How to MacGyver a Pedal

As we waited our turn to practice before the service yesterday, I saw something under the keyboard that caught my attention. It took a few seconds for my mind to grasp what I was seeing:

Yep, that’s a sustain pedal made from an old stapler! The chapel we rent for church services has a BYOP policy: Bring Your Own Pedal. However, since the last time I played, someone has come up with this back-up plan! I have to admit I was a little afraid of getting shocked by it, so I used the more traditional pedal. But really, this is genius! As Moses, the worship leader, said with a shrug: “TIA!” Yes, This Is Africa. And I love it!

A Joyful Noise

Yesterday I had the tremendous opportunity to make some beautiful music with my friends Bryanne and Brianne. We played during offertory, so they sang By Faith (by Getty and Townend) and played guitar, and I accompanied on the piano. Bryanne Jones has been learning guitar, and I’m newly back to piano, so we started pursuing this opportunity because we want to use any skills we have developed as a means of drawing others to worship the Lord. Brianne Kopp is very familiar with singing and playing in a church setting (though she has been lying low and this was her first time at IBF!) so she got roped in to help us figure out how to do this! And because I don’t sing. At least not well!

These ladies have amazing voices. Let’s be honest, I just got to come along for the ride! But anytime they sing, I want to be there! And they make me want to become a better accompanist, a better pianist. I love playing classical music. Playing improv, music directed by chords, as part of a band – that’s really hard for me. But I loved it! And I want to get better at it. I’m looking forward to our next opportunity to draw attention and worship to our Lord and Savior with a joyful and beautiful noise!

Sundays

We love Sundays around this house! They are non-stop from 8:30am to 7:30pm, but they are filled with our favorite things!

Here’s what a Sunday can hold for us…

We usually leave the house between 8:30 and 8:45, getting to church in time to clean a classroom. Rachel is currently teaching the 4-5 year old Sunday school class, and enjoys a full house of 8-10 imaginative and fun kids!

Matt is on rotation helping teach the adult class on Evangelism, and this week and next he is teaching on the difference between the prosperity gospel and the true gospel of Scripture.

Main service is next, a time to enjoy worshipping the Lord and hearing the teaching of God’s Word with our friends.

We have a few minutes after church to chat with people, then we rush home for Care Group, which begins at our house at 12 noon!

We eat lunch with our Care Group (I feel them peanut butter sandwiches and they keep coming back!), and we really love this group! We have somehow become the “young singles group,” and more often than not we have to draw up a few extra chairs to our 10-seater table!

During lunch we catch each other up on what God is doing in our lives. Afterwards we explore the practical applications of the morning’s sermon and take time to pray for one another. This group cares for one another well and loves to laugh! We are so thankful to the Lord for them, and have been so encouraged seeing them grow in Christlikeness!

After Care Group, either Matt or I or both of us have have meetings for discipleship or counseling. It’s fun to end the afternoon with both of us saying: “God is at work here!”

By this point it’s getting to the late afternoon and we have a Skype appointment each Sunday with Matt’s parents. It’s a fun catch-up time, usually involving some sort of show-and-tell by the girls.

Either before or after dinner, it’s family fun night! It’s our one night of the week to do something special as a family, whether that’s play dominoes, ride bikes, watch a movie, go out to eat, or throw a blanket on the lawn and star-gaze!

By the end of Sundays, we are all tired-happy. These days seem to embody what we love: worship of the Lord and instruction in the Word, ministry and relationships within the church, and sweet family time. We love Sundays!

Back to Everything

The holidays are over and we are back to “normal life” around here. But we had a great time…

Decorating cookies with friends

Making little gingerbread houses with more friends (yes, even the dads!)

Decorating the house for Christmas

Hosting and enjoying 3 nights of IBF Christmas parties in our home!

(We love the Christmas parties!)

We also got to enjoy giving gifts

And receiving them!

Playing with baby lizards in the early rains

And getting to be a little fancy!

It was a nice break, but we are eager to get back in the regular routine of things around here. Like blogging! 😁

Church Family

We had a church picnic yesterday!

This was the second time during the school break that we got to spend a Sunday afternoon with our church family, picnicking on the lawn.

It takes a lot of hot dogs to feed this crew, so we've learned a few tricks. Did you know you can cook 60-70 hot dogs in a crockpot? The ones on the edges even get a nice sear!

I brought some bunting for a festive look, but needed a little help to tie it up. You never know when your husband's tree climbing skills will come in handy!

It's always good to spend time with church family, but this day was especially sweet. Just before the picnic, one of our elders, Gideon Manda, had preached on the unity of the body of Christ from Ephesians 4:4-6. For such a diverse church, this was an important reminder, and made our fellowship time a reminder of our unity!

As I looked around at the people on the lawn at lunch, I thought about how some of them are more comfortable eating their lunch with forks and spoons, some with chopsticks, and some with their bare hands. It's the times when we focus on those differences that we miss the beauty and eternality of the unity Scripture says we have as the body of Christ. One body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all.

This picnic was just a foretaste of heaven, when people of every tongue, tribe, and nation will join together to worship the Lord!

Christmas in Africa

We’ve given up on a white Christmas, snow flakes, and hot chocolate… Christmas in southeast Africa means BBQs, swimming pool parties, lemonade, and hopefully a few good rain storms!
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Christmas Eve BBQ with the Biedebachs, the Ayres, and the missions team from Grace Community Church had an especially African feel to it.

African Christmas 1

At our church’s kids’ Christmas program, Abi the Sheep wanted to make sure everyone knew that the Go-Tell-It-On-The-MOUNTAIN was a very big mountain!

African Christmas 3

Christmas morning service at IBF – our first time to do a weekday Christmas service. It was great to worship together on this special day!

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Christmas stockings for the girls – the squeaky ducks and oranges were the biggest hits!

African Christmas 2We’re thankful to the Lord for a great Christmas season this year… including the 6th annual IBF Church Christmas parties. For more on the Christmas parties, check out our last newsletter!

Christmas is Coming!

Abi is in charge of the countdown and she knows CHRISTMAS IS COMING SOON! This is a fun time of year for our family and our church, and we eagerly look forward to the Christmas season.

Tree Decorating 6

We had some friends over for dinner last night and they helped us decorate the tree, so our house is looking much more festive now!

Christmas Party Prep 1

And the invitations are out for the 6th annual Church Christmas Parties at our home! We’re excited to welcome the whole church into our home to celebrate the birth of our Savior. The time of worship and fellowship and laughter together is a highlight of our year!

Now for some baking and Christmas present wrapping…

A Biblical View of Money

Bible Study Begins

For the last 5 years, Matt has taught the youth group at our church.  But this year, Matt and Brian switched it up so Brian took the youth, and Matt took over the adult Tuesday evening Bible study.  We host it in our home and eat dinner together beforehand, so it’s a full family, full house ministry for us.  We have an average of about 12 adults attending, and about 3 kids who watch a What’s in the Bible? video in the next room.  Matt is teaching on a biblical view of money, so we’ve had some great times looking at the Bible together and discussing what God wants us to do with our money and possessions. This is an enormous topic that we face and must struggle with every day in (any part of) Africa.  Pray for this group when you think of us – we want to be certain that we are obeying what God calls us to in every area of our lives, including how we handle our money and possessions.

FBC Team and Easter Church Camp

For the third year in a row we have THOROUGHLY enjoyed having a team from Faith Bible Church in south Orange County come and run our Church Family Camp over Easter weekend.  This is a labor love, and this year we have 8 great people come and love our church: Rachel, Kalei, Jackie, Hannah, John, Stephen, Beth, and Curstin.  

IMG_5789This crew was just fantastic.  They came early so that they could go to church with us the week before camp, and then they spent the next 4 days doing anything and everything – prison ministry, doing skits for village ministry, painting a dining room for an orphan feeding program – they kept busy!  They even…

IMG_5791Helped paint Naomi’s room!

IMG_5794Naomi now sleeps in a jungle of trees, vines, monkeys, and a few other friends like a giraffe, a lion, and a zebra.  So cute, and such a sweet extra for us!


IMG_5812But the real reason they came was to help with camp.  Pastor John Koh preached a 4-part series on discipleship for us, while the others on the team helped with music and ran a full VBS program for all the kids!


IMG_0962The kids all loved their new teachers!  And all the regular teachers enjoyed just getting to listen to the message and fellowship with the rest of the church.  It was so wonderful and refreshing to be served by this team!

IMG_5826And just for the record, Abigail loves living in dirty, fun Africa!  She pretty much looked like this all through camp.  Sometimes she was even sporting a side ponytail as in 2 pictures above.  =)  You only get to be 3 once in your life!

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We got almost everyone in a group photo (there were some who came just for the day on Sunday who aren’t pictured), but the total count this year was 111!  What a blessing to have a church body who love spending time together and desire to grow both in the Word and in unity!  Praise the Lord!

IBF Christmas Parties – Year 5!

Yep, these were our 5th Annual IBF Christmas Parties!  With a new baby in the house, we weren’t sure if we could host the parties this year, but Rachel’s parents came to help out and we knew we could do it with their help.  And we’re so glad we did.  We love these parties, and more importantly we’ve seen over the years the importance of these times together as a church body in fellowship, worship, and fun.

IBF Christmas Parties 2014 5The photo booth is always popular for a little fun.  It’s a good memory too, as we try to print off a bunch of the photos people have taken and then hand them out at church.

IBF Christmas Parties 2014 1We always have a game for the adults as well – this year’s game was 4 on a Couch.  The group at Wednesday night’s party was very competitive, with the women finally pulling off a win in something like quadruple overtime. And then at Friday night’s party, the men pulled off a nice, clean win.

IBF Christmas Parties 2014 2Good times of singing some favorite Christmas hymns.  “Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace! Hail the Sun of Righteousness! Light and life to all He brings, ris’n with healing in His wings. Mild He lays His glory by, born that man no more may die, born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth.”  What amazing truths to sing and celebrate together as a church family!

IBF Christmas Parties 2014 3Matt shared this year from Philippians 2 on the humility of Christ in the incarnation.

IBF Christmas Parties 2014 4It was a great time of celebrating together, and now we are looking forward to celebrating Christ’s resurrection together at Family Camp over Easter!