Monday, April 7, 2008

Coming Home

Well, it's been an emotional couple of days, and I'm anticipating another couple ahead. Tomorrow afternoon I'll leave Jos, spend a day in Abuja and take off to London on the morning of the 10th. Dr. Chris will be leaving to the US on Wednesday, hence the reason I'll have an extra day in Abjua.

I'm feeling a bit deer in the headlights; totally excited about going home and super sad about leaving my friends and family here. Mixed bag for sure.

More thoughts and reflections to come...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


I don’t know if it’s been writers block, or just a semi-unconscious way of shutting down in preparation for my departure. Whatever the reason, let this serve as my best attempt at breaking the silence.

First, I’ll start with a peanut butter project update: the oven was delivered to the Nutrition Unit yesterday, four hours after the guy said he would be there, only to find it was too big to fit though the door. You might ask what one does in a situation such as this. Well, I don’t know about other places, but here you break down the door and the surrounding concrete wall with a sledge hammer, naturally. The wash area was “completed” last week. However, the mason’s idea of complete and our idea of complete differ slightly. And when I say slightly I mean greatly. That said, there’s more work to be done on that front before we call it good. And we can now add on to that list, reconstructing the gapping hole that once served as door. Along side all this, still waiting for the power authority to come out and pull down another line (what all that involves, I’m not exactly sure) so we can run all the equipment in the unit. Also needed to find a couple volunteers to train to do initial production for the study, and get a certification from the Nigerian version of the FDA. Suffice to say there’s quite a bit that needs to happen before we actually start making the peanut butter paste, but it’s all in the name of progress nonetheless.

As for me, I’m just using these last weeks to soak up the presence of people I’ve come to love and respect so much. That’s about all I’ve got.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Peanut Butter Part Two

Back in October I wrote a post about a peanut butter project Faith Alive had been working on; to date we have all the equipment needed to start basic production-oven (buying this week sometime), grinder, mixer, scale, etc. All of last week Stephen and I worked along side Julie and Krysty, two women running the project, to sort out logistics and other loose ends that have been keeping things from proceeding thus far.

This week will be more of the same, organizing, coordinating, sorting out details of the study, etc.. We’re hoping by the end of next week we’ll be ready to start production of the fortified peanut butter paste. Once productions starts, we’ll need to get a temporary certification from the Nigerian equivalent of the FDA. Once we have that we can take our study proposal to five local hospitals to do a trial with fifty clinically malnourished children. We hope to generate results close to Dr. Manary’s studies; that is an 80% success rate with children fully recovering after a period of six weeks. Our study will run for a total of two months, at the end of which we hope to produce the peanut butter product en mass.

On a separate but related note, if you’re interested more stories/experiences from Faith Alive, check out Stephen’s blog at: Lot’s of great pics and stories to add to anything I’ve been able to convey.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Back in the 80's (1983 to be exact) the government of Nigeria forced over 800,000 Ghanaians out of this country, sending them back to Ghana. In the mad rush to get out of town, these one of a kind bags adopted the name "Ghana-must-go".
This discovery came to me one afternoon while I was hanging out in Blessing's shop. Some of her students were going through a large bag, almost identical to the photo on the left, pulling out bits of usable material scraps. Just a couple days prior I was thinking of all the stuff I would be bringing back, not knowing if I would have enough room in my suitcase. In passing I mentioned I might need to get a bag like that when we next went to the market. "Ghana-must-go?" she said. Ghana must what? "Ghana-must-go" she said again. I laughed. You're not serious. That's what they're called? "Yeah" Why? "Because the Ghanaians had to go." she replied matter of factly. Ah. Well, then, there it is. I guess I'll be going with Ghana-must-go.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Some More Thoughts

This is part of an e-mail from Erika, one of several who came to visit Faith Alive in January/February; adding more to the conversation concerning balance:

“I'm wrestling with some of the same things, and here's where I am today. It's so okay to not be perfect, but to take steps toward improving. Example: I don't want to be a total environmentalist -- but I will make sure to use less paper. I don’t want to be a self-sacrificing fanatic by selling all my stuff and not having anything for myself -- but I will try to balance that so when I indulge in a luxury that I'll spend the same amount of time and money for others...does that make sense? I think there's almost a self-righteousness, even a sinful nature, to trying to do everything right. That said, we're not called to stop at that thought and not try to do anything right. I'm praying for God to continue to reveal what's mine to do, and what's not. What's mine to give away, and what's mine to enjoy. Just on a daily basis, situation by situation. I don't want to get trapped in something like 'survivors guilt' -- or being a rich American while others are starving sort of guilt paralysis. After all, what we do or don't do for others isn't going to make a big dent in the world -- God's primary care is that we stay in close relationship with Jesus, right? Anyway, just some of my ramblings..."

Mother Teresa

"We cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with great love." She also said: "I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love."

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Just for the record, I don’t feel super comfortable sharing some of my inner most thoughts with heaven knows how many people. And yet something inside me says to do it anyways. So here goes…

I was listening to this great song by Nichole Nordeman called “Brave” this morning. Here are a few of my favorite lines:

The gate is wide
The road is paved to moderation
The crowd is kind and quick to pull you in
Welcome to the middle ground
It's safe and sound and
Until now it's where I've been
Cuz it's been fear
That ties me down to everything
But it's been love, Your love
That cuts the strings
So long, status quo
I think I've just let go
You make me wanna be brave
The way it always was
It's no longer good enough
You make me wanna be brave
I am small
And I speak when I'm spoken to
But I am willing to risk it all
To say Your name
Just Your name, and I'm ready to go
Even ready to fall

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve blasted this song, windows down, singing at the top of my lungs. There’s something that rings so true; there’s a recognition of how easy it is to blend in. And at the same time there is a realization that things can be different. I need only step outside the crowd and say, I don’t want to go along with it any more. I want to be brave. And yet like most things, it’s easier said than done.

A couple lines from another favorite by Relient K entitled, “For the Moments I Feel Faint” go like this:

Am I at the point of no improvement?
What of the death I still dwell in?
I try to excel, but I feel no movement.
Can I be free of this unreleasable sin?

Never underestimate my Jesus.
You're telling me that there's no hope.
I'm telling you your wrong.

Never underestimate my Jesus
When the world around you crumbles
He will be strong, He will be strong

I throw up my hands
"Oh, the impossibilities"
Frustrated and tired
Where do I go from here?
Now I'm searching for the confidence I've lost so willingly
Overcoming these obstacles is overcoming my fear

For me personally, I don’t think I’m searching for a confidence lost as much as confidence at last.

Confidence I’m loved just as I am.

Confidence in myself to say ‘yes’ some of the time and ‘no’ others.

Confidence happiness does not come from things.

Of course I know all this conceptually…it’s my heart that needs to do the catching up.

Overcoming these obstacles is not, for me, overcoming a fear of failure, it’s a fear of success. Sounds silly doesn’t it? Because then what? What happens when I do the hard, ugly, messy self work?

The chains just might be broken. I might just feel free. (Is it ironic that I’m listening to “Free Fallin” by Tom Petty right now?)

I believe in balance; I don’t think it’s at all inappropriate to treat myself now and then, even splurge on occasion. My battle is drawing the line in the sand between once and a while and a way of life. To employ wisdom with each situation versus living by hard and fast rules. Which by the way is so much more difficult than it sounds. Sometimes I envy the early Jewish community-they had it all laid out before them, right down to how to plant the fields and what sort of cloth to wear. In some ways it would be so much easier to have it all in black and white. Yes, going out to diner two times a week is okay but three is too many. Or, one pair of earrings, yes. Three, no.

I celebrate this journey. No one is going to get it right one hundred percent of the time, I know. Keeping that in mind, I don’t feel like that gives me permission to sit back and coast either. I’ll succeed and I’ll fail. This is just one of many attempts to examine the dark rooms of my soul, shine the light and have a look around.

At the end of the day I know I am loved despite my imperfections, and at the same time I seek to live the way of Jesus, who lived perfectly. Aren’t paradoxes great?

And so it goes…one day at a time, one foot in front of the other.