Monday, September 26, 2011

Another Engagement!

On Saturday our son, Daniel, proposed to his girlfriend, Kelly.  And, of course, she said "Yes!"!!  We think the world of Kelly and feel that they are well-suited to each other.  The miles separating us seem longer at times like this.  Daniel called right away (we knew it was happening this weekend), but the connection was bad.  I could hear him fine, but he couldn't hear me at all.  Later he and Kelly were able to skype with me....I could see a blurry representation of their faces and of the ring, but nothing ever really came into focus. I can vouch that there is a ring on her finger, anyway!  This is a picture my brother-in-law took with his iPhone.

Here are a few pictures of the couple I took in May.

The greatest joy parents can have is not to see their children happy, because sorrows and hard times WILL come into their lives.  If all we've taught them is that we want them to be happy, they will be miserable people when life doesn't deal them the hand they think they are entitled to.  It is not to see them successful or rich because those things don't satisfy in the long run.  It is to see them applying biblical principals and following the Lord with all their hearts.  I am filled with joy when I see my children choosing the path of faith.  And, believe me, I take no credit for it.  In spite of my failings as a parent, in spite of my strengths as a parent, in spite of everything, they have chosen to let God work in their lives.

And I think that the 2nd greatest joy for a parent is to see their children marry others who have also chosen the way of faith.  Kelly is such a woman and Theo, Suzanne's fiance, is such a man.

Thank you, Jesus.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

New Things around Town

When we came back the end of July, we had been gone for two years.  So many things are exactly the way they were two years ago.  But some things have changed.

Our MK school, Sahel Academy has grown a lot, increasing in numbers every year.  The biggest change there is the new classroom and administration building. These pictures were taken a couple of weeks before school started and there was still a lot of work to do to get the building ready.  The outside has now been stuccoed, tiling was laid upstairs, the stairs have been cleaned off, the lights have been hooked up, and the upstairs classrooms are in use.  The offices will soon be in use as well.  In this picture, it was still very much under construction and there were no lights in the building.  But you can see the stair case....this is our first double-story building at the school.
  
Another thing that is quite different from the old days is that there is now a green softball field/soccer pitch. It's pretty amazing to see this much green in one place! 

The town also has a brand new bridge.  The bridge was under construction when we left.  It's pretty impressive, with a total of four lanes.  As you can see, however, there isn't much traffic on the bridge.  The road at the end of the bridge that connects it from where you've been to where you want to go is TERRIBLE.  So most people only use it if they live close to it or if the other bridge is blocked up.

Lastly, there are these new structures all over town, mainly on the roads coming in to town. I'm told they are to keep trucks that are loaded sky high from entering town.  Trucks that have their loads higher than these structures also tend to have problems driving under power lines, telephone lines, tree branches, etc. and usually end up pulling something down that creates a huge inconvenience for everybody else.


Oh!  And one last thing....there are solar-powered street lights in some parts of town.  They are really cool, using one of Niger's natural and free resources....sunshine!  Since the sun shines almost 365 days a year, it might as well be used.  Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of the lights.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Giraffes


Niger has giraffes that live wild in their natural environment.  I understand that these are the last herds of giraffes in West Africa.  While Suz and Theo were here we went out to see the giraffes.

Because the giraffes are protected, you are not allowed to just drive off the road and look for them yourself.  You have to stop and pay for a guide, pay for each and every camera you have with you, etc.  Then at the end you have to tip the guide. But it's worth it and it's nice to know the government is working so hard to protect the giraffes.  Our guide told us that he is "Guide #1".  There are a number of guides now, but he was the first they ever hired.  He seemed to really know how to find them and knew a lot about giraffes, too.


He told us that when a female is in heat she urinates on the ground.  The males smell the urine and come from all around.  Then they fight with each other, attacking with their hooves.  The strongest male wins and he then mates with the female.  He said there are a lot more female giraffes than male because some of the males are killed or seriously weakened during these fights.


He also told us that if you are driving on the road and one runs in front of you and you hit it and kill it, or seriously injure it and they have to put it down, there is a fine you have to pay of 500,000 cfa or about $1000.00!!!!


We also found out from a missionary that you can get in big trouble for taking pictures of giraffes from the side of the road as you are passing by.  They did that, apparently somebody saw it and let the police know, and the police chased them down!  They finally talked their way out of it, but another missionary from another organization did the same thing and ended up paying 100,000 cfa or about $200.00.  They are serious about having a guide and paying for the cameras.

As I said, we saw several herds.  Many of them moved on quickly when they became aware of our presence.  Then we came upon a giraffe all by herself.  She was chewing her cud and seemed to enjoy watching us as much as we enjoyed watching her.