A place to keep up with the Consford family of San Augustine, Texas.

Our Lord has been so good to us.

Proverbs 16:3 "Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established."

Jan 30, 2012

A Day of Adventure

The Almond tree in the back yard.  The people in the village say
this tree has the best Almonds.  They don't stay on the ground
long enough to get any for themselves.  It makes me think of the book,
The Pineapple Story. 

After a wonderful breakfast we went to town.  Going "to town" here is much different than going to town at home.  There are no Wal-marts, McDonald's, Hobby Lobby, or other stores that I love to visit at home.  Here the stores are more like fruit stands.  Some of the shops have upgraded to small containers that have doors that lock.  These stores carry very specific items.  The stores have Bible names like:  "Jesus Saves", "He will Provide", "Thy Will be Done", "Blessed Assurance", and one of Joe's favorites "Naked I Came".  Some stores carry items like fresh bread, eggs, cooking oil, or vegetables.  One near Joe's house is a small hardware store.  There is a carpenter's shop, material shop, and a tailor's shop.  Each of these little shops are very limited in the items they carry.  Joe explained that they are very superstitious people.  The people usually do not know the Lord, they are just trying to have a good omen for their stores.  You can tell the impact that Missionaries have had on the people.  They have a form of religion added to their own religion.

Each school has a different colored uniform.

The village Joe lives in is called Kansawurado.  The roads are lined with these small shops.  It is amazing to me how you find things that you want.  I guess it just takes time and much exploring to know where things are. That is Joe's speciality.  He loves to meet people and visit with them.  I think that is how he has found much of what his family needs. 

Shops upstairs and down.

Laura and I had talked about curtains for her living room.  The bars that they had installed for security sure left an unwelcoming spirit in their house.  It was a little startling. 

Bars on the inside of the windows.
The walls are made of solid concrete blocks.  It is difficult to hang curtain rods and nails for pictures.  Laura thought we could use the bars themselves for the curtain rods.  I thought it would be a great idea if we could find some Velcro.  I only inserted this little story because we were going to think about where to find Velcro while we were shopping in town.  

Papa had no idea what to expect.  It is so different than our life that it is almost overwhelming to try to take all of the sites in while you drive around.  The first experience was the Post Office.  You use one door to check your mail and see if you have a package.  Today they did not get a package.  But, if they did then they would have to come outside to go into another door and present the package slip to the person at the counter.  They would take the slip and you would go to another window.  The same person would greet you at the other window to give you the package.  The person would open it to be sure that no contraband was inside.  Then you would go back to the first window to pay any duty on the box.  Mind you it was the same person at each window. 

We went on to the Coca Cola plant to try to buy juice and sodas.  Today they didn't have Coke, just juice.  The kids need to take juice to school for their lunch.  Laura makes such good ice tea we really didn't need any Cokes today. 

We were going to go to a grocery store.  This one is much like our type of stores.  It is air conditioned inside.  Nice.  On very hot days this is a nice place to cool down and get a few things you need.  A Lebanese man owns this store.  Some things are just out of our price range, but at least you can get some things that are familiar.  It is more like the Dollar store than any other of our stores.

We decided everyone was getting hot and tired.  We needed something to drink and a break.  So we went to eat at a French restaurant.  Joe said they had eaten there many times and knew it was air conditioned and a nice clean place.  

It was so cool and restful.

We had a great lunch.  It was fun to listen to the kids talk and discuss things they liked.  We had such a good time.  Joe is a good host!

Jan 24, 2012

Christmas Again with Nana and Papa

Our church, Central Baptist Church, had gotten a list of things that Joe, Laura, Gilbert, Danny, and Bonnie would like to have for Christmas.  The folks at church piled up things and were going to mail them all to Joe and Laura.  In the mean-time Buster and I made arrangements to go to Africa to see them.  Bro. Dodson thought it would be great to pack two suitcases with some of the things for us to take with us.  What a wonderful idea!

Mandy purchased the tickets for us.  She is very good at finding good prices.  Our family had taken up a collection to purchase the tickets and sent the money to Mandy.  I sent our passports off to get the visas to enter Ghana.  Buster got his yellow fever shot. 
I packed and unpacked trying to fit all of the gifts into the suitcases.  Then I sorted again.  This time I sorted things that weren't Christmas gifts, but that the kids would like to get.  I packed five boxes of those things.  I mailed two of them and took three boxes for the church to mail while we were on our trip. 

Then I packed again.  We bought some things that we knew the kids would like to have.  I packed those too.  When it was all over we had packed 3 and 1/2 suitcases for Joe, Laura, and the kids.  We took four outfits each to finish the other 1/2 suitcase.  We were ready! 

The kids could hardly contain themselves.  They wanted to know what we had brought for them.  Joe and Laura had to leave their Christmas decorations in the Ivory Coast and had not been able to make the trip into the country to retrieve them.  I reminded Joe that when our house burned when he was in high school we had to hang ornaments on the wall in the shape of a Christmas tree because we had lost our decorations.  Here is his variation on that theme.  I am sure this is one tree these kids will remember for their entire lives.  Good memories!  Celebrating Christmas is not always with a big tree and lots of decorations.  A family can celebrate with just a little and still know that God loves them and takes care of them. 

Joe took the kids and Buster to do some errands while Laura and I wrapped packages to put under this wonderful tree.  I kept pulling things out and pulling things out of those suitcases.  We wrapped and wrapped.  Joe and all came back and we were still not finished.  So he took them to pick up a pizza and come back. 

The kids were ready.  They had waited for this for weeks. 
It was so much fun to watch them open each gift.  They were so appreciative of each little thing.  I know they are still enjoying each gift as much as they did while we were there with them. 

I was so encouraged.  The kids enjoyed each others gifts too.  There were clothes, underwear, socks, crayons, pens, pencils, color books, and new Bibles.  We had so much fun watching the kids enjoy each other. 

Danny's new Bible and shirt.  He loved them both.

Gilbert's new boots and Bible.  He loved them.

Bonnie's new dress, flip flops, and New Testament.
Thank you, Lord, for these three children who love you.  


Jan 23, 2012

Drinking Water in Africa

One thing that I hadn't realized that needed to be done everyday is filtering the water to have plenty to drink.  Joe told us about it in one of his e-mails, but it is a time consuming job.  I watched them work on this every day.  It has to be done!

The well-house is behind Bonnie!

Joe was buying water by the truck load to fill his tank each week.  After cleaning up the brush in the yard and looking around he found out that there was a well on the property that wasn't being used.  He started investigating and studying the situation.  Why couldn't he get the well running and use that instead?  He did just that.  Now, he would have water even when the city ran low of water.  The well was a good one.  He pumped the water up the hill to a storage tank behind his house. 

The little house in front of the big tank holds the pump.

While we were there, Buster helped Joe put a filter on the tank when the water comes out to go into the house.  That is the first filter.

Into the hydro peroxide bucket.

Inside the house Joe has one 5 gallon bucket of water that comes into his drinking water set-up.  He puts 1/2 teaspoon of bleach into the bucket and lets it set over night after it has been filtered the 2nd time.  Then it is filtered into another bucket that has hydro peroxide in it.  Joe tries to let that set for about 4 hours.  The filter for the hydro peroxide bucket needs to be washed every day.  Then he filters it again into another bucket. 

From the peroxide bucket into the expensive filter that filters the water 5 different ways.

Into the last filter.

They fill clean plastic bottles to put into the freezer.  They use the
frozen bottles to take with them to town, to school, and some to church
with them.  Laura also puts a jug into the refrigerator.  She also makes a
pitcher of tea.  She keeps these full all during the day.

It takes about 2 hours every morning to get the process started then they continue the process off and on during the day.  Laura said they usually filter 5 gallons a day.  When company comes it takes more water to met the needs of everyone. 
Joe said his family does well on this system.  They don't get ill from drinking his water. 

Isaiah 41:17 "When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them."

One more day of traveling!

We hopped up to head out.  I had a few granola bars in my carry-on.  We enjoyed that and a cup of coffee at the Guest House.  I couldn't wait to get on the road.  Joe was having trouble with the brakes on his vehicle.  He had them worked on and paid for new brakes, but that didn't happen.  He was not sure what the mechanic had done to the brakes.  They were making an awful racket.  Joe would stop put the car in reverse and the brakes would go back into place so we could go further. 

It was not as hot as we had expected.  The air conditioning was out again on Joe's car, so we enjoyed the smells and sounds as we traveled. 

It does smell different in Africa.  The sewers are open.  Little ditches are running on both sides of the road.  The people have shops next to the ditches.  They do put boards over the ditches so you can step to their shop.

The road construction took the front part of this building.  They just
continued using what was left and added their shops to the front. 

 While we were going through Accra there was quite a bit of road construction.  There is supposed to be a divided highway with three lanes on each side.  The roads aren't finished yet so they go both ways on both sides of the road.  If you meet road construction in your lane just hop over to another.  Can you tell where we should be?  Joe is used to this kind of driving.  In fact, the traffic was very light for this day. 

Dan was a preacher boy for the missionary before Joe.  His father had saved money to send his youngest son, Dan, to college to be a pharmacist.  The missionary had said to go ahead and go to Bible College and after he graduated perhaps God would open the door for him to go to Pensicola Baptist College.  But, that didn't happen.  So, in utter frustration, he ran from the church and from God.  He wanted to go to America more than he wanted to serve God.  He ran right into the welcoming arms of some men on a ship that told him they would take him to America if he would sign onto their crew.  At sea he found out that he was on a pirate ship that had no intention of going to America.  Dan was devastated.  This was not the place for a child of God.  It took awhile for him to escape the ship and get back to Takoradi, Ghana.  Dan came back to the church.  He realized that God had a place for him right there.  Everyone told Joe to be very wary of Dan, but Dan had listened carefully to him and prayed with him.  Now, Dan is Joe's right hand man.  They visit together, they have Bible clubs, they even are preaching together.  Dan interprets into Fante for Joe.  We teased him that he should change his name to Jonah.  God prepared this young man to come back just when Joe needed help at the church. 
Dan and Joe preaching.  Oh, you should hear him sing!

It only took four hours to get to Joe's house.  Joe said that was the fastest trip he had ever taken to get back home.  The traffic was light, and construction was not working that day.  What a blessing for us!

Now we have been on our trip for 47 hours.  It is a rugged trip, but we did get a good night's sleep last night.  When we started down the hill to where Joe lives the entire atmosphere was different.  It looked like an oasis in a tropical Paradise. 

A path leading up to a house on the hill.

Where Joe lives.  See the guard house on the right?

Greeting our kids.  We sure did get some hugs. 
This picture was after we hugged each child several times.  Gilbert came running down the stairs and jumped right up into my arms just like he said he would.  We were so glad to see them.  I think they were glad to see us too.  Can you believe it is 47 hours since we left home?  I'm very glad I didn't tell Buster our trip would take that long before we left!

Thank you, Lord, for a safe trip and a happy ending to this trip.  Psalm 135:1  "Praise ye the LORD.  Praise ye the name of the LORD; praise him, O ye servants of the LORD."

Jan 16, 2012

We aren't there yet!

We were landing in much different country than America.  I can remember the smells and the bustle and traffic.  This would all be new to Buster.  I had tried to explain what it is like many times, but you really have to experience it yourself.  Many things could happen to keep Joe from meeting us.  We knew his vehicle is not in the best of shape.  It is a 4-6 hour trip for him to the airport.  Anything could happen.  We had the directions to the Guest House if he didn't show up.  Every time before I didn't even have to wonder where Joe would be.  He would figure some way to have someone meet me at the gate.  Someone would hand me a cell phone and Joe would tell me that I should follow the man he sent to meet me.  That man would lead me through customs and to get my bags.  This time it would be different though, I was sure of it. 

Every thing seemed different to me.  Christmas decorations were everywhere!  Green and Red draping material were on the walls with Christmas lights everywhere.  Since I was there the Oil Companies have been drilling and doing a big, bang-up business here in Ghana.  With the extra airline traffic and the oil workings you could tell much had been done to update the airport.  We didn't see Joe and no one was there to meet us.  Would we be on our own in this strange country or would he be just around the corner?  We went through customs without any difficulty.  A porter was asking us about our luggage when I looked up and saw Joe standing at the carousel waiting for us to get our bags.  Some how he had been able to come into the airport that far.  It was a good feeling to see him standing over there! 

Joe helped us with our luggage and off to his car we went.  A national had traveled with him from Takoradi.  His name is Dan.  He interprets for Joe and visits with him.

The Baptist Guest House is not far from the airport.  We would spend the night there and travel during the day on to Joe's house.  The Southern Baptists have a very nice guest house in Accra.  Joe stays there when he comes to Accra.  In fact, the man in charge came to Joe & Lo's rescue when they were evacuated out of the Ivory Coast by the Italian Air force.  The Italians landed on the flight line and let Joe & Lo out at the end of the runway.  They had no visas or paperwork to get into the country and no where to go.  Joe called several contacts before he called this Guest House.  Bro. Jimmy Hershy told him to wait right there and he would be there in a minute.  Joe was never so happy to see anyone in his whole life.  Bro. Jimmy gave Joe & Lo a place to stay until they could get temporary visas and a ticket back to America.  All that happened before Gilbert was born.  Joe & Jimmy have become good friends. 

Once we got to the Guest House, we showered and went to bed.  It would be an adventure tomorrow on the way from Accra to Takoradi. 

Jan 14, 2012

The Flight

We arrived at the airport in plenty of time.  Two hours is normal, but we were there 4 hours early.  We would have time to walk around to find where we were supposed to be and also to get a cup of coffee and think.  We had chosen our seats on the plane. We would be sitting forward of the wings.  The first leg of our flight would be on Continental. 

The first flight should take about 10 hours.  Both Buster and I love to watch people.  What are the people doing and where are they going.  How many would go on to Africa with us and how many are going to Europe.    While we sat waiting I was clicking off the ways that I had prepared for our trip.  I packed gum for the take-offs and landings.  We each had magazines to casually look at, books to read, and of course our Bibles.  I had included a few candy bars, granola bars, and Airborne.  We filled our water bottles at the water fountain.  Now, we were ready to go. 

Soon the lady at the gate desk called that it was time to board.  They call the back seat first and load toward the front.  We nervously head toward our seats.  This part is always my least favorite.  I hate to try to fit between the seats down the isle.  I always get my stuff stuck between the seats.  We found our seats and squeezed into them.  Buster was on the isle which would be good for him.  He could get up and down without bothering anyone else.  I knew he would want to get up and walk around.  So far we have been 12 hours on this trip. 

The take-off was great and our gum chewing started.  Soon we settled into the seats leaned back just a little and tried to rest.  You know that we couldn't sleep at all on that leg of our journey.  We were too keyed up with the anticipation of seeing Joe, Lo, and those kids.  What would we find when we got there?  Would it be like I had remembered when I went there before?  Have things changed much?  Would Buster have a good time?  We read our books and tried to rest.   10 hours later we landed in Frankfurt, Germany. 

As we excited the plane the Airlines have people that help you and direct you to the right direction.  The lady didn't know where we were supposed to go.  So we headed on our own to find the right gate.  I wasn't sure if we would have to go through customs or not so we just kept walking until we got the customs area.  An attendant there told us to go straight to our gates and pointed us in the right directions.  We reached the gates with plenty of time to get coffee and stop by the restrooms.  We were so tired.  So far we had been gone 23 hours without sleep. 

We loaded onto this plane and were able to sit in the front of the economy section.  Buster would have more leg room and these seats reclined much more than the last ones.  As we settled into our seats we relaxed.  We could sleep this time.  There would be no reading this time I just knew it.  We woke up only when the stewards came by with meals or drinks.  The meals were so tasty.  It was a pleasant surprise.  9 hours later we landed.

Where would Joe be?  Would he have made it to the airport?  How would customs be this time?

Jan 13, 2012

Our Trip to Africa

We were blessed by our family here in Texas.  They took up a fund to send us to Africa.  It was a thank you gift for taking care of  Nannie.  It was a wonderful gesture of appreciation to us.  Thank you to all that gave that we could go.  The planning started last April.  Mandy did the research for the tickets.  Joe gave us his best advice as to when we should try to come see him.  Buster had to plan ahead to leave when things should be covered while he was gone.  Our church took up supplies and gifts for us to take with us.  I started packing.  Our church family gave us so much that I had to sort the things to pack in suitcases and boxes to mail.  I packed 4 suitcases with a few clothes of ours tucked in.  We still had enough to mail 5 boxes of things.

The deadline just seemed to speed up on us.  Dec. 31, 2011.  Before we headed out the door we had to untie ourselves from our responsibilities.  Sometimes that is a very difficult thing to do.  Buster takes care of the water for the county of San Augustine.  Then we take care of his mother.  We needed to be sure someone would spend the nights while we were gone.

All packed and ready to go we left home around 10:00 am on the 31st.  You know, I never did think about New Year's Eve or beginning a New Year with big plans of change.  I was concentrating so hard on getting everything packed and getting things that would help the kids in Africa.  We knew we would need to be at the airport 2 hours earlier than our 9:45 pm flight.  We stopped in Lufkin to eat lunch.   I had been so excited that I hadn't slept much for several days before we left.  Buster was actually going to be able to go see what Joe had been doing for the last 10 years. 

We would have left home earlier in the morning, but our sewer system had backed up and Buster had to tend to that before we could leave.  I knew ahead of time that things like that would be happening to try to stop us from going.  The fire alarm went off just as we were putting the suitcases into the trunk.  Buster felt the need to answer that emergency also, but he refrained.  Buster even left his cell phone with Betsy.  He has all the work phone contacts stored in his phone. 

It seemed almost unreal that we were actually on our way to see our grandkids.