Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Our Daughter

Just before Lily started Kindergarten, Bayo and I sat down with her to chat about some things she might face because she is adopted. I was concerned that she might get some uncomfortable questions about skin color in our family, especially because she is a different color than her brothers.

I said, "Lily, if your classmates ask you why your mom is white and your dad is black, what will you tell them?"

She responded, "Because they were born that way!"

How refreshing. We brought it up because we thought her classmates might wonder why she's black like her dad and not brown like her brothers. But it looks like she'll be able to hold her own with any questions people throw her way.

Or maybe most people just won't notice the color variation of our children. Case in point:

Recently I was chatting with a friend who moved to Jos about a year ago. I mentioned that we would appreciate her prayers for Lily to get a visa. She looked confused as she said, "But she's your daughter so of course she should be able to travel with you."

I said, "Yes, she's our daughter, but she's adopted and we still need to complete her U.S. adoption."

My friend had no idea. I was quite tickled that she hadn't noticed the color variation of our children.

Lily is aware that she is adopted. We've been very open about it. But now we've come to a point where we're intentionally not going to talk about it--unless she brings it up. She is simply our daughter, no labels attached.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Towards Sustainability

In early December the Self-Sustainability Dept. of Mashiah Foundation gave out brand new treadle sewing machines to five of the women in our program. Over the years we have given out more than 100 sewing machines. This is an incredible gift to the women as it allows them to do much of their work at home without always having to pay transport to come to our sewing center. The machine is a big step on their road to being able to take care of their families.

These are always times of great joy--and always kept a secret until the staff come dancing out with machines. The recipients are often overcome with emotions. I haven't seen Nigerian women cry very often in public, but many times this gift is so overwhelming that their tears just pour out.

The women's immediate response is to praise God for their new machines. It's a time of pure jubilation.

I love how friends rejoice with those who receive.

I don't have any pictures here of the complete machine with the stand, but the women received both parts of
the machine that day.

We have one woman who does not have the use of her legs due to having polio as a child. Consequently, she can't use a treadle sewing machine. She comes to our program from time to time. I'm always reminded of the Bible story of the persistent widow whenever I see her. She kept telling us that she wanted us to help her buy firewood so she could be selling it at her house. In January, we paid for a load of firewood which she is selling from her compound. Ideally, by the time she finishes selling the wood, she will have capital to invest in another load of wood as well as some income to feed herself and her child.

She was so happy that day when some of our staff members visited her in her home and took the money to her. We will be following up with her to see how her business venture is going.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Open to Suggestions

We have been designing a new receipt for the Women of Hope shop. We just made some formatting changes so it will be easier to work with.

The other day, while proofing it once again, I realized that I would like to put a Bible verse on the receipt. So Sarah and I started looking for verses that would be appropriate. We checked out Proverbs 31, Isaiah 61, references to women, widows, orphans, the fatherless, etc, but we still didn't come up with just the right verse for our receipts.

This morning as I was heading out the door, I asked Bayo if he had a suggestion. He said, "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do" (Eph 2:10).

Later at our staff meeting I asked the staff if they had any suggestions. Esther said, "There's a verse in Romans that I really like. I think it's Romans 13, about verse 8 or so."

So I opened up the Bible and read, "Let no debt remain outstanding..." and we all burst into laughter! How very appropriate. Now that would be a good verse for our invoice which is what we use while we're waiting for the customer to pay!

We later found the verse Esther had been thinking of: Romans 13:11-12. "And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light."

We still have a day or two until we send it to the printer. Any suggestions from out there?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Glimpses of Love

Valentine's Day is celebrated here in Nigeria, but it's probably pretty low-key compared to the U.S. Personally, we didn't have any plans beyond sending heart-shaped cookies to school with the kids.

The day unfolded in a pleasant way, so I'll share some glimpses here.

In the morning, a man dropped off a Valentine's Day present for Mashiah Foundation: 48 rolls of toilet paper and 12 bars of soap.  Angela accepted the gift from the anonymous man. We gave a roll of toilet paper to each woman who came for Bible study that day. The remaining rolls went downstairs to Bezer Home for their use. I shared the bars of soap with the students in the school. There weren't enough for everyone so I asked siblings to share with each other. This might seem like an unusual gift, but it's really very practical and very much appreciated.

When I stopped by the Kindergarten, I saw a picture that their teacher had drawn on the new whiteboard. The children are all standing in the same order as the picture.

I told all the children in the school (about 20 right now) that I had a love letter for them. Their eyes lit up. I pulled my little red Bible out of my purse and read some passages from I John. I think they really got it. Then I gave them the heart-shaped cookies that my kids had made and the bars of soap.

When I saw Linda, one of the Bezer Home residents in the morning, she was wearing nicer clothes than she usually does--but she still had on her usual flip-flops. So I said, "Linda, I know you have some nice shoes. Will you go and put them on?" She went downstairs. Later when I saw her, she had completely changed her outfit. Some of the ladies helped her put on a bit of make-up. I just had to 'snap' her photo. I also promised to print some of the photos for her. We're trying to help Linda grow in her self-confidence.

 Esther, a Women of Hope staff member, with Linda.

And Julie, another Women of Hope staff member with Linda.

And we always have a great time of worship on Mondays...

Then when I picked up my kids from school, a friend said, "I have a little token for the ministry in my car." Well, that wasn't quite true--unless you call lots of yams and a 50 kilo bag of rice 'little'!

We all got a kick out of this brand. I just had to take a picture of Lucky with the Lucky Thai rice!

It was just a good day with lots of love shown in personal, practical ways.