Saturday, September 24, 2011

Reflections on the Year

As my time here in Cote d'Ivoire is ending (October 31st I will be back in the USA) I wanted to write out some of the things I have learned During my time here.

This year my vision for my life has been sharpened and more defined. One of the Journey Corps leaders (Phil Bjorkland) challenged me to write a vision statement. He said that having a vision statement can help in making decisions. If something doesn’t fit within my vision statement then I probably shouldn’t do it or I need to pray about whether God has a different vision for me.

My Vision Statement:
To aide in the growth of the church: both in number (evangelism) and in depth (discipleship).

This year I was able to sit in on some theology classes taught to the wives of the Ivoirien Bible Students. All the Bible Students are men so the school requires their wives to take a little theology/Bible in the afternoons as well as alphabetization in French and the local language. I just love learning more about the Bible and helping others to understand it too. I would love to one day teach and especially to women overseas. This is one way that this year has helped to define my vision.

Just two nights ago, the little girl at my house was telling me about a scary movie that she had seen in the village a while back. It was something about a sorcerer that was killing people. The other little girl at my house was getting scared and didn’t want to hear about it anymore. I realized that what they both needed was to hear truth.

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28

“The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread.” Isaiah 8:13

So I enlisted my host sister who is sixteen to tell the story of Moses and the ten plagues. Since my French isn’t good enough to summarize the story and it would not be interesting for us to read it to the ten year olds, I told her that she was going to retell it. At first she didn’t want to and even said she couldn’t, that I should tell the story. Well after a little persuading she conceded but said she needed some time to write some notes. While she was doing that I told the story of Moses birth and some of the events leading up to the ten plagues. But I love making it fun, because the Bible is way too interesting and life changing not to be fun too! So I got out some of my cherished Sour Patch Kids to give as a prize if they answered my comprehension questions right. Mischaelle (my host sister) did a great job telling the story. At the end she ask “qui est fort?” (who is strong or powerful?) and the two girls answered in unison “Dieu est fort!!!” (God is strong!). As soon as we finished the same girl that was recounting the story of the sorcerer earlier asked if we could do it again tomorrow night! I love showing people the power of God’s Word. It isn’t boring or out dated or irrelevant. No, the Word of God is strong.

So that is what I would like to do with my life. Teach the Bible and empower others to teach the Bible. When I get home I am going to start applying to grad schools and seminaries. Since I get home in October though, that will give me almost a year before I start school. So please be praying with me as I seek God’s plan for me this year, specifically with work.

Some Realizations about Cows:

I AM REALLY REALLY AFRAID OF COWS! That might sound crazy but this is the first time in my life I have regularly had to ride my bike/run/walk through herds of cows. And it is truly terrifying.

BUT….I REALLY REALLY REALLY LIKE COW PRODUCTS! This year I know that I must have developed a Calcium deficiency. I haven’t had a nice cold glass of milk in a YEAR! Although, cheese is now available in my city since the war is over, it is expensive and I don’t have a fridge (no electricity, remember?). Finally, I have searched and searched and there is not one drop of ice cream in my city. In fact I would have to drive four hours to have ice cream!

Thanks for all your prayers and support! I love you and hope to see you as I return to the states October 31st.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

i must decrease while He must increase

I thought today I would share a little story with you. This is something that happened a while back but that I never got to share with you all.

One night we were sitting outside in the dark, as usual since we don’t have electricity. There was a single lamp on the ground to provide some light as we ate our rice dinner. Suddenly my host mom got up and said something in Senoufo, she grabbed the lamp and started to walk toward her garden. For a little while the lamp lit her body up too but quickly she disappeared and it looked like the lamp was just floating.

Immediately, I thought this is what I want my life to look like. Jesus is the Light. I want to carry the Light into the darkness, but I don’t want it to be me that is seen. I want to be like my host mom who just disappeared and all that was seen was the light. I want to become less so that Jesus can become more. That all the glory would be for Him alone and that His Kingdom would grow. May God bless you this last day of August.

Please be praying, as today is the holiday for Ramadan. Millions of Muslims in Cote d’Ivoire are lost in darkness and celebrating without knowing real joy that can only be found in Jesus Christ. That the Light might shine through their darkness.

Do not let your heart envy sinners,
but always be zealous for the fear of the LORD.
There is surely a future hope for you,
and your hope will not be cut off.
Proverbs 17 & 18

The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.
The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all.
John 3:29-31

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

August Rush

I really think there must be less time in a day over here in Cote d’Ivoire because time is just flying. It has been over a month since I have written you and I am so sorry. You know when it gets to the point where there is just too much to tell and putting it off just seems easier. But today I woke up in my tiny bed with my mosquito net covering me and decided I would get ready and ride my bike to the church so I could write you. Mind you there were very menacing clouds and I arrived just before the rain.

So here I am in the baby blue library at my church listening to the rain and wondering what I can share with you. Well July was pretty busy. I was working at Don Orion [the center for the handicapped kids] each Monday and Wednesday morning. Those little kids fill me up and remind me that kids are kids no matter where I go. They bring me so much joy. They have vacation the whole month of August so I will continue my work there starting in September.

I also had the opportunity to visit the high school near my house and teach some English classes. I would just introduce myself and let them ask me questions about my life and the US. They LOVE Americans. This particular high school is the biggest in Korhogo. Whenever I would go and see all the students [over a thousand] I would feel such sadness knowing that so many of them do not know the Savior. My prayer in July was that God would use me to tell someone about God. I felt so full of the Gospel that I just wanted to spill out but I knew that I had to wait for the Holy Spirits leading. Waiting is frustrating! On Friday, July 15th I shared this desire to share my faith and the heaviness of heart I feel at the High School with my team here. Then Tuesday, July 19th my prayer was answered! One of the teachers that I work with at the school had been thinking about my life decisions the night before and he had some questions. Lucky for me, my life is so entwined with Jesus and the Gospel that it naturally came out as I answered his questions. He is a nominal muslim and a father of six. He has been working at the high school since 1990. Be praying for Mr. Troure to see the truth and for more opportunities to show him the difference of a life lived for Christ.

July 25th at 2pm Taylor Lindblom arrived at the Abidjan airport. The 6 hour bus ride down to Abidjan that day felt so long! He was here in Cote d’Ivoire for three weeks. It was so cool to show my life here to someone from back home. He even got to stay with me at my house in Korhogo one night and live without running water and electricity. Haha it made me realize how normal this strange life has become. We spent the first couple days he was here at the beach down south. It was the first time I saw the ocean in nine months…and it was a joyous reunion. Then we headed up to Bouake for a week long seminar. We got to see the largest Basilica in the world which is right here in our capital city of Yamoussoukro. The final week of Taylor’s visit we went up to Korhogo which I consider my home town. We had a great week and Taylor got the full experience including getting sick with amoebas. It was really hard to say goodbye to him on Monday but I am so thankful that he got to come.

Prayer Requests:
-Small groups for the youth here have been hard to organize but there is one group of girls meeting each week and seem to be great! Pray for the other 12 groups to take advantage of this opportunity to grow deeper in their faith in this way.
-Guidance in how to use my last two months here in Cote d’Ivoire and which relationships to focus on.
-The transition to thinking about going home is starting. Prayer for strength and adaptability in coming back to the States. [I had a little bit of culture shock just going to Abidjan because they actually have high ways there!]
-Tricia and Kelly-the newest addition to Journey Corps. Pray for their adjustment to life here.

Love you so so soooo much!

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Helloooo July!

Welcomed Interruptions
I ride my bike probably three-five times a week. The twenty minute bike ride from my house to church used to be a time of solitude and just thinking about things. Now I probably get stopped at least 10 times by friends that see me passing by. I don’t know if you realize the joy in that! After months of just trying to greet and be friendly to people it has paid off, they know my name and are excited to chat! Hopefully, God can use these relationships to share about Him.

Within the span of two weeks I attended two all night funerals. One might ask why the funerals last all night. Well according to my brother it is because people come from far away and there aren’t enough places to house everyone so why not just stay up dancing and singing all night. The first funeral took place in my host-dad’s village of Kombolokoura (not to be confused with Kombolokouro). It was an animist funeral, so there were traditional masques (spiritual leaders dressed in costumes) and the traditional instruments (balofon and drums). They sing and dance all night and a good part of the next day too. I made it until about 10pm before I fell asleep on a cot outside.

The second funeral was for a well known Christian woman in a village just up the street from my house. My brother and I arrived at around 9pm and there were sooo many people there. There were at least a thousand. They came from as far as Abidjan just for the funeral. It was such a different feeling to be surrounded by Christians from all of our churches around the country. They started singing at about 11pm in Senoufo (the local language, well languages but Tyembara is the name of this particular Senoufo). After each song they would give an explanation of what the song was talking about. My brother translated a few of them for me. One was about how we get sad when people die but if a family member was going on a trip to somewhere where we know that they will be happy we are happy for them too. The song talks about how if they are going to heaven we have no reason to be sad but we should celebrate because they are going on the best trip possible. Then they also gave a Gospel message but I was asleep at that point.

So as you can see, I am not much for all night things. I actually made it till 2:00am at the second one. The immense difference I felt between the funerals was crazy. Knowing Jesus makes the difference. It just sharpened my vision for the church to grow in number and in depth, knowing Jesus and living for him.

Future Plans
This is a hot topic right now as the year in Cote d’Ivoire will be complete this October. As hard as that is to believe that is just three months away! My preference would be to not think about the future but details like flights and money force me to do otherwise. I am still praying and trying to wait on the Lord to see what He has next for me. As of right now I am planning on coming home in October. I think I am leaning towards getting my masters at a Christian University or Seminary fall 2012. Please continue to pray with me in this. I feel like my time here in Cote d’Ivoire has solidified my passion for missions but I am still seeking God on when, where and with whom.

Love you so much and thinking of you this 4th of July. Light some fireworks for me!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

How Far I’ve Come but… Where am I Going?

This week I had a girl from the States staying with me and my family in Korhogo. It was a fun and eye opening experience. First of all, I was her TRANSLATOR!!! Please, everyone keep in mind that I didn’t know ANY French before I came. Can I just say praise God, I am learning French?! Having an outsider in my house just reminds me of how it was when I first got here and didn’t know how anything worked. Somehow, this place that was once strange and distant has become home. This is my family here. And I am proud to show them off to anyone that should happen to pass through Logokaha (my little village). I know the drill now and that feels so good. I am no longer just a visitor.

So these last couple of days has shown me how far I have come since February even. But the last sentence about not being a visitor anymore is what makes it so hard to think about where I am going. Because that brings the possibility that it might be away from here. We have begun discussing plans for next year. (Pause here to say that this year is going by sooo fast!) The leader of Journey Corps wants us to each be thinking about whether we could stay here in Cote d’Ivoire to be leaders for the next group. My first reaction was no, then it changed to maybe, and then I thought that that was something God really wanted for me. My pastor here told me that there would be an opportunity to start reaching out to a near by village to hopefully plant a church there. My heart rose, this is what I want to do! We set the date for the 28th (this Saturday) to go and make initial connections. Just a couple of days ago my pastor said that the village is really closed to having Christians come. Missionaries have been trying to get into this village for years. My heart sank. This opportunity made me think God wanted me to stay and help this get started.

Yesterday, I was missing the States. It is not that I am not happy here. I just know that so much is happening with my family and friends stateside and that is hard not to be apart of. Every time I go on facebook it seems there is a baby being born or someone getting married. The reality is that life keeps going even though I am not there….shocking right!? Today, I was reading in a book about how many times we should do the thing we are most afraid of. For me that happens to be returning to the US. I studied International Missions and that is what I am doing right now. If I go back to the States, what will I do? If I go back I have to make decisions about the future, if I stay here the decision is made for the moment. In some ways staying seems like it would just be prolonging the inevitable of returning to the States for next steps. So at this point I am thinking of returning this fall. I would love for you to be praying, though for clarity in this area. I know that God wanted me to come, but does He want me to stay?

Thank you so much for your support through this journey…it is definitely not over yet and I am thrilled to have you along with me, to debrief with and get an outside perspective. Let me know if you have any thoughts for what I could do next! I pray for you and thank God for you daily. Merci et que Dieu te benisse.
<3 Heidi

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Body of Christ and the Hair of Heidi

Isn’t it incredible how a day can start out great, become awful, and then end up being one of the best days? That was Saturday for me. Started out pretty normal with my bucket bath and reading my Bible, but because of some miscommunications and differences in communicating style I got really frustrated. Normally Saturday mornings we have a team meeting with the five of us Journeyers who live in Korhogo. But I had forgotten that I said was going to a funeral with my family. My family could tell that I wanted to go to my team meeting so my host dad told me to go to my meeting and he would take me to the funeral in the afternoon. I was just feeling drained, frustrated and angry still during the meeting. I prayed that God would somehow fill me enough to make it through the funeral. It is tiring to always be different, and the fact that I am white is especially apparent in the village.

So at about three in the afternoon my papa and I take off for the village. Along the road he stops to buy some peanuts for us to eat and I realize that this is the first time I have ever hung out with my papa. Once we got off the main road, he stopped the moto and asked me if I wanted to drive since there were no cars. So I move up front and he jumps on behind me. He holds the handles with me…the whole time. But I didn’t mind that, it was just the sweetest moment, and I thanked God for answering my prayer from the morning. It refilled me and reminded me why I am here. It also reminded me of when my mom was teaching me to drive and insisted on sitting in the driver’s seat with me while she tried to hold the door closed. Miss you, mom!

So if you don’t already know it, I would like to introduce you to the body of Christ. I realized that the fact that my feelings get hurt and I get angry means that I am engaged here. Saturday I experienced the frustration of being a part of the body of Christ but also the beauty of it. The body of Christ is no machine, it surprises you. It endures horrible pains, but can be a thing of wonder, joy and love. My papa isn’t my real dad but we are related by blood, the blood of Christ. And the blood of Christ covers a multitude of things, one of them being cultural differences and color of skin.

Oh and I got my hair braided again...haha.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Beginning of Reconciliation and Peace

Monday April 11, 2011 at 12:30pm the streets of Korhogo erupted. I was sitting near the patio of a restaurant with the rest of my team eating lunch. I assumed that there was a fight of some kind of demonstration and was scared. Jason, another team mate, thought that someone was getting proposed to on the street (which doesn’t happen here but whatever). Then a man yells to me that Gbabgo has been captured. At first I didn’t know if I heard correctly but I yelled to my team in English, “THEY GOT GBAGBO!!!!” We all started running out to join the celebration in the street! Women dancing, people shouting, cars honking! It was a joyous moment.

My host father last night really put it into perspective for me last night. He told me that we were going to have a fete (party) tomorrow and he would kill a goat because he hasn’t worked for ten years and now there is hope that he will be able to find work again! So this morning while I was eating breakfast they killed the honored goat for our celebration tonight. I am going to make a cake for the party. I have only experienced the hardship of Gbagbo for five months and I am rejoicing. I watched the news yesterday and the images they show of the brutality and violence were horrifying. I pray that the violence ends and people in Abidjan can move about freely again and the displaced can return home.

I spent last week in Boauké with all of the Journeyers. It was a sweet time of fellowship, games, worship and learning. It was also a time of good byes as Peter and Katrina (two of the Journey Corps leaders) returned to the states last night. It was sooner than expected but I am so thankful for the time that God had them in our lives. Be praying for them as they have to somewhat start over in the States. Our French teacher and my very good friend, Beckie will also be leaving for the States in the beginning of May. Be praying for us as our team dynamics are changing tremendously and we are each seeking God’s guidance for which projects, relationships and organizations here we should get involved with.

Thinking of you often, especially tonight as I eat some yummy goat!

Til He returns,

Friday, March 25, 2011

My Permanent Souvenir from Cote d’Ivoire

The rumors are true….I had an appendectomy! For those of you who didn’t know, having a problem with my appendix was number one on my "biggest fears" list! So praise God for taking away my biggest fear! God has a great sense of humor for a couple of reasons.
#1 The last email I sent the day before my surgery said and I quote “just for your information I would give anything to be cold.” I got my wish, I spent three days after my surgery in an air conditioned room. And I gave my appendix.
#2 The morning of my surgery, we had a Journey Corps Korhogo team meeting and I wanted to present some ideas about how we can be more intentional and purposeful here in Korhogo. That afternoon I had my appendix removed. God clearly wants me to wait on Him.
#3 While I am laying on the operating table about to be put under, my amazing American Doctor explains that there will just be a little scar on my right side and says I’m guessing you don’t wear bikinis too often. I reply, um I’m from Southern California. That is all I own.

All that to say I am out of the Hospital and doing great! I'm healing quickly and was even able to eat normal food last night. My stomach revolted a bit but today I am feeling great. I am able to walk a little and am blessed to have an amazing missionary woman taking care of me at her house. Which means I get a hot shower, a toilet and a fan. So I am living the life of luxury!

Thank you so much for your prayers. I know that God has heard them. He is really molding me right now, but blessing me tremendously with a good attitude. A verse that has been ministering to me is Joshua 21:45 “Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to the house of Israel failed, every one was fulfilled.” That is our God! He is so faithful and steadfast. That one verse speaks volumes about our God. Find hope and reassurance in that today. I know I have.

~Please pray for Cote d’Ivoire. Horrible things are happening in the South, people are dying, and being tortured and many are fleeing to the North. Currently Gbagbo has cut all electricity in the North and West. Who knows when it will come back on.
~Pray also for the Journey Corps team. We were all so sure that God has a reason for us to be here and still are. But it is stressful and difficult to be this close to suffering. Pray for us to stand firm, knowing God is still in control. Pray for us to know how to respond to people around us and to the situation itself. I know that Satan is working, and we are battling against the evil powers at work in our world. Pray for strength and faith in the battle.

God is stronger than Gbagbo or any other man. He has a plan. It is unclear to me what this plan is but I want to be faithful in obeying Him. I pray this also for you today. Once again updates from your side of the world are welcome and appreciated!
Our God is greater, our God is stronger. Amen.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Situation

So I don't know how much you have been following the news about Cote d'Ivoire or what the news is even saying, but things are heating up the South. I want to preface this by saying that I live in the North and there is no fighting where I live. With that said there is some fighting in the South West and there have been deaths. This saddens me as the country was so hopeful for peace and a new start with the elections last October. Here in the North not too much has changed but my heart aches for those living in Abidjan. Last week (Monday the 28th of Feb. until Sat. the 5th of May) there was no power in the Northern and central part of Cote d'Ivoire.

I didn't really realize at first all the implications for this fact, since we don't ever have electricity at my house. But without electricity those living in town had no water. They would take their motos and drive around looking for water to fill their containers. We had some people come to our house to get water from our well each day. Also there was no refrigeration so all the vaccines in the hospitals went bad. Babies and others who were on life support or oxygen died. No surgeries were performed in the hospitals. I am sure there are things that I missed but the point is without electricity many of the necessary activities are put to a halt. The crazy thing is that there was no technical reason for the power to be out. The news states that it was Gbagbo who cut the electricity and one realizes how much this power struggle is affecting the civilians here. In my opinion that itself shows that Gbagbo is undeserving of presidency but no one knows what to do about it. The committee of four presidents from other African countries have been given another month to decide on a solution. So we are just waiting, continuing on with life.

So I have been living with my family for a month now. I get bossed around almost as much as my little sisters. It is great. I hated feeling like a guest and I wanted to be able to help out more! Wednesday through Saturday of last week I spent with the other journyers in Bouake resting and debriefing. It was like three days in the US. I wore shorts, went running, played soccer, went swimming, ate ice cream, cake and hamburgers!!! It was a great time of prayer and encouragement as well and in ENGLISH! Don't take for granted being able to communicate your thoughts easily, it is a blessing. On the other hand, French has changed the way I way pray (When I pray out loud it is 90% of the time in French now). It has been a cool renewing of my prayer life and has simplified my prayers in a beautiful way.
Still trying to figure out day to day life but for the most part just living as fluidly as possible with the Ivoirians. Be praying for this country. There isn't work or school right now so life is a little less purposeful for many. My ten year old sister struggles to read even simple French words. I am working with her on that but who am I to teach French, I have studied it for all of four months! I guess if she learns to read it will be clearly God! Ok love you, think of you often and send up prayers to our Father on your behalf. <3

Thursday, February 10, 2011

My Mama and Papa!

Chez Yeo Peletian

Ok so I am here in Logokaha, a village just outside of Korhogo. I have been living with my family the Yeo’s for one week now. I just love them! I have two brothers who live here and a sister. Let’s see Elie is the oldest boy, he is 27. Then there are two sisters who live in Abidjan and another sister who lives near here but is married. My other brother is 21, his name is Matthias and my sister is Mischaelle, she is 16.

My mom works at the Dispensary (a hospital that was started my WorldVenture missionaries) just up the road from our house. I have gotten to go to work with her two different days. My dad is an avid hunter so I usually get some kind of meat with my meals. Last night is was rabbit. Yum Yum! Oh last Saturday my sister took me with her to get our hair braided. It took two hours and was a bit painful but everyone here seems to love it.

My house here doesn’t have electricity or running water. It has been such a relaxing experience to not have all the technology bombarding me. Oh and the stars are simply gorgeous! The evenings are my favorite time of day. Everyone is home and relaxing outside. I lay on a mat on the ground with my mama and listen to them speak Tyembara (the local tongue) I don’t understand a lick of it but it is fun just to be included in their lives. I know that it is such a blessing that they would include me. At night I feel like I am one of them. I don’t engage in conversation but I am also not the center of attention or some kind of spectacle. It is dark enough at night that I look black too. I like that.

My French is improving little by little. It is still frustrating that I can not express myself completely but I know it will come with time. Even just a week here I know my French has gotten better. On Wednesdays and Saturdays I am allowed to speak English and I make my brothers practice their English as well.

Last night I got my Senofo name! I am Yeo Kandana. Yeo is the surname but they put it first when the introduce themselves or write their name. I was very excited because the other journeyers had received their names but my family wanted to observe me a little before they named me. So Kandana means “it please me” or “you do what pleases me”. My health has been really good; thank the Lord because I don’t know how it will be being sick with the outside hole in the ground for my toilet.

I live about twenty minutes from church but I am there almost every day for a meeting of some sort. I plan on sitting in on some of the classes at the Bible Institute here so I can improve my French. My weekly schedule still isn’t planned out but little by little I am starting to feel at home. God is truly humbling as I am like a child in this culture. Even the simplest task is difficult for me. The women here are so strong! Just getting water from the well is enough of a workout for me. I have so much respect for the way they live here. They are simple people who love the Lord and who can’t believe there is machine that does my laundry for me.

I see how easily I become frustrated with myself here but I know that this is all part of the process and that God is working in my life greatly.

I miss you all. But I know God is here and with you. He is our bridge and connection to each other. I hope you are talking with Him often. I know I am.

Kolotiolo i mon dèmin (May God bless you in Senofo or Tyembara)

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Journey Continues...

So I am back in Bouake. Beckie’s CT scan that everything is fine, so her parents were more ok with her staying and not being medically evacuated which I was happy about. But be praying for her, she is still in a whole lot of pain and is still experiencing some vertigo. A whole lot of rest is in order, and as Americans that is a difficult thing to do.

I had a great time in Bamako, pictures to come! :) We stayed at the SIL (Wycliffe) guesthouse in Bamako and we were on the 5th floor!! It was a sweet view of the city and the Niger River, especially at night with the city lights. I realized I kind of miss cities :)

At any rate things are kind of heating up down in Abidjan just because it has been quiet for so long and nothing is happening, I think people are starting to stir up something. Here in Bouake they are having strikes right now. When people strike here, it means don't leave you house and there is no school. I am safe here on campus and things in town are opening up again today. We are leaving for Korhogo tomorrow to begin our orientation up there. We will stay on the Bible school campus in the guesthouse for week to get acclimated to where the market is and such and then a week from this Monday with will have a time to meet our new families!!! We are going to invite them to come for a three day introduction time. We will explain more about Journey Corps to them and hopefully just start to get to know them.

I am excited because I found out yesterday that Devin and Chazz are going to be living with the family that I stayed with here in Bouake, the Bambas. I am super happy for them because they are such a great little family and I think they will really enjoy it! None of the Korhogo families have been decided but it is most likely that the area I am going to be living in has small houses so I probably will be living alone but Alyssa and CJ will live in the same "neighborhood" or cartier as me. Oh and we are all getting bikes!! I am super excited but it will be a challenge to ride in a panya, they are quite
restricting. It is the fabric here that you just wrap around you waste like you would a towel after showering. Not the most secure thing seemingly, but it holds quite well! :)

It is hard to believe the day has come when we leave our little home here on the school campus. It will be so strange, but in a way this is the day we have all been waiting for. Be praying for our families, you know how challenging it will be for them to have Americans living in their homes :) We're a bit wild. Not quite house trained the Ivorian way. So I am about to say au revoir to shorts and pants and hello to panyas and skirts! :) Wish me luck!

Love you and miss you. Praying for you to experience God's love and plan for your lives clearly this day and for you to have the courage to do what He says. Been learning a lot about obeying God's word. That is mentioned a lot by Jesus and throughout the Old Testament so I think it is pretty important. Feeling more burdened to share him with people here, pray for my language learning, and that my life will shine bright when I can't think of the words to tell about my Savior.

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived, what God has
prepared for those who love him. 1 Corinthians 2: 9

In His Hands,
Heidi Paige <3

Monday, January 17, 2011

Greetings from Bamako, Mali!

So a lot has happened since the last time I wrote. You can guess from the title that I am in Bamako, the capital of Mali. On Saturday morning I was woken up at 7 by Angelika. She had come to my room to tell me that Beckie (our French teacher and my best friend here) needed to go to the hospital so I was to pack my bag and be ready to leave in fifteen minutes. Let the adventure begin. Being half asleep I almost forgot my passport, which ended up being an important item. Beckie was hit by a rolling Land Cruiser two Thursday s ago and is still suffering from headaches and vertigo so they decided she needed to go up north to see the WorldVenture doctor (Jen). Rod dropped Beckie and I off at Hopital Baptiste in Ferke about three hours later. We stayed there in a guesthouse til this morning when we left for Bamako. It was a ten hour drive with mostly the same, after a while, boring scenery but I never thought I would leave Cote d’Ivoire this year so I am definitely not complaining. Another WolrdVenture missionary and Dr. Jen drove us, and Beckie and I are very grateful since we have no idea what we are doing!
It has been fun hanging out with Beckie so much. It is incredible to me how life here is so unpredictable. Bamako is a huge city and the Niger River is huge also! It is crazy how nice the roads are here and there are even traffic lights! If there isn’t a light there is a police man (I haven’t seen one of those since I’ve been here) directing traffic. There are tons of motorcycles but they have their own shoulder on the road separate from the cars. We are staying in an SIL (Wycliffe) guesthouse on the fifth floor. I haven’t been this high since my flight. Bamako has similar city sounds to those I have heard before; cars, people yelling, music, and the call to prayer. I have actually never experience d the call to prayer before arriving in West Africa but it is something that has become a part of each day. It is interesting what becomes common place. Especially things that are normal until you go somewhere else and realize how strange they are. For example, working gas stations. In Cote d’Ivoire there are tons of abandoned gas stations. Another thing is speed limit signs, those don’t really exist in Bouake and they definitely would not be followed if there were.
I am not sure when I will be back in Bouake. Hopefully, tomorrow after Beckie has her CAT scan they will be able to say whether she can come back to Bouake or if she needs further medical help here in Mali or back in the States. Be praying for her, she also only had fifteen minutes to pack up her life in Cote d’Ivoire and she may not get to go back. Be praying also for me, a week from tomorrow I will hopefully be moving up to Korhogo in the Northern part of Cote d’Ivoire to live in a family and get plugged into church ministry up there. I am super excited to get involved in the community and understand the culture more but it will be hard to split up and leave Bouake. The other Journeyers have become my family and I will miss them. Also, it is hard to be gone for the last week together since I am in Mali.
God is amazing. I see His hands working so clearly in my life. He is changing me in a lot of ways. Some of the ways are uncomfortable, but I know that he is molding me into someone he can better use for His glory. My prayer is to be in sync with the Holy Spirit and open to the work and relationships He has for me here.
With Love,
Heidi Paige <3

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

It is hard to believe that 2010 is over. I think that this idea crosses cultural barriers. I have talked to both Ivoirians and French people and they say the same thing. 2010 flew by. I hope you are praying for Cote d’Ivoire. Things are looking pretty hairy down in Abidjan. I am thankful to be far enough north not to see the effects of this power struggle but almost 200 people have died since the elections and my heart hurts for this nation. I am not afraid for my own well being here but I am afraid for the well being of Cote d’Ivoire. If Gbago doesn’t step down there will most likely be a war. They have been warring for ten years. It is time for peace.

Over the time between Christmas and New Years I was able to travel even farther north to see missionaries and their work up in Ferke and Korhogo. On Monday we headed to the bus station at 8am only to wait two hours for our bus to actually depart [African time (:]. Not five minutes after we left we were stopped at a rebel outpost. No one was completely sure what we were supposed to do. Some said we needed to get off the bus and some were emphatic about staying on. We ended up getting off and going through the rebel post on foot after having our IDs checked. One woman was highly upset by the inconvenience of having to leave the bus. She yelled at the rebels in Jula. I was a bit worried that she would get hurt [She was in her 60s probably] but she would not calm down. This was a wake up call to the fact that people are sick and tired of the way this country is being run. There are few real laws enforced and no code of conduct when going through a rebel post. Most of the time it seems that they just want to feel powerful and it is a waste of time. A three hour drive took 6 hours so plus the two hours of waiting for the bus, it was a LONG day.

My vacation was overall super fun. It was just us 9 girls. We had the opportunity to stay at the Bible school in Korhogo and visit the translation in Ferke, the WorldVenture Hospital in Ferke and the WorldVenture Dispensary in Torhogo. We also played lots of games [I solved the mystery in Clue!] and rested! There is a mountain in Korhogo [If you can call it that]. We hiked up it Thursday morning [about half and hour to the peak (:]. It was gorgeous and God is amazing. French is coming along little by little. Hopefully at the end of this month I will return to Korhogo to live and help out with different ministries for two months.

New Years Eve we had an epic pig roast with a ten foot bonfire! It was a great celebration and time of worship and dancing of course! I love the people that God has placed here with me. Today [New Years Day] we played soccer on an indoor court for two hours, til it got dark. This week we will be learning about the Church history of Cote d’Ivoire. The president of the Bible School is coming down to teach us this week. I am really excited to learn more about the church because my passion is in church planting!

I love getting emails from you even though I can’t always respond because of the internet. So send me an update on your life!

Praying for peace <3