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December 2007

A Successful Trip

All that I had set out to accomplish in Nigeria the first of November can be checked off as done. The van has been purchased, modified, road tested and passed its first outreach to the bush with flying colors. The villagers at Yauiri who asked us to come and start a church with them were contacted and follow-up planned. Amen!

Van Purchased

Beginning with the van, the process of buying, registering, licensing, and fixing for our use took two full weeks. It started the day after I arrived in Nigeria when my escort, Nanmau, and I flew to Lagos from Abuja to see the vans that were for sale there. We spent the afternoon riding from lot to lot seeing plenty of vans but none that were in our price range which included all that I mentioned in the first sentence of this paragraph. So toward evening, we drove the short distance to Nigeria's neighboring country on the west, Benin. There we met in the city of Cotonou with Nanmau's friend, Abdul who speaks the local language of Benin which is French and would guide us around during our stay. The next day Nanmau and Abdul went shopping and came back in the early afternoon with their findings. Based on what they told me we decided on a 1995 Toyota 4 wheel drive long bed van. It had numerous rust spots on it and came without any seats as it had obviously been used as a delivery van. However, the engine, transmission, steering, brakes and tires all appeared in excellent condition. So we began the buying process which took an extra day as there was a city wide holiday and celebration the second day we were there which meant we were not able to do anything. But finally, late Friday afternoon we went to pick up the van to transport it back to Nigeria. The van had to be driven back to Nigeria by a native from Benin as none of us were licensed there. We got back into Nigeria late in the evening without any trouble though my Visa for Benin had expired after 48 hours and we had stayed 4 days! We spent the next day at the guest house waiting on the Nigerian customs official to process paperwork so that we could drive the van back to Abuja. This trip began late in the afternoon on Saturday without me as I did not feel that it was prudent that I travel by car at night. I flew back to Abuja on Sunday and met Nanmau there after a 24 hour trip on the road for him. Monday was another day of waiting on registering and licensing of the van but by early afternoon we were on our way to Jos.

Custom Fit

So at the beginning of my second week in Nigeria, I was in Jos with our friend Maiwa'azi Danduara where we had the van fitted for our needs. It was repainted and seats custom made for it. This is "Nigerian" seating with 4 rows of seats that will accommodate 18 passengers. When it was finished it did not look like the same vehicle that we had brought from Benin. Again, this process took a full week and so it was not until Monday at the start of my 3rd week that we headed out for Maiduguri. We got a late start from Jos but made the trip in a little over 5 hours due to some extremely hard driving by my driver. The scriptures tell us that all things work together for good and I guess his hard driving was for my good because I certainly prayed harder than I have in a long time during that trip!! I said earlier that the tires all appeared in excellent condition but just outside of Maiduguri we had a flat! So in the dark of night we changed a tire. When I had it repaired, we found that the valve stem was dry rotted. This happened to another tire later in the week as well so all of them were checked out. This van came from Europe by boat and had been in Benin for who knows how long so this finding was not all that surprising.

Contact Made

The team was excited to hear of and see the van obtained for the work of the ministry. They all rejoiced at this new step that God has blessed us with. Since I knew that I would not be traveling directly to Maiduguri upon my arrival in country, I did not bring several boxes of medicine as I normally do. I did have several bottles of Tylenol and Motrin, however, that had been donated by the staff I work with at Newton Medical Center which along with some meds that were left from my previous trip we took to conduct a clinic at Yauiri. The clinic was fairly small in terms of numbers as many of the people were out in the fields, but our main objective of meeting with the Christians who had invited us to start a church was met. As we found out, there are about 50 believers that live in the village during the dry season and as many as 200 during the rainy, growing season! We were told that 2 years ago they asked the chief of the village for permission to start a church which he granted! With that, the believers invited a local pastor to come and begin a fellowship. Unfortunately, according to those we talked with, the pastor is teaching more of his denominational doctrine than the pure gospel which has discouraged many of the believers, thus their invitation to us not to ‘start' but rather ‘takeover' the fellowship. This of course is not what we had expected and our response to the leaders of the villagers was that we must first meet with the pastor and see how we can work together and not just takeover. I do not believe that the Christian family should be in ‘conflict' but in ‘unity'. Otherwise, what kind of witness are we giving to the unbelieving Muslims that we are trying to reach? So our plan is to go to be in fellowship with the villagers when we make our February Outreach. Then we will meet with the pastor and see how the Lord leads. We are happy to work with others to help strengthen and nurture believers in the body of Christ. However, I do not want our efforts to cause division in any way lest we undo all that God has accomplished through our clinics thus far. So we need your prayers for our upcoming trip in February again for His wisdom and leading as we continue to pursue this door that He has opened to us and this ministry.

Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year

Sarah and I along with Robert, Lauren and Kristen all want to wish each of you the warmest wishes for a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Peaceful New Year. We thank each of you that have partnered with us in making our outreaches possible through your financial support, your donations of medicines, and especially your prayers. The expenses of this outreach were completely met and we are thanking you by faith for your help in meeting the $12,000 expenses for our outreach in February as we travel to Nigeria to do the work that God has called us to as a family.

Your Servants In Christ,
                        Larry - Sarah