Where Sand Africa meets Grass Africa

The Sahel is where "Sand Africa" meets "Grass Africa."
The Sahel is where “Sand Africa” meets “Grass Africa.”

 

We’re no longer in Africa but Africa is still in us.

I’ve been thinking about the Sahel this week. It’s where Sand Africa meets Grass Africa.

 

“We were showing “The Jesus Film” outdoors in a village. Just at the moment of Jesus’ crucifixion, a snake slithered through the crowd. There was chaos. The viewers literally ran out of their shoes fleeing. The next day, a Sunday, we lined up all of the shoes left behind on the altar and the owners reclaimed them during the offertory.”
-From an African Missions newsletter

“There is no neutral ground in this universe: every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counter-claimed by Satan.”
-C.S. Lewis Christianity and Culture.

Lewis’ statement is true and never is the spiritual struggle more visible than in our part of Africa.

Especially here.
I’m not sure I’d ever been further from home.
It’s called the Sahel.
A broad band stretching across Africa from the Red Sea to the Atlantic.
The Sahel.
It’s where the Sahara Desert meets Tropical Africa.
When we first arrived in Africa, our oldest grandson Noah asked, “Are you in Grass Africa or Sand Africa?”
In the Sahel, you’re on the edge of both.

Chad, a Sahel country, is about twice the size of Texas.
Chad, a Sahel country, is about twice the size of Texas.

Still a rainy season but months without any chance of rain.
Sahel means coast.
In this case, the coast of the world’s largest desert.
It’s as if the Sahel is the prize in a great tug of war between the world’s largest desert and the greatest tropical areas such as the Nile and Congo riverine systems.
Desertification is the term for areas that once were verdant become covered in desert sand.

Then there’s the reverse.   Areas where the mighty Nile River still overflows and claims territory for crops, swamp, and human habitation.
That give and take that has went on beyond history.

Here in the Sahel, there is another grim battle.
It’s the fight to the death for two belief systems.

Christianity, tied up in reverence to the deity of Jesus Christ.
And Islam with its adherence to the Prophet and the Quran.

The Sahel is the site of the battle for the spiritual soul of Africa.

North of the Sahel, the Sahara is where Islam is strongest. This also includes the east and west coasts of Africa where Arab traders planted the Muslim faith.

Chadian Nomads
Chadian Nomads

South of the Sahel—Grass Africa—is where Christianity has taken root. It is the belief system of millions of Black Africans. Many, their faith tested by tragedy and hardship, have a much deeper faith than I’ll ever claim.
In most parts of Africa, including parts of the Sahel, Islam and Christianity dwell together cautiously but peaceably.

There’s always the challenge of exclusivity of each religion.
Islam is founded on the words of the Prophet.
We Christians hold to Jesus’ claim to be “The way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me.”

The exclusivity of Jesus Christ will always offend.
But he said it.
We cannot deny it and still call ourselves followers.

We believe Jesus is exactly who he says he is. The Son of God.  He's that or nothing at all.  There's no neutral ground or fence sitting.
We believe Jesus is exactly who he says he is. The Son of God. He’s that or nothing at all. There’s no neutral ground or fence sitting.

I believe that one of the greatest reasons for evangelism is that everyone deserves the opportunity to hear at least once about Jesus Christ and who he claimed to be.

Our Western culture has been so gospel-hardened that we seldom realize that many have not heard, and will not hear unless we go, send, and give.

Booted out of the Mall

BootedMall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holding the Rope in Prayer:

  1. Pray for DeDe’s tutoring.
  2. Pray for Curt as he writes As the Crow Flies.
  3. God’s guidance for our precious children and grandchildren.  Thanks for praying!

Booted out of the Mall

I have contracted with several places in Alexandria that have become my writing offices.  At the end of this post I’ll share them.*

Yesterday, my office was in the food court of the Alexandria Mall.

I arrived early. Long before the businesses opened.

It was just me, the custodians, and mall walkers.

It was a rainy morning and a fine crowd of folks were getting their exercise indoors.

It reminded me of getting booted out of Victoria Mall in Entebbe, Uganda.

We lived in Entebbe due to its proximity to the International Airport (Scene of the famous Israeli raid in the seventies) and the smaller Kijabe airport from which our bush flights originated.

Because of a strong UN presence and other aid agencies, there’s a high population of ex-pats in Entebbe.  These are foreigners who are working in and near Uganda.

They opened a mall there in late 2014.

One of my greatest disappointments in Africa was never being able to walk without being stopped. There is no privacy in Africa and this is true in both urban and rural areas.  The sight of an outsider brings well-wishers, the curious, beggars, and everyone.

You cannot walk from point A to B without these interruptions.

They are the rent you pay to live in such an exotic way.

I always took time to speak, smile, and listen.

But after the tenth time of being asked to supply school fees, I would return home exhausted.

So I had an idea:  the second floor of the mall was mostly unoccupied except for a small food court and several Indian-run businesses.

So I began walking in the mall.  It made for a good circuit.  I plugged in my headphones and listened to podcasts and music.

I’d found a place to stretch out and walk.

I thought.

On about the third day, a group of uniformed security workers blocked my path.  “You are not allowed to walk in the mall.”

“Why?”

“You are making our customers and store owners nervous.”

I understand about mall security.  The terrible terrorist attack the year before in Kenya Mall was still fresh on everyone’s mind.

But I was bumfuzzled.  “Do I look like a terrorist? I’m not in Al Shabob.”

“I am sorry, Mzee. We must ask you to leave.”

I could think of ten smarty pants things to say, but I bit my tongue.

“Who told you to make me leave?”

“Our director of security.”

“Go get him.”

A nicely dressed Ugandan appeared and introduced himself as Frank.

“Are you really asking me to leave?”

“Yes.”

“Why do you want to make an enemy of a customer? In America, they encourage mallwalking.”

He didn’t say it but I knew his thought:  this is not America.

“We can’t let every Tom, Dick, and Harry that wants to just roam around our mall.”

I didn’t appreciate that statement one bit.

Under a Thoreauian civil disobedience mindset, I left the mall surrounded by the officers and their boss.

I didn’t say it but my thought was: you won’t catch me back in this mall again.

I left in a huff and stayed that way for several days.

But my sweet wife and the Lord worked on me. I weakened on my one man boycott.  That boycott wasn’t hurting their business but stopping me from shopping at Nakumatt, Africa’s version of Wal Mart.

Later that week I returned to the Mall.  Wounded but walking upright.

In front of the mall stood Frank and another officer.  I approached them.

“Welcome back.”  Frank said it with sense of irony.  His smile was sincere.

I shook his hand.  “Well, I guess we’ve all been properly introduced, we might as well be friends.”

That was the beginning of a sweet relationship with Frank and the entire security team at Victoria Mall.

We had a history together.  I came to realize that they were simply doing their job the best they could.

During the last months of our time in Uganda, these men worried deeply about my illness and how much weight I’d lost. They became our friends.

I made many trips to the mall but never mall walking.

And since we were in Rome, I might as well do as the Romans.  Visit the mall and spend my Shillings.

If you’re ever in Entebbe and go to Victoria Mall, find Frank and tell him that Tom, Dick, Harry, and Curt all said hello.

 

*My Alexandria area writing offices:

Alexandria Mall food court near wall plugs

New Courtyard Marriott lobby near our home.

McDonald’s on Jackson St. Extension.

Tamp and Grind Coffee shop in Downtown Alexandria.

deep_roots_by_curt_iles

My stand up writing stump in our back yard.

iconStumpOffice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Standing in the Shadow of Freedom

Freedom

It’s my mantra:

  1. Be curious.
  2. Be amazed.
  3. Tell about it.

I arrive at Freedom Baptist Church early.

Walking in the auditorium, I stop at a group of photographs on the back wall.

I know what it is: black and white photographs of the men and women from this church who served our country.  Most are WWII faces.

Most  Ten Mile area churches have a wall of fame to the veterans who’ve gone before.

Mrs. Jeanette comes up behind me.  She points to a photo.  “That was my Dad.  He died the same year I was born.”

All of a sudden the wall of photos are personal.

I asked about what her mother told her about the dad she never met.

“Momma never could talk about him.  It was just too painful.”

I just shook my head.

Mrs. Jeanette said, “It’s all right. The Heavenly Father became my earthly father too.”

She pointed at the precious foster child standing beside her.  “I’m able to tell my children that God will be their father too.  There is hope.”

Once again, I’m amazed at the human spirit.

So resilient.

Full of hope.

I was amazed.

I had no choice but to tell you.
Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 6.49.17 PM

 

Jeanette Maricle’s father, Elvin Hargrove.

 

Freedom

 

Other veteran’s on Freedom’s wall.

 

 

Post #1100 Wow!

IconBestShotCreekbankLogo.24 PM

Last week’s posts put us over 1100 posts for the past dozen years or so.

Just one more example of the simple perseverance of  writing daily.

All of those stories, whether touching or forgetful, have come from my heart.

From my heart to yours.

Thanks for being on this journey.

You can glean from these thousand plus posts by category or title.

This coming month (November) is NaNoWriMo.

That’s National Novel Writing Month.

You’re welcome to join us on The Creekbank blog as well as social media at curtiles.

 

The Dogtrot Porch at The Old House, Dry Creek, LA.
Creekbank Stories is about the values and history that make rural Louisiana a special place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opening lines of As the Crow Flies.’

I’m working on As the Crow Flies the follow up historical novel after A Good Place.

 

Here are two openings I’m tinkering with.  Your honest input is appreciated.  No one writes a book alone.  I need your prayer, suggestions, even criticism.  Everything can be improved. 

Opening A:

Ft. Worth, Texas

Christmas Eve 1955

As the crow flies it was only about twenty miles from our home in Ten Mile to Sugartown Louisiana.

After the Westport Fight it might as well have been a million.

The fight broke loose seventy-four years ago on a cold Christmas eve in the year 1881.

I was only a girl of sixteen but I remember like it happened last week.

Then again, it seems a lifetime ago and I look in the mirror at the old woman I am and ask, “Nancy Missouri Wright, were you really there?”

I just feel that scar on my leg and it’s all the reminder I need that I was there, right in the middle of the fight.

An event  that changed everything about the place I loved.

Especially for two families.

Especially for the boy I loved.

It was a time and event that forever changed the destinies of everyone involved.

 

IconDHatIMG_2297

Opening B

My name is Missouri Cotten, and I was born into a family of thieves.

It’s how I ended up in the middle of what came to be known as the Westport Fight.

This is my story of what happened on that cold Christmas Eve way back in 1881.

Some folks won’t like my recollections..

But it’s my story.

I was there and saw it all.

Folks still ask me, “Mizz, what side were you on?

The Outsiders or the Ten Milers?

Hey, I was on the Missouri-Cotten-Staying-Alive side.

Since I’m telling this to you mouth to ear, it’s evident I survived it.

But others didn’t.

This is their story.

Tell me about what you like/dislike about each opening.

Which opening sentence/paragraph would “force” you to keep reading?

 

 

Contact Us!

We love to hear from readers at CreekBank Stories!

For Snail Mail, mail to:

Creekbank Stories

PO Box 6060

Alexandria, LA 71307

The Beginning of a Novel

 

November is National Novel Writing Month.

It’s an opportunity to write that novel (or family story) that’s been bubbling inside you for years.

The parts of a novel
                       The parts of a novel

 

You can keep your project quiet if you wish.

I simply encourage you to begin.

As they say, the journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step … or computer keystroke.

The goal is to finish the first draft of your book in November.  The recommendation is 50,000 words.

Don’t panic.  That’s 1666 words per day.

About six pages.

One of the best writing books is Bird by Bird by Anne Lamotte.

She shares the ABDCE method of novel development:

A  Action    Begin with action.  Hook that reader!

B   Background.   Weave the background of your story.

D.  Development.    Make those characters and the setting come alive.

C  Climax    The building tension to where the story comes to a point of crisis.

E  Ending   End it with the reader wanting more.

 

I use post it notes on a sketch pad to list my chapters.  They can be moved/switched as I develop the story.
I use post it notes on a sketch pad to list my chapters. They can be moved/switched as I develop the story.

I’m working on a historical novel entitled As the Crow Flies. 

This week I’ll be sharing some of the tools I use to get a book off the ground.

Join me for the journey.

 

 

 

Holding the Rope: How you can help

I’m grateful for friends and followers who pray for us.

Today (November 1) I’m speaking at Freedom Baptist Church in Ten Mile, Louisiana.

This is the message from Mark 2:

Mark 2: People need Jesus
             Mark 2: People need Jesus.

 

Please pray that my words will lift up Jesus and please the Father.

Mark 2 tells the story of the paralytic and his four friends and their encounter with Jesus.
Mark 2 tells the story of the paralytic and his four friends and their encounter with Jesus.

This week I’ll be working on our upcoming novel,  As the Crow Flies.

Stay tuned to our blog and Facebook (curtiles) to give input, have fun, and learn together.

On Thursday, I speak to the Profit and Loss lunch in Lake Charles.  It’s one of my favorite groups.  I’ll be sharing on “5 Things Africa taught me about living in America.”

Thanks again!

 

 

 

 

Write that Novel in your Heart!

November is National Novel Writers Month, commonly known as NaNoWriMo.

The goal is for folks like you to write a 50,000 word novel in a month.

I’m writing a new novel,  As the Crow Flies, and need to add 50,000 words in the coming month.

This is an invitation to join together and write.

We’ll be sharing ideas and encouragement through the end of November.

You don’t have to tell anyone that you’re attempting to write a novel. (Take it from me. They will say all types of things!)

But the act of attempting to put your story on paper will stretch and grow you.

Here is the story why I’m passionate about this right now:

As most of you know, my Dad was my hero.  He was  a man’s kind of man who loved people and they loved him in return.  Dad’s younger brother, Bill Iles, shares many stories about my Dad growing up.

Recently Uncle Bill said,  “Curt, did you ever see the book your Dad was writing?”

This was news to me.

He continued, “As a teenager, your Dad had a notebook full of pages and pages of a book.  He didn’t show to anyone but he wrote it in all the time.”

I wish Daddy was here to ask about that book.

Where did it go?

Why did he stop?

What was his dream about?

This both heartens me and breaks my heart.  The man that was my hero had a story to tell and somewhere along the line, that dream died.

My Dad had a super-full life and left this earth with few, or no, regrets.

I do wish I could’ve helped him tell his story.

It’s too late for that.

But it’s not too late for me to encourage you.

Write your novel!

Or if you prefer, tell the story of your life.

Your family will thank you for it.

Make a calendar of how many words you'll need to write to reach 50,000.
Make a calendar of how many words you’ll need to write to reach 50,000.

 

During this week (and month) we’ll be sharing ideas.

I invite you to walk along. I need your encouragement.

I invite you to tell your story.

 

 

As the Crow Flies: Let’s back to 1881

The fun and joy of writing historical fiction is “going back” to a time in the past.

With our new draft novel, the year is 1881 on Louisiana’s frontier, commonly called “No Man’s Land.”

 

1881 calendar

 

 

 

 

 

It’s important to look at dates, moon phases, weather (when you can find it) and “live in that era.”

That’s where I’m at.  I won’t be driving a wagon with two oxen, but I am deep within that time.

I’ve been reading at local libraries, including our Alexandria Historical Library.

Another source of “local flavor” are the newspapers of the day.   My novel takes place in what is now the SW corner of Rapides Parish.  The main paper of the day was the Alexandria Democrat.  

The Library of Congress has this paper available as PDFs.

 

The Alexandria Democrat was the leading newspaper in Central Louisiana following Reconstruction.
The Alexandria Democrat was the leading newspaper in Central Louisiana following Reconstruction.

 

Naming that Girl: Your Chance

scurt by fire0001

A Word from Curt

 

Here is the current draft opening line of my current novel, As the Crow Flies:

 

My name is JANE DOE, and I was born into a family of thieves.

It’s how I ended up in the middle of what came to be known as the Westport Fight.

This is my story of what happened on that cold Louisiana Christmas Eve way back in 1881.

Some folks won’t like my recollections.

But it’s my story.

I was there and saw it all.

 

Here’s where you can help:

What would be the best name for “Jane Doe”:

Nancy Cotten

Missouri Cotten

 

Other: ____________________

 

From the opening lines, what word would describe her personality?   ____________

 

Contact Us!

We love to hear from readers at CreekBank Stories!

For Snail Mail, mail to:

Creekbank Stories

PO Box 6060

Alexandria, LA 71307

 

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Tough or Hard: The Choice is Yours

Bricks can be used to build walls to keep others out or pathways to let them in.
Bricks can be used to build walls to keep others out or pathways to let them in.

Tough or Hard

 

In front of me are three objects: a brick, a piece of leather, and a hammer. These make for a wonderful lesson.

However, this story is not about the hardness of a brick, toughness of leather, or the pain of the hammer blow. This is a story about somebody. Objects don’t move us—but people do.

Watching folks go through difficult times is revealing. Periods of trial and adversity serve to distill what is really inside people. What’s revealed often surprises and shocks us.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita did that for us in Louisiana. The whole world saw the worst side of humans—you saw it on the television with the looting, abandonment and loss in New Orleans.

Then again, this storm blew in and exposed the best sides of humankind. Strangers reaching across all sorts of lines—racial, cultural, or geographical—to help others in need.

Observing it, I was amazed watching how our storms, and the ensuing difficulties that followed, elicited completely different responses in people. Some folks, comfortable living their lives as victims, continued blaming the world for their troubles. Others in exactly the same circumstances quickly got back up, dusted themselves off and went to work, choosing to be a victor instead of a victim.

The human spirit and corresponding attitudes are amazing to observe. It comes down to this: Life will make you either hard or tough.

You become either bitter . . . or better.

#                 #                #

Africa is ancient and modern. Sunset over tukuls (huts) with cell phone tower.
Africa is ancient and modern. Sunset over tukuls (huts) with cell phone tower in background.

Let’s look at our three objects: the brick, the hammer, and the strip of leather. Place the piece of leather and the brick on a sidewalk side by side. Now, take the hammer and hit each one of them hard several times. The brick will be broken into pieces. The piece of leather may show the hammer’s indents, but it will not break or crack.

Because bricks are hard, but leather is tough.

What happens to us—it’s called circumstances—will make us either hard or tough. These situations are the hammer blows. It doesn’t matter whether the bows are self-included or due to chance or fate. They may be due to family circumstances, what we call rotten luck, a cancer diagnosis, or a hurricane

The sources of life’s hammer blows are limitless.

These blows come to all of us. No one is immune.

Some people will become tougher when the hammer falls. They take the blows, their lives showing the imprints of the hammer, but they are supple and flexible. They come out of this experience tougher and still whole.

Under the same circumstances others, like the brick, crack and crumble under the same blows. That is because like the brick, they have become hard.

Sadly, hardness does not ensure toughness. There are hard-to-miss traits that exemplify hardness in life: bitterness, an attitude of apathy toward the needs and pain of others, or a selfish callousness that strives to isolate oneself from the world. Add to this list, the telltale symptom of cynicism toward others, God, and spiritual things.

Under the hammer blows of life—who we are, as well as what we really believe—will always be revealed.

Here’s a good question: How do you recognize a tough heart? The short letter below explains the tough heart. It’s from my aptly named friend: Joy Tanner:

2005 was a tumultuous year of storms for Jack and me; the fiery fatal plane crash in which our daughter lost her life; the people with whom we spent twenty years in Cameron Parish who lost it all because of Hurricane Rita; the news that our deceased daughter’s only child is going to Iraq; my husband Jack’s Lou Gehrig’s disease.

           In spite of the great losses, we’ve become better instead of bitter. It’s a peace that comes from the inside, from inside the heart where the mold cannot grow.

             And the water cannot flood.

           And the hurricane-force winds cannot reach.

           And the flames of the plane crash cannot burn up.

            Amen and amen,

                                  Joy Tanner

Her letter reveals the heart of a brave and tough woman who has not allowed her spirit to be hard.

Her name—Joy—says it all.

Joy—unlike happiness—comes from inside and cannot be taken away by situations, storms, even tragedies.

Joy Tanner was hammered repeatedly in 2005, but she came out of it better, not bitter.

Tough, not hard.

Tough as leather, more useful and usable for God—as well as to others.

Tough, but not hard.

May the same be said of each of us.

 

Deep Roots contains short stories that inspire, encourage, and inform.
Deep Roots contains short stories that inspire, encourage, and inform.

 

 

Measure Twice/Cut Once

Deep Roots contains short stories that inspire, encourage, and inform.
Deep Roots contains short stories that inspire, encourage, and inform.

We’re highlighting stories from our short story collection, Deep Roots.

Measure Twice, Cut Once

 

Also I have given ability to all the skilled workers

to make everything I have commanded you.

-Exodus 31:6

 

I’ve always loved watching an artist at work. To watch a skilled craftsman shape something with their hands—and heart—is a joy.

As the above verse in Exodus states, the work of a gifted craftsman is a gift from God. The fact that great artists have honed their skills with hundreds of hours of repetitious practice makes it no less a gift from God. In fact, it must please God greatly to see someone take a gifted skill and be a good steward in developing it.

Author Malcolm Gladwell, in his excellent book Outliers, sums this up, “It takes about 10,000 hours to become really great at anything.”

In my hometown of Dry Creek, two artisans are my close friends. They both operate under the wise motto of “measure twice, cut once.” It just happens that they’re married to each other.

Van is a carpenter. He is a tall sinewy man with a quick smile and strong hands.

He works hard and is known for doing good and dependable work. As a carpenter, he knows all about “measuring twice before cutting once.”

Waste is not a quality for a good carpenter. Carefully measuring to get it right the first time eliminates a lot of grief later on. You may not think of a carpenter as an artist, but they are. Webster’s defines an artist as “one who is adept at something.”

The second artist is Van’s wife, Cathy. She operates In Style Hair Salon in Dry Creek. On my monthly trip to get my bald-head clipped, I’m amazed as I watch her hands move quickly cutting , styling, and shaping the hair of the men and women of our community.

Cathy also operates by the “measure twice—cut once” principle. She told of a customer who made five trips in one day—each time wanting a “little bit more cut off.”

Knowing that “once it’s cut, it’s gone,” Cathy carefully trimmed a little bit more, knowing the customer was near the “I can’t believe I got that much cut off” line.

Measure twice, cut once.

It’s a good motto for anyone, not just a hair stylist or a carpenter.

Cathy was the first woman to cut my dad’s hair at the age of sixty-three. He told me, “I did something today I’d never done. I had a woman cut my hair.”

A few years ago after his death, Cathy said, “I still have a lock of your daddy’s hair. When he became sick with cancer, I kept a lock in honor and memory of him.

That meant the world to me.

#           #             #

            I’ve had unforgettable haircuts in two foreign countries—Vietnam and Ethiopia.

During my 2002 visit to Vietnam, I was amused at the barbershops in the capital city of Hanoi. In the parks, barbers would hang a mirror on a tree, pull up a chair, and cut hair with scissors and a straight razor.

I decided to get one these outdoor haircuts. The only problem was that my barber didn’t speak English and I didn’t know Vietnamese. I figured sign language would work just fine. Holding my thumb and forefinger a half-inch apart, I gestured, “Just a little. Not much.”

The barber smiled, popped his apron, and put me in the chair. He quickly went to work. Because we couldn’t talk, there was none of the “story breaks” I was used to in America.

The Viet barber had me turned away from his mirror. Even without looking, I knew he was cutting off too much. The amount of hair falling onto the apron and ground alarmed me.

When he pulled out the straight razor, I’d had enough. He looked to be about my age and had probably fought with the Viet Cong or North Vietnamese Army. There was no way he was going to put a razor on my neck.

Standing up, I looked into the mirror and saw that I’d been scalped.

I realized that my two-fingered gesture of “cut just a little” was interpreted as “leave just a little.”

\           I don’t recall how many Viet đồng my haircut cost, but I definitely got my money’s worth. When my American friends saw me, one said, “What in the world happened to you?”

“Oh, I just got a Hanoi haircut.”

Fortunately, there was a week before we left for home. By the time we re-crossed the Pacific and returned to America, my hair had mostly recovered from my Hanoi haircut.

You’d think I would have learned from my Vietnam experience, but in Ethiopia, I bravely entered a barbershop as DeDe asked, “Are you sure you want to do this?’.

The shop was full of men laughing and talking until the “furanji” (the derisive term for foreigners) entered. The young barber motioned me into his chair. His trembling hands were ample proof that he’d never cut a white man’s hair.

He took a deep breath, then poured alcohol on his clippers, struck a match, and placed it in front of my face. I probably should have run right then.

He was only showing me that he’d sterilized his clippers. Those clippers buzzed loudly around my ears as he went to work. I noticed that everyone in the shop stopped talking and the other barbers quit cutting. They were intent on watching my haircut. I felt sorry for the barber. He was under the gun. As I watched the mirror, I would smile and approvingly shake my head in encouragement.

He finished and the entire room, including DeDe, seemed to exhale together. I paid my money, left him a good tip, and waved goodbye to the audience who’d watched my Ethiopian haircut.

The young barber walked us to the door, shaking my hand and talking in Amharic. I’ll always wonder what he was saying.

As I put my ball cap on and we strolled away, he looked up and down the street as if looking for the next furanji who might invade his barbershop.

I wonder how you translate “Measure Twice-Cut Once” into Ethiopian Amharic?

 

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You can hold the rope

Holding the Rope

 

When you pray, you're holding the rope. This photo is of a South Sudanese well digger.
When you pray, you’re holding the rope. This photo is of a South Sudanese well digger.

 

 

When I ask you to hold the rope for us,  I’m deadly serious.

Many of you were faithful to pray for DeDe and I in Africa.

We need your prayer just as much back here in America.

Thank you in advance for lifting us up.

I’ve been thinking of my life statement,  “I want to be a man God can use and be respected by those who know me best.”

If I’m a man God can use, there are things I will do and other things that draw an instant “No.”

Pray that I’ll say “Yes” to the big things.

The things that matter.

DeDe will be sharing Thursday night.
DeDe will be sharing Thursday night.

 

My priority this week is writing.  Pray for focus and wisdom as I continue the first draft of my upcoming novel, As the Crow Flies.

Two descendants of Joe Moore at the Westport Fight historical marker. Jude and Luke Iles are 5x grandsons of Joe Moore, owner of the Westport store.
Two descendants of Joe Moore at the Westport Fight historical marker. Jude and Luke Iles are 5x grandsons of Joe Moore, owner of the Westport store.

 

As the Crow Flies is the sequel to A Good Place.

It’s set in Louisiana’s No Man’s Land during 1881.

During November, (National Write your Novel Month) I’ll be sharing all about putting a novel together.  It’s your chance to take the challenge and write that novel that’s inside of you!

Stay tuned.

 

Pray

 

 

 

Lift us up