Friday, October 17, 2014

Another breakdown...?

Wednesday I (Dave) met with a couple of young men from the church to debrief their visit to a village last weekend. Their visit had been the first in a few months due to vacation travels and other distractions. They had intended to attend the Sunday morning service but arriving at 9 AM they were disappointed to find only one person in the village. He informed them that because it was harvest season, they had met around 7 AM to sing and pray before heading out to the fields. We began to discuss potential strategies as they made observations concerning the exodus towards the city of most of the men in the village.

My meeting with the two guys almost got cancelled just as it began. We had just ordered lunch when Jennifer called. “I just filled up the car with gas and now it won’t start—it won’t even turn over.” It was already 1:30 PM and probably over 40 degrees.  Do I call the meeting off and go rescue my wife? “Call the mechanic and get him to come,” I decided. Something about the timing seemed fishy.  It reminded me of when we started a prayer group in our church back in Caistor Centre. The second week we met to pray,  Jennifer and I arrived extra early at the church and waited for the other ladies to come.  And we waited. Finally I felt that we needed to pray that people would be free to come. No sooner did we finish praying than the ladies started to arrive. “Did you just unlock the door?” they asked. One woman had tried the door and sat in her car in the driveway for ten minutes because when she tried it the first time it was “locked. ” Another who lived next door had been over and tried once and gone home because the door was “locked.” Both decided to come back and try once more while we prayed for their arrival. Suddenly the door that had been “locked” was now open—though no one had touched it in between times. On Wednesday, our faithful mechanic sent a couple of his workers over to rescue Jennifer (I am useless when it comes to fixing cars). When they arrived they tried once more to start the car, even though Jennifer had tried several time while waiting and even had a gas attendant look under the hood. It started immediately when they tried before they did anything else. When I called the mechanic later to ask about it, he said his guys thought maybe the battery clamps were a little loose and so they tightened them, just in case.


Please pray for the church as it seeks to find new avenues to reach out and show God’s love. Pray also that we would have wisdom in mentoring and developing leaders in the local church who will take up the challenge of reaching their communities.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Sacrifice


This past weekend was Tabaski  (in West Africa,) or Eid al-Adha, “the feast of the sacrifice”, where Muslims celebrate the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son and God’s provision of the substitutionary lamb. As I understand it (and my understanding is very limited) each family has to have a lamb (one for each wife), the lamb is blessed by the religious leaders and slaughtered to cover the sins of the family for the year. Then the lamb is roasted by an open fire all day and the family enjoys the organ meat the first day than shares the roasted lamb with family and friends and the needy. This year was the first time that I can remember the celebration falling on a Sunday, so as we were leaving church we had the experience of seeing family after family skinning and preparing their sheep for roasting—it is a very involved process. One of the boys commented that they saw a sheep looking on while the others around were being slaughter and they thought that was crazy that the sheep didn’t seem to be reacting.  Dave commented that sheep are stupid like that.
 But I think that sometimes we are like those sheep and are willing to turn a blind eye to what is happening around us and hope that it doesn’t really affect us. It is easier just to look out for number one and not care what is happening to others, because if we start to care we may have to try and do something about it and that might cost us. How often do we choose to just nod or smile and say hi to our neighbours without taking the time to find out what is really happening in their lives?  Or live in fear of rejection instead of sharing the hope that we have in Jesus? What kind of hope do we have if we live and fear and keep it to ourselves?
As an outsider I see a lot of the good and the bad of Tabaski. I know that the hope of the sacrifice covering their sins is futile. The sacrifice and cost of the sheep, no matter how expensive, can never be enough no matter how often it is done. I see so many who can’t afford this going in to debt to make it happen because of the shame that comes if you aren’t participating. There is an incredible amount of pressure for those who walk away from Islam because so much of this celebration is public (the fires burn on the side of the road with all the neighbours sheep roasting together). There is a unity in the celebration that binds the people together in the joy (or is it the competition) and there is a generosity that  becomes a necessity (because who can eat that much meat before it goes bad).
 I guess it makes me wonder what we as Christians have to offer in the area of celebrations, Christmas, Easter and maybe Thanksgiving? Have we let the world so commercialize them that they are no longer communal celebrations and times when we can share the love of Christ with those around us? Or are we just selfish in how we choose to celebrate? I know that I get really tired even just thinking about trying to share Christmas with my Muslim friends and neighbours and they come with a lot of their own expectations that the media has fed them too. It makes me want to give up and run away because I know that I can never measure up, but I guess that is not the point. The point is to share the love of Christ and let them know there is a sacrifice that is sufficient.
Things seem to be moving ahead on the building reconstruction. Pray that the construction goes well and good decisions are made (I’ll try to get some pictures up soon).
It is hard to believe that the first quarter of the school year is drawing to a close already this week (but that is what happens when you start school the second week in August.)  Please pray that I would be able to get caught up in my marking over the school break.
 

 
 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Pictures from the wedding

The Ladies gathered under the tent
The men enjoyed the shade of a tree


A surprised "selfie" with the older ladies (one jumped away before I could take the picture)
These were just a few of the pictures from the wedding a few weeks ago. Sorry it took so long to share them.
Hope you are having a good week (or at least better than ours)!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

A week in the Wright household

Last Sunday night we came home and found people waiting for us. One little boy who knew us from the old neighbourhood told us his father couldn't pay the rent and was being threatened with eviction. The mother from the wedding a couple of weeks ago showed up with her little brother to say that her father was ill. I had taken the old man to the clinic a year ago (his medical file says he's 98). I spent the morning at the clinic with him at the clinic. He apparently lives on sheep and goats milk and refuses most other food. We had skype meeting scheduled with our boss but discovered that afternoon that half the outlets on the main floor were dead but none of the breakers were tripped. Thus began three days of visits with the electrician trying to troubleshoot the problem working through bad wiring in couple of places to finally find a faulty breaker. Thursday the dorm kids arrived for the weekend because Friday was a PD day for Jennifer and three are staying with us so the dorm parents can have a weekend off.  One was still recovering from some kind of illness going around the dorm (slight fever, sore throat and cough). Friday we took them into the school to eat with the teachers because I had luncheon meeting provided by the Canadian embassy. The school sent home leftovers from their lunch which we had had for supper (spring rolls/nems and Cantonese rice). The school had an all night lock in starting at 7 pm. Jennifer and I were looking forward to a quiet evening at home but she had an upset stomach and decided to go to bed. I decided to work on my sermon for Sunday. Around midnight I got a call from the school saying Cole wasn't feeling well and wanted to come home. He ended up vomiting out the window several times on the way home. When we got home Jennifer informed us that she also had started exploding at both ends. Cole was sure it was supper so I called the school to warn them  and waited awhile lest another call should come. This morning I brought the rest of the boys home and half way one of them said I think I might be sick. He was sitting in the middle of the back seat so I quickly pulled over so he could leave his breakfast on the side of the road. Jennifer is still running to the toilet but I think I'm only having sympathy pains so far....

This was Dave's recounting of our week only he neglected to add the situation on the home front: His sister-in-law lost her brother (I believe the funeral is sometime today) and we were told that the tenants in our town house maybe leaving (just when we had a new furnace installed for them). Through it all God has been so good to us, I am totally amazed! It must have a lot to do with your prayers for us. Thanks for keep us in your prayers.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A wedding


This week we had something of a new experience. We were invited by a friend and neighbour to participate in his daughter’s wedding. We had actually been invited almost a month in advance but weren’t really clear on the date (it had to do with how long it took the groom to get the bride price together).  This was a unique wedding in many different ways. Instead of the bride being housed in the most luxurious family member’s house, she was at home in her families hut. Instead of there being lots of musicians around looking to “patronize” the wedding participants (singing their praises until they are given money to quit)—there were none. This could have been a reflection on the wealth of the family (or not) or  (if we understood correctly) may have had something to do with the fact that this was the third attempt for the bride to marry.  It is sometimes difficult to sort some of these things out since we don’t share a common language. This was a Tamajek (Touareg) wedding and our Tamajek doesn’t get beyond a few greetings; our friends don’t speak French and only a little Zarma. We enjoyed sharing in the celebration despite the difficulty with communication.

 I (Jenn) had fun taking pictures. The kids were trying to teach me how to count to three in Tamajek, but unfortunately I think I may have forgotten as quickly as I learned. It was also great fun to see the reaction of the older ladies when I showed them how my ipad could take a reverse photo. The oldest lady there jumped back with surprise when she realized that she was seeing her own reflection in the camera. I don’t think I have had that much fun taking a “selfy” before.

Tonight when we went to deliver copies of some of the pictures they tried to give us a lesson in who was related to whom. I am not really sure that I followed it all but it clearly brought them a lot of joy to have pictures of their family members. Please pray for this family that they might discover the truth about Jesus. Pray for the bride who is young.

Thanks for all your prayers for my back they have really made a difference. I am moving much better these days and it seems like the spasms are much less frequent.

 Please also continue to pray as we make decisions about the property and the re-building. Things have slowed down in the clean up a little as there is less demand for the bricks and debris with the rains slowing down. On that note, you can pray that the rains will continue long enough for the crops to make it to maturity and provide a good harvest.