Monday -- This actually happened just before John left, not technically this week, but I've been thinking about it a lot this week....and in Part II, I'll write more about my friend, H____.
H____ is one of the poorest people I know. I also consider her a dear friend. She has listened to the Gospel and is definitely open. She and her husband and kids were squatters on an empty compound next to ours. Her girls and Suzanne were best of friends. They lived in a grass hut that her husband managed to keep in some state of repair. Her husband died a few years ago and her kids are just as poor as she is, so they can't help her much. The owners of the land came and built a house on the property, but thankfully they have allowed H____ to continue to share the yard with them and to live in her little grass hut. The last time we were there we noticed what terrible shape it was in. She had tied pieces of plastic onto the "walls" to keep out sun and rain, but the termites had eaten through the supports. It was a house, but just barely.
Then just before John left, another friend, A.D., called and told us that H____ really needs to have her hut rebuilt before the rainy season. He said if we could send some money, he'd make sure people came and built the hut for her. What makes me so thankful, is not just that we are able to help, but that this man, who is no relation from her, is from a different ethnic group, and who might take some guff from the neighbors for helping her, took on the responsibility to make sure she has a relatively dry place during the rainy season. A.D. had made a profession of faith, and then pulled back, but we see evidences in his life that he is living in a Christian way. Please pray for him to really stand for Jesus and to not try to walk in both paths!
Tuesday -- We've had a short-term couple here who lived in the apartment above the office and got really involved in our office morning devotions. They also had a ministry at church. And I personally am thankful that they helped me by translating a number of documents from English into French! On Tuesday morning they wanted a group photo, so here we are (three people are missing, one of them being John). (I didn't take this photo....obviously.)
Thursday -- Daniel and S____ were good friends growing up. S___ still calls me every now and then just to greet me. He called last week and what I thought he said was, "Ey wande hay" (My wife had a baby). Then on Thursday he called me again and said, "Ey wande hay." I was so confused! What? How could she have a baby two weeks in a row. Well, it turns out, what he really said the first time was, "Arabi wande hay" (blame it on less than ideal phone connections!). So his half-brother's wife had a baby exactly a week before his wife did. And here's a throw-back picture of Daniel and S__ when they were about 17. Both are married now. I'm thankful for this continued relationship. And we were able to help out a bit by sending both brothers some money to help purchase food for their naming ceremonies.
Friday -- Actually, just about every day this week...it's been so dusty. This picture is taken at Sahel and you can just barely make out the city skyline through the haze of dust. It's easy to complain about the dust....that's the air we breathe, people! And it's impossible to keep your house clean. But what I'm thankful for is that it has kept the temperature down a bit. It's not unusual by the middle of April to have daily temperatures around 110 degrees F. We've barely seen anything over 102, so that's been nice!
Saturday -- Unfortunately the dry dusty weather creates a perfect climate for meningitis and Niger is having a meningitis epidemic right now. SIM was able to help all the employees who work at the office by injecting them and their children against meningitis. Nurse Judi came in and filled needles and stuck people for the better part of two hours! I think she did between 40 and 50 injections.
As soon as it rains, the epidemic will end....but it probably won't rain until some time in May or June. Our church today was doing injections after the service and I heard that there will be a public campaign to inject people this coming week. You can read more about this epidemic at http://www.unicef.org/wcaro/english/4501_4872.html, http://outbreaknewstoday.com/meningitis-outbreak-in-niger-doubles-in-three-weeks-67243/, and http://nation.com.pk/international/17-Apr-2015/meningitis-epidemic-kills-75-in-niger . (I'm not sure how that last article morphed into an article on peace-keeping forces....weird writing, or no editing, or something!)
Sunday -- This year our church is really focusing on getting involved in missions which is sure something to be thankful for! Today it was announced that we have a new missions' pastor, pictured here with his lovely wife, who also works at our office. The church has several mission "projects" going on and these were presented today. It's neat to see how our church is reaching out to others with the Gospel as well as helping in practical ways such as getting a well dug in one of the villages.