Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Declaring War on Mosquitoes

The place where we are living has more mosquitoes than any other place I've ever lived!  We see more in the house in a day here than we used to see in a year where we used to live.  I am not exaggerating.  We find ourselves constantly doing battle against these annoying and dangerous little critters.  

They are definitely dangerous, killing more people here than any other disease.  Within hours from coming down with malaria, a person can be dead.  So believe me, we take our war on mosquitoes seriously!  There are four ways we try to protect ourselves.

First, we take a prophylaxis.....medicine to help prevent getting malaria.  Both of us take doxycyline, which is an antibiotic.  It can cause stomach upset, nausea, and burning of the esophagus, so we always take it with a meal.  John takes his at breakfast and I take mine at supper.  I used to take mine at breakfast but since it's a lighter meal for me I was finding myself nauseated mid-morning.  I don't know for sure if it was the doxycycline, but switching to evenings and my biggest meal seems to have solved the problem.  

Secondly, we got us a weapon.  It is a mosquito zapper that looks like a tennis racket. You swing it around and when it comes into contact with a mosquito.....a flash of light, a buzz, and it's dead.  Using this mosquito-killer tennis racket brings me great delight!  It may be a bit sadistic, but really, malaria is a life or death matter, so better its death than mine!!  Last night John was swinging it around and came in contact with the overhead fan.  It knocked the zapper right out of his hand and flung it across the room.  Fortunately it didn't hit anybody or anything.  It was hilarious and even though it cracked the handle, I don't think it's broken.

Thirdly, we sleep under a net.  When we first got married, John bought a water bed from some missionaries who were leaving.  We've used that bed for over 25 years, but there was no way to hang a mosquito net from it.  We couldn't figure out a way to hang a net from the ceiling without it getting in the way of the fan (and you already know what fans will do to objects that hit them!).  So we didn't use a net.  But we'd wake up with itchy bites and smears of blood on the sheets.  So we decided it was time for a new bed.  We explained to the carpenter what we wanted and this is what he built for us.  He even came to our house to assemble it for us since it wouldn't fit through any doors in its assembled form.  Now we are sleeping under a net which is great since night time and early morning are when the mosquitoes are on the attack. Not only does the bed provide protection from the mosquitoes, but it is also smaller than our previous bed, so we have more space in our room to move around. (We have a really small bedroom.) 

And fourthly, when we are outside (or even sometimes inside!) we use mosquito repellent.  We keep a bottle near the door and one in the car so that we are always armed.

Thank God, we haven't had malaria for years.  After I almost died from it in 1992 and John had a very bad case of it in 1998, we are very careful.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

I Won!

Thursday morning when I got up, I had an email message and a Facebook post from my friend Beth at The Bee in Beth's Bonnet.  She told me to hurry over to Missionary Blog Watch because I might win something!

I looked and come to find out, my blog and four others were being featured.  If I was the first blogger of the five to respond, I'd win a $50.00 Amazon gift card.  I thought it was a little too good to be true, but it wouldn't hurt to try!

Later in the day I had an email with an Amazon gift card attached!  That I won was a surprise, but the even bigger surprise was that it was actually a $100 gift card.  Wow!  That really made my day, I can tell you.

Why was the blogger behind Missionary Blog Watch giving away a gift card?  "Because today is World Mental Health Day.  And I think a new read for a missionary would certainly promote mental health."  I had to chuckle at that.  I have had a lot of stress the past two months, so he's right.  A good book is always a good cure!

I want to get The Land Between:  Finding God in Difficult Transitions by Jeff Manion.

Any other suggestions of good books I should definitely read?

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

In Exile

Our church meets on one of the campuses that was flooded, so we've been having church elsewhere.  One of the families in the church has a children's home which includes a large open area.  So the church has a tent of sorts that they've erected there where we meet each Sunday. We also have a section in the shade behind the tent where people can sit. The children have Sunday School next door.

It's a bit crowded.  And we've learned to avoid the chairs along the right side of the canvas as they get down-right toasty in the sun before the service is over.  The chairs are so close together that when we stand to worship, one really can't do much dancing or moving!  It's a bit difficult to get your moves on when your chair is crammed up against your legs and your stomach is crammed up against the chair in front of you.

But we're together.  And the worship is still good even if we feel a little confined in our expression of worship.  The messages lately have been excellent.  Maybe it's because I've been trying to take notes more which helps me stay focused.  When the message is in French my mind wanders off even faster than it does when the message is in English.  The pastor just started a series on The Lord's Prayer and this past week focused on "Our Father". I've been mulling that over all week.  It's a pretty important concept here where God is not considered to be a Father with whom you can have a relationship. 

Meanwhile, Sahel Academy has rented two buildings for the year and school has resumed.  The Bible school has also rented a building and classes will begin soon with John teaching two of them.  Both schools are also in exile with the discomforts that come with  smaller, more inconvenient locations.  But the students are together, school is going on, and relationships are being built.

The missionaries and dorm family who suddenly found themselves without housing have been relocated.  Some of them are in places that leave them frustrated and inconvenienced.  But no lives were lost and for that we are thankful.

Local families who lost their homes have been helped through rice distribution.  However, those living in local schools have had to move out so that the school year can get started.  Most of those families are still living in exile somewhere.  Next to our school, the family whose mud houses collapsed are living in grass mat shelters that they have built. 

The river is going down and the flood waters have receded from both campuses. So how long will we be in exile?  It's hard to say, but the river will crest again in December and January, so we hesitate to do much clean-up before then.  Once we're sure that crest is over there will be plenty of work to walls, repainting, rebuilding cupboards, ridding the buildings of mold, etc.  We also plan to build a berm around the inside of the walls of both campuses to protect the campuses from future flooding.

We are also raising funds to help local families rebuild their houses.

If you would like to help restore and rebuild the campuses and local people's houses, please visit SIM's website and visit our flood project page and then click on "Donate Now".  For the latest update on what is happening with the relief project, visit the Niger River Floods Niamey page.

Most of all, keep praying for our church, Sahel Academy, and the Bible school while they are in exile!