In about a week, we will be travelling down to Lome to take our children’s teacher Mariah to the airport. She has been a blessing to our family in this first year of adjustment by teaching Jonah and Katie. We will certainly miss her. (Check out the attached picture of our kids dressed up for “crazy day” at school.)
When we return our team will be hosting some university interns for about a month. These four women will be able to experience many areas of missionary life. We have planned village visits, time at the HIV clinic in town, language learning, and other related activities. I really appreciate the time our team has put in to make this experience a blessing.
Please continue to be in prayer for our team as we work on a strategy for strengthening churches. We want to make sure that we are following God’s lead, and also basing our strategy in culturally appropriate ways. One idea that we are currently exploring is developing coaching relationships with our church leaders. Since they are the cultural insiders, we feel that by asking good questions we can help them lead their churches.
continued family adjustment
thanks for Mariah
Thank you so much for your prayers!
Ryan, Beth, Katie, Jonah, and Aaron
We were truly blessed to spend a couple of days in Pendjari Park in northern Benin. It is only about a five hour drive from where we live, not counting time dealing with border officials. It seems that laws have changed recently requiring us to get Benin visas in Lome, not at the border, so we had to spend some extra time and pay an extra fine to get across.
Once we were across the border in Benin we were greeted by smooth roads to drive on, which made the trip even nicer. Once we drew near to the park, we found a beautiful waterfall where we were able to swim twice, because we made it a point to go there on the return trip as well.
Inside the park, we saw the equivalent of lions, elephants, deer, cape buffalo, warthogs, crocodiles, and a few others. I say equivalent because many of these animals are not the same species I am used to seing. It was wonderful seeing the animals and also spending time with other missionaries from the Kara area who went.
However, once we returned, I, Ryan, came down with my first case of malaria. After four days, I am now starting to get some energy back and was thankfully to get my language learning in today. The malaria medicine did its work, not only on the parasite, but also on my stomach, so I am glad to be finished with it.
Please be praying about the four Harding interns coming in one month. It will be great to give them a glimpse of missionary life as they consider their future careers.
Friends and Family,
We have been blessed to have Matt and Aidan Miller with us in Kara for two weeks. The Millers were missionaries here for about eleven years and now have moved on to Rwanda. Matt is enjoying visiting with the Kabiye that he spent so much time with.
We’ve enjoyed talking with him about the work here and hearing his thoughts on the future of the Kabiye leaders.
A highlight of Easter Sunday was seeing five young people baptized in Lassa Tchou. We walked about 30 minutes from the village church service to find water. It was very hot, but a great experience of talking with others about what was about to happen. (see the picture above)
This week has been a challenging one for our family as we had electrical problems that damaged several a/c units, lights, and a computer. Most of these things have been repaired without too much cost, but it has been stressful, especially in the midst of hot season. Please pray that our spirits and emotions will remain steady.
This next week we will be going to Pendjari in Benin to see some animals. We hope to have some great pictures when we return next week.
Friends and Family,
Please enjoy our winter newsletter which is attached. Thank you for your prayers and support!
Since we are spending much of our first year learning language, two languages actually, language and culture are continually on our minds.
It is interesting to me what a language can say to you about a culture. I had been told a while back that there were no words in Kabiye for admitting wrong. This lesson was backed up by work in verbs recently. I started working through the excitingly titled “501 Essential French verbs” and also had been trying to learn the corresponding verbs in Kabiye. In one lesson I had the words admettre, to admit, and absoudre, to absolve. (Yeah, French and English share a lot of words.) Going to my French/Kabiye dictionary, I could not find Kabiye words for either.
How do you teach forgiveness in a place where there is not a word for admitting wrong? Of course, I have much to learn about this culture and some of this could be a misunderstanding on my part, but it is humbling to live and attempt to teach in a culture so different from my own. However, the more I get to know the people here the more I think that we’re really not that different in many ways as well. Actually, the people here seem to complain less than me and work hard for very little pay. I am thankful for their joyful spirits and ever present smiles as they talk with me.