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Showing posts from October, 2006


Last post was about my cute little neighbor girl. This post is about one of her big sisters. I can't decide if I want to use names on my blog or not. In some ways I doubt if it will matter if I do. But on the other hand, especially in stories like this one, I want to do everything in my power to protect the person from possible persecution. So, I will probably use a code name or initials so I don't have to call the person "she" or some other ambiguous non-name.

So, we'll call this girl Mary. I talked about her some while we were on home assignment, so you might know this story already!

Suzanne and Mary have grown up together and have been really good friends. When I started having kids' club and Sunday School, Mary showed up for every single class. She loved everything that was being taught and I could tell she was really understanding it. Whenever there was a fete (a holiday) on a Sunday, she would come to Sunday School instead of celebrating with her friends.

What a Cutie!

This little girl is so cute! She lives right next
door in a round grass hut. She is six years old and is the youngest of 7 children. Her four oldest sisters are all married. Her family is Fulani, not Songhai, but they speak Songhai fluently. She hangs out at my house all the time. If I'm working in the office, she'll sit and look at books. If I'm in the kitchen, she peeks in the door or the window. If I'm taking down laundry, she wants to put the pins in the bag. If I go somewhere, she'll go with me.

One day I was peeling bananas to make banana muffins. She and her sister wanted to know what it was, so I gave them each a piece. You know the face a baby makes when they put a pickle in their mouth for the first time? Well, that's the face she made when she put that banana in her mouth! She spat it out and wiped her sticky fingers on the wall to get the slimy feeling off. She let me know just how disgusting she thinks bananas are.

She bought these glasses one day for…

Time to Read

Because life moves more slowly in our small town, I have a lot more time to read than I did in the US. So, I thought I'd share with you some of the books I've read since returning to Niger. These aren't necessarily my favorite books in the world. I don't think any of them have been life-changing or earth-shaking. But if you don't know what to read next, this might give you some ideas.

The Bride Price by Buchi Emecheta. This book takes place in Nigeria and is the story of a girl who dares to fall in love outside of her caste and what happens as a result. And that's all I'm going to say, but I really do recommend this book if you enjoy reading about Africa.

I've read several books by Beverly Lewis about the Amish. This is light reading, but it does make you long for a simpler life.

Mountain Breezes: The Collected Poems of Amy Carmichael. This is a huge book of Amy Carmichael's poetry. She was a missionary in India in the early 1900's who rescued many…

Nurse Nancy

Some of my all-time favorite books growing up were the Jungle Doctor books. Being a doctor or nurse in Africa sounded like a lot of fun! When I was a student at Cedarville I toyed with the idea....for about 5 days...of being a nurse. Then I started working evenings as a receptionist at the Campus Health Center and realized nursing wasn't the job for me!

Now, here I am...playing nurse. We live in a country where people can't even afford to spend the $1.00 to go to the dispensary because that means they might not be able to buy food for the evening meal. If it's a terrible emergency, they'll come up with the money, but not if it's a first aid treatment. Sadly, serious situations are often thought to be minor and they are out of control before they go to get medical help. And nobody has a well stocked medicine cupboard with the basics like Tylenol, bandaids, and hydrogen peroxideat home, either.

This little girl whose foot I'm treating came to me with a huge gash on…

Cinderella's Step-sisters Wear Flip-flops

The footwear of choice here in Niger is definitely flip-flops. They are comfortable, cheap, and practical. I mean, have you ever tried wearing closed -in shoes in sand? It doesn't take long before they're full of sand and that's not very comfortable!

One day one of my friends came to visit me. She and her family are living
out in the bush during the rainy season. She had on some kind of fancy shoes, but she said she was going to take them off as soon as she got outside of town and then walk home barefoot. Her flip-flops had broken and she couldn't walk in fancy, impractical shoes. I asked her how long it would take to get home and she said two hours. The way I figure, that is at least 6 miles if you walk moderately fast and 8 miles if you walk really fast. Imagine that...6 miles barefoot.

What could I do? I thought of all my shoes...brown, black, and white... and decided I really didn't need the nice red and blue flipflops I was wearing. Flip-flops cost not more than …

Picnic Rock

On the last night the kids were in Tera, we went to Picnic Rock. It's not your typical place for a know, green grass, trees, a lake, maybe a little playground, picnic tables, and a place to grill your meat. Nope! It's shade, dry, prickly grass, rocks, rocks, rocks. But it's got a hill you can climb and from the top of the hill you can see for miles. On top of that hill, in addition to piles of rocks, is a cement pillar. It's a mystery in and of itself, but we like to use it as a pedestal on which to make all sorts of poses. Picnic Rock is quiet and peaceful and we always go home feeling refreshed, like we've been able to leave the hustle and bustle of the crowded town for just a little while. It's no wonder Jesus liked to go up on the mountain to pray and to get away from the crowds for awhile.

A Week in Tera

Daniel and Suzanne were home this entire week. It was a great time. They got to sleep in and relax after finishing their first quarter of school. It was also Jeremy's first week in Tera, so Daniel introduced him to a lot of his friends and showed him around a bit. John and I tried to spend as much time with the kids as possible. I spent a lot of time cooking and Suzanne was a wonderful helper in the kitchen. (The boys did KP duty, too! :) )

Suzanne got henna put on her feet. First you put black electrical tape on your feet to create a well-defined line for the henna. Then you put the henna on and leave it for several hours. When you take the henna off, your feet are a reddish color. This red color is then covered up with a special "something" that creates a chemical reaction and turns the red to black. You then have beautiful pitch black feet. Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of the end product!

One day Daniel and Jeremy and co. rented bikes and rode around for abo…

Spirit Week

The week before the NUTS tournament was Spirit Week. And the last day of Spirit Week was school colors day. The day ended with a pep rally for the softball teams. Can you guess the school colors?


We were in town last weekend for the annual softball tournament. Sahel Academy had three teams this year...two "social" and one "competitive". Pretty much the social teams are junior high and high school kids and the competitive are men or older teens. Daniel was the captain of the older social team. I tried and tried to get a good photo of him at bat, but didn't ever succeed! Anyway, his team made it all the way to the finals. We lost that game, giving us 2nd place in the Social Division of the tournament. Ironically, it was Daniel's best-played game of the entire tournament. He had two runs to third base and one home run. Unfortunately he was the first up to bat with the home run, so he didn't get any RBI's.

By the way, the title "NUTS" is because that's what the tournament is called...NUTS...Niamey Universal Tournament of Softball (I think). I say it's NUTS because they play out in the blazing hot sun. It is probably at least 115…

Giving Gifts

There is a nice custom in this area that says when you return from a trip you must bring your family and friends a gift. If you have just gone to another town for the day to the market, you may bring back some bean cakes or a piece of fruit. The longer you are gone, the nicer the gift you should bring back. So, if you are gone on a long trip for an extended period of time, you would bring back clothes or jewelry.

Since we were gone for a year we would need to bring back nicer gifts. The problem for us is that we know the entire neighborhood and that gets pretty expensive to buy gifts for everyone! Thankfully, my cousin, Jeanne, took us to a really nice thrift shop and I found a lot of good, barely used t-shirts there. Our church, Grace Bible in PA, also has "Open Closet" each year in which people in the church can bring used clothes and household items and give them away to other people in the church and to people living at low income levels. I was able to get some nice thing…

A New Fridge

Last term we started to have a lot of trouble with our fridge. It was over 20 years old and we were the third owners. The fan in the freezer that circulated the cold air would not work properly. We were having a repairman fix it every month or so. He finally got it fixed pretty well and it had been working consistently for several months. But we decided it couldn't be relied on any more, so we sold it just before we left. Mike had a fridge belonging to SIM that he was using.

So, the first thing we did when we got back to Niger was to buy a new fridge. With some money we had saved and with some gifts from some very generous people, we were able to get a very nice one. It cost about twice what a fridge would cost in the US. But if we had bought one in the US, then paid the import tax, it probably would have ended up being the same amount. Buying it here had the added advantage of having the fridge run on 220 volts instead of 110 like American fridges do.

Anyway, I am really happy with…

Daniel and Suzanne in the dorm

Wow! It's been over a month since I disappeared into the land of no internet! Sometimes I miss it, but I suppose it's a big time saver to not have it. Except that when we come to Niamey then we have tons of e-mail waiting that we have to answer....this morning there were 263 messages waiting! Of course some of them were quickly deleted because they were just junk.

Daniel and Suzanne are settled at Sahel Academy and seem to be happy in the dorm. I say "seem" because I haven't seen them for a month! In just a few minutes we will be leaving to go see them at the school. Yeah!

There are 18 kids (3 of them belong to the dorm parents) and three staff in the dorm. It's a big and noisy family. They go to school, have extra curricular activities, and visit friends who live in town, just like any family. Each of the kids have chores they do each week. Here you see Suzanne having a turn at washing dishes. The kids come to the dorm after school, have a snack, and just hang…