Thursday, January 26, 2006

Missing in France

It has been a frantic 24 hours!

Yesterday afternoon we discovered that our passports had gone astray in the French mail system. Even though they were sent registered mail from the UK, we have been told they cannot be traced.

From the beginning of the week we had been getting a little concerned that our passports had not been sent back to us from the Burkina Faso embassy in Paris. We had sent them there to get visas for Burkina stamped in them about three weeks ago. Apparently, the Burkina Faso embassy never received our passports, and Royal Mail can do nothing to locate them.

After a restless night, and a flurry of phone calls and activity today, we are happy to report that we have be able to obtain new passports, and after adjusting our flights plans slightly, we are still on schedule to leave Northern Ireland on Monday for West Africa.

However, we will no longer be able to go to Ivory Coast to get our truck, (we lost the Ivory Coast visas in the old passports). So, we have cancelled the flights to Abidjan, and have purchased new tickets to Burkina. We can obtain visas for Burkina at the airport when we arrive. The travel agent informed us that we should get a refund on the original tickets from Air France within a couple of months.

We will not now have access to our truck, so we will need to purchase a vehicle when we get to Burkina Faso. Maybe at a later date we will be able to get our truck out of Ivory Coast.

We know the Lord has some purpose in all of this, and we are resting in the fact that He knows what is best for us.

One positive outcome of the situation is the fact that we get to spend a couple of nights in Paris as we await the flight to Ouagadougou in Burkina. It’s cheaper to do that, than buy new tickets for the Belfast-Paris leg of the journey.

Lord willing, we will fly to Burkina on Thursday, February 2.

Proverbs 16:9 A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Ivory Coast Elephants

Every two years, the best 16 football (soccer) teams in Africa play in the African Nations Cup.

This year the competition is being held in Egypt.

Today, Ivory Coast beat Morocco 1-0 in their first group game. Didier Drogba, the Chelsea striker, scored the only goal but also picked up a knee injury.

Africans take their football very seriously.

We happened to be in Abidjan when Ivory Coast won the competition in 1992. After a scoreless draw in the final, Ivory Coast, nicknamed ‘The Elephants’, went on to beat Ghana in an 11-10 penalty shootout.

It seemed like everyone in the country went crazy. We were warned to stay off the streets with our vehicles because excited fans were dancing on the roofs of cars!

In 2000, when the competition was held in Ghana, Ivory Coast again beat Ghana, this time in the preliminary stage. However, because of poor results against the other teams in the group, Ivory Coast failed to qualify for the next round.

When the team members returned to Ivory Coast they were detained by the military authorities in an army training camp near Yamoussoukro.

A spokesman for the military government said the squad was being held for its own protection, to guard against possible reprisals by angry fans. But others in the military junta said that they were being held “to teach them a lesson in civic pride”, and “for letting down the country at the Nations Cup in Ghana.”

The BBC’s Mark Doyle said: This incident shows once again that soccer is not so much a sport in Africa as a religion.”

Friday, January 20, 2006

Calm returns to Ivory Coast

Shops, businesses and schools re-opened and buses and taxis are running in Ivory Coast's main city Abidjan on Friday as the city starts getting back to normal after four days of protests and rioting against U.N. and French peacekeepers.

After appeals from President Gbagbo and Prime Minister Banny, and the pro-government youth leader Ble Goude on Wednesday and Thursday, the protestors have left the areas around the French embassy and UN bases and returned home.

Barricades down as order restored in Ivory Coast

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Ivory Coast Erupts

Violence has again flared in Ivory Coast. President Gbagbo’s supporters have started to attack UN troops who are in the country as peacekeepers.

The current disturbances may force us to change our plans a little. We had hoped to get our pickup truck from Yamoussoukro in Ivory Coast and travel with it to Burkina Faso, but the way things are developing, it looks like we may need to change our flight plans and go directly to Burkina.

This morning as I was wakening up I thought of Isaiah 26.3: Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee. I got up and read the rest of the chapter, and noticed verse 12: thou wilt ordain peace for us. Throughout the day the Lord has been giving us a peace in our hearts that He is in control, despite the escalating hostilities in Ivory Coast.

Please be praying for the situation in Ivory Coast, and as we look into possible alternative travel arrangements to Burkina Faso.

Ivory Coast News from Google

Photos from Yahoo

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Blood of the Martyrs

Before Marina and I went into missionary training with New Tribes Mission in 1981, we read a couple of challenging books by Elizabeth Elliott.

They told the story of a number of young missionaries who went into the jungles of Ecuador in the 1950's to make contact with a group of people who had never heard of the love of Christ. Those first missionaries were killed by the Indians they went to reach.

The books by Elizabeth Elliott were called: Through Gates of Splendor and Shadow of the Almighty. Both books are still available at good bookshops or Amazon.

Another great book, God Planted Five Seeds, by Jean Johnson tells the story of the first five NTM missionaries who, in the 1940's, died while trying to bring Gospel to the Ayore people, an isolated tribe in Bolivia. The death of these men sparked an interest in tribal missions that continues today

God Planted Five Seeds, written by one of the three widows, is the story of how a permanent, friendly contact was established with the Ayore tribe . . . and how the women learned the truth concerning the death of the five men.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

'Truthiness' and Katrina

Apparently, the word ‘truthiness’ best reflects 2005.

A panel of linguists from the American Dialect Society chose the word last Friday, (Jan 6).

Michael Adams, a professor at North Carolina State University who specializes in lexicology, said 'truthiness' means 'truthy, not facty.'

To be honest, I had never noticed the word before, but thinking back over the past twelve months, and the numerous incidents of bogus reporting by many large media outlets, I can understand why the word is so popular.

The American Dialect Society defined ‘truthiness’ as ‘the quality of stating concepts or facts one wishes or believes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true’.

The word ‘Katrina’ was in the run-off with ‘truthiness’ for the honour of Word of the Year.

The reporting around the events of Hurricane Katrina is a good example of ‘truthiness’. For weeks, the world’s media broadcast and printed many things that turned out to be utterly false. They stated ‘facts’ they wished to be true. We now know we were misled.

‘Truthiness’, a good word for 2005.

Eye of the storm

Saturday, January 07, 2006

News Travels Fast

Yesterday, when I googled for news from Ivory Coast, I was surprised to see the picture of a Loron child beside one of the search results. Google News had linked to a report by a news organistion in the US on our return to Africa.

We have come a long way from the time when prayer letters and news from the field sometimes took months to reach their destinations.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Harvest Truly is Great

According to the latest (2004) edition of Ethnologue, there are 6,912 languages in the world. Over 3,000 of these languages do not have any Scripture.

Luke 10:2: ...The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.

Wycliffe Graphics

Monday, January 02, 2006

Mars exploration - is it worth the money?

Two years after the European Beagle splattered itself on the surface of Mars, it appears that the American exploration vehicles, Spirit and Opportunity, which landed successfully a few days after Beagle's unsightly impact on the red planet, are still going strong. They had been expected to last for only 3 months.

Apparently another European mission is planned.

My question is, why do we (British/Europeans) continue to waste so much money and effort trying to keep up with the Americans?

Despite allusions of grandeur in many a European capital, technologically, we are never going to catch up with the USA. Why can we not just accept reality, bite the bullet, and cooperate with the Yanks, instead of competing against them?

Just think of all that money being used to help eradicate malaria or fight hunger in the world.

Click here for some great views from the American Mars explorers.