LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - An East Texas couple spent the past 2 years immersed in African culture and spreading the word of God.
Now they're back with intimate knowledge of one African tribe and life-long memories.
Ben and Melissa traded in technology and modern conveniences for a grass hut in the African bush...all for the chance to changes lives and spread their message.
The Stokes packed up their life and moved to Niger Africa in 2010 on a mission trip to spread the word of God.
Ben and Melissa had 2 main goals: to help the Fulani people develop their communities and plan their churches.
Ben says, "We would just live life with the Fulani and we would teach them the good news of salvation and that Jesus Christ has came into this world and came for them, came for the Fulani."
One aspect of the Fulani culture they have brought back with them is their value of family.
Ben says, "Just how they value family, at night there is no TV to sit around, there's no places to go and we have to be here. Time, there is no time there. I mean it's just, you just stay with your family and stay with your friends."
During their time in the village, Ben and Melissa saw 3 wells built, helped feed refugees when the Niger River dam broke and flooded the village, witnessed baptisms and a birth in the back of their truck.
Melissa says, "All of the sudden this lady that was with her tapped me on the shoulder and said, look, look and the baby was coming right then. So I will never forget the day that we had a baby born in the back of our truck."
Ben and Melissa say Niger was like living in another time and they appreciated their way of life.
Ben says, "We just got to step into that world and it was amazing that they, how they took us in and we were just one of them. One of the Fulani. It was an amazing journey."
Ben and Melissa say they have made life-long friendships and lasting memories in Niger and can now boast their ability to speak Fulfulde, the native language of the Fulani.