, beef, pork or leaves. But understand, this is not the kind of meat you are thinking of. It's the entire animal, chopped on a dirty plank with a machete, and thrown in a large pot over a fire. Yes, even feet, bones, body parts, tails, fat, skin and the hair that didn't get cleaned off. Probably the most challenging meal was Saturday morning when about 100 people from the Dieke' church got together to thank us for coming by serving us breakfast and giving us gifts. The breakfast was a huge pot of rice with sauce made of large squares of hog fat with much of the hair still on the skin and various parts from a field deer. We were fairly dainty eaters, but when we were all done, it only took a few of the ladies a minute or two scrape our platters clean.

Some of our best memories are the many moments we were given opportunities to pray specifically for people or with groups of people. So many people with so many needs that we can hardly comprehend. Sufferings, persecutions, pains, afflictions, cripples, blindness, family problems.......etc. etc. The most memorable time of prayer was what was going to be a small annointing service on Saturday evening for the most afflicted. When the congregation was given an opportunity for the "sick" to come forward, around 150 flooded forward. We devided them into three groups and just began to pray over them all, annointing and laying hands on as many as we could reach and prayed for nearly 30 minutes. Wow....and incredibly moving and humbling experience. Sandy and Katie had a most moving experience after one of the afternoon sessions with the ladies. At the close of the meeting, it erupted into spontaneous group prayer,  and then ending in 200 ladies all dancing and singing together. We could hear it from quite a ways away, and I am so convinced that the Lord was looking down with an enormous smile of satisfaction with some of His daughters.

Through the grace of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit, we trust that the Gospel was shared with truth and clarity. It's always difficult working through translators, but we know that God is able to do so much more than we could say. Our prayer is that the Mano people we grow in faith and become a source of the light of Jesus in the midst of a very dark culture.

Thank you all for the incredible generosity, prayer and help that made this possible!!!!

"Bless the Lord Oh my soul, oohhhh my soul. Worship his holy name......"

 Jordan, Katie and Sara trying to organize the kids

 At the begining of one of the morning services before the church filled up.

Competition with Cracker Barrel!  Chunks of hog fat with skin and hair and fresh field deer over rice for breakfast!!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

24 hours of international travel, then 23 hours inside a bouncing, jolting Land Cruiser, and by the grace of God and some quick thinking Angels, we’ve made it to N’zao. We had a better than average flight experience (i.e. all of our luggage made it), and the roads were no worse than normal, so other than being exhausted, God be praised for a good journey!! We only had one small scare. After going through a couple really rough stretches, we developed a serious grinding sound in the left front wheel area. This is a very unsettling feeling when you’re deep in the middle of the bush with zero repair options and approaching dusk. After removing the left front wheel, expecting to find gear and bearing parts falling out, we found it was nothing more than a stone wedged in between the backer plate and the brake rotor. Whew…..what a good feeling! We always keep record of kills on the road journey, so the official record for this trip is; goats-0, chickens-0, cows–0, 7’ Cobras -1, and only one place that we needed four-wheel drive. A good trip!

We settled in to Moses and Nowei’s house at the end of the day, took a warm bucket bath and crashed. Today we are getting unpacked, getting supplies that we brought over distributed to all the people, meeting old friends, and taking a quick walk-through at the clinic to catch up on all the changes and improvements over the last 2 years. This afternoon we are going to have a pre-conference meeting with Moses and Jon to hammer out the last minute details and make arrangements for the conference. We will leave mid-day tomorrow for the village of Dieke, which is about a 2 hour drive from here at N’zao. Our housing arrangements? Still unknown…..currently planning on tents and cots.

We all want to thank each of you for your prayers, but if you could please remain faithful with us in prayer from this Thursday through Sunday. Just imagine…..being the speakers at each and every service through a typical Annual Meeting including Young Folks, and you’ll have an idea of the load that is ahead of us.

We’ll be unable to update until we return to the Clinic Sunday night, so God bless each of you with His very best!!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Almost 9:00 PM and we're all packed and ready to roll. Tomorrow morning (Friday the 30th) it's Dayton to Atlanta, Atlanta overnight to Paris, Paris to Mauritania, then Mauritania to Conakry. Then we have two days of driving which will get us to N'zao sometime Monday night. It sounds like the roads might even be worse than normal due to the rains, so it could be a rough trip. We'll be staying with friends in N'zao Monday and Tuesday night before leaving again on Wednesday to the village of Dieke where the conference is going to be; about a 2 hour drive. Please Holy with us closely.

As I think about it, the Lord has given us an amazing yet very humbling privilege. We've been invited to share the gospel with 700-800 brothers, sisters and children in Christ among the Mano tribe in West Africa. Many of these people have never heard a white man speak, or even seen someone from another country. Could we have possibly imagined such a thing 20 years or more ago?? God is so amazing......putting the "members of the body in the body as he has purposed". What should we teach? How should we teach? Where will we be? When..........hmmmmmm, please Holy Spirit, walk with us closely.

On one hand, we are prepared with topics, ideas, notes and activities to teach the youth, ladies and men....but on the other hand, we have no idea really what to expect. Will the youth cooperate and be interested in what Jordan, Katie and Sare have planned? Will the ladies be inspired by what Sandy and Katie have prepared? Will the men and larger gathering be captivated by what Dwayne, Jordan and I have to share? Sometimes this business of walking by faith can be a but unnerving. Please Holy Spirit.....teach through us closely.

It will be next Tuesday at the earliest before we can get online again. We'll update you when we arrive. God's best and richest blessings to all of you......good night.....please Holy Spirit...keep us all together in your care.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

After a two year season of quiet, our efforts in Guinea, West Africa are surfacing again. We have been invited to go over to Guinea this winter to attend a large gathering of the believers among the Mano tribe. The Mano tribe is spread over a large area of the rainforest of Southern Guinea and share an identity among themselves unique from other tribes in Guinea. As belief in the gospel message has spread through the region, there is growing interest in fellowship and unity among the believers. For the last several years, they have been meeting in different villages, once a year, for 3-4 days of preaching, teaching and fellowship. Moise Mamy, one of the leaders at the local church of N’zao and of the larger Mano tribe sent an invitation to us to come over and help teach the series of meetings the first week of December. It looks like a large task considering there will be around 500 – 700 people there, so we are quite interested in much prayer for the truth of the scriptures to be shared with the authority of the Spirit. At this time of planning, our group will be Sandy and I, Jordan and Katie, our daughter Sara and Dwayne Wilson. Jordan, Dwayne and I will lead in teaching to the larger group, then smaller groups of men and youth. Sandy, Katie and Sara will be challenged with teaching women’s groups and youth. We invite each of you to pray with us about this as we seek The Father’s purpose and direction in this discipleship challenge.

In other news, Hope Medical clinic in N’zao is thriving! The decision was made last year to nationalize the clinic, in other words, hand complete control of the clinic over to the leadership and administration of the local Guineans. This is a huge transitional step which will mean that non-nationals such as all of the current American staff will gradually turn over their roles to national staff. Since the opening of the clinic 7 years ago, the vision has always been to assist the nationals in initial funding, training and education, and then turn it over as soon as they were capable of moving forward on their own. This time has come and it is quite exciting! There will continue to be many opportunities for anyone to help them as they continue on, such as the proposed new 30 bed addition that will likely begin sometime next year.

Also, N’zao Christian academy is also thriving and growing. If you remember a newsletter we sent nearly 3 years ago, we included a photo of a piece of bare ground that was purchased for a school. This school is slowly being built and is over 300 children strong already. The tractor that many of you helped purchase has been very helpful in maintenance and growth in both the clinic and the school.

Again, your prayers and support will be greatly valued as we make plans and preparations for the trip this winter. For any that are interested, there is a fund set up with Vineyard Fellowship to collect money to support this trip.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Home again!

Well, things have slowed down quite a bit since we arrived back in Ohio. I know that I said that I'd have one more post after I got home, but I realized that there just isn't much to say. It is good to be home, but we weren't really ready to leave Africa, so homecoming is a bit anticlimatic.
It is amazing how much food we have here. Not only how much, but how huge of a variety we have! I don't think I've ever thought before about how many choices we have and how much is available here in the good ole USA. We have nearly endless choices in the meat department, dairy department, vegetables, fruit, etc, etc. In Guinea, meat is a rarity, and processed or pre-packaged foods are almost non-existant. Most everyone there eats only two meals a day, and they will most generally be rice with some kind of sauce made from meat, peanuts or leaves over the top. The rice is so gritty from threshing and drying it on the ground that a lot of peoples teeth are ground down from the constant grinding of dirt with each meal. Anyway, we have no idea what a blessing (?) it is to have so much food! Moise always chuckled when we said "it's time to eat". He points out that Americans eat when it's "time", not when they are hungry or need food. In Africa, you eat to fill an empty stomach, not simply because it's "time".
But the biggest question going through our mind is.....where do we go from here? God has clearly placed a bit of our heart with the people in West Africa, and it seems like it would be nearly impossible not to stay involved. Without a doubt, we are completely trusting in God to lead us into whatever the next step is. At this time we are looking down the road at the likelyhood of a big need developing when Hope Medical Clinic decides they have enough money to start a new maternity facility. At this time they are thinking that they'll be ready to start the project in about two years so that gives us a little time to decide how involved we will be. Our hearts would like to consider going over for a long enough stay to help move the project from start to finish, but we're not sure if that could be a reality or not. Without a doubt, we couldn't undertake a long term stay without our friends and supporters. We want to say a HUGE thank you to each of you that have supported us and prayed with us up to this time! We'll likely publish an update down the road when we see future needs or when we have a better idea of what our future looks like with the ministry God has called us to in Guinea. Until then, thank you for your part in our journey, and let's each exalt the name of Yahweh and his only Son as we look to them for direction for our future!
God's greatest blessings to each of you,

Brian, Sandy and family

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Time to leave :(

Well, the time that we have been dreading is here, it's time to leave and go home. It is going to be quite difficult to leave when we have such a huge part of our hearts here. I'm not going to miss sleeping under mosquito netting, never touching any water unless it's filtered or boiled, speaking in "signs and wonders" (waving your hands around and wondering if they get it) and several other things like that, but I'm sure looking forward to many of the reasons home is home. We have been here for two months and now it's seeming more like home here also, so much so that it would seem unnatural not to think about the next trip.

This photo shows the market where Sandy shops each week for our basic foods. There are quite a few options, but the question is whether you'd want to eat it or not. Every market day is a walk of faith.

Sara has been helping out a little more at the clinic. She has been working alongside another nurse here, taking vitals and helping with other tasks around the clinic. She has really enjoyed the variety of things she has done here and is quite certain that they are going to need her in the future :)

Last Sunday we spent the whole day driving about an hour to see the beginnings of a huge Iron ore mining operation. An Israeli company is partnering with a Brazilian company to explore and eventually mine what they believe to be one of the largest iron ore deposits in the world. They have been drilling and mapping this mountain for over two years and are just now getting the actual mining operation set up and started. They will be building a railroad into Liberia to take the shortest route to a deap water port for export. We spent part of the day on top of the mountain having a picnic.

This photo shows the patients watching the Jesus film while waiting their turn to be seen by one of the doctors or nurses.

To all of you that have helped support the tractor project, our trip and other small projects, thank you, thank you, thank you!! We have already put about 70 hours on the tractor and their are many projects yet to begin. It will help them get tasks done without having to spend as much on labor costs and managing the amount of labor it would take to do what the tractor can do. The vision at Hope is serving the needs of this part of the world and sharing the good news of Jesus through offering a medical service. It would be nice to hire local labor to do all of the work, but that just requires more management and minimizes the medical emphasis of the mission.

This past week has been spent wrapping up all of the many projects we've been working on. It was nice having more help with Jordan, Luke and Grant here, so we really made a lot of headway in one week. It is amazing how God has totally arranged this whole trip. When we booked the dates, we had no idea when would be the best dates and how long the trip should be. But the amazing thing is, because of some logistical challenges here, we couldn't have started our work any earlier, and it took us exactly two months to wrap up what needed to be done. There is no way we could have known, but it was exactly the right time and length of time for our trip and we can only praise God for having orchstrated everything as He has done. The photo to the right is of Luke building a new workbench in our shop.

On the other side, there are many, many more things to be done here at Hope. As the facility grows and more staff arrives, there are more and more needs that are very difficult to find local help to do. The goal is to train local natives to take care of all the day to day operation, but that also takes time. We are leaving with the deep feeling that we'll be coming back and helping to continue what God has obviously put in our path. We will likely be appreciative of any that would feel to partner with us on future projects, helping to serve these people in a muchly needed way. It's beginning to look like we should start learning French! :) The children that come here from week to week with many troubles and ailments, and then leave with a smile all say thank you to everyone that has helped contribute to the possibility of them receiving treatment with love!
Yesterday, while Jordan and I wrapped up a few things around the shop and clinic, Stephen took Luke, Grant, his son Matthew, Sara and Amos (the anesthesioligist's son) to Mt. Nimba, which is about 1 1/2 hours south of here, and they all climbed to the top. It is the highest mountain in West Africa, sharing a the border with Liberia and Ivory Coast. It was an all day trip and they brought back some incredible photos of scenery and wildlife and a few blisters.

Tomorrow morning we leave at 6:00 for the two day drive back to Conakry for our flight out on Wednesday evening. We arrive back home Thursday evening. We'll probably post once more when we get home. We'd appreciate your prayers for the journey!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Jordan was out clearing up some old trees that had been laying around the other day, and next thing I noticed he had picked up a couple passengers. The little guy in the gray shirt has been living here at the clinic for several months since his mother is here with severe burns to her face. She is epileptic and fell in her cooking fire and is now going through skin grafts and facial repairs. These two guys rode around without saying a word and in absolute awe with the whole situation.

Last week pretty much wrapped up our biggest goal here, and that is to get both houses finished up and ready for new staff. This week, our last week of work :(, will be spent primarily getting a better organized and equipped maintenance facility. Hope Clinic has grown so fast that it has nearly outpaced it's own ability to be prepared for maintenance and new projects. We hope to have it all organized into plumbing, electrical, welding, mechanical and woodworking sections by the time we leave, with two men , Gbato and Ce'Kona, being better trained and equipped to handle the jobs. Sandy's been keeping a sewing machine pretty warm, making curtains for different homes here and doing some small mending/altering jobs for some of the ladies here. She has made a big difference around here, making some of the houses feel more like homes.

It's beginning to look like there is going to be some significant growth here in the coming years, with the first area of focus being maternity. This is so desperately needed in this area with many mothers and children dying unnecessary deaths simply because of a complete lack of health care in this area. Just two weeks ago, the groundskeeper's wife was having troubles during delivery of her child. After waiting far too long, they finally took her to a hospital in N'Zerekore where they attempted a C-section. The baby was born dead. This is an example of what happens all too often, and is quite preventable. As soon as the finances and resources come in through gifts and donations, the vision is to build a 40-50 bed maternity ward with delivery rooms and all of the things necessary for baby care. This will be quite exciting, and we're hoping that it is made possible in the near future. Partnerships and donations are always welcome.

Christmas day for us this year was different than any Christmas day has ever been. We took off in the Landcruiser at 8:00 AM and drove to the village of Yalenzou. Yalenzou is the village where some of you may remember us talking about the local witch doctor and the devil society tearing down the church and driving all of the local believers out of the village a couple years ago. But as a testimony to the enduring truth of the gospel, it was decided that Yalenzou would be the location for a great Christmas gathering and celebration of many churchs from surrounding villages. Hundreds of people met in the center of the village and then walked through the village singing as we all went to a small stream at the edge of the village. There is very little organization or protocol which made it even more enjoyable, but made it take quite a while to get the crowd there and the new converts all ready. With much singing and dancing, and a lengthy prayer, Moise and Jon began to baptize the 31 people that had decided to follow Jesus over the past several months. The stream, which is actually on the border between Guinea and Liberia, was hardly deep enough for the job, not even coming up to the knees. No problem, just push a few rocks aside, sit them down in the water and lay them down on their backs. Such celebrations, singing and dancing I have never seen. At one point, Moise thought it was a little too quiet so he reminded the crowd that this wasn't a funeral but a new birth at which point they got all wound up again! When they were done at the stream, they all began to sing their way back in a long procession to the center of town, where they had prepared a building to have a church service in. I estimated there was around 400-450 people in that building including all of the children. The service lasted about 3 hours with much singing and then sharing communion together after the preaching. We drove back to the clinic in the afternoon and shared a late afternoon feast with all of the missionaries here for our Christmas dinner. It's quite difficult to think "Christmas" in a culture that doesn't even recognize Jesus. However, that is the primary vision of everyone here at Hope, and that is to make sure that Jesus is introduced to all, and that the little stream at the edge of Yalenzou will be even busier through the next year!

It doesn't take but a few minutes after getting into a new village, that all the local children come running to see the "white skins". Our kids are soon swarmed with dirty little kids all wanting to be the closest, and all wanting to shake their greasy little hands.
We trust you are all having a great Christmas filled with Love, Joy and Peace! This is the great message of Jesus that wraps around the globe to every nation, kindred, tongue and tribe!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The kids made it!

Not that we really had any concerns, but it sure is good that the kids made it here safe and sound. They left home Thursday evening, and arrived in Africa Friday evening about 10:00 PM. They got about four hours of sleep and then departed at 5:00 AM for the drive down here to N'zao. They managed to make the drive in 17 1/2 hours, which is more than the human body should be able to take, let alone the tired little Toyota that took the beating, and rolled in here around 10:30. It's only been 6 weeks, but it sure is good to see them again. Jordan, Katie, Luke and one of Luke's friends, Grant Miller came out.

Picture of Jon on the tractor mowing the roadside at the edge of the village. School had just let out so he had quite an audience. (We continue to love the tractor over here!!)

Last Saturday we had a very interesting day. Jacque, the pharmacist here at the clinic, asked if we'd like to go see a rubber plantation. We borrowed a car and Sandy, Sara, Jacque, his wife and daughter and I drove about 2 1/2 hours west toward the Liberian border. It didn't take 2 1/2 hours because it was so far, but because we only averaged about 25 mph. Jacque's wife even got sick at one point from the twisting rough roads, but seeing a rubber plantation from the tree to the factory and then to the exporter was worth the rough drive and a lot more. I had almost no idea how you harvest the raw product from the tree, much less process it and get it ready to export. Most of the containers in the warehouse waiting to be shipped were marked "Michelin", so they must have been a large supplier for Michelin tires. This particular area of Guinea has thousands of acres of rubber trees, all planted in nice rows with a little pot hanging on the side collecting the white rubber resin that drips from a groove cut around the tree. A most fascinating day.

But the most exciting thing about this week was the news we got from Jordan and Katie last night! We had been over at Katie's families house for the evening, and we noticed when we left to walk home about 9:00 PM, that Jordan and Katie went another direction. It was a beautiful full moon and a nice evening to go for a walk (and hope the snakes weren't out), so we smiled and went home to bed. About 45 minutes later they walked in, burst right into our bedroom, and Katie nearly leaped across the room with a huge smile showing us a nice diamond ring on her finger! The timing was perfect for everyone here, it's certainly the only time they could be with both her parents and us at the same time. Plus, it fulfilled Katie's dream of being proposed to in the land she's spent most of her life in. It looks like we'll be having a wedding sometime next summer when Stephen and Lori will be in the States on a short home assignment.

Sara and I had another interesting experience last week. We were finishing up the doctors house we've been working on when we heard some loud popping and snapping, almost like a gun on the other side of the wall along the road. We ran to a high place to see that the 10' tall grass along the road had caught on fire, and in this baking hot weather with a slight breeze, it was burning hot and starting to spread pretty fast. We sent out a shout and went running. Gbato, Ce'Kona and one of the guards grabbed buckets, and I hopped on the tractor. A few more came running from the village and helped carry water up from the swamp. I started clearing a bare area ahead of the fire to stop it while all the others fought the fire with buckets. For a while we thought it was going to take out one of the neighbors pig pens, but we were succesful before it caused any damage. The funniest thing I've seen in a while was Ce'kona racing around through the smoke and burning grass fighting the fire in flip-flops! I think his feet must be made of organic cast iron.

CAMA services is the umbrella organization that is now running this clinic. One of their other ministries in this part of the world is working with refugees. With the problems going on across our southern border in the Ivory Coast right now, there is talk around here of what could happen if refugees begin to flee Ivory Coast and come this direction. Just a couple weeks ago we thought we might have to leave Guinea, and now it looks like our neighbors might have to flee this direction. The lack of any kind of political stability is most incredible, and you would think it would make me complain less about our own government......but it probably won't :)

Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a Jesus focused time of celebration!!!!!