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Encourage Glenn and Kim


Saying Hello to Benin!
Bonjour Yovos!!
We are now in Benin, Africa--- the birthplace of Voodoo!  Glenn and I sailed for 10 days from Tenerife in the Canary Islands and arrived in Benin on Feb. 10th. Sailing for someone like me is beyond adventure- more like endurance practice!  Although I suffer from motion sickness on any form of transport, I did miraculously well!  I am convinced that is because I had a diligent prayer team devoted to praying for this specifically and a gracious God who answered their prayers to keep my cookies in place!  I for one, though, am VERY glad to see land (although I do feel a bit like Rip Van Winkle!)  We have included some pictures of the ship during the sail (see below - our room is in the middle, 3 floors down), our dock in Benin, and the fishing village directly in front of us. Quite a contrast!





For those asking "Where IS Benin?" It is in the 'armpit' of
Africa next to Nigeria.  Benin is French speaking along with 52+ tribal languages!!!  (And I barely know my English according some of our UK crew !)  My greeting above is the French/Fon phrase which means 'hello white people!'.  HA!  We will be hearing that a lot! 
The ship has been very, very busy unpacking and cleaning and orientating the crew to the Benin.  We have hosted the American Ambassador as well as a number of other local and international dignitaries.  We visited a key local hospital and connected with the ophthalmologist there.  Glenn also spoke at the Benin Society of Ophthalmology to extend an invitation to the 10 ophthalmologists to come for training.  We have been  enthusiastically received on every occasion and thank the Lord for already opening doors.  We learned that although statistics say that Benin is 1/3 Christian, many of these are Catholics that have been infiltrated by the Voodoo people who felt Catholicism was compatible!  Yikes!  The other 1/3 is tribal/ Voodoo and the last 1/3 is Muslim.  The great news is that this country, after being Marxist, finally had free and fair elections in 2006 and elected a truly Christ- following man, President Yayi Boni. Thank the Lord who has chosen this leader!
Although this country is a more financially advanced country than Liberia, the pervasive belief in evil spirits and the recent departure from Marxism has resulted in a country that is more dirty, fearful, and more chaotic than Liberia. Even animal and child sacrificing still exists here.  It is evident how belief precedes actions but God is at work and with this new president, things are improving.  We pray our mission to bring The Light to the darkness in this country would also offer The Answer to their fears.  Pray that this present spirit of fear here does not infiltrate our crew. Our captain has noted the dangers in this country and has asked the crew NOT to go out at all after the sun sets or before it rises. Pray for our crews' wisdom and safety.
Glenn has been expertly handling the Mercy Vision project this year and was even asked recently to join the advisory board of Right to Sight, an international ophthalmic development organization.  Our project in Benin plans to do 3,000 cataracts, develop 2 missionary eye surgeons for fulltime work in Africa, see 20,000 eye patients, train 10 Beninese in eye screening techniques, train 2 to 3 Beninese ophthalmologists in effective cataract surgical techniques  who can then train others, run 4 off-ship eye clinics, and do 400+ other eye surgeries.  Now that's a mouthful and will keep us depending on God! 
We are ecstatic about our eye team this year!  This is our best team ever! We are sure God has put this one together and if any team can accomplish this task...this one can! But we remember that giving sight to the blind and healing potentially blinding diseases is secondary to sharing the truth God has given us.  Pray for our translators who we must depend on to correctly convey what we say.  We will be selecting these translators on Tuesday.
"For You are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord shall enlighten my darkness.  For by You I can run against a troop.  By my God I can leap over a wall.   As for God, His way is perfect; the Word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. "  II Sam. 22:29-31 
Glenn and I will be on the ship for almost all of the 10 months that the Africa Mercy will serve Benin.  It would be a blessing to us to hear from any and all of you!  Although we have plenty of people here (400+) we need and enjoy that connection and encouragement from home.  Really...we are never too busy to hear from you!  This is God's mission and we are so happy for you to be a part of it.
By His Grace,
Glenn and Kim Strauss

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