Saturday, April 25, 2009

Oh no! Not Again!

Yep, it's time to move again. Some people might get a charge out of moving. But not me. I like staying in one place. I'm a home-body if there ever was one.

But here we go again. Making lists. Sorting.....what to sell? What to give away? What to put into storage? What to leave out for other people to use? This time we'll be going back to the US for probably two years. We will leave some things in the house for whoever lives here next to use.

Creating chaos and mess. And I don't like chaos and mess. I'm not as bad as Monk....not yet anyway. But I HATE boxes in my living room. Or in my bedroom. Boxes belong in store rooms. But here we go again. At least I have a husband who helps me pack. He's very good at it, in fact.

We are going to sell our living room suite. It is just really very uncomfortable even though it looks nice. I am also trying to get things ready for Daniel's arrival. So today I took all the cushion covers off and washed them because they were REALLY dirty. Out on the line they dry in an hour and back on the cushions they go. Hopefully nobody who wants to buy our suite will read this blog and find out how uncomfortable our furniture is!

While hanging the laundry I looked up to see this beautiful sight. This is a flamboyant tree in the neighbor's yard. It is also sometimes called the flame of the forest tree. Ironically it blooms in the hottest, driest time of year. Isn't it neat how God gives us some beauty to enjoy when it is so miserably hot we think we can't stand it any longer? (As I write it is 108 in the shade.)

Not only do we need to pack up and sort out, but there are other tasks related to winding things down. Graduation is coming! A lady from another mission took senior pictures of each of the seniors. (If you have Facebook and are friends with Suzanne, hers are posted in an album on her profile page). I then organized with my sister a way for each senior to get pictures printed and Daniel will bring them out. That took quite a bit of time this week, but that's fun work. I also created an ad for SIM Niger to put in the Sahel yearbook....that was fun, too. And I'm making a scrapbook for Suzanne. That is enjoyable, too, but I'm afraid it won't get done in time!

Well, I guess I'd better quit messing around on the computer and go make some lists and get this moving-and-ending-the-term task organized!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Resurrection Sunday


"Il est ressucite! Il vit!" "He is risen! He's alive!" Aren't those the most joyous words of the year???!!!!! That is what makes life worth living. My Jesus is alive. He's both with me and in heaven preparing a place for me. My sins are forgiven. I've been redeemed from the slavery of sin. That's what the day is all about!

So, what better place to celebrate Easter than at church, right? We didn't have a sunrise service as such. But we went to church at 7:30. The choir was inside singing and you could go in and listen to them or stay outside and socialize.

After a bit there was a breakfast served. It was a ground-beef sandwich which is really hard to describe, but very delicious. It's nothing like a hamburger. Maybe more like a sloppy joe but without all the tomato sauce. That makes it sound dry, but trust me they are very good. We also had coffee or tea with lots of milk and sugar in it. These children are all from CSEN and are all so cute! Little MoMo is "my baby". He sits on my lap every Sunday and takes his morning nap. He's a real cuddler.

After the breakfast came the baptism. There were a good number of people baptized, including one of our missionary kids. By the way, baptisms always make me get all teary-eyed. I guess it's for the joy of seeing a person take the step of publicly declaring that they are going to follow Jesus. John had the privilege of baptizing this friend of ours.

After each person was baptized, the choir led us in a song of joy and praise.

The kids had front-row "seats"!
After the baptism, we went in to the building for our regular church service and communion. The youth group got up and did a special number. They had a song on a CD and they had correographed it and were doing some traditional African dancing with it. One old lady....the grandma of the church who I thought was too frail to do this kind of thing....got up and was dancing down the aisles with them. Everybody started clapping and laughing. The youth group was good, but she was just worshiping God with her heart. Today I was reading about blind Bartimaeus and Zaccheus. They didn't care much about what people thought of them. Bartimaeus was yelling out for Jesus even though everybody else was embarassed and trying to get him to shut up. Zaccheus climbed in a tree even though that was a little boy thing to do. May I worship God like this old lady, Bartimaeus, and Zaccheus not caring what people around me think!

After church, we had Easter dinner with our neighbors, the Rideouts and other friends. Here is Suzanne with two of the three Rideout children. How do you like her gorgeous tan?

Beka made these beautiful cream puffs for dessert.

And then the youngest Rideout dressed up like a bunny. He's so cute. Later this week he came over dressed up like a bear. I made the mistake of calling him a mouse. Woops. He comes to the office with his mom, so one day I showed him bear pictures from the internet on my computer. Now he wants to look at bear pictures all the time. He's pretty hard to resist, too.

And that was our Resurrection Sunday.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Empty-Nestin' It

As you know, Daniel is in the US and is a sophomore at Cedarville University. We haven't seen him for almost two years and we have really missed him.

Suzanne has also been gone on her spring break for three weeks now. She went first with her friend and former roommate, Tam, to Ghana where Tam's parents work with SIM. They took the bus down. The first day they traveled with a Beninois school-mate and it took them about 17 1/2 hours to get from here to Cotonou, Benin. The bus didn't have any air conditioning, so you can imagine how exhausting the trip must have been. Rufus' family kindly took them in for the night and got them on the bus a day later for their trip on to Accra. That was another long, hot day and Tam and Suz didn't even get to sit together on the bus. This picture is taken during a trip to a beach resort that Suz visited with Tam's family.

They spent two weeks together in Ghana and then they traveled back to Cotonou by bus to join the rest of the senior class there for their senior trip. They are stayed at the Hotel Bel Azur and you can visit their web-site at http://www.hotelbelazurbenin.com/. It's in French, but you can at least look at the pictures. I don't know if they are staying in these bungalows or in the hotel.

So how has it been to be empty-nesters? Well, I love having my kids around, so I can't say I really enjoy it. But the three weeks with no kids hasn't been too bad. I mean, only boring people get bored, right? But now I'm so excited because Suzanne is coming home today!!!!! And Daniel is coming on May 9!!!!!! Then we'll have three and a half months together as a family before both Daniel and Suzanne head off to Cedarville University. At least we'll be in the US for awhile and not so far away from them!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Orientation

Last Monday John and I along with four others from Niamey headed east to Maradi. We drove and another gal who teaches at Sahel also drove. It was a day with heavy harmattan so we didn't see much in the way of scenery! We stopped for a picnic on the edge of a plateau, but we couldn't see the beautiful hills around at all. There were some trees there, but they didn't offer much shade. It was around 109 in the (non-existant) shade, so you can imagine that we ate quickly so we could get back in our air-conditioned vehicles and continue on our way. We stopped in Galmi to pick up two more people and to have a little snack. Time got away from us there and that resulted in finishing the trip in the dark. It was white-knuckle driving as towns had un-marked speed bumps, donkeys were standing in the road, and we'd come upon pick-up trucks with no tail lights. Not only did they have no tail lights, but there were people straddling the gates of the trucks. And to add to the stress, that was the worse section of the road for the entire trip as far as potholes, etc.

On Tuesday we just got to rest and relax. John did some language things with some people as well. One member of our group had the idea of breaking up into teams and each team would fix the evening meal and do the washing up afterwards. The first night the guest house hostess fixed a meal for us and then we took turns cooking the next three nights. It was really nice to only have to cook once the entire week! A Nigerien lady cooked the noon meal. The final night we went out.

Wednesday morning, and every morning, we started with a time of worship and prayer.

Wednesday morning Judy spoke to us about the spiritual life of the missionary. Eliane did most of the translation for orientation and on Thursday she gave a session on our emotional and mental health. John gave a session on the religion of the area, communicating with the folks back home.

On Wednesday afternoon we went out to Danja to visit the Leprosarium there. Everything was so clean and the patients all wanted to chat and shake our hands and spend time with us. Because the patients are there for long periods of time they have many opportunities to hear the good news. On Thursday, John did a session on language learning. I did a "cooking in Niger" session. During free times we went to the pool, chatted with each other, and played games. One of the couples who are short-termers are working with his parents, who were our mentors when we first arrived in Niger. His parents took care of the kids during the orientation, so here's Grandma enjoying some time with her grand-daughter.

Thursday afternoon we went out to Maza Tsaye and saw the Sowing Seeds of Change Project. All the things they are doing to try to help farmers plant a variety of food crops so that in bad millet years they don't have to go hungry are really amazing. Here is Peter, the missionary who heads up the project (another missionary leads the health part of the project). Now here's a man who is truly outstanding in his field!

On the same compound, we visited Gordon and Judy who are turning an old school into a retreat/conference/education center.

On Friday Gordon talked to us about the history of the mission and the church in Niger and the vision of SIM Niger.
The favorite session of all was when Ayouba talked to us about Nigerien culture. We have so much to learn from our Nigerien brothers and sisters, but when we are new we are unaware of the fact that our cultures are so different. Ayouba gave everybody a good jump-start on understanding the culture and on learning to relate to our brothers and sisters here. Sometimes learning to relate to a new culture is complicated by the fact that at the same time we are figuring out the different cultures within the mission community. For example, in our orientation class we had three Americans, two Australians, a Canadian, a Swiss, and a New Zealander.


We went to a restaurant for our final evening together.

Saturday was the long trip home, but at least we did it all in the daylight. We saw a terrible head-on accident that must have just happened earlier in the day. What a reminder that we don't take safety for granted here. It is God alone who grants us journey mercies.