Our summer adventures
Before we continue posting more photos of John's time in Benin, we wanted to post a summary of how we both experience our summer months in different locations....
John: Over the past 15 years we have sent Discovery teams all over the world, yet Shevawn & I have always taken the teams we led to Ghana. Always. Until this summer…when I led a team to Benin (which is located a bit east of Ghana, between Togo & Nigeria). There are over 50 languages spoken in this country whose area is just a bit smaller than Pennsylvania, with French being spoken by most people in addition to their mother tongues.
Now, I mention that French is the official language of Benin because like many Americans (and Ghanaians!), I had no interest in learning French… so this trip was stretching me out of my comfort zone even before it began! My first morning in Benin I woke up sneezing and with a jet-lag induced headache; I turned to 1st John 4 and had the most unusual prayer time as I felt God's filling in response to my pleas that I could not lead this team in my own power. I actually felt tingling and thanked God that I get to do this: my dream job of working with an eager group of 20 somethings who are desiring to bear fruit for the Kingdom.
|Jacques and John rode to Porto Novo and stopped for some refreshing coconut on the way home.|
The Benin Discovery team was led by 2 sets of leaders: Jacques Wella and John (the primary leaders) and Carole Houndjo and Shevawn (who both did lots of behind the scenes work for the team).
8 participants completed our team, consisting of 4 American and 4 Beninois students:
· 2 students were assigned to work in the Wycliffe Benin headquarters in the economic capital of Cotonou where they taught English to staff and their families as well as helping with various administrative tasks.
· 2 students went to the Saxwe language project where they used their sociology training to assist in a community survey for the translation team who began working there.
· 4 students served in the Idaasha language project where they were able to type a book for the staff as well as observe some translation checking.
All 8 participants and myself enjoyed the experience of building cross cultural relationships as we lived with host families and got to meet many people in the community.
Shevawn: Even though I remained in California, my work hours were filled with adapting the Benin debrief curriculum for John and Jacques…which truthfully was a bit tedious at times. I felt much encouraged though after receiving this e-mail from Danielle, one of the Benin trip participants:
“Although we have not had the pleasure of meeting in-person, I wanted to extend to you my sincere appreciation for your help in planning/organizing our summer Discovery Trip to Benin (and you allowing us to "borrow" your husband for six weeks this summer). I understand that you were very involved in much of the "behind-the-scenes" work, so we praise the Lord for all that He was able to accomplish in and through you. Our lives were forever changed because of these experiences.”
Likewise I would like to thank those of you who partnered with us in prayer; you not only helped me persevere when I was just plain weary of working on all the revisions….but also blessed me with much joy and peace while I was alone in my condo. I experienced refreshment instead of loneliness and enjoyed both my times alone and with friends. I am thankful to be surrounded by such rich relationships.