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New Years

Sometime last term we started a tradition of going camping out in the bush on New Year's Eve. This year we didn't go until New Year's Day because our neighbors wanted us to be around for Tabaski which was on New Year's Eve.

There are some hills near Tera, and near the hills are lots of dry stream beds (dry 9 months of the year, flowing 3 months). The stream beds make an excellent place to camp because the sand is a lot softer than the hard, rocky soil found in that area. Being down in a stream bed puts us a little out of sight from passing people, too...not that there are many people out there in the middle of nowhere.

We arrive mid-afternoon, find our camping spot, and set up camp. The last year of last term, Mike went with us and this year Jeremy went with us. Our tent is small, so Suzanne and I get the tent and the guys get to sleep on cots outdoors. Chili has become our traditional supper...I make it ahead of time and reheat it over an open fire. Then we build a huge campfire and just sit around talking or singing. Daniel, Jeremy, and Suzanne had fireworks they let off in spite of the extreme wind. Daniel, Suzanne, and Jeremy managed to play a game of "Settlers of Catan" without the wind blowing the pieces away.

I usually make egg McMuffins with homemade English muffins for breakfast. But I had run out of eggs, so I couldn't make English muffins or fry eggs (there are no eggs for sale in Tera). So we had left-over pancakes and corn flakes for breakfast.

Then we broke camp and went hiking in them thar hills. Daniel chose the steepest spot to climb. Not only was it steep, it was covered with loose gravel. I thought I was going to kill myself when I went slipping and slidding back to the bottom when I realized I wasn't going to be able to make it to the top. Suzanne also thought she was going to be killed when the young men (maybe just Daniel?) dislodged a boulder and pushed it over the edge. It appeared to be rolling right towards her, but fortunately, it missed. They all had a blast watching it bouncing and crashing to the bottom where it broke into smithereens.

Meanwhile I decided to walk along the "road" we had come in on. I walked almost three miles before they picked me up. I tried to get a picture of the hills but there was so much harmattan (Sahara dust) in the air that day that you can barely see the hills. I wasn't that far from the hills, either.

I thought this tree was very interesting. It gives every appearance of being dead, with its roots seemingly barely in the dry, barren ground. Yet in the rainy season it will be able to get enough moisture from the ground to turn green.

This kind of tree grows by the stream beds and is green all year round. It reminds me of Jeremiah 17:7 and 8. This is one of our favorite verses here in Niger. I'm

going to copy it from the NLT -- it's good to read from different versions occasionally to add freshness to verses we tend to quote glibly without much thought.

But blessed are those who trust in the Lord

and have made the Lord their trust and confidence.

They are like trees planted along a riverbank,

with roots that reach deep into the water.

Such trees are not bothered by the heat

or worried by long months of drought.

Their leaves stay green,

and they never stop producing fruit.