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God's Hand of Protection

I can imagine that each day there are ways that God protects us and cares for us that happen in unseen realms and of which we aren't really aware.  But every now and then, in the midst of the routine of our daily lives, we become very aware of His hand of protection and His care for us.  But first, let me tell you about our routine week (if there's any such thing as "routine"!).

This week was much like any other.  Perhaps a little busier in that I had three long meetings to attend, which is more than normal.  Our administrative team, which includes both John and me, always meets on Monday, so that was a routine meeting.  On Tuesday all of the Directorate Team, which includes John and me, met together to review our security/contingency plans.  This was a routine review, keeping in mind that it's best to "be prepared for the worst and hope for the best".  

Then on Wednesday, I met with some other ladies on a committee starting to look at some stuff regarding the school's re-accreditation process.  If you've ever been involved in a school accreditation process, you'll know that I'm not exaggerating when I say it's a lot of work.  We had so many papers, documents, files on the computer, and ideas in our heads that it all became very confusing sometimes.  We worked from 8 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. with only short breaks, so we were exhausted at the end of the day....speaking for myself any way.

In spite of the extra meetings, I managed to keep up on my emails.  I'm so thankful that I now have Crystal who handles everything to do with short-termers or the week may have been overwhelming to me as we also had two brand new arrivals as well as two long-term returnees this week.

Saturday afternoon there was a wedding we attended.  This was quite a to-do as, between the bride and groom's families, five churches (four denominations) were involved as well as the groom's co-workers from a Christian organization.  We knew that seating would be at a premium, so we showed up on time....which turned out to be early!  The bride and groom were fashionably late. 

Our choir got new outfits for the occasion.  

There were three women's groups and the youth choir from the groom's church that also sang.  The moderateur (what is that in English?!) told the groups that had special numbers, "One song each and I mean one song only."  But it seemed like some just combined their songs without a breath so it sounded like one song. But I could be wrong! :)

The best man came in with the groom. The groom is on the right in the photo. 

Then the wedding party came in and the guys stood on one side of the aisle and the girls on the other.  Each of the guys then presented the girls with a white rose ( real roses like that here!).  

Then came in more bridesmaids dressed in white with blue hats. 

Behind them were the flower girls.  I think they were throwing confetti everywhere. Then the bride with her "adopted" father.  

And behind her were more bridesmaids in cream colored dresses.  As the bride was coming down the aisle they were spraying perfume and throwing confetti and some kind of cottony stuff.  In this picture you can see everybody ducking their heads to get away from it.

There was a message and then the exchanging of the vows.  I didn't take any pictures as I was not in a good position to do so.  As an aside, I just want to say that the three men across the aisle in the hats were quite entertaining. 

The bride and groom signed the marriage license, a Bible was presented to the bride and groom, there was more singing and then the wedding was over. It lasted 3.5 hours, if you start counting when the wedding was supposed to have started.  That's how long we were in the church, anyway.

Oh, I should tell you that before the bride and groom did their vows, the two representatives of the family are asked to stand up.  The pastor asks if the groom's family paid the full dowry and then the bride's family is asked if they received the full dowry.  The two who stand up are usually uncles, not direct parents.  (Only here, they are considered parents.....culture can be confusing, eh?)  

They had the reception outside.  

Nobody much paid attention to cutting the cake (which was beautifully made by one of our missionary colleagues and her cake-decorating team) or what was happening at the main table.  I guess we were too thirsty and hungry while we waited for our food and drink to come.  It was worth waiting for, anyway.  The bridesmaids and groomsmen served.  Can you see the two girls in white serving food in the picture below?

Today we drove north to visit a church.  

They did a lot in Songhai with both music and translating the message.  We had a good visit there.  The usher (probably also a deacon) brought us each a bottle of water and then later a box of juice.  We had brought water along, but it was nice to be able to save that for the trip home.

That was really thoughtful of him as the church was pretty warm as the sun beat down (it was 104 degrees today).  They had an extra section to the service with an offering and testimonies to thank God for the way He blessed in 2015, so the service was pretty long, but we enjoyed it.

We drove around town to have a look around because I hadn't been there since 1990!  Of course, I couldn't really remember what it looked like then, but it was interesting to see the town.  As we were driving out of town, our tire started making a funny noise.  We were sure it was flat, so we pulled down onto a dirt road running beside the paved road.  We couldn't see anything and the tire was definitely not flat.  I told John to go as fast as he could on that dirt road and to drive past me and I'd see if I could hear or see anything.  He did and I couldn't, so we got back on the paved road.  As soon as he started getting back up to speed, we heard it again.  So we were trying to figure out what it could be when a gendarme came up next to us on a motorcycle and signaled us to pull over.  He said something was definitely wrong with the tire.  So he and John started to change it, only he wouldn't let John do any of the work.  Then a second gendarme with a young lady came up on a motorcycle (I found out talking to her that she is also a gendarme, but was off duty so not in uniform).  The two guys changed the the blazing hot sun.  Remember, it was 104 in the shade.  When they pulled the tire off we discovered that the edge of the tire that was on the inside where we couldn't see was all shredded.  If we had kept going on that it would doubtless have blown, which could have resulted in big trouble for us!

Do you see what I mean about how sometimes God's hand of protection and care is so obvious?  He allowed a piece of the tire to come loose enough to flap around to make noise on the pavement to alert us to a problem.  He made sure we were still in town, not out in the middle of nowhere.  He protected us from allowing it to happen before we got on the open road going 100 km/hour.  AND just because He cares, He sent two gendarmes to change the tire for us.  When we offered them $1.00 each to go buy a cold Coke, they all refused.  And so we end a busy, but pretty routine week, thanking God for His protection and care and glad that we live in Niger where people, even of a religion not the same as ours, are so quick to offer help.