Monday, June 23, 2008

A Graduation Party

This year I made Suzanne's dress for the Junior/Senior Banquet. It was so pretty, but when she tried it on, the top was way too big. I didn't know what to do. I mean I can sew basic stuff, but I don't do alterations. So, we took it to the tailor and he fixed it up for her. This was taken at the end of the evening and she had already taken off her necklace. But here are a few more shots of her at the banquet with some of her friends.
Suz and Tam

Suz and Trae
He is the young man who was in the motorcycle accident. He got back from Paris about 4 hours before the banquet! As you can see, he is wearing a brace which he h
as to use for another month or so.

Suz and the three graduates.

The graduation ceremony was very unique. Historically we have rented an air-conditioned assembly hall, but this year it was held outside at Sahel Academy. The graduates came in riding on camels!
Adam's camel was very hungry and kept insisting that it would be more fun to eat leaves off the tree than to march in to the tune of Pomp and Circumstance!
It was a great graduation ceremony with a fantastic message on the meaning of their names or the example of the Bible character they were named after. They all have Bible names: Adam, Matthew, and Jonathan.
May they go with God wherever He leads....whether on a camel or not!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Wedding Party

16 years ago when we moved to Tera, one of the first families we met was Maimouna's. Maimouna became my house worker and my faithful friend. Among her 11 children were two who were Daniel and Suzanne's age. Soumeyla and Daniel were always pals and Suzanne and Sofie were pals.

On May 24th we went to Tera to participate in Sofie's wedding. She is 17 years old. While arranged marriages are still common, her's was "semi-arranged". The young man she married likes her so he made sure that the family arranged the marriage with Sofie. She is his 1st wife and she married into a much wealthier family than she grew up in.

The bride is sequestered on her wedding day, with her friends to keep her company. Imagine being in a house with no windows and no air circulating while it is 105 degrees outside. Inside must have been at least 120 with the heat index. It was awful.
Here is Sofie and one of her friends. Sofie is wearing the black scarf. She is a beautiful girl with lots of spunk. Last year she hit a cousin with a piece of fire wood because he was dissing her about the food she had cooked. He had to go get stitches!

Suzanne, as one of Sofie's "slaves" sat inside with Sofie. The girls helped make sure she was beautiful and ready to meet her husband. They also teased her about how mean he would be to her and how ugly he is. Like bridesmaids anywhere, Sofie's "slaves" spent a lot of time helping each other with their makeup!

Later in the evening the groom's friends arrived on motorcycles. They did "zeroes" in the sand of the road outside of the house (much like doing doughnuts in the snow). They paid up any remaining money for the bride price. They brought a car for Sofie and vans for other people. The youngsters climbed in the vans on which were piled her trouseau and her new mattress. Many of the "slaves" went off on the motorcycles with the guys. Those of us who don't enjoy riding in over-crowded vehicles walked to the groom's house. They had actually rented a "honeymoon suite". Outside a big dance was held for the young people.

Meanwhile, the bride was sequestered in the honeymoon suite. Her "slaves" sat with her. Many brides are crying by now, sad to leave mother and home and all that they know to enter a marriage with a man they've never seen before. Sofie didn't seem too upset though.

And the groom? Never met him. He is not even invited to the wedding. Truthfully, I've never quite been able to figure out when he shows up to begin his duties as a husband. For three days both the bride's and the groom's friends hang out where the bride has been taken. She cries and refuses to eat to show how sad she is about leaving home.

The tradition is that the brides' girlfriends and family all dress in new outfits made of matching cloth. The groom's friends and family also buy matching cloth in a different pattern and wear outfits made out of that. The bride wears the groom's family's cloth. Here is Suzanne wearing Sofie's cloth and Sofie wearing her husband's cloth. Both Suzanne and I hated the cloth that was chosen, but we had to wear it. It is yellow and gold and we just look horrible in those colors. Not only that, but they had Suzanne's outfit made ahead of time, and it was something she would never have chosen for herself.
At any rate, it was fun to go back to Tera for a day and to spend time with friends again. It was a tiring weekend, though, as we went up Saturday afternoon, were up until about 1 a.m., then drove back to Niamey on Sunday after having a church service in Doumba.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Rain and a Clean-up Party

It hadn't rained for eight months. Then on May 20, we got our first rain of the rainy season. It was preceded by a terrific dust storm. First we saw clouds with a slight orangish-brown tinge to them. Close the windows fast! Get the clothes off the line! A dust storm is coming!!!The warm humid wind has been blowing out of the south-west all day, bringing with it moisture from the Atlantic ocean. Suddenly the wind switches and begins to blow out of the north-east. As it moves back down from the north, it brings clouds of Sahara sand with it. Suddenly it is calm and quiet. The proverbial calm before the storm is here.
Then whoosh!!!! The dust cloud slams into us, forcing us backwards with its strength. Dust gets in our eyes and in our mouth. It feels like a sand-blaster pelting us with grains of sand. Suddenly the sky turns red, then as dark as night. We cannot see where we are going in the house. Outside there is an eerie reddish tinge to the darkness. We strain to hear thunder, hoping that rain will be behind the dust.

It is!!! We and our neighbors, the Goldies, start screaming and hollering, dancing around in the rain, rejoicing for God's gift to Niger.

It didn't take long for us to get cold and decide to take shelter in the house. As we went in the house our cries of joy turned into cries of panic. Rivers of dirty brown water were pouring in under the back door. Our house was flooding!!John quickly runs back into the rain and discovers that the drainage in the back is blocked with leaves and debris. He quickly unblocks it and the river running in under our door turns into a trickle. Now the clean-up begins.
Our neighbors who had been celebrating with us just a few minutes before now come in to help us mop up. We all worked for about an hour.We are so thankful we don't have wall-to-wall carpeting!!!