Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Birthday Party (or Two)

May 7 was my birthday. The 7th was a Wednesday and we were just two busy on Wednesday and Thursday to celebrate. On Friday we went out for supper to my favorite restaurant and then at home we had cake and ice cream and I opened my gifts. One of my favorite gifts was this batik which is a map of Niger with giraffes around the edge. I love the blue, which is one of my favorite colors. It will take a really big wall to hang it on, though!

Suzanne's birthday was on May 22. We took her out to another one of our favorite restaurants and gave her her gifts there.

Then on the 23rd, we had the entire 10th, 11th, and 12th graders over to our house so that she and Rufus, whose birthday is on the 23rd, could celebrate together. She turned 17. Not sure about Rufus....maybe 16. I think 18 kids showed up. I love that the high school is small enough that the kids all know each other well and they tend to do things in big groups. They are so easy to entertain, too. Give them some food and a place to hang out and they're happy. We are truly blessed.

Some of the girls found this shirt for Rufus in the market. Suzanne has a really funny picture on her camera with all the girls crowding around him. I wish I had a copy of it.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Dinner Party

Since January, I have been teaching a cooking class elective at Sahel Academy. I've enjoyed spending time with my 12 future chefs. They work well independently. I had them a recipe, give them a few pointers, and they make it happen. We haven't had any total failures or inedible food.

We have stuck with basic cooking...nothing gourmet or fancy. Just good stuff you'd serve on a daily basis. In fact, aside from the lime meringue pie, all the recipes were tried and true family favorites.

We have made breakfast foods, appetizers, soups, beef main dishes, chicken main dishes, tuna main dishes, cakes, and pies. Everything we made was devoured at the end of class.

Last Saturday, the 17th, we put on a dinner for the students' parents. Their were three students in the dorm who I let invite their favorite teaching staff member.

The Thursday before the dinner, we made as many things ahead of time as we could. Then the kids came in at 9:00 Saturday morning and we worked hard until 12:00 when the parents arrived. Our menu was:

Appetizers: Cheese Ball and Crackers and Miniature Spicy Meatballs

Soup: Pumpkin Soup

Salad: Green Salad with Ranch or Italian Dressing

Main Dish: Honey Baked Chicken with Rice and Parlsey Carrots

Bread: Poppy Seed Muffins

Dessert: Pineapple Upside Down Cake

The kids said the parents looked surprised when they came in. It looked like they had expected spaghetti or tuna sandwiches, but instead they got a full five-course dinner. My 12 looked very professional in their black and white outfits and their polite manners. I was very proud of them and each one earned an A for this class project!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Party Time

Last Saturday, May 10, we had an open house. We wanted some way to thank all the people
who had helped us move and to show them the results of their hard work. I spent a lot of time baking, but I did it a little bit at a time, so it wasn't so bad. John also made date bars and we filled in with peanuts and a variety of Pringles-wanna be's called, get this, Cracks.

This blog also shows you the dining room and living room and Suzanne's room, finally with curtains hung and the windows and everything where it belongs.

I'd say we're pretty well settled in aside from the fact that we still don't have enough amps of electricity to run both air conditioners. Suzanne is still sleeping on the floor in our room. Everybody is tired of that, Suzanne especially.
The three guys on the left in this picture were a huge help. I think the one in the center in the green shirt was beginning to dread seeing us coming towards him...."Hey Chris, you know that big cupboard? Could you help us move it to another place again?" He seriously helped us move some items numerous times.
We are so thankful for good friends who help us when we need it!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Killer Kat

Our cat, Midnight, is almost 16 years old. I don't know how old cats live to be, but I think she's pretty old for a cat. The thing is, she only has two teeth left. We feed her soft tinned food.

Even though she's old, and even though she's toothless, she's still a good hunter. A few days back I opened the back door and a huge lizard ran in to the house. Midnight was laying on the floor taking one of her hundreds of cat naps of the day. She caught the movement of him running across the floor, trying desperately to find something to hide under. In a flash, she had him.

Back in her hey-day....back when she had teeth, she would gnaw a lizard's head off and then proceed to eat it. Now she pins it down with her paw and gnaws on it's head, but it's kind of hard to gum a lizard's head to death. The other problem is that if she does manage to eat it, it will inevetably make her barf. So I carried her outside and waited till she let go of it for a second. Then I grabbed her up and brought her back in the house. She wailed for a long time at the door, letting me know how mean I was to make her give up her prey.

I was happy with her though. I can live with little geckos in my house, but not those big lizards. She's my hero!

These pictures are of another lizard she caught recently. It was smaller than the one that came in the house.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

An Oasis in the Desert

Today I'll post some pictures of our street. You've seen the inside of our house, now I'll show you some of our neighborhood. It's a pretty nice neighborhood....lots of rich people. I like to talk to the guards in the evening (I haven't met any of the rich people yet!). One night there were three or four guards chatting together. One said he guards for the Belgians (I do know the Belgians), one for the Arabs, one for the Japonese, and we are American. The Chinese take an evening walk every night. That's just a small sampling of our street. There are also very poor people in the neighborhood. Down the street is an entire mini-village of grass huts. Behind us is a family that would be considered well-to-do in Tera, but in this neighborhood they are pretty poor.

Our street even has a name, not that a taxi man would ever know it by its name. It is La Rue des Oasis or "Oasis Street". In fact our compound is known in the mission as "Oasis". We have a house number, too, but no mail will ever be delivered there. P.O. boxes are the only way it's done here. This is the neighbor's gate.

This is our gate (not as pretty as the neighbor's) with our truck parked out in the street. See, we are 395 Rue des Oasis. Now you know where to find us!

A previous occupant had a dog, so she put up this sign "Je monte la garde". Pretty ugly, eh?

Suzanne said we should put a picture of Midnight, our cat on it. Here's what that would look like. Beware Midnight the Killer Kat!

Here we are looking down the street. This is absolutely the hottest, driest time of year and look at the flowering bushes and trees! It never ceases to amaze me that God allows them to bloom when it is 110 degrees every day and it hasn't rained for 8 months. They don't bloom when it is cool and rainy, but now. It is His gift of beauty to us in a dry, barren land.

When you come in our gate, this is what you see. There is a big house immediately to the right. The family that normally lives there is on home assignment. The man of the family was one of my 4th grade students. That makes me feel old! There is another family living there right now. They came for a year but have decided to stay another two!! They will have to move house, though, as the other family comes back in July. Straight ahead is our carport. Beyond that is our neighbor's apartment. If you follow that building along to the right you will find our place. It's hidden and is nice and quiet. It is truly an OASIS for us.