One year ago…..

It’s almost impossible to believe I wrote this update almost a year ago. How could time have gone by so fast?! It seems impossible. Today I am reminded of how loved I am by so many different people from so many different worlds. Facebook posts tell me I have friends in Peru, France, Cote d’Ivoire, South Africa, Germany, all across the US and who only knows where else. I am privileged to serve a God that is bigger than anything I could imagine, and who crosses language, cultural, racial, ethnic and continental barriers. Seriously, Jesus is amazing.

The following was written 9/9/2014:

Birthdays, goodbyes and one year celebrations

August has been one incredible month. Well maybe I should say the end of August has been incredible, I can barely remember the beginning of it to be honest.

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Junior, Peniel & Marcelle

I celebrated my 26th birthday at the end of August, and I must say it was one of the best birthdays I have ever had. The weekend before, our team leaders Phil and Mimi came up from Bouaké and Laura and Crystal came from Korhogo to spend some time in Ferké talking, planning and also celebrating. We spent two days at the Hôpital Baptiste guest house catching up on life, sleep and Boy Meets World.

On Monday evening we headed to Tanti Flore’s restaurant (the only restaurant in Ferké) where we met Christy, a nurse who lives and works here, and her husband Elie. We enjoyed a fantastic dinner of chicken and fries. Afterwards we met the rest of the Ferké missionaries at the mission station, where we enjoyed carrot cake and vanilla ice cream. The carrot cake even had cream cheese frosting! It was incredible. We talked and laughed for most of the night, then us girls and Phil and Mimi headed back to the guest house for movie night.

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Birthday Dinner!!

Tuesday afternoon everyone left to their respective homes. Hannah and I arrived home just in time. A huge storm started shortly after we walked in the door, so we did what you’re supposed to do when it storms in Côte d’Ivoire, sleep. After some good rest, I headed outside to see what the family was up to. Marcelle, the niece of my host mom, and the oldest girl in our little family, was outside cooking. Her son Peniel and Junior, the son of mama’s sister, were also outside playing around on the front porch. It was still raining a little and freezing cold, of course it was probably like 75°, so we all bundled up in pants and sweaters and sat on the porch talking.

After Tanti Solange (mama’s sister), Marcelle, and Grâce had finished cooking the evening meal, we all went into the house and waited for mama to say it was time to eat. My host mom came out from her room dancing and looking at everyone expectantly, after a little bit everyone started singing “Happy Birthday” in French, then they sung in English. It was hilarious! Then we all gathered in the living room/dining room/tv room and ate until we couldn’t eat anymore.

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Front: Esther, Peniel (can’t get the kid to sit still). 2nd row: Tanti Solange, Mama, me, Junior, Grâce. Standing: Marcelle

It’s certainly not easy to be away from family and friends on special occasions, but I felt so loved by them, that I almost forgot where I was!

A week later, we said goodbye to Tanti Solange, Esther and Junior. We had gotten used to the constant laughing, talking and screaming of little boys in the house, and now it’s way too quiet. They are missed terribly!

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Hannah and the boys

This past weekend, Hannah and I headed to Korhogo to celebrate our one year anniversary of being in Côte d’Ivoire. I can’t believe it’s already been a year! It has gone by so fast. We celebrated with Pastor Nanougou, one of our national team leaders, his wife, Maï and their daughter Lucia. We ate dinner and went to the ice cream shop together. It was fun to catch up and talk about the future as well as think about how far we’ve come. A year ago, it would’ve been a very quiet dinner in Franglais (some French but mostly English), now we are able to talk and joke and laugh, all in French. It’s incredible!

Thank you for your support, both prayerfully, and financially, over the past year. You are the reason that I am able to continue to build relationships and share Jesus’ love with people here. I look forward to sharing what The Lord does in the next year.

Life Update… The email version has pictures… Let me know if you want that!

Dear faithful family & friends

          I apologize for not communicating well over the last few months. Things have been very busy here. Add in the fact that Internet works sometimes and when it does, my blog, of course, doesn’t.

          I would like to thank you for your continued support over these last 9 months. Without your constant prayers, I would not have made it to this point.
These past few months have been crazy! Between traveling to Burkina Faso for a little vacation to changes in leadership, life is anything but normal. Though I would love to be able to share every detail of the past few months with you, but it would take pages. So I will share the short versions only.
          Burkina Faso: what a vacation! The majority was spent at Nazinga National Park where we went on several game runs and saw tons of elephants, monkeys, warthogs, interesting birds and all sorts of other incredible animals. It was quite amazing to be sitting on top of a land cruiser as elephants walked right in front of us. The last part of the trip was spent with a friend of Rod’s named Clark. He owns a large piece of land in the middle of nowhere. There he raises all sorts of wild animals, including monkeys, warthogs, antelope, turtles and even ostriches. It was quite awesome to see all those animals in one place. About as awesome as sleeping under the stars every night while we were there. It was an awesome trip and a much needed mini vacation.

          Abidjan: was I actually in Africa?! My teammate Shasta was leaving to go back to the US, so Chrystal and I decided to accompany her. We took a bus from Korhogo to Bouaké, then from there to Abidjan. We headed to Cap Nord, a shopping mall. Yes that’s right folks, I said shopping mall. We ate cheeseburgers and fries at a lovely little cafe then headed inside to marvel at the enormous grocery store, shoe shop and book store. We even stopped counting white people, there were just too many. After saying goodbye to Shasta, Chrystal and I headed to the Mission Baptiste guest house where we were greeted by the director of the hospital, Dr Butati & Pelagie (one of the most amazing women I’ve met here in RCI). Our time spent with them was fantastic. During this trip to Abidjan, I was hoping for a chance to meet the Young Life Côte d’Ivoire director. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, but God is still moving and I know He has great plans. My eyes have been opened to several different opportunities, stay tuned, this next year is going to be even crazier!

          Leadership changes: ooo boyy! Our fearless leaders Rod & Angelika have determined this will be their last year serving on the leadership team for Benkadi (Journey Corps). They are very involved in several other projects and desire to focus on those more than they have been able to in the past four years. Our other leaders, Phil and Mimi, have been in the US for the past 6 months working on raising support and taking time to see their grandchildren. They have finally come back and I’m so excited. They will continue to lead the four of us who are staying another year.
          Moving: ugh!! After spending the last 10 months in Sucaf, I have moved into a new place. I am living in Ferké a mile or so from the hospital. I’m living with the secretary of the hospital, her 2 crowded but it’s great. Because the room where Hannah and I will sleep in isn’t completely ready, I’ve been sleeping in Madame Sêkongo’s room with her and Grace, the youngest daughter. Every night when Grace gets into bed, she holds my hand, and that’s how we sleep all night. I have to pry my hand out of hers each morning so I can go take a shower. I’m excited to spend the rest of my time here with this family. Pray that our relationships become deeper, that we love it each other well and that we are real with each other.    

          I want to thank you again for your love, prayers and support. You have been a blessing to me in so many ways while I’ve been here. I am half way through my time here, which seems crazy! It’s gone by so quick. You are probably thinking at this point, how is her time half way over? She’s only been there 9, almost 10 months. Don’t worry, I haven’t completely lost it. I have decided, after much prayer and consideration, to return in May 2015. I would like to start school to obtain my RN degree in August/September 2015. Please be praying that The Lord works this all out as applying for schools is always complicated.

          I hope I have given you an idea of what’s been going on these past few months. I will try my hardest to communicate more frequently than I have the past few months.
Much love
Suzi

 

 

 

 

My seriously, ridiculous life in bullets.. Round 3

  • Linda and I ran a 61 bed hospital all by ourselves the other day. Well mostly Linda ran it. I just changed IV’s, which if course all needed changed at the exact same time. Welcome to a crash refresher course in IV therapy..
  • It’s entirely possible to filter 26 liters of yellow water with one little msr filter.. It just takes 3 hours (huge thanks to Dr Austin! I’m very grateful for the clear water that comes out of that filter)
  • At 6am I am awakened in Ferké to find Linda is up sweeping out driver ants from the house.
  • 10am Linda leaves the nurses station to make war against the driver ants.
  • Daily I explain to someone that our beloved mama or grandmama, Linda, wears me out. Everyone’s response? Yes the papers say she’s retired, she disagrees. (Seriously though, she’s older than my grandma & she makes me look lazy)
  • To add to the list of weird things I have eaten: fried chicken intestines and fried cow skin (yes I said skin). Fried intestines are good, the jury is still out on cow skin
  • I have a cold… Again.. In case you’re counting that’s the second one in 2 months
  • I’m adding to my scar count on a daily basis, I swear Africa makes me clumsy
  • Turns out riding a moto in short sleeves is no longer an option.. Not because it’s cold.. Nooo because it’s so hot that 30 minutes on a moto gives me a nice sunburn. (Yes mom I’m using sunscreen!)
  • I got ma hair did.. Seriously.. Braids.. 3 packets of mesh.. 4 hours sitting on the floor…  5000 francs… That’s $10… Yea go ahead and hate me…
  • That moment when your host mom makes salad and right before you start eating it you send up a silent prayer of “Lord, please don’t let me get amoebas” and then you eat a ton because it’s so good! (Still not sure if I’m safe from the meeby jeebies but hey such is life)
  • The wonderful cool weather has left. It is now hot. I’m talkin the kind of hot where even if you sleep with a fan you sweat the entire night. The kind of hot where, warm water comes out of the shower instead of cold (who needs a hot water heater?!). And it’s only gonna get hotter.
  • You can feed 6 people for 4 days for about $3 each person.
  • I saw a man kiss his wife before she got on a bus headed to Mali. I almost fell over from shock (men and women do not hug/kiss/show affection here. They shake hands, even husbands and wives.)
  • Making friends with people on busses is awesome. Especially when they argue with the driver to get you dropped off right in front of the hospital instead having to get a taxi from the bus station. It didn’t work but I appreciated the thought.
  • I learned how to make tea here. It normally takes an hour or so to make.. Unless it’s me, than it’s like 2 hours. It was worth it. Lots of good conversation. 
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    Wedding in Sucaf 2 with Mme Sekongo, Cecil, Fanta, and the rest of the family

  • Hannah and I go to a youth group in Ferké every Tuesday night.. You know how when people dance there’s always that one guy who’s just that much better than everyone else? Well we found him.. When he dances it’s almost impossible to watch anyone else dance.
  • I should probably mention the youth group is in French with Senoufou translation. Or sometimes just in Senoufou. When that happens, the pastor’s son sits next to Hannah and I and translates so he can practice his English (yes, English, he translates to English for us. We’re very spoiled)
  • I spent 24 hours in a house that is bigger than my house in the US. No it was not owned by a white person. It was owned by an Ivoirian. It had 3 & ½ bathrooms, all with flushing toilets and hot water heaters for the showers. I wasn’t sure what to do with myself… Still not sure what to think of it..
  • You know you’re in the middle of nowhere when the Ivoirians say “We’re in the bush”
  • If your moto breaks down on the side of the road, just pray. God will send two very nice army men to fix your moto for you and then follow you back to your house to make sure you get there safely.
  • On Thursday Madame Sekongo (secretary of the hospital) asked me if I wanted to go to a wedding.. On Saturday.. Did I know the person? Nope! Was it all in Senoufou? Yep! Did I talk to my little sister (Mme Sekongo’s daughter) the entire time? You bet I did!
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    Random rappelling adventure

  • Found out one of my coworkers is getting married this month.. Guess who gets to be in the wedding?! That’s right! This girl. I’m soo excited!
  • Hannah and I took the moto to the market the other day. I drove, she was on the back. As we’re heading out of the hospital, we hear loud clapping and someone shouting “Bravo!” We look to see Michelle, the president of all the youth in the Ferké district (this guy is a big deal). He was so proud of us. I said to Hannah, “We can go home now, we’ve officially impressed the guys”

A day in the life….

I’m sitting in O3, as Jeremie (my newest partner in crime) tries to figure out how best to take off a section of our patient’s cast. This is not the first time the old man has had a cast. In fact, he has had at least 2 different casts on his leg and one on his arm. We’re cutting of a portion of the cast on his leg because there is a severe infection that occurred after he had several pins removed. After about 20 minutes of arguing where exactly the infection is, Jeremie starts, the old man stops him, they argue some more and finally Jeremie really gets going. The saw is so old and doesn’t quite get all the way through the cast. Out come the scissors. We are going to work really hard today comments Jeremie. In my head I think yes you really are, I’m still in the watching stages and even if I weren’t, I’ve never in my life cut off a cast, that’s not something we even learn learn in the States.
So I take a seat and watch.
The nurses here work hard. They barely sit, and when they do, the fall asleep because they’re so tired.
Our day has consisted of 8 wounds, countless IV’s to watch and 10 different injections. It’s only 10:30am and I’ve only been working with Jeremie since 8:15am. He’s been working since 6am.
We’re on a 18 bed unit, 12 of which are filled. The hospital is relatively empty but there’s still lots of work to do.
We finally get the piece of the old man’s cast off that we want an start on his wound. It’s a rather pretty one, I can see the bone. He’s been in the hospital 37 weeks. I start the wound care while Jeremie puts away the saw. I clean and dress the whole wound all by myself and Jeremie is very proud of the work I’ve done.
We head off to the nurses station to grab some water and put our tools away.
Linda grabs me and we’re off to fix colostomies. Yay poop!
It only takes us about 45 minutes to get our little munchkin in A9 squared away with a new contraption. We both shoot up a silent prayer that it won’t leak like it has been for the past 3 weeks.
Back to the nurses station we go.
I’ve barely sat down to take a break when Jeremie sends me to get vital signs of our one day post operative patient on A11. He’s waiting on A5 to get out of surgery and doesn’t want to leave since anesthesiology will give report after the bring back A5.
Off I go. Taking vital signs will be the easiest thing I’ve done all day.
I’ve just started to head back to chart my findings when Joel grabs me to help feed the babies. There are two premies on unit P, and I of course don’t mind holding tiny hands to keep them from pulling the tubes out of their mouths while Joel gives them milk. One is particularly feisty. As soon as we think she’s gone to sleep, I let go of her little hands to reposition her and she reaches right up and starts pulling the tube out. I catch her just in time. This little girl is going to be trouble for her mom! She’s already figured out the “make them think you’re asleep” deal.
At 1pm I finally head to Linda’s to eat some lunch. I’m exhausted.
And that’s a day in the life of a nurse here… Well half a day…

Christmas…. Ivoirian Style….

I’ve decided the best way to explain Christmas is to give a timeline of events, so here goes .. Enjoy!

December 24th 5:30am: my alarm goes off, I listen for my host mom. She’s not awake. Praise Jesus, I get to sleep in!

6am: I hear my host mom get. Lord, I pray, please let her go back to sleep. She’s pregnant and needs more rest after all… She doesn’t…

6:15: I crawl out from under my mosquito net, grab my pagne and sweatshirt and walk out of my room. My host mom is in the kitchen. “Good morning” I say to her. We do the typical Ivoirian morning conversation (did you sleep well, how’s your health this morning). I pick up the broom and begin to sweep the house.

7:00: I get hot water for my bucket bath. Praising God the whole time, it’s cold and a freezing shower just sounds horrible in the mornings

8:15: after everyone has taken baths, we eat breakfast. Bread and coffee, well not so much coffee as sugary milk with a tiny bit of instant coffee. Definitely not complaining, the bread is fresh and so good and I can drink sugary milk like a champ these days

9:30: my host mom and I head to the market to get some things for dinner tomorrow. She buys bananas, score!!

11:15: we’re walking back from the market when I hear someone yelling my name “Suzi”. I turn around to my big brother Jonas riding his bike behind me. I’m soo confused, only 4 people in Sucaf call me Suzi and he is NOT one of them. I begin to wave, when someone’s head peeks around Jonas. It’s Claude! He’s been gone in Bouaké for several weeks and I’m so excited to he’s back. He and Jonas head on to the church to start finding boxes that are supposedly filled with decorations. My host mom and I decide it’s a good time for a nap.

12:45pm: I wake up from my nap and find food on the table. I’ve barely started lunch when my host dad informs me that I’m wanted in the church building. I finish my rice and sauce quickly and head over. I can hear the boys yelling at each other over their loud music. Claude, Jonas, David and Katin are decorating the church, well more like attempting. I make faces and they know things aren’t looking good. Up on a table I climb. “Don’t fall” says Claude. I shake and jump on the table just to scare him and his eyes get wide. I laugh. We begin arranging and rearranging letters that spell out Merry Christmas (in French of course). Finally we’ve got it nice and straight. Then we start making paper flowers.

2:00: my friend Fanta shows up with lunch for us (yes this is my second lunch). The four boys, Fanta and I crowd around the bowl and eat together. She’s a great cook and there aren’t any leftovers.

2:30ish: Claude takes a tumble off the table and we laugh so hard our stomachs hurt. Of course he’s the one to fall after warning me.

3:45: we finally finish with all the decorations and the boys head home to get some rest. I walk outside where the ladies of the church are washing dishes and preparing food. I help wash dishes. There are tons!Image

5:00: cooking begins. I swear I’ve never seen so much rice in my life. Guess when you plan to feed a few hundred people it takes a bit.

7:00: I head to my room to sleep for a little bit. I’m exhausted and it’s going to be a long night.

9:30: I jolt awake. My alarm has been going off for 30 minutes. Whoops! O well. I throw on my leggings, a t-shirt, a long sleeve shirt and my sweatshirt.. Did I mention it’s cold in Sucaf?!

10:30ish: the dancing finally begins. Side note: in the recent weeks I have learned that the balafon (instrument used for all Senoufou dancing) actually talks. Senoufou is a tonal language, thus the sounds made by the balafon actually speak to those who understand it. How cool is that?!?! Like that’s evangelism at its best, you don’t even have to open your mouth, just play and people who know the language will hear the words of The Savior! Of course you have to know how to speak Senoufou/play the balafon first… Minor details though…Image

Throughout the night I am convinced more than once to dance. Now those of you who know me well should be surprised it would take any convincing to dance, but I seriously cannot figure out how to dance well to the balafon. It always looks easy until I try it.. And fail.. Epically! My favorite dancing moment has to be when Séreba, a good friend of my host dad’s and someone I rarely get to see due to the amount of work he does, asks where I am. My host mom, pregnant as all get out, comes running over to let me know he’s looking for me. I walk over and he says, “You’re going to dance. We’ll go slow” I follow him around for 30 or minutes and the smile on his face is totally worth it.

December 25th 3:30am ish: my family calls from the States, rescuing me from more dancing. It’s a quick conversation but just what I needed.

5am: I grab a seat on a bench and begin to fall asleep. My little host brother sits next to me and is soon fast asleep with his head on my lap. There’s maybe 20 people who are still dancing. Most everyone is asleep on benches at this point. I’m proud I made it that long.

I’m awakened at what I assume is around 5:30 by my host dad’s voice coming through the speakers telling everyone to go home and come back for church in a few hours. I crawl into bed.

10ish: everyone shows up for a 30 minute sermon.

Afterwards everyone eats, goes home and sleeps until like 6 or 7pm, wakes up, eats dinner and goes right back to bed.

And that my friends, is Christmas. Ivoirian style.

My Ridiculous Life Round 2

  • When Christy says, “Are you ready for this?” while getting on a bus, it means so the guy who collects the money for the bus is going to sitting basically on top of you. He might accidently grab your hair and not realize it because it’s white girl hair. You might, at some point, have to reach up with your left hand and pull your hair on the right side of your head back from his hand because his grip is so tight you won’t be able to pull it away by just moving your head. (I’m sure the people sitting behind me got a good laugh)
  • Church normally lasts three hours
  • Dancing with your booty in the air at church is completely acceptable
  • Cockroaches are fast! And just because they’ve been smashed with a shoe three times does not mean they’re dead
  • People take pictures with white girls for souvenirs- not exactly sure what that means but I’m sure I’m someone’s fake girlfriend
  • Mosquitoes are no joke! Those suckers don’t care how much bug spray you put on, they will still eat you alive
  • I met four white people, in Bouake, all in one day. What are the odds?!
  • Timothée (French teacher) requested I buy him Agouti while I was in Brobo. What is Agouti, you ask? Well it is a very large rat (like the size of a small cat) that is smoked then sold for 2,000 francs ($4). Yeeeaaaa I was really thrilled when I figured it out (insert sarcasm here) and ooo my does it reek!
  • Frozen ginger juice is really good. It’s sold in little plastic bags and you bite the corner of the bag off and crunch on it like a freezey pop
  • Ivoirians are quiet. I’m very loud. That’s all I have to say about that
  • It is entirely possible to fit 4 adults on a moto, however it is very awkward especially if you happen to be squished up against the man who is driving.
  • I did the African wrap your baby on your back thing! No idea what it’s actually called or a better way to describe it, but I did it!
  • Jumping out of the back of a range rover in a pagne takes skill, especially when not wearing shorts underneath
  • I really don’t like driver ants. Walking through them three different times in one day is not fun. Neither is being bitten on your butt by them.
  • After spending Tabaski in a Kong courtyard, the women asked Rod if I could stay with them for the rest of the year. Rod said sure, so out of the car I was pulled and the ladies all came around me and hugged me tight. This all happened without the ability to communicate with them because they speak Dioula and I barely even speak French. Guess lots smiling and lots laughter is the best communication. The ladies also named me Alima.
  •  I tried Agouti!!!! It is the best thing I’ve had in Africa so far
  • Driving a moto, in a pagne, without showing your knees takes skill. A skill that I have not mastered yet. All of Ferke and Sucaf has seen this white girl’s knees

**Last but not least- don’t worry guys, I’ve blessed the rains here several times**

Three Weeks Later…

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My little brother being ornery

O where do I start?! Wednesday, November 6th, I left my very comfortable home in Bouaké to live with a host family in Sucaf, which is about 10km from Ferke where Hopital Baptiste is located. I had no idea what I was getting into and if I had, I’m sure I would not have agreed to this whole shin dig. After a 3 hour bus ride, my new host father, Pastor Kidou and the president of the youth group, Cecil Klana, and I hopped off at the Ferke city limits and caught a taxi. We turned onto a dirt road and drove for what seemed like hours (actually only about 20 minutes). On either side of the rode there’s fields and fields of sugar cane and the smell of sugar being processed hits your nostrils about every 5 minutes. We eventually arrived at Cecil’s house and dropped off her luggage then, she accompanied me to my host family’s house. The house is just inside the church grounds. I was greeted by my host mom, a little brother (Mikael) and sister (Afu). After introductions, we ate lunch. I was taken to my new room where I promptly fell into bed, exhausted.

The first three days were wonderful, I talked a lot with my host parents, brother and sister. We made tons of visits to meet people from the church and every evening people stopped by to say hello. I met lots of people at church and thought I was making friends.

Then reality hit. Daily life in Africa is slow and it is boring. Communication became difficult because the women of the church prefer to speak in Dioula or Senoufou (two tribal languages of Côte d’Ivoire), which I of course don’t understand at all. I had no idea what I was doing or what I was supposed to be doing. I was tired from waking up at 5:30am every day and trying to figure out what was going on in my family. I sat so much, I sat alone, I read books, I studied French, I read the Bible. I did anything to pass the time, but it still was going slower than ever. “Lord” I said, “Surely you didn’t bring me here to do nothing!” Day after day I prayed. Day after day I ate Cabato (corn mush), day after day I felt my stomach trying to adjust to the severe change in food. Day after day I hoped for some direction. Day after day I hoped my host family would allow me to leave the church courtyard without someone accompanying me. Day after day I prayed for freedom. Day after day I questioned how I was going to do this for the next two years, how could I sit and do nothing for two years?!?!

What felt like months was actually only a week and a half. Then something happened. Somewhere in the past two weeks, I began to hear God speak. “My daughter” He said “I have not left you, I did not bring you here for nothing. I have plans for you, be strong and courageous.” I began to hear Him speak as I rode through Sucaf on a motorcycle. “If I had brought you to a village in the middle of nowhere like the one you’re riding past, I would have been with you. If you didn’t have electricity and running water, I would’ve been with you. If you lived in the largest city in Côte d’Ivoire, I would’ve been there.” He continued, “I have gone before you, I walk beside you, I come behind you and clean up every mess you make. I know every tear you’ve cried, I know every tear you will cry. When you feel the loneliest, I am there, holding you, carrying you. When you feel you can’t go on, I will be your strength and I will lift you up on wings like eagles. See I have given you all the land that your feet will touch. Be strong and courageous because, I, the Lord your God am with you.”

Then suddenly I was busy. I had people to see, visits to make, things to discuss. Tuesday, I visited Korhogo and spent time with Shasta and Laura who are living there. I saw Rod & Angelika, our field leaders and had real food. Then Thursday, I spent time with my friend Hannah in Ferke. We spent an entire 2 days talking and laughing, reading and visiting with Linda & Diane at Hopital Baptiste. Friday, Hannah returned to Sucaf with me to attend an all-night funeral (yes all-night, 9pm-7am). We talked with the boys at my church, who have quickly become my older brothers and are very protective. They also happen to speak English, which they refuse to speak with me because they want me to learn French. Only when I’m really struggling do they speak in French with me. Hannah and I sat with the girls and learned how to put water in bags and tie them, there is a very specific technique and if you don’t do it correctly they will tell you. We stayed up almost all night for the funeral, but decided to rest at 3:30am. One of my brothers accompanied us back to our home and we talked the entire way. We woke up 1.5 hours later and returned to the funeral just in time to hop on the bus and go to the cemetery. Hannah returned home that afternoon. Sunday I visited the village church that my host father preaches at. Church lasted the normal three hours. After I sat with the one woman in the entire village who spoke French and we talked for 3 hours. Then Monday came and I went to Sinimetiali to visit Hannah’s family. I got on a bus all by myself and got off the bus all by myself. I walked to Hannah’s house. The next day she and I hopped in a car by ourselves and headed to Korhogo. We spent a wonderful day and night in Korhogo with Laura’s host family. Then Laura, Richard, Hannah and I hopped on a bus together and headed back to Bouaké where we’ll spend Thanksgiving as a team.

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My host mom working in the fields behind our house

Each day is not without trials, but I know that the One who conquered death lives in me. I will return to my host family on Wednesday next week and will start working at the hospital in Ferke the following Monday. I am looking forward to both. I have already found myself more than once in the past 2 days missing my tyrant of a little brother who likes to pretend sticks are guns, I miss my host mom who has the most beautiful smile, my little sister who barely speaks French but always say hi to me, and my host father who likes to tell stories that are not funny in the least bit but he laughs hysterically after each one. I look forward to studying more French. I look forward to slow days and the empty times where I will again and again hear my Savior say, “I am with you.”