Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Sam and Karim

I’ve had several visitors this week. Monday, “Sam”  showed up with his mother. They are relatives of our night guard who were in town for medical care. The story I’d been told was that they had spent the last month or two in the national hospital but that they didn’t do anything but keep taking his money. They said his cheek had swollen but then the swelling had gone done when a hole opened into his mouth. I figured that this might be a tooth abscess that penetrated the skin on his cheek. I wondered if maybe they were experience some prejudice as foreigners—they are Malian nomads from the north—not always the most popular group since the war in Mali though many of them suffered violence from rebels themselves.
We went to see the doctors at our friends clinic a cooperative run by a local church with Western doctors. I asked them to bring all the paper work from the hospital with them. I hadn’t actually seen Sam’s face until we arrived in the doctor’s office since his head was wrapped with the traditional turban that also covered his face. We quickly realized that this was much more serious than a tooth abscess. The paper work he brought indicated he had been on chemotherapy , and the large gaping wound in his cheek was actually mouth cancer in advanced stages. Sam is only twenty but the doctors were not optimistic about his future. Today he is travelling back to Mali with his mother to see his dad who has been selling his camels to pay for his son’s medical care. I told his mom that I would pray that God would bring him health.
Wednesday night I had another visitor. I first met Kareem in December when he banged on my door one Saturday afternoon demanding a job. He was a hefty looking guy angrily yelling “I need a job. You have to give me a job!” I quietly told him I didn’t have any work for him right now but if he was hungry I could give him some rice. When Jennifer brought a bag of rice he said he didn’t need any food he just needed a job—he needed to know that at the end of the month there would be a salary for him. Despite his intimidating demeanour something inside said this man needs to know that God cares. He told me how he felt despised by people as he went around town, that people treated him like dirt. When I told that wasn’t true, that he was a person of worth created in the image of God, he stopped talking and looked at  me not knowing what to say. Finally, he said, “But you have to come see where I live with my mother and little sister to see how hard things are for us.” I told him that I would stop by the following week, thinking it might be better to take another man along with me. I stopped by the following week and later delivered some cookies on Christmas Eve.
This week Kareem called saying he wanted to talk to me. He arrived in a security guard uniform. Apparently he’d found work earlier this month. He talked for an hour or so, talking about his family and his own uncertainties. His real reason for showing up was to thank me for caring for him when he had made it difficult. That my actions had demonstrated God’s love in ways that he hadn’t seen in others around him. He was very confused about religion and wasn’t able to choose between Jesus and Mohammed (that had split his family) but that it meant a lot to be treat with real compassion by a stranger. Please pray for him and his family.

Please pray for Jenn as she has discovered that she has cataracts. Pray that she has wisdom in knowing how to deal with this situation and that God’s hand would be at work through all of these circumstances.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Picking up the pieces

How do I find the words to express the feelings and the loss of the past week?
The destruction seems surreal and all too real at the same time. Our church and the pastors house was looted, and burned and they lost everything but the clothes on their back and the vehicles that they had with them. It is tragic, especially because this wasn't one isolated incident but happened to numerous pastors and numerous churches across this country.
And yet...
We have much to be thankful for.
It has been beautiful to watch the church come around them and support them in various ways helping with food and clothes and just being there for them. God is at work.
Please pray for the church in Niger that they will rise up stronger as a result of this persecution. Pray for us as we process what has gone on here and help others do the same. Pray for the pastor and his family as they start over again and the many others in the same situation. Pray for the government as they try to respond to what has happened here. Pray for peace.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

It was a two house coat morning

I guess it is all about perspective... for me it was a two house coat morning (keep in mind that both of my house coats are lightweight cotton and all of my pjs are summer weight), however for my sons it was shorts and t-shirt weather (one was only because he didn’t remember that he owned a pair of track pants!). The actual temperature was 14C in the house at 6 this morning when everyone was rushing to get ready for school. Aahh cold season! If it wasn’t for the dust in the air (and basically in everything) it would be almost heavenly. My neighbours tend to disagree with me on that and bundle up in their winter coats and hats. We were even told this week that there wouldn’t be Sunday school because “no one will make it for 9am, it too cold!”

I am sure that if you are reading this from somewhere other than Niger you must be laughing and thinking that we don’t know cold and it is so true. But sometimes cold is relative to how hot it gets, so I’ll bundle up in my two house coats and try to remember this feeling when hot season rolls around next March/April.
Two exciting new developments happen this week: company is coming and we finally have paperwork with the electric company for the new building. It isn’t that they have actually started to connect the building to the electricity (that will probably be weeks if not months away by the time the power line is put through) but we have paid our dues and so they will hopefully start the work soon. We are also looking forward to a visit from our boss and another Canadian pastor as they come to help oversee the first ordination service that we have in Niger.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas in Niger

He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.

This has been tiring Christmas. I (Dave) preached last Sunday, Christmas day and I’m preaching again this Sunday. That in itself is not a hardship but Jennifer has developed a nasty ear infection that has progressively gotten worse over the week to the point that ear drops were useless because her ear swelled shut. The pain has made sleeping difficult, as well as bouts of fever. The church had a late night Christmas Eve program scheduled but Jennifer’s fever started to spike that evening and I was concerned to leave her alone for too long. (The church program was intended to start around 7:30 with the Jesus film, and continue on until 1 AM. I was later informed that it continued until almost two in the morning!) I made a quick stop at the church with the boys to drop off our Christmas Santa gifts and then visited a few non-Christian families in our neighbourhood to deliver cookies. One family lives next to our house in a grass hut. As I walked into the yard one lady said, “Oh David, do you remember my little sister who got married awhile back? Well she’s here now and she just gave birth! Come and see the baby.” In the darkness I was led into their hut and in the faint glow of someone’s cell phone, a sleeping baby was brought and put into my arms. I couldn’t help but thinking that in the simple family’s hut with sheep out in the yard, I was here holding baby Jesus on Christmas Eve. Surprised by it all my Zarma language skills went out the window, and the family giggled because all I could keep saying was “A ga bori—it’s good.”

I hope that somewhere in your holiday season you’ve encountered the Christ who was born at Christmas. Jennifer is still fighting fever as the pain and swelling moves out from her ear and into her jaw and neck. We did get to a clinic today and hopefully the meds she received might allow both of us to get some sleep tonight.