Crystal Gosnell

Working to serve the orphans of Ministry of Mercy Children's Home in Otutulu, Nigeria

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

November Newsletter

“I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.” ~ Helen Keller
1 Corinthians 10:31 “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

When I think of the work that we are involved in here in Nigeria, I think about the hundreds of tiny pushes of all the people I am privileged to work with here at Ministry of Mercy. Our aunties, our drivers, our cleaners, each of them are performing tasks daily, which to the untrained eye are humble tasks, but which are, in reality the greatest and noblest of tasks. They toil endlessly and uncomplainingly (for the most part ) for the sake of our children and to the glory of God. They are the true heroes who move this world along.

I started this newsletter back in July! Then I got caught up in the busy-ness of hosting short-term visiting teams, adoptions, getting the new school year underway, and taking care of the six kids living with me, and time just got away. Here are some highlights from the past five months.


We are still understaffed, but we have had some relief this term with extra helping hands from university students home on break and my cousin Chelsea who recently graduated from Appalachian State University in North Carolina and who is volunteering with us for 6 months.

We had a member of our teaching staff leave as Roselyn David wedded in mid-October.
Our three-week summer session was a busy one. As part of the focus on reading, we used the Arts and Crafts week to do a Dr. Suess theme. We had great fun with red fish, green eggs, and other such craziness  The second week was a week of swimming lessons, and the third week was learning market skills. The culminating activity of the three-week session was a mini market where kids practiced their bartering skills and made practical math applications. (See pictures of our activities on


Our beautiful Blessing, who has had a subgaleal cyst above the anterior fontanel since birth, was able to have it removed through minor surgery a few months ago. She has completely healed now.

Among our new arrivals are Gideon, a 5-year-old, fatherless boy whose legs are not fully developed; Ojima, an 11 year old girl who has severe mental disabilities; and David and Blessing, premature twins who were each about 3 lbs. and not eating well. The twins have been living with me (ably assisted by Asibi and Chelsea  ), and now have so many chins they hardly have necks 

Six more adoptions have been completed and six more children are now US citizens. We are so grateful that all those that were in process were able to be completed before the passage and implementation of a new law in Kogi State which now prohibits foreign adoption. I wrote a 30+ page proposal that we have submitted for review and revision of this law, but it will take time (years?) for change to be affected if our proposal is even accepted.

Tom had a great 3rd birthday and continues to be a daily joy and constant blessing. Turning three meant he got to start Nursery School in September, and he is loving it! He brings home new random bits of knowledge (mostly in song form) every day and enjoys shouting them out throughout the day.

We have been having serious discipline issues with one of our secondary school students and we had to pull him out of school part way through third term last year due to a serious case of theft in town. At our wits’ end, and quickly running out of options, we found a boarding school that is willing to accept him despite knowing his history. Thank God for grace, and pray with us that this young man will take advantage of this last chance.

It was a new aunty – it was the first baby in her care. I was sitting on the steps of the orphanage when she walked briskly past with the baby wrapped in a blanket. The next thing I knew, one of our head aunties was shouting for my attention and thrusting the baby into my arms. Gesticulating wildly with her arms she was shouting that this woman had killed this baby. Well, the baby was not dead, but he was seriously dehydrated. I took the baby inside and kept him through the night. Alternating oral rehydration solution and formula in a bottle, we were able to get him stabilized. He made it through the crisis and is now thriving. His aunty learned from her experience and is now one of our best aunties.

“I want to sell my baby.” A tense silence followed these words as the young woman kept her gaze fixed on the ground. Around 9 p.m. one Sunday evening, a young woman showed up at our gate with a story of a boyfriend, an unwanted pregnancy, and no family to go to. We explained to her that we don’t buy babies here, but we would be willing to take her in, completely free-of-charge, help her through her pregnancy, and then help make sure she and her baby were taken care of and reintegrated to her family if possible after giving birth. She agreed to take our offer; however, she grew restless within a few days and chose to leave. Please pray that Chioma and her unborn child will be safe wherever they have gone.

Other Adventures

With adoptions, short term teams, and family, we’ve seen a steady stream of visitors over the past 6 months. Some highlights included a chance to see our Cibolo Creek family again, a first-time ever visit from my Liebenzell family when Global Ministries Director, Bill Schuitt, came and spent a week with us, and, of course, my cousin Chelsea who has devoted six months to helping out our school. We are looking forward to a visit with Chelsea’s mom (my aunt) in a few weeks, and then my mom, an aunt, and another cousin who will be coming out in January.

After about four months, we finally got my car working again. It has been serving well. However, at the very end of September, while driving in Anyigba, we were hit by an on-coming car while making a turn into the post office. The passenger side door (where I was sitting) was bent in in a V-shape and the whole right side of the bumper was folded under so that it was rubbing against the tire. We praise God that there was no loss of life and only two minor injuries in the other car (a Golf, serving as a public taxi). We are also grateful that we were able to settle the case without impounding of the cars and a long police/court process.

Our fish farm has started providing us with a harvest. It’s been delicious! Our fish are catfish, which are an amazingly resilient species that make amazing escape attempts. I came back to the room twice in the dark to find my catfish half-way across the kitchen floor despite my attempts to keep him contained in the bucket by placing a large piece of wood over the top!

Recently a young man in our village died of Hepatitis B. It was a sad and drawn out affair, with the family traveling from traditional healer to prayer house to miracle worker seeking a cure. Please keep the family in prayer. It is a polygamous family, and there is blame being laid on certain members of the family for having put a curse on the young man. It is due to this belief that it was a spiritual curse that kept them from seeking modern medical treatment for the case.

I’m really enjoying my on-line seminary course through Eastern Mennonite Seminary called “Cross-Cultural Discipleship”, although some weeks it’s tough to stay on top of my assignments along with everything else. The opportunity to reflect on the challenges of service with others who are in the midst of it as well has been very helpful. Our class spans from Nigeria to Thailand to Israel to Ecuador to Colombia to the United States.

About Me

Crystal is a missionary with Liebenzell USA. She has been living and working in Otutulu, Nigeria on the compound of Ministry of Mercy Children's Home for the past four years. Her primary role is as Director of Education of the orphanage school but her work and ministry involves every aspect of daily life.