Thursday, November 30, 2006

Swazi Christmas

I recently interviewed our housegirl, Martha, to get information about Christmas traditions in Swaziland.

These are some of her comments.

"Oh, the Swazi's tradition is not with Jesus. We learned about Jesus from the missionaries.

"Now we celebrate by singing carols and acting out the nativity and giving gifts to remember God gave us His only Son, the greatest gift.

"Merry Christmas greeting is usually in the English words 'Merry Christmas.' But if you are speaking to a child who only understands Siswati, you would say 'Mkhulu Christmas.'

She's not sure, nor am I, whether Mkhulu ("mmm KOO loo") refers to God or Father Christmas (Santa).

She says traditional, cultural learning does not include anything about Jesus or God.

She and her family learned about Jesus and Christmas from the missionaries.

"The Nazarenes came to our mountain village when I was just a small child. My grandfather and many members of our family accepted Jesus. I remember him sitting with his head raised up, looking toward the heavens, saying to me, 'My child, God is good.'"

Today Martha is one of the strongest Christians I know.

So basically all Christmas traditions come from Christian missionaries and the western world, because witchdoctors and jungle religions do not know who Jesus is.

It's why we are here.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Dino's Diner?

While recently in Johannesburg, South Africa, with Beano and Sharon, we decided to eat in a certain mall. You can imagine my surprise to find the Rizzos (our HPC pastor) all over the place. Well, in two places anyway, on the same floor. And it wasn't exactly the Rizzos...but rather their namesakes.

Dino's fancy-schmancy restaurant and Gloria Jean's cool coffee shop. (Gloria Jean was Dino's mom.) I never knew Dino could cook (well, he did make biscuits during a sermon one weekend). But here it is. Proof is in the photos.

Uh, we chose to eat dinner in an Indian restaurant next door to Dino's...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Breakfast at Cracker Barrel

My last visit with Bud was in September just before returning to Africa. Just the two of us had breakfast at Cracker Barrel. He took my hand and prayed over the food. We ate and talked about Jesus. Enjoying our coffee together, we were in no hurry. It was probably the best time I have ever had with my big brother. He hugged me as we parted ways. I celebrated that special time with him over and over as I flew back to Louisiana.

And now, as I sit and write these memories at a hotel in Nelspruit, South Africa, I am realizing what a great gift that breakfast was to me. I’ll miss my big brother, but I know eternity is a long time—and I plan to spend it with him along with all our loved ones.

Whatever It Takes

I was priviledged to sing trio with my big brother and his wife, Barb, once in a while.

Hubby Dave irreverently dubbed us the "B-O Trio" for Bougher-Ohlerking.

One of the most anointed and memorable to me was the one we all found hard to get through without tearing up: Lanny Wolfe's "Whatever It Takes."

There's a voice calling me from an old rugged tree, and it whispers, "draw closer to me,"
"Leave this world far behind, there are new heights to climb, and a new place in me you will find."

Take the dearest things to me, if that's how it must be, to draw me closer to Thee;
Let the disappointments come, lonely days without the sun, if through sorrow more like you I'll become.

Take my houses and lands, change my dreams and my plans, for I'm placing my whole life in your hands;
And if you call me today, to a land far away, Lord, I'll go and your will obey.

And whatever it takes to draw closer to you Lord, that's what I'll be willing to do
And whatever it takes to be more like you, that's what I'll be willing to do
I'll trade sunshine for rain, comfort for pain, that's what I'll be willing to do
For whatever it takes for my will to break, that's what i'll be willing to do.

Yellow Linen Suits / Air National Guard Uniform

Bud’s teenage years' pals were Don Reid, David Gannon, and Richard Arrowood. They bought really classy yellow linen suits alike, and snazzy straw hats. Calling each other by their mothers’ first names, (Flossie, Bessie, Flora, and Vera...Why do I remember this?) and would stand on a busy corner in downtown Des Moines on the loop, calling out Richard’s phone number to car loads of girls driving the loop because it was the easy one to remember: 6-1616! (I don’t think they ever got any calls—I always wondered if Richard’s mom intercepted the calls...)


Bud was in the Air National Guard. I was very proud of him—he was so very handsome in his uniform. He was always meticulous about his dress—right down to spit shining his shoes to perfection—which earned him a position in the coveted color guard.

More Stories About My Big Brother

When I was 14 my dad (and all of us) built a new house on Stanton close to dad's sister, Thelma. I liked to spend a lot of time with Aunt T, who lived two doors down the oiled dirt road. I really didn’t like to stay past dark, but did it once in a while. On this particular evening, I was hurrying home, singing aloud to keep myself from getting scared. I was feeling great relief when I was within 5 or so steps of our driveway, when suddenly Bud jumped up from lying in the ditch, yelling as only he can do. I yelled back and nearly passed out. He gave me his usual big horselaugh as he ran back into the house.


When Bud was *Christ Ambassador’s “president” at Central A/G, I was impressed that my big brother had a “favorite” chorus. As he was leading us in P&W one Sunday evening he asked us to sing “Got Any Rivers” stating that it was his favorite.
Got any rivers you think are uncrossable
Got any mountains you can’t tunnel through
God specializes in things thought impossible
And he will do what no other power can do

(*C.A.'s was the youth group name used by all Assemblies of God churches. Do any of my readers remember the words to the C.A. theme song?)

Trumpets and White Bucks

Bud and Steve took music lessons (trumpet) from Lottie Anthony for a while. She’d come to the house and set up class in the livingroom. To this day a trumpet is my favorite brass instrument. We had our own family “orchestra” of sorts: Dad on the sax, Mom on the guitar, the boys on their trumpets and me on the marimba. We had a lot of fun playing together at home and at church.

The family theme song became "Mansion Over the Hilltop." But Bud and I had a duet we did together once: “He Bought My Soul.”

We all sang together too. Solos, duets, trios. Music was like breathing. When baby brother Tom came along, he played a little plastic toy trumpet until he was old enough to learn to play like the big brothers. Then they played trios. Or a quartet with the three trumpets and Dad on the saxophone.

Wish I had a recording of these musical ministries...


My big brother attended and graduated from North High, Des Moines, where he played his trumpet in the marching band.

White bucks (white suede shoes for those who don’t know) were "in" back in the mid '50's. He begged and pleaded and finally Mom took him to the store and bought him a pair. He proudly wore them to school the next day. And was really upset when someone "initiated" his clean white bucks by spitting on them then stepping in the spit and rubbing it in with his own dirty shoe. Awwww.

You can imagine how surprised I was when he used food coloring mixed with the white shoe polish to dye his white bucks pink and green to march in the band for the next football game. (North colors used to be pink and green for the northern lights colors). Anything for the school spirit.

I always thought he looked so cool in his band uniform!


More about my big brother

Aunt T had a huge vegetable garden and even a vineyard. She always shared the crops with mom—“The green beans (or whatever) are ready to pick. Come and get all you want.” Mom would pack up us kids in the car and we’d go spend the day picking whatever was ripe.

It didn’t end there. We’d get the stuff home and have to “nub” the dumb things. She’d set us up on the screened-in back porch with baskets and pans and all the stuff needed to do the job of picking off the ends of beans or shelling peas.

One job in particular has forever-memories: The gooseberry. We were nubbing gooseberries on the back porch. Sticky. Nasty tasting (there was very little I didn’t like to eat, but gooseberries were near the top of my very short list of dislikes). I had taken a bathroom break (always a good diversion) and when I came back through the dining room Bud hollered, “Open your mouth!” as he prepared to throw a gooseberry at me. Between the back porch and the dining room was the kitchen. So I knew this was a nearly impossible feat because I was standing in the far end of the dining room.

So I opened my mouth and suddenly I heard a plop sound and felt my throat clogged with something. He had hit the target. I gagged and coughed and spit it out and tore into him with a vengeance. He turned on his big old horselaugh which made all of us laugh.

It turned into a bragging point for years.

My Big Brother Bud

For the next few posts I will be reminiscing about my big brother. If you don't know the Bougher family, you have really missed out on part of life. We all live on sort of the edge of insanity--loving every minute of it, feeling sorry for those who don't understand. I didn't get to attend his funeral yesterday. But I got some reports about it. I feel sorry for the undertaker guy. But then that's a post for another day.

Here're the first of my first special memoirs:

When we lived on 5th Avenue in Des Moines, Iowa, I remember Bud reading the story of a dog named “Shep” to Steve and me. A chapter a night. It was such a sad, yet happy-ending story. I remember having great tears rolling down my face as he read it to us. A sweet memory.

Doing dishes. Yikes. This was not our favorite thing to do, yet we had no choice. It became the place of arguing or giggling. Either one in excess got Mom’s attention and brought trouble to our lives. One time we were doing this task and got into a goofy argument about something or other and I was so mad I grabbed the broom and held it bristle-side up, threatening to whap Bud on the head. Bud started to laugh (which really made me mad!) and of course he wasn’t going to stand there and take it…so he started to run through the house and out the front door, with me in hot pursuit, waving that broom. Down the front walk and down the street. He put his arms in the air and hollered like he was getting killed, with me trying to broom-bop him. Of course at this point he looked so silly that I had to laugh too. We went back into the house together, laughing. I still wonder what the neighbors thought.

I'm just glad Mom wasn't home.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


My big brother, Bud, died Wednesday. Sudden heart attack brought on by medical treatment for a newly found cancer in his body. He knew of the risks.

So my big brother is in heaven.

Right now, as I sit in Mbabane, Swaziland and type these words, the funeral is taking place in Des Moines, Iowa. I didn't get to be there. It really makes me sad to miss it. It will be a great celebration.

I'll post more about him tomorrow. And the next day.

Just wanted to let the world know that my big brother is in heaven now.

I'm so happy for him. So sad for his wife and kids, grandkids, and for me.

I'm so glad he was ready to go.

Harry Kenneth Bougher Jr Oct 6, 1936--Nov 14, 2006

Monday, November 13, 2006

Kayla's Day

Today our Kayla is 9 years old.
Happy Birthday, Kayla Joy!


Among the things missionaries miss the most while living in a strange land has got to be shopping in (God Bless) America.

The Mall of Louisiana. Best Buy. Home Depot. Barnes & Noble. Bath and Body Works. Albertsons. Walmart. Target.


Sometimes God just shows us his great sense of humor.

While in a cool little town in the south of Swaziland, Nhlangano by name, we found the local version of a Target store.

(Bearing no resemblance of the store on Siegen Lane.)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Impi Charles

Impi=Zulu Warrior

Those who know Charles Young will not be surprised by this post... those who don't, well, sit down, get ready.

First I must tell you that there is no one on this missionfield who is more in love with Jesus and more ready to share The Blessed Hope than Charles. He and Kristen have brought energy to Children's Cup that makes my head spin.
They have been here only 7 months and already half of Manzini and Mbabane know them.

Everywhere they go there are people calling, "Charles!" "Kristen!" and waving like crazy. Charles waves back and greets each one by name, usually having a little story to tell about this one and that one. Sometimes they have a bit of food to hand out to street kids who they know are hungry. Just loving them in Jesus' name.

No challenge is too tough. No corner too dark. No person too dirty. The Youngs go after and love them all.

That said, I wish to present another side of Charles: He's crazy.

Yesterday Charles and Kristen came over before attending a wedding. And Charles was going in full Swazi costume.

Here are my pix...with a bit of explanation on each.

My Housegirl, Martha, helps Charles get the shoulder knot tied right

Young Missionaries (no, kristen didn't wear her jeans to the wedding)

"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news..." Isaiah 52:7a

This Saturday, November 18, is the Youth Invasion all-day event that Charles put together--please be in prayer for all of us as we minister to thousands of Swazi youth.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Cook's Appreciation Brunch

This week we held a very special brunch to honor our volunteer CarePoint cooks.

Kristen, Jean, Paige, Lita, Annette

Missionaries Pat Conti, Teresa Rehmeyer, Kristen (and Charles) Young along with guest "missionaries" Paige Becnel (Kristen's mom) from our own Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge, Lita Veron and Annette Bates from Household of Faith in Gonzales, LA; Pat's Mom, Barbara Conti, Pat's brother, Robert Conti (who got a bunch of photos for us) both from HPC, their cousin Steve from Washington DC, and I were there to express our gratitude for their faithfulness to the job. Ben even showed up for a brief time between his meetings.

Day in and day out these dear ladies get up early to go to their CarePoints to fix the food that our wonderful donors have provided for the children God has called us to minister to. They live in very humble places, and have very little themselves.

So we wanted to give them a time to have a meal that they didn't have to fix. And to make it an event they wouldn't forget!

Each guest found a long-stemmed rose at her place at the white-clothed table. Annette and Lita opened with prayer and lovely song--Annette sang, Lita signed (deaf language). The brunch was served buffet style, and I'm sure the ladies had their fill.

Some of our ladies don't know Jesus--yet. So we wanted to take advantage of the moment to let them sense His great love by the ways we treated them.

Then Paige brought an awesome message: The Story of Jesus Feeding the Five Thousand. She pointed out that the little boy with the food probably had a momma who got up early to cook the fish and make the bread. And that her faithfulness to her job was the beginning of the feeding of over 5000 people; a miracle. No one knows what that momma's name was. She's not even mentioned in the story. But she did it anyway. And see what happened!

Well, that really touched their hearts and encouraged them. Paige had our guest-cooks come forward and the missionaries laid hands on each one and prayed for them. It became quite emotional for us...

Then we gave out "award certificates" for various things they had done with excellence throughout the year. The cooks of the winning CarePoints stood and danced and cheered when their names were announced. We gave every lady a smaller certificate called "The Servant's Heart Award" for their sacrificial service to the children.

There were gifts for each lady to take home with her at the close of our party: Annette and Lita had lovely scarves for them with a scripture prayer printed on a tag attached with a ribbon. We had a pretty gift basket for them, too.

There was music, such singing you have never heard as the cooks raised their voices in praise to the Lord. Harmonies that only Africa can offer... I'm sure our Heavenly Father was blessed.

I know I was.

Friday, November 03, 2006

So sad...

So sad about Ted Haggard.

Whether he be guilty of some, guilty of all, or guilty of none, I'm just sad.

And I'm praying for him and his family.

I'm also praying for his church people.

But my heart is very sad. So many people are hurting.

God please heal hurting hearts...