Tuesday, July 21, 2009

More News Fresh From Africa

“What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”

This question is simmering in my mind with new insights into its profundity. I am more and more convinced that Western Christians have lost sight of God’s imprint on their own soul. It’s been squelched by “stuff.’ But more on that another time. For now, back to what’s happening here in Africa.

The above pic is of some children in the slums of Cotonou, Benin (one comes to our Orphans First children’s club; the other is his neighbor).

Seems like years went by since I last wrote my blog. Time in Africa is a different dimension. And so much has happened since we first got here, I could write another book. We’re now back in Ghana. Tonight I’ll teach the women at a church in Tema. But for now, I’ll share a few highlights of our trip thus far.

It took way longer to get to the border for Togo. Five hours actually. We did stop by at a small, Christian school but still . . . the trip was way too long. And then another hour or so through the borders into Togo—an experience I have never enjoyed on any of my trips to Africa.

The children in the school were beautiful, happy and taken care of, and I’m not going to talk about them here. Rather, I want to tell you about a little boy whose solitude tore my heart apart. (I’ll post his pic sometime once it’s downloaded from camera.)

I noticed him watching the school kids, wandering around in rags, scrawny and dirty. I tried to talk to him, but he looked at me blank. (Of course, I don’t speak Aiwai, but still, I figured he’d something.) Concerned, I inquired about him. He’s deaf and dumb. That’s why he’s not in the school. I’d like to do something about that. Please pray we can get this boy in school.

Going through the borders – Ghana, Togo, Benin, then Benin, Togo, Ghana – is like a trip into Hell. So much grime, pushing, bullying, poverty . . . and yet you can’t possibly help everyone. One old lady (looked to be 100 years old) walked with a huge, heavy basket of stuff on her head (that’s how women transport here, and often with babies on their back). Her flip-flops were ridiculously worn and she was skin and bones, draped in rags. The guards pushed her and bullied her as she tried to get through the borders. Louis told them, “Stop that. Let her through.” They did.

I wanted to catch her up to give her my flip-flops. I couldn’t get to her with the crowds pressing in. Oh well. My flip-flops probably wouldn’t have fit her anyway since my feet are small. I’ll find a kid here who needs them before leaving Africa.

African children are precious beyond words. The poverty is extreme and I pray we can step up the support and help many more children here via Orphans First. Some of the slums – I mean broken wood shacks maybe two & a half yards square – house families of seven. We visited several such slums and took photos which I hope to show on the website before long.

In Benin, we had to ride on the back of motorbikes to get to the slums. I knew my younger days as a motorbiker would come in handy some day. God wastes nothing. Anyway, the bikes were sort of fun in a scary way. I mean, they drive like they want to kill you. I knew we could die but then our lives are in God’s hands. But the most scary of all was to ride through filthy water left by the floods. Typhoid water. I can’t tell you how many times I wiped the splashes off thinking I might not live till the end of the week. But I did . . .

Louis preached in several churches in each country we were in. We ministered to hurting pastors and their wives, all very poor. I worked with kids, families, women. Much work to do here.

That’s all I have time for today. More later. Thanks for your prayers.

Janey L. DeMeo
Copyright © July 2009


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fresh News From Africa (Orphans First)

So here I am in Accra, still feeling unusually tired (not a good sign, but oh well), staying in a $ 34 per night Baptist Guest House, and voilĂ —I have Internet access. Now how cool is that? (Not the bit about feeling tired, but the cyberspace connect.) The fatigue is probably just from traveling—hey, 4 planes over the weekend is a lot for me nowadays! Anyway, I want to thank all those who are praying for this trip. (Details can be found on the Orphans First Prayer Chain: orphansfirst.org).

As in India and most third-world countries, there’s always a love/hate struggle going on in my heart when I’m in Africa. Love because these Western Africans are lambs. They are meek and hungry for truth. Hate because of the squalor, filth, disease . . . It’s everywhere, of course, and unless you stay in a “normal” hotel (which we don’t), it’s in your face constantly. It always pinches my heart to think that these people live with nothing and we westerners have so much.

Tonight, Louis and I strolled up the street almost gagging on pollution from the cars, and trying to mind where we stepped because the rains have been heavy and just to step in water could give you typhoid. We came to a huddle of children and some adults. We asked if we could give the children some bread, which we did, and then gave a few other handouts to the adults. Nothing much really, but what was more significant is that we shared the Gospel and the response was positive. Seems it usually is in this part of the world.

Our pastor-friend from Benin traveled over two borders to meet us here in Ghana and will participate in a special pastor’s leadership conference tomorrow. While the men meet, I’ll probably spend time with the children in the Christian School in Tema, and I think I’m scheduled to teach the women. In the evening we have church. (Louis will preach). Then Wednesday, we plan to get to cross the border into Togo. Not a pleasant experience crossing borders. Sigh!

We first went to Togo some twenty years ago with folks from our church in France. I think it was there (or was it Ghana) that some mosquito set out to kill me. And kill me he almost did. I caught the worst strain of Malaria that exists, and almost died. (But since I’m here telling that tale, you know I didn’t.) Togo, like Benin and some twenty other countries in Africa, is French-speaking.

In Togo, Louis will preach at a few churches, and I’ll work again with children and women. Then, some time later in the week, we’ll go by foot again through the next border to Benin where Orphans First plans to start another children’s home and center. We’ll also teach, preach, work with children etc. But our main focus will be to look at potential land to start this new home. Prayers appreciated.

Well, that’s it for now. It’s likely I won’t have Internet access for the rest of the trip. Not sure. You know where to find me on Twitter (but I don’t think you can follow unless I accept you—and if I can’t get on the Net, I can’t do Twitter). If you don’t hear from me in a month, start worrying. Until then, just keep praying. And THANK YOU. A huge thanks for your prayers. (For recent prayer requests, go to www.orphansfirst.org and click on Prayer Chain.)

Janey L. DeMeo
Copyright © July 2009


Monday, July 06, 2009

God's Little Princess Devotional Bible by Sheila Walsh

I review books for Thomas Nelson publishers.

Here’s a book to show every little girl she is a princess in the eyes of Jesus. This delightfully bound gift book—adorned with a sparkly crown and gems—teaches little girls how to reign like royalty.

Walsh uses Scriptures, descriptive scenarios and suggested activities to teach little princesses how to represent and please King Jesus. They learn the importance of obedience, honor, inner beauty, humility, love, prayer, serving and true worship.

Simple illustrations in pastel colors, and pretty borders decorate each page. Children are encouraged to talk with God simply and often. Brief vignettes are creatively laced with Scripture and inspire little princesses to enjoy their role as Jesus’ princess.

Although I highly recommend this book, I am disappointed by its shortsightedness. The author emphasizes the parents’ role, but does not make allowances for the thousands of orphans and foster children in America (and indeed worldwide). I wish she had found a way of including them and making them feel just as important—even without parents. (Pity that was overlooked. The book could otherwise have helped many neglected children feel like princesses.)

Overall, this is an excellent book for little girls aged 4 – 7 years.

Janey DeMeo M.A.
Copyright©July 2009


Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Orphans First in West Africa

Well, here we go again. Africa. Orphans First already has a children's program in Benin (French-speaking Africa). Now we're looking to create an actual children's home there -- something similar to Grace Home in India or our orphanages in Romania or Siberia. It will take a miracle, but then it always does.

The above photo shows children in our children’s club in Benin. (Hey, I know the quality of the pic is awful, but that’s what you get from a cheap, African camera.- They all come from impoverished families. Orphans First helps some of them with food and schooling.

So, Africa, here we come -- again. (And please lock up your 'squitos. I already had Malaria once thanks very much!)

I'll keep y'all posted on my plans, blogreaders. Meanwhile, check out some details on the Orphans First website.

Janey L. DeMeo M.A.
Copyright © July 2009

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