04 November 2005

Ramadan is over

Today Ramadan is over. Last night somewhere in Côte d'Ivoire someone saw the new moon and it is now official. This morning after the call to prayer we could hear the drums in the distance announcing that this is indeed a new month and that today at 10h00 all those who can will go to their “Friday mosque” for prayers to mark the end of another Ramadan. In town the next few days there will be concerts and parties as well as a lot of kids dressed up going from door to door asking for a “sambé sambé” or a good year gift. It is one of those interesting customs that has crossed religious borders in cities like Bouaké. Kids will dress up in their new clothes and do the same thing at Easter, Tabaski, the end of Ramadan and Christmas. If you are well off, at each one of those fêtes you would have outfits made for each one of your children and then send them out on the streets to ask for gifts. Of course it is considered good form if you give something to the little urchins and you always receive some kind of blessing from them. Usually it comes in the form of, “May God give you many more years” or “May God accord you another year”. So, that is what is going on today as we go from one shop to another and from one courtyard to another to greet our friends on the ending of Ramadan. Of course this means that the rebels are also asking for handouts to help them celebrate the end of Ramadan. So, we take this little space in the information world to wish those of you reading this stuff another year and especially another year in which God gives you His peace and joy.

Well, it happened a few days ago, that two of the large eucalyptus trees that have been standing around Bethel Dorm for well over 30 years now, fell over in a fairly windy storm. They fell on part of the Dinning Hall where most of the cooking takes place. Fortunately even though it was just before supper the French cooks where not in their usual place. The trees fell in such a way that they punctured the roof and damaged the roof structure. None of the masonry was damaged however and the second tree fell next to, just missing, the large butane gas tank that is used to store cooking gas for the kitchen stoves. One of the refrigeration units was damaged but even as I write now a few days later, it is running and seems to have come though the storm without serious problems. The photos may help you understand what I mean by large eucalyptus trees. It would seem that several years ago, while building the gym and the plaza in front of the gym that roots were cut in order to put in some stairs. In cutting a few roots and putting in the stairs to the east of the trees their footing was compromised. As our strongest winds come from the east at either end of the rainy season, this was a setup for disaster waiting to happen. Again, it was fortunate that no one was hurt by them. One side note however, these two trees took out three other trees when they fell. Five trees at once! Now that is a record for this place I do believe.

Our internet café where we do most of our surfing dried up the other day as they have a fairly large bill with the phone company which needs to be paid. For some reason the money that has been paid them has not been used to pay the phone company and so we find ourselves running around looking for another place to do our surfing. I hope to post this today but a lot will depend on whether or not I can find an internet café which is open.

Not much else in the way of news other than to say that we are glad, as always, when Ramadan comes to a close. For some reason fasting all day puts people in a contrary attitude and it becomes difficult to get anything done especially from 16h00 and on. We had a theft this last night which looks like a kid just trying to find some cash for the fête days coming. It is a little unsettling to know that there are people out there who will come into a French military base to steal. Knowing the seriousness with which the French guard their camp we are not too surprised! So goes life in a country where rich Europeans live in a poor and more and more desperate situation. Of course we know that our protection comes not from the French troops living here but from someone far greater.

Thanks for your prayers and for reading this little blurb! May this find you in good health and relatively well if not excellent. Sorry for the long silence. We will try to do better next time.

06 October 2005

Back in Bouaké

It has been over two weeks since I arrived back in Côte d'Ivoire. It has been an interesting two weeks as we are back this time for at least two years before we are even thinking of returning to the US. As I mentioned in my last posting, Angelika and I flew to different cities in West Africa and we met up in northern Côte d'Ivoire one week ago. We are now back in Bouaké and this morning we are listening to the rain come down as we are in the thick of our rainy season. We have a new contingent of French soldiers who arrived last week and so we are in the process of helping the 10th mandate learn how we would like them to treat this place and what the conditions are for their staying on this campus. As you can well imagine, they do have the upper hand when it comes to bargaining as they have bigger guns than we do. No worries though, the US Ambassador sent an attaché up the other day to check on us, or at least that is what he told me! He did say that it was his first time up to Bouaké since he had arrived in Côte d'Ivoire. He was impressed with how calm and laid back things are in the north (rebel territory) as opposed to life in Abidjan.

Right now things have got to be tense in Abidjan as nobody is agreeing as to what will happen after the 30th of this month when the presidential term of 5 years will come to an end. Normally elections would have taken place by then but they have not been organized because the rebels in the north have not laid down their weapons. Of course they will not lay down weapons until the government supported militia lay down theirs. The government supported militia will not lay down their weapons because they claim that they have none. To turn in weapons would be to admit that they had some and on and on it goes. It sounds a little bit to me like the children’s story, “This is the House that Jack Built”. Of course the results of Jack’s house building was only a little spilt milk and a kiss that may or may not have been wanted. If that could only be the case here we would be very pleased. Unfortunately we are waiting for something far more serious to happen in the next few days and weeks.

Upon returning to the Bouaké campus last week I heard that Kalifa Coulibaly, one of the former workers at ICA who cleaned the classrooms in his later years, had died of an illness that had taken him at some point this last May. He had returned to his home in Mali, where he died earlier this month. Kalifa was a good man and a good friend of mine. He was one of those jovial, always ready to talk and joke kind of people. Any news that needed dissemination would do well to pass by Kalifa. He had ways of making you feel good even when you knew you should be angry with him. I knew Kalifa however, more as a friend rather than an employee. I am sure that some of you reading this could tell stories about Kalifa that would make us all laugh. He was that kind of guy. I am surely going to miss him. I have not heard yet anything concerning a memorial service at the C&MA Campement Church where he was a member but I am sure something will be done there to remember his life and to encourage his wife and family.

Just yesterday Angelika and I took a walk around the outside of the campus just to look at the wall, the gardens and to greet anyone who might be out on a Sunday afternoon. As we were walking we came upon a herd of cattle and their herder. We exchanged greetings and began to talk about the war and different people we know and he knew. As we talked he mentioned that he was from the same village in Mali as Kiribé, another one of the former workers at ICA. I had heard that Kiribé had passed away sometime last year. As we talked the old hearer, whose name was Mama, he told us of how he started out with just one calf and now has a small herd. He spoke about Kiribé and how he followed the “Jesus Road” whereas he had always followed the road of his father, Islam. He regretted that fact that Kiribé left for Mali just after the war began but as he said many times, our lives are in the hands of God. He told us of being out with his cattle the day that the Ivoirian military tried to take Bouaké and how he had been told to sit down and that they were going to kill him. He had asked to do his prayers first and then the soldiers walked off and left him sitting there. One hears many stories like this these days. Of course the ones which end in death are often not told and families are left wondering where their family members have gone and what has happened to them. Tough stuff. And that was just one walk around our place here in Bouaké.

Again, please don’t forget about Côte d'Ivoire. The next few days and weeks are looking to be troubling for this country. It will be interesting to see what takes place as the actual president is refusing to accept a transitional government and is not talking with the rebels. He is actually refusing any negotiations with the West African leaders who have been encouraging him to step down as president following the 30th of this month. H.K. Bédié, the former president of Côte d'Ivoire, has put out a call to all of his supporters to go out into the streets at the end of the month if the actual president doesn’t step down. It is not looking good. The French are once again asking about how they can use the campus as a point of assembly for any eventual evacuations of Europeans in Bouaké that may need to take place if the government troops decide to attack Bouaké or other points north of the demilitarized zone. So is life in our part of this crazy world.

23 September 2005

This Is It!

This is it, as it would seem, for the next couple of years. We are once again this year flying across these United States on our way back to Africa. We have had a great year here in the US visiting many of you, learning new things and in general, having a good time. Now, because of our responsibilities in Côte d'Ivoire, we are on our way back to that part of the world that we call home. On one hand we are glad to return to something that is a little more normal and down to earth than the land of look alike Wal-Marts and Burger Kings. On the other hand, it is always hard to say goodbye to family and friends.

Even today as we gave my folks a last hug and said goodbye, I wondered how many more times we might get to hug them and spend time with them. As supportive as they are about our being in Africa, it is hard for them as they send us off to what is so unknown. Every day is like that though. One cannot know for sure what any day will bring. God does though and we rest in the assurance that He has got it all worked out. That does not preclude struggle and difficulty. Most often it is an integral part of our lives, but He knows what we need for each day.

It is why the blessing given before going to bed at night by the Dioula is: “Ala en kélén kélén wuri” translated meaning, “May God raise us each one up one by one”. The general notion is that if everyone gets up at different times in the morning that there has been no disaster and no death has taken place during the night. Of course as we leave family we are all hoping that during our separation we will not receive a call telling us of some tragedy or difficulty, but again we know and are certain that God is not obliged to have us walk smooth paths in this life. We are His and our lives are literally in His hands, regardless of how much we may think we can control them.

As much as we would like to control the world around us and all that it offers, we have seen that even in this great country, men are not immune to the violence of nature. As we have recently observed in the case of our countrymen to the south in the Gulf States, we can build dams and levies and other great engineering marvels to keep back the rivers and the sea. With these levies however, as in the case of our rivers, we have simply succeeded in raising the level of our rivers and creating even a greater need for more engineering marvels. As in the case of some cities, we have found that the levels of the sea can at times overwhelm our best attempts to hold them back.

Returning to Africa our thoughts turn to the realities of life on that continent. I find myself thinking about the fact that the world’s number one killer, malaria is still alive and well in Africa. I just read, in the Delta Airlines September 2005 Sky magazine, an article that said that every day the number of children that die each day from malaria could fill seven jumbo jets! The fact that the majority of those deaths are in sub-Sahara Africa makes it a rather unimportant issue in the West. Having experienced malaria first hand and having seen colleagues from both Africa and the US loose children to this disease; it angers me that so little is being done to fight it.

Recently I had a high fever which took me one Saturday while at the drop zone. A skydiving friend told me of his neighbor, Dr. Makler, who has done extensive research in malaria research. This skydiver called Dr. Makler who was very excited to see me at his home. That afternoon he had me drive up to see him so that he could take some blood samples and test for the disease. He not only tested me but he also gave me a contact where I could pick-up a self test that he had developed but which was being marketed by someone else. I actually tested negative that afternoon but he was fairly sure I had malaria. When I got home I took some meds that we can get in Côte d'Ivoire but which the FDA in the US have apparently yet not approved. Dr. Makler said that that what I had at home was the best medicine that I could take for malaria. In the end I took the meds and felt better after a few more bad spells.

One of the interesting things about Dr. Makler is that he has come up with a self test using small blood samples, strips of paper and a buffer. If the test is done correctly you can tell that malaria is present in the blood as well as indicating what kind of malaria it is, without having to have a full laboratory available. This is very interesting in light of the fact that it is still a number one killer in our part of the world. So many times we are treating non malarial fevers with malaria drugs simply because we assume that fever is malaria in this part of the world, which many times it is. With such a simple test available we could be more precise in the treatment of this disease. The following websites are interesting for the fight against this disease: http://www.malariatest.com/ and http://www.accessbio.net/.

So, here we are, back in Africa. Angelika is in Bamako, Mali I hope and I arrived in Abidjan last night. Aside from loosing two bags, the trip went well and I slept well last night. If you have just read through all that I have written above you might want to remember that the difficulties we experience are only occasional. For the most part we are healthy and life is normal. I have meetings scheduled for today and I am not too concerned about malaria. We mention these things to raise awareness not to alarm. I guess that at times alarming can raise awareness and that raised awareness can produce action. Yep, we would like to see action! Check out the above mentioned sites and get involved if you think you can.

20 September 2005

We're Outta Here!

It would appear that we will soon be on our way outta here ! We have come to the end of our visit to this country and we are on our way back to Africa. We are going with mixed feelings. On one hand we are glad to be getting back to where life seems a little bit more normal, where the lives of pets and people do not hold similar values and where hurricanes and tropical storms are not blamed on the government but are still considered acts of God.

It has certainly been an interesting year back in this country. As we pack our bags we are sadden as well to know that some of you we will not be seeing for a very long time and others of you we may never see again. As with every departure some of you may be more overjoyed than others of you to hear of our imminent leave taking. Whatever your inclination however, our departure is on the books and in the works.

This time back, both Angelika and I will fly to Paris together. In Paris, on the other hand, I will fly on to Côte d'Ivoire and Angelika will continue on to Bamako, Mali where she is to attend a missionary women’s retreat in that city. I think she is excited to go and probably glad to be off on her own again for a spell. We hope to meet up in northern Côte d'Ivoire around the 26th or so when I am scheduled to have a meeting with our field leader.

I plan to get up to Bouaké around the 22nd or the 23rd all things being equal. Of course we know that they are not which would lead us to wonder just when we will get to Bouaké and even if. At this point the situation remains relatively calm although there is talk about renewing hostilities. One thing we are learning to weigh is the weight of words. After multiple peace talks and multiple peace accords signed and agreed to we are beginning to understand that many times men do not really mean what they say or sign. With that in mind, hearing all of the threats to take up hostilities again sounds a little far fetched. At the same time, we realize that it does not take much for a country like Côte d'Ivoire to fall into outright anarchy in a flash.

I had a great time the other day taking Doug Hazen on his first skydive. He is our Northwest Area Director for WorldVenture. He had wanted to make a jump with me for a number of months and it finally worked out for us both to end up at the same place on a sunny day in Oregon. He had a great time and so did I. Thinking about that jump now, I realize that he is the first boss I have ever jumped with! Pretty remarkable when you think about it, that he would trust the likes of me. Not to brag or anything (of course that is just what I am doing having said that I am not) but that should tell you how good an employee I am, or what a fool he is! I will let you be the judge!

You are probably wondering if we are going to keep up this blogging stuff once we hit Côte d'Ivoire. We certainly hope to but we will be at the mercy of the latest internet café scam that is going once we get there. I would expect that we will write more often, not having all the normal distractions you poor folks have to put up with in the West. Of course the fact that we will even be blogging might be an indication of how “West” we have become in this past year.

Speaking of West, some of you probably knew my good friend Doug West who died last month in London while on a ST missions trip. He had finished leading a team from Illinois in prayer before the morning’s activities and boom, he was down and died a few days later in hospital. The last time I had seen him he was picking up his daughter from Tadmor high school camp. He had been one of those guys that prayed for me and then us ever since we began this missions stuff back in 1986. He became a champion for me in the early days making t-shirts for the “Côte d'Ivoire Skydiving Club” (the t-shirts were his idea and it might have taken off had it not been for this little war we have going on) and even coming out and skydiving with me. Now you know a friend is a friend when he will do such a thing with you! Doug did. But what I am going to miss the most are is short notes of encouragement out of the blue and his dedication to pray for us. I am sure God has got that end of things worked out though or else he would not have taken Doug out of the equation. I know that Corban College, formally known as Western Baptist College, where Doug used to work, is missing him greatly as well. His kids, all three, are missing him a great deal as is Carrie his wife. Our loss, though great, is nothing compared to theirs. If you think about it you could pray for Carrie and Doug’s kids. They are great. God is going to use this in their lives in ways we may never know. Wow, to pray and then die, what an idea. Can you imagine, talking to God and then to find yourself standing before Him! Now that is living right or something.

So it has been an amazing year being back in this country where all Wal-Marts look the same and everyone speaks English for the most part. It has been an interesting 12 months and it will be good to get back to some measure of normality. Think of us from time to time and again, if you are in the habit of talking to God about your friends, you might mention us to him. Then again, if you are not in that habit you might let us know and we will pray for you! To all of our friends and family we say goodbye!

Rod and Angelika

06 August 2005

The Turnover

It has happened. On Monday of this last week, August 1st 2005, the International Christian Academy (ICA) campus was turned over to Mission Baptiste de Côte d'Ivoire (MBCI) now known as WorldVenture. Having been asked by MBCI to be the one responsible for the running of the former school campus, I was the one to receive the keys. So it was, less than one week ago, Dan Grudda, the former director of ICA handed me the keys and handed me part of the agreed to sum for the good running of the campus for the next five years. This of course is a major change in our program.

Three years ago had you asked if I would ever be doing something like this I would have laughed outright. I am still laughing in disbelief that this is actually the case. This is one of those cases of doing something one knows needs to be done but not something one really would like to be doing. I have found however, that in helping out our team in Côte d'Ivoire in this manner, God is very likely going to put us in ministry situations that would otherwise be impossible. For this reason, if no other, I am looking forward to what the next couple of years may bring.

Because this campus is now occupied by the French forces of Operation Licorne we are experiencing a fair measure of security. The ICA campus is probably one of the safest places to live at in the country at the moment. However, knowing the way military tends to work, it is very possible that this could change overnight. One call from President Jacque Chirac and voila! As Côte d'Ivoire continues down the road towards peace, the French military presence may or may not be necessary. Time will tell. There are many in the country who believe that they should leave, whereas others are convinced that their presence is the only thing keeping the country from falling into all-out war. When you pray for Côte d'Ivoire you could pray for these troops many who have families at home and the normal concerns that all of us have.

If you were to visit ICA now, you would find it very different that it used to be. We have concertina-wire and barbed-wire all around the campus and on top of the security wall. There is a road that now encircles the entire facility. When you arrive at the entrance to ICA you are looking down the barrels of several guns that could finish you off quicker than it takes to write it down. Sand-bagged bunkers on both sides of the road and rows of barbed-wire everywhere gives you the impression that you are entering a war zone. If you were coming from Bouaké you would have that impression already. If, on the other hand, you were arriving from the east, which is outside the rebel zone, you might be taken back. So it is at the place we hope to call home for the next couple of years.

For those of you who know me and my background, it would seem that my life has come full circle. ICA is where I first went to school as a first grader. I can remember hours spent making tracks in the dirt play ground and driving our matchbox cars along these “roads” with our friends as we learned how to play in a civilized manner with each other (sometimes more and sometimes less as kids are known to do). All that made this place a school for some forty years is now gone. There are no children anymore to play Fishy or Prisoner’s Base.

The classrooms are full of stuff, preserved against the day that another school may perhaps again sing within its walls. The dorms are full, but with men trained to keep the peace. The roads are full with support vehicles, scout vehicles, troop carriers, and the French equivalent of the US military jeep, the Peugeot built P4. Of activity there is no end. Helicopters coming and going, troops coming or leaving, meals cooking or being eaten, it all is in the name of peace and I find myself in the middle of it all. Aside from the few African workers they have hired, I am the only civilian on campus. It is certainly strange to find oneself in such a context.

Outside being in, included though not, a part of the whole and yet apart from it. So is life in this strange twist of life as it has come upon me in these days of standoff, détente, waiting, wondering. Now that I think about it, I can remember feeling a bit this way when I was in first grade! Interesting how life is that way. Guess that I am going to have to think more about this. Maybe it’s a sign of growing young again! Now there is a thought to stick in your pipe and smoke!

Thanks for your prayers these days.

24 July 2005

Of Lost Keys and Camp

It would seem that I am off to Côte d'Ivoire tomorrow flying from Portland to Atlanta, Atlanta to Paris and Paris to Côte d'Ivoire. It is going to be a long couple of days and I am hoping that we will actually be able to land in Abidjan. According to the news this morning there have been five police killed in a series of attacks in Anyama and latter in Agboville, two cities north of Abidjan. It seems that the motivation is not clear at this time. Keep that in mind as I hop on that flight tomorrow. The ruling party has called for the departure of all the French troops from the Ivoirian territory, saying that their presence is hindering the peace process. Most of the rest of the country is glad that they are there. It is one of those quandaries that persist in these kinds of situations. Stone casting seems to be the game these days!

We have just spent our second week at camp this summer, this time at the High School camp at Camp Tadmor that had a Green Acres theme. We had a blast hanging out with kids and counselors. It was a special treat to hang out with Jake Hendricks, the son of Luke Hendricks who heads up the Church Next movement of CB Northwest. Jake did a great job explaining what it meant for a kid these days to deny one’s self and to take up the cross. He was right on and a great inspiration to both Angelika and me. One of the less interesting things that happened last week was loosing my VW Vanagon key to the Samtiam River while cliff jumping on the South Fork of the Santiam. It only took one jump and that baby was gone! I was too chicken to go off the highest cliff and then finding the key gone kind of took the bluster out of my sails. I never did make the high cliff jump. We were able to call someone from camp to come pick us up. The next day I drove back with a second key that Angelika brought from home and got the old beater back up the hill. Needless to say, that made the top ten “Things Heard at Camp Tadmor” that week! Moral of that story is: If you want to enjoy an afternoon of cliff jumping on the South Fork of the Santiam River don’t let the old guy that drives you to the river jump off of cliffs with the key in his pocket. The River is fast, the River is cold and the River is deep. Only a fool would swim in such a stream with a key in his pocket. It is like when we skydive, we always ask our students if they have anything in their pockets that they don’t want to loose. Cliff jumping the South Fork of the Santiam is the same deal it would seem!

All told, aside from loosing my keys in the deep dark Santiam, camp came off quite well and we had a great time. We met some great kids and are looking forward to having some of them come and visit some day.

I do want to mention one project that we are working on currently. The association of churches that we work with in Côte d'Ivoire has a number of young men and women interested in doing biblical studies either in our own school or in other evangelical Bible schools and seminaries in the region. The association is going through some rather difficult times financially at this point although they are seeing God do some great things in their churches even in light of the current struggles Côte d'Ivoire is facing these days. If you would like to contribute to the Leadership Development Project simply follow this link and click on “Give now” and follow the instructions. Thank you for your interest in this project. The association currently has several pastors and church leaders who would be in seminary or Bible school right now if they had the funding. Help us partner with them in this endeavor.

14 July 2005

Kid's Missions Camp

It is about 8h00 in the evening and I am sitting here at Camp Jonah up in the hills to the south of Mt. Adams. We have spent the past few days here at a Kid’s Missions Camp that has been a great time of talking to kids about what it is like to be a refugee and how they might be able to have an impact in our world. It has been challenging and faith building. The first night here they were awakened at 5h00 in the morning to the sounds of sirens and smoke and escorted out of the building following a simulated fire. This of course meant that many of them left with nothing but their sleeping bags and one or two other items. During the course of the day they were informed that the building had been “attacked and burned down by rebels” and that they could not return to their home for the time.

They became refugees with only a sleeping bag and a few other items. That morning they were allowed to pick a few bananas and find a few peanuts for breakfast. It was interesting to see the kids respond to such treatment. They were then given some plastic sheets and some other trash and told that they needed to set up camp. They courageously built several tents and organized their camp in such a way so as to provide security, good drinking water and proper food distribution. Over the course of two days they became quite resourceful and appreciated a great deal the testimonies of those who spoke from refugee backgrounds.

We have also had a chance to hang out with some of the staff on a high ropes course as well as going through some of the numerous caves in the region. It has been a camp to remember. I cannot think of a more beautiful valley than the Trout Lake valley where we spent this past week. Indeed a place to visit if you get a chance. Jonah Ministries is also worth the trip. It was refreashing to see the emphasis they put on prayer as a basis for ministry. I guess that when you run a high ropes course you had better be praying, especially when it is 30 feet up in the air!

One regret however. I had been asked to skydive into the camp and through a comedy of errors and poor weather it never came off. Perhaps that was better but I was naturally bumbed to have not had a chance to do that for the camp. I guess that refugees cannot always do what they want to do now can they!

07 July 2005

Angelika's Back

Hey, Angelika arrived about a week ago and it has been constant movement since. We have not had one evening at home alone since she got back. Unfortunately for her, the sky has been relatively clear since she returned which meant that I was spending a lot of time doing tandem skydives for Skydive Oregon. About two weeks ago one of their main tandem guys from Australia went to Canada for a few days of holiday. When he tried to return, the US Customs agents stopped him and would not let him in. That means that we are down one of our main tandem instructors and we have tons of tandems lined up but not enough weekday tandem instructors. Needless to say that has got me hopping!

One of the more interesting jumps I made last week was with my nice, Melissa. She did a great job of arching (just like she was taught to do before the jump) and did a great job of flying the canopy to the right spot for a good landing. It was interesting and she even got a video of the jump. I was glad it worked out for her. She is only the fourth family member to have jumped out of a flying airplane. Her dad and my brother, Ray, was there to see it as was her mother, little brother and sister. She had a great time and I am afraid that she may get hooked. If she does I guess I will have some answering to do to her folks for it! Oh well, everybody has to make there own mark in this world, nobody else can do it for you.

Come this Sunday we are off to Trout Creek Bible Camp in south central Washington. We are part of a Kid’s Mission Camp where we will be talking to kids about what it is like to live in a war torn country and do ministry. We will be speaking about risk taking and how that relates to ministry in places like Côte d'Ivoire. Pray for us, if you are the type to do so, that this will be time well spent and that many of the kids we interact with will be challenged to look beyond their own little world to the world beyond them where life is often much more tenuous.

Just after the Kid’s Mission Camp we will be at Camp Tadmor for a women’s camp the weekend before the first high school camp begins. We are looking forward to spending time with kids (the women as well) from all over the Northwest and interaction with them. Again keep us in mind before the Lord.

Oh yes, I must mention something concerning the VW that I have been tooling about the Northwest in these days. The other day I was on my way home to see some of the cousins that came for their folk’s 50th wedding anniversary. It was about 19h30 and I was running down the freeway when I heard a thumping noise. I pulled over and found that there was a flap of tread that had detached itself from the rest of the tire and had decided to begin beating around in the wheel well. I thought, “No problem, I’ll just put on the spare and be on my merry way to see those cousins.” What I didn’t realize, until I tried to put it on the van, was that the spare I was carrying was from a Saab, a nice high performance alloy wheel. As nice as it was, it just didn’t fit. It had four bolt holes and the van had five bolts. There was no way to stretch or squeeze them to fit. I put the thumper back in its place and slowly thumped my way off of the freeway into the parking lot of an Albertson store and called my dad. I was only a few miles from home so it was not such a hardship though I certainly felt dumb. I am sure that the guy who sold me the van is looking all over for that nice alloy wheel for his Saab and must also be wondering why he has an extra VW Vanagon wheel floating about. Needless to say, that night I never saw those cousins! Moral of the story: Always check the spare when you purchase a car, even if you don’t have cousins.

27 June 2005

24 Hours and Counting? You Got That Right!

In a little over 24 hours I will be driving to the Portland Airport to collect my bride who has been, for the past 3 weeks, in Germany, helping a good friend of ours get married. She has also had some good times with her mother and sister as well as others of her family and friends. I am glad that it worked out for her to be with them for this short spell but I can tell I need her back here. I case you are wondering just why I need her back let me begin by saying that I have, of late, been sleeping in a car. Now you must understand that this has been entirely by choice but nonetheless, in a car. In fact, I have slept in a real bed once in the past week!

You see, because of the distance to the DZ (a term used by skydivers referring to the location where they can drop out of planes, the drop zone), I decided last Wednesday that I would spend the rest of the week at the DZ. That meant sleeping in the car. Of course the main reason I was ready to stay at the DZ and sleep in the car was because Angelika was not home! So, now you might understand why I need her back, to get me out of the car!

The car is really not so bad though and it has been plenty comfortable. Last week I cut a ¾ inch piece of plywood off at the end and laid it out on the seats of my VW Vanagon which I had purchased from a friend in Medford several weeks back. I took the backs off the middle seat and had just enough room to lay down my sleeping bag on the plywood. I thought it was great.

We had a boat load of tandem students show up at Skydive Oregon over last week and the weekend. I lost track of how many skydives we made but I know that on some days I was certainly happy when there were no more students on the books. Of course in all of that, not having Angelika about made it less than enjoyable. Although, I am not sure how much she might have enjoyed our accommodations at the DZ in the car. Like I say, it is a good thing that she is coming back!

Now, I should let you know that as of today I have tickets for a return trip to Côte d'Ivoire the end of July for about 10 days. I am planning to return, this time without Angelika (What Am I Thinking?!?), to be there in Bouaké at the time of the turning over of the responsibilities for the ICA campus from the school’s administration to our team. The actual director has asked that I be there for the turning over of the campus, as it will be my responsibility for the next 2 years to oversee the good management of this campus by request of our team in Côte d'Ivoire. There are still a lot of issues to sort out and things to get lined up to be ready for the turnover. If you are the praying kind of person, this is a big area of concern. Having never been in such a position, it is hard to know how this is going to go. True, we did manage this very same campus for a time before leaving our last term in Côte d'Ivoire but that was under the direction of a very wise man. He will no longer be there and it is our heads that will roll if this doesn’t work out.

I guess rolling heads may be overstating the case but you get the picture. Speaking of rolling heads, you need to be thinking about Côte d'Ivoire the next few days. Today all of the big players in the conflict in Côte d'Ivoire were to be meeting in Pretoria, South Africa with the South African president, Thabo Mbeki. This meeting is to be an evaluation of the progress towards peace as outlined in the previous peace accord signed by all of the parties the 6th of April earlier this year. Unfortunately the process has ground to a halt due to the massacre of around 100 people in the west of the country after inter-ethnic fighting flared up. There has been a shake down in the Ivoirian military due to some of the statements made which cast a shadow of doubt on the Ivoirian military’s ability or inability to respond to the unrest in this part of the country at the time of the massacres. Please do not forget to pray and think about Côte d'Ivoire.

26 June 2005

The Moose Foundation

We have a special friend who lives in Mackay, Idaho and heads-up a foundation called the "Moose Foundation". Marty is one of those people who is generous, resourceful, energetic, and prays a whole bunch and we think a great deal of her. This foundation was created for the promotion of moose, one of those great ideas that she and a few others came up with to promote the largest species of ungulates in North America. Check out the link to the Moose Foundation.

Kind of like Ducks Unlimited, they promote moose for both conservational and enthusiast ends. Both go hand in hand in effect. No one wants to preserve moose and moose habitat more than those who live off of the animal. Any thinking conservationist knows that the death toll for many species has been when society forgets about a species and has charged ahead without thinking of the long term effects of its charging. I would say though that moose are hard to forget if you’ve ever seen one.

All of that to say that several weeks ago we were up in northern Idaho seeing some friends and prayer partners (not Marty this time). They have a home that backs up to some hills and forests and is rather secluded. One afternoon I took a walk up to the highest point on the hills behind their place where there are a number of communication towers. It was one of those spring days in northern Idaho when the sky is full of "wannabe" clouds, the sun is brilliant and there is a nice breeze but not so stiff that you can't hear the forest talk to you. I was headed down the mountain, after going to the top, just picking my way through the brush, trying to be quiet but not so much as to not enjoy the walk. I was headed down a ridge that was forested with a fairly thick thickets of willow in both ravines. I had been seeing a fair amount of sign and I was thinking that there must be moose in the area, a fact that our host had pointed out earlier in the day.

At one point I began to pick-up noise off to the left both down in the willow thickets and straight ahead of me. I decided to sit down and watch whatever it was come on up the ridge if it didn't smell or see me first. As I sat there I watched in amazement as a cow moose emerged from the willow thicket straight in front of me and begin to walk straight to the tree where I was crouched. I happened to have my camera with me and I quickly got it out and as it walked towards me I stood, whenever its head was down, and began to click off photos. It was interesting to see the girth and height of this animal. I do believe it is the first moose I have ever seen in the wild and it was a special event. When she was within 3 meters she stopped and looked back over her right shoulder down to the left and there in the willow thicket was her calf chewing on willow branches. It looked like the calf was a yearling, although, who am I to say so, we don't have such beasts in Cote d'Ivoire and for all I know it was an over grown white tail! As I stood there taking photos the cow discreetly walked around the tree where I stood and calmly continued browsing her way up the hillside on her way to the wooded crest through which I had come only several minutes earlier. It is an amazing thing to see wild creatures walk about you and ignore your presence as they go about their uncomplicated lives.

It makes one think about what is truly essential in life. I think we can become so caught up in the happenings in our lives that we forget to look over our shoulder to those younger or weaker than ourselves and then move on taking life in, all the while listening for the tell-tale signs of distress which are, at times, barely audible above the sound of the wind in the trees. Pray that we would be careful to not let the sound of the forest drown out the cries of distress that God puts on our forest path.

As I watched this cow moose disappear into the tickets behind me I thanked God that he had allowed me to see such an amazing animal that has wandered the north country for eons. Making my way down off the ridge I was careful to not get too far off to the left side where that cow moose had a calf chewing on willow, wondering what it would be like to run through willow thickets with a mad cow moose hot on my tail.

It is interesting how life comes at us, different points converge and things make sense that never did. I am not sure what you would call that but for me the "moose thing" is one of those convergences that is somehow strange but comforting. It forces me to think that there is indeed a God who is there and interested in every aspect of our lives as mundane and common as they may seem. I doubt that that moose had any idea why it was walking by this bearded man next to a tree in its woods but God certainly did.

You see, last August on our way to Denver for meetings we stopped in Mackay to see Marty who has been praying for us and supporting our work in Africa ever since I started in 1988. I not seen Marty since 1981, when I finished my course work at Multnomah Bible College. For some strange reason Marty and I continued to correspond. Although not frequent, at least once every two to three years we would hear from each other.

17 June 2005


13 – June 2005, Paris – Gare du Nord

I am sitting in front of Gare du Nord having a drink and just watching life happen in this rather interesting part of town. Paris is of course a big city like many others, although, it has been said that Paris is for France what LA, Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia are for the US. It is the economic, business, entertainment, and historical capital of France. If you look at a map of France you can see that even though Paris is in the north of France all roads and trains lead to this great city. Gare du Nord is just a great place to get a good beer or café, if you are so inclined, while having a plate of good North African couscous. It is also the railway station at which all trains coming from north of Paris arrive from all across Europe. It is from this gare that Angelika and I, for the first time, boarded a train to go and meet her family over 6 years ago. Even though I was not with Angelika, you can see why I needed to come to this place.

It looks like the police are about to take a couple of guys in. They must have been driving a stolen car. Interesting, a whole crowd of them showed up at the same time. Maybe it is a drug deal that they are trying to put down. The police keep verifying the car numbers and their papers. They are now taking their finger prints. They had what looks like 4 nanas (girls) with them. Maybe it is a prostitution ring. Who knows, unless they come over and tell me what is happening I will never know and what do I care anyway, this is Paris!

14 – June 2005, Paris – Charles de Gaulle Airport

So, I am standing in a very long line trying to check-in for American Airlines to Chicago. It would seem that all the Americans in Paris decided to fly home today! I arrived here at 11h30 and it is 12h00 and I am still out in the hallway. It is a real zoo.

Well I got up to check-in and someone found an unattended bag. They have had us all evacuate the area and they will blow up the bag, so it is said. I am standing in front of McDonalds and it is jam packed. I wonder if they didn't leave it?:-) We have been standing here waiting for an hour while they make announcements over the intercom for Monsieur and Madam so-and-so to come and pick up their bag. I think that Monsieur and Madam so-and-so must be flying over the ocean some where and would not be able to hear the announcements anyway.

It is now 12h30 and we are still waiting for the bomb squad. I really have no intention of ever taking American Airlines again. This might simply be Air France's attempt to show the US that they know more concerning security in France than does the US. I would guess that they do although you would have a hard time convincing any US security nut of that. This Homeland Security stuff is beginning to irk the rest of the world who has been living with these kinds of insecurities for a lot longer than the US.

Boom! So they blew up some one's bag and we are all trying to get into the same queue at once. I find myself at the back of the line once again and I figure it is no big deal as AA is going to hold the plane until we are all on anyway. Otherwise they need to put us up in the nice airport hotel! I am sure that AA is too cheap to do that.

Finally, I am sitting at the back of a Boeing 767. Everybody is talking English and we are all anxious to get on the road. It is ironic but I hear some folks asking why we are taking so long to get out of the dock here in Paris and the stewardess is saying that it is because Tony Blair flew through a while ago. Of course she does not know that there was a bomb scare in the Paris Airport and she is speaking with that false kind of authority that one can see right through. America Airlines has probably taught her to say such thing when they are late. Never mention the “B” word! In some ways returning to the US turns ones stomach.

Finally, about an hour late, we are backing out of our parking spot and we have been given clearance to get on our way. Of course I am writing this after the fact because we were told to put away all electronic devices for takeoff.

So, our next stop will be Chicago, or at least that is our hope!

13 June 2005 – Reflections over the Sahara Desert

This morning after catching a taxi to the Patisserie Abidjannaise, a coffee and a croissant, I caught another taxi to the Airport where I checked in and found my way to the waiting area for Air France flight 703 to Paris. My flight to the US is not until tomorrow afternoon. Thinking about getting a room in a hotel not far from the airport.

Unlike our flight out of Oregon three weeks ago, the spectacular view that we see on the in-flight bird's-eye-view screen (one of the interesting features of the 300 series Airbus aircraft) is the vast Sahara Desert. It is impressive to fly mile after mile at 550 miles per hour, 37.000 feet above the earth and to see little or no change. We are in a 330 A Airbus which has 7 seats across in the economy section of the plane and 6 across up in the front of the aircraft where folks like us only pass by as we board or de-board the plane.

As I fly north to Paris and on to the US I cannot help but reflect on what has transpired over the past few days and weeks. We have been asked to oversee the good management of the former International Christian Academy for the next two years in the hopes that some group will manifest a desire to use the station for MK education in the future.

At this point World Venture (formerly known as CBI) has only 12 fulltime missionaries engaged in CI. This request must be seriously considered as we look to our future in CI. The situation in the country is still considerably tense, with no one really being sure that any real peace is in sight. It would seem that the current president is loosing favor with the international community although we have said so before.

After speaking with the different church leaders with whom we partner in CI, as well as our mission colleagues, we have decided to take on the challenge with specific conditions. First, we will be answerable to a 3 member oversight committee (OC). This will be far better than having to answer to a whole field. It may also help us to see other possibilities and avoid certain pitfalls that come with such an affair.

The former School Board of ICA had asked that World Venture keep the school in such condition that a school of up to 50 students could be started there within the next 5 years. We have agreed to a one year trial period open to review and evaluation by the OC. The OC is composed of one member from each of the three teams now working in CI (Medical, Special Focus and Church Development).

We are excited about the possibilities for ministry in the Bouaké churches as well as the possibilities we may have with 250 French peacekeepers living on site. Of course we are in need of great wisdom as we go into this new phase of ministry. We will continue to focus on Dioula outreach in conjunction with the churches in Bouaké.

Being in Bouaké again is a dream-come-true in some ways for me. Having worked in Bouaké before getting married, I have always thought that it would be good to return. At this point to live in a Dioula courtyard in Bouaké as I did when I was single is no longer possible. Security is a very real concern just now, not just for us but an entire courtyard, which is why we just cannot live in the city proper. I guess that everyone must make concessions during times like these.

So that is what I am thinking of as we cruise along at 550 mph over the sand and rock below. As for posting these thoughts, I guess it will have to wait a few days until I get back to where I can get online again. Until then, Tiao!

09 June 2005

Alone Again

9 June 2005
Monday morning I dropped off Angelika at the Airport in Abidjan. During her short stay we traveled from Abidjan to Bouaké, Bouaké to Korhogo and Ferkessédougou, back to Bouaké and then back to Abidjan. All of that to meet with different and various persons whom we needed to see concerning our future in Côte d'Ivoire and our return to this country in September.

As many of you have read in earlier postings on this blog, we had been asked to return to the field to discuss our involvement in the oversight of the former site of the International Christian Academy which had been evacuated in September of 2002 and then again, after opening for the 2004-2005 school year during the month of November. Because of the second evacuation and the reduction of students it was deemed necessary to close the school indefinitely due to lack of students and more so due to the lack of security in the region. This of course has lead to our being asked to oversee the Bouaké campus for our organization.

After talking with our colleagues in Ferkessédougou last week we decided that we would take on the job for the next year. This means that our time in the US will be cut short and that I will be making a second trip to Côte d'Ivoire the end of July to be here at the time of the transfer of the school from ICA to MBCI (World Venture in Côte d'Ivoire). It is very likely that we will return to Côte d'Ivoire by mid-September of this year. If you are the praying kind, do pray for us in this regard.

Now, about the fun stuff. I need to come clean and let you know that our first day back in Côte d'Ivoire was spent at Assini, a long sandy island/peninsula east of Abidjan where we like to go to swim in the surf. Good fish is usually available but it would seem that the other day both Dave (Dan’s son) and I got too much bad fish and we got the runs. Not a bad case but enough to make us both feel a bit off. He is in the US now and I hear he is better and I am doing great. Before Angelika flew out the Grudda family, Welch family (SIM) and we all went back to Assini to spend the night in a camp/hotel. Nice accommodations and great beach. We arrived a little before noon and stayed until just after noon the next day. We had a great time looking for West African sand dollars, digging for sand crabs, boogie boarding and body surfing, and generally getting burned to a crisp. Needless to say, we had a great time and we will remember it as one of the great times spent with the Dan Grudda family. It is hard to see them go but I have a feeling our paths will cross soon enough.

Well, I am going to try to post this thing today. Yesterday the internet connection was too slow and I was frustrated at every turn. Hoping that today it will work better.

08 June 2005

Alone in Bouaké

Yesterday I dropped off Angelika at the airport in Abidjan so that she could get her flight on to Paris and then the train to Germany. We had an interesting week and a half traveling as far as Ferké where the mission hospital is operation and spending the night in Korhogo where Kéo and his wife are living and Kéo is directing Bethel Bible Institute. It was a great time to get caught up on their lives and how God is working through them and the school.

The meeting with the our RCI Team went reasonably well. We have been asked officially with conditions, to oversee the ICA campus for the next two years. As most of you know, the ICA campus is in Bouaké and it is where my folks worked as teachers and administrators for over 27 years. I had never worked at ICA until just before our current home assignment which makes this new ground.

Right now there are about 250 French peacekeeping troops lodged on the campus. We have helicopters, troop carriers, tanks, and all sorts of other materiel parked everywhere as there in a mandate change going on at the moment. Slowly but surely I am getting to know those who I will need to interact with once the current director leaves the end of this July. Needless to say I view this as a daunting task and I pray that God will give me the wisdom to manage well the campus and at the same time impact both the French troops on our campus as well as those we will work with in Bouaké.

This morning was the "prise d'armes" or presentation of arms in English parlance. It was impressive as it generally is when 250 soldiers start to sing, march and slap their weapons. Lots of ceremony and then plenty to eat and drink afterwards. It is at times like these that one has occasions to meet and talk informally with different chiefs concerning the way things are run and how it maybe should be. Last night was a reception to which everyone who is anyone in Bouaké showed up to say their goodbyes to the roops which are leaving and to greet the new troops coming. Lots of discourse and small talk. One does meet interesting people however.

31 May 2005

First Days in RCI

It has been a couple of days since we arrived in Côte d'Ivoire. We spent our first day, after arriving a 7h00 in the morning, on the beach with the Grudda family. Before leaving for the beach we had coffee and croissants at the Patisserie Abidjannaise, one of our favorite coffee and pastry joints in Abidjan. It was nice to see that after the turmoil of November 2004 this place had not been destroyed.

We drove north to Bouaké the following day without any significant difficulties. At the entrance of Bouaké they wanted us to pay 2000 cfa each but we simply told them it was not possible and they finally let us go on through. Once we got out to the school, where we had spent our last year in Côte d'Ivoire, we were shown our digs for the next few days and we crashed.

Saturday morning we went into town and greeted Pastor Metahan, the pastor of one of the few remaining Protestant churches in Bouaké. It was good to sit with him and talk about the events of the past year. Of course he asked that I preach the following day, the sort of thing one should expect, or at least be ready for. We also stopped by an internet café and were able to send and receive messages. It looks like that will be our communication spot in the future. They have a fairly good connection which makes this possible.

Yesterday morning was of course spent at church where we were able to share greetings as well as encourage them from Jeremiah 29. The believers here have not had an easy time and although they continue to hope for a better day, they can become easily discouraged. Every time there is peace in sight something rises up to confuse the issues and frustrate the process. We reminded ourselves that our hope comes from the true word of God, not that of those who say they speak the word of God and give us false hope. In Côte d'Ivoire, since this conflict has begun, we have heard many predictions concerning the end of hostilities in the name of God. Of course true peace is only possible as God lives in the heart of his people. Anything less is only a truce, hiding animosities which may or may not re-surface at any moment.

Every noon and evening we eat with the French soldiers who are living on this campus and who have the run of the place for the most part. It is not an ideal situation but it is one of the best we could hope for given the present condition of Côte d'Ivoire. When the French military moved onto the campus shortly after the first evacuation of students from ICA in September of 2002, they setup camp and took over a fair number of homes and dorms. After several months of working with them the school director was able to consolidate the troops into a certain number of dorms and houses situated more or less in the same area. Following the second evacuation of students in November of 2004 the director gave them the use of the dinning hall and a greater number of dorms and residences. As it stands now, only the residences in the northwest corner of the campus and the classrooms are off limits for the French troops. Dan has done an excellent job of setting up a working agreement that allows the French to use this facility while it is not possible to use it for MK (missionary kids) education.

Since we have been asked to oversee this campus upon our return to Côte d'Ivoire we have come to investigate just how that could be done. We have a meeting with the rest of our colleagues in Côte d'Ivoire next Wednesday in Ferkessédougou at our mission hospital to talk about this and other issues concerning the continued ministry of World Venture (formerly CBI) in Côte d'Ivoire. If you are the sort of person who talks to God about stuff, you might take some time to mention this to Him. If you are not then you might want to check out Nehemiah chapter 1. If you don’t believe that God answers prayer then you may be fooling yourself.

28 May 2005

Traveling Fools

24 May 2005
American Airlines flight 1168 to Chicago. We just took off for Chicago and caught one of the most spectacular views in the US I believe when we lifted out of the clouds in the Portland area. It was indeed stupendous to see Mt Rainer, Mt St. Helens, and Mt Adams to the north and after turning around to see to the south, Mt Hood, Mt Jefferson, the Three Sisters, Broken Top, Three Finger Jack, Mt Bachelor and then, far off in the distance on the horizon, we could even see to Crater Lake, Mt Pit and the Siskous. Beyond that there was a great bit of haze which must have been California.

Yesterday I was a Skydive Oregon where I made a couple tandem jumps and a couple fun jumps. Of course I hear you asking yourself why tandems are not called fun jumps. Tandems are great fun really. Then reason we don't call them fun jumps is because when you get down and start packing for the next jump you realize that it is a lot more work to get the tandem parachute back in the bag than it was to pack your sport rig. So it is that a tandem is less "fun" than a fun jump. On the other hand, we get paid for doing tandems whereas we have to pay for a fun jump! Now that is a little screwball I'd say. I guess that if we didn't pay anything we would not think we are having fun. Be that as it may, I had a great day yesterday.

25 May 2005
Today happened earlier than normal as we flew eastward towards Paris, France. We had written ahead of time to let Dave, a friend of ours who works for Air France and who we have not seen since we got married, to let him know that we would be flying through and spending the day in Paris. We had not heard back from him but to our surprise when we came out of the customs gate he gave us a call and there he was out of nowhere. We had a great time reconnecting and getting to know his two charming girls of almost two and nearly three. Unfortunately Dave’s wife was on trip to Mexico with Air France. Both of them have made a career of working for that company. We took a little walk around a lake near their home after lunch. It was great to just relax and enjoy seeing Dave as a new father. You see, in 1999 when we got married no one had any idea that something was up. He was not even interested in anyone at the time as far as we knew. Not that we are the kinds of people to know about those kinds of things first anyway.

24 May 2005

We are Outta Here!

Rod's Blog
We have comme through security and are sitting here waiting to board our flight outta here to Chicago, Paris and finally Abidjan. Interestingly enough while getting a cup of coffee after checking in we happened to meet Dave Ragsdale and his family who were up from Eugene to pick up his son Seth who is back from Afghanistan. He is with the Air Force and it looks like he is to be stationed next in Ft. Louis, Washington. We have not see these guys since 1999 and it was great to meet them this morning. Incidently Seth arrived with his older brother's (Arlen) fiancée, (I forget her name). Interesting the way paths cross and the way we meet at times.

We are scheduled to be in Paris for about 14 hrs tomorrow and then on to Abidjan from there. We might or might not be able to post anything on line once we get there. For those of you who are in the habit of praying, and I would hope that is most of you, you might mention to God this trip and ask him to keep us from getting too tired.

Talk to you all later.

21 May 2005

One day at a time

Rod's Blog
At this point we are two days from flying to CI for three weeks. Today we had a little missions program at FBC in Hillsboro for children. We gave all the kids passports and plane tickets and then "flew" them first to Johannesburg in South Africa where my brother John and his wife Carol work with TWR. They visited with a "Swazi warrior" who told them how the mango got its name. After this visit they boarded the plane and flew to CI where they met some old guy called "BaSouleymane" who then told them the story of the hare and the digging of the water hole in the bush, how he got caught by the tortoise for his mischievousness and his punishment. You need to hear the story if you are curious! After their visit with BaSouleymane they got back on the plane and fly to Kenya to see the Tom Smith family in a Digo village on the coast. There they learned how to open a coconut and how drink the milk. After eating some snacks they all got back on the plane to fly back to the US and to Hillsboro. We had a great time with all of them and I think that they will have a thing or two to tell their parents when they get home. After the program this morning I ran down to Skydive Oregon to make a couple of tandem jumps and pack chutes. Interesting seeing so many good friends at SDO whom I have not seen since last fall when I first got back. Seemed that today was the day that everyone decided that skydiving is an alright activity for the rest of the summer. As it was as soon as I got there the sky began to drop forcing us to get out with our students about 5000 feet lower than normal. We still had a great time and our students were pumped and that is the key!

18 May 2005

So what are you having for supper? Posted by Hello

Long Beach Posted by Hello

Moving On

May 2005

Have you ever felt as though you had no roots, that the closest thing to feeling at home was when you hopped into the car and started off down the road… again…?

For some reason we are beginning to feel a bit like that. Since the first of this year we have traveled from Oregon to Idaho, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Southern California and back home to Oregon. March began with a quick trip to Ohio to spend a few days with colleagues. Returning to Hillsboro, we packed again and left for Medford in southern Oregon where we spent four amazing weeks in the home of the Acords of Phoenix, helping out at The River Church (former 1st Baptist) of Medford. A week ago we returned to Hillsboro were we spent two nights before leaving for Idaho where we spent the last four days. Although this may seem like lot of traveling, we enjoy almost every bit of it. It has been a privilege seeing so many of you … most of you anywaysJ! We have been humbled by your generosity.

It has been exciting to meet with young people interested in giving their lives to the growth of the church both within and outside North America. As we come into this summer packed full of camps and retreats we ask for your prayers. We want to have significant stuff to share with young people. Many of you have heard our challenge concerning the “young girl from Israel” who is the reason that Naaman even had the idea to go to Elisha for healing (2 Kings 5). It is our hope that God would raise up a whole pile of “young kids from the Northwest” who would be ready to share the Good News at the right time to the right people with a right attitude and the love that this little girl from Israel demonstrated.

Our time in the US is coming to a close in September of this year. We have tickets to return to Côte d'Ivoire the end of this month (May) for a meeting of the minds concerning our future there. Our colleagues have asked us to return to discuss our possible involvement in the management of the former International Christian Academy campus in Bouaké face to face. There are some serious concerns that we all have with regard to that piece of real estate and its future usefulness for ministry. We will be there a total of 3 weeks before returning to the US for the summer. With our current lifestyle, a trip to Côte d'Ivoire at this time seemed like a fitting way to begin the summer!

As we consider this request we have to ask ourselves the question that we are asking them, which is; Just how is our involvement at the ICA campus going to help in reaching the Dioula of Côte d'Ivoire with the Gospel (Our reason for being in Côte d'Ivoire in the first place)? We have been able to share with many of you our vision and dream of seeing a strong ministry to the Dioula develop among the churches with whom we are associated in Côte d'Ivoire. Work among the Dioula has typically been difficult and slow because of their traditional attachment to Islam. One of the keys is that the national churches catch that vision and begin to reach out effectively to their Dioula friends and neighbors.

If we re-locate to Bouaké, where I (Rod) have worked in the past, we could work in partnership with one of the larger churches in that city, one of the few that has remained open during the past three years of civil unrest. This church also has a vision to reach the Dioula in their neighborhoods. This is an exciting possibility that may be a great fit for us as we return to Côte d'Ivoire in September. Of course this would mean leaving the region of Gbon, a prospect that we do not relish. That said, we realize that because of the war and the mass exodus of most Christian workers that the tables have changed and we find ourselves faced with challenges we have never asked for. We are convinced, more than ever, that God knows exactly what he is doing with us and with the people of Côte d'Ivoire!

Thanks for your continued interest … (the assumption here is that you are interested because you have read to this point!) and support for your ministry in Côte d'Ivoire. Thank you for allowing us to share from our hearts.

As we move into this summer it looks to be a wild one and we fully expect to see some of you! The plan is a definitive departure for Côte d'Ivoire in September this year all things being equal (which they never are but we might as well hope) in case you had not caught that yet! Hang in there and watch out for the wildlife this summer. We might show up in your neck of the woods!

Fall’in but saved,
Rod & Angelika

PS - If any of you would like to make a tandem skydive this summer, give us a yell and we will see what we can workout! Our cell is: (503) 313-2023, or residence: (503) 628-3828. If you call Skydive Oregon just ask for “The Parsons”!http://www.skydiveoregon.com/