Saturday, December 9, 2006

Me in my flower garden in Makalondi...Yes, you can have flowers, even on the edge of the Sahara Desert!

Chow Time!

Mealtimes can be really interesting! I've sure learned a wider scope of food options since living in Makalondi! My worker, Abdou, is always exposing us to new sources of cuisine that can be found in our area. Just after we moved into our house 7+ years ago, a weedy little vine began growing up the poles of our water tank. We didn't pay too much attention and. all of a sudden, one day we realized that Jack's Beanstalk had taken over the place!! But that was alright. It didn't require watering and it covered the tank and was covering our tin roof, which is a good thing. That diminished the heat from the ever present sun! So we have been cool with that! Then Abdou told me that all the women at the well have been asking him if they could come pick the leaves...and that's when I found out that we had a wonderful source of FOOD growing all over our house. Since then, and it's been several years now, we've enjoyed eating the leaves, flowers and pods off of our wild vine. Check out the photos and see if you'd enjoy this meal...

Chow Time 2

Cooking up the leaves, pods and flowers.

Chow Time 3

Ahhhhh! Delicious!

When's the last time you got to play in mud? I'll bet it's been far to long ago, right? It had been for me! And then last week, I got to do it again. Two missionary friends, Lisa (with the C&MA) and Catrin (with SIL) invited me to join them in the town about 30 min. from me to make a clay oven. Why were were making clay ovens, you may ask. Most of the cooking done in the rural areas of Niger is done with firewood! And this is in a country in which the majority of the country is in the Sahara Desert. Conservation of trees is imperative, and yet the daily needs outweigh the concerns for the future. So how can we help the women cook more efficiently? With these clay ovens which require only 1/3 of the normal amount of firewood. It is also reproducable and cheap for every home. But before we were ready to "sell" this model to our women friends, we needed to make one ourselves. Hence the Play Date.When I arrived, we 3 women and Katrin's 2 little girls got organized. First we needed some big stones to set our cooking pot on. Jumped in my truck and off-roaded out into the bush to a mountain tumbling with lava rocks. Everyone chipped in hauling them to the truck and then off we went, back to the house. We stopped at a threashing floor where a man was sweeping chaff into piles...we needed some of that too. He gave us his blessing and we loaded two wash basins full and plopped them in the truck bed.Back at the house, we got Haisa, a Fulani woman, to show us the best place in the yard for making a cooking spot (where would an African woman place it). We arranged our 3 stones and made sure the pot sat well on them. Over to the dirt piles. But this was not just any dirt. This pile was a mixture of clay and ashes. We shoveled basins full and then added the chaff to the mixture. Now came the fun! Little Hannah poured water into the basins and with our hands, we turned and kneaded the dirt mix to just the right consistancy: If molded into a ball, it would hold it's shape.The idea is to take the clay and build a wall around the stones and up the sides of the pot, leaving enough room to easily move the cooking pot in and out of the "oven". After this 15cm. wall is made, you carve out a door at the front, so you can place firewood under the pot, and you make two vent holes on the opposite side. We didn't have any idea how long it would take to build this oven, but we decided that it wasn't as easy as it first appeared! And it took a lot of clay! It really was a learning experience, but loaded with fun and a lot of laughter! SUCCESS!

The clay walls need to be 15 cm. thick.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Stove, cont.

It's done! The cooking pot is in place.

October 20 - Summer Reading Program

Can you imagine reading 41 books in 3 months?!! Well, one of my teenage girls, Nyinly did! Now they weren't all thick books, but they were still of worthy content. She was just one of about 15 kids who enrolled in the Summer Reading Program. I patterned it after the one our grandchildren were enrolled in back in Toccoa, Georgia, and it turned out to be a big success! All the elementary age students had to read at least 15 books to attend the Party at Summer's end, and the Jr. High Students had to read 20. All but two kids reached their goal, and the two who didn't were just too far out in the bush to get in to check out books often enough. (Summer is also planting and growing season with the rains here, so most kids help their families in their fields)
Our celebration party was full of fun and the kids received certificates and small prizes. One of the games was bobbing for apples...and they thought that was great! Since apples are not grown in Africa, most of the kids had never eaten an apple, so that was a treat for them.....AFTER they caught it with their teeth! They thought it was especially funny when Gary joined them and bobbed for an apple!
For their special surprise, we showed them "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" in French. I wish you could have seen their reactions to the different fantastical creatures, like Mr. Tumnus! They jabbered and laughed and made AMAZING sounds as the story unfolded. They just loved it! With a little prompting, they caught on to some of the similarities to the gospel. We'll work on that more after they see it again...
What fun it is working with these kids!!!

Oct. 20 - David

October 20 - Adamou

October 13, 2006 - Many of you know the story of our two boys, Adamou and David. We've put both boys into a private school in the capital city, Niamey, for different reasons. Adamou was receiving alot of persecution in our town and he needed encouragement. David needed a better education option after being denied his certificate this past year. Both are now boarding with a Christian family and that has been a joy to them. But both of them are having a tough time in this new school. Some things are just part of life (like moving from a small village to a big city), and some of it is stuff at the school that we're not sure about... We're going to go and talk to the School Director about it. But they are into studies now, and I hope that it will get abit more smooth for them. Actually Adamou is coping better than David, and I think it's b/c he's had a harder life, so this doesn't bother him like it does David. Anyway, they're being stretched and having to depend on the Lord more now, which that is good for them. When they come to your mind, please pray for them...I know they'd appreciate it!

Baptism Witnessing

An unexpected thing happened at the Baptism last Sunday out at the Baptist church in Baniera. Our whole church in Makalondi decided to go there and celebrate with them. Well out at the water hole, they started baptizing...and since they had 67 people to baptize, they did two at a time. I stayed sitting on the other side under the only shade tree since I couldn't stand with my sore foot. On the other side of the tree, a group of fulani men had congregated and sat down to watch. When the first two folks were baptized, the men just started laughing up a storm, and continued with the next ones. So I thought, I'm going to go see if they understand what's going on... I joined them and asked if any of them spoke Gourma, and One did. So I asked him if he knew why they were dunking people. He said he didn't..."why? " So I asked if any of them had seen the 'Jesus' film. Several said that they had, so I asked if they remembered when Jesus was in the water and John poured water over him...they did. I said "That's what they are doing here but just doing it different. It means the same thing" Then I asked them if they remembered seeing Jesus die on the cross and then he came back to life. They did, so then I explained about how baptism is like that for us and that the people were letting everyone know that they have died to their old life and they are now rising to a new life of believing in and following Jesus. They all went, "OOOHHHHH, Ah Yo!!!" Which is kind of like our...."Un huh! I get it!" So then they watched the rest of it with more respect. Later they talked to me abit more, so I was glad for the opportunity, however small, to present some of the gospel to them!