Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Tears of the Children

Welcome to Kids Club! Every Wednesday afternoon, which the kids have free from school, about 30 kids crowd into our little office/schoolroom. They are rowdy and rambunctious, but ready to listen to the story, get a paper to take home, and earn a candy or piece of gum for saying their verse. Probably they are more rowdy and rambunctious than ready! (All of these pictures were taken about 9 months ago when Joni Byker came to photograph our work in Tera. I love this one! I look really tall and slender! J)

I’ve had several helpers through the years since I first started the club. John is my present helper and he does a great job. I also have two teenage boys who still want to come and hear the stories, but since the club is geared towards younger kids, I put them to work with crowd control, handing out papers and crayons, and giving out drinks at the end. That way they help me, but they also get the Bible lesson.

On November 21 we had three different kids end up in tears. Believe it or not, that is not typical!

The first was Little Hamidou Fulani, as his name would be translated (Hamidou or some variation there-of is such a common name other words are added so you know who is being talked about). His uncle, Big Hamidou Fulani, pipes up with “Hamidou is sick”. I look over at him and the poor kid is crying. So we got him out of the room and sent him home. I don’t know if his head hurt or if his tummy hurt or if he thought he was going to spew or what.

The second was Saley, a cute bright-eyed little girl. She came in wearing a burka-type of head covering that covered her head but not her face. It also completely covered the top half of her body including her arms and hands. We were playing a review game. If the child answered correctly he could choose a card for his team. Point values were written on the cards that he/she could earn for his/her team. Or they might accidentally choose “Zonk!” and have all the points for their team erased. Well, somebody on Saley’s team had just won twenty points. The kids were all sitting on the floor, but when they won the points, they jumped up and were jumping up and down, cheering for their team. Saley remained on the floor and her hand got jumped on. She started crying quietly. Five minutes later she was still crying. John asked her to come to him so he could look at it. She pulled up her scarf and held out her little hand which was all puffed up. My first thought was, “Oh no! She’s broken her hand while under my care! We’ll have to pay all the medical bills. At least nobody will sue us!” Then I thought to ask her if it was swollen before she came. She nodded yes. That was when we realized she had a boil on her hand and it was swollen from that. No wonder she was crying! Boils hurt anyway, and then to have somebody jump on it……ouch!

The third was Hadiza. She’s cute, but with ten older brothers and sisters, she’s pretty spoiled. We were now at the end of class time. The kids say their verse to me on the way out the door, but they had gotten really bad about all crowding around me at the same time. Since they don’t sit in desks or tables it’s really hard to tell them to not leave their place….since they don’t have one. So John has started keeping them back and choosing one by one who will come to say their verse. Well, they started crowding him so he gave a push back. There was a mini stampede…..right over Hadiza. She really wasn’t hurt, but she started screaming at the top of her lungs. It was definitely a cry of rage. How dare anybody step on, over, or near her?!

Thus ended the kids club. John’s words? “I don’t know how you have the patience for them!”

Friday, December 07, 2007

Don't Forget to Pray!

Have you ever forgotten to pray? Even though, in retrospect, it seems obvious you should have prayed? I have!

My neighbor Hawa was sick and had been for about two weeks. It started out as a cough, progressed to fever and headache, and went on to severe vomiting. I realized she was really sick the day we were getting ready to go to Niamey.

Now, you have to understand that getting ready for Niamey is always crazy busy. It just seems that everything happens, everybody comes, etc., not to mention all the packing and trying to remember everything. So, that’s my excuse!

Anyway, in the evening I went over to see her. She was lying on the ground on a mat under a net. In a very feeble voice she said she had gone to the dispensary that morning and they had given her medicine. She showed it to me: Tylenol and three days worth of antibiotics. We all know three days of antibiotics isn’t enough! So I rushed down to the dispensary, asked the pharmacist for a good strong malaria treatment and more antibiotics. (Believe it or not, all we have to do here is ask and they will give medicines to us! Not the best system, but then the medical system here leaves a lot to be desired!) I hurried back home, explained to her how to use the medicine, returned to my house, and went to bed. The next day we left for Niamey.

When we came back four days later, Hawa was still sick and she was so weak she could hardly talk or get up. She had been vomiting the whole time we were gone and still had a terrible headache. It seems like it was probably not malaria since the strong treatment didn’t work on her. It followed the pattern of typhoid, though we’ll never know since the dispensary didn’t do any lab work.

It was then I realized I had never prayed for her. I mean, I prayed for her during the week when I thought about it. But I never prayed for her in front of her. The next day, Sunday, my Christian friend, Safi, and I went to her house and this time I prayed for her and for her healing, while her daughters gathered around and her husband sat outside the hut.

Sunday afternoon she managed to wobble over to my yard and sit and talk for awhile. I could hardly hear her, though, since she was so weak. It was the first she had left her hut in a week. Monday I saw her sitting out in her yard, talking to her children. Tuesday morning I came out of my house and there she was, sweeping my yard just like she always does! I “yelled” at her and told her to go back to bed, but she refused claiming she was completely well. And she was!

It could be argued that she had just finished the course of antibiotics and they had done their work. It could be argued that the illness had run its course anyway. I don’t know.

What I do know is this, I forgot to pray. And God answers prayer. He definitely answered that one!