Dear Family and Friends,
Greetings to you from hot, dry, and dusty Bondoukou. Please let me be among the first of many friends to wish you a Merry Christmas 2010 and a Happy New Year 2011. Let us celebrate the birth of Christ the King with joy and thanksgiving. May we boldly share His message of love with one and all. I was pleasantly surprised that we started singing Christmas carols at church on November 21st. This was somewhat early for us. Oh, how I wish you could hear these beautiful songs in French and Koulango, plus the several other languages of our Ivorian brothers and sisters in Christ.
We've been saddened by two deaths in the month of November - Francois, a church leader from the Sayé Free Will Baptist church, leaving behind a pregnant wife and two children; and the teenage son of Pastor Daniel Sib, serving in the Kafalo FWB Church. Please pray for God's comfort for these two families. Both of these churches are in the Bouna region.
Thank you for praying for the nutrition classes that I've been teaching at Gouméré. Hopefully, I'll be able to finish with that this coming Sunday. The classes have gone well. The interest has been so great that I've needed a third Sunday to complete the lessons. Debbie Anderson and I continue to teach Community Health Evangelism lessons to the ladies on Sunday afternoon. Please pray for Verlin Anderson as he visits each of our churches in order to challenge them, once again, to participate in the CHE program. CHE is being used by the Lord all over the world as an effective means of taking the Gospel to unreached people groups. We desire that the unreached people groups in this country will also be blessed to hear the Gospel through this ministry.
December 12, 2010 (I'm writing the second part of the Update from Kumasi, Ghana, a country east of Côte d'Ivoire).
Now, let me explain why the Andersons and I decided to travel here. If you follow world news, you will remember that Côte d'Ivoire held presidential elections on November 28th. There was fraud and violence to the point that a large number of votes were thrown out. The results were very close, as about one-half of the population voted for one man and the other half voted for the other man. Both of these men have declared themselves to be the winner. The problem is that a country cannot have two presidents, unless the country divides. No one wants that. The international community is backing one of the men and is putting pressure on the other to step aside. So far, he will not do it. Many people support his decision.
It is a very complicated situation. We pray that this will not lead to a return to war.
Except for a few minor incidents, all remained calm at Bondoukou. Still, some things were getting out of hand in other parts of the country. Many were concerned for our safety. So, after much prayer and discussion, we decided to come to Ghana for some much-needed car repairs and a few days of rest. As we wait, we are praying for God to intervene and give a peaceable solution to the political standoff in Côte d'Ivoire. We hope to be able in return to Bondoukou before Christmas. Needless to say, this has been an unwelcome interruption to my final preparations for returning to the States to begin the retirement process. But, God is in control.
All is in His hands. We wait upon Him. We are safe. We know that this is His plan for us right now. Thank you for continuing to pray for us and the situation in Côte d'Ivoire.
During the past six months, I have written of my return Stateside. The good Lord willing, I will arrive in Charleston, West Virginia on January 17, 2011. I will continue to work with the Mission through July, 2011. Please continue to be faithful in your prayer and financial support. My coming home now will permit me to begin the retirement process, help with my Mom's care, and touch base with my supporting churches. I look forward to visiting with you through visits, letters, e-mails, and telephone calls.
Most of you know me quite well and will agree that Alice is not a "superwoman". Yes, this is a difficult time. We are saddened and disappointed by things as they stand right now. We long for things to get better. At times, we are frustrated and tearful. We have the means of leaving. Most of our beloved Ivorian friends don't have that option. So, please pray for them. I've been thinking of the old hymn "Living by Faith". The last line of the chorus says, "I'm living by faith and feel no alarm". I wish that were 100% true for me but, at times, I feel much alarm - not for myself, but for the people of Côte d'Ivoire. Again, I ask that you pray for them. In days of peace and, in days of turmoil, I cling to Isaiah 26:3, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee." Yes, as I think on Him, my alarm is turned into perfect peace. I praise Him.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas,
Alice F. Smith