Saturday, December 17, 2011

Some Exciting Stuff Going On!

I’m going to tell a story that has taken place over the past several months. If you manage to hang with me, you will be so glad, because it is an exciting story…still taking place. In order to protect those in the story, I’ll use fictitious names and cloak some terms.

Background: About a year or so ago, there was an Important Fulani religious man who lived in another part of our country. He was hired by a M. project to propagate their religion in that area. One day he was given a Bible and as he began to read and compare, he began to have big questions. He went to the one who had gifted him and over a period of discussions, he decided to follow Jesus. He knew he needed discipling, so he contacted some miss’y friends of ours in the city and asked if he could come be discipled. They agreed, and along with other Fulani believers, this man, whom we will call Henry, grew in the faith. When he tried to return to resign, he had to flee for his life. Another time he moved back to his village, which is down near our area, but when other family members and contacts began to accept Christ, he and his family had to leave again. They have settled in the city. But his heart is still burning to share the gospel with his people.

Recent Past (2-3 wks ago): At my clinic in the bush, we see as many Fulani people as we do Gourma. As the people are waiting for their consultation, they are listening to evangelistic media which have been prepared specifically for the Fulani of our area – their dialect and religious background. Many of them have expressed much interest and have actually asked our Clinic evangelist if they can come back and listen…which they do.

About a month ago, I asked my colleague, Lucy, if she and Henry would be willing to come out and take a look at the number of Fulani who come…and if Henry would be willing to talk to them to see if there is a genuine interest. They came, and on that day, Henry, Lucy and myself met some interesting contacts. One of those was Dan, a High Religious Leader, for our whole area among the Fulani, a very friendly older man, who had studied his religion abroad for 20 yrs., and had learned basic French as well as Arabic. As he and Henry talked, it was clear that there was an openness to talk about spiritual matters. Lucy had brought along a copy of the book of Genesis, which was different. She had recently taken the Fulfulde translation of Genesis and put it into Arabic script, which now allowed an Arabic reader to read in their own mother tongue. Since most boys of this religion learn to read in Arabic, and never their own language, this allows them to be able to read with understanding!

So when Lucy gave Dan a copy, he immediately began to read, thinking it was Arabic, but as the words came out, it kept coming out in his own language…and as it dawned on him, a huge grin began to spread over his face! Now he read voraciously…and then declared to us, “This is the truth!” As we prepared to leave, Henry asked if we could pray together. Immediately Dan dropped to his knees; the rest of us followed suit. Dan asked Henry to start and he would finish. I can’t describe to you how deep and beautiful the prayer was that Henry prayed…(Lucy was translating for me), but in it he managed to pray for Dan and his family, their health, peace and that they would know the way to Heaven…and he prayed the gospel in a subtle way. He prayed like one who has known Jesus for years!

Before we left, the Fulani requested that Henry return again soon.

When I shared the above story with my colleagues who had prepared the listening media, they were excited too and helped me to acquire a locally available radio, which also has a USB port. They loaded three USB sticks with evangelistic material: with over 100 Bible stories in Fulfulde, portions of Scripture and songs…all which have been prepared for the Fulani of our area. The next week when I was at clinic, Dan was back to bring his wife to get her ulcer meds. I asked him if he would like to listen to these programs and tell me what he thought. He and a friend sat and listened for nearly two hours! Dan and others declared them to be "sweet."

When I saw him crouched down to work on his motorcycle, preparing to leave, I brought out the radio I had brought for him. I told him that Lucy and Henry and the people who prepared the programs and I, all wanted him to have this, and I handed the radio to him. He was speechless. I asked if I could take his picture, so I could show my friends that he had received it. He agreed, so I asked if he would like to stand up for the picture, but he replied, "No, it is fitting that I receive this on my knees, because I am grateful."

Dec. 3rd: While visiting at a social event, Lucy and I decided to plan a date for her and Henry to return. We could let the 5-6 men who had expressed interest know the day, and they could meet together with them and discuss what they had been listening to and answer any questions. We prayed that God would send those who were seeking to know Him and that He would direct that meeting.

Present: That meeting took place this past Thursday. When Lucy, Henry and I arrived, I immediately had to begin my work in the clinic. Our Gourma evangelist, Moses, had let the Fulani men know, and over the next half an hour, they began to arrive. Moses had swept out under a thorn tree and placed some bricks and a few benches for them. It was a small distance from the clinic so it would give them some privacy. Dan showed up and so did some other religious leaders, who had been coming to listen to the clinic radio (Fulani media). Later I heard all about it from Lucy. Since we had expected a handful of guys, we were surprised when over 20 showed up! They listened to Henry talk for over two hours. He started by quoting some of their familiar prayers in Arabic, brought out what is good in Islam, and asked them what happens when they fall short of the ideal and are left wondering if they can make it to heaven. Then he went to the Old Testament and explained how it points to Jesus. They asked lots of questions!

Several of them stayed around for another two hours, asking questions and discussing the Scriptures. Then they asked Henry to come back and explain more to them. One man said to Mary, "Can you come to my village? My people need to hear this."

Friday, December 16, 2011

Clinic Building Begins...FINALLY!!

We finally have the right weather, the best builder, the materials and the funds to get the clinic addition built. As I write this, the work is going on and the new “wing” should be finished by early next week. Yahooey!

Unloading materials at the site.

Necessary tools for building: knife, traditional pick, and a good supply of Tea (leaves, sugar and pot)!

Starting the foundation.

Yesterday, Thursday, the walls were going up. This weekend the doors and windows will go in.

I'm so excited to see our dream finally coming true!

Jeanne-Marie Update

Among many very exciting things that God has done this past week, the update on Jeanne-Marie has to be one of the best! Tuesday afternoon Gary and I drove the builder (who is presently building our new clinic addition) and his team out to the site in that village. After getting them set up and starting the work, I had a few minutes to talk to Pastor. I told him about all that had happened since I had left him on Thursday after clinic (talking to my sister, the medicine I just "happened" to have, and giving J.M. her first dose). I told him that I had asked many people to be praying for her...and then he stopped me. He said, "Her father came to see me this morning and he says that she can See!" My other worker/evangelist was there too, and simultaneously we both said, "Hallelujah!" Gary heard the news and was excited too. We continued to pray.

On Thursday, I stopped by to see Jeanne-Marie on my way to clinic, and at first it was hard to tell a difference... but then, when I held up my finger, she reached for it and pulled it to her mouth. While seated on my lap, she looked me straight in the face, and immediately arched back and began to cry - a common reaction of a baby to a "white" lady. She hadn't done that before. And when I questioned the parents, they both assured me that she could see things that were close up to her. Surrounded by so many people, and Jeanne-Marie wanting to go back to her mother, it wasn't the place to do an eye exam. I left some medicines with them, and they were very thankful. I reminded them that this was a work of God!

Please continue to pray. I hope to get them into an Opthamologist just after the new year for an evaluation. I'm praising God for what she Can see and Praying for complete healing! Thanks for helping with that.

Giving Jeanne-Marie the medicine last Friday.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Little Jeanne-Marie

I’m at the clinic and little Jeanne-Marie sits on my lap with her face turned up to mine. She’s 15 months old and other than a fever, she appears to be a healthy little toddler, just beginning to walk.

Except that Jeanne-Marie can’t see my face. After completing my simple sight exam, I realize the truth: She can’t see anything! Her eyes just stare and she blinks.

Her parents have brought her to our clinic because they were beginning to get worried. About 3 weeks ago Jeanne had gotten sick…with a high fever and she had had some seizures. They took her to the clinic in Maka. and she received some sort of treatment there. When they took her home it wasn’t long before they notice that Jeanne-Marie wasn’t trying to walk anymore, and that she was bumping into things as she crawled. They began to get scared. They took her to another clinic further away…more medicines…but Jeanne’s sight didn’t seem any better.

Now finally they are at our clinic with hope written all over their faces. Hope that we will have some sort of medication that will help her eyes to be able to see again! As I finished examining her and I came to the conclusion that she was indeed blind, I struggled with what I would say to this young couple! How could I tell them that their first born, beautiful little girl was now blind, changing their lives forever?!

Somehow I came out with the truth, as gently as I could. They were devastated! Both of their faces were pictures of shock and dismay, eyes downcast! We tried to assure them that we would treat her for the suspected resistant malaria which was causing her fever, but I don’t think they heard our words. I tried to reassure them that Jeanne-Marie could be a healthy little girl and have a productive life if the family would be willing to help her. They couldn’t think of that right now! We also suggested that they get an expert opinion and advice from an Ophthalmologist. But last of all, and best of all, as they prepared to leave, our Health Worker/Pastor Bori suggested that we pray together. Since the family has a Catholic background, they agreed. Pastor prayed a heartfelt prayer for the parents and then prayed with conviction and faith for healing for Jeanne’s eyes, since God is the greatest physician of all. We all murmured, “Amin” as he ended.

That evening, back in our home, I was puzzled over what could have caused Jeanne-Marie’s blindness, so I made a Skype call to my sister, Terry, who is an Eye “expert”. She made a suggestion: if there was swelling around the optic nerve, it could occlude sight; it might be worth a try to give her Prednisone to decrease the swelling. Being three weeks later, it could be too late, but it was worth a try. I never have Prednisone in my home, but just recently a nurse friend had left me with some, and I had JUST ENOUGH for a week’s treatment for Jeanne-Marie. The next morning, Gary and I drove out to the family’s village and found their compound. Everyone gathered around as the couple brought Jeanne-Marie to me. I showed them how to pound up the medicine in a spoon, add a pinch of sugar and a few drops of water. Then I took Jeanne-Marie in my arms and laid her back abit. When I put the spoon to her lips, she eagerly took the first sip….then she began to fuss. (She also tinkled on me :) I had to work abit to get the rest in her, but her parents were watching. They had to know how they should do it themselves, four times a day. As we got up to leave and I handed her back to her parents, they all thanked me for coming. I had the opportunity to tell them that God had ordained that I had the medicine at home, and that we had prayed with the family the day before for God to heal her eyes. We would continue to pray.

As the young father walked us to our truck, we asked him if he knew Jesus…he said that they go to the Catholic Church in the next village.

Will you pray with us this week for Jeanne-Marie, that God would touch her eyes, either through His Divine touch or by the medication? Pray that the love and power of Jesus would be evident to this young couple and their surrounding family! Pray that God’s Glory would be seen!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Two Little Pumpkins

Do you remember these two darling baby girls that I wrote about back in April? Their mother had been coming to the clinic for her prenatal check-ups and on her last visit, I told her that I thought that she may be carrying twins. Sure enough, she was, and little Docassa and Luta (Dorcas & Ruth) were born two months premature. They had a rough start and at one point, I prayed over little Luta because she was fighting so hard to live and it seemed that she was failing. However, God answered prayer, and she began to put on weight just like her sister.

Well just the other day, I stopped to take the healthy little girls' picture...they are 7 months old now and as active as any little babies of that age should be. Both of the girls were nursed only, until their 6th month, and then they began to give them the cereal mix, Misola, which we show the moms how to prepare. Misola is a combination of grains, beans and nuts which ensure that the babies receive a full complement of vitamins and minerals. We show the moms how to make the cereal with the ingredients locally available. Babies on this diet of breast milk and Misola will avoid malnutrition, which is so prevalent in our area.
The mother, on the left, is so thankful to God for her healthy little Dorcas and Ruth! Me too!

Traditional Medicine

Ever since we moved to Makalondi and I became involved in medical ministry, I've been fascinated by the variety of medicinal plants. For most of the nationals, these roots, barks, or leaves are the first treatment they will use when they become sick. Although this treatment is not as strong as the medication they would receive at a local clinic, it is many times very effective and it is surely a good deal cheaper. And where the average income is very meager, the traditional medicine all around them is a good option. As I drive out to the clinic every week, I pass many trees with tell-tale signs of frequent use. Some barks are used to treat worms...

...the leaves of the tree behind me and my girlfriend in front of our home, are used to treat stomach aches and cramps.

Often the bark or the leaves will be used to make a "tea" or a poultice, very much the same way our ancestors used the plants and herbs to treat their illnesses. And usually there is one or two persons in each village who are the medicinal experts. (This can sometimes be the "witch doctor", but is not always the case). But I've found that most of the people have a general knowledge of their trees and plants and the ways to use them.

What is also interesting, is the way the trees respond to the frequent cutting. They become gnarly and lumpy, healing over the cut places. If I had more time, I'd really love to do more research on the specific plants and their uses. Nevertheless, when someone comes to our clinic for treatment, chances are that they have already tried something traditional. Often the traditional medicine will work, but for the times when it isn't effective or not the proper treatment, we are there to help them with a pharmaceutical option. After all, many of our drugs come from flora and fauna.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Fall in the Air

Driving out through the bush to the clinic and driving to and from the city, it's been great this year to watch the leaves changing. It helps to make it feel like Fall really is here, even if our daily temps are still high. Maybe the beautiful colors this year are due to the nippy 65 degree temps we're having at night?! Or the Dry Dry weather? Whatever the reason, the landscape is putting on a beautiful display, with all the colors sparkling in the clear sunlight.

This year Thanksgiving really "felt" like Thanksgiving, driving by the beautiful colors and then celebrating it with our "family" here in Niamey. Add in the Harmattan dust, and one can actually smell Christmas in the air! I need to get the Christmas tree out, hose off the dust, and put it up!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Just Love These Kids!

As the new school year began, the Lord allowed me to take up one of my favorite ministries again: that of having a Kid's Club. In this club we learn of God's love for us and others and how we can live by following the truths from His Word. Last year due to my work load, it just wasn't possible for me to have their club, and I heard from our Center teacher that the kids would come on Saturday mornings and wait for me! Talk about making me feel terrible!
This year, I have been able to narrow my ministry focus with Beki helping us, so that I could have time for the kids again. This time I wanted to not only teach them Spiritual truths, but to also be able to help them academically. (Most children in 4th and 5th grade still do not know how to read or do basic math problems.) Because our mission has just produced an excellent Biblically based Reading and Math program for the beginner levels, I wanted to try that program with the kids. At the same time I also wanted to train someone else in teaching children using this method. And God gave me the young man (Yemin) to help...he's one whom we have helped with some schooling and teaching courses in the past, and he was eager to have an opportunity to get some experience. Then I called on my dear friend who IS a teacher to help us get the ball rolling. She came out to Makalondi and did a week with us, planning out our 3 time/week meetings, modeling the teaching method for us, and giving extra instruction to Yemin.
We've just finished our 4th week and even though it's been A LOT of work (I have much more sympathy for all the prep work of first grade teachers now!), we are thoroughly enjoying Club time....the kids And the teachers! We only accepted 10 students on the condition that they would be faithful and that their parents would support us in making sure they came. The rewards are already evident as I see the children learning Bible stories so well that they can tell them to their classmates, putting the lessons from those stories into practice in their behavior and seeing the individual gifts of each child academically coming out with more confidence. The kids just can't wait for class, and when school was out for a holiday this past week, they asked me to hold class for them that afternoon, which we did.
I think that it's evident in the video below, that the children are enjoying themselves. They had studied the story of Ishmael and the lessons we learned were that God always hears them and that we don't make fun of others. We applied that to our families in particular.
Here is what they are reciting (focusing on the sound of "i" in French - which is the "long e" sound for us in English):
Isaac grew. Ishmael laughed, hee hee hee. Sarah said, "That's enough! Leave from here!" But God heard his cries.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Story from the Clinic

I'll jump right in. Often at the clinic we have to tell someone that their medical problem is more than we can handle. We don't have the ability out in the bush to do an x-ray or lab work or most other medical tests. We will have to refer them to a medical post in Niamey. Because of the distance, many of them never end up going in. Being nomadic with their herds and often not having family in the city can be a big deterant. But some of them do go...and we are often eager to hear back from them on the results.
Recently we had a sweet young Fulani woman, Fati, come for a consultation and she laid out her problem. She hadn't had a normal cycle in over two years and being married she really wanted a baby. Could we give her some medication and help her? After taking her history, I explained our dilema...we would love to help her, but don't have the resources on site. I referred her to my friend, "Suzy B" in the city who is a Dr. and has a clinic.
Fati traveled to Niamey with her parents, and my friend, "Em" met them at the taxi bus station to take them to their relative's home. It turned out to be just 4 doors down from the wedding that Em was attending, and had left, to go pick them up! She also picked them up the next morning and drove them across the city to the consultation. (God really lovingly provided for this family!!)
The next weekend I talked to Suzy B and she had been told a different history (not uncommon) and had felt an abdominal mass so she ordered some tests and an ultrasound to be done at a local hospital. She told me that they hadn't returned with the results and wondered if they had returned home. That wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility since the fields were ready for harvest and they can't be away for long.
Well, two days later, Dr. B called me and said that they were in her office with the results. I braced myself... she told me she knew the problem. Fati is 3 months pregnant! I started laughing. I was so tickled to hear GOOD NEWS...and we were both relieved that the "mass" turned out to be a BABY!! Praise God!
Last Thursday, Fati showed up at our clinic again with her test results. We had a good chat, she was shyly smiling, and we scheduled her for her first prenatal visit next Friday.
I just love it when a Good Surprise comes our way. I just love it when a patient experiences the Love of Jesus through our network of believers. Thanks for that, my sisters! (Pictures to come... smile)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A FANtastic trip...a FANtasy trip...???

Yesterday our truck was in the garage. The timing belt light on the dash had been on for a week, so in line with the truck manual's advice, we took it in to have the old belt removed and a new one put on. Late in the afternoon, Gary picked up the truck, paid the bill and drove home (our city home). Mission Accomplished.

Not so quick...

Early this morning we packed the truck and headed for Makalondi. I had to get out to the clinic by 9:30 and was bringing a large stock of meds with me. As we were driving through town, I said to Gary, "You know, I hear a funny tat-tat noise from our you hear it?" Well, he didn't. But just outside the city, he stopped and looked under the hood just to be sure...and he didn't see anything suspicious. It was a smooth ride out (and we even had a special time reading and discussing the insights God showed us from the first 10 verses in Luke chapter 7).

We arrived in Makalondi, unloaded and I threw my medical bag and 2 bottles of water in the truck and took off. Now I first noticed the squealing sound with a louder tat-tat noise about 6 or 7 kms. into the bush. I stopped the truck and called Gary's cell phone. No answer. I called Abdou's cell (our worker). No answer. I called Beki, and she did answer and agreed to go tell Gary I was calling him. Finally connected, I put my cell phone up to the motor, reaching under the wheel well. Gary: "Ohhh, that does not sound good. You need to come home and drive slowly. If it gets worse, just stop."

As I turned the truck around, I started praying...praying that God would protect our engine from expensive damage. I got about 1 km. distance when a huge banging began! I immediately shut the truck off and just knew I had ruined the engine! I called Gary and he said he would borrow Beki's motorcycle and come to me.

While waiting for him, several Gourma men stopped, offering to help. Looking at the engine we could see some broken pieces of cowling and stray nuts below. I told them not to touch anything until Gary could see for himself.

Gary arrived and accessed the situation. When the mechanics had worked on our truck at the garage and put the fan back on, they hadn't tightened up the bolts holding the fan to the engine! Out of 4 bolts, 2 had fallen off, and 1 was hanging on barely. the fan was literally flopping around and had cut up the cowling (sp?) and had started hitting the radiator.

I was so impressed, once again, at the way God watches out for us! Although the problem could have been disastrous to our truck, the fan was still on, the blades were not broken, and there wasn't even a hole in the radiator!! God had certainly protected our engine, no doubt about it!

We called the garage; Gary had to remove the fan; we drove home with several stops along the way to allow the engine to cool down; and I called the clinic to tell them that I wouldn't make it today. The garage sent a man out on a taxi bus to Makalondi and this afternoon, he worked on the truck, fixing most of the problems. The rest will be taken care of when we get back to Niamey.

Tonight I'm thanking the Lord for the safe trip out to Makalondi on the highway, for the problem happening "close" to home, and for preventing serious damage to our truck! A whole lot to be thankful for! And in the middle, I met some really nice Gourma men and shared some good conversation...

You never know what a day will bring... and it is energizing to see God's handiwork in the events of that day!

The bolts which had fallen off...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Freeman Art Gallery

Last Christmas, Joe and Amy gave me this gadget from Ikea...and it's brilliant! Gary hung it on the wall near our dining table, and so we get to look at it while we eat. Which is great, because it holds everything from cards, grandkid pictures, balloons and a handwritten Bible verse from Bryn to a Circus Program! I'm lovin my Art Gallery!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Quilting In My Blood

My maternal grandmother, famous seamstress on Miami Beach for ladies such as Mrs. Kellogs, and women from the Montgomery Ward family. They would send their limousines to pick her up and bring her to their homes for custom made dresses and other clothing. But my grandmother also made beautiful quilts, and her love for sewing and quilting in particular, was passed on to me. She taught me to sew and in the process, she passed on a love for it, whether it was in making clothes (which I did for my children) or in making quilts (which I'm doing for my grandchildren). Thus, it is not surprising that the yearning comes often and I dust off my old, but sturdy, sewing machine and warm up my hands and put on my glasses, to begin quilting again in earnest.

Having completed Michael's quilt (below), I still have other quilts to make for 3 of my grandchildren and another baby on the way. So I've been looking for ideas, trying out a few patterns, looking at material. Each quilt needs to be different, so that each child has one that is unique. I even hope to keep adding to their quilts over the years to come...either to enlarge them or to add embroidery or other personal touches. It's like leaving some of myself with each of my precious grandchildren.

Nursing Student # 3

From time to time I have the pleasure of hosting a Nursing Student, who part-way through their studies, will come to Niger to do an internship. This past week we had the pleasure of hosting Cecile, who is from Paris, France. She has been here for 6 weeks, but spent 5 of those weeks at our Mission Hospital out east getting some experience there. She did want to see the different opportunities for nurses serving in Niger, so she spent a day and a half with me out in my clinic. I think it was totally different from the nursing she did at our hospital, but she enjoyed the small clinic because of its' relational aspect with the patients. She has one more year of nurse's training and then she would like to look at possible places that she can be used overseas...and where God would like her to serve.
I really enjoyed having her with me and her adaptability. I'm gonna put in a request to my Heavenly Father that she join me in our growing medical ministry...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Trombidium Grandissimum*

*Red Velvet BugOne small thing I like about our rainy season is that it brings out many of our beautiful bugs which are not seen too much during the dry. Last weekend, when 3 of our adopted “grandkids” were out visiting us in Makalondi, one activity we did was to take them on a hike of our “mountain” (which is really a higher elevation of ground…a tall hill) and begin a scavenger hunt. One of the items to find on the list, was a Red Velvet bug which is usually found in softer soil…like in a freshly planted field. I prepared the kids for the fact that they probably wouldn’t find a Red Velvet bug on the mountain, but that didn’t deter them from looking for one anyway.

What did happen was that in looking for the Red Velvet bug, they found all sorts of other interesting and beautiful bugs....2 of which were also another type of red bug!

They also turned up an iridescent blue green beetle and two other beetles which blended into the surrounding lava rock landscape

The next day, we picnicked under a tree beside a large field of young millet plants. After eating we took off to see if we could track down a Red Velvet bug and lo and behold, we immediately found one. Since one of the kids claimed that one, it meant that we needed to find two more. After searching for awhile, some nearby Gourma children joined in the hunt and we came up with two more bugs.

There are now Red Velvet bugs living in a jar of moist, sandy earth in the Rideout home in the city…

When I googled these bugs, I found out that they also can be commonly found in India and I even found one pictured in North Carolina! They live in the earth, but come out when the soil is moist.

They also seem indestructible: when my niece was visiting us one summer she kept one in a lidded jar in her room at our home. She had to leave it behind when she left and so it remained behind something on our desk. It was forgotten. One day nearly 6 or 7 mos. Later, I saw the jar and realized what it was. I took it outside to empty it out, expecting a bad smell. When I emptied the contents on the ground, you can imagine my surprise when Mr. Red Velvet started walking away! What had he been breathing in that jar? What had he eaten?

Though I haven’t read anything about these bugs hibernating, I wonder if that was what he was doing! Amazing!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Storm Drama!

(Note: Beki's terrace is nice and open...bedroom & office on one side and the kitchen and bathroom on the other side)

The other night, Friday night, just as we were drifting off to sleep out on our terrace, my cell phone jingled, letting me know I'd just received a message. It was from Beki, who had just left our house about 40 min. earlier to walk over to her house in the next compound. Putting my glasses on, I read, "OK so this is super lame but could you all please come over when you wake up...I closed the door to my room and the handle broke so I'm stuck inside...I'll keep trying tho. I closed my kitchen already so It's ok for (in case of) rain... Sorry!" Gary mumbled, "I'll get up first thing and go over and get the handle off" and we went on to sleep.

Next thing I knew, I woke up because the wind was picking up and morning had come... and I looked out of our terrace to the east...a huge sky of dark cloud was nearly upon us! The massive dust storm was starting to roll over us as I quickly woke Gary and yelled, "You have to get Beki out before the storm hits!". He hurridly grabbed some clothes while I rushed around our house shutting all the windows, sand already in my eyes and mouth. As he ran across our compound to Beki's, the first large drops of rain, driven by the wind, began pelting the earth...and Gary too. When you are out in this kind of rain, it feels like you're being hit with lots of tiny pebbles and it's cold!

After two tries getting into the locked compound, he finally had to run and slam into the door near our Ministry Center and break the lock before he could run over to Beki's house. There, he stood on her open patio in the rain, and began to work on dismantling the door handle. (Now remember, this is a new house with a new door and handle! Handle: "Made in"). He had forgotten his glasses in the rush, and the rain was running down his face, nearly blocking his vision! Finally, we was able to use his key to 'jimmy' it open, and get the door open! Beki was Free! No time to talk, he dashed back to our house, running through the mud and water that was already making our yard a lake. I met him at the door with a big towel and a mug of hot Dunkin Donuts coffee (the BEST).

Mission Accomplished!

After changing into dry clothes, messaging with Beki and knowing she was ok, we sat on our terrace drinking our hot coffee and enjoying the cool rain. We would sweep up all the sand and dust later...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Month of May...the Hottest Month of the Year

Usually the month of May is the most challenging month of the year due to the heat. Last year at this time we were sleeping on our terrace, but this year we moved out into our yard. Gary attaches a 12 volt fan to our water barrel and hooks it up to our truck battery. All night long we have air blowing across us and by the early morning hours it is quite cool.
The added bonus of sleeping outside allows us to enjoy the night skies. Either the moon is shining so brightly we could use sunglasses, or the dark night makes the Milky Way and other constellations stand out in a beautiful display! It's a wonderful way to fall asleep!
During the second week of May, Gary and I visited one of our churches about 20 kms in the bush. After a great visit, as we were leaving, one of the members brought us two chickens. I was so excited because I had been wanting some chickens and was considering buying some at market. I decided to name them George and Martha. (Gary was reading a biography of George and Martha Washington at the time) Sadly after just one week, before I could put a certain medication in their eyes, both of them caught a poultry disease common in our area of Africa, and died. I was quite disappointed.
By the second week of May, the temperatures were hitting around 120 most days. Gary found that one of his missionary friends could come down and help him and our church men to roof our new church. The guys were on top of the tin roof most of the days, and struggled with keeping hydrated and not getting a sunburn. Thanks to Chad's help, the Makalondi church got it's new roof on before this years' rains arrive.
Towards the end of the third week of May, a particularily memorable occaision occured. Due to all the power cuts in the city and the internet problems, we decided to buy an Airtel USB stick from our Airtel cell provider to enable us to connect to the internet via Airtel. The best thing about that was that for the first time ever, we were able to connect to the internet from Makalondi! We never thought we would see that day in our village...
This summer many of our families who serve the mission in Administration will be taking their holidays and some are taking children home for college. Gary was asked to come into the city and cover the administration of the SIM office for two months. We knew that before the summer started, we should try and get away for a week of much needed rest. We found just the spot: Loumbila Beach. A beautiful, affordable and quiet resort in Burkina Faso, located on a lake. Most of the week we had the place to ourselves and we just enjoyed resting, reading, swimming, and meals under beautiful gazebos. The staff made our stay totally enjoyable and we came away greatly refreshed....and planning to visit them again in the future.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


What's for breakfast today? Fonio! What? What's that you say? Grass seed? Really? That's right! Grass seed. Last month we were introduced to a new grain which we've never seen before in our 23+ years here in Niger. A friend from Burkina Faso came and stayed a week and brought us a bag of Fonio, which he told us is the oldest grain known to be natural to West Africa. It was here before all other grains were introduced, and that seems natural since it IS a grass seed.

Well, the next morning I was anxious to try this new cereal. You cook it up as you would Cream of Wheat or Oatmeal... After spooning it up in our bowls and adding some milk and sugar, we tried it out. Yum! With it's creamy texture and nutty flavor, it's a winner!

It's interesting that I've never seen it in our local market, but maybe the next time I'll ask around. It's definately on our list of natural, organic foods regionally available!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

3 D

Despite what you may think this entry will be about...3 dimentional views, or some related subject, this will be totally different. 3D is a game that Gary and I and Beki have invented. We invented it partly to keep our sanity while traveling back and forth from Makalondi to Niamey and the return trip. It goes like this: 3D stands for "Dangerous Driver of the Day". Because there are so many on the road, we have begun naming contenders for the 3D title by the end of our trip, and when we finally reach our destination, we vote on who qualified as THE 3D.
Here are some recent candidates:

1. The taxi driver who was all over the road in front of us, because, as we drew up beside him to pass, we discovered that he was texting!...with a busload of people and loaded on top with baggage!

2. The car we overtook who's driver could barely see out the windshield because it was badly cracked in a spider pattern right in front of his face, and better yet, he had put white electrical tape over every crack, obscuring his vision for sure!

3. The car above who was determined NOT to pick a lane unless a vehicle approached in the opposite lane. This meant that even on a curve on a hill, he would remain where he was, straddling the line! We had fun trying to pass him!

Those are only 3...and I could go on about the semi passing another semi on a curve as we came around that curve, forcing us to squeeze onto the side and not fall into the ditch. Or the taxi bus piled so high that he's tipping towards his right side and each time he goes around a curve, we wonder if this time he'll topple!

It can make a person uptight and frustrated, even angry at their disregard for safety. So to difuse the stress, we've made it into a contest to see who can win the 3D award at the end of the trip. Problem is, we each think we won...and possibly we each did!

Thank you, Jesus, for your protection in our travels!!

A question

Sometimes I wonder....does anyone other than my mother even read these entries? And if no-one besides her were reading them, would I keep on? My conclusion is: Yes. Even if just for myself. It's somewhat of a journal for me of the occurances in our daily life here in Africa. I'd like to be the type of person who keeps a hand-written journal, entering interesting tales and experiences in a fairly frequent manner, in one of those cool looking hand-made books from Nepal. But... Well, it's just not me...though I wish it were. So I guess that "journaling" on my blog about the things that I'm living, that in the end, it's going to be something I can look back and read about later and relive to some extent, experiences we were fortunate to be a part of...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


God sent Beki to us and to Niger...
Building her house...
The terrace will be between the two buildings. Mud brick is
actually cooler out here...
About a month ago the team working in Makalondi just increased by 50%. Beki came to join us and take over the work with the young people that we do at the Center and in other ways. Beki has been coming to Niger on trips throughout High School and College and prepared specifically at Moody to come back and work in this country. Although the past year has held some challenges and alot of circituous travel for her, she has finally arrived and is anxious to get started.

We're anxious for her to start, but there have been some slight hold-ups to Beki being able to fully settle in and start. One main one is her house, which is presently under re-modeling. It's mud brick and being revamped with two things in mind: Lots of windows for lots of light (we don't have electricity) and Lots of windows for movement of air. We're putting up a nice screened-in terrace so that on hot nights, she can sleep on the terrace in her hammock.

We're so glad to have Beki with us and I think the young people are even more excited about her arrival!
Interesting facts about Beki:
1. She has traveled over 48 different times through numerous countries this past year to finally arrive in Niger.
2. She hates bugs! Especially cockroaches!
3. She has an awesome Motorcycle she rides when she's here in Niamey.
4. She worked in security at Moody!
5. She can make a pillowcase into a dressy headwrap. That's talent!