Saturday, June 21, 2008

Banfora Falls, Burkina Faso

Up overlooking the valley
Great restaurant
Pools at the falls.

Gary likes the natural water massage

Some of the falls...

We (Arri, Gary and myself) made it to Bobo Dioulasso to meet up with my sister, Terry and her husband, Barry Newman. We made some great memories enjoying that southern city of Burkina with it's well-kept colonial era buildings and ambiance.

Sunday we decided to go to Banfora Falls, about an hour's drive south. As you arrive in Banfora, you must descend a plateau to the valley below, full of sugan cane plantations. When we came to the escarpment, we decided to pull over so Arri could get some shots. We all ended up climbing the ridge to the top, one way or another, and looking down on the valley. The view was breathtaking! We got pictures, had fun and then took off again, into Banfora. By then it was nearly lunch, so we pulled into a little Maquis that had been recommended by Bobo miss'ys. It had a grass roof and surrounded by plants, but at first it didn't look too promising. However, inside was very neat and we ordered brochettes (meat sticks like kabobs), rice and sauce, and avocado vinaigrette. It was all very scrumptious!!

Then off to find the falls on dirt roads finally leading into a lush forest. Paid a fee and then parked, and hiked into the area. The guide first took us to the bottom of the main falls, and then we hiked to the top. It was abit of a hike and hot, and we wondered if it would be worth the walk. Well, at the top of the falls the view was amazing. On further up the river we came to a series of falls, cascading down into pools. It was unlike anything I've seen before and we were all able to choose our own pools to relax in. Some were bigger for swimming in, and Gary and Barry liked the ones where they could sit under a falls and let it beat on their shoulders. I could have stayed there for days!
(Thanks to Arri for the 3 shots of the falls!)

God's Protection

Several Friday mornings ago, we left on a trip for Burkina Faso to takeour niece, Arri, over to meet my sister and her husband, so that she could spend some time with them in Mali. We wanted to get on the road pretty early. Up first, I was taking things out onto the terrace and noticed that Leah had killed a snake and it lay in the middle of the walking area. I walked by it several times, assured that it was dead since there was no wiggle in it at all. Ahhh! How foolhardy of me! As I came back out a third time, it was writhing its' head and upper half all over, lunging. I could see that its' back must be broken and so couldn't move anywhere. I called
Gary and he came out and killed it. Later, when our worker, Abdou, looked at it, he told me that it's a very poisonous snake.
On the road, well into our trip, I was reading in Psalm 91 and came across those verses that talk about "you will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. Because he loves Me," says the Lord, "I will rescue him; I will protect him..." and it all HIT me how the Lord had truly protected me! Praise God!!! How easily that snake could have jerked over and hit my ankle. We would have been driving to Niamey rather than to Bobo!!

Makalondi Church Builds

The Old church...
...and the beginning of the new.

Back in May we received an unusually early rainstorm, and when I say a rainstorm, I mean a Rain Storm! We had such strong winds during the rain, that it ripped the roofs off of many of the homes around us. We even feared that ours would be torn off as well!
Needless to say, with that wind, our church didn’t stand a chance. It was knocked flat and dispersed! I think that’s what our church needed to get us to MOVE. They decided to build a mud brick building, and bigger to accommodate all the people who come. So after a month of “planning”, they finally came to Gary and said that they were ready. One of our supporting churches in the U.S. had given to help a church build, so Gary bought them enough cement to be able to do the foundation, several rows of bricks as a base, posts and to cement their floor. The rest is being built by the members. A Christian organization in the States will bless them with a tin roof and some doors and windows.
So this past Thursday, Gary and many of the men turned out to pour the foundation. One can sense the unity and joy among them, as they work together to build their House of Worship of Jesus Christ!


While out in the bush looking at giraffes, I showed Arri the thorn trees that grow everywhere in this area of Africa. This is the same tree from which the soldiers took branches of thorns and twisted into a crown of thorns, which they put on Jesus’ head. When you see these thorns up close, they cut your heart as you realize what pain and agony Jesus went through having that “crown” forced down onto His head!
And then the Cross! And He did it for us!
Thank You Jesus! Thank you from the deepest part of my heart!!!

Birthday Girl!

Since Arri is a photographer, we took her to a special restaurant for supper. The name of this restaurant is the Tabakady, which means, Taste and See. Very appropriate name. You make reservations to come early. On arrival, you enter the dining area in which all the tables are set with linen, china and crystal. All around you on the walls are large pictures of the Sahara desert in Northern Niger and of the peoples who live there. You are seated and served your drinks.
Then they begin a “Spectacle”…breathtaking desert shots and of the beautiful Tamajek peoples living up there, all to majestic music. It is truly spectacular! Arri was transported into her dreams. “How far is it to get to the desert?”, she asked.

After the show, we are treated to our choices from their menu of original gourmet French dishes…magnificent! During our meal, the proprietor, a mustachioed portly Frenchman, came by to ask about our satisfaction with his dishes. He is also the photographer of the “Spectacle” which we saw, so he was glad to hear that Arri had thoroughly enjoyed his pictures!
We have to agree with our son, Joe’s, assessment of the Tabakady - It is the BEST one in all of Niger…maybe even in West Africa!

Arri's Arrival

Having our niece Arri here has allowed us to do some tourist-y things for a change. A few days after her arrival, we celebrated her 21st birthday. We drove about 40 kms out of Niamey and got out among the giraffes. These are the last surviving giraffes in West Africa, so they are protected. It’s an incredible experience to get to walk among them freely. The guide told us that they are very curious creatures and we saw that, as they in turn, watched us.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

My Granddaughter, Kes

Recently, while emailing back and forth, my Granddaughter, Keslie told me how God is working in her life. She said that she had been learning about Intercessory prayer and that it was exciting for her. When I received her email, I was just getting into a book called "Intercessory Prayer" by Dutch Sheets, so I wrote her right back and told her:

"Easy to ready, even has a sense of humor, but has also really challenged me in my prayer life and I'm learning some new things too. I recommend it!"

Next time I picked up emails, Keslie replied:

"You know what's really funny? I just finished reading an intercessory prayer book by Dutch Sheets too, except it's for teens and I LOVED it. It was so enlightening as to what I can be doing in this world when I used to think the only way to serve the Lord was to become a missionary (like you guys, hehe). But now I know that I can make a difference just by praying and interceding."

I was just AMAZED!!! God had allowed my granddaughter and I to connect in our Spiritual walks halfway across the world!! We were reading the same material at the same time, growing in the same area of our lives! How wonderful is that?!!! We have a good and generous God!

I'm also so tickled to see how God is working His plan in our precious Granddaughter's life!

We love you Kes!!!!

Beautiful faces of Makalondi

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Les Eclairs!

That’s the name of our Youth Group. It’s loosely formatted like an AWANA program, but more adapted to our kids and culture....and they love it! It’s a discipleship program with a strong emphasis on building their education and memorizing God’s Word. Nindja is also helping me with this group and he is such a blessing! We have about 15 teens participating right now.
One thing the kids are enjoying is our weekly installment of "Where in the world is the Missionary?". They learn facts about a specific country, the people, and a well-known missionary who worked there. Then I tell them the story of that missionary. We just did India and Amy Carmichael last week. The kids are very competitive to see who can find the country the fastest. They keep all the information they are learning in a "Passport".
If you think about us on Wednesday mornings, you can pray for us...we’ll be meeting at that time. Pray that these teens will grow in wisdom, in stature and in their relationship with God and man....just as Jesus did!
Oh yeah... "Les Eclairs" means "The Lights"... Lights in our world!

A Birthday Original!

Birthdays in Niger can be a challenge to try to find ways to celebrate. So this year I wasn’t really expecting any gift from Gary. We had gone out to eat with friends to a real nice restaurant and had a great time. So you can imagine my surprise when Gary told me he had had a gift MADE FOR ME! A Bathtub!!! Isn’t that original? I know, you’re probably thinking, "What kind of gift it that?!" I can tell you, It’s the most amazing gift!! All we have at our house is a shower. Sometimes during cold season, I just long for a soak in a bathtub. But there wasn’t room in our bathroom for a tub, never mind trying to haul enough water from the well for a big bathtub!
Well, my husband got very creative and had a good Nigerian friend named Hamah, make a tub that would fit right into the shower area, but can also be removed when I’m done with it.
And the best thing about it... it can become my "pool" in the hot season!

Monday, March 3, 2008

David Excels!

Just have to share the good news! David came in FIRST PLACE in all 3 classes of First year High School! Isn't that wonderful? I got to see him last night at church and he quietly asked me if I had been over to the school office lately. Told him we were hoping to do that soon, so he then told me, "Thanks to the Lord, Madame, I finished in first place in all three classes." He had this big grin on his face. I just hugged him and told him how proud we are of him!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Samuel's arrival

Samuel is a real blessing! We have prayed for him for many months and he finally arrived, healthy and alert. His mom is maybe 16 years old and his dad is one of our evangelists. Mom miscarried during her first pregnancy, and at the time, a group of us from our church went to visit her and prayed for her. We prayed that God would give them a child.
So here is Samuel. After he was born, his dad came and asked Gary to name his son. So Gary prayed and considered men of faith in the Bible. And he chose "Samuel"...because he was a mighty prophet of God and a mighty leader of God's people.
A few days later I went to visit mom. She had gone to the well to pump water, and came hurrying back to her hut when she heard I had arrived to visit. We sat in her simple home and just enjoyed the joy of her baby. Took a good number of pictures, which they enjoyed seeing on my digital camera. You can read the happiness all over her face.
Samuel is a blessing. May he grow up to be a mighty man of God!

Health For 1000

Some of the Gourma women in the "Health for 1000" program. Pretty committed gals, some of them ride their bikes over 17 kms. through the bush to be at class!

Learning about clean water....and learning how to make rehydration drink gets pretty hands on.

Health for 1000

OK, the name sounds really ambitious, doesn't it?! Well, you have to dream big...and with our BIG God, we can believe for Big things! I have myself and 9 Christian women who are believing that God will help us to disciple alot of women and at the same time, give these same women some good health teaching. And we're trying to keep it simple. Here's how it works:

Who is the main health care giver in the family? Usually it's mom. So we decided to focus on training moms. I put out the word that I was willing to give health teaching to women interested in it. In a country with minimal health care resources, I had immediate interest. 14 women showed up for the introduction and first lesson. I was looking for 1o women to whom I could teach a discipleship lesson and a health lesson, and they would take that teaching back to their village and teach it to their own group of around 10 women. and so on...

That's just what has been happening, and I now have 9 women who are regular students. Each of them has committed to teach a group...some have 9 women and other groups are around 16. Every other Monday, I teach the next lesson at the center. The women have two weeks to teach their group. I'm so encouraged by their desire to learn and pass what they have learned on to others. At present we have around 136 women being trained! That's exciting!!!

The last lesson was on Water. How to prevent or treat many illnesses with water. They found it so simple, but so helpful. And I try to make the lessons as "hands on" as possible.

Included in our program is memorizing scripture. In an area where most women cannot read, one of the best ways to help them grow in their faith is to get them memorizing verses, and passages of scripture. They are fast learners and are quite good at memorizing!

As I said earlier, most of the women in the program cannot read. This presents a challenge when preparing their lesson papers. I have to use pictures to convey the ideas, so that when they see the picture, it will recall to their minds, the lessons they've learned. What a challenge! Every lesson prep is an Adventure!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

What a Baby doll!

Natalie Joy at 4 days...She's so alert!

Natalie Joy

Last Sunday eve. Gary and I received the wonderful news that our 6th grandchild had just been born! It was number 4 for Nicholas and Karen, and both mom and baby were doing great. Me, Nana Joy, was particularily pleased with her name: I love the name Natalie, and I'm abit partial to Joy as well. I realize that her mom's middle name is Joy as well, so I feel honored to be in such good company! She's a beautiful little girl and was warmly welcomed into the family by her big sisters and big brother. Now if Nana could just get her hands on her too!

Burning offenses at the Prayer Summit

People wrote down the names of those who had offended them in any way, and then forgave those persons those offenses. To seal that decision before the Lord, all the papers with the names were burned. What rejoicing after that!

Niamey Prayer Summit

Last week was an extra special time for many pastors, church leaders and missionaries. Niamey had a Prayer Summit and we were all brought together for Prayer. There wasn’t any set agenda, and the Summit leader just led us in waiting before God. If we had a prayer, pray it; if we had a song, sing it; and if we had a verse, read it. And that’s just what happened...and more. God met with us and lives were changed in the process. Worship, repentance, forgiveness, reconciliation and encouragement were all part of the 3 days we spent together. It awakened a desire in everyone for a deeper prayer life. I sensed that the committee is eager to begin a College of Prayer here in Niger in the near future. How exciting!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Christmas in Makalondi

Sandra Scott (on couch) and Lisa Rohrick (between Gary and I), two C&MA missionay friends, joined us for Christmas eve and Christmas morning. We celebrated Advent together, did puzzles, some Christmas shopping in the Makalondi market, and enjoyed opening gifts together. Lisa surprised us with real stockings stuffed full of goodies... chocolates, oranges, candy, and even Tim Hortons coffee from Canada! We had a special time together celebrating the birth of our Savior, Jesus! Made some great memories!

David's Progress

Do you remember David, who moved to the city of Niamey last year to begin attending a private school? Well, most of you who get our letters know that he passed the exams last summer to allow him to begin High School. This past October we helped him get re-registered at the same school and get moved in to a nicer "hut" in the same compound where he'd been living. He has really enjoyed living in this compound of one of our fellow workers, and she (Brigitte) is like another "Mom" to David...also helping him forward in him school work. Recently we came in to town and dropped by the school office, where we were warmly greeted. It seems that they are quite tickled with David. He is FIRST in his class of over 40+ students! He has a good testimony and is highly respected by the students and staff! We are just thrilled. It is wonderful to see David growing up and maturing into a Godly young man. David feels that God is calling him into ministry, and we see such potential in him. Thanks to many of you who have invested in David's life in many different ways.

The picture shows David, on the left, and another of our boys we've placed in the same school, Yemindieba. From time to time we take them for a fast food meal and a good visit. They are "our" boys, after all!

Makalondi Dorm

This year has seen big changes in the Makalondi dorm. We were so happy that Kalambori and his wife, Nuadiba, returned to be our dorm parents since they are a Godly couple and a good example before the kids. This year we went from 8 students to 17! Alot of the new kids were those leaving their village elementary schools for Jr. High level, and that is located in Makalondi. It's been encouraging to see all the kids come together with the dorm parents and become one big famliy. Everyone has his part to play. The Jr. High boys have to go to the well each day and bring back 2 jerry cans of water. The elementary boys bring one. The girls all help with the meals, in pounding the grains or spices, keeping the cooking fire going, or actually helping cook the millet mush or the sauce. Pray for the dorm family, that as the village of Makalondi sees their family life, they will be a testimony of Christ's love to them.