Bachelor Pad

30 11 2005

About 2 weeks ago, Tracey and Owen went to the States to attend Tracey’s sister’s wedding in San Diego. Isaac, Graham and I have been holding down the fort here in Togo but we have definitely missed Mom and our little buddy ‘O’.

During Tracey’s absence, I’ve come to appreciate more deeply what a difference one woman can make in a home. Just check out what we’ve been up to:

While Mom is away, the boys will….

  • eat mostly ‘finger food’ meals (hot dogs, pizza, tacos, pb&j sandwiches, etc.),
  • eat dinner while watching hoops on t.v. just about every night,
  • miss Mom like crazy,
  • go almost 3 days without bathing (we were camping),
  • belch as loud (and as frequently) as they please,
  • see how far across the living room they can toss gummy bears into each other’s mouths,
  • and, of course, never put the toilet seat down.

As you can tell, we are ready for the woman in our lives to come home! Please pray for a safe return this Saturday (Dec. 3rd).


Meet the Family

23 11 2005

Here we are (from right to left): Graham (5), Owen (1), Bryan, Tracey and Isaac (7)

My Cool Job

22 11 2005

In its September 2005 issue, Outside magazine featured 20 ‘dream jobs’ which were meant to inspire readers “to evolve into the fully balanced life-explorer [they] were meant to be.” As I read about the exciting lives of an adventure filmmaker, climbing ranger, tea purveyor and brew meister (among others) I couldn’t help but think, “Man, I’ve got a pretty sweet gig myself!”

So, I thought I’d write up a profile of my job as a missionary (modeled after the ones in Outside) to add to the list of dream jobs. Here it is:


Bryan Ries

JOB DESCRIPTION: Employed by the Preston Road Church of Christ (Dallas, TX), Ries works among the Kabiye people in rural Togo, W. Africa as an evangelist, church planter and leadership trainer. Speaking the native Kabiye language, he tries to communicate the Good News to animist non-believers and to help new believers make disciples of others and to work out what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ in their own culture.

WHY THIS WORK RULES: Over the past 5 years, Ries has found that there is nothing more fulfilling than helping those who may have otherwise never heard the Gospel come to the simple understanding that belief in Jesus brings the forgiveness of sins. “When I start teaching in a new village somewhere out in the boonies and the people there first hear me teaching in Kabiye, the response is incredible,” says Ries. “First they are amazed, flabbergasted really, that a foreigner from America can speak their language and then they start to say stuff like, ‘God speaks our language too!’” Ries is also involved in helping place mission teams among other people groups in W. Africa, having taken teams of university students on survey trips to Burkina Faso and Mali. “Traveling across West Africa, experiencing the different cultures and seeing things most people in the world may never get a glimpse of as a part of your job can’t be beat. Plus, there are a number of game parks to visit along the way!”

TURNING POINT: While studying physics at Harding University (a small Church of Christ school in Searcy, AR), Ries became interested in overseas missions. He spent one summer in Slovakia before spending the next summer as a missions intern under the supervision of teams in Uganda and Togo. “I fell in love with Africa,” Ries says. “Once I realized that there wasn’t anything the missionaries were doing that I couldn’t do, even learning a second or third language, I knew I had found my calling.” Ries finished out his undergraduate degree in mathematics, earned an M.A. in Missions at the university’s graduate school of religion and began looking for a people group in Africa to work with and teammates to go with him. He, his wife Tracey, and their two sons moved to Togo in August 2000 with four other couples. Since that time, another son had been added to their family and hundreds of Kabiye people have come to Christ.

THE BALANCED LIFE: The slow pace of life and premium put on relationships in Africa allow Ries to spend quality time with his family and friends. “Even during a really busy week, I get to take the kids to school and I’m home every night before they go to bed,” he says. “Sometimes I even take one of the boys out on a village visit with me.” Ries enjoys mountain biking and hiking in the nearby mountains for exercise, and sometimes has to bike or hike just to get out to a village teaching point. As a getaway, the family enjoys the beach in Ghana and safari trips. “Just this past weekend, I went on a camping/safari trip with my two oldest boys, Isaac and Graham. We saw all kinds of antelope, hippos, an elephant and lions. Not bad for a weekend trip!”

REALITY CHECK: Living in a foreign culture take some getting used to… at least 2 years worth. Also, because of the poor medical care in Togo, medical issues – even ‘regular’ sickness – cause a great amount of stress. Finally, there is the issue of living so far away from family. “I have 2 nephews and a niece that I’ve yet to meet,” states Ries. “And, another will be born before we are back in the States.”

THE BOTTOM LINE: You won’t amass earthly wealth being a missionary (not that that is what our lives should be about anyways – see Matthew 6:33), but you can make a living and gain blessings that will last beyond a lifetime. What is more, you’ll get to see and do some pretty cool things along the way.