Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Holiday of Sacrifice

This coming week will see an Islamic "Holy" day celebrated here. It is called Tabask(y) and it commemorates Abraham's sacrifice of the ram provided in place of his son, whom they believe is Ishmael. So everywhere one goes that day, you will see rams being sacrificed and then roasted for the following feast. The meat will be shared among their family and friends, and the poor.

This past week we had to travel several times between Maka and Niamey...and along the road we saw many rams being transported into the city to be sold. Some were being slowly shepherded while others took a quicker route of transportation.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Family

Last week most of the Gourmantche in our area were harvesting their millet and beans. Harvest time is an especially busy time for them, so we were wondering how many would be able to attend a course on "The Family". We knew it wasn't the best time to have one, but with our schedule, it was the only time we could do it and have our colleagues from the States, Steve and Julie, teach it. So last Sunday we were surprised and tickled to see 12 men and their wives showing up for the first session. This was a big sacrifice for them, and by the end of the week, they were so glad that they had come. Biblical teaching on child raising is not often addressed in the churches, so to them, this course was a goldmine. Even Noadiba, her husband and baby Joshua took the course.

Noadiba and Joshua

Several weeks ago, my good friend, Noadiba, had a baby boy. This was her 10th child. This is only her 3rd child living today. In a country where good pre- and postnatal care is rare, 7 of Noadiba's babies have died before turning 5 months old! We would say that that was shocking, never mind the unbelievable pain she and her husband have gone through as each of those children left their arms... It's unimaginable to me, and probably to you too.
Yet this is not a woman who is depressed or bitter. She's not angry at God or anyone else. She's joyful, kind, loving and fact she and her husband are known all over our region as a most faithful family- to Christ, to each other and to their neighbors.
Just after the last baby, Anna, died, I went to sit with Noadiba and even tho I tried to hold back the tears, I just couldn't. In their culture, emotions aren't displayed publicly. She knew my heart, and I expressed my deep sorrow at their loss; she got teary-eyed as well. And then she said something to me that I will never forget, "Joy, I just thank God for the two healthy children He's given me!" I was speechless and humbled at this dear friend's complete trust in the Goodness of her God and her genuinely thankful spirit. It's a lesson I'll never forget.
Well, even though there were no plans to have another child, now little baby Joshua has come to join the family. There is so much joy! When I visited just after the birth and we ooooed and awwwed over the little guy, Noadiba asked me to give him his name. What an honor. And as I prayed over what name to choose, the Lord kept giving me the name "Joshua", after the Jewish leader who lived bravely and obediently for God.
Since Joshua's birth, I have been in consultation with a missionary collegue, a Doctor, and we are trying to make sure that if there is a medical reason for the deaths of the other babies, that we find it in time. Up to this point, Joshua (Yosue, in Gourmantche), is a healthy little baby boy and we are all Praising God for that. If you think of him and his mom, please pray that he will stay healthy. (In the picture below, Noadiba is on the right, and her best friend, Zainabou, is holding Joshua)