Since moving from village life in Egbe to city life in Jos – my life has become more comfortable. In Egbe I was on my knees daily just to make it through each day. I prayed about the heat, the workload, my husband’s constant bouts of malaria, the spiritual warfare, not too mention the constant prayers for CARE Africa . I needed and relied on God to show up every day. Life in Jos is still hard – it’s Nigeria – but it is easier than Egbe. I talk to God all the time but it isn’t the same yearning and deep need for Him like when we lived in Egbe.

Screen Shot 2018-07-21 at 8.53.18 AMI recently read a book called God’s Smuggler. It is a true story of how a young, Dutchman by the name of Brother Andrew risked his life to bring faith and hope to believers behind the Iron Curtain. While reading the book I was continuously jealous of all the miracles Brother Andrew experienced. Some were as simple as a cake being provided for a meeting where he had no money to buy one. Others were big miracles like not getting checked at checkpoints where he had over 100 Bibles hidden in his car. I was so jealous and I felt if he experienced miracles in the 1930’s why can’t I experience God’s miracles in the 2018’s. I got on my knees and begged to see, hear, and experience God like Brother Andrew did. I begged God to “show up and show off” as I like to say.

When I asked God to make me like the God Smuggler, I was expecting great miracles and even greater blessings. Well, over the past month God has been showing up and showing off. I can’t begin to document in this blog all the great things He has done and is doing. What I forgot is that when God is doing a great work someone else is trying to disrupt that work – someone who wants to steal God’s glory. I don’t want to mention his name in case that gives him any power but we all know who he is. He prowls around like a Lion.

Staff finalPray for me, for my family, for my husband’s media ministry, for my CARE Africa staff and for our school that we are starting in Egbe. My family and CARE Africa staff have experienced some serious spiritual attacks such as health problems, computers crashing, uncontrollable emotions/ thoughts, missionaries leaving, different cultural problems and even serious and brutal killings only miles from our home. There is sin in this world and when God is visibly doing big works in your life – evil is going to want to try and conquer it. There is a battle going on that our small, small minds cannot even grasp. It is a battle for our minds and souls and we know we are the winner, but there is nothing that says we will not experience suffering.

Screen Shot 2018-07-21 at 8.57.53 AMThere is a song I really like by Kari Jo that is called “Speak to Me”. If you listen to it and ask Him to speak to you He will. Be prepared to put your armor on because that prowling lion will begin to challenge you. I encourage you to beat the crap out of him with prayer when he comes to steal, rob and destroy.  Pray and watch God “show up and show off”. It is a beautiful thing to see!

 

Would you consider becoming one of our prayer partners? Through these challenges so many have come alongside me and made me realize even more the importance of prayer to fight these battles. We currently have 214 of you out there praying when I send my requests. I would love for it to be 1000!! Click http://eepurl.com/DZf_D to receive our weekly prayer requests.

Here are just a few pictures of our recent team from Texas, the Fawcett Team. We were so encouraged by their time with us. From sports outreach, medical checkups, TIV camp outreach, painting of the new school, AWANA, discipleship and home visits we had a very meaningful time.

If you or your church have ever wanted to come to Africa to help, please consider coming and seeing us in Egbe, Nigeria! Email patrice.miles@sim.org for more information on how you can come and serve in Egbe, Nigeria.

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Arrival to Egbe

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AWANA

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New Intake Interviews

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Home Visits

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Market

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CARE Community Search

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Sports Outreach

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Painting School Library

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Child Celebration

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TIV Camp Outreach

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family-preservationFamily Based Care is all the rave at any adoption/orphan conference and in any article, blog or discussion regarding orphans and adoption. There are hundreds of studies that show most children in orphanages are there because of poverty, not orphanhood. Many children we call “orphans” have some form of family that would care for them if they had the means. Strengthening families is the best way to meet the needs of orphans and other vulnerable children.

When Emma and I started C.A.R.E. Africa we agreed to do everything we could to keep kids in families. We have struggled with Family Based Care many times over the past four years and thought an orphanage would be soooo much easier. There are many positives to Family Based Care but also many negatives. The biggest negative is the lack of control we have regarding the children and their learning environment.

careboysThey go to school for 8 hours a day in a Nigerian school system where cheating is overlooked and teachers send them on personal errands during school lessons. There is no accountability regarding attendance and shame based punishment is the norm. At the end of the school day they go home to a grandma who may not know how to read or speak English. The C.A.R.E. Africa children are kept busy running errands for water, firewood, cooking and childcare such that there is no time for homework or studying for an exam. C.A.R.E. Africa has a policy that no child should be out past 7pm but we do not have the manpower to monitor all the children in our program 24 hours a day.

Two times a week we meet with our children for discipleship. In those 4 hours each week we spend intentional time with our children teaching them about Christ and Christ-like behavior. However, the other 32 hours a week are spent in a less than ideal school system. Some of our children have been accused of stealing, lying, cheating, gambling and other bad behaviors. If we had an orphanage they could start each day with morning devotions, we could guarantee they attend school and make certain they have help with their homework all while showing them the love of Christ.

An orphanage sounds so much easier, right?

But could there be a middle ground?

Something that allows the children to stay within a family but allows us more time to sow into these children. Something that helps us build good character traits and show these children what a relationship with Christ looks like. For the last four years we have wanted to know what this missing piece to the puzzle of Family Based Care is and I thank God He has revealed it to us!

Last Import - 338 of 581OUR OWN SCHOOL – 36 hours a week to demonstrate Christ’s love to these kids.

1. We will hire and train great Christian teachers that walk with the Lord.
2. We will keep the classroom pupil to teacher ratio low so each teacher can have relationship with the children.
3. We will have special classes for children that need extra help in subjects so they can regain their confidence to try and learn.
4. We will teach discipline through correction that doesn’t exasperate the child through shame and fear.
5. We will hold teachers accountable to a different style of teaching that involves discussions, questions and answers so the children can learn to think outside the box.
6. We will know that our children are attending school.

This C.A.R.E. Africa school will be free of fear and shame based learning! This C.A.R.E. Africa school will encourage children to have relationship with each other and their teachers! This C.A.R.E. Africa school will teach children confidence and encourage them to dream of a better future.

1st tutored kidsPray for the five teachers that we have hired for our school. They will come to our city, Jos, for three weeks in August for training. Their eyes will be opened to a different way of teaching and how they can truly make a difference in each child’s life at our school. This 3-week training is critical for these teachers to learn new pathways for effective and compassionate teaching. We cannot do it without financial support. Please consider sponsoring this training which will include transportation to Jos, accommodations and feeding for all five C.A.R.E. Africa teachers. Click TEACHERS to donate to their training.

Transportation is $200
Accommodations is $600
Feeding is $500
TOTAL $1,300 needed for Teacher training.

mayblog2malI once heard a comedian say, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.” Well I can certainly relate to that sentiment. Many of you know that I’ve had numerous bouts with malaria since moving to Nigeria, but you may not be aware of just how many times I have been sick with it.   From my count, I’ve had it eighteen times. My malaria is now a legal adult at eighteen.  It can join the army. It has the right to vote. It can even buy a pack of cigarettes if it wants to.

On average, I get malaria every ten weeks. Now, there are a lot of factors when considering these numbers. Things like the hospital in Egbe didn’t keep medical records on me for the entire first year we were in Egbe. There is speculation that the tests were producing false positives or even false negatives.  About five of the eighteen times I self-treated with medicine when I had symptoms of malaria in the middle of the night or when it was impossible to get to a doctor. This doesn’t change the fact that I was sick with something each of those times and the treatment for malaria made me feel better each time.

mayblogmalariaAdded into the mix were bouts with intestinal worms, E. Coli, Salmonella, and a newly diagnosed ulcer.  I can truly say “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

Each of these times that I am sick, I feel a stirring inside me. I’m stirred with feelings of why am I living like this? Can I just “go home” where there is no malaria? Should I be living here? Is this the way that I “suffer for the Lord?” Am I really doing anything useful in missions if some weeks I cannot even get out of bed? Am I being a bad steward of all the sacrificial donations to us if I’m ineffective? Wouldn’t life be so much easier if we were just back at home in the USA? I just want to feel normal again.

We thought that moving from the bush of Egbe to our new home in the city of Jos would help lower the frequency that I get sick, but it hasn’t changed. Now I am at the point of needing answers as to what is really going on. Do I have a low immune system? Is the malaria reoccurring by living in my body somewhere? Am I susceptible to a more dangerous disease? Do I have something else that is undiagnosed going on? Should I live here?

mayblogmal3So many questions, but there are no true answers to be found here on Jos.  So, what can be done? Well, together with SIM, we have decided that I need to seek a specialist in Tropical Medicine and infectious diseases to get some real answers. After emailing at least sixty doctors throughout Europe and South Africa, I’ve found a doctor in South Africa that is willing to see me. I’ve made an appointment for July 5th to meet with him and he is ready to run a battery of tests to see what is going on. Please pray for this time. I will go alone and leave my family behind. I am not sure of the length of stay in South Africa, but I am expecting up to one month to allow for diagnostic testing and potential treatment. 

While I’m stirred at heart when I am sick, I am not shaken. I still have faith that God has us right where He wants us and it is His ultimate plan of what our future holds. For now, we are looking forward to what this doctor says about my condition. We are letting the doctor be an instrument in God’s hands for whatever our future might hold.

DSC_0067Over a year ago, while looking for HIV/AIDS resources for Spring of Life Egbe counseling center, I stumbled across a hospital in Jos called Faith Alive.  What started out as a small clinic for HIV/AIDS patients is now a three-story hospital that serves over 10,000 patients a month with various medical problems, provides ongoing care for HIV/AIDS patients, provides maternity care and performs about  3-4 surgeries each day. What makes Faith Alive unique is that all medical care is offered free of charge. Dr. Chris Isichei , Founder of Faith Alive, relies on local Nigerian doctors to volunteer their time outside of their regular jobs at other hospitals.  Dr Chris has been a source of encouragement and help to me in my ministries in Egbe over the past year. When I asked how could I help him, his only request was for more volunteers.

After some research and legalities I was able to establish a partnership agreement between SIM, my mission organization, and Faith Alive. Now I am able to help Dr. Chris by recruiting missionaries to come serve at Faith Alive Hospital.

DSC_0040My first volunteer (guinea pig) is Carman Marflak.  Carman is a nurse anesthetist who has made several mission trips to ECWA Hospital Egbe and is also a member of one of our supporting churches back home in America.  She was coming to ECWA Egbe Hospital for her 5th visit and was interested in seeing our ministries in Jos.  I was excited to tell her about the needs of Faith Alive Hospital and she agreed to come serve!  

At the time of writing this post, Carman Marflak has almost completed her 2 weeks at Faith Alive in Jos. During her time here the staff have been trained and encouraged.  She has improved their spinal block techniques, taught them how to place OI needles and has started organizing the operating room (OR).  Carman has also given several lectures at University of Jos to medical and nurse anesthetist students. I visited her at the OR a few days ago and the smiles and thank you’s from the staff for letting “Grandma” come were overwhelming. The staff of Faith Alive have fallen in love with Carman and I know she has fallen in love with them.

IMG_1901It hasn’t been easy being our volunteer guinea pig. The OR at Faith Alive is under equipped.  They need a new anesthesia machine, new OR beds, running water, better sterilization equipment and so much more.  Many times Carman was the only anesthetist available due to a shortage of nurses on surgery days.  “Grandma” Carman has survived an exhausting but rewarding two-weeks and her experience is helping me better prepare future medical volunteers for their service at Faith Alive. We currently have 2 pre med students and 2 nurses coming to Jos in June and a general surgeon is coming long term next year!

IMG_1958If you or someone you know is interested in medical missions, please email us at jos.personnel@sim.org. Faith Alive is only one of our many medical missions opportunities. We also have an amazing revitalized hospital in the bush of Egbe with an eye and dental clinic called ECWA Hospital Egbe, we have an eye clinic in Kano that serves a predominantly Muslim population call Kano Eye Hospital,  and the largest VVF (Vesico-Vaginal Fistula) clinic in the world located in Jos that ministers to women from the “North”. In addition we have several community health and medical outreach opportunities throughout Nigeria.  If you are looking to serve in a foreign country- come visit us in Nigeria. I promise it will be a rewarding experience you will never forget!  

See this latest video my husband, SIM Communications Specialist, put together about Medical Missions in Nigeria. https://vimeo.com/272002516

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I am just a little excited to announce that our new website for C.A.R.E. Africa is live! Thanks to one of my prayer partners, Angela Clevenger, telling me about www.VolunteerMatch.com, we have a new website that was FREE! It is still under constructions as we continue to make improvements. I just couldn’t wait any longer to tell everyone how great God is as this has been a prayer request for over two years. Visit www.iCareAfrica.org and please tell us what you think.

 

Screen Shot 2013-12-07 at 8.41.58 AMIt’s been almost five years in Nigeria, almost one year in our new home, and I was feeling almost happy…..

At the beginning of the year, after the holidays, I started feeling very homesick, frustrated, hopeless, and angry. I have always been the glass is half full kind of person so these negative feelings were very foreign to me. I tried to shake them but they overpowered me.

Since moving to Jos from Egbe I had more time for marketing CARE Africa and Spring of Life Egbe, which I love. I have enjoyed building partnerships with other ministries in Jos that in turn were creating new opportunities for CARE Africa in Egbe. The school we are opening in Egbe happened because of a partnership with Foundations Academy in Jos.  So much to be happy about- so why was I so discontent, frustrated and sad?

Since arriving in Jos, I have made a lot of connections, but no real relationships.  I am talking about the kind of relationship where you can be your unaltered self and know you aren’t judged. Instead of doing the work of building new relationships- I turned to books. I love books!  Books are not the problem. Disconnecting was the problem. I chose to stay detached by reading for hours and hours. I would escape to all types of wonderful places and stay there most evenings and weekends.  Disconnecting was nice – I didn’t have to think about the loneliness.

IMG_1230Thankfully God intervened. It took time and discontent, but eventually that soft, faint voice penetrated my soul and stirred my ear.  “Stop escaping, my daughter, to something that isn’t real and escape to Me”.  But my disobedience continued on for months. I didn’t realize that the escaping was making me become more and more dissatisfied with all the genuine blessings surrounding me -this led to DEPRESSION!

Unfortunately I am stubborn and I have to get hit over the head with a hammer before I listen and obey.  Remember the Foundations Academy Egbe school for our CARE Africa children?  Well, I began to experience setbacks and doors being slammed in my face. I knew God put it on the heart of both Emma and I to start this school so why all the obstacles?  I questioned God’s directive and almost walked away from it several times. “God why did you open this door if you didn’t want me to walk through it?” I got a swift answer Disobedience!  “Daughter how can I trust you with something as big as a school when I can’t trust you to be obedient in something as small as putting down your books?”  Ouch! The truth hurts! I do not enjoy pain and suffering so I surrendered my books and repented. “Sorry Daddy for not listening to you. Please forgive me. I’m listening now”.

cb2I felt like a new person. My sense of joy and contentment was restored. Doors started opening in unbelievable ways in my ministry. Not to say I still don’t have moments of homesickness and loneliness, but I have a renewed sense of peace that transcends all understanding.

I almost missed a great opportunity because of disobedience. I almost traded what is genuine, real, and true for something that wasn’t. Almost, but not quite.

Please continue in your prayers for our Foundations Academy Egbe school and if you are interested in helping us you can pray and or donate at give.icareafrica.org

God bless you this day with what is real, genuine, and true.