Thursday, March 27, 2014

     What wonderful testimonies we heard on Sunday!  The power of God was evident in all that happened.  The team has much more to share.  I hope you will take the time to talk to them individually.  the following testimony is from Jonathan Barnes (one of the sons of thunder - brother to James and son to Dixie).  He could not join us on Sunday, but here is what was on his heart about the mission:
Link to testimonies- Nigerian Mission Team Testimonies

    "First I just want to thank all of my friends and family at Sycamore for loving us and for always making me and my family feel welcome with you. It may be at a service at the sanctuary or camp at Pineora or in Nigeria but I always feel genuinely loved and welcomed by the body. We love you all and miss you. I wish I could be there Sunday for many reasons, but most of all because I love being with people that I love. This trip was a battle in many ways. From having to get a passport and visa at the last minute to getting sick mid day on Wednesday. The battle has been good. I've had small tests of faith and God has been faithful. Starting with with passport, visa and necessities that came through when they were needed. Dr. Okere is a great team leader and HIMM is an organization dedicated to Christ-like service to those most in need. It was a pleasure to serve with all of those on the team. It was especially good to see some get there first tastes of mission particularly African mission. Whether it was being told to be ready at a certain time and then having to wait or freaking out about the way people drive in the streets of Lagos and Owerri. 

     Getting sick mid day on Wednesday was a good test for me. I was reminded that what I was doing was not as important as what God was doing. God showed me that my sickness helped encourage others on the team to pray and ultimately that's what its about praying and relating to God. It was  good to be with CY. He truly was John the Baptist for us and prepared the way for us in churches and otherwise to do what God had planned for us to do. There were so many memorable things such as the two newborn orphan twins at the first clinic whose mother had died just a few weeks earlier and their grandmother had brought them to get help. Terry held one of these twins so that their grandmother wouldn't have here hands so full at least temporarily. There were several times when the crowd got more than unhappy about seeing a doctor or getting their medicine right away. Leslie did a good job of confronting the crowds when they got too pushy. I enjoyed many conversations with Gary throughout the trip. Sometimes it was general stuff about life and sometimes specific things like the ups and downs of leading worship. 

     One big highlight was playing and singing "When the Saints Go Marching In" at Dr. Clement Amadi's 70th birthday celebration. Some more good times was watching Dr. Kennedy and Leslie dancing at Felix's brother's house after the last medical mission and at the party at the Honorable Innocent's house. Of course when some of us white folk tried to dance it made it even more funny. It was good to be with Mom and see her 40 year dream of going on an overseas mission trip come true. It was good to be with Teresa and CY at Victory Baptist Church. Getting the opportunity to give a a testimony about God calling me to go to Africa and sharing music with the church as well as lunch with their young pastor was a great blessing. Having air conditioner in the hotel at night was luxury that was a surprise to say the least. 

     Everywhere we went I felt that we were so welcome and like we were a part of the family. I was reminded that God's family is made up of people from every tongue tribe and nation. There is so much to say about the trip and I don't know if I can do it justice." 

Thank You,

Jonathan Barnes

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Birthday Celebration!

03/15/14 8:37 a.m. Nigeria Time

Yesterday saw the birthday celebration of Rev. Dr. Clement A. Amadi, longtime friend of Dusty Reynolds and The Sycamore Church and Dr. Kennedy Okere’s uncle. We arrived at First Baptist Church of Imerienwe around 11:00 for the program.

The program was titled, A Simple Life at 70, after Dr. Amadi’s new book. There were several speeches and a sermon as well as musical selections from two different choirs. I was even asked by the resident pastor and MC of the event, Rev. Lucky Okoroafor to bring up our “choir” for a special song. With Jonathan and Maia on ukulele, Teresa on guitar and Terri, Carolyn and Dixie helping us sing we did a version of When The Saints Go Marching In that would have made any new Orleans resident proud! The church’s song leader and Uncle Clement also came up and joined in as we sang, praising God and celebrating the life of a great man of God.

Later in the program I was honored to be asked to pray for the Amadi family.

It was good to see so many familiar faces from where we had done clinic at this location in years past.

After the ceremony (well after 3:00) we took the short drive to Uncle Clement’s home for lunch of, you guessed, rice and meat.

Today we have one, possibly two more functions to attend. One this afternoon/ evening with elected officials and maybe another with a local king earlier.

This trip has served to remind me of one thing. We are not in control, God is. Computers and internet connections that refuse to work when I really just want to email one more small picture, sitting in a ceremony (pick one) in an un air conditioned building for hours in Africa heat whether we like it or not, being ready to go and then waiting an hour or more till we finally hear “Let’s go!”….

I could go on about bugs in our rooms, little or no hot water, the heat, stomach issues, the heat, hassles from the police roadblocks, did I mention the heat?; all the “inconveniences” of life in Nigeria.

The Lord is with us. Always. And He’s always in control, not us. That can be a hard pill to swallow. Life is often not very accommodating to the plans we make. And there’s the rub, the plans we make.

“I know the plans I have for you….” The Lord tells us. Those plans are for us to prosper in Him.

How much more glorious to suffer any amount of discomfort, inconvenience or even pain for His name’s sake.

In the big picture, being a little uncomfortable for a few days pales in comparison to the 800 plus people we’ve helped medically this trip. Contentment in His presence, not necessarily comfort.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Subject: Coming Home

03/15/14 11:00 p.m. Nigeria Time

     This evening  we had our final evening meal in Owerri at the home of the honorable Innocent Eke ‘Opulimba’, Representative to the Imo House of Assembly. This was the most relaxed ceremony we’ve been a part of. It was set up in the yard of his home with seating for the team and a few guests and a serve yourself buffet of fish, snail, chicken and…. rice. Everybody danced, ate and had a great time. We were told by our host he did not want to spend time talking but wanted to hear from us. Team members took turns giving their impression of the trip and Nigeria in general.

     Also in attendance were; Professor Alex Osunkwo who gave Kennedy the letter of recommendation he needed years ago in order to attend medical school in the U.S. and Magistrate Charles Nkwopa of Imo State.

     Tonight everyone is packing and getting ready for the trip home. We fly out of Owerri to Lagos at noon, then leave Lagos for Atlanta late tomorrow evening. We are all ready to get back home for many different reasons, but we will leave with heavy hearts. We have all made new friends and some of us are leaving old friends again.
Next Sunday we will be sharing this trip with our church family as best we can. But I encourage you to find some time to sit down with some of the team members and talk to them one on one. 
There are so many stories to tell.
The mission is still not over.
The mission is never over, for any of us.
May God richly bless and keep you until we see you again.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

First words from the Team

03/12/14 7:25 p.m. Nigeria Time
“Hot. Africa hot.” That’s how one team member described the day today. Today we held clinic at a high school 

03/12/14 12:16 a.m. Nigeria Time

       Today we saw over 230 people at clinic in Eziama, about a 45 minute drive from where we’re staying. The clinic was held at a hospital facility founded by missionaries in 2007.
     When we arrived about 100 people were already sitting and waiting for us under the trees (African Air Conditioning!) outside the clinic. The day began as every day of clinic with songs of praise followed by a few minutes in The Word and prayer. We had two extra doctors and a dentist join our ranks which meant we could see more people than the first day. It also meant more work for the pharmacy which kept us at the clinic site much later than we had anticipated. We finally made it home in nighttime Nigerian traffic, which is an experience to say the least. Tonight everyone went to bed almost immediately after we finished supper around 9:00. This was a very long and fulfilling day. Tomorrow we go to the secondary school to hold clinic.


03/10/14 8:50p.m. Nigeria time

         One hundred eighty seven patients treated today at our first clinic which was held in the clinic being built by Doctor Okere and Horizon International Medical Mission to serve the people of Ihiagwa. The day got off to a slow and slightly rough start as we had both local and regional politicians and dignitaries make proclamations welcoming us and then posing for photo ops. Leslie Okere has one of the toughest jobs on the planet, steering the patients into a semblance of order before they move on to see the nurses, Dixie and Caroline. Doctors Felix and Uchenna worked tirelessly to make sure everyone who came was treated. As the last patient of the day left his room doctor Uchenna walked to the door and was heard saying, “Thank you sir. May I have another?” Humor is a great stress reliever!

      Teresa and Melanie ministered to the spiritual needs of the people praying for deliverance and healing. On woman who had not been able to stand up straight for over eight years left the clinic not only standing straight, but dancing and singing praises to the Lord! The power of prayer!!
Terri and Maia quickly became “Auntie” to all the children; telling stories, playing with whirly birds, blowing bubbles and the kids trying to teach Maia how to speak Igbo.
Jonathan made sure each patient got from the nurse to the doctor and then to the pharmacy without a hitch.

     Because of the opening remarks and photo ops with government officials we kept the clinic open until after 5:30 in order to see everyone.
After a much needed supper of black-eyed peas, rice, vegetables, stew and pineapple back at our hotel around 7:15, everyone has begun setting in for a good night’s rest.
We love and miss everyone back in the States and appreciate your prayers more than you know. We are seeing God work here in Nigeria in both the people we have come to minister to, as well as each team member.
Keep praying!

03/09/14 8:p.m. Nigeria time

        It’s raining in Ihiagwa sending cool breezes through the night sky; and if it weren’t for the sound of the generator beneath my window I could hear the gentle rain and thunder as this evening storm passes over us.
Tomorrow we will have our first day of clinic.

       Air conditioning. Yes, air conditioning. I feel like a “first class” missionary. It doesn’t always work, but when it does it is a blessing.
      We arrived in Ihiagwa tired and ready to go to work last Friday. The hotel we are staying in is very nice by Nigerian standards. Honestly, it’s a lot nicer than some hotels I’ve had the “pleasure” of staying in back in the United States.
We are the first guests to ever occupy the second floor of our hotel. As a matter of fact, they were still working on it when we arrived. A few of us could not even move into our permanent rooms until late last night.

     We are being well cared for. Rice, chicken, plantains, fruit and cold Fayrouz (A carbonated beverage that is beyond compare) for lunch and supper. Scrambled or boiled eggs and toast for breakfast. We even have sausage for breakfast! Think, “Vienna”!
Yesterday we were taken on a tour of a local market by our most gracious host, CY. Dried fish, yams, cassava, rice, beans, instant coffee; anything you could ask for was there. We made a loop through the market and were trailed by a group of onlookers that grew larger the longer we were there.

      One lady shouted out the Igbo words for “white man” and then got excited as the rest of rounded the corner. “There’s more!” she shouted and ran to each of us hugging and telling us we were welcome.
We then went on a short tour of Owerri which we ended with a stop at a Sunic (that’s Sunic, not Sonic) restaurant to get ice cream and cold drinks.
We worshiped today with Uncle Clement at the Community Baptist Church. During the part of the service where the members could come shake our hands and welcome us I saw team members fighting back tears. Who are we that we should be welcomed with such open arms? Who are we that we should be held to any degree of esteem? What makes us worthy of such heartfelt familial hospitality? The Body of Christ does. We were recognized to be as much a part of Community Baptist Church as any native Nigerian who walks to service every Sunday morning.

     We dress differently, speak differently and live thousands of miles apart, but we are all part of the Body of Jesus….The Church!
Terri danced before The Lord with all her might bringing smiles to the faces of the people and, I’m sure to The Lord Himself.

    Maia, Terri, Caroline, Melanie and Dixie joined me as we lead in worship with our brothers and sisters. (Two baritone ukuleles can make quite a sound in a small block church building in Nigeria!) Jonathan and Teresa were a blessing in music and word at Victory Baptist Church in Akwakuma. The Holy Spirit poured Himself out liberally on the team this morning. Filled to overflowing! After church we all went to Uncle Clement’s home for a lunch of rice, chicken, fish and wonderful fellowship.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Post 1

Arrival in Nigeria

      I wanted to let everyone know we have arrived safely in Nigeria. I don't know when I will be able to e-mail again so I wanted to let you know your prayers are being answered. All of the team members from the US met in Atlanta and we have made it safely to our hotel and are bedding down for the night. 

     Tomorrow we will fly from here in Lagos to Owerri where we will be staying. Thank you for your prayers. We made it smoothly through customs. Tonight we'll try to get some rest. Pray for us to be protected and productive in the mission of Christ Jesus. I love and miss you all.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Nigeria Preparation

2011 Mission Team
Nigeria Preparation:

We are so excited to begin another mission trip to Nigeria. This begins our Owerri Blog 2014. The Sycamore Church has the privilege to join Dr. Okere and Horizon International Mission once again in the work in Nigeria. We anxiously look forward to what God will do with and through the team this year. Be sure to check in to read about the latest news and find out how to best pray for the team.

Remember, we are partners together, prayer warriors here and those directly used as the hands and feet of Jesus on the ground.