Judy’s Blog

Treasures of the Snow

  • November 29, 2017

My first snowflake macros have given me much joy! I love the beauty in these tiny flakes–they point to an awesome Creator’s infinite creativity down to the smallest detail! Here’s a composite of images and thoughts. There are a lot of great photographers who do wonderful snowflake images. Perhaps I can get some better ones at some point. For now, I’m thankful to have these! Stars Snowflakes xga

Our Greatest Treasure

  • May 19, 2017

Yesterday I had the delightful privilege of photographing the nursing students as they each received a French Thompson Chain Reference Bible in preparation for their next Bible class. I absolutely loved watching their responses and expressions as this extra-special gift was presented to them!  I observed as Godwin, the young man pictured below, positively glowed with joy as he hugged and kissed this new Bible. Truly the living Word of God is our greatest treasure, and I love it that the students recognize that. Please pray that these 17 students will learn and apply as they study their brand new copy of this excellent study Bible.   Bible Bible 2

Name that rock!

  • February 16, 2017

I’m sitting on my screened in porch, reading the Word, thinking, praying, and I’m so overcome I really don’t know what to say. So I’ll just start in.

I love milestones, and this special year in Togo is no exception.  I’m filled to overflowing with gratitude to my faithful Lord who has helped me thus far—all the way from the mission’s candidate class in 1988, to language study in Quebec in 1990, to Togo on March 2, 1992, and to this day in 2017.

“Thus far the Lord has helped us.” The phrase was uttered by Samuel the prophet (see 1 Samuel 7:1-15), as he named a stone “Ebenezer.” The word means “stone of help.” Samuel was acknowledging the Lord’s awesome power to help subdue the Philistines and bring peace to the Israelites. Presupposed in Samuel’s memorial is “He’s helped us this far; He is able to continue to do so as we follow Him.”

So I’m thanking the Lord (I even named a rock!!) for helping me thus far as a missionary in Togo, West Africa, and by His grace, I’m trusting Him to keep right on helping me do what He wants me to do. I look forward to seeing Him continue His work to strengthen local churches through the bookstore & print shop, camp ministry, audio/visual materials, community health evangelism, and of course, creation photography.  He is at work and it’s a delight to be a part of what He’s doing.

 

ebenezer small

 

Here’s  my first prayer card and first passport, with the dates of the end of language study and arrival in Togo.  Thank the Lord for His faithfulness!

1992 ex sm

 

To you who are co-laborers with me in prayer & financial support, the Lord has used YOUR faithfulness to keep me going! What can I say, but thank you, thank you, thank you!  Please keep on praying, and together, we’ll keep following what the Lord wants us to do.

This is hard to say, but I have to tell you that for the first time in my 29 years with the mission, the support required to keep me out here is significantly in deficit. Please pray about this on my behalf, and if the Lord wants you to step in to help keep me out here for however long He wants me serving in Togo, please email me and I’ll give you more details. There are two main reasons for loss of support for missionaries that have been at it for along time. One is aging supporters being promoted to their Real Home, and the other—in today’s world—is the shrinking membership in our churches, forcing them to decrease or end missionary support. The Lord knows the needs and He is faithful.

Celebrate His goodness with me! Get a rock and a Sharpie and name the rock Ebenezer, and thank the Lord for His awesome help thus far, and trust Him for that same help as you follow Him a day at a time. He never changes.

Jb portrait ex sm

Mysteries revealed

  • January 21, 2017
Today I made a discovery! Some of the “unknown” critters I have in my photo collection are the same thing! Look carefully at the composite of images below, and you’ll see stages in the development of a ladybug. I took the photos of the first two several years ago, and discovered awhile back that the first is the larval stage of the ladybug. Only today did I discover that the odd looking orange “thing” is the next stage, and then the mature bug emerges, not dissimilar to the way a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. Metamorphosis in nature is truly, truly amazing.
Here is another incredible mystery, found in Scripture:
“This mystery . . . which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”  (see Colossians 1:26,27).  The Word tells us the mystery was hidden, but has been revealed to those who know Jesus! It’s an unfathomable concept . . . that humans can know Christ personally, and have this “hope of glory.”  A future with Him awaits. That keeps us going, does it not?
 ladybug mystery small

New day, week, month, year . . . mercies!

  • January 4, 2017

How interesting it is to be right here at this moment: 2017, Day one, Week one, Month One of this new year. Looking back at 2016, I rejoice over huge milestones (the restart of camp here in Togo with 84 children coming to the Lord, and seeing my colleague and friend, Magguie, walk again on her new prosthetic foot), and I feel again the sadness over distressing times (deaths of our brother & colleague Todd and others, including three Togolese that were dear to many). It is a joy and comfort to look ahead and remember this:

The Lord does not change. (Malachi 3:6). Nothing is too hard for Him. (Jeremiah 32:27.) He is faithful, and His mercy never ends! (Lamentations 3:22,23.)
2017 is a year I used to view as being a REALLY long ways off, especially when I first arrived in Togo as a new missionary, fresh out of language school in 1992! I wondered what it would be like to be in my 25th year of service here. It’s a milestone year, and here I am! I can certainly say the Lord is faithful! Because of His faithfulness,  I can look forward to the year ahead, and as many more years as the Lord will allow me to be part of His work here in Togo.
I’m including a photo of one of my favorite places. Victoria Falls is a mile wide, and never stops flowing, no matter how dry the seasons become. The waterfall reminds me of our faithful Lord. May He fill you with His peace and quiet you with His love as you meditate on His faithfulness, and as you move into this new year!
vic-falls-love-composite-xga

Birds & stars . . . not one is forgotten!

  • November 1, 2016
I’ve been considering this for several months, ever since taking photos of the Milky Way in August:
See all these stars: He calls them all by name; not one of them is missing. (See Isaiah 40:26.)
Observe these little birds: not one of them is forgotten by your Father in Heaven. (See Luke 12:6.)
Billions upon billions of stars, all named, not one missing. Millions upon millions of birds, and not one can fall without the Father knowing it. The God of the infinite is also the God of the infinitesimal. 
What does this mean for us who know Him? If you’re my friend & co-worker Magguie, you know He’s aware of your missing foot and your efforts to learn to walk with a prosthesis. He knows you’ve just had malaria and is the One that helped you recover. He’s aware that you just lost your husband and how much it hurts, even though he had a second wife and had not provided for you or your two daughters. All big things, all in one person’s life. The Father knows and cares.  If you are Elisabeth working at our mission Guest House for many years, He knows you suddenly lost your husband in a motorcycle accident. He is there to comfort you and get you through impossible days. A huge event in one person’s life . . . our friend with whom we mourn. The Father is aware.  What about the termites chowing down on the kitchen cabinets at our house? I can almost hear them munching from my office . . . Is He aware of such a small thing? Absolutely! He cares about anything that concerns His children. (The termites got sprayed this morning. Not a huge deal, but you get my point, I think!)
Whatever it is in your life or mine, no matter how big or small the detail, He knows, cares, and does not forget us, ever.
I’ve talked with Magguie by phone several times; she sounds good. She says she has sore muscles from learning to walk with the prosthesis. All of the funds have been promised to meet the financial need. Thank the Lord!! Please do keep her in your prayers as she does her therapy. Pray for her and her kids in the very sudden loss of her husband/their dad.
On another subject, please be in prayer for our literacy ministry here in Togo. We can never overstate the importance of being able to read the Word! Currently there is no one to develop this ministry. We are asking the Lord for either a missionary who is on the field already or for a new missionary to take on this important ministry.
bird-stars-email

The Order of Things

  • September 6, 2016
          As a photographer living on a hospital compound in Africa, I have many opportunities to photograph a variety of subjects. I have a preference for nature photography because it constantly reminds me of the nearness of the Lord God, who has made creatures with such incredible beauty and detail. Last week while I was up in Mango at our new hospital, I had a few days to wander around and think and pray and take pictures. I concentrated mainly on birds, because there was a great variety there, given the rainy season and lush, green foliage. One morning, the thought came to me about “the order” of things. As we all know, of first importance is people, because they need to be saved. At the hospital, they need physical healing so they can come to know the Creator and THEN they are free to enjoy all He has made. I enjoy nature so much because I know the Creator. I’m immeasurably grateful for salvation in Jesus—not only because I have eternal life because of Him, but also because knowing Him gives me clear understanding that nature provides a connection to Him as the Creator of all things. The beauty around me can be fully enjoyed because I know Him personally.
          Knowing Jesus leads my heart to praise and thanksgiving, because He alone is worthy to be praised. Today I am grateful to Him for two specific things. One is that He protected my sister as she was in quite a serious car accident last Sunday. The car is totaled and she is quite sore, but she is doing well. The Lord sent some dear eye witnesses to help her and pray with her at the scene. Secondly, I’m praising Him that Magguie has had a good consultation about a prosthetic foot. I don’t have all the details yet, but I am praying this will work well for her!
          Photo composites can be a bit busy, but I’m including this one to show the sheer variety of the birdlife I saw in Mango, Togo last week! 
Mango Birds xga

Infinite God and a pair of glasses

  • August 8, 2016
We’ve had a visiting team of college students and graduates here in Togo for a week—all photographers! It’s been really great working with them as they participated in a workshop to learn to make photo & video presentations that missionaries can use on furlough—projects that tell actual stories of people we work with out here. It was a successful week, and it was very good to see the potential for full time missionary work in that group of students, which was a major goal of the workshop—to expose them to missions and show them that there is indeed a place for media arts on the mission field.
So last night I was out taking pictures of this amazingly clear night sky—unusual during the rainy season, and some of the students joined me as I was photographing the Milky Way. I’ve wanted to try to get images like this for some time. It was literally amazing! I was outside until midnight and pretty wound up for some time after, thinking of the import of all of those billions and billions of stars out there, and the fact that God knows every one of them by name! To think there are only  few billion people on earth—it’s not a big thing for our infinite God to know our names, our needs, how many hairs are on our heads . . . .
This morning I got up and could not find my glasses—my good ones that I use for both distance and reading. I looked everywhere I had been last evening and was asking the Lord to remind me where I had left them. He prompted me to check the grassy area where I had been taking pictures, where I had walked all around in the dark, and where the students had walked around with their cameras and tripods . . . and sure enough, there lay my glasses on the grass, dew-covered but undamaged. My heart is so thankful that the God of those billions of stars cares about the details of our lives, and that He protected my glasses from being crushed under someone’s foot!
I’m hoping you will be encouraged as you are reminded that His infiniteness not only extends beyond the very reaches of a limitless universe, but also down to the very smallest detail of our lives.  What is man, that He thinks of us?? (See Psalm 8:3 & 4.)
Stars composite xga

I love camp!

  • July 19, 2016
Of all the amazing aspects of Bible Camp in Togo this year, such as:
~Being reunited with staff from the early years of camp;
~Meeting new staff who are the children of our older workers;
~Seeing the son of our first director participating in the ministry;
~Watching dozens of kids singing, playing great games, listening to the Word of God;
~Admiring the creativity of those who planned out this year’s camp;
~Witnessing everything working smoothly over six days with two large groups of kids and teens;
~Enjoying the demonstration of how to make sugar cookies, including baking them in a wooden cabinet with a charcoal grill inside it;
~Videoing my little friend Sharon practicing sharing the Wordless Book story with a friend . . .
It is THIS moment that rises to the top:
I had gone to camp to observe and greet friends, pray, and take photos and video clips. I spent the night in a small apartment on the grounds. At six thirty the next morning, I was preparing to go outside to think and pray and take photos as I do almost daily. As I approached the door to go out, I heard low voices right outside on the step. I carefully peered out the window, and I saw a counselor, Bible in hand, alongside a camper. She was asking the camper if she had ever asked Jesus to be her Savior. I heard another pair of quiet voices out the other window. Another counselor and camper, talking about the Gospel. Moses came to mind as God spoke to him from the burning bush, and I literally thought, “Surely this is holy ground. I should take my shoes off!” I was so moved as I stood in that sacred spot, hearing the Gospel being shared with two campers.
Thank the Lord for HIS work here in Togo, and for resurrecting the camp ministry from the still-burning embers of earlier days!  I love camp!
Camp Composite 2016xga

Flambouyant Trees Command Attention

  • April 28, 2016

Last night’s rain made for some great macro & water drop images, one of which is seen here as a detail of a Flambouyant blossom.

showers xga

Here in West Africa, these trees are currently the outstanding landscape feature. Even the most hardened “non- flower-noticer” stops in his tracks when he sees these explosive red-covered trees. The FTD Florists use the slogan “Say it with Flowers.” I believe our Creator is “saying it” loud and clear with these trees . . . He gave us color and beauty, even after The Fall in the Garden of Eden . . . because He loves us. One of these lovely trees graces the yard where I live, pictured here. I’m thankful to be able to enjoy such beauty so close by!

flame tree houseflame tree