New Year’s greetings are a big deal in Ivorian culture. Friends typically drop-in during the first few weeks of January to wish you a prosperous new year. Just as popular is sending a message of ‘Best Wishes’ by cell phone. We were invited to dine with the family of Jerome on Monday (pictured). They buy mutton every year in December to roast for Christmas and New Year celebrations. As we ate a delicious meal, their children delivered plates of food to neighbors and friends. This is their tribal tradition of sharing at the end of the year. While we cannot “beam you over” to enjoy a festive meal together, we can share the prayer we have for all in the New Year, with a note of context below.
One challenge here is finding cleaning products that actually remove stains from clothes, especially whites. Local detergents that we have tried are harsh, bother our skin, or wear away fabric. Products like Spray & Wash, Goop, and Oxiclean are rarely, if ever, available. Bleach is not colorfast; hydrogen peroxide is too expensive to use in large quantities; borax is hard to find; vinegar only works sometimes. Clothes that seem to be okay here can look so dingy when we return to the States that we are reluctant to wear them (if we do!).
Praise God, there is hope for our spiritual “spots and wrinkles,” even if we fail with earthly clothes! In 2018, may each of us faithfully follow the One who purifies us as His bride and presents us as “a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing…” (Eph. 5:27). Know that He is “able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24). These promises of purity and victory are our prayer for all who accompany us in this life. In the above picture, our brother Jerome prepares a presentation that is only coming to fruition because of the efforts of seven organs of the body of Christ (more on that in the future). The point is that the Lord prepares His Church using all of us as needed and available. May this new year of 2018 reveal the role each of us is to play cooperatively as Jesus makes and keeps us clean to take part in His redemption of the earth.
Prayer and Praise:
Pray for the Discovery Bible training session (a DMM centerpiece) that we will hold at a church in Bondoukou this Sunday, January 7, and that follows in the next two weeks.Debbie’s mother is suffering from constant, severe pain in both hips that greatly hinders her mobility. Please pray with us that the cause can be clearly identified as she consults a specialist this month in Nashville and seeks to solve a progressively worse 30+ year problem.The chief of the village where a CHE agricultural ministry has begun is expected for a visit at our house next week. Pray that the meeting will further smooth the way for progress in the village and for witnessing opportunities as Verlin and M. share the vision.
Your partners in the Gospel,
Verlin and Debbie