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Showing posts from August, 2006

Shopping in Niamey

One of our main reasons for coming to Niamey once a month is so we can go grocery shopping. This always takes quite awhile, but I have it down to a fine art and can usually do it with a minimal amount of stress.

But while we were gone in the US, I seemed to have forgotten the art of stressless shopping in Niamey (don't laugh, Mike! You'll be stressed on your end of the equation!).

First of all I've been so exhausted from jet lag and from the stress of the trip. I've felt like a zombie wandering through a thick fog. I felt like I could neither focus nor function.

Secondly, it is impossible to buy everything in one store. While we were gone I had rather forgotten which store had what.

Thirdly, I went to my favorite store. When I left, I thought the guard/parking attendant seemed kind of mad at me. I thought, "Well, he's gotten grouchy lately." Then I got to the end of the street and was trying to turn left. A policeman came up to me and said, rather sternly, &q…

A Weekend in Tera

We spent this past weekend in Tera. We loaded the truck with as many boxes and suitcases as we could. I should say John did. This was no easy task as we're staying in an upstairs apartment and each box weighs 70 lbs. I did help him carry some of them. The humidity in the air was so high that by the time we were done, he was literally soaked with sweat. I gave him a drink and had him change his shirt before we went to pick the kids up at school. As soon as we got them we were on our way....except we had forgotten the spare tire so we had to go back to the apartment to get it....then we were on our way.

Our house was in pretty good shape. Somebody had stayed there a few weeks after Mike left and then had it thoroughly cleaned. Things were a little re-arranged, but that is easily fixed. The worst thing was that termites had gotten into the cupboard above the desk and pretty well eaten the back of one section of it. They had eaten through a stack of typing paper and were starting in on…

Day 1: A Long, Eventful Trip

I can't even begin to tell you all the details of our trip to Niger. Let me just say there was a great deal of near panic at the very end! The day before we left we had to go get our wills signed at the notary, go visit friends who had just had a baby, and make one last stop at Pizza Hut. The kids had a youth event, and we were still packing and sewing name tags on the kids clothes.

We had to call Air France and notify them of our excess baggage. We had started calling on Saturday and still did not have an answer by Thursday morning, the day of our departure. To make a very long and stressful story short, we finally got word that we were allowed 200 kilos excess baggage per person and somehow they thought we had way more than that. They also wanted us to make sure the ink cartridges were out of the printers and that we pulled the beebee gun. So on Thursday morning, we were pulling the printers out of the boxes to get the cartridges out and pulling the gun to be sent on the containe…

Day 2, Time in Paris

We arrived in Paris in the morning on Friday. The plan had been to get the connecting flight to Niamey later in the day. But that flight was leaving about the time we were landing in Paris. So we found our way to the place where you find out about connecting flights. You should have seen the line! In fact if you look, you'll see John just to the right of one of the big poles...the guy with the hat. We met up with two other missionary families and one single guy all on their way to Niamey and in the same predicament. Daniel made the most of the waiting time by taking a nap on the floor. The cold metal chairs were not conducive to sleeping in!

After three hours in line, it was finally our turn. We were told they could get us on a flight going to Morocco on Sunday and from Morocco to Niamey. But, they said, you'll have to collect your luggage and take it with you to your hotel. We told them that would be impossible as we had 27 pieces and the other family had 18 and the single guy…

Day 3, Ste Chapelle and Notre Dame

Most people have heard of Notre Dame, but few have heard of Ste Chapelle. Ste Chappelle was built in the middle ages as the private chapel for the royal family. One entire wall is lined with stained glass windows depicting the biblical story from Genesis to Revelation. At either end are rose windows. One wall is beautifully painted. It is an absolutely gorgeous chapel and nearly impossible to describe. Daniel and Suzanne are exagerating the awe you feel when you first walk in! Downstairs was the chapel for the servants and courtiers. It was much simpler, but I thought it was also beautiful because the ceiling was painted dark blue and then covered with gold fleur d'elise to look like stars.

By now, we had realized that John was a good tour guide. In fact, people in the airport and in the train station were coming up to him, asking him questions. I guess they could tell that he was both bilingual and knowledgable. We jokingly began to call him "Moses", telling him to lead …

Day 3, Eiffel Tower

The fourth place our tour guide, John, aka Moses, took us to, was the Eiffel Tower. I know you've all heard of the Eiffel Tower. You can climb the stairs to the first level or go on to the 2nd level. If you want to go all the way to the top, you have to pay a rather large sum. Daniel, Suzanne, Jeremy (a missionary with another mission), and Luke Sauers climbed to the 2nd level. It was a total of 700 stairs. They said their legs felt like rubber by the time they got back down! The rest of us enjoyed sitting on benches resting our weary legs.

Day 3, Sacre Coeur

Our last stop of the day was Sacre Coeur. Our tour guide, John, told us that this church is built on the highest, and one of the few, hills in Paris. We did not go inside. We were so tired and so hungry by now, so we bought some Parisian street food: Croque Monsieur and Crepes with Nutella. A croque Monsieur is a sandwich with ham inside and cheese on top and it is toasted. A crepe is a sort of very thin pancake. There were different varieties, but we had ours spread with Nutella, a special chocolate spread. We then took it and sat on benches in a playground at the foot of the Sacre Coeur. The boys had a blast watching the pigeons, most of which had deformed feet. Suddenly a cat (with a little luring from Daniel), lept out of the bushes and grabbed one of the pigeons. The bird got away, minus a whole lot of tail feathers. We saw the cat back under the bushes with feathers stuck in his ears!

Day 4 and 5

Jet lag really kicked in Saturday night and I couldn't get to sleep until around 2 a.m. I slept until nearly 9, then took another little nap after breakfast. We had to leave for the airport around 11. This is a picture of us in the train station. We were quite the colorful bunch, representing the primary colors of yellow, blue, green, and red!

We stood in line for hours in the airport, getting our boarding passes and making sure our luggage would be on the plane with us. The Air France officials were very helpful.

The flight from Paris to Casa Blanca was about 3 hours. Then we had a six hour lay-over in Casa Blanca. We read, talked, walked around, played Phase 10, and I did some cross-stitch. It was a very boring six hour lay-over.

The flight from Casa to Niamey was another 3 hours and we arrived in Niamey in the stifling heat at about 3 a.m. Monday morning. Two of our bags were missing...John's and my clothes and one guitar. Nobody was there to meet us, but a missionary with an…

Leavin' On a Jet Plane...and a ferry...and a Toyota pickup

Well, folks, this is it. The computer will be packed today. We're still taking care of details, still running around, but this is it. If it doesn't get done today it won't be done! It's been hard to say good-bye, but I'm looking forward to saying hello to friends in Niger. It's hard to leave the life we've had here this year, but God has called us to Niger. He worked the miracle of bringing in our support and He'll sustain us in Niger. It's so obvious He wants us there!

Our van is being sold by a friend, but we'll likely have to settle for a lower price. We appreciate their doing this for us.

It is raining in Niger, but it's not a great rainy season. Pray for the rain to continue into October. That would be very unusual, but God is able.

Friends from church have fed us every night for a little over a week and that has been so helpful!

We leave here tomorrow, August 10, around noon, driving to JFK airport. Our flight leaves at 6-something p.m. ES…

Sacrifice and Ability

There are two statements I hear frequently when we are on home assignment. They are said sincerely and at first I found them flattering. But the more I think about them, the more I realize that they are not completely true.

The first is, "You have really sacrificed a lot to be a missionary in Niger." Well, maybe I've sacrificed a chance to have some of the nicer things in life, to own a home, to not have to pack up and move every four years, to spend more time with my family. But look at what I've gained: world travel, interaction with people from other cultures, a safe environment in which to raise my kids, freedom from materialism, and a simpler lifestyle just to name a few. Most of all, God has called me, and doing what he wants is not a sacrifice, it's a privilege. David Livingstone summed it up so well when he said,
"Forbid that we should ever consider the holding of a commission from the King of kings as a sacrifice, so long as other men esteem the servi…

Packing

Our house is in chaos right now. As my dad would say, it looks like a couple of missionary barrels exploded in here. Stuff is everywhere ...sort of organized...piles of books, piles of clothes, piles of medicine, piles of kitchen things, etc.

We said we wouldn't take much back with us this time, but somehow it accumulates. We have a lot of gifts to take back to our Nigerien friends. In their culture, a traveler always returns with gifts for family and friends.

We have shoes because the ones we can get there just don't last. Same with underwear.

We have some medicines and kitchen items we just can't get there.

New pillows and sheets. Sweat ruins bedding so fast and our old stuff was looking pretty bad.

Computer stuff. Definitely can't get that there.

We're packing it up in boxes and suitcases. Fortunately both John and I work on it. In some families one or the other spouse hates packing and is really bad at it and the other spouse ends up doing it all. It's rather a f…