I was present at Creation

No, not the one that happened "in the beginning," but during our vacation in the US this summer, I have attended two events that had some relation to the word "creation."

The first event was Creation Festival 2007, a musical event in honor of our Creator. This was a camp with concerts by Christian artists which lasted for four days at the end of June. Suzanne, Nancy, and I went. There weren't many facilities at the camp (we had to walk a mile to get a shower and there wasn't running water or electricity hookups), but hey, we deal with a lack of amenities in Niger, so it wasn't much of a hardship for us. We got to hear some of my favorite artisits: Newsboys, Casting Crowns, David Crowder Band, Aaron Schuste, and Third Day. There were four different bands every night. We heard some new ones we had never heard of before. Leeland became a new favorite.

The Word of God also played an important part in the festival. There were messages by renowned speakers, and all the concession stands and booths closed down during the preaching. We had a lot of fun in the out-of-doors with the green and the fresh, cool air. We borrowed a tent and cooking utensils from one friend and sleeping bags from another.

It rained a few times, but we like rain. One night they said there were about 70,000 people at the concert!!!

Another day Daniel and I had the chance to go to Strasburg, PA to Sight and Sound theater to view the production of "In the Beginning." It was an elaborate stage recreation of the creation of the world, the fall, and, at the end, the restoration of the world to the way it was "in the beginning." The music and the production were excellent.

That's some of what we've done on vacation. No, the theme of our vacation is not "creation," but in some ways we are experiencing a recreation as we begin to feel refreshed and rejuvinated after a stressful and difficult year in Niger. We are also experiencing the wonders of God's creation as we hide out in the beautiful rolling Poconos of Pennsylvania.



Humanly speaking, 50 years is a long time. How many of you can remember where you were 50 years ago? I can't because I haven't reached that milestone yet. That was 1957, and I wasn't born until two years later. Think of all the things that have happened in the last 50 years: econmical jet travel, missions to the moon, computers, e-mail, IM, independence for most African countries, many wars, the growth of evangelicalism, the Lausanne Covenenant, Islamic resurgence, people pushing for all kinds of "rights".
From God's perspective, of course, amd even considering the recorded history of the world, 50 years is a mere cursor blip on the screen. Casting Crowns sings a song that inculdes the following words:
"I am a flower quickly fading
Here today and gone tomorrow
A wave tossed in the ocean
A vapor in the wind..."
The song goes on to say,
"...Still you hear me when I'm calling
Lord, you catch me when I'm falling
You show me who I am:
I am yours...."
Isn't it great to know that we are His? That we belong to Him and that He controls all the years of our lives?
Fifty years ago an event happened that has great significance for my life even though I wasn't there when it happened: my parents got married. If it wasn't for that event, I wouldn't be here!! The date was 15 June 1957. To celebrate this great milestone, family and friends from near and far came together at Trinity Covenant Church in Manchester, CT, on 24 June 2007. We had a grand celebration remembering 50 years of God's faithfulness. I am the oldest of four boys, all of whom are in the picture below.
Nancy, myself, and our two children, Daniel and Suzanne, traveled from Africa to be there for the big day. Jim and Beth Anne and their boys along with two girlfriends came from New Jersey. Tim, Laurie, and boys, who livein Manchester, were all there. And Dave (the one who looks like me) flew in from Oklahoma. His wife Debbie and their four were unable to come, and we missed them. In addition, my mom's four sisters and their living husbands (one died of cancer two years ago) all came from Seattle, Washington. See the picture of my mom and dad (on the extreme right) and the sisters with their husbands on the left. The woman to the left of my mom is Aunt Muriel. Her husband, Uncle Sev, is the one who died.

My dad's brother came from Florida with his daughter (my cousin) and her husband. There were other guests, mostly members of Trinity Covenant Church, where my parents have attended for 30 years and where my dad has been pastor of missions and mentoring for many years. Others came from CT and from Florida.

The relatives arrived on various days of the week before the big day. We arrived from Africa on Monday, June 18. Those from Washington came in to Hartford on Thursday, June 21. The relatives from Florida were there on Saturday, June 23. And my brother from Oklahoma also came in on Saturday. We had a picnic at Tim and Laurie's on Friday, June 22. Unfortunately, it was cold and rainy. Saturday noon all the relatives that had arrived went to a Chinese buffet. And all the older generation went to a nice restaurant Saturday evening. That did not include anyone under 50.
Sunday afternoon, 24 June, on a glorious sunny day, we four boys hosted a reception for my parents at Trinity Covenant Church. We estimated about 200 people showed up. That was an excellent turnout to honor two who have modeled fithfulness and godliness to us all. Many could not make it. A 45-minute program in the sanctuary was well-received. Mom and Dad surprised us by making a powerful 20-minute DVD which included pictures I had never or rarely ever seen of them and us when we were growing up.

Fifity years. In this crazy world, where commitment no longer means what it used to and where people trade spouses like they trade commodities, we are pleased to honor my parents, Bob and Jean DeValve, on their 50 years of married life. Congratulations!


Rain and Traveling to the US

It's 3:30 p.m. on July 4th, and it's raining. A thunderstorm! Just like Niger. Though it's cold (only in the 60's), I try never to complain when there's clouds and rain. We see so little of either in Niger that I've come to appreciate both very much, even when it feels like winter to me. iIve got on a t-shirt and a sweatshirt. Our last day in Tera it was 111 F in the shade with about 40% humidity, a heat index of nearly 140 F. Unfortunately, we haven't heard that Niger has had much rain yet, and that's not good. They should have had rains starting before the end of June.

We're back in the US for a vacation. Our trip here was another adventure. We were supposed to leave from Niamey at 2:45 a.m. on June 18 (local time). We dutifully went out to the airport at midnight after not getting any sleep since 6:30 a.m. the previous day, when we got up to have church and travel down to Niamey from Tera. We quickly got through baggage check-in with our loaded suitcases, then proceeded to passport control. That took a while, and then we had to get in a line for security. It wasn't long before we were in the single waiting lounge in the departure section of the airport. We waited and waited and waited..... Our plane didn't even arrive until 3:30 a.m, and we weren't in take-off position on the single runway until 4:30, nearly 24 hours after we had gotten up the day before.

The big surprise of the trip was that we had a scheduled layover in Ougadougou (try that mouthful on for size), the capital of Burkina Faso, only a 45 minute journey from Niamey. We thought we were on a direct flight to Casablanca, Morocco. The layover was supposed to be 45 minutes, but it turned out to be triple that. First they asked Nancy and Suzanne, another family we were traveling with, and several others to move from the back of the plane. Then they unscrewed some of the back seats and lowered them to install a frame for a stretcher. Then they installed the stretcher and a curtain and carried a sick patient onto the plane, escorted by his daughter and doctor. I had never been on a plane with a medivac before. It was quite dramatic. It was well after sunrise before we took off around 6:30, and we had burned up over three hours of a scheduled 3 hour, 40 minute layover in Casablanca. We were afraid we would miss our flight to New York, but when we landed in Casa at 9:40, we had hope we might make it to the 10:45 flight.

We had to go through security into a waiting lounge, and then we were bused to a secondary terminal, past our waiting plane sitting on the tarmac. At the new terminal, our plane was already boarding. We had to go through secondary security: a thorough check of our hand luggaged and a frisk down. I was wearing cargo trousers with a lot of pockets, and they were full of travel stuff. I dutifully pulled everything out of my trousers. One thing I was carryin in a side pocket was a bee-sting kit. I'm allergic to bee strings and have to carry this kit wherever I go. The policemen looked at it, promplty popped the 1/2-inch needle out of it and reprimanded me for trying to take a needle on the plane. I tried to explain that I'm allergic to bee stings, and the medicine in the kit could save my life. He glared at me, seeming not to comprehend a word I was saying (all in French) and not happy with the needle sticking out of it. I don't think he'd ever seen or heard of such a thing. He said he'd have to confiscate it. I said he might as well because he'd exposed the medicine to the air, and it would lose its potency quickly as a result. We got on a bus that took us halfway back to the other terminal, where our plane waited. We boarded our flight and took off only a half hour late (11:15 a.m. local time). We made up the time in the air, and arrived exactly on time at JFK in New York at 2:45 p.m. NY time. We breezed through passport control, baggage claim, and customs, and found ourselves out in the lobby of the international building arrivals area. We had decided to take the "Connecticut Limo," a fancy name for a comfortable van, to Hartford, CT to meet my parents. It was an expensive, but easy way to leave the New York driving to someone else. We were picked up at 4: 30 p.m., but it took another hour to pick up other riders at other terminals, and we had to switch vans at one point to accomodate even more passengers. So it was after 5:30 before we left the airport, and you know what that means on a Monday afternoon. It was bumper to bumper on the Van Wyck "Expressway" until we got to the bridges going over the East River to the mainland. Then we had to drop passengers off in three different places in CT before we got to Hartford. My brother, his son, and my mom were waiting there with a van to pick us up with our large assortment of baggage and take us home. We went home, had a delicious supper of subs, and then crashed at about 10:30 p.m., EDT, nearly 24 hours after we had taken off from Niamey, and about 45 hours since we had had any real sleep. This is the stuff of international travel, and I begin to wonder why I thought traveling was so much fun when I was younger.

Next blog I'll detail some of the things we've been doing on vacation.