March 20, 2019


We have relocated to Jos for the remainder of our stay in Nigeria. We are staying on a compound with other missionary families. Elijah, Caleb, and Naomi are glad for other kids their age to play with. There is another Emily on the compound and although she is thirteen years younger than me we get along quite famously.


Though our surroundings have changed, the mice have not! We set glue traps out and we actually caught a mouse. However, we only caught the mouse after putting fish in the middle of the trap. Mom doesn't exactly like the idea of fish under her sink!


Instead of saying, “Earn your salt” we have taken to saying, “Earn your toast”! Mainly because there is a toaster here, but it takes a lot of electricity to run. If we conserve enough electricity we can occasionally have some toast. When someone leaves a room and leaves the light or fan on we joke that they are not earning their toast. Or we say that they burnt their toast!


We are mostly done with school this year. There are still a few subjects we are finishing up. One day, Caleb was having trouble staying busy. Mom jokingly told him that if he didn't stay busy she would tie him to the chair. Caleb responded very enthusiastically, “Yes, please!”


We have another saying. “Maximum flexibility always.” or “MFA” for short. As missionaries it is important to not count a date as being set in stone. Everything can change at a moment's notice. We also say, “TIA” meaning, “This is Africa.” It also works quite nicely when something in the U.S. is strange and we can say, “TIA” meaning, “This is America”! 


Elijah's birthday was a couple days ago. We went to the YWAM campus to reminisce of days gone by. We also climbed some rocks we would always climb when we were there. Then we went to the wildlife refuge. There were several different animals, but our favorites were the crocodile, chimpanzees, and the elephant. The crocodile hissed at us. And we fed ice cream to the elephant. Then we had cake with the students in Dad's class. Overall it was a very fun day.

February 8, 2019


A couple nights ago-well let me just say first that our table is always filled with laughing, talking, and just general silliness, but not craziness (that would be stopped immediately)-we were eating spaghetti and peas. While that might not incite craziness in itself, we found a way that it did. You see, the peas were named, “Farrow's Giant Marrowfat Peas”-great material for tongue twisters! We were seeing how fast we could say, “Farrow's Giant Marrowfat Peas” in a row. That went until Dad said that we needed to stop and eat our food. Which in turn brought up a memory from when we were in Aba.


We were sitting at the table in Aba, probably eating spaghetti, which was one of our main foods during those early years, and we were saying a tongue twister. “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?” After a while Mom was done and said-entirely seriously- “Eat your wood!” She meant to say, “Eat your food!” but it came out wrong.


Even though it is February, I will still tell you all our 12 days of Christmas-Nigeria version. We just wrote it this Christmas.


On the first day of Christmas Nigeria gave to me

1 Plate of Tuwo Shinkafa

2 Hours of NEPA

3 Local Chickens

4 Flat Tires

5 Bags of Maize

6 Lonart Tablets

7 Fat Mosquitoes

8 Sticks of Suya

9 Bootleg Movies

10 Juicy Mangoes

11 Deadly Potholes

12 Fries Locusts


Just a few clarifications. Lonart is malaria medicine, tuwo shinkafa is food, and two hours of NEPA is a good day of electricity!



Many evenings Dad has some news articles that he has downloaded and we watch them together. Sometimes there is a funny video of animals or something else for after the news. A recent one was of some cool tricks. In it was a light bulb candle heater. Basically you take a burnt out light bulb, take out the “innards” and fill it with melted candle wax and a few unlit matches. You also put a candle wick it it. Elijah and Caleb did it-we had a burnt out bulb that they used. After the wax dries, you the glass off of the outside. I'm thankful to say that no mishap occurred. They put in a bit too many matches so it burned rather quickly, but it was very fun. All of us, Mom, Dad, Naomi, and I went out to watch them burn it! 



January 10, 2019


Jillian came in December and then went back on January 7. It was so much fun having her here and we will miss her dearly until we see her again this summer. Thanks to all of you who made it happen.


While she was here we attended the yearly SIM conference in Miango. And let me just say that you know you are an MK when your little siblings come back from playing with friends speaking Pidgin with an American/Nigerian/Australian/New Zealand accent!


On our way to Abuja to drop Jillian at the airport we played an alphabet game. We usually play it where you find a sign with a word that begins with a letter of the alphabet. We play it from A-Z. However, this time we played where we had to actually find objects from A-Z. When we came to I we couldn't think of anything that started with that letter. We were in a line of cars going through the military checkpoint and Elijah suggested that Dad give the officer a hard time-then we could see “irritation”. Of course Dad didn't agree to that, but Mom said that we could find irritation without giving the officer a hard time. And sure enough, we did. A car was towing another car trying to pass us in the line of cars and the rope broke. The driver of the car doing the towing looked out the window and yelled at the person in the car being towed. Thus we got our I!


Today we drove back home and we played another alphabet game that we call, “Going on a Picnic”. Someone starts the game by saying “I went on a picnic and I brought (a word that starts with an A). The next person says “I went on a picnic and I brought (the word that started with A) and (a word that starts with B). That goes on till we get to Z. While we were half-way through Dad said that he had an assignment for us when we were done. When we were done Dad said that the assignment was that we had to write a short story using all of the words. We did and when we got home I typed it out. Here is the list of words and the story.


Atomic Bomb

Ballistic Missiles










Laughing Cow Cheese





Quick Sand


Sea Pirates




Winged Lizard


Yellow-bellied Lizard



We went on a picnic and we decided to have it on Mt. Kilimanjaro. We didn't want to go alone because we didn't know the terrain so we invited the Heffalump from the xenodochium next door. The Heffalump was very pleased with the invitation because at the xenodochium there were sea pirates with their pet tigers and jaguars. They were an unruly group and were eating an octopus that they had caught (the Heffalump thought that that was very unnatural).

On our way around the patch of quick sand that was in our way, we saw a panther attacking a camel. The panther was winning, however the camel had a secret ally who came to his rescue. His name was Gandalf who was riding on a dragon. Gandalf liked camels so he turned the panther into a winged lizard. The dragon roasted this winged lizard and ate it for food. The Heffalump thought that this was still very unnatural so he collected some iguanas and made iguana stew. We, on the other hand didn't think that this was very palatable, but we put Laughing Cow Cheese into it and we were able to choke it down.

At this moment, the sea pirates had finished their octopus and realized that the Heffalump was gone. The Heffalump was a mortal enemy of sea pirates because the Heffalump was always destroying their ballistic missiles. Defying all logic, the pirates were able to catch up extremely quickly. In their haste they did not see the quick sand looming on the horizon. They got stuck and their tigers and jaguars were also not able to get free. They shot rifles at us and at the Heffalump but we were still too far away for it to do any harm.

The sea pirates gave up trying to shoot us, but started throwing explosives at us. Again defying all logic, we were able to escape those as well. The sea pirates grew desperate and a not very smart one suggested that they set off an atomic bomb. The rest readily agreed. Gandalf, on his dragon, saw the danger and again came to the rescue. He took us and the Heffalump up to Neptune where we spent the rest of our days, (because earth was destroyed). During our enormous free time, we made mosaics. Also we played baseball and Gandalf was the umpire. Sherlock Holmes was one of the few survivors from earth and would entertain us by playing his violin. However not all was perfect, there were annoying yellow-bellied lizards. Gandalf finally was finished putting up with them and turned a few into spotted frogs. Then Sherlock Holmes (ingenious person that his is) created a poison from the spotted frogs, named Zantac, that killed all the yellow-bellied lizards. Then all was perfect, and we lived happily ever after-without ever having our picnic.


The End


p.s. Except for the spotted frogs, which became a nuisance.


The End


p.s.s. But Gandalf fixed the problem by setting his dragon on them,


The End


(for real this time) 

 November 29


We have had some leaky faucets/pipes in the house. At one time, both bathrooms and the East Room had leaks. A plumber came and fixed them. However, the main bathroom has decided to be contrary. As soon as the plumber left, the pipe behind the sink started leaking in a different spot. Again a plumber came and fixed it. Not long after, it started leaking again.


The day before yesterday, Elijah and Caleb spent the whole day hopping on one foot. Only a few times did they walk on two feet. Caleb went into the bathroom to wash his hands and he was hopping on one foot, and the floor was wet. I told Mom that one of these days they were going to go in there and fall. Not one minute later Caleb slipped. He wasn't hurt but said, “Wet tile and hopping on one foot do not mix well.” Mom made a rule that they couldn't hop in the bathroom after that!


About a week ago we went to Abuja to renew Caleb's, Naomi's, and my passports. As we waited in the embassy we saw a sign that said to not give bribes. It said, “If our staff ask for 'kola' or 'money' or laugh the kind of wey mean say give us 'something' abeg you tell us sharp sharp.” We thought it was funny. On our way back home we stopped in Jos for a couple days. While there we had music lessons and went to a Thanksgiving pot luck with the other missionaries.


The other evening after we washed dinner dishes, Dad started doing high knees in the East Room. Soon Mom joined in, then we kids were like, why not. So for about ten minutes we were doing high knees and burpees and t-stabilizations. We joked that it was a new family evening activity.


Last night we were playing Uno on our parlor floor and Mom had only one card left. Someone turned the color to blue and Caleb predicted that Mom's card would be blue. It was and Caleb lay down and wailed, “I knew it was blue!”


Zaki, our German Shepherd, died the night of October 22. He is the second dog we have buried here. We buried the first one several years ago, her name was Ceto (the “c” is pronounced “ch”), which means “salvation” in Hausa. We named her that because Mom and Dad saved her from the dog meat market. They were looking for a dog to surprise us kids and they decided to save one from being eaten. That's why we named her Ceto, because we saved her. However, she must have already been sick because she got sick a few months later and died. Here are a couple pictures from when Zaki was a puppy.



September 18, 2018


Several nights ago, Zaki was barking and growling. At first we thought that we had a dog fight on our hands, but no. Zaki was attacking a round ball, which turned out to be a White-bellied African Pygmy Hedgehog. But, of course, we didn't know that then. Dad got the machete and started whacking at it to get it to unroll. Eventually it did. It was after eight at night and Elijah, Caleb, and Naomi were supposed to be sleeping, but they weren't after this. Naomi however stayed in bed while the rest of us went to investigate.


We also had a rat incident. The first one we have had in this house since we have been back. True, we have had them in our ceiling for a while now-ever since our cat ran away-but, this is the first time that we have seen them inside our house. Mom, Dad, and I were the only ones awake when we saw it. I was stationed by the front door (I mainly stood on the stool we keep there) with a broom. Dad stood at one end of the bookshelf, and Mom on the front side of it. It came out twice, but both times Dad missed because it was so fast. We tried to scare it out, but after that it stayed where it was or it escaped, because we never saw it again.


Our roof in the East Room has sprung new leaks. One night I went out there when it was raining and the buckets were in a line. It was rather funny to see.


We have started singing, “I've been working on my schoolwork all the live long day. I've been working on my schoolwork not to pass the time away.” to the tune of “I've Been Working on the Railroad”.



We studied Japan in our history last week and at the end we made origami cranes. I was the only one who named mine, though. It's name is Sami the pterodactyl. However it would be Sami the crane but the way I folded it it looks like it has ears! We nicknamed Naomi's Cattywompus-not in a depreciating way, but in an affectionate way,  (just making that clear!) 



We found some water balloons tucked away somewhere and since it was hot today, Caleb filled them and we threw them at each other. Caleb was able to fill them really big. Actually they were kind of thin normal balloons, but thicker than water balloons. We had to throw them in a certain way-and really, really hard so that they would break-but it was really fun. We broke them over each other's backs because they stung and we didn't want to hurt anybody. Mom and Dad opted out and had coffee instead! We joked that Caleb filled his water balloons they way he lived-big or not at all!



August 16, 2018


Yesterday we burned a pile of branches on our compound. The fire was really hot and was cool to watch. It was a fun break from school. We have also been trying to get a rock to explode. So we threw a rock into the fire. Later when the fire was mostly gone, we went back to pour water on it. The rock merely weakened and Elijah and Caleb threw rocks. What they mostly accomplished was to break the rocks that they threw! Now we are going to soak a rock for a while, then we are going to build a fire, get it really hot, then throw the rock into it. We will see what happens!


After we finished throwing rocks, Elijah and Caleb found a really long reinforcement bar and used it for a battering ram. It didn't work either, so they gave up. Then they stuck the end of the bar into the ground and Elijah held it still while Caleb climbed it up. I helped Caleb hold it while Elijah climbed it. Then Elijah and Caleb held it while I attempted to climb. There were varying degrees of success, however, Caleb was the only one to make it to the top. After that Elijah held the bar up as if it were a flag pole and said in an exaggerated Kansan accent, “I'm from Kansas, and I've just landed on the moon.” It was really funny to watch.


Every last one of Mom's mugs here that she has had, have broken. So far we have counted nine. At first it was sad of course, but when her most recent one-which only lasted a week-broke, we laughed. So did Mom. Out of all the mugs that we brought the first time round, 11 years ago, only two didn't break. Those two are Hannah's and Elijah's. Mom and I were talking in the dining room when we heard a crash come from the outside kitchen, which we just painted, we just looked at each other and Mom said, “It was my mug wasn't it?” It was. When Mom cleaned up the broken glass she cut her finger. When Mom sent a picture to Jillian, she said that she, Mom, should have had stitches. But watching Caleb get his stitches last year she didn't want to go to the clinic. It is healing, though she will have a scar.


Since our dogs have been struggling with mange, we recently started spraying them with vinegar water. Zaki and Chestnut do not like it. Chestnut has been liking to hide in the generator house and growls at us when we try to get her out. Last night we couldn't get her out for anything, not even a biscuit. Caleb and I eventually had to ask Dad for help. Dad just got a rock and pounded on the zinc roof. She came right out! However, when I tried the same trick today she just poked her head out, saw me, and went right back in. So, we will have to come up with a trick that works every time, or just rotate!


Caleb's glasses fell and one of the arms came off. He still has a back-up pair, but we want them to last as long as possible. Mom tried to fix them, but where the screw goes in it is bent. So she threaded wire through them and twisted it so that the wire was taking the place of the screw. She will still try to fix them, but for now it is working quite nicely.



We always thought that duck tape and WD-40 could fix everything, however we will have to add one more thing-safety pins. The permanent solution to Caleb's glasses is a safety pin! 

August 8, 2018


Twelve days of school down, and one hundred forty-eight days left. We have finished or almost finished the thirteenth. After the first couple days Elijah, Caleb, and I compared our brains to different kinds of eggs. Elijah said his was hard-boiled; Caleb said his was poached; and I said that mine was fried. But I believe our brains are regular brains now!


We named our screened-in back porch “The East Room” because it faces east, and Abigail Adams hung her laundry in the East Room of the White House when it rained. We hung our laundry out there when it rained until the ceiling started leaking. Now we hang it in our living room. Well, for a while now tics have been liking to hide in the walls so we painted it. We also cook out there, so we painted the kitchen part with oil paint. And we used a bright green color. In fact, it is almost the color of the Nigerian flag.


Sunday before last we had an extra Nigerian touch in church. A dog wandered into the service and just stood around. Someone sitting in the front row shooed it out. We had a hard time not laughing.


We gave our dogs baths today. They were surprisingly cooperative! We did Zaki, our German Shepherd, first. We named him Zaki, which means “Lion” in Hausa, because we wanted an intimidating name. But he is anything but that. And while we were washing Chestnut, Zaki kept running around the house. He ran about five laps one way and did several more in the opposite direction. Chestnut shakes in a very amusing way. It starts out at her shoulders and head then it just travels down her body and ends with the tip of her tail. It's even funnier when she starts running in the middle of it! We named her after Mary Chestnut from the Civil War (we had been watching a Civil War Documentary at that time) and because of her color.


We have succeeded in driving the bees away. However, now rats have taken up residence in the attic. So at night, or sometimes in the afternoon, we hear them scurrying around up there.


Rainy season is still in full swing. In fact, it started raining several times today and has been overcast the rest. Mom did laundry this morning and hung it outside. It started raining some time later and we brought it in. Then it stopped raining and she hung it outside again because it dries better out there. Then it started raining again and we brought it inside again. Now it is hanging inside-and raining again!


Being tucked in at night takes on a whole new meaning over here. In the States it is like, “Let me tuck you in your blankets so you are cozy and warm.” Here it is, “Let me tuck you in your mosquito net so you don't get malaria and be miserable!” I am happy to say, though, that there have been no cases of any sickness yet!



That is all the news for now. We are having an amazing time over here! But we miss you as well!

Family Newz (by Emily)

July 20, 2018

Back to Africa


We arrived in Nigeria at 4:45 A.M. on July 6. Then we landed we went through Immigration. Then went to pick up our bags. Unfortunately, we forgot one but didn't know till several days later. But we were able to deduce where we would have lost it and someone was able to pick it up for us and then bring it to us.


After leaving the airport we drove straight to Jos, which was a five hour drive away. We stopped once for Mom and Dad to get some tea. And another time for a bathroom break where we also got some meat pies.


On the road we saw a big truck with about eight camels on it. When we got on the road Dad said that that would be the road we would likely see camels on. And we did, just on a truck and not on the ground! We didn't have the camera with us or we would have taken a picture.

We stayed in Jos until Monday. And while we were there Mom and Dad did the shopping and Caleb and I had our fist music lessons in Nigeria. He is playing Piano and I am playing Piano and Violin.


Then we drove here which was another five hours. We stopped in the forest-which is just a group of trees-for a bathroom break. That was the only stop that day, except for stopping for tea again.

Upon arriving here we immediately started cleaning, and cleaning, and cleaning. And basically didn't stop for a week. We still have things to sort out from storage and what we brought, but we are organized enough to start school on Monday.


Mom has always wanted some local honey, but we have all agreed that the attic is too local.

We noticed the bees on our first night. Caleb found the nest a few days later and Dad had some people come and look at it. They were going to come the next day at three to take it out. The next we got all packed up to stay the night at the school because “they are wicked bees”. But then it rained. Three came around and no one came, so we decided to stay at home. The next day, we made sure that everything was ready to go to the school. The bee people came around six and we just decided to stay at home, but not go outside. They left around 7:30 and while it was still light outside the bees didn't bother us. But when it got dark the bees were attracted to the light inside. We have a hole in our ceiling, well several holes, but we think that they were coming in through the one closest to the light. When eight came around, which is Elijah, Caleb, and Naomi's bedtime, Mom, Dad, and I just decided to call it a night and stay in our mosquito nets as well. The next day the bees really were wicked. And we decided to go and stay at least the day at the school instead of hunting bees.Dad sprayed the house with Raid and we put a poisonous powder, called Rambo, for the ticks we have been dealing with. Then we headed over to the school.


For lunch we went out and got some rice and stew. Caleb found a little snail shell in his. Mom and I were a little grossed out, but I still thought it would be kind of cool to be able to say that I found a snail shell in my food. Adventure seems to follow Caleb though. 


When we came back, we wiped off surfaces and swept up bees. We are wearing slippers (flip-flops in the US) around the house now until the Raid wears off.


As I have already said, we will start school on Monday. We will have a bit of doubling up to do though since we will only be here for about 32 more weeks. But I think we will be able to finish everything before we head back to the U.S.


Family News has had its ups and downs through the years and I hope to capture these last nine months so you can see what is happening around the house. I hope that you enjoy reading about it as I will writing it-and experiencing it!



Family Newz (by the kids)

Outside the museum in Jos
Outside the museum in Jos

Knowing how much everyone enjoyed Family News, we have decided to continue the writing of updates from the view point of the family. However, since Hannah is no longer with us, the kids will together undertake what she began. Hopefully you will find these newsletters as delightful and insightful as Hannah’s. May you enjoy reading of our life on the mission field, as seen by the kids.

Dad’s Broken Arm


About three months ago, Dad and Mom went to Gombe. They had gotten halfway across the road and were on a little platform in the middle of the road. They looked the way the cars should go, but there was a motorbike that was going the wrong way. Dad stepped off the platform and SMACK! The motorbike hit Dad. Dad’s arm was all swollen up and his leg was bruised. He got an x-ray; his arm was broken. He went to Jos to get it fixed. The girls wrote a song about it to the tune of The Battle Hymn of the Republic:


Mom’s eyes have seen the horror of Dad sprawled upon the street.


He was leveled by a motorbike that knocked him off his feet.


It caused a simple transverse fracture of his Olecranon


That means he broke his arm!


Now, his arm is getting better. He can extend it almost all the way out. His arm hurts a little bit when he puts weight on it. Every day his arm is getting better.





A little more than three months ago, Peanut had two kittens. Hannah named one of them Ragtag and we named the other Trufflehunter, after a badger in Prince Caspian. When the team came, they thought he was called Trouble-hunter because he was so mischievous. I still like to call him Trouble-hunter. We gave away Ragtag, but Mom and Dad let us keep Trufflehunter. Hannah helped convince them.


-Elijah & Caleb



Towards the end of June, we were in Jos and eagerly anticipated Hannah’s arrival. When Hannah told Dad on the phone that she had gotten her visa, Dad thought about teasing, or torturing us by declaring that her visa was revoked. He thought better of it. On the day that Hannah’s plane was to land, Dad took public transport to Abuja to pick her up. They stayed one night there, and then a friend of ours drove them back to Jos. We waited impatiently for them to come. Glancing at the clock many more times than necessary, we would turn to each other and exclaim, “Only three hours and twenty-five minutes left!” We kept that nearly all day, and when she finally came, Caleb flung confetti that the boys had previously made out of little chunks of wood, small leaves, and flower petals.  It was almost as if she had never gone. We enjoyed and treasured every moment that we had with her. We had plenty of opportunities to sing all of our favorite songs, along with a few more that Hannah taught us. Hannah’s getting malaria was the only incident to cloud her visit. She could not, unfortunately, stay here forever, so after six of the happiest weeks in the year, we took her to the airport and said goodbye, wondering when we would see her next.  


-Emily & Jillian



Towards the end of July, we hosted a short term outreach team from our church. Before the team came, Mom and Dad travelled to Abuja to pick up the team from the airport, while we kids and Hannah stayed at home. On Tuesday July 22, the team landed in Abuja and took the nine or ten hour journey to our house in Banganje. The boys and Naomi were instantaneously captured by Ed’s magic tricks. In fact, for some time, he was referred to as “the magic guy”.  Besides ministering to the community and a village outside of Billiri and spending time with us, they also helped us at home by fixing our chairs, putting hinges on our screen door, and cementing our stone path. Elijah had a lot of fun helping the guys. We are very grateful for all of the items that the team brought, both the necessities (like clothes, shoes, school books, replacement water filters, and for some of us, coffee) and the extra blessings, such as tea, chocolate, and extra books. Thank you everyone!  After about a week here, we drove to Abuja, splitting the journey into two days. Emily especially enjoyed travelling with the team and Hannah.  We all enjoyed their visit, and were thankful that they were able to come.






For the first few weeks before beginning school, we were busy printing lesson plans and getting the school books out of storage and organizing them. Picking back up with school was not extremely difficult. I enjoy learning new things every day. Latin, which Elijah and I are learning together, is my favorite subject. I especially like to conjugate verbs and decline nouns.  Naomi is in preschool, Caleb is in second grade, and Elijah in fifth.  I am in eighth grade, and Jillian is in tenth grade.




 Starting school is just so fun,


Especially when the day’s all done


And I can share the things I now know.


Then onto the shelf the school books all go.





 Caleb and I were playing with one Frisbee while Emily and Jillian were playing with the other one. They were doing a good job catching and throwing. Caleb was trying to throw his Frisbee and hit the one that the girls were playing with while it was flying. He did do it once, but then his Frisbee flew onto the roof. It is still there.




Since I have to eat vegetables anyway, I decided that it would be better for them to be mine. So, in the middle of August, we kids gathered around to make over sixty paper cups to plant our seeds in. We used newspaper and old coloring pages. While we filled the cups with dirt, Elijah was trying to make a tunnel under me so that I would fall in. We planted the seeds that could not be planted directly in the ground, and then we waited. While we were waiting, we cleared ground for our new garden. We made places for the green beans, squash, pumpkins, jalapeños, and herbs. When the squash are growing, Elijah and I will take out our pellet gun to shoot any lizards that try to eat the squash. I want to shoot the tomato plants that we found growing on our compound. But I do like pumpkins.








Cannon Ball Caleb Turns 7!


My little brother has a very interesting nickname. It is Cannon Ball Caleb. Seven years ago when Caleb was born he literally shot out of Mommy’s tummy. The nurse was just able to catch him by one ankle. When he was two he climbed up onto the couch and yelled, ”Cannon Ball; watch out!” and jumped onto Daddy, who was lying on the floor. This is how he earned the nickname Cannon Ball, and he still lives up to it today.



Eating our first batch of ice cream!
Eating our first batch of ice cream!

September 13, 2012

     Our time here in Jos is coming to a close. Within the month, we will move to Billiri! For some time we have been trying to obtain a house there to rent. Though there have been some setbacks, it seems promising that we will be able to rent the house we are now pursuing. The whole family is excited about the move, partially because we will unpack all our things that have been in storage for the past few months! But more than that, we are excited to finally be able to begin the work God has put on our hearts.


     For the past two months, Caleb has occasionally asked when his birthday would be. As the time drew nearer, he began asking more frequently, “How long until my birthday?” Five minutes later, “How long is it till my birthday?” Five minutes later, “How long till my birthday? It’s really close to my birthday, right?” Five minutes later. . . Well, you get the picture. He is thrilled that his birthday is this Sunday! “Two more days and then the next day is my birthday!” In his own words he is going to be “high five! Get it? High five?”


     The kids’ latest project has been polishing rocks in homemade rock tumblers. They use empty instant coffee tins and fill them with sand, water, and the rocks they want to polish. Then they shake it, and shake it, and shake it some more! It doesn’t make every rock pretty, but some rocks do come out beautiful. This new activity keeps all the kids, the boys especially, very occupied!


     Another exciting event was purchasing our ice-cream maker! We have made a couple of batches of ice cream, and they were very, very yummy. We are looking forward to being able to have a cool treat when the hot weather hits.


August 12, 2012

     We are here in Jos, preparing to transition to Billiri as soon as we find a house. We have had a couple of brief visits there recently looking into options.


     Meanwhile, we have settled in to our temporary home. We’ve settled into a routine of school, chores, and fun . . . and reading books borrowed from the Hillcrest school library! The little ones are having a lot of fun reading Dr. Suess books. Okay, we older ones are enjoying them, too! Who doesn’t like Dr. Suess books? Elijah has checked out several books on the history of flying, and on how to make paper airplanes. He greatly enjoys figuring out why his airplanes sometimes don’t fly the way they are supposed to.


     Dad and Jillian have figured out how to solve the Rubik’s cube. Emily and Elijah are having a lot of fun learning how to. It is really sweet to see Dad explaining a step in solving the Rubik’s cube to a cluster of my siblings gathered around him.


     Dad has also taught for one week in a computer school. There were about 20 students there to learn how to program in labview. Jillian and I also attended, and we had a blast! It was pretty simple, and a lot of fun! It was also fun to help some of the students who needed it. Last week he taught again, this time on video editing and web design. Again, it was a lot of fun, and I learned several things from it.


     I have submitted an essay to try to win a scholarship from CollegePlus. In addition, if my essay receives the most votes, I will win an iPad 3! It would be really great if you could take a few moments to vote each day. The link is  Thank you!


August 12, 2012

We are here in Jos, preparing to transition to Billiri as soon as we find a house. We have had a couple of brief visits there recently looking into options.

Meanwhile, we have settled in to our temporary home. We’ve settled into a routine of school, chores, and fun . . . and reading books borrowed from the Hillcrest school library! The little ones are having a lot of fun reading Dr. Suess books. Okay, we older ones are enjoying them, too! Who doesn’t like Dr. Suess books? Elijah has checked out several books on the history of flying, and on how to make paper airplanes. He greatly enjoys figuring out why his airplanes sometimes don’t fly the way they are supposed to.

Dad and Jillian have figured out how to solve the Rubik’s cube. Emily and Elijah are having a lot of fun learning how to. It is really sweet to see Dad explaining a step in solving the Rubik’s cube to a cluster of my siblings gathered around him.

Dad has also taught for one week in a computer school. There were about 20 students there to learn how to program in labview. Jillian and I also attended, and we had a blast! It was pretty simple, and a lot of fun! It was also fun to help some of the students who needed it. Last week he taught again, this time on video editing and web design. Again, it was a lot of fun, and I learned several things from it.

I have submitted an essay to try to win a scholarship from CollegePlus. In addition, if my essay receives the most votes, I will win an iPad 3! It would be really great if you could take a few moments to vote each day. The link is  Thank you!

June 6, 2012


We have had a smooth transition from the U.S. to Nigeria. The plane rides went well. There were no delays, difficulties, or disasters, and all the luggage all arrived safely.

            After a couple of days of rest in Abuja, we took the four-hour drive to Jos, where there was a house waiting for us. We are blessed with its size, furnishings, and convenient indoor plumbing. There is even a washing machine! Our favorite aspect of our temporary lodgings is the mango trees just outside our back door.

            Soon we will go to Billiri for a few days to look for a place for the new educational center, as well as a house we can move into. We will also be meeting with traditional rulers and church leaders.


(I, Jillian, wrote this Family News, with some small help from Hannah. I hope you enjoyed it!)

May 7, 2012

After traveling 18500 miles through 32 states, we are glad to be back on Long Island. Our itinerating, which took four months, was amazing! We all had a lot of fun visiting family, reconnecting with friends, and building new friendships. And seeing everything! Our nation is so beautiful and diverse! We were blessed to be able to visit the Redwood Forest, Yellowstone, and the Grand Canyon in particular.


Emily, Naomi, Elijah, and Mom all had their birthdays in the States. I thought that celebrating each birthday in a different place was fun.

Now the only traveling left is flying back to Nigeria, which is scheduled for the end of May. Between now and then is a flurry of various activities. We are especially looking forward to our church’s Missions Convention.


We have greatly enjoyed this furlough, and we are rested and ready to return to Nigeria!


January 15, 2012

Every one of us is enjoying being in the States. Even Naomi, who was very unhappy during her visit here last May, is having a blast! To her, not much is "normal", but she is adjusting remarkably quickly. And though she doesn't care much for riding in the van for long distances, she is gradually becoming reconciled with it.


It is fun to watch Caleb as he becomes accustomed to how things work here.The water fountain, automatic doors, automatic faucets and soap dispensers, microwaves: all posess the power to puzzle him. And Elijah always wants to know how everything works. His mind contains an endless assortment of questions!

September 30, 2011


On September 16, we celebrated Caleb’s fourth birthday. Caleb was greatly blessed by his cake (which was shaped like barn this year) and the presents he received. The rest of the family also has had a lot of fun with one of his gifts: guns that shoot rubber bands. Everybody also greatly enjoyed another one of his gifts: a Winnie the Pooh movie.


One Saturday, Naomi gave the whole family a scare. She was sitting at the table on a bench, when she lost her balance and fell backwards, hitting the back of her head on the cement floor. She cried without breathing for about a minute, when suddenly she went limp in Mom’s arms. She revived in just a few seconds, but was still pale and obviously in pain. We were all very worried about her. Fortunately, however, that day Dr. Cortemont, who is gifted in prophecy as well as being a medical doctor, was visiting the campus. We went to the service he was holding and brought Naomi, hoping that he would pray for her as well as make sure she was okay. Mom was holding her, and as soon as the worship started, she felt a change in Naomi. The color came back into her face and soon she got up and began to play with Jillian. After the service, we asked Dr. Cortemont to take a look at Naomi and pray for her. He did, and said that she was fine. We were very thankful! Naomi is very precious to us.


On September 23, we celebrated the first day of autumn with chili, pumpkin pie, and a movie. Despite the fact that the weather did not feel very much like fall, we still had a fun time.

Caleb recieving his certificate
Caleb recieving his certificate

September 4, 2011

Caleb was pleased to find himself as the center of attention one evening. We had been potty training him for quite a long time, and had been rewarding him with candy. But we finally deemed Caleb finished with that stage of potty training, and had a graduation ceremony for him. We all had a wonderful time, both preparing the ceremony and participating in it.




We also had another celebration, with Emily as the focus. As a reward for helping so much while we were all sick last month, we gave her a card, a chocolate bar, and a movie. Then we watched the movie on the wall with the projector. Emily felt special and everyone had a fun time.


Another highlight of the month was Mom and Dad’s 18th anniversary. Everyone pitched in to help make the day special. Caleb and Elijah refrained from perpetually aggravating each other and asserting their dominance. Naomi was sweet, as usual. Jillian made a cake, which Hannah decorated. And Emily helped with various things around the house; playing with the boys, washing dishes, watching Naomi, cleaning up, and doing small things like that. Hannah also enjoyed helping Mom get ready for her date with Dad.


We currently have a couple of visitors: Ted and Snook Sebaugh. The Sebaughs staffed Mom and Dad’s DTS in 1994. They have been here for about a week and a half. In addition to spending time with us, they have been doing pastoral care and holding marriage enrichment sessions. They are planning some more this coming week. They are greatly blessing us and the campus.



Last Saturday night, the girls on the campus had a costume party. They all dressed up, watched a movie, ate yummy food, danced, played games, and had a great time.

Mommy teaching Elijah on the first day of school.
Mommy teaching Elijah on the first day of school.

August 14, 2011


After a lengthy and refreshing break, we started school this past Monday. Everyone is enjoying it. Everyone, that is, except Naomi. She would rather Mommy spend all day playing with her. Caleb is officially beginning, and he is very excited. Emily has started a new writing curriculum, Wordsmith Apprentice, and it is her favorite part of school so far.

While she was in the States, Mom bought two DVD’s, called “Baby Signing Time”. The whole family has been watching them with Naomi and learning some sign language with her. Naomi is communicating more and more with it.


March 21, 2010

Household Newz

            Elijah’s sixth birthday has come and gone. Hannah and Mom worked together to make a delicious devil’s food cake with foamy frosting.

            Hannah and Mom also recently made donuts. They were delicious, and the Blacks were able to share a few with some friends on campus.

            The Black family has a new househelp, Doris. She has been a big blessing in coming three mornings each week. Doris is a hard worker and so far she seems willing to help.

            Jillian, Emily, and Hannah are now getting music lessons twice a week from someone on campus.

            Also, Hannah is teaching a Saturday morning dance class since Anneke (the Dutch woman who had previously taught the dance class) has gone with her husband to YWAM in Kona, Hawaii to participate is a few schools. So far it is going well for Hannah.



You say your life is useless?
You say there is no hope?

Well if I were you, I’d keep on trying

Because it’s always darkest

Just before the dawn.

                             By H. R. B.


Riddles ‘N’ Jokes

Riddle – Who is the greatest financer in the Bible?

Answer Noah; he was floating his stock while everyone else was in liquidation.


Judge: Why couldn’t you settle this matter yourselves?

Defendant: We tried to, Your Honor, but the police broke it up.

February 14, 2010

Household Newz


The Black family is awaiting the arrival of guests from the States. Mike and Ann DiSanza, founders of Cops for Christ, will be spending two weeks evangelizing here in Nigeria.

Meantime, the family has come to a decision concerning Smudge: they must get rid of him. Though the whole family loves him, it is just not practical in their situation to own a dog. They can neither properly train nor take care of Smudge, and are trying to find a buyer for him.


Funny Farm


Elijah has been saying, “Happy Valentime’s Day!” (If you did not catch the mistake, read it again.)

Caleb is unable to properly pronounce “Naomi Hallie May.” His version is, “Nomi Ally May.”




Snowflakes, snowflakes in the sky,

Snowflakes, snowflakes flying by,

Snowflakes, snowflakes in the air,

Snowflakes, snowflakes everywhere!

                             By H. R. B.

Riddles ‘N’ Jokes


Riddle – Did you hear what happened to the optometrist?

Answer He fell into his lens grinder and made a spectacle of himself.

Joke - Playing hooky is like a credit card. Fun now, pay later.

January 17, 2010

Household Newz

The Black family had a wonderful Christmas! With some peanut butter chips, they made some heath bars, which were relished by the whole family. That was probably the highlight of the Christmas season, along with a sleepover at the Maskeys’ house. (The Maskeys are an American missionary family that has lived in Port Harcourt for about 15 years.)

Along with a new year, a new baby has come to the Black family. Although a name has still not been decided for certain, the little baby girl has been welcomed heartliy into the family and campus. The whole family hopes that she will retain her content demeanor.

                                                               Funny Farm

(NOTE: This section has been added to relate humerous incidents that happen within the family and campus.)

            Caleb has lately been thinking that whenever the lights are on, he can watch a movie. So, when the electricity comes on. . . “Igh!! Oo-oo-aah-aah!!” Which is supposed to mean “The lights  are on!! It’s time to watch Curious George now!!”

A staff named Ishmael is in charge of turning on the generator in the evening and making sure that the fuel doesn’t run out.  One evening after it had gotten dark, we heard someone yell, “Ishmael, I beseech you!! Turn on the gen!” The generator was promptly turned on.




I see you think it strange of me

To find joy in reading these

Tales long ago covered by dust.


I am very strange;

All this I know

But whether you understand me

Or don’t

Depends on if you have the key.


Riddles ‘N’ Jokes


Riddle – Why did the football coach go to the bank?

Answer To get the quarter back.

Joke – Tell a man there are three hundred billion stars in the universe, and he believes you. Tell him a bench has wet paint on it, and he has to touch it to be sure.

November 1, 2009

Household Newz


            The Black family was sad to see their friends from LTC leave, but glad to organize their living quarters more. King’s Village is not ready yet, and it will probably not be for some months.

            School has been resumed. The children had a nice break during LTC, but are ready to continue. They are applying themselves to their lessons with a will.




The Life of a Flower


First it was a tiny seed

Scattered on the ground.

Then it became a baby bud,

Playing “peek-a-boo” with the sun.

Next the baby was a little child,

Bringing joy each day.

The flower grew to be a teenager,

Dancing carefree in the wind.

It was a grown adult, when it’s head drooped,

Petals drying out in death.


Life is short

It’s fleeting fast.

And so let’s do our very best,

Till life on earth is past.

                     --by H.R.B.




Riddle:  Why did the amoeba flunk the math test?

Answer:  Because it multiplied by dividing.



Teacher: The law of gravity explains why we stay on the ground.

Chloe: How did we stay on the ground before the law was passed?

October 11, 2009

Household Newz


            The Black family has officially moved to Port Harcourt. They have three rooms to occupy, and do not have their own bathroom or kitchen. A single-burner gas camping stove, which the family is allowed to keep in their rooms, is a life saver. Better living conditions are hoped for after LTC is over, because King’s Village should be ready by then.

            Meanwhile, the children are enjoying the company of two American kids whose parents are here for LTC. Lasting friendships were quickly formed, and friends were made that will not be forgotten.




The Life of a Flower


First it was a tiny seed

Scattered on the ground.

Then it became a baby bud,

Playing “peek-a-boo” with the sun.

Next the baby was a little child,

Bringing joy each day.

The flower grew to be a teenager,

Dancing carefree in the wind.

It was a grown adult, when it’s head drooped,

Petals drying out in death.


Life is short

It’s fleeting fast.

And so let’s do our very best,

Till life on earth is past.

                     --by H.R.B.




Riddle:  What bird is always out of breath?

Answer:  The Puffin



Ed: I have a job at a watch factory.

Mike: Oh, really? What do you do?

Ed: I just stand around and make faces.

September 13, 2009

Household Newz


             Caleb is finally learning to talk! He can now say down, sorry, please, stay, and count to ten somewhat clearly. But his favorite and most easily understood words are no, I, me, and mine.  Go figure, considering that one of his nicknames from birth is Mr. President!


            Recently the Black family had the opportunity to try an unknown dish. Dad attempted to make his own baked beans from scratch using pinto beans bought at a local market. The sauce was delicious, but everyone was puzzled as to why the beans weren’t expanding. Until, that is, dinnertime. Jillian, ever the frank one and always the first to solve a puzzle, said with calm assurance, “They’re peanuts.” She was correct. After a good laugh, the meal was promptly named baked peanuts. It was actually okay, though baked peanuts will not be made again for a while in the Black household. As Elijah stated with an air of importance, “If you want to buy beans to eat them, you shouldn’t buy peanuts!”




To Miss Claudia

My amazing ballet teacher on Long Island. Much of what I know about ballet I learned from you. This poem is in memory of the first Christmas that I was in your class.

I forgot to buy a gift for you,

And did not make a card,

So all I had to offer you

Was “Merry Christmas”

From my heart.


I miss you now and always will;

Every day I think of you.

I hope I’ll see you on earth again;

If not, that we’ll meet in Heaven.

                              H. R. B. 


Riddles ‘N’ Jokes


Riddle – What kind of money do marsupials use?

Answer Pocket change


Joke – A little boy was praying at bedtime.

             “I can’t hear you,” his mother whispered.

            “I’m not talking to you,” he whispered back.


I'm at my school desk checking my lesson plans for the previous week.
I'm at my school desk checking my lesson plans for the previous week.

August 30, 2009

Household Newz

            The Black family thoroughly enjoyed their furlough in the States. While they were visiting friends and family, speaking at churches, shopping for the next two years, or simply having fun by themselves, four months slipped by almost unnoticed.

 But at the end of that time, the whole family was ready to go back to Nigeria. They spent the first three weeks in Aba unpacking and re-adjusting.

There has been a new addition to the family: black lab Smudge, who is about four months old. His obedience is improving rapidly, and he is almost completely house-trained.

School started last Monday, much to the relief of Hannah, who was itching to begin reading the history books on the shelf above her own schoolwork. Emily is very excited over the fact that she has her own school list this year, in third grade. Jillian was eager to begin, but she was somewhat reluctant to give up the hours of free time she had before school started. Elijah would ask every day, “Are we starting school today?” Somehow, everyone, including Mom, survived the week.


My Bible

My Bible is my map

To get to Heaven’s day;

My Bible is my lamp,

To see through darkness grim.

My Bible is my trusty guide

To show me the right way;

My Bible is my sword

 So I can fight my way through sin.


I’ll trust my Bible all the way,

Lest I go astray;

Lest I fall into sin once again,

And follow my own way.

By H. R.B.


Riddles ’N’ Jokes

Riddle – Why did the farmer receive an award?

               He was outstanding in his field.

Joke - Mother: Kids, what are you arguing about?

           David: Oh, there isn’t any argument. Lisa thinks I’m not going to give her half of my candy, and I think the same thing.

May 10, 2009

Household Newz

            The Black family is having a great time in the States. It is fun being able to see friends and family, though it can be a bit stressful at times because of so many people to see, things to do, and places to go. In fact, the family is preparing for a long itinerating trip throughout the States. They look forward to seeing friends and family farther west.



The Clothesline

On rainy days,

When skies are gray,

The clothesline looks so sad.

Hanging limply, forlornly, empty,

Slowly dripping raindrops,

It mirrors gloomy faces

Watching from the window.


But on sunny days,

When weather’s gay,

When it cheerfully flaps shirts pinned to it,

When it gazes on children

Happily playing ball -

Then the clothesline’s purpose is fulfilled.


Riddles ‘N’ Jokes


Riddle – How do you keep a fish from smelling?

                 You cut off its nose.

Joke – Ray: How did your bird die?

           John: Flu

            Ray: Don’t be silly, birds don’t die from the flu.

          John: Mine did. He flew under a bus.

March 8, 2009




The Black family had a fun shopping trip recently. Imagine that! They went shopping in Nigeria and had fun! But it wasn’t for milk, flour or sugar that they were looking. It was for gifts and souvenirs at Ikot-ekpene, not far from Aba. Dad bought a chess set, and couldn’t decide whether to keep it, give the whole thing as a gift, or give the individual pieces. As it turns out, some huge termites found and ate the chessboard. The damage was irreparable. Those were some hungry termites!  



The Rainbow

Imagining is seeing a rainbow

Arched across the turquoise sky,

Among little tufts of cotton clouds,

Until the shower ends,

And you’re back to real life again.

-by H. R. B.





Riddle:   How did you pass the entrance exam for the candy-making school?

Answer:  It was simple. I fudged it.


Joke:     How is business?

Tailor: Oh, it’s so-so.

Electrician: It’s fairly light.

Author: All right.

Farmer: It’s growing.

Astronomer: Looking up!

Elevator Operator: Well, it has its ups and downs.

Trash collector: It’s picking up.


February 22, 2009




The Black family is doing well. Everyone was looking forward to Obubu Ranch, a game reserve in the north. However, now that they have found out the prices, they are considering not going. But they still might find a cheaper place to stay for the weekend.


Coming home from the swimming pool one day, the Black family passed an unusual sight (for them) – a dead person lying by the side of the road. Sadly, nobody else seemed to notice.  





The lightning flashes,

Searching, searching, seeking something lost.


The thunder smashes,

Crashes, crashes, protecting the treasure lost.


And the rain splashes,

Slashes, slashes, coveting the treasure lost.

-by H. R. B.





Riddle:   What is a shark’s favorite game?

Answer:  Swallow the leader. 


Joke:     A criminal said to a judge, “Your Honor, I’m not guilty.  I know I can prove it if you just give me some time.”

            “Sure,” replied the judge. “Ten years.  Next!”


February 8, 2009




One Saturday, Mom and Hannah made cinnamon rolls for the first time in Nigeria. Hannah burned her finger while putting them in the oven. She’ll wear oven mitts after this! And the cinnamon rolls were very yummy!


The same day, NEPA (the electric company) came and disconnected the line because the neighbors, the people who share the duplex, hadn’t paid their bill for about three years, perhaps longer. After some bickering they hooked the Black’s line back up again, though.

However, the neighbors still haven’t paid their bill, and now NEPA  is threatening to lock the compound up, and they might not be bluffing (this time).






Cotton-white clouds drift in the sky,

Like little ships, sailing far and high.

Over the treetops,

Under the stars,

Different from all others,

One shines above the rest.

-by H. R. B.





Riddle:  Why don’t eggs tell jokes?

Answer: They would crack each other up.


January 25, 2009




Dad recently put new, thinner mosquito netting on some of the windows. It makes a huge difference with the light and ventilation.


While cutting veggies, Dad cut the tip of his finger off with a Cutco knife. Just the very, very, tip of his left ring finger, a tiny piece of skin and fingernail, but it is definitely gone. He is wondering if, once his finger heals, playing the guitar will be easier or harder.


Elijah has a boil on his chin. At first the family worried that it might be a mango worm. One night Mom and Dad tried to squeeze it out. Elijah was screaming and yelling, and it was so hard to see and hear him. Well, as it turns out, it is a boil, and it’s now going away 






Success won’t come to me,

Unless I go to it,

For if I just sit,

And twiddle my thumbs,

I’ll get naught,

But poverty.


-by H. R. B.





Riddle:  How many items can you put into an empty grocery bag?

Answer: One. After that, the bag isn’t empty anymore.


Joke:       A note left for a pianist from his wife: Gone Chopin, have Liszt, Bach in a minuet.





January 11, 2009




Happy New Year from the Blacks! After traveling to Abuja and Gboko, the whole family is happy to be at home again. It is pleasant to get back into the old routine, although it will take a while to become accustomed to school. Hannah especially enjoys making breakfast each morning.

Chidinma, the family’s house help, is now coming five days a week, Monday through Friday. Her help is a big blessing.





In Hong Kong buy shoes from Dr. Kong’s,

Eat pan-fried noodles and egg drop soup.

Farther north see the Great Wall and Yuyuan Gardens;

The Forbidden City and Temple of Heaven.

Get on a plane for our next adventure;

Perhaps we’ll go to Great Britain!

-by H. R. B.





Riddle:   What did baby corn say to mamma corn?

Answer:  Where’s Popcorn?


Joke:       A Sunday school teacher asked her class, “What did Jesus say about people getting married?”

   Little Johnny quickly answered, “ Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’”  





November 23, 2008




Caleb has learned a few new things lately. Now he can crawl up and down the stairs, go in and out the front screen door, and walk pretty much anywhere he wants to go. It’s quite a chore to keep Caleb inside when no one can go with him!     














-by H. R. B.





Riddle:   How did the scientist invent bug spray?

Answer:  She started from scratch. 


Joke:       An accountant is having a hard time sleeping and goes to see his doctor.

            “Doctor, I just can’t get to sleep at night.”

            “Have you tried counting sheep?”

            “That’s the problem. I make a mistake and then spend three hours trying to find it.”


October 26, 2008

Making Baked Oatmeal using the recipe we got from Mrs. Erdvig
Making Baked Oatmeal using the recipe we got from Mrs. Erdvig




October 18th was Jillian’s ninth birthday.  The family stayed home and celebrated by making homemade syrup for French toast for breakfast, having Jillian’s choice of a lunch-dinner (chicken salad sandwiches, yum!!), finger painting, and of course presents and cake.  The birthday girl also got to send a few e-mails to friends. 


One night during dinner NEPA was on (which is almost a notable event in itself) and Mom was almost finished with a load of laundry.  However, the laundry remained unfinished, because NEPA suddenly “took the lights.”  There was silence for a moment, and then Elijah said what everyone was thinking: “NEPA, you’re bad.”  Almost anything Elijah says brings laughter. 






Blown about by the wind


Not caring where it goes;



Where it lands,

Till the breeze picks it up



Lord, let me be the Leaf;

May You be the breeze;

Take me where You will,

And may I be happy still.


-by H. R. B.





Riddle:  What do you get when you cross an elephant with a kangaroo?

Answer: Big holes all over Australia.


Joke:       A nurse on the pediatric ward, before listening to the children’s chests, would fit the stethoscope into their ears and let them listen to their own hearts.  Their eyes would always light up with awe. 

               “Listen,” she said to little four-year-old Seth, “Do you hear it? What do you suppose that is?”

                He listened to the strange tap-tap-tapping sound deep in his chest.  Then his eyes lit up, and he exclaimed, “Is that Jesus knocking?”   


October 5, 2008




    One day, during a spelling quiz, Emily was having difficulty spelling the word running. She would say, “n-u-n-n-i-n-g,” and Dad would say, “No.  What letter does running start with?”   “N-u-n-n-i-n-g!” the reply would always be. 

    All the while, Elijah was observing this little scene with great interest.  Finally he blurted out the answer: “R!  Running starts with R!”  Then he turned to Emily, who was laughing along with everyone else, and said, “See, Emily, I’m a good smarter!”  This statement was followed by more bouts of laughter. 




Summer Storm

Pitter, patter,

Split and splatter,

Rain begins to pour

From the sky to earth.


Not to be ignored,

The thunder also roars,

Accompanied by lightening,

Brightening the scene.

-by H. R. B.





Riddle:   Which President had the largest shoes?

Answer:  The one with the largest feet!


Joke:       A group of kindergarteners was on a class outing to their local police station where they saw pictures, tacked to a bulletin board, of the ten most wanted men.  One of the youngsters pointed to a picture and asked if it was really the photo of a wanted person.

 “Yes,” answered the policeman. 

“Well,” wondered the child, “why didn’t you just keep him when you took the picture?”



September 28, 2008




September 16 was Caleb’s first birthday.  He had a jell-o cake and liked it a lot.  Caleb also tasted his first chocolate, M&M’s, soon after.  Mom was able to get him to say “please” in sign language very easily!


Elijah learned that sharpening one’s finger in a pencil sharpener is very painful.  Don’t think he’ll be doing that again any time soon!





The Bible

The Bible is good,

The Bible is true,

And when I have time,

I’ll read some to you.

-by J. M. Black





Riddle:   What do you call a penguin in the desert?

Answer:  Lost.


Joke:       The father’s son was returning from the market with a crate of                      

            chickens his father had entrusted to him, when all of a sudden, the

                 box fell and broke open. 

                 Chickens scurried off in all directions, but the boy walked all over

                 the neighborhood, retrieving the bird and returning them to the

                 repaired crate.  Hoping he had found them all, the boy returned


                 “Pa, the chickens got loose,” the boy told his father reluctantly,

                 “but I managed to find all nine of them.”

                 “You did well, son,” the farmer said, “because you left with only





September 14, 2008





The Black Family has been passing around a cough that they think is whooping cough.  Dad went to see a doctor about it, since he has it the worst by far.  The doctor thinks that it is pneumonia, but Dad is still pretty sure that he has whooping cough, because nothing showed up on the chest x-ray.


One night Mom thought that she heard something in the kitchen, but didn’t go look to see what it was.  Then later Dad heard a snap (the mouse trap).  In the morning when Hannah checked the mouse trap, she found that it was not a mouse but a – COCKROACH!!!!!! (Cockroaches in Nigeria are much larger than the ones found in the U. S.)




By-H. R. B.

Five crystal dewdrops fall and shine-

One on a wilting Clementine,

One on a blushing Rose full o’ life,

One on a rainbow Poppy bright.


One on an Edelweiss, fresh and sweet,

One on the Blossoms of a cherry tree.

They said, “Now this we do not like,

But all the same we can be nice.”


And then the Sun came,

Kissed the dew away,

And the flowers were happy all the day.





Riddle:  What do math teachers like to eat with their coffee?

Answer:  A slice of pi

Joke:  A Sunday school class was ready for its question- and –answer session.

             “What do we learn from Jonah and the whale?” asked the teacher.

                 A bright kid spoke up and said, “What we learned is that people make whales sick.”  



August 31, 2008


August 21 was Mom and Dad’s 15th anniversary.  They celebrated by going on a date together alone.  Hannah stayed home with her siblings.


The Black family now has a new house help again.  This one, Chidima, only comes three days a week.   She does not live with them. 



My Grandma June

By H.R.B.

Raising Mom so lovingly-

Baking cookies that were yummy-

Singing always joyously

“The King is coming for me”-

My Grandma June


Her fried chicken was savory-

Her favorite card game was rummy-

Ever welcoming us sweetly-

My Grandma June


Visiting us in New York City-

Seeing Lady Liberty-

Strolling by the beach with me-

My Grandma June



Riddle- In what key is “Exploring the Cave Without a Flashlight” written?

Answer- C sharp or B flat

Joke- A minister got up on Sunday morning an announced to his congregation, “I have good news and bad news.  The good news is, we have enough money for our new building program.  The bad news is, it’s still out there in your pockets.” 








From July 15- 25, the Black family hosted a short- term missions trip from SGT.  Everyone had a good time and learned a lot.


Mom, Hannah, Jillian, and Emily decided to donate hair to Locks of Love.  Mom, Jillian, and Emily each cut off 10 inches, and Hannah cut off 15 inches. They plan to keep the hair until they go back to the U.S. for itinerating.



What Color is Envy?

Green, I think, is the color of envy

Cause green is the color of mold, you see.

And just as mold covers the walls of dark rooms,

Mold can cover the inside of you.

                 -By H. R. B.



Riddle: What did one horse say to the other horse?

Joke: “Your pace is familiar, but I don’t remember your mane.”

Joke: A police officer was escorting a prisoner to jail when the officer’s hat blew down the sidewalk.

 “Would you like me to get that for you?” asked the prisoner.

 “You must think I’m an idiot!” said the officer.  “You just wait here, and I’ll get it.”






June 15, 2008




            On June 2nd, the Black family went to see Dr. Whitaker (from England) in a village outside of Aba.  While they were on their way, they saw a live pig on the back of a motorcycle!  It was hog-tied and lying on its side and a man was riding the motorcycle and holding on to it.  

            The Blacks had a good time visiting Dr. Whitaker and his and his wife.  They also got to meet the Whitaker’s son, who is fifteen.


            On Sunday, June 8th, the Blacks celebrated Dad’s birthday (which was actually the 9th) with a breakfast of waffles.  They were delicious and were cooked over the stove with a cast iron waffle maker.  Tuesday, June 10th, was Hannah’s 13th birthday.  Her birthday breakfast was egg toast.  Presents were opened in the afternoon, and dinner was chicken fajitas, homemade tortillas, guacamole, and cheese sauce.  After dinner, they had banana cake.  Finally, to crown the day, the family watched a movie on the wall with the projector.  What a birthday!





Ever so patient,

Always so kind,

Whom shall I mind?



Always so sweet;

Loving and caring, too.



Her love she always did share,

When we are ill she nurses us

With her tender care.



Who teaches us school,

Constantly gentle and mild?



In Spring, Summer, Winter, and Fall,

My mother is best of all.




Riddle:  Where were the kings and queens of England crowned?

Answer:  On their heads.


Joke:  A painter was hired to paint the exterior of a church.  His practice was to thin the paint so that he could make a larger profit. 

            As he was painting the church, torrential rain began to fall, and it washed all of the paint off.  As quickly as the rain began, it ended, and a voice from above said, “Repaint, and go and thin no more.”





June 1, 2008




            Mouse alert!!  Yes, the Black family has had two more cases of dead mice (thankfully not rats) in their house in the past week.  This time, though, there was no chasing with shoes.  They merely spread peanut butter on two mouse traps and placed them in places where they knew the mice and rats liked to go.  By the next morning, an unfortunate mouse had fallen for the trap, tried to get the peanut butter, and. . . . you know the rest.  A couple of days later, the event was repeated.  The Blacks, especially Hannah, prefer this method of dealing with mice.


Another, much less enjoyed incident occurred last Tuesday night.  Mom was straightening Caleb’s mosquito net; lifting it up to, well, straighten it.  She lifted it up just a little too high, and the edge of the ceiling fan, which was on high, hit the fingers on her left hand.  It cut and bruised her fingers, and we think some nerves were cut also.




The Sunset

By H. R. B.

            Gently the lustrous, imperial sun glides down among the rose-red and lavender streaks that veil the sapphire firmament.  Its dazzling golden rays seem like uplifted arms, extolling our Creator.  They are also gesticulating adieu to the resilient green grass and velvety, tender roses.  The birds chirp a final farewell as the sun slips out of sight, shrouding the earth in obscurity.  “Good-bye, sun,” I whisper, “until tomorrow!”





 Riddle: Why do surgeons wear masks while operating?

              So that if any mistake is made, no one will know who did it.

   Joke:   A father was showing pictures of his wedding day to his son. “Is that when

              Mommy came to work for us?” the boy asked.                   


February 17, 2008




We have had an interesting three weeks. 


February 2nd, we went to Ruth and Esther’s birthday party.  The party, in the classroom at the school, was very colorful, and, singularly Ibo, loud and vivacious.  Rice and soda were served, after several pictures and before cake. After the brown cake, party favors were handed out.  Auntie Veronica danced around with a mob of children surrounding her, grabbing for their notebook and pen or pencil.  We left after a while because everything was so overwhelming and it didn’t look like it was going to end anytime soon. 


We got some baking pans, so we made some brownies. They were delicious!!!


One night I got my bath late, and, after mom braided my hair downstairs, I started to go upstairs for bed.  Dad was coming down with a sleeping Caleb when we saw something dart from the parlor and under the stairs - rat attack! Not exactly rat attack, human attack I guess, because we waged full war on it then and there, at the bottom of the stairs.  I got Mom, and somehow Caleb landed in his bouncy seat (asleep for the moment).  Meanwhile, Dad stood guard, keeping the rat cornered.  Mom was posted on the stairs with a broom and I, less fortunate, was posted by the doors below also armed with a broom.  By the way, we were doing all this by flashlight.  Then the action began!  Now when I think about it, I feel like laughing.  But right then, I felt by no means inclined to do so.  Dad threw something, I’m not sure what, at the rat and Mom and I started jumping and shrieking and slamming our brooms anywhere and everywhere, while Dad was trying to kill the rat with his shoe and the rat was climbing over our feet and the flashlight was being a strobe light.  Finally I put down my broom and ran upstairs to bed.  All I could hear from my room was:  Smack!  Smack!  Smack!  E-e-eek!  Ew!  Ew!  Ew! with Caleb screaming in the background.  Eventually Dad came upstairs with the dead culprit dangling by its tail to torment the girls.  The rat was 8” long with the tail included.  Now we have another “visitor” but we think it is only a mouse.


On February 9th, we made a bunch of rice and went out to feed the homeless with some students from the Bible School.  We went to Main Park and started.  It was so pitiful!  Some of the kids were literally crying for food.  Passing out rice and walking, we ended up at a restaurant.  From there we took a bus home. 


I told you we had an interesting 3 weeks!





Is There No One to Help?

H. R. Black

My shoulders are bent under a weighty burden.

Is there no one to help?

There is no one to help.

No one to help at all.


 My shoulders are bent under a weighty burden.

Is there no one to help?

There is One to help-

Jesus Christ my Lord.


My shoulders are bent under a weighty burden.

Is there no one to help?

There are a few to help-

My family and Jesus Christ my Lord.


My shoulders are bent under a weighty burden.

Is there no one to help?

There are many to help-

My friends, my family, and Jesus Christ my Lord.


My shoulders are bent under a weighty burden.

Is there no one to help?

 There are many and more to help-

Every kind word, every kind deed, my friends, my family, and Jesus Christ my Lord.


My shoulders are bent under a very light burden.

Who has helped?

Many and more have helped-

Every kind word, every kind deed, my friends, my family, and Jesus Christ my Lord.





What goes “peck, bang, peck, bang, peck, bang”?

A bunch of chickens in a yard full of balloons.


An employee went to see his supervisor.  “Boss,” he said, “we’re doing some heavy housecleaning at home tomorrow, and my wife asked me to help in the attic and garage, hauling and moving stuff.”

“We’re shorthanded,” the boss replied.  “I can’t give you the day off.”

“Thank you,” said the employee.  “I knew I could count on you!” 


JANUARY 25, 2008





We’re doing well over here in the “world of Nigeria.”

Dad went to Abuja on the 23rd.  Well, first he went to Port Harcourt and stayed the night.  The next morning he flew to Abuja with Mr. Paul and Mrs. Rachel.  When they were there, they went to a meeting for a conference that is to be held in May.  Then Dad got Caleb’s passport and U. S. birth certificate; and he also applied for Caleb’s Social Security Number.  When that was finished, Dad flew back to Port Harcourt and stayed another night.  At home, here in Aba, the nasty smell of something dead awaited him.  Mom and Dad searched the living room and found where and what the odor was coming from.  Apparently a mouse had eaten some rat poison and chewed its way into our couch to die.  Dad took care of the mess and eventually the smell went away.



I have been keeping writing poetry and can hardly wait to post them here on our website.

School is going fairly well.  We’re staying mostly caught up except for a few things.




H. R. Black

Learning something new is like learning to walk.

Teetering, tottering, taking the first step.


Learning something new is like learning to eat.

Scooping the food, missing, missing, succeeding.


Learning something new is like learning to live.

Trying, failing, trying, triumphing.


Learning something new is like learning to walk.

Teetering, tottering, taking the first step.




What state is round on both sides but high in the middle?



Two kids went into their parent’s bathroom and noticed the scale in the corner.

“Whatever you do,” said one youngster to the other, “don’t step on it!”

“Why not?” asked the sibling.

“Because every time Mom does, she lets out an awful loud scream!”


January 11, 2008





We are getting along just fine in Aba, making our apartment more like home. 

We received several packages this week.  Thanks a lot! You blessed us so much! 

Mom and Dad bought some books at a used book shop.  I can’t wait to read Keats!



We’re plodding through stacks of books and utilizing pencils.  You guessed it- back to school. 



The Point Class

H.R. Black

The ballerinas in their black leotards

Are tying on their pink toe-shoes –

The point class is about to begin!

They glide to their places across from the bar,

Just right across from the mirror.

First position slide to second-

The point class has begun!

Warm-ups, then across the floor,

Now learn a few new steps.

Shennes, buorres, pirouettes –

The point class is in progress!

Esheppes and piques –

It’s time to say good-bye.

Port-a-bra, then curtsy –

Farewell until next time!




A father sent his boy to bed.  Five minutes later, he heard, “D-a-a-a-d!”

“What?” he called back. 

“I’m thirsty.  Can you bring a drink of water?”

“No.  You had your chance.  Lights out.”

Five minutes later, again he heard, “D-a-a-a-d!”


“I’m thirsty.  Can I have a drink of water?”

“I told you no! If you ask again, I’ll have to spank you!”

Five minutes later, came, “D-a-a-a-d!”


 “When you come in to spank me, can you  bring a drink of water?”


What’s the difference between a red light and a green light?

The color, silly


January 06, 2008





Happy New Year! On the 31st of December, we went to Uzomah’s village and stayed two nights.  We came home and rested- if you can with an Elijah and a Caleb- on the 2nd. The next day, the 3rd, we prepared for our New Year celebration by cleaning, cooking, watching Caleb, trying to keep Emily and Elijah from fighting with each other.  Friday was our celebration a few days late. We had Pringles (a rare treat) and banana splits (a very rare treat).  Dad and Elijah watched football clips, and we girls gave ourselves pedicures.



Mom cut Jillian’s bangs, and will soon cut Emily’s.  There will be three girls in the house with bangs (I’m the fourth).  There has not been school for two weeks and it will start again on Monday. We all hope that it will go smoothly. 

When talking to Grandma and Grandpa on the phone, Elijah said, “I miss Sunshine,” (the cat we left in New York), “but we have Caleb.”



The Trees


The trees bend over the crystal stream,

Dancing in the wind, laughing with joy,

Happily saying to each other,

“It is so glorious to be trees!”

Now and again they raise their leafy arms

To the sun for a warming caress.



Did you hear about the delivery van loaded with thesauruses that crashed into a taxi?

Witnesses were astounded, shocked, taken aback, surprised, startled, dumbfounded, thunderstruck, caught unawares. . .


It was local election time, and the candidate was visiting all the houses in his area.  At one house, a small boy answered the door. 

“Tell me, young man,” said the politician, “is your Mommy in the Republican Party or the Democratic Party?”

“Neither,” said the child.  “She’s in the bathroom.”  




December 23, 2007



Each week, the Black family’s apartment feels a little bit more like home.  Last Wednesday night, they went over to Pastor Sos’ house for dinner.  Elijah fell asleep as usual. This time, though, he fell asleep on the floor.  On Thursday, Dad bought four hand fans. Emily’s fan broke within five minutes of her getting it! I guess that it wasn’t worth twenty cents.



School is going smoothly (for the most part) for the girls.  Mom found some schoolwork for Elijah, and he is very excited about it. 




I Wish I Were a Summer Breeze

H.R. Black

I wish I were a summer breeze,

Cool and pleasant as could be,

Soothing a weary soul at rest-

I’d always do my best.


I’d fly through tons of silver chimes,

And through swarms of butterflies.

But no matter where I’d still be flying-

High and free.





A duck walked into a drugstore and asked for a tube of lip balm.

“Cash or charge?” the clerk asked.

“Just put it on my bill,” the duck replied.


Why can’t matches play baseball?

One strike and they’re out!