The Value of Water

I do not fully understand the impact of water. Even after trying to educate myself more about the value of water, it is something I still take for granted. Even after seeing receive semi-accessible water, I still do not appreciate its true importance.

I say semi-accessible because the village does not have water in every hut. They do not even have water in every extended-family compound. There are approximately four spigots distributed throughout the village of 2,000 people. That is one faucet for every 500 people!

Yet, when a few of us met with the village's chief last week, he continued to talk about the water God brought to his village. He did not just talk about it a little bit. After receiving the water almost two years ago, the chief continued talking about the water at great length. The chief talked about how the accessible water improved the villagers' health; saved the villagers' time; and allowed them to have a functional, year-round garden.

I think the village chief understands the value of water a lot more than I do. In fact, the chief was so appreciative about having water for his village that I felt very convicted. For a brief amount of time that afternoon I felt I should just focus all of my efforts into bringing water to those who need it. Admittedly, those thoughts have passed, but no the conviction about being more aware of helping those who need life-giving water.

What that looks like, I do not know, but it is something I will have to chew on and look toward for the future. May I be given a heart for providing physical water as I also gain an ever-increasing desire to share the living water.

Typical Water Spigots In Village

Typical Water Spigots In Village

Gene with the spigot

Gene with the spigot

Small Number of Water Containers Waiting In Line

Small Number of Water Containers Waiting In Line

First Day With Accessible Water

First Day With Accessible Water

The Water Is Stored In Cisterns

The Water Is Stored In Cisterns

Refilling the Cistern

Refilling the Cistern

 

Maslow In Real Life

Back when I was in school, I learned about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Essentially, Maslow’s theory was that as one need is met, people move onto their next need that is unmet. At the time, it seemed like a very sound concept and one that appeared to be true. Despite that, though, it was only a theory that had very little actual application in my life.

This year’s visit allowed me to see Maslow’s hierarchy lived out in real life. I had the opportunity to be able to talk with some of the leaders of our host organization and of Ndjemane. This year, their prayer requests were slightly different from in the past. When my church first arrived in Ndjemane, two of their major prayer requests were for water and for healthcare.

Over the years, God has answered those prayers. We have sent multiple medical clinics to the village and they now have accessible water.

When we first came to Ndjemane, the villagers had to travel for about an hour every day or two to get water from the closest water source. Just getting water had an incredible impact on their lives. Through donations, our church was able to raise enough money to provide the equipment and supplies needed to bring water directly into the village.

There are now four different water spigots located throughout the village. Nowadays you can walk out to any given water spigot and you will see dozens of five-gallon water containers waiting to be filled. The village of 2,500 now has easily accessible water. Basic need met; moving on.

This year, the needs had shifted slightly. The leaders of the village were interested in installing a grain silo. Obviously, the silo would allow them to better withstand drought situations like they are experiencing this year. I am not sure how or even if Forest Hill will play a part in helping Ndjemane get a grain silo. There are a lot of discussions between our host organization, Ndjemane, and other villages about sharing a common silo(s), etc. so they can figure out the best approach for the future of the area.

I hope they are able to get some type of grain storage system set up. I wonder if, as that need is met, what would be their next need that needs to be addressed. I will have to checkmout Maslow’s chart for that information. For now, though, I rejoice in the fact that a village very close to my heart can get water with limited work and effort.

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Remembering D-Day

June 6, 1944, 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily-fortified French coastline to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France. General Dwight D. Eisenhower called the operation a crusade in which “we will accept nothing less than full victory.” More than 5,000 Ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the D-Day invasion, and by day’s end on June 6, the Allies gained a foot- hold in Normandy. The D-Day cost was high -more than 9,000 Allied Soldiers were killed or wounded — but more than 100,000 Soldiers began the march across Europe to defeat Hitler. (Army D-Day Remembrance Site)

May we never forget those who helped “bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world,” General Eisenhower (excerpt from General Eisenhower’s speech just prior to the invasion).

Today, we remember those who fought on D-Day, June 6, 1944. The cost was incredible and the benefit was incalculable.

1944 Normandy

Photo credit: USCG/Wikipedia

A Place To Call Home

All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. (Acts 2:42-44 NLT, emphasis mine)

For the first time this trip, we headed to our partner village, Ndjemane. Today we had the opportunity to celebrate Sunday worship with the Ndjemanese Christians in their new church.

Me In Church I say “new” because the church is less than eight months old for the village and completely brand new for us. Many people in our church prayed for Ndjemane for many years so they would be able to erect a church. Building a Christian church was one of the requests from a mostly-Muslim village and an all-Muslim elder council and Chief.

Our church prayed. Many people donated money to cover building material expenses. We sent two different construction mission teams to assist the village’s residents with building the church. All of that helped carry a desire and a prayer request in 2007 to a functional church in 2011.

It is true that Christians are God’s new temple (1 Corinthians 3:16, 1 Corinthians 6:19, 2 Corinthians 6:16, Ephesians 2:21). With that said, though, there was a joy felt in the Ndjemane Christians by having a place to come together to worship. They now had a place to come together to learn more about God’s Word. They had a home to fellowship together.

This tiny, new church has meaningful significance to a little village filled with only a few Christians. It was tough for me comprehend this until witnessing it. In our city where there are churches by the hundreds, I have the ability to shop around until I find the exact one that fits my desires. In the bush of Africa, a little village prayed that they would have a single building to worship in and God delivered. May He continue to be with this little village.

Church Under Construction
Church Under Construction

Church Under Construction

Church Under Construction

New Church
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One People

During our stay in Senegal, I wrote some posts while riding on the bus. When we had Internet connections in the hotels, I would spend the free time adding the group’s posts and pictures to our Charlotte To Senegal blog, but did not have much time to complete my personal posts. I am publishing them now, but am keeping the same present-tense perspective as if I was still in Senegal.
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Worship in Ndjemane I once participated in a Bible study where someone (wrongly) used the Bible to reinforce their own racist views toward black people. The guy’s comments angered me greatly, but, at the time, I did not know enough about the Scriptures to rebuke him.

This is an extreme example of an improper view toward people who are different and toward the Bible itself. Unfortunately, though, even when we as a community believe everyone is equal, separation and division still occurs.

While separation is not necessarily bad, I do see a large division among races when it comes to Christians and churches in the United States. That is why it was a special opportunity for me to participate in worship service in Ndjemane yesterday. Regardless of race; gender; age; and nationality, we came together as one people, united under Christ, to come and worship. We sang in Serere, Wolof, French, and English. We all learned from the same Word. We all shared stories of hope during our testimonies, and stories of pain/needs in our prayer request. Afterward, we spent hours in fellowship as one people.

Church in Ndjemane For the past three years, in this small village of Ndjemane, I have gotten a glimpse of what every group of people could have. I have seen two groups of people of almost complete polar opposites (i.e., racially, culturally, language, monetarily) come together in joy as friends, brothers, and sisters.

As Christians, we are instructed to be that unified people. If only we would heed those instructions. For one day, in a tiny church in tiny village in Africa we did just that and it was an incredible experience.

For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. (Ephesians 2:14, 15 NLT, emphasis mine)

Church in Ndjemane

Church in Ndjemane

One People

One People

One People

One People

One People

One People

One People

One People

One People

One People

One People

Learning To Be A Gentleman

Asher and Michele Two of my fav’s are going on a date tonight and I am very excited for them. Michele is taking Asher out on a date and I think some Star Wars in 3-D might be in order. It sounds like a lot of fun and I hope they enjoy their time together.

This morning, during our walk to his school, Asher and I discussed a few ways to be a gentleman for his date. Here are a few thoughts I shared with Ashe to begin preparing him for the future.

It is polite to:

  • open and close the car door for your date.
  • open the door for your date when entering and exiting a building.
  • allow the woman to sit down first and to also stand when she gets up from the table, etc.
  • walk on the outside of the sidewalk and allow his date to walk on the inside.

I know this is not an all-encompassing list. What are some ways that you think men (and boys) can be better gentlemen? Throw some thoughts in the comments. I may just throw some extra knowledge Asher’s way.

In the Beginning… Well, Not That Beginning

In 2007, God placed the people of Senegal on my heart. I was not sure why and at the time I did not even know where Senegal was on the continent of Africa. If I was unable to point out Senegal on a map, it was pretty obvious that I knew nothing about the country and its people. The only thing I definitely knew was that I was supposed to serve in Senegal.

That same year in Senegal, Forest Hill sent two church representatives to meet with the chief and elders of a village called Ndjemane. During their meeting, one of the three things Ndjemane asked from our church was for Forest Hill to pray about the medical care needs for their people.

A request from a remote, mostly-Muslim village in a little-known country in Africa transformed into prayers from faithful Christians to the Lord God. Those prayers were heard and received a response from God. Even though Ndjemane would not see a medical clinic for another three years, God was already preparing the members’ hearts (including mine) and was beginning to establish the medical team.

In 2010, the medical-care request and prayers came to fruition when Forest Hill sent a medical mission team into Ndjemane. That was also the trip that I was finally able to participate with. God’s plan had been laid out in perfect timing and was now in motion.

A Little Help Goes A Long Way
I am leaving for Senegal in February, 2012 to be a part of a medical team that is providing medical care to the people of Ndjemane and other adjacent villages. Please be a part of my trip and help. There are a three main ways you can help:

  1. Pray for the medical team and me. As we just read, God answers prayers and I believe he will answer our prayers about this team.
  2. Share these stories. I pray that as I tell stories to raise funds for the medical clinic that people will also hear the Good News about the love that God has for a small village in Africa and how He also loves each one of us. It is a powerful and showering love that every person should have the opportunity to hear.
  3. Most important to me is prayer and sharing these stories. However, if you would like to donate money to assist me with serving in Senegal. Check out the sidebar to the right to see how much I still need so I can cover all of my expenses in Senegal. (Here is the link to PayPal to donate to my trip.)

However you participate, thank you for being a part of the February 2012 Medical Team!

Season of Transition

Wow, it has been a month since I have last written a blog post. It has been a crazy end of the summer. For the past two months our company has been slammed (yay!!) and I have been working diligently to meet some important deadlines; Michele and I have been trying to play, entertain, and parent the rugrats; and I have been using every other available moment to cut down and cut up trees in our backyard. Now things are beginning to settle back into a comfortable routine and our family is about to get into a completely different routine over the next couple of weeks.

Asher officially starts kindergarten in four days. I am still trying to decide who is going to cry more: Michele or me. While Michele is the hands-on favorite, I could easily go all emotional as we drop Asher off at the front of his new school. Our house will be a little bit quieter beginning Tuesday morning, but not completely silent.

Our home will not be completely silent because we get to keep Becs at home for a few more years! Becs keeps telling me that she is also ready for kindergarten, but I told her that she needs to master walking and climbing stairs first. To help her with those and other toddler-essential skills Bechan starts pre-school this year. For her first year, Bechan is attending pre-school two days a week.

And so it begins. Over the next couple of weeks Michele, Bechan, Asher, and I are about to transition into new seasons of our lives. I hope our transitions will provide seasons for our whole family to both plant and harvest. I know it will definitely be a new season of our having to let go each weekday morning, but will be followed-up with big embracing hugs in the afternoons. I also know that in the first few days of Asher and Bechan’s school it will be both a season of crying and laughing for Michele and me.

Maybe it will be a season of dancing… I will have to get back with you on that one.

A Morning In Ndjemane

This video features Ted Loring. He was one of the guys that went on our medical missions team to Ndjemane, Senegal.

There were so many ways God used our team during the February trip. God used us in so many positive ways, it is humbling to have been a part if it. Ted’s story of how God used Shannon and him is a little different, though.

This story is a little different because first there was pain. In the year before that powerful morning, there was sadness, despair, loneliness. The story begins… well, I will let Ted share his story:

Giving Back

This is an inspiring story about a survivor, Lubo Mijak, whose family was killed during the Sudanese civil war. It is amazing to read about all that he went through to survive. Lubo was one of the Lost Boys and was eventually allowed to come to the United States as a refugee. He has been living in Charlotte ever since.

Lubo’s mission is to now give back to those in the Sudan. He is working to raise money to build schools in the Sudan to help educate the children.

You can read more about Lubo’s story in the Charlotte Observer article and can donate to the school on the Mothering Across Continents website.

Thanks to Julia for pointing this out to me.

A Survivor Gives Back

Raising Sudan on Mothering Across Continents