Friday, April 27, 2007

Living in Toad

Did you ever read The Wind in the Willows? It's one of those kids books that can be enjoyed by all. Anyway, in the book, Toad lives in "Toad Hall".
We don't live in "Toad Hall", but we live in "Toad". For the whole story, read John's blog: http://yaaye.blogspot.com . You'll enjoy it!
I won't be posting again until May 21 or 22. See you then!

Strawberries in Niger??!!

There are gardens along the Niger River that grow all sorts of fruits and vegetables that they sell in the Niamey markets.


Sahel Academy is beside the Niger River. There are gardens separating the Academy compound and the river. There are also gardens between the compound where the guest house is and the river. The gardener for Sahel Academy, Leni, has his own gardens where he raises STRAWBERRIES!
What a treat these are when they are in season between January and April. Often they are finished by the end of March, so I was surprised when Mr. Strawberry Man came yesterday and asked if I wanted more strawberries. How could I resist?
I rinse them off in bleach water, cut them up, spread them out on a cookie sheet, freeze them, then put them in Ziploc bags. All through the season when we can't get fresh things we can enjoy frozen strawberries.
In February they are big, plump strawberries, like the ones in this photo. The ones he brought yesterday were the end of the season and they were pretty small. I don't know how they could even survive when every day is over 110!
I don't know how we survive when every day is over 110! Knowing those strawberries are in my freezer for a treat on a hot day helps get me through!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Buried in the Waters of Baptism

A week ago, Monday April 16, Daniel and Suzanne were baptized.


The service was led by Dave Totman, youth pastor at Sahel Academy and for the wider English-speaking community. It came together rather quickly when the Totmans found out they needed to go back to the USA for the birth of their 3rd child.

There were 11 Sahel Academy students and one Peace Corps volunteer baptized. The baptism was held in the back yard pool of a family who graciously opened their home to us. (If you're counting heads...two of the dads with younger kids got in the pool with their kids.)




Pastor Dave explained the whole process of baptism and the seriousness of the event, then the candidates entered the water together. One by one he asked each young person if they had accepted Christ as their Saviour and if they were determined to live for Him. He then baptized them. What a beautiful and vivid picture of Christ's death, burial, and resurrection! Afterwards somebody the young person had chosen prayed individually for them.



Daniel and Suzanne were the last to be baptized. It was an exciting moment for them as well as for Mom and Dad. In the past two years we have seen them growing stronger in their faith and making it their own faith instead of something they do because Mom and Dad do it. So we knew they were ready for this commitment.


At first they had asked John and me to pray for them. But then Gary and Joy Freeman, who we had invited to come, were able to come in from their bush village, so we suggested to Daniel and Suzanne maybe they would want them to pray for them. They agreed that that was a good idea, so we arranged for Gary to pray for Daniel and Joy to pray for Suzanne. That was really cool since they have known Daniel and Suzanne all their lives. In fact, they held Daniel in their arms when he was just a few hours old and Joy and Daniel share a birthday. They've known Suzanne since she was just a few months old.


After the baptism there was a time of fellowship with snacks. Of course! The coolest thing was three young men (two students, one on staff) who were going around praying with each of those who had been baptized.

The baptism was in the afternoon, so later we went out for supper to celebrate. We went to an outdoor Chinese restaurant that has superb food. We turned out to be a big crowd: us, two other sets of parents, and about eleven teens, for a total of about 17 people. There were plenty of tables, but once we all sat down, there weren't many chairs left for other patrons! I had tried to call to warn them we were coming, but they had moved to a new place and I didn't have their new number. I think the waiter (notice waiter, not waiters) was a bit overwhelmed, but he did a great job. As far as I know there was only one meal that didn't show up and one extra bowl of rice that was served.


All in all it was a great day.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Easter Holidays aka Spring Break












It was great to have the kids home for two weeks for the Easter Holidays. It's kind of hard to refer to it as spring break as it feels like anything but spring. Every day was over 110. One day it got down to 109 and that felt cool!


The saddest part of the vacation was that at the beginning of it we had to say goodbye to Jeremy. He returned to the US on April 3. We are really going to miss him. He was a good addition to our family. Suzanne would like you to note that she's taller than me. I don't know....you be the judge.

After John took Jeremy down to Niamey, he picked up Joseph Cail who spent the rest of the vacation with us. We loved having him with us.


Here are some of the things the kids did (along with some random pictures which don't necessarily match up with the item they're beside).


SLEPT IN AND TOOK NAPS












READ BOOKS -- LOTS OF THEM!






EVERYONE TRIED TO SQUEEZE INTO OUR ROOM TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE COOLNESS LEFT FROM RUNNING THE AC ALL NIGHT. BY NOON IT WAS AROUND 92 IN THERE, BUT IT WAS STILL COOLER THAN ANYWHERE ELSE!






DANIEL AND JOSEPH WENT HUNTING WITH THEIR B-B GUNS





DANIEL AND JOSEPH WENT CAMPING OVERNIGHT





DANIEL AND JOSEPH MADE NUMEROUS TRIPS TO THE PUBLIC TAP TO PICK UP OUR WATER JUGS







SUZANNE HELPED ENORMOUSLY IN THE KITCHEN






HAD A RUNNING DUTCH BLITZ GAME GOING









PLAYED OTHER GAMES WHEN NOT PLAYING DUTCH BLITZ






WATCHED SOME MOVIES (MY FAVORITE WAS LES MISERABLES)




DANIEL AND JOSEPH PLAYED SOME FOOTBALL (SOCCER)















CARRIED BRICKS FOR THE CHURCH BUILDING IN DOUMBA











DUG ZAI HOLES. THE HOLES ARE FINISHED!










TOOK DOWN THE AVIARY SINCE ALL THE BIRDS HAD DIED



























HELPED WITH KIDS' CLUB
















SUZANNE HELPED WITH SUNDAY SCHOOL














DID HOMEWORK (NOT JOSEPH! HE'S ON STAFF AT SAHEL ACADEMY)








WENT TO PICNIC ROCK









HAD A BLAST!


The spaces between lines are so far apart, but I tried to adjust it once and lost my photos, so I'm just leaving it as it is!







Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Easter






Easter seems like a distant memory already, but I'm going to go ahead and post some photos from the day so you'll know what it was like for us.





We collected all the people in our church in Tera and drove to Doumba, about 7 miles away. We decided to combine the two churches, Tera and Doumba, since both are small and neither really have a pastor. We sat outside in what felt like a barnyard. Our mats were right beside where the sheep are tied up at night so we were right by piles of sheep dung. People would walk by and those worshipping would greet them and talk to them for awhile before turning back to listen again. Women continued working all around us....pounding grain, sifting flour, etc. But we had a great time singing....The Doumba folks are Gourmas and the Gourmas are great singers. Then John gave a good Easter message, followed by communion.






After the service we went home and had lamb chops and I forget what else. I wanted to make a mustard sauce for the lamb chops, but I didn't have any mustard. So I went to a little shop down the street to get some, but he didn't have any. So I went to the next little shop and he didn't have any, so on to the next little shop. I kept going like that and before I knew it, I was all the way to the market where there are bigger little shops. I finally found some at one of those shops. I was so hot by then, too, because it was about 110 in the shade. So I bought a bag of water (cold water to drink is sold in plastic bags here!) and sat in the shop and drank my water before I headed home. That made dinner quite late and no time to make dessert.


So, that was pretty much our Easter. I hope you enjoy these photos. Isn't it cool how we don't have to have a fancy church or new Easter clothes to celebrate our Lord's resurrection! It would be easier to get into a spirit of celebration if it weren't so miserably hot, though!

I was trying to take pictures of the kids and just as I would get ready to snap it, they would come in real close trying to see what was inside this weird contraption. I thought it was pretty funny.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Sting



One night, along about 11 p.m., I was sound asleep. I kind of felt something walking on my neck, so reflexively, without even thinking, I grabbed it to fling it away from me. (John says I flung it towards him, but if I did, it wasn't on purpose!!!) I instantly felt a sharp pain shooting up my finger. I started gasping in pain. John sits up, all confused and says, "What's going on?" He turned on the light and I said, "Something stung me or bit me. I think it was a scorpion!" We started looking for it and there it was marching across the bed....it really was heading towards John! He grabbed a shoe and smacked it and that was the end of that scorpion. (Sigh....my hero!) John gave me two extra-strength Tylenol, but they did nothing for the pain. Suzanne brought me a bag of ice and that helped to numb the area. The pain was so intense and I didn't want to keep John awake, so I went outside and sat in a chair for a couple of hours until the pain diminished enough that I could sleep through it. Even the next morning it still hurt a little.
In Songhai the expression used for what a scorpion does to you is "it burned me". That pretty well describes it, but it's a more shooting pain than a burn.
I grew up in Nigeria, and have lived in Nigeria or Niger since 1982 and have never been stung by a scorpion, so I guess that's a pretty good record. The first year we lived in our house in Tera we killed 7 scorpions. Every year since we've killed at least one. Suzanne has been stung twice, both times when she was playing outside.
You may have seen pictures of big black scorpions, but these little brown ones are much more painful and poisonous than the big ones. This one was probably about 1 1/2 inches long....you can see him here in perspective with a pen. Yes, this is the very one that stung me!