Friday, November 2, 2007

Good Stuff!

VBS at Faith Missionary Alliance Church in Winston Salem, NC did an amazing thing this year! The kids who attended VBS were challenged to help out African kids by giving money to buy books, films and a TV and DVD player for the Youth Center in Makalondi. They gave a huge offering and it allowed the Center to acquire some great stuff for the young people.
The Center is the only Library in the area, with a growing number of books in French and English for the kids to check out and read. With a computer room, the kids are also learning to use computers and new skills from the programs that are on them. From time to time we show films that have educational or literary value. And most of all, this is a place where kids can learn about Jesus and His love for them!
When the kids from Faith gave their money to buy computer programs, DVD's, and books, they became involved in bringing hope and light to the kids in Makalondi. The effects will be on-going and we pray that through their generosity, the kids here will have the chance to know Jesus and to grow a whole lot more!
Thank you Faith Missionary Alliance VBS Kids!!!!!

Getting to be "Nana" and "Papa" to Claire was Priceless!

Game night with the young people

Visiting the village.....

and visiting the giraffes...

Visiting Makalondi

Joe working at SIM Air

Joe, Amy and Claire

You can't image how wonderful it was for us to have our son, Joe, and his wife, Amy and baby Claire here in Niger for a month. They came so that Joe could help out our Mission's Air service and at the same time, allow Amy a chance to get acquainted with the country where Joe grew up. When Joe wasn't working at the hanger or on a flight, we were visiting Makalondi, a village, or the giraffes in the wild, or something else. Claire was a little explorer and adapted to all the different changes in schedule like a champ! Some of the highlights were the picnic on the plateau overlooking the Niger River, game night with the young people in Makalondi, and seeing the giraffes and getting "up close and personal" with them.

Though it was hard to say good-bye to them, we just keep thanking the Lord for the wonderful time we had together and for the wonderful memories we made!

Shopping Day

Monday is Shopping Day in Makalondi. It's Market Day for the area. Merchants come from far and near, villagers come with things to sell...and it's a great day to catch up on friends and news! I sometimes go, but since I'm lighter than most of the crowd, I always stand out like a sore thumb! Anyway, it's fun to see what's for sale and socialize with friends myself! My grocery store doesn't have the biggest selection, but I can get the basics, like sugar, flour, tomato paste and such. If I go several booths down, I can shop for material for a new skirt. The selections changes every week, so it's always an adventure!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Flying Ant Invasion!

The other night, after a big rainstorm, I forgot to close the glass doors and all the window before Gary turned on the generator and the lights came on. BIG mistake! Soon we had flying ants fluttering everywhere in the kitchen where I was fixing supper, plopping down in the batter, or swooping down into the salad! We sprang into action, battened down the hatches, sprayed the room, and turned off some lights. But...
We had forgotten to turn off the light in the office bedroom. Just before bed and turning off the generator, Gary walked into the room...and into a big surprise! We hadn’t shut up that room, and it was FULL of flying ants! This picture can’t even capture it really, but maybe it will give you an idea of how bad it was!


Recently we had a new Gourma couple move to Makalondi. Our good friends, Zainabou and Kunwatta really took them to heart and helped them to settle in. The first place they rented was with Muslims, and life was hard there, because they were new Christians. So thanks to our friends, they were able to find another place near other Believers.
We got to meet the couple with their two boys at church and then the following week, the wife came to visit me. Maryama is young, has a 3 yr. old named Daniel (a jolly holy terror), a toddler named Lazarus and was expecting their third child. We had a nice visit, aside from Daniel’s ‘interruptions’ and Maryama told me that she loves to read and learn about the Bible. She doesn’t own any books or a Bible and told me that if we had any classes, she wanted to come. "If I save up my money, I’m going to buy some of the books" (Gary has a ‘bookstore’ of Christian Gourma books that are quite cheap).
About a week ago Sunday, we got the news that Maryama had had her baby...another little boy. A chubby, healthy boy. Then Monday we left for the city so that I could attend a seminar on Christian Education, so I was gone all week. When we returned on Saturday evening, I was shocked to learn from Zainabou that the baby had died the night before! Zainabou told me that all week long, she and other women had been taking the evening meal to the family, washing the baby, rubbing shea butter over him, and wrapping him in his blanket. He would nurse and then be put down for the night. She had done all that Friday and when she left, the baby was sleeping. Imagine their shock, when the next morning, Maryama’s husband showed up at their place to call them. Zainabou checked the baby, but it was already gone. No sickness, no apparent reason.
Life is so hard fragile!
So yesterday morning, Sunday, at church, Maryama was sitting next to me with her toddler on her lap. I asked her "how her heart was" and she told me, "well" with a smile. I am amazed. She held my songbook as we sang and clapped. When time for the message came, she leaned over to read along in my Bible...but she couldn’t, because I had brought my French Bible. The girl on the other side of her had a French Bible as well. After a few minutes, she got up, walked down the aisle, tapped Zainabou on the shoulder and whispered something to her. Zainabou left her small perch on the overcrowded bench and the two ladies went and sat down on a mat, put down for the children. Now she could read the Bible passage and hear the speaker!
Like I said already, I’m amazed at the way many of these people LIVE life...embrace it...the good and the bad. They don’t quickly judge God, but turn to Him instead and confide in Him. What a lesson for me!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Our Grandchildren

Ok, every grandparent thinks that their grandkids are the GREATEST, right? Well, ours really are! And we had a new one added to our special group this past Sunday...Easter! What a great day to be born on, right? Our youngest son, Joe and his wife, Amy, had baby Claire Noelle in Winston Salem, NC. She was a good size-8# 5 oz., and the delivery went well. We bless the Lord for that! Joe and Amy are the Children's Pastor of Faith Alliance Church while Joe finishes up flight training for overseas missions. Amy is taking some time off from her job as a Counselor with the Health System to be with Claire for awhile.

Our middle son, Nicholas and his wife, Karen, have 3 of our grandchildren... Madison, who is 6, loves horses and is in the first grade; Landon who is 4 and very keen on cars!; and little Alexa, who will be 1 year old at the end of this month. We have had so much FUN being Nana and Papa to them that we Really miss them when we're overseas! Nicholas is a manager with Serv-Pro, which takes care of Water and Fire damage to homes. Karen is a Realtor and knows her stuff! Working together, they can make sure you buy a home in great condition!

Scott, our eldest son, has a daughter, Keslie. She's in Jr. High and is just the sweetest teen you could wish to meet! She's a good emailer, so we can keep in contact with her that way. We hope she can come and visit us here one day soon. I'll have to get an updated picture of her to put on our site.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Dorm has a New Oven!

Several weeks ago I decided to try and make a mud oven with friends down at the dorm. I had all the clay, chaff & ashes assembled in little piles near the spot where the dorm mom, Nuadiba, does her cooking. Her husband Kalambori, went off to the well to draw and haul water for us.

Monday, March 26, 2007

As the sun beat down on us, we mixed up the mud recipe. Nuadiba placed the rocks to support her cooking pots in the places she wanted them. We were ready!
As I built and added mud, it just seemed to take forever! My back began to ache and I could tell that I was getting sunburned. So the dorm guys rigged up a mat over me for shade. Little by little the oven came along...
(Kalambori mixes while I build)

Soon we were covering our oven with straw to let it cure for 4-5 days.

Did it work? You bet! and Nuadiba uses it every meal. The best part is that it only uses a couple of small pieces of wood to cook a meal!

We're all pretty pleased with the results!

This is a corner of our living room in Makalondi.

All painted up!

"Wally's Story"

If you read the story before this, you will understand that our Library is meeting a real need in Makalondi. But it’s meeting another need that’s even more important! It’s a means of reaching kids with the good news of the Bible. Let me explain.
The library has lots of books...textbooks, story books, educational books, but also lots of books on the Bible. We have Kid’s Bible’s, Bible stories, books on Bible subjects and so forth. Some of the kids will often hurry to finish their homework so that they can have time to read the stories from the Bible. This can often lead to questions and good discussions.
Wally has been a faithful study-hall student, serious about his classes. He’s always been on of the first to arrive each evening and he is especially good in English. Over a period of time, I noticed that he loved to read the books with stories from the Bible, and he would often come and ask me questions. We formed a good relationship of trust.
One day when he had arrived and we were the only two there, he told me that he just loved the stories of Jesus. I offered him a small pocket-sized book of John to keep and read; he could keep it hidden and have it to read in private. I wondered to him, if the French was too hard. He started reading John 1:1 to show me that it wasn’t too hard, and kept right on reading. Every now and then he would stop to ask me a question or get an explanation, but he just kept on reading. We went through chapter 2 and then 3, and he was still going strong. Around the end of chapter 3, he stopped and said to me, "So you mean that if someone accepts Jesus Christ, then that person has eternal life, but if that person doesn’t accept Christ, then he is under God’s judgement?!" He was getting it!!! So back to reading. All the way through chapter 4. I finally said that maybe we should stop since he had a lot to think about.
Several days later, he came back to read more. We kept right on and by the time we stopped in chapter 8, he was very well acquainted with the way of Salvation. After we talked about it abit, I asked Wally, "If these truly are the Words of God, then what should we do to obey Him?" He responded whole-heartedly, "I need to accept Christ as my Savior! I have to do it if I want to be saved from my sins!" I asked Wally if he thought that he was ready to do that and he responded, "Yes! I have to do it today! I need to do it NOW!"
He asked me to help him express his sorrow for his sins to God and to ask God to forgive him. He then believed and accepted Christ as his Savior! When we finished praying, I welcomed him into the "family"! He was thrilled and no less was I! What a celebration there was in heaven that day!! There just had to be, because we sure were celebrating!
Since then, Wally has been coming to meet with me as he can, and he is a regular at our youth group meetings. He’s growing spiritually and it’s such a joy to make the journey with him.
The difficult thing for Wally, is that for the moment, he must keep his new faith fairly private. He is from the same people group as Ad. and his whole family are non-believers. We are praying that one of our church planters will be able to begin visiting the family to do the Chronological Bible stories with them, so that they will also have an opportunity to come to faith in Christ as well. His "father" is a very influential man in our town, so this is important that this be handled with discretion and with the Spirit’s leading.

Miahanla and Yumanli "painting" in the Library???

Our New Ministry Center/Library

You may remember that we began a Ministry Center which contained a library several years ago. One of the main reasons for the library is so that local students can come there to read and study. Most students cannot afford to buy the textbooks used in their classes, nor are they even available in our town. Also most kids have not developed a love for reading, since illiteracy is so high, and most were never read to before starting school. Many of our kids will reach 4th grade without knowing how to read basic words!
So the library was started... with french books we could find and afford to buy. At first we were only able to find a small selection, but thanks to some French Canadians, we were sent more books. Little by little the book selection of different subjects and reading levels grew.
At the beginning of this school year, I asked the Principals of the elementary school and Jr. High, to give us a list of all the textbooks they teach from. We put out a request to many of our friends and supporters for the funds to buy textbooks, and so many of you were willing to help. We finally have all the textbooks on the shelves, and the kids have been so excited to see each new addition arrive. They are well used, even by some of the teachers, who come to prepare lesson plans as well.
The library/study hall is open from 7:30 to 10:00 p.m., 5 nights a week. We are one of the few places in Makalondi that has lights after dark, and that’s because the Center is hooked up to our personal generator. Having a place to read and study at night is quite a draw to the serious students. Any given night we will have between 20 to 30 students and several adults.
Do we have any special programs? We do! About once a month, we will try to show a video of a story they may have read here. Kids are allowed to check out books, and so far, we’ve not lost a book. Like all kids, they love games, so we try to schedule times when the kids can come do puzzles and play games, many of which are educational. Often, on the nights I am the volunteer on duty to monitor the study hall, the students will ask me to help them with their English by having informal conversations.
Upcoming Attraction: 4 computers will be arriving at the Center in the next few weeks. These are cast-offs from our MK school in Niamey, but are in fine condition for us. Most of our students have never even seen a computer, so for many, this will be their first exposure. We will offer a class for beginners and help these kids to at least become familiar with basic computer function. Needless to say, our kids are so excited about this upcoming event!!!
We are so thankful for the folks who have helped make all this possible for a great bunch of kids in a very remote village on the edge of the Sahara Desert!!
Pictures: The teens helped paint the inside of the library.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Isn't this great news? If you drive into downtown Ouagadougou, you can buy this Kancura Tea. Evidently, not only will you lose 'weight' and 'fat', but you will also change skin tone! Not bad for an herbal tea, right?!!

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Christmas Day

Setting: The guesthouse living room with a Christmas Tree we put up the day before...all lights attached. We decorated all around us with festive trimmings.
Celebration 1: Barry, Terry and I all went to the Christmas service at the Bambara church. Lots of choirs, songs and celebrating Jesus' birth, tho I didn't understand much at all and it lasted about 3 hours. This service was the true celebration of Christmas for these brothers and sisters!
Gary made his traditional Christmas Chocolate covered Cordials, to the delight of all of us!
Celebration 2: Back at the house, we fixed a Big Breakfast for lunch and then opted for an afternoon nap. We decided against making a Christmas Dinner - nicer to relax.
Celebration 3: Around 5:00 p.m. someone suggested that we open our Christmas Gifts! What a novel idea on Christmas Day. We started by reading the Christmas Story from Luke and praising God for the Birth of Jesus. Each of us handed out gifts and just enjoyed watching each other open them one at a time. We were surprised at the delightful things we had found to give each other with very little shopping options! That made it even more special!
Conclusion: This was the most laid back, restful Christmas we've ever had. What memories we made!

Christmas Day

Terry and I wearing our new Christmas scarves

Baobab trees

Traveling to Mali

Have you ever had a Christmas experience you just never expected? It didn't come close to what you were invisioning? Well, this was our year for "Our Most Unusual Christmas"! That's not to say that it wasn't great, but, in fact, is was very special and memorable. Some of you know my sister, Terry and her husband, Barry...and that they are now living in Mali. So naturally when Christmas rolls around, we want to be with family if it is even remotely possible. So that's just what we did!
On December 21st, we left Makalondi, crossed the border into Burkina Faso, and sped down the highway to make good time. With only a few days to do all the "Christmas things" with my sister, we wanted to get there FAST. Not only that, but since Gary and I had been so busy, neither of us had done any Christmas shopping for each other, so we had great hopes for doing some of that when we arrived in Ouagadougou, where we would spend the night. It's a very large city and the capital of Burkina. Much to our dismay, we found out that the town was under a curfew starting at 4 pm!...Just when the stores re-open for the afternoon. We both saw our hopes for any shopping fading fast. BUT, we did have a relaxing evening just reading and resting.
Early the next morning, we drove off toward the south of Burkina to reach the city of Bobodialasso before noon. There we would have to find the Government office of Visas to get our visas extended before going into Mali (so that on our return, we could re-enter the country). All the officials were so pleasent and very soon we were off on the road to cross the border into Mali. What beautiful countryside we went through!! Plantations of Papayas, Bananas, and rice paddies in one area and then into gentle hills full of Baobab trees, each with its own personality!
Once again, pleasent officials soon had us over the borders and before long we drove into Koutiala, our destination city. We found Terry and Barry at the guesthouse, where they were temporarily living until the house they would rent, would be ready to move into. We unloaded our belongings and just enjoyed being together for supper, chatting up a storm.
Here it was, Christmas....and we were in a Guesthouse in the middle of Africa without one decoration in sight or one piece of fruitcake on the table, BUT we were just so thrilled to be together!! (I forgot to bring the fruitcake I'd made...I left it in my freezer!!!)