Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fun Gifts

Have you ever read the book about Love Languages? My love language is definitely acts of service. But gifts may be my 2nd language.....I'm not sure. I love giving gifts and would rather shop for other people than for myself. But maybe that's because it's more an act of service for me. Whatever......I know that I enjoy getting gifts, too, especially if they comeas a surprise.

One gift that I enjoyed, mostly because I totally didn't expect it, was given to me last May. Ben Stam gave it to me. He was here at Sahel to teach Math and he hung out at our house a lot. People teased him about scarfing off us because he did have a knack for showing up at meal time. He didn't scarf off us, though, because he'd often call and say he was coming, but he was going to the store first and was there anything he could pick up. Or he'd come in with the ingredients for ice cream and then make ice cream for us. One day he was telling me about chocolate candy with hot pepper in it. I totally didn't believe him because that is just way too bizarre. So one day he came in with this candy bar for me. Mind you, Lindt is THE BEST chocolate candy IN THE WORLD! And here it was....... dark chocolat with red pepper. I couldn't believe it....and yes, it was bizarre, but I ate it all because Ben had bought me a gift! I don't know which store he got it in because I never saw it in any stores and I've never seen it since.

Recently, unexpectedly, I received a package in the mail. It was from my mom and when I opened it I discovered a blouse in my favorite shade of blue, and it fit, and it was adorable. I coudn't believe it. I had a new blouse to wear and I didn't even know I was going to get it!

And my mother-in-law has already sent us our Christmas gifts. They are in hiding behind the bed.....where we always hide Christmas gifts. Hmmmm.....wonder what I'm gonna get?!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Monitor Lizards

About a month ago we took a day trip to Tera. We had heard that a Christian, who was an influential man in the community and in the government, had died suddenly of a heart attack. We wanted to go up and greet the family. We took two Australian ladies who are teachers at Sahel Academy with us. It was a good day for them to get out and see something other than the big city. They visited with us in four different homes and got to see four different economic levels of living.

The family of the man who died was quite wealthy, so they saw a big cement house with pretty nice furniture. Then we went to our former next-door neighbors who live in a grass hut, which is pretty much about as poor as you can get. Then we went to our other neighbor's house who live in a three-room mud house in a very dirty compound. Lastly, we went to Suzanne's friend's house. She lives in a small house, but she has some linoleum on the floor and some simple furniture and a TV.
In between all this visiting, we went down by the river for a picnic. We found a very shady place surrounded by green grasses (it was the rainy season). We had a very pleasant picnic and nobody came to stand around and watch these strange white people eat. When we were done eating, Suzanne headed back to the truck which we had parked a small distance away. All of a sudden she screamed and came racing back towards us. Something was running in the grass straight towards her. We couldn't see it until it got down to the river.
It was a monitor lizard! Monitor lizards are quite shy of people, but they have strong powerful jaws. Because of their size, they make a tasty meal and the Songhai will always chase monitors, kill them, and have a little meat to add to the pot. Suzanne's heart beat finally returned to normal and we went on with our visiting. When we told Maimouna the story, she said that traditionally the Songhai (who live along the river), upon sighting a monitor lizard, would sing a special song to it. The lizard would stop in its tracks, mesmerized by the special monitor lizard song being sung to it. The hunter could then kill it and have it for supper.

Here is a picture of a monitor lizard that was killed and, yes, eaten, on the Sahel Academy compound a few years back. Daniel has eaten monitor lizard, but I can't say I ever have (or want to!).

Saturday, October 04, 2008

My Office

I spend most of my working hours at the SIM Niger office. This is a double story building with offices on the bottom floor and apartments and a conference/meeting room as well as a small library on the 2nd floor. As you can see, we have a nice bouganvilla arbor thing going on over the front entrance.

And here is my office. No little cubicle for me! No, I have my very own office. It is a bit small when we need to orient more than one person at a time, but we work around that by taking them to the conference room.

I don't have a cubicle, but I do share my office with somebody else. That is John, so he's a pretty good guy to have to share with! Some days he works at home and some days he works here. It looks like he's working pretty hard here. He brings our own computer to work on. Suzanne is doing an on-line course and likes to check her email....and Facebook, of she also spends quite a lot of time at that desk.

The nice thing about my office is that I have a window. I think I'd go crazy if I had to sit in a cubicle in the middle of a building that hardly had any windows. I have a very interesting view too.....a wall and a tree! Well, it's not much to look at, but it is light and fresh air. And a lot of noise. On the other side of that wall is one of the busiest streets in Niamey.

And here I am (my hair is a lot longer now....I'm waiting for my hair stylist to get back from his vacation!). This is where I spend my day, doing many different things. I answer a lot of e-mail, fill out personnel request forms, try to figure out good placements for people interested in coming to Niger, and many things just to help. For example, this week a missionary called to ask me to find out what the deadline in his state is for requesting absentee ballots. Their power had been off for four days and their internet had been down for over two weeks.

Come see me and I'll put you to work in Niger!