Visa Victory!

21 09 2007

On Monday, I drove down to Lome to renew our Togo visas. (I had tried to do it in August but I was denied due to the fact that our visas were still valid for a month.) I was not looking forward to this process, but it had to be done as the visas expired… on Monday.

Since I asked many of you pray for my trip and our visa renewals, I wanted to let you know that the trip was successful and the hand of God was with me.

First, the grumpy customs dude who rudely denied my request to renew the visas in August was actually helpful when I made the same request on Monday. He suggested (demanded?) that I change the wording of my explanation of why we were in Togo – which could be seen as being nit-picky, but since he gave me whiteout and didn’t force me to do my work back out in the crowded lobby, I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt. (Beside you guys were praying for me so – influenced by a holy hand – his motives had to be partly altruistic right?)

A huge burden was lifted off of my chest when the visa applications were accepted with out a fight. Answer to prayer #1.

Answer #2 came when I returned to the visa office on Tuesday. They had told me that I could pick up our passports at 4pm — too late in the day for me to make the drive home to Kara. So, I arrived there just before noon hoping that they had the visas done AND would give me the passports.

Things were looking up when I saw that grumpy customs dude was not at his desk.

Then one of the other customs guys starts talking to me in Kabiye saying, “Hey there! What’s up? You remember me right?” I indicated that there was a good chance we had met before but that I couldn’t remember where. Turns out, he used to work the customs checkpoint I drive through every week to get to one of the villages where I work.

Things were looking WAY up.

After more greetings and pleasantries, I humbly inquired as to whether our visas were done and if so, could I please get them now so I could drive home.  Since our common bond as Kabiye speakers had melted the bureaucratic ice, it was only a short matter of time before I had our 5 passports, which contained new Togo visas, in my hands. Praise God!

I thanked my Kabiye ‘brother’ and customs ‘saviors’ and happy hit the road for home. I was home by dinnertime and reunited with my family a full 14 hours before expected.

Thanks for praying for this trip and our visas. Rest assured, those prayers were answered.

Resoundingly.





Masai Mara – 2

15 09 2007

Here are some more pictures from our safari in Kenya…

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This is the one male lion we saw with a big mane (the only we saw really well that is). He was hanging out near a stream and was kind enough to sit and pose for us. His size was very impressive. The picture doesn’t really do him justice.

After he moved back into the brush, our van got stuck in a huge rut. Our driver tried to get us out, but we ended up having to be towed out by the other van. It was bit unnerving to think that a huge lion was well within striking distance as they hooked up the cable. Thankfully, the lion stayed away and we got out the hole and on with the safari.

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These hippos are in the Mara River, which is right along the Kenya-Tanzania border. We were lead on a guided walk along the banks of the river to look at hippos and crocodiles. We had hoped to catch a glimpse of wildebeests migrating across the river, but the timing just wasn’t right. Maybe next time…

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Here is a decent picture of a zebra with lots of topis (a type of antelope) in the background. These species can no longer be found naturally W. Africa (although, the president of Togo has zebras in his personal game reserve which is not far from Kara.) It was really cool to see these animals ”in the wild”. Since he loves the movie Racing Stripes, Owen got a big kick out of seeing the zebras run and prance around.





Super Isaac

13 09 2007

I was looking at the blog today and thought to myself “there are a ton of animal pictures on this page.” The scary thing is that I’ve got at least 4 more posts full of safari pics in the queue. So, for a change of pace, I thought I’d throw in this picture. (For you safari enthusiasts, I put a new elephant picture in the header – in case you hadn’t noticed!)

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While we were at the All-Africa Missionaries’ Conference in Kenya, Ro Diaz, our friend from Dallas and an awesome artist, did caricatures of the kids. The boys got to pick out what they wanted to be drawn as and Isaac liked the idea of being Superman. He wasn’t crazy about the exaggerated head size of the drawing and he complained when we put it up in his room. (Tracey and I liked the picture so we left it up, but only for a few weeks.)

For some reason, though, he didn’t complain about the extra muscles…





Pics from Masai Mara 2007 – 1

10 09 2007

This is the first in a series of posts on our safari in the Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya this past July. We went to Kenya primarily to attend the All-Africa Missionary Conference, a bi-annual meeting of Church of Christ and Christian Church missionaries. Once we were over there, however, how could we not resist taking in a safari?

Our trip was pretty low-budget as far as safaris in East Africa goes. We slept in tents, ate in pretty rustic dinning hall (the food was great though) and shared a bath house with the rest of the campers. Our friends from Dallas, Suzanne, Anna and Will Sager were with us along with another Dallas friend Ro Diaz. It was definitely the trip of a lifetime.

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We saw lots of lions during our 4 day, 3 night trip. I think the total was 15. This lion was sitting in the middle of the road at high noon, trying to stay cool. She moved over to the shade of our van pretty soon after we stopped to take some pictures.

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These cheetahs were probably the ‘crown jewel’ of our trip. We spent 2 1/2 days looking for these guys before we saw them on our last game drive. There were actually 3 cheetahs (we were told they were brothers) but I didn’t get any picture of all of them together. You’ll see more of them in future posts.

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While the lions and cheetahs were awesome, I think my favorite animals to see were the giraffes. I was blown away by their height and grace. I loved seeing them, whether they were up close or far, far off in the distance. Maybe the fact that I don’t have any chance of seeing them in our ‘home’ game park of Pendjari made me appreciate them more… Anyways, this picture was taken as a herd of 12 giraffes crossed in front of our van. It was really cool. (The picture in the header of the blog was taken at during the same encounter.)

Well, that’s it for now. I’ll post a few more pictures in a day or two. Let me know what you think!





Pics from Pendjari 2007

9 09 2007

Our teammate Becky Reeves returned from a trip to the US this past week which means that I was finally able to see the pictures I took during our last 3 safaris — 2 at Pendjari in Benin and 1 at Masai Mara in Kenya. (Film processing here in Togo is not very good so I always wait to have my film developed back in the US. Maybe someday we’ll get one of those nice 35mm digital cameras…)

Anyways, I’d been anxious to see how the pictures turned out and I was happy to see some good ones. I’ve scanned a few of my favorites and I’ll be posting them throughout the week. (I’m also hoping to use some to change the header of the blog from time to time too.) Here are a couple of pictures I took in Pendjari – along with the stories behind them.

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We saw these elephants at Mare Bali during a trip in mid January. Isaac, Graham and I went with David & Elijah Reeves and Brett Emerson. I think we later met this group while driving back to our campsite.

Another highlight of that trip was getting lost and having to drive around the park until 10pm – a big no-no. We stayed at Mare Bali until it was almost dark waiting to see the lion we heard roaring nearby would reveal itself. It didn’t. Since it was dark, we drove by the turn off for the park campsite, searched for it for about 2 hours and we eventually found to be abandoned. So we drove for another hour and camped at an unmanned guard post.

While it doesn’t sound like much of a ‘highlight’ it really was. We saw lots of animals which aren’t out during the normal park view hours including 1 cerval, 4 jackals and a crested porcupine. We also came across a big buffalo who looked like he was more lost than we were! I digress…

Here is a picture of the buffalo kill and 2 of the 4 lions we saw near it during our February trip to Penjdari with our teammates and friends from Tabligbo. The kill was maybe 20 yards off of the road so we had a great view.

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The buffalo was killed during the night so we got to watch the ensuing post-kill drama throughout the day. We watched as the lions kept a wary eye on a nearby herd of buffalo (mourning relatives?) and took turns chasing off the increasing numbers of opportunistic vultures. In the afternoon, the vultures had free reign of the carcass but the lions were back at the kill around sundown. By the time the next morning rolled around, the kill had been reduced to a pile of skin and bones.

Lions are difficult to see at Penjdari so this was rare treat. That the whole family – indeed, the entire group of 35 people – got to see these lions up close and with a kill made it all the more sweeter.





Hitting the Book

7 09 2007

Now that Tracey and the boys are back to school this week ”hitting the books,” I will have the home office all to myself at least 3 mornings a week. Today I decided that this new-found peace and quiet left with me no more excuses to not avoid hitting THE Book in personal Bible study. (As if I had any real excuses before hand!)

I’m planning to memorize a part of scripture each week using this list of “Fighter Verses”, meditate on that Scripture and pray over constant, long-term and short-term prayer requests.

This week’s verse is just what I need to hear.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness so that the power of Christ may rest on me. — 2 Cor. 12-9

I’m excited about this new start and wanted to blog about it so as to help keep myself accountable. Feel free to ask me how it is going. It’ll help keep me on my toes.





Emergency! – Update

4 09 2007

Good news on both fronts!

Ezra & Esther are doing well at the Tsiko hospital. The doctors are pleased with their progress and hope to be able to release them by the end of the week.

Rosaline, from Po Wayi, had the infection in her foot surgically removed on Saturday night. No need for amputation!!! (She did say, though, that the doctors were amazed at the size of the wound.) She is being cared for at a hospital here in Kara. She’ll be there is doing well. I visited her today and she looked better than I had seen her in some time.

Please continue to pray for these precious people and for God’s healing power to be a witness here in Kabiyeland.