31 Jul

Ministry update – 31st July 2015

Greetings from our last few days in the UK.

Tomorrow our iceberg sets sail for home (if you have no idea why I am talking about icebergs, take a look at our previous update). It has been great to see so many people who are integral parts of our iceberg and I hope that we have been able to be part of your icebergs too. We are floating high and really looking forward to getting back to N1geria, looking forward to seeing friends and colleagues again, looking forward to getting stuck back into work, and to be honest, looking forward to sleeping in our own beds again!CLQsKT0W8AATwTC

I has been a bit of a whirlwind and we are tired, but sharing about God’s work in N1geria and our small part in it has had the slightly unexpected side-effect of re-enthusing us! It has helped us to lift our heads and remember the big picture and see more clearly how our little corner fits in.

A good, re-envisioning time in the UK with a remarkably good balance of times of rest and times of busyness
Looking forward to heading home to Nigeria

Safe travels flying to Abuja and then by road to Jos
For a good settling in time and not to much work to do on the house

11 Jul

4 bed in 4 nights – Ministry Update – 10th June 2015

Greetings from Thame / Gateshead!
So far in our whistle-stop tour of the UK we have been to:
Thame, Saunderton, Princes Risborough, Chinnor, Altringham (Manchester), Soulby (Cumbria), Lancaster, High Wycombe, Polegate, Eastbourne, Iden Green, Maidstone, London, Rugby, Corsham, Bristol, Malvern, Worcester Stroud, Weston-super-Mare AND Gloucester.
I think our record so far is four different beds in four nights. Thankfully God has been very gracious and our schedule really has not felt too hectic. We have had great times hanging out with old friends, renewing friendships (Richard – here is your mention), making new friends, living with family.

Still to come (at time of writing) we have:
Lincoln, Preston, Gateshead, Newcastle, Sunderland, Horley, Redhill, Reigate, Henley, and probably some others that I have forgotten!

Someone at one of the churches we visited asked a really interesting question that made me stop and think. She asked “Why is it important for you to remain connected with people in the UK?”
We are putting a lot of energy and time into visiting as many people and churches as we can while we are in the UK and being asked this question helped me to really think through why. Firstly, of course it is great to catch up with all y’all (as some of our American friends would say). But it actually goes a lot deeper than that.
I have this picture in my head of an iceberg. Weird, you might say, I thought you were based in N1geria, not the Antarctic? Bear with me. Tim and Dan and I are the tip of the iceberg, the bit that sticks up out of the water, that sticks into N1geria. That tip of the iceberg can’t stay above the water, can’t stay in N1geria, unless there is a whole lot more of the iceberg sitting below the surface. We need a vast team of people, praying for us, supporting us financially and generally being there for us in order for our family to be above the water in N1geria. This means that every single one of you who prays for us, who supports us, are just as much a part of the iceberg as we are, just as much a part of what God is doing through Bible translation in N1geria. So next time you are tempted to think that your life is boring, or that nothing you are doing is impacting the world, remember the iceberg!
If you don’t really feel like you are part of the iceberg yet and would like to join our iceberg, please do drop us a line, we would love to have you on board (or should that be on ice?)!
We have just heard that there has been another twin bombing in Jos on Sunday night. Please pray for peace and unity in our home city. Pray for those who have lost friends and family that they will turn to their loving heavenly Father for comfort.

19 Oct

Good Bye Wycliffe Centre

On Saturday 7th September, over 450 People gathered at the Wycliffe Centre to attend a celebratory goodbye service. I was unable to be there due to our current African location, but it got me thinking about my memories of the site. I have LOTS of fond memories.

I first moved there April 15th 1985, a few months before I was 5. I lived longer at our house there than anywhere else in the world (so far). After university I started my real working life there (unless working a summer job at a distribution warehouse for nine weeks counts as 'real work'). In fact, almost all my memories are attached to that place.

On the whole I have happy memories… Long summers messing around in the woods or the swimming pool… Earning money in the kitchen at the weekends… Making some of the longest lasting friendships I have.

Many of us started our sporting careers on that site. For some the never-ending locations to kick a football around. For others the table tennis or the foosball… and dare I mention darts? Every summer evening there would be volleyball. Some of us grew tall enough to be of some use at the net, others not so much – but it did lead to representing universities, (yes it wasn’t a very big club)! Cricket also featured, if you were daring enough to face the fastball of Dr. Crozier!

In the later years, Ultimate Frisbee began to appear. Fast and ferocious, if you didn’t get out the way, a disc could leave scars, both emotional and physical. (It's okay, friendships are intact.)

Many of us learned to swim in that tiny, tiny, FREEZING pool. Somehow, as a kid, the temperature didn’t matter too much.

I remember many, many discussions over the rules of half court. Does the scorer retain the ball at the start of the next point, or not?

Bonfire parties and carol services were chances to connect with the local community and schools. Both were often so well attended that it was easy to feel anonymous for a while. Funny to see my son in my school uniform, causing as much hilarity as I am sure I did, trying to sing on that stage.

For some, the Wycliffe Centre isn’t full of happy memories. Some kids were evacuated from their homes overseas and landed there, confused and hurt. It seems strangely similar to the kids who occupied the school on the site during the Second World War. I had the privilege of working with some of our modern day evacuees. Seeing God at work in their lives, I realised that they can hate Horsley’s Green all they like, but it wont change the situation or heal the pain of having to leave their homes overseas.

The site has meant so many things to so many people, but I am glad someone has been brave enough to make the extremely hard decision to sell the place and take Wycliffe UK into the next stage of it’s ministry.

31 Aug

The day i got a Mango worm – by Dan (and Daddy)

Worm in Dans backI am not sure how I got my Mango worm.  They like to lay their eggs in damp cloths and if you aren’t carful and then wear them, they get into your skin! (READ MORE HERE)

We found it on Sunday August 25 2013 on my back but at first we weren’t sure what it was.  Mummy thought maybe it was a boil, daddy started to look at pictures on the Internet.  

As it grew, is was quite painful since it was getting bigger and bigger and the area on my back was getting red.  We tried to pop a dob of Vaseline on it to see if the worm would stick his head out, but nothing happened.

The suckign coke bottle trick

On Monday Daddy stuck a warm coke bottle around the worm then cooled it down in the hope that it would create suction and suck the worm out.   Unfortunately it didn’t work. 

The area was sore and itchy and I can’t tell you how, but I managed to scratch the area.  Mummy thought that the worm was trying to escape, but we weren’t sure and so stuck a plaster over the area to stop it from getting infected.


Worm sticking outThis was exciting!  Although I couldn’t see it, Mummy was checking out the area to see if I needed a new plaster.  She saw a little thing sticking out the side of the plaster!  She took the plaster off and there it was, the worm had started to crawl out of my back!  Daddy took a picture so I could see.

We tried the coke bottle trick again; mummy said it was interesting to watch the worm go from lying down to sticking straight up out of my back.  However, the suction wasn’t good enough to get the worm out L Mummy had a quick try with some tweezers but couldn’t’ get a good enough grip to get him out.  Next daddy tried to squeeze it out like other people do, it REALLY hurt and I roared like a lion, but the worm didn’t come out L.  Daddy dried the area and the worm and the tweezers with a bit of kitchen towel and then he tried with the tweezers and got the worm out! 

Mummy and I had a good time looking at the worm though a mini microscope.  It turns out that there was a little black thing on the end of the worm but I couldn’t tell what it was.  When mummy looked she told me it looked like a hook that maybe the worm uses to get under my skin! We also saw something that looked like eyes!



22 Aug

Settling back in – sustainability

We’re been back for 2 weeks already – Dan is back in school, I’ve settled back at my desk, things are moving forward. We are starting to get supplies back in the house and re-finding our routines. Praise God for his faithfulness in this time!




Even better than just settling in – I’ve done a few very overdue jobs! I’ve fixed the screen door on the front which helps keep the bugs and mosquitoes out – meaning one less way to get sick! I got a friend in and we put up a bunch of shelving, paintings, and even a chin-up bar! I even managed a couple the other day – got to start somewhere 😉




We’ve been pondering near the end of our last term and while were in the UK what things we need to do in order to keep the stress down and increase our sustainability in N1geria. There are SO many little irritations in life – I won’t play down anyone’s annoyances – it doesn’t matter where you are or what they are – for any given person they are irritating. Reducing those annoyances as much as possible is a good way to increase sustainability. One of the not-so-small ones for us is the power situation out here. I took the plunge today and purchased batteries to create a better back-up power situation at our house. Over the next couple of days I’ll get them installed and hopefully even where there isn’t power we’ll be able to keep the fridge cold (so not having to throw out food – something that really winds me up), we’ll be able to have light in the evening and hopefully we won’t have to run the generator (noisy and expensive) as often

31 Jul

Cost of being a missionary – friends

If you read my post about family, this is very much along those lines.  When you are in youth ministry, there  is a wonderful period of time when all the people you were working with across the years are growing up, graduating university, getting married and having kids.  I saw a wonderful exchange between two of my former youth, now both good friends. 1 has multiple kids the other is expecting number 1.  There discussing the best way for person 1 to send a bunch of needed baby stuff to person 2.  It was wonderful to see such relationships have far outlasted the ministry. Another guy being congratulated by a dozen folks from our days together as he graduates from the London school of theology.  There are even a bunch that  have taken it upon themselves to support us in our continuing ministry.  So whats the cost I hear you say? Well as of now I have missed a few weddings and multiple new children and know of 3 weddings and no doubt more in the next few weeks and months to come.  It is hugely disappointing not to be able to celebrate with these folks as they start a new phase of life. Skype, email, and Facebook really are no substitute at all.  True to say that it is all in God’s hands, and he understands our feelings about being unable to go.  There is no higher price paid than Jesus dying on the cross for us.

24 Jul

Cost of being a missionary – electricity

I know I know, we all take it for granted in the UK –  my friends from America are finding it amusing how much social media has had to say about the power cuts in the us in June.  Reality is, when you move to a third world country – even a city the electricity supply is problematic. Any thing we have plugged into a Nepa* outlet must have a voltage stabilizer plugged in first.  The stabilizer must be big enough to cope with the demand placed on it and there is no guarantee that if there is a spike in the supply, that the thing or what ever is plugged into it will survive.  We knew about the power situation, it wasn’t a surprise, but I guess I am minding it is one difference between short term trips where you are pretty much prepared to cope with almost anything and living long term.  Long term you have to put more things in place to cope.   2 weeks after arriving, we stumbled upon a house and moved in and bought the contents.  It save. A lot of running around and figuring out, part of that package was a battery back up system with two 12v deep cell batteries and chargers and inverters.  We never really heard of such systems let alone though about having one.  It was such a blessing, a bunch of lights attached (yes some rooms had 2 lights, 1 Nepa and 1 battery whose switch was in a cupboard down our corridor), and the ability to charge laptops and plug the fridge in was brilliant.  but they are only good if there is charge it he batteries.  We had them hooked up to charge from Nepa, so it was fine if you got a few hours of Nepa each day but 2/3 days without and the batteries aren’t any good to you.      We are lucky not to have lost any food out of our fridge or freezer yet, but a few months in we did decide to invest in a generator that wasn’t something we had previously considered needing.  Both these things have proved invaluable to us, but the up front investment, cost of running, upkeep and maintenance are a whole lot of grief.  It does mean I got wise when we moved house and engineered our battery system. Through our fuse board to power 1 light in each room, through the normal light switch, which means we don’t have to run down a corridor to trilogy’s on, and we don’t always have 1 bulb that is not in use :). We haven’t yet invested in solar charging system, nor a wind turbine like our neighbors (thought it’s brake keeps getting stuck on 🙁  )but there is still time for those additions.  Our projects however often don’t have power unless we buy a generator (small investment huge running costs now) or a solar system (large investment but as long as it works, zero running costs).

I’m not sure if it really counts as a cost, but the hassle involved here does take its toll and so I think that is a cost we pay.  I hope the real cost of losing a piece of equipment or an appliance is one that we will never have to face.


*Nepa is our power supplier it has such a bad reputation that a few years ago it changed it name to PHCN the Power Holding Company Nigeria.  However, everyone still refers to them as Nepa.  Among the numerous explanations of. The acronym is my favourite Never Ever Power Always.

20 Jul

Foody Friday – Mango Sorbet

A more recent adventure in my search for a great sorbet came with mango season.  On the compound of our new house there are numerous mango trees that produce small, sweet, fairly stringy, mangos.  At the height of the season the floor under the tree was coated in mangos, we just couldn’t eat them fast enough!  My Mum and Dad were visiting and Mum (who I have decided is incapable of just sitting, always has to be doing something) suggested that we could make sorbet out of them.  She proceeded to peel and scrape the flesh of 10 or more mangoes off into a bowl, we added some sugar and lemon juice and stuck it in the freezer.  Delicious!

Ali peeling mangoes

Scraping the mangoes was quite a lot of effort, so for the next lot of mangoes Mum decided to try peeling and then simply grasping the stone in her hand and squeezing.  Messy, but surprisingly effective! We served some of the sorbet at our house-warming/meet the parents party and had lots of requests for the recipe.

Mum and Dad headed back to the UK and still the mangoes fell, so I decided to have a mango squishing party.  I invited several friends, told them to bring a cup of sugar and a plastic container each.  We sent the kids out with buckets to collect the mangoes and set up a production line with some people peeling, some squeezing.  An hour or so later we had two big basins of mango sludge and some very orange fingers.  Everyone went home with plenty of sorbet mixture (and still slightly orange fingers) ready to freeze it up.

17 Jul

Cost of being a missionary – Water

Us brits can make almost any conversation out there about the weather.  Even here I am hearing about the floods back home, or the heat of east usa, but to be honest, nothing has dominated our recent conversations like water.  1 sacrifice we made coming here was regular clean safe to drink running water.  Let’s just say that our water situation is still 100 times better that most, but it is complex out here.  Lets start with the water filter.  We filter all our drinking water, teeth brushing water, and in fact we fill our kettle with filtered water.  Different people draw the line in different places when it comes to clean water, but that is our line.  The water that goes into our filter comes from our tap, which is gravity fed by a ridiculously small tank on top of our house.  This tiny tank is shared by both us and our upstairs neighbours.  This tank is filled when we pump water (yes that requires the not always on power) from a tank built in to our ground.  That tank is filled by a purple tank above ground if it has any water in it.  Both the purple tank and the ground tank, should be filled by city water supply.  However, we have had city water twice in the past 8 weeks, and when it is on, more of it runs down the street outside the house than into our tanks, so occasionally we have to buy water delivered by a tanker to fill our tanks up.  We often check the fullness of the tanks, when there is power, run out to pump to the top tank, hopefully remember to run out and turn it off again before it over flows. We often discuss with upstairs if / when we might need to buy water.  We now flush toilets with laundry water (that was originally collect rain water used to wash the clothes) or shower water – buckets lying round everywhere with various shades of water for various purposes.  I’m not sure when it got so complex, but it is our water system and it works-ish, we stay clean, we stay healthy we don’t spend a fortune on water trucks.  When we eat at a hole in the wall local restaurant place you will normally be bought a bag of water to consume with your meal. The mission community is divided about how safe they are to drink. The purity isn’t’ regulated, and so some people do drink them and some don’t but there is always a conversation about it when you are out! Not proper ‘running’ water is a cost we and so many others pay to follow Jesus and see his kingdom come.


UPDATE – since I first drafted this post, we have begun installing guttering to collect rain water.

13 Jul

Foody Friday – Hot and cold Sorbet.

As inspired by our friends over at thosewinklers.wordpress.org we are starting a Foody Friday spot on our blog.   Ali will probably be the main contributor so look out for some treats  — Tim


Since moving to Nigeria I have developed a passion for trying to make foods that I have only ever previously bought pre-made.  Some of this has come from the difficulty of buying some food-types here and some from a desire to do something that is both enjoyable and productive.

In the pursuit of new taste sensations I have made various sorbets from fresh fruit.  An early attempt involved squeezing oranges and adding a bit of sugar and some (what I thought was) powdered ginger.  Now to explain this, I actually have to back up a bit . . .

When we moved into our first house in Jos we inherited cupboards full of food, including various herbs and spices that I did not recognise.  Among them was a unlabelled jam jar full of a powdered substance that looked like ginger, smelled like ginger and which, shockingly, I assumed was ginger!  Turns out it was ginger, but mixed with cayenne pepper (or at least the Nigerian equivalent) to be used in spicy, savory dishes.

So, in blissful ignorance, I merrily added a good dose of it to my orange sorbet mixture.  The next day I served up my creation, anticipating sighs of delight.  The first taste was fresh, a little tangy, then the tang built and developed until the heat in our mouths demanded to be cooled with another mouthful.  So it continued, each mouthful cooling the heat of the previous mouthful, only to build into an inferno of its own. It was a weird, and not altogether unpleasant, sensation.  We christened it “Hot and Cold Sorbet” and decided that we quite liked it, but I must admit that I have not made any more since!

%d bloggers like this: