Monday, August 19, 2013

First Day of School

Some days it is still hard to believe that I am one of "those moms"! You know.....a homeschooling mom!  I know you are thinking, "Really Tabitha, you are a Africa....with 4 kids.  You are one of THOSE moms!".  

When we faced the reality of homeschooling I must admit I was a bit nervous with the thought of teaching and very overwhelmed with all the options for curriculums.  But we prayed about  and dove into the books last December shortly after arriving on the field and had a great year.  And I can honestly say that I was looking forward to starting this year.  I am not the most patient person (ask my mother!) and I always feared "losing my patience" while teaching my own children.  And while there have been days where I closed up the books and said, "We are done for today. Go play outside", over all the Lord gave abundant grace and enabled me to do something that is totally outside of my nature.

Now, I am one of those moms looking for science projects and crafts and reading homeschooling blogs.  And I have to say, I LOVE IT!


And yes, they are all barefoot for school.  But hey, we live in Africa!

Thankful I get to spend all those special moments with these 3 little monkeys!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Fetish Ring Burning

Well,  I am still so very behind on blogging.  I am so sorry!  We shared this story in one of our last prayer letters but I wanted to put it here as well.  How the Lord works will never cease to amaze me.  And we are completely humbled that can be just a small part of how Christ is changing hearts and lives of the people here in Togo.

Several weeks ago John and the kids were able to attend a very special baptism service.  Ansley was still just a few days old, so I kept her and Aiden home.  They left around 7am and did not return until 4pm!  It was hot season and when they got home they were hot and exhausted but the girls were overflowing with excitement about what they saw.
One of the baptisms

Inside the bamboo walled church

Some of the church people

Some of the children. Aren't they beautiful!?

Listening to the service.
At  this service, one young man stood and shared his testimony.  After seeing an evangelistic film at church and hearing a Gospel presentation, he gave his heart to Christ. As he spoke, he shared how he as a young man had been given a ring by a charlatan (a fetish witchdoctor) who told him if he ever took the ring off that he would die, or be killed by spirits. 
As a testimony to his new faith in Christ, he brought the ring to church to be publicly removed and burned.
He removed his ring.

Burning the fetish ring outside of the church.

To many Americans, Fetishism and Animism seems like something of the past, but it is very much a part of so many people lives here in Africa.  Many times people go to "church" but then leave to practice fetishism out of fear of displeasing the spirits. This young man was publicly saying, "I am not afraid of the spirits anymore. I serve a mighty God."

What a step of faith for someone who was so deeply rooted in fetishism, what an example of how the Lord can change a heart, and what a testimony of the verse “Greater is HE that is in me, than he that is in the world”.    

Friday, August 16, 2013

Togoville- A Fetish Village

John's sister, Jeana, recently came for a visit. The day before she left from Lome (the capital port city) we went to Togoville which is the oldest village in Togo.  It sets on the side of Lake Togo so we were able to take an old fishing boat across the lake and walk around the old village that is still steeped in Fetishism.

Lake Togo

On board the old fishing boat. The kids started singing, "Peter, James & John on the sailboat".

Hooking up the sail.
 This guy paddled our way across the large lake.  It took about 20 minutes to cross and the whole time I was praying I wouldn't get sick!

The shore of Togoville with some old fishing boats.

Out fishing.

 An old Catholic church in Togoville.


While this is the first established, and oldest, village in Togo it actually looks just like the villages where we live.

 The first real well.  It is still the main only water source for the village.
Children collecting water from the well.
We were able to pay a few dollars and have a guide walk us around the village. The village is known for its deep involvement in fetsish practices.  As we walked, the guide pointed out various fetish trinkets.  This apparently was the site of a small fetish sacrifice that took place shortly before we arrived.
 This large tree is the center of the village where sacrifices are made in order to appease the spirits.
 A closer picture of the fetish tree.

This is the female fetish idol for the village 
 This scene just broke my heart.  While we were deeply disturbed by all the fetish involvement in the village, for these children is it commonplace. They were running around playing right by the idols.  Unless they hear about Jesus, they most likely will grow up to be involved in these same fetish practices.

 This is the male fetish idol.  While it looks very old (and it is probably close to 100 years old according to the guide) it is still being used for fetish services.
 Another fetish item just outside someone's home.

 More of the village.
 This is the fetish tree that is believed to protect families in the village.  Families will make sacrifices under this tree in order to gain the protection of the spirits for their family. Their put their efforts into appeasing spirits.   How sad.  I am thankful that I can rest under the wings of an Almighty God who has promised to care for my family!
 Just outside the village.  While we walked around and the guide pointed out the fetish items the kids, of course, had lots of questions.  They were saddened to hear that these people do not believe in Jesus.  What a great reminder to them and us of why we are here.


Happy 7th Birthday Eliza

Well, we finally got a new computer so now I will be able to catch up on some blog posts....from the last 3 months!!  Yikes!  Our other laptop is dying and would not let me posts blogs.  I hope to catch up over the next couple days.

And what better thing to restart blogging with than a PARTY!!  Eliza turned 7 Wednesday...cue the tears.  I can not believe John and I have a seven year old child, especially a 7 year old who thinks she is 27!  So here are a few pics of her big day that started out with, "Mommy, I think I am taller today.  Really, I am."
 Eliza saw a picture of a 14 layer cake and told me that was the cake she wanted for her birthday.  With the heat and humidity (and apparently my lack of baking 14 layer cake skills) it wasn't the prettiest cake, but she was happy with it!
 It definitely tasted better than it looked.

My oldest and my youngest.

All of the missionary kids who came to party with Eliza.  They just had to do a silly face pose.
Sam, Grant, Olivia, Eliza, Aiden, Luke and Drew

Giant gum balls that Nanny & Popa brought over a few weeks ago.

The Rapunzel theme was a least for the girls!  The boys at the party were troopers. When the kids came in, Eliza said, "Boys, I am sorry it's a girly party."  And Grant said, "That's ok, Eliza.  It's your party and you are a girl!"  Such a sweet boy.
This brought tears to my eyes.  The little lego treasure box was a gift from Sam.  And the lego man was from the Dekryger boys.  They all ran home and tried to find something to give Liza for a gift.  Kids have such a different perspective on "things" here.  So I thought it was very thoughtful that these boys gave something of their own. In a way it was more than a simple gift.  I was a sacrifice.

 Eliza said this was her favorite gift.  I think she knew it was special!
Party time!!! Hot dogs (that I found in Lome), Pringles and oranges.  What more does a kid need!!

While the big kids partied, Ansley was happy just to hang out and watch. 

Aiden and Grant

Eliza and Lizzy

Luke and Lizzy

Opening gifts.
Outside for games!

Aiden and Liza watching the other kids play.
I just LOVE this picture.  This is Eliza and Madame Akofa on the day Eliza was born and then again on her 7th birthday.  Eliza simply adores Madame Akofa.

John and I took Eliza over to the hospital to show her where she was born.  While we were there we saw Soudji (one of my nursing students 7 years ago who knew Eliza as a baby) and he sang "Happy Birthday" to her in French.  You can tell she was all giggles!
John showing Eliza off right after she was born. And then now on her Birthday.
Just a few minutes after Eliza was born.  Excuse my appearance.  I sure do look like I just gave birth to a 9 lb. 13 oz. baby, after 40 hours of labor....without pain the Africa! Yikes!
  And then, me and Eliza in the same room she was born in 7 years ago. 

Eliza is such a gift to our family. I am amazed at the kind, loving young lady she is becoming.  We are so blessed! 

 Happy Birthday Sweet Eliza!

My family

My family