30 June 2008

The Sunday School End of the Year Program

We've linked here to our ministry page, if you'd like to see some video clips from our children's Sunday School program at the "Eglise Evangelique Baptiste de Haro Banda."

We should be posting several other video clips over the next few days, if you'd like to see additional bits and pieces of the program (featuring our gang, of course... please excuse and forgive my brief slide into the abyss of maternal pride!)


How about a "house"lift instead of a facelift? Seriously, we've done some rearranging in our home lately, and folks who have been here before (including grandparents) have asked us what it looks like now, so I'm finally getting around to posting some photos. But first, a little about our home...

We live in a cement block "ranch" home. You can divide the house into two main parts: the front/public area (large, multiple use living/dining room (or some people call it a great/family room) and kitchen, and the back area with 3 smallish bedrooms, bathrooms and storage. You can enter into either area via a door off our terrace. Many consider our home on the smallish side for a family of our size, but we love it. It has a huge yard, some great shade trees, several mango trees and the location is convenient. It is quite easy for the kids and I to walk to the pool from here during the summer months or afternoons if for some reason, we don't have access to a vehicle. And that is a priority! It is also close to the studio and the mission school/compound, if we decide Tim gets to walk instead of the rest of us. We love the privacy that we have in this home (as compared to elsewhere we have lived in town: the house is situated on the back half of a large property plot and all of the windows face the sides instead of out toward the street and gates. Since there is an almost ever-present group of children at our gate/wall, watching for whatever we might do or they might see, we appreciate this little nugget of seclusion. We feel well established and safe in our neighborhood, and have many friends and acquaintances. We have also have made some significant improvements to the house (painting, storage space, tiling the terrace, electrical rewiring of some things, installing air coolers, etc.), so we aren't in a huge rush to look for a larger home. However, discovering that child #8 was on his or her way, we realized we did need to make some changes, as the bedroom where we had all five girls was already too small for the 5 of them. We weren't sure where to try and fit another child in that bedroom, if this one is another girl.

So we ended up dividing and moving the "office/playroom" from the public half of the house to the bedroom side, thus leaving space for us to "create" a bedroom for the big girls out in one corner of our living room.

The office is now in the master bedroom (giving me a place to scrapbook, if I can ever get Tim's computer stuff straightened out and put away); the playroom is in the little girls' bedroom, since they were the ones (plus Jonathan) who used those toys most of the time anyway. We've used (or are in process of) furniture, curtains and shelving to give the girls their own space that is cool and relatively private, plus we are all enjoying the new look.

The remaining three quarters of the living room/great room are now arranged as a library, a living room and a dining room.

All of this moving around of stuff allowed us to discover some clutter, things we no longer needed and instead for which we needed to find new homes, and that has enabled us to clear a few things out of the hallway that we kept there... simply 'cause we really had no other place to store it.

We are still working on several finishing touches,...

...and the pictures in this post aren't a great quality (sorry - the batteries didn't have enough "umph" to run the flash),...

...but we hope this will give those who've been asking an idea of what our home looks like, after its facelift.

27 June 2008

Words of Advice

Over the summer months, I've decided to participate in a Bible reading challenge... a read through the Bible in 90 days. I've read through the Bible before, but this is more intense; other times I've spread it out over 1-2 years. While I think it is good to read small portions of Scripture slowly to study and meditate over them - I'm also finding this very beneficial as it is giving me a "whole picture" that I've not ever seen before.

I've also decided to read using my French Bible, hoping this will help me to finally reach my long time goal of actually reading through the Bible in French. It seems a little easier (the French part) this way, as reading larger sections, I don't get stuck on the few words that may not be a part of my current vocabulary, but concentrate on a more global understanding. There's also the benefit that I've mentioned before: it is like reading a well-known story from a different perspective. I believe the Holy Spirit uses this to open my eyes to new aspects and new things that I had never noticed before.

That is what happened last week as I was reading through Exodus - the part where Jethro, Moses' father-in-law and a Midianite priest, comes to greet him as they are traveling through the desert. Although it is a passage which I've read or heard several times, a passage on which I've heard at least a handful of sermons and teachings in the past, God was faithful to, once again, show/teach me something new, something that relates particularly to current situations I am and will be working through in the coming months.

And Moses went out to meet his father in law, and did obeisance, and kissed him; and they asked each other of their welfare; and they came into the tent. And Moses told his father in law all that the Lord had done unto Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel's sake, and all the travail that had come upon them by the way, and how the Lord delivered them. And Jethro rejoiced for all the goodness which the Lord had done to Israel, whom he had delivered out of the hand of the Egyptians. And Jethro said, Blessed be the Lord, who hath delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of Pharaoh, who hath delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians. Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods: for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly he was above them. And Jethro, Moses' father in law, took a burnt offering and sacrifices for God: and Aaron came, and all the elders of Israel, to eat bread with Moses' father in law before God. And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening. And when Moses' father in law saw all that he did to the people, he said, What is this thing that thou doest to the people? why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand by thee from morning unto even? And Moses said unto his father in law, Because the people come unto me to inquire of God: When they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between one and another, and I do make them know the statutes of God, and his laws. And Moses' father in law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good. Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone. Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with thee: Be thou for the people to Godward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God: And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do. Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee. If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace. So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father in law, and did all that he had said. (Ex 18:7-24)

I bolded the portions that really jumped out at me. But first, let me include a quick "disclaimer" - these are not completely new, revelation-ary (is that a word??) ideas that that I have never had presented to me or have never thought about before... I just them in this passage, in a new context, that presently has particular application to my life.

Here are the three key ideas that I highlighted:

1) Moses' clear testimony, giving all of the glory to God for the deliverance of him and his people, obviously opened the eyes of Jethro as to who God was/is. I don't know that the Bible is really clear as to whether Jethro was a "believer" but he certainly acknowledges that the Lord God was more powerful than all of the other gods - and the fear of the Lord (that begins, I think, first with an acknowlegement of His all-powerfull-ness), is the beginning of God-given wisdom. Thus, this was a good reminder to me that when others remark about things that have happened, things that God has done, I need to make sure that the glory goes to Him, that I don't allow even just a bit of that glory to fall back onto me. For one like myself, who is often overly concerned with the opinions of others and trying to meet their expectations for me, that can be quite challenging when walking in my fleshly nature instead of in the Spirit.

2) Moses' humility and Jethro's wisdom also stood out to me. Often, it is easy to discount the advice of those we don't think are as qualified as we are:

  • they don't have the experience,
  • they don't have the education,
  • it is not their area of expertise while it is mine,
  • they are so young,
  • old they are out of touch and "don't have a clue,"
  • they are brand new believers,
  • I don't see anything in particular that impresses me about their individual walk with God,...

and the list of excuses could go on and on... This is something that has often frustrated me in dealing with people here. It is quite accepted and normal, even encouraged, to have a type of "oligarchy" where if you have education and/or position, you are automatically "superior" to those who don't and thus can lord if over these others. The "boss" can treat those who work under him like dirt because of his position; yet those who work for him must never forget his elevated and more worthy position. We, in our family, are often treated favorably simply because of the color of our skin - and although at times, that is admittedly nice (like the times I have't had to wait "my turn" to see the doctor, or when Tim is bumped to the front of the line at the bank), I must also say that the principle behind such behavior bothers me and I usually try to discourage it.

Moses could have done the same to Jethro (respectfully, of course, since Jethro was his elder and his father-in-law). He could have discounted Jethro's advice because:

  • Jethro hadn't heard God's voice directing him specifically,
  • Jethro hadn't been leading the whole nation of Israel,
  • Jethro hadn't personally confronted Pharaoh,
  • God hadn't used Jethro's hand to perform His mighty acts in Egypt,
  • Jethro's relationship with God wasn't as intimate as his own...

but he didn't. He listened to what Jethro had to say and because it was good and godly advice, Moses recognized the value and humbly accepted it, greatly changing his behavior and his life as a result.

3) I also loved reading how Jethro offered his advice.

  • He kindly, respectfully, clearly and gently (i.e. he could have used words much stronger than "not good") stated what he saw as the problem and why.
  • He spoke precisely and wisely, recognizing Moses' special position before God (that had been given to him by the Lord) and before his people - probably knowing that it was not something that Moses had desired, sought or initiated, but rather something to which God had appointed him.
  • When giving his guidance, Jethro offers a short prayer "May God be with you," recognizing that Moses couldn't just accept what Jethro said carte blanche without first seeking God's counsel.
  • And in his last comment, he then specifically encouraged Moses to seek God's guidance before accepting his words.

These are all important things for anyone to remember when they find themselves in the position of offering advice, especially when unsolicited.

I love when God's Word speaks to me so directly, to situations "en face." However, the trick is applying it when in the heat of the moment. We find ourselves surprisingly often in the position of both giving and receiving advice - so I am thankful for this godly example of how to do both. And if I remember that any credit truly goes to the Lord and not myself - and then make sure I follow through on that, not only will God's name be glorified, but by God's grace, I'll also be more likely to humbly speak and respond when both receiving and giving advice.

24 June 2008

A Few Thoughts this Cool Tuesday Morning - And a Few Links, too!

"Thomas answered and said unto HIm, My Lord and my God." John xx.28

"Give Me to drink." How many of us are set upon Jesus Christ slaking our thirst when we ought to be satisfying Him? We should be pouring out now, spending to the last limit, not drawing on Him to satisfy us. "Ye shall be witnesses unto Me" - that means a life of unsullied, uncompromising and unbribed devotion to the Lord Jesus, a satisfaction to Him wherever He places us.

Beware of anything that competes with loyalty to Jesus Christ. The greatest competitor of devotion to Jesus is service for Him. It is easier to serve than to be drunk to the dregs. The one aim of the call of God is the satisfaction of God, not a call to do something for Him. We are not sent to battle for God, but to be used by God in His battlings. Are we being more devoted to service than to Jesus Christ?(from Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, "IT IS THE LORD!" January 18th)

And then, some miscellaneous "stuff:" If you've not read our latest prayer letter, it is posted at our ministry blog site. I have so appreciated what Tim recently shared while preaching at church about seeing others through His eyes and not from our natural, worldly point of view.

So I'm starting to wonder if God is sending me a message, as I read the following post on my favorite blog page. Take a few minutes (if you've got them :) ), to read these quite similar and challenging thoughts.

And last, but not least, another very worthwhile read from Angie at Bring the Rain.

22 June 2008

A Quotable Quote

Victoria cracked us up the other day - that is not an unusual occurrence. She's a bright girl with a unique perspective on the world and very verbal, so she can say some pretty funny things... which she did and which is the purpose of this post, but I'll get to that in just a minute.

In our house, we have several rules, but two fairly important ones are:

1) Do not tattle unless blood, serious bodily injury or hugely major rule infraction occurs.

2) Settle problems between yourselves. If you come to Mama to find a solution, then Mama will guarantee that no one likes her solution. Sometimes people don't understand what I mean when I say that, so I'll give an example: recently, Victoria and Nadia were given a household chore to work on together. They ended up fussing and fighting, and came to find me to "tattle." I reminded them of these two rules and sent them back to their task. A few minutes later, they came back, saying that they just could not work together. So, I tied their hair into a knot and told them they needed to work together or there would be more serious consequences. Of course, they moaned and groaned for a few minutes, but before too long, they were laughing and they finished their job with no further problems - until they came to me to release them from their bondage - that took me a good 15 minutes.

The four big kids know these rules pretty well, and, for the most part, abide by them. Victoria and Jonathan, however, are still learning and have a way to go before they will have mastered them. Victoria, in particular, is a notorious "tattle-tale," and a drama queen who can produce a scream and cry that sound like she is being beaten to death when really all that happened was someone asked to have their Gameboy returned to them...

A friend and I were working on a puzzle the other day, when Victoria came, tattling about something. I reminded her of the rules, and sent her back out to play. Within a few minutes, she returned - tattling again - the same story, which was basically someone wasn't allowing her to dictate the way one of their games was being played. The following conversation took place:

Victoria: "Mama, ____________ keeps doing _______________ and I don't like it. Go make him/her stop.

Me: "Victoria, what do we call what you are doing right now?"

Victoria: "Ummm....." (and then no further response)

Me: "Well, honey, it sounds a lot to me like you are telling me what _____________ is doing that you don't like in the hopes that _____________ will get in trouble for it, and you will get your way. I call that tattling and you aren't supposed to tattle unless it is something really serious."

Victoria: "No, Mama. This isn't tattling. This is problem solving...."

Well, I had to give her points for creativity and quick thinking (Good grief! The kid is only 5!) - and get her out of the room quickly so my friend and I could have a good laugh. So I told her that she needed to find another solution for her problem other than telling me and sent her back out to play. She must have, because she didn't return... but this is most definitely one of those "things kids say" that I don't want to forget!

20 June 2008

Our Garden Inhabitant and Friend - Revealed (in more ways than one... SMILE!)












But don't stop reading yet....

Just last Saturday, the girls went outside quite early in the morning and much to her surprise

Rebekah almost stepped on an itsy, bitsy...

...yep, you guessed it...BABY CHAMELEON. It was no longer than her pinky finger!

This baby hung out with Rebekah all day - curling around her finger, riding on her shoulder, or hiding in a large jar she prepared for him until the next morning, when she returned him to the garden and she promptly got to watch him snag several different bugs with his tongue, which was SO COOL!
Unfortunately, we didn't snap any pictures.

But you know what that means: our garden friend, who all along we have been calling a him...well, he is really a she!

Believe me,we are keeping our eyes open for "her," as well as any other babies that might now be living in our garden! They most certainly are fascinating creatures to watch!

19 June 2008

Thursday Thoughts - more from Oswald Chambers


I remember the first time this thought ever crossed my mind: after watching a drama re-enacting the life of Adoniram Judson entitled "The Cost of Greatness" - that is, greatness in the eye of God. I had promised the Lord as a young girl that I would serve Him as a missionary and I never really wavered from that promise for myself. But watching the story of Adoniram Judson's life was the first time that I realized that my obedience might also cost those I love, those I would never want to see hurt, and that it might cost them even more than I could imagine.

I think that is why this particular devotional has always touched me...

"They laid hold upon one Simon . . . and on him they laid the cross." Luke xxiii. 26.

If we obey God it is going to cost other people, more than it costs us, and that is where the sting comes in. If we are in love with our Lord, obedience does not cost us anything,it is a delight, but it costs those who do not love Him a good deal. If we obey God it will mean that other people's plans are upset, and the will gibe us with it - "You call this Christianity?" We can prevent the suffering; but if we are going to obey God, we must not prevent it, we must let the cost be paid.

Our human pride entrenches itself on this point, and we say - I will never accept anything from anyone. We shall have to, or disobey God. We have no right to expect to be in any other relation than our Lord Himself was in (see Luke viii. 2-3).

Stagnation in spiritual life comes when we say we will bear the whole thing ourselves. We cannot. We are so involved in the universal purposes of God that immediately we obey God, others are affected. Are we going to remain loyal in our obedience to God and go through the huiliation of refusing to be independent, or are we going to take the other line and say - I will not cost other people suffering? We can disobey God if we choose, and it will bring immediate relief to the situation, but we shall be a grief to our Lord. Whereas if we obey God, He will look after those who have been pressed into the consequences of our obedience. We have simply to obey and to leave all consequences with Him.

Beware of the inclination to dictate to God as to what you will allow to happen if you obey Him.


Devotional taken from Oswald Chamber's My Utmost for His Highest, January 11.

"The Cost of Greatness" is the second of 2 plays often performed by the Academy of Arts Christian School recounting the life of Adoniram Judson. If you'd like to find out more about the Academy, check out their website.

Our Friend Who Lives in Our Garden

Well, the rains have started and Niger is turning green... well, green for Niger. Even though the humidity of this season can make life tiring and difficult and the wet sand that inevitably enters the house on feet, shoes and Jonathan's entire body drives me crazy - the greens that help to cover up and hide the orange and brown so prominent the other 9 months of the year make a feast for our eyes. We do have a small garden in our yard to help, too - but in 120'F heat, even with twice a day watering, it suffers; now that we've a few good rains behind us, right now, our garden is luxuriant, lush with bright colored flowers and lots of green.

This tree is a pomegranate tree. It actually produces fruit - not a lot, but the kids love this seedy fruit and argue over who gets to eat it until they finally go ahead and decide to share.

This morning, however, our garden resident was hiding in the tree. Look carefully and see if you can spot him. Can you find and identify him?

Jonathan saw him - that's his hand pointing him out! If you still haven't discovered one of our most interesting "pets" in our current menagerie, follow the line of his finger and see if you can... and leave us a comment if you do!

Barring internet issues (always a possiblity here :-) ), we'll reveal (or confirm) the identity of our little buddy in the next few days with lots more pictures!

18 June 2008

Sahel Academy Orchestra

Playing with the orchestra (perhaps more accurately, music ensemble) was a new and a good experience for Brendan this year. He is much more confident and comfortable playing with a group and he enjoyed the other musicians as well as the director. Since the director and his family are leaving for a 6 month furlough in less than a week, the music group will not resume until next January - we are all disappointed as our family was quite impressed with how well they did and how far they came (from the beginning of the year). They played several pieces at the graducation ceremony, including "Pomp and Circumstance," as the graduates rode in on the backs of camels... only in Niger!

Brendan Plays at the Music Recital

16 June 2008

Anna's First Piano Recital

A Meditation for this Monday

I've been enjoying rereading through Oswald Chamber's My Utmost for His Highest - AGAIN!

"And I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless." I Thess. v. 23.

"Your whole spirit . . . " The great mystical work of the Holy Spirit is in the dim regions of our personality which we cannot get at. Read the 139th Psalm; the Psalmist implies - "Thou art the God of the early mornings, the God of the late at nights, the God of the mountain peakes, and the God of the sea; but, my God, my soul has further horizons than the early mornings, deeper darkness than the nights of the earth, higher peaks than any mountain peaks, greater depths than any sea in nature - Thou Who art the God of all these, be my God. I cannot reach to the heights or to the depths; there are motives I cannot trace, dreams I cannot get at - my God, search me out."

Do we believe that God can garrison the imagination far beyone where we can go? "The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin" . . . We do not allow our minds to dwell as they should on these great massive truths of God.

-from "Intercessory Introspection," Jan 9th's reading.

Now I Know My ABC's...

…of housework, that is!

A fellow blogging friend posted the ABC’s of housework on her page – thought it might be fun to do the same. Even though I have someone who comes 5 days a week to work in our home/help with the cooking, it is amazing (I think) how much of my time is still consumed with “working around the house!”

Aprons – yes or n0? Absolutely not! That just means one more thing to wash and since dear children find a way to get my clothes filthy already, what’s a little flour or oil?

Baking? I do like baking for special occasions and when the kitchen is not over 115’ ... but that rarely happens these days. My baking/cooking adventure planned for this week is donuts with maple icing – just haven’t decided if we are going to try cake or yeast donuts... hmmmmmmm...

Clothesline – yes or no? Who’d use a dryer when stepping outside is like crawling inside one? Yep, we only use a clothesline (or the frame for the mosquito netting on our bed when raining), and we are currently in process of training the younger crew how to hang things on the line and still require a minimum of ironing.

Donuts - ever made them? Yep and planning to again this week.

Everyday - one homemaking thing you do every day? Couldn’t choose between the following: Laundry, dishes, sweeping the desert back out of my house.

Freezer - do you have a separate deep freezer? Used to – but it wasn’t working and we’ve since found that not having one cuts our electric bill significantly, so we are presently doing without... unfortunately the freezer part of our fridge is only limping along, so it is a cause for celebration when we actually have ice in the morning!

Garbage disposal – yes or no? Do pets count? Our horse and dog eat almost any and everything. Otherwise, we burn burnables and a fairly recent development in Niamey is a garbage service that comes by and takes our garbage away after we haul it out to the barrel.

Handbook – yes or no? Nope, unless you count my Bible. It is amazing how much I find within that affects even something like housework.

Ironing - love it or hate it? I actually like ironing – but prefer it when we are home in the States to trying to iron in the heat here.

Junk drawer - where is it? Several, scattered in different places throughout the house. Now, if we could just keep the junk in those drawers instead of piled on the nearest flat object...

Kitchen - design and decorating? Well, interesting question. We’ve not done much to our kitchen since moving into this house, and the African idea of a functional kitchen, compared to our western ideas don’t really meet... We’ve painted some walls and cabinets/doors, but that is about it. My least favorite part of my kitchen is the height of my counters – I have to stand on tiptoes to wash dishes because the sink is so high.

Love - what is your favorite part of homemaking? Taking care of my kiddos – the house stuff usually just drives me crazy, but I love being with my children in the home, so that makes it worth it.

Mop – yes or no? Yes. We use a cloth wrapped around the end of a push broom or go down to hands and knees, scrubbing by hand.

Nylons - wash them by hand or in the washer? Nope, never wear them. Even in the States. There, I just use tanning creams because I can’t stand wearing them.

Oven - do you use the window or open it to check? Always open it – get to better enjoy the smell!

Pizza - what do you put on yours? Cheese, of course. Then it just sort of depends what we buy/find in the market. Sometimes we can find pepperoni-ish sausages, sometimes we’ll use ham, sometimes hamburger –either as hamburger or spiced as sausage, onions, fresh garlic, mushrooms and black olives (both we can find canned), occasionally pineapple. One of my new favorite tricks is to buy a small can of ratatouille, crush up the veggies (eggplant and zucchini) in that tomato-based sauce, and it already has a delightful spice so that I don’t have to mix up the sauce myself AND it hides some vegetables that my kids don’t normally cheer about.

Quiet - what do you do during the day when you get a quiet moment? Sit and enjoy the silence, because it so rarely happens.

Recipe card box? I’ve got a folder of favorite recipes already written out in French for my house help to use. Other than that, I use cook books and search for specific recipes on-line.

Style of house? Cement block – sort of a ranch with a terrace/porch and a huge (for here) sandy front yard.

Tablecloths and napkins – yes or no? Yes, usually when company is coming for dinner and when my munchkins haven’t “borrowed” them to do something with their dolls. Or, when we've been working on a puzzle on the table and want to cover it up so we can eat!

Under the kitchen sink? Empty metal cans that we use to freeze water for ice, empty glass jars that we use to hold peanut butter, two large tubs that we use to wash dishes and vegetables, small bottle of bleach to wash veggies.

Vacuum - how many times a week? Never – wash the small throw rugs usually twice a week and sweep about 3 times a day.

Wash - how many loads do you do a week? Over 25 – then I stop counting.

X’es - do you keep a list of things to do and cross them off? Not a written one, but one is always going in my head.

Yard - who does what? Our guard rakes the sand, waters the garden and usually takes care of the deposits left by our pets. Kids are responsible for the terrace and picking up their toys. Tim helps with the horse. I usually weed out the garden (where several baby chameleons are presently living – and they are actually kind of cute!), or give a very specifically defined task to our guard. We are thinking of maybe trying a veggie garden soon....

Zzz’s - what is your last homemaking task for the day? Usually something to do with laundry – either folding it, putting it away, starting a last load of laundry to start with in the morning, or distributing it to the appropriate child’s bedroom (who is already sleeping) so that they can take care of it the next day.

(image by Jan Brett)

13 June 2008

Another Worthwhile (and Convicting) Read

I greatly appreciated the following read. If you get a few minutes, I'd recommend taking a few minutes to check it out.


06 June 2008

Unfortunate Events (Part 2)

...so the saga continues...

1) Tuesday afternoon, we were supposed to have a young lady flying in, working as a short-termer for a few weeks. Unfortunately, she missed her connection in Paris, was rerouted through Casablanca, and instead of arriving early afternoon, she arrived around 2 in the morning.

2) So, we woke Brendan up, told him he had to play computer games to stay awake (he was heartbroken...) while listening/babysitting his siblings, and took off for the airport around 1:30 in the morning.

3) She arrived and successfully navigated her way through customs; however, her luggage did not arrive with her. It was nearing 4 in the morning before we arrived back at the house, quite ready to crash since we knew we had to be up and going again at 6 for the kids to be to school on time. As late as it was, we decided to have our visitor crash at our house for a few hours instead of trying to settle her into her guest house.

4) Busy morning after that - getting our short-termer checked into her guest house, the closing assembly at Brendan's school followed by a reception (I'd also made a desert to pass already that morning for the reception)... throughout this time, I was very much anticipating a nap.

5) But, when I arrived home, our house help was in tears. Her husband had come by and her sister had been in an accident, was in the emergency room, and no one really knew how she was doing.

6) So, I told her I'd take her to the hospital and we'd see what was going on with her sister. But no one knew what hospital/clinic for sure and her husband wasn't answering his phone, so we drove th their house. Then we followed her husband to the National Hospital, where her sister was still in the ER, waiting for an X-ray. Apparently what had happened was she was walking across a street when a man on a motorcycle decided he didn't want to wait for his green light, proceeded through the intersection and ran into her, knowcking her quite forcefully to the ground.

7) We sat in line with all the taxis, waiting for a place to open up so I could park the car, paid the parking fee, and finally got out to go into the hospital... just as Safana's sister came slowly and painfully limping out.

8)I offered to give her a ride home, so I went back to sit in line again to leave the parking place I'd just paid for and occuppied for no more than 5 minutes, wound my way back into her neighborhood and dropped them all off. I also gave our househelp the rest of the day off so she could attend to her sister.

9) I arrived home to the kitchen mess and a bunch of kids wanting to head for the pool to see friends who are down from Mali on vacation. Tim and Brendan (still tired from his computer marathon) were sleeping and our visitor was checking her email.

10) After dropping her at her guest house for some much needed rest, I took the rest of the gang to the pool for a few hours before coming home to eat dinner.

11) We did quick, but by no means thorough picking up of the kitchen mess, and then Tim, bless his heart, turned on the AC and I crashed. I think I was sound asleep by 8:15 and he took care of everything else that evening.

Unfortunately, as I stated before - schedule changes and unexpected daily life modifications seem more the norm here than a day going as you had originally planned - and I haven't even included other little details (toilet tanks falling off the wall, rooster running away, car refusing to start..., internet deciding to no longer work - hence the long silence between parts I and II of this post...) that all fit into the mix. But I do think God uses these to teach us flexibility and to keep us continually dependant upon Him, asking Him what He would have us to do. I really didn't want to miss my nap time to take my househelp to see her sister at the hospital - but I do know that was part of God's agenda for my day and afterwards I was very thankful for the opportunity I had to talk with and pray with our househelp, and the opportunity to encourage and share God's love with her and her family. My challenge is recognizing and gently accepting that God allows these changes, and regardless of whether I'm happy about it or not, I can choose to accept and follow through with a good attitude, or I can pout... and one come much more naturally than the other.

What I am trying to remember is thankfulness because I am seeing God's hand as He continues to teach me His gentleness.

05 June 2008

My Very Own Series of Unfortunate Events (Part 1)

This is a lesson you'd think I would have learned - after all, I'm a mom of 7 (and for those of you who didn't see last week's Wordless Wed. post, #8 is "in the oven" as Tim likes to joke) who lives in W. Africa, where the concept of time and keeping to a schedule is most definitely a "foreign cultural devil." But I've been living in this world for several years now, so why was I surprised by my very own series of unfortunate events still remains a mystery...

1) For several weeks, I've been planning a swim competition/fun day for the elementary students of Sahel Academy. When I've done this in the past, I've always brought frozen Koolaide popsicles and a treat for afterwards. This year, I had the brilliant idea of making and bringing ice cream sandwiches as a fun treat for a hot June day in Niger.

2) We've been having problems with our freezer since March, but arranged to have the repairman come look at it and recharge it so I could follow through with my brainstorm (it helps to have a working freezer when you want to make treats that involve ice cream).

3) Our freezer still doesn't work quite right - although much improved, I must add! I've really begun to appreciate the treat of cold ice water in 110-120' heat - after not having had it for several weeks! So, we made other "freezer" arrangements and continued with my plans.

4) The gal who works for us also sells ice, ginger lemonade, yogurt treats, etc., to folks in her neighborhood - I planned on buying some ice from her to make the ice cream, only to find out she'd cut way back on how much ice she was making because people wanted sweet drinks during hot season. Now, I'm scrambling for ice, since our freezer only works at about 75%...hmmmmmm....

5) We find a few other folks who sell ice. Friends also agree to make ice in their freezer for us. So, Saturday morning, I mix up the ice cream, go pick up the ice and leave it with Tim to churn while I take care of grocery shopping for the week. When I arrive home, he tells me the churn's been going for 1.5 hours, and the ice cream just isn't really thickening.

6) As I'm scrambling for an idea, a friend suggests that we just go ahead and let it freeze as is and the ice cream sandwiches will end up more like frozen milkshake sandwiches.

7) But then, I'm running into a logistical nightmare - how do I get to the alternative freezer where the "ice cream" is freezing to make the sandwiches and get them back in the freezer - since it isn't my kitchen and I'm not wanting to be more of an inconvenience to those who've been helping than is absolutely necessary?

8) Finally, I gave up on the idea of ice cream sandwiches and decided to do brownie sundays - using the cookie part of the sandwich as the brownie and the ice cream as the ice cream! All that remained was to buy cheap plastic cups and spoons to serve them. Unfortunately the store closed early (i.e. earlier than stated business hours, wthout warning) that night... and we ended up having to run back out to get them on Sunday.

9) Fortunately, not a single one of the kids seemed to mind... in fact, several of them said they enjoyed those brownie sundays when they came to say "Thank you!" We even had enough left over to invite friends to swing by the house and join us for some rather soupy brownie sundays/milkshakes later on Monday night!

10) Unfortunately, this series of unfortunate events continues into the next week and will need to continue into another post, as I've got laundry calling my name....

Comedy or Drama?

One fun project Tim recently completed was editing a recent production by the drama class of Sahel Academy. We've included a tiny clip here because we felt the kids did a great job, not just in acting but in coming up with sets/props/etc... it isn't so easy here where we don't have a Walmart or a Home Depot to run to. Additionally, a good number of the students participating in this elective class were in grades 7-9 and several are Brendan's friends and classmates. It gives you just a little picture of where he is going to school! Hope you enjoy!

One other little detail - tonight is graduation night. Brendan will be playing with the school orchestra/music ensemble ("Pomp and Circumstance," of course.) We'd appreciate prayers for the event, and that God's name would be glorified through all of the fun, excitement, activity and sadness of goodbyes as people move on.


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