Saturday, July 26, 2008

My Work, Part I

Now that I've done all these posts about parties, you must think I never work! But I really do! My work has many aspects to it, so I'll show you different aspects of my work in different blogs.

Aside from being Personnel Director, which I'll talk about later, I am the Short-Term Associates Furniture/Housing Coordinator for Niamey. Short-Term Associates (hereafter referred to as STAs) who go to other stations are taken care of by people there. So, what I do here in Niamey to get ready for STA's is also being done by somebody else in Galmi, Maradi, and other places.

SIM Niger provides furnished houses or apartments for all STA's. They pay rent, but because they are here for anywhere from two weeks to two years, this eliminates the need for them to have to set up their own housing....something that can take from two weeks to two months as we well know!

So, when we hear that an STA is coming, a housing committee meets and decides where that person will live. Once that is decided, and the time is near for their arrival, I need to go in and make sure that there is furniture, linens, and kitchen equipment. This invariably means moving furniture from one location to another and hunting in the dusty container/storeroom for equipment.

We recently had to move all the furniture out of one house into the storeroom and then all the furniture from another house into the first house. That was because the people from the 2nd house wanted to loan their furniture to the STA's moving into the first house. Does that make sense? Are you confused? Well, believe me, figuring out how to move stuff around gets pretty confusing for me too! In this case, the confusion was worth it because the STA family gets much nicer furniture than we can usually provide.

Obviously, I can't move furniture single-handedly.... Although there is this inherited female-gene in my family where women really are able to move furniture all by themselves.....some story about my mom moving a couch downstairs all by herself which seems to get exaggerated more with the telling. I've been known to move furniture myself, then John asks why I didn't ask for help...because I didn't need it. Now I've seen Suzanne moving furniture by herself claiming that it wasn't heavy and it needed to be moved. Well, that all works for moving something across a room, but is a bit complicated for moving an entire house full of furniture, especially when appliances are involved. So, like I was saying, I need to round up some helpers. We had eight of us working during this particular move and it took us six hours to do everything. Maybe I should buy myself a huge moving van, then it would take less time than having to load it up on small pick-up trucks!

Most of the time, fortunately, the furniture is already in place and I just need to make sure that everything is clean and in place.

Sometimes it's just a matter of getting a house ready for a returning missionary (not STA). Our neighbor's house was filthy, due to months of dust accumulation, intensified by the fact that workers hadn't closed the windows. You know all the pictures of dust storms and harmattan we've shown you? Well, imagine that dirt in the house. I almost expected to see Miss Havisham (if you don't know what I'm talking about, you'll have to read Great Expectations by Charles Dickens) sitting in the midst of the dust and cobwebs.Amanda Winsor and I tackled cleaning this house. She and her house helper and I worked all day one day, then we hired somebody else to finish doing things like washing windows and scrubbing floors. By the time we were done, it looked great!We chased Miss Havisham and all her dust and spiders away and got Jeanette's house looking nice and neat and ready for her return!

All of this hard work is worth it when the people arrive, often at 4:30 a.m., and can put down their suitcases and fall into an already made bed in a clean, tidy house.

Friday, July 04, 2008

A House Party

For our vacation this year, we are house-sitting for an American Embassy family. In exchange for taking care of their cats, we get:
a fully air-conditioned house, 24/7
a swimming pool in the back yard
a generator that comes on when the power goes off (which it's been doing a lot lately)
American TV shows on ArmedForcesNetwork

Pretty good, deal, eh???? I can change the kitty litter box for that.
Luke Ardill was passing through Niamey. He and Suz were cold! It's not unusual to find one of us under a blanket! It's amazing how much more energy you have when you're not hot all the time.

John chilling with an atlas. The cat is keeping him company.


Suz and Ben Stam playing Wii. Or however you spell it.


Suz and Jess chilling in the pool. That's the life.


Because we are on vacation, we decided (o.k......I decided) that everybody should help make meals. So John and Suz are taking turns with me which means each of us only cooks every 3rd night. Then on Friday night we go out. This restaurant is a boat on the bank of the river. You can even hire it when the river is high to go on a 3-hour cruise/dinner. It's a bit expensive, though, to do that. Just to sit there and eat is very reasonable. The food was good, but John said it wasn't enough. God treated us to a spectacular sunset that night, too.



OK, next time I'm going to tell you about my work since you think I do nothing but PARTY!!