Monday, July 31, 2006

Sailing II

No cares in the world~~~~
(By the way, I stole the wave idea from Suzanne! She's so creative!)
Sailing from my point of view~~~~~~~~~~~~

~~~~~~~~~Daniel just went for a swim in very cold least I thought it was cold and was too chicken to go in. I don't do cold and/or deep water!

John enjoying himself~~~~~~~~~~~


Every now and then somebody does something for you that is just what you needed at that point in time. We've been rather stressed lately what with packing and saying good-bye and taking care of all the details that come with moving overseas. So when one of our supporters said he'd take us sailing, we knew that it was just what we needed. There's nothing like "messing about in boats" to clear your head and relieve tension!

The day was perfect....windy, but sunny and clear. The wind meant that we got up to about 5 1/2 knots per hour which he said is perfect sailing. His boat is 24 feet 7 inches long....not huge, but big enough to feel safe. The kids and I were sitting up front and the boat was leaning so that the side was right down into the water. It didn't feel to scary if you were on the "up side". The first few times the men said to duck because they were going to tack, we just laid down on the deck. First the sail whooshed over our heads and then all of a sudden we were on the "down side". We were sliding right towards the ocean and none of us could find anything to grab a hold of. We seriously thought we were going to go overboard. And the men just sat there and laughed!! That happened about twice. Then we got the hang of it....When they said "tack" we switched to the other side before they could move the sail!

The whole day was wonderful and rather than further showing my ignorance about sailing and nautical terms, I'll just post a whole bunch of pictures. This will probably take several posts to do.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Rain for Niger

"Rain, rain go away" is not something you'll ever hear anyone in Niger say. As you know, we have 8-9 months of no rain and very low humidity. We say that from November through February if there could be such a thing as negative humidity, we've got it.

Then in May the humidity comes back with a vengence as the inter-tropical front begins moving north. As it pulls north, it brings the rain with it. Existence in Niger is dependant on the rain we get from June through September. Good rain...good harvest...plenty to eat. Poor rains...poor harvest...famine.

This year it looks like the rains are NOT good at all. Since our last request for prayer there has been some rain, but we need a lot more to get a harvest. In fact, we are going to need rain well into October. Keep praying that rain will come at the right times (it doesn't help if we get it all at one time!) and that the rainy season will go well into October.

Another missionary who lives in Maradi, about 500 miles east of us related that they were having a prayer meeting for rain and while they were praying it began raining. Pray for Christians in Niger to pray and to see God at work in miraculous ways.

I must admit my faith is sometimes weak on this one. Why does Niger have to suffer so much? They already are the poorest country on earth. We dread going back to a famine situation. We have more than everybody around us, so they look to us for help. But we sure don't have enough to help everybody so it always puts us in a tight place.

These are pictures of a dust storm. The inter-tropical front moves north-east, then our storms come from the east (I don't know....ask a weather expert). As they come they pick up the Sahara dust and the early storms of the rainy season are almost always preceeded by a dust storm. Enormous clouds of dust come rolling in. The air is perfectly still as you watch the dust approach. Then it hits with high wind, obliterating the sun and often making it black as night. The clean-up afterwards is huge! It feels like half the Sahara desert was dumped in your house. The storms are so powerful that they are the excitement of the year. Unless you've experienced one it's hard to explain why we actually enjoy them!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Chinese food, Continued

I'm having trouble getting more than one photo posted on the previous post, so this is part two! This shows Robbie and Jake fishing their food out of the oil and John and Dean enjoying their dumplings.
P.S. My brother wrote and said that it isn't oil at all, but boiling water with spices in it. So, it's like a thin sauce that you boil the food in. Read his comment below.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Chinese Food

In the past I've had Chinese food that I really didn't like. Probably it was made by Americans, not Chinese. If people said, "Let's go out for Chinese", I'd think, "Let's not."

Then we went to Niger and, believe it or not, there are some really good Chinese restaurants there. Now I like Chinese food because I've eaten the authentic thing made by real Chinese cooks. All restaurants in Niger serve up "real" food--fresh, made on the spot, no microwaved frozen stuff.

We had a real treat when we stopped at my brother's recently. His wife, Lannie, and her son, Jake, are Chinese and both are really good cooks. On the way to NC we stayed with them and had really good food. But on the way back when we stayed with them, Lannie and Jake had prepared a really amazing meal that is distinct to their region of China.

Before the meal starts, everybody makes their own dipping suace. I made mine with sesame oil, soy sauce, chopped garlic and green onions, and some sort of chopped hot peppers from a bottle. I amazed myself that I made such a good sauce since I didn't know what I was doing! But Jake informed me that I was stirring with my chopstick upside down!

Then everyone sits around a big pot of boiling oil. It's not just plain oil, though. It's got all sorts of seasonings in it including huge hunks of hot peppers (if you don't like spicy food you probably wouldn't care for this meal). On the table were bowls of raw pork, raw beef, raw fish, raw tripe, quails' eggs, hot dogs, sliced potatoes, seaweed (forget the real name, kelp maybe?), lettuce, and Chinese dumplings. You throw what you want in the oil, wait till it's cooked, then fish it out and dip it in your dipping sauce. It's pipping hot, and oh my goodness, so delicious! I could eat that all the time.

My nephew, Robbie, got a hunk of hot pepper on the first bite that just about floored him. He was sweating the rest of the meal! Suzanne, Daniel, and I had never used chopsticks. Once I got them turned around the right way and dropped a few things once or twice, I got the hang of it. It was a fantastic meal and fun to share Lannie and Jake's culture with them.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Adding to Our Family

We're adding to our family!

No, we're not having a baby!

No, we're not getting a new pet!

We're adopting! Well, sort of....Jeremy Slager will be joining our family for six months in Niger. Since he's already 18 and his parents still want him, we can't exactly adopt him. But, he'll live with us while he learns about another culture and what place he can have in missions. He's pretty sure he'll go into missions, but isn't clear yet what role that would be. So he'll take a gap year and spend six months in Niger as an intern. Maybe then he'll have a better idea of what to major in in college.

Pray for us all as we adjust to each other, but especially Jeremy who will face so many new things: a new family, a new culture, a new language, new food, a new climate, and new friends. The kids are looking forward to having a "big brother". Since Jeremy's the baby in his family, he's probably looking forward to being the big brother for a change!

We met Jeremy, his parents, and his grandparents in Charlotte last week. We were impressed with the entire family. We've already noticed two things about Jeremy that will be in his favor in Niger: 1.) he likes people and 2.) he's not afraid to try new things. Check out his blog at

Meanwhile, Mike has just finished his two-year term. Even though he was no longer a kid, we adopted Mike, too. It was more like adopting a brother, though. We had a great mutual friendship...he got food, fellowship, and a guy friend to bounce things off. We got a great friend, a prayer partner, an encourager, and a fellow guitarist. He and John could always find time for a good jam session. We will really miss him.

This picture is of a card I made him for his birthday. It was a Canadian flag (red/white/red) with a picture of a Canadian hockey player where the maple leaf should be. Inside were cut-out maple leaves scattered across the page. It was the only picture of a Canadian hockey player I could find, but it turned out to be one of his all-time favorite players. This guy had even signed Mike's sweatshirt after a hockey game! I think Mike enjoyed the card as much as any of the gifts we gave him.....except maybe the "BOCA Canada" t-shirt....turns out "boka" means witchdoctor in Hausa. Fortunately there aren't many Hausa speakers in Tera!

Pray for Mike as he returns to Canada. He has a job at a church, but I think he'll be surprised when reverse culture shock hits. There's something about Africa that gets in your blood and stays there. We'd like to see him return to Tera, but I don't know that he's so keen on it!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

On the Road

One thing we've done a lot of this home assignment is TRAVEL! We have TRAVELED to New York, all over Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Ohio, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Florida. On our way to some of those places we also passed through West Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia. John has done some TRAVELING on his own, so he has also gone to Illinois, Michigan, and Indiana.

On this most recent trip, the odometer hit 100,000. We have put over 23,000 miles on the Caravan alone. I imagine we've put nearly that much on the Cavalier. I'd check the odometer on it, but I can't because John has TRAVELED again to Houghton, New York for his 25th class reunion. (Can graduation from college really have been THAT long ago?!?!)

And what do we do while spending hours in the car? Everybody but Daniel enjoys listening to CDs or the radio. We all like reading. I do counted cross-stitch. And we all like to sleep! Getting in a car is like taking a sleeping pill for me. I can't stay awake if I want to...unless I'm driving....but this picture seems to put that statement into question. Am I awake or asleep? John doesn't sleep much, but at least with three drivers he can get a little rest.

John is home and he tells me we've put 16,000 miles on the Cavalier, so that makes a total of 39,000 miles. We're so thankful that both vehicles have run well and we've had no major expenses other than tires.

In a few weeks...August 10 to be exact...we will be making an even longer trip, this time by air and to Niger. More about that later.

Friday, July 07, 2006

4th of July

We arrived in the US a year ago on the 4th of July. As we flew from Chicago to Charlotte, we could see fireworks going off below. What seemed enormous and loud from the ground looked small and silent from the air. But from either vantage point, it was a beautiful sight.

Having lived overseas, I think the US is like that for me. Those who live here and never travel tend to think the US has the only way of doing things. But I see things from a different perspective and know that other forms of government and ways of doing things can also work. However, I still think the US is one of the best countries on earth and I am proud to be an American!

The entire DeValve family was together for the July 4th weekend. This was the first time in over four years that we've all been together. It was a fun, but noisy time. There are 13 grandchildren, and only 4 of them are girls. This is Suzanne with her three girl cousins (all sisters) and this is Daniel with two of the cousins.