Saturday, November 22, 2014

Roadtrip

This last couple of weeks have been a bit crazier than usual in our household. And yet the craziness has been a reminder of how much we need your prayers and how good God is to us. The week before last we were at a conference in Lome and on the way there we broke down three times. The first time the truck was over heating, so we pulled over and as we were debating how much of our drinking water we could afford to use on the rad (we were 20-30 minutes from the nearest village). We looked across the road and in the middle of nowhere there was one hut that just happened to be right next to us across the road (with nothing else to be seen for miles around). They were gracious and gave us a small bucket of water for the rad. On a closer look it was decided that the rad cap was broken. Our mechanic from Niamey gave us some advice over the phone and (without air conditioning) we made it to the next village/city where we were able to get some help and find a new rad cap. Two hours later we were on the road again. Because we had lost so much time it was well after dark before we could get anywhere to spend the night and I made the mistake of asking if we could try to a/c again, now that the sun had gone down and the outside temperatures had dropped. Of course, we over heated again a few minutes later and had to pull over to add water to the rad. Five minutes further down the road, we started over heating again. This time we were able to pull up behind a bush taxi that was loading up to take things to the market in the morning. The ladies who were loading up their wares for market were kind and brought us some more water for the rad and the bush taxi driver realized that the water was running out almost as fast as we put it in because there was a hole in one of the hoses. He decided that if we cut off the hose where the hole was there was probably enough left to reconnect the hose so that the cooling system would work again. So he went back to his bush taxi, pulled out some tools, removed the battery and some other things that were in his way and climbed into our over heated engine so that he could trim the hose and reattach it. When he was done we were able to maintain water in the rad, (but some of our lights were doing funny things and there was the odd strange noise) and where able to make it the last half an hour down the road to a city where we could find a hotel.
The next morning we were debating heading home or sending some on the bus while others waited for the mechanic from home to come get the truck or what we should do. When we asked Pastor Soter what he thought he said, I think we should keep going because Jesus is with us and whenever we have needed help on the road there has been someone to help us. He was right so we kept going, knowing that we had an even longer journey the second day because of all the interruptions on the road.
Our second day could have been very miserable squeezed between the two boys with no a/c but God was good to us and provided over cast skies. The trip was slowed significantly because of the potholes and construction, but we were able to make it all the way to Lome without breaking down.
The conference was for the leaders from all the West African countries where the FM church was working and there were a few others that had stories to tell of their problems in getting there, but it was a good time of fellowship, sharing and connecting with others at various stages of ministry. I am not sure that the boys got a whole lot out of their time there but I think it was good for them to get a break from the regular routine.
We tried to get the truck fixed while the conference was going on but that only partially worked so we had to delay our return an extra day. Thankfully we were almost out of the mountains before the truck started to do funny things (the ABS brake light came on). So again we checked with our mechanic in Niamey who gave us some advice. I asked some friends in Niamey to pray that we would have daylight to make it through the rest of the mountains and that our brakes would hold (both of which happened! Praise God!). We seemed to be making good time and knew of a guest house in Burkina that would get us much closer to home, so we thought we would try to make it there. About a half an hour from the Burkina border we decided to phone to make sure they would have room for us, only to find out that they were under a curfew, so we wouldn't be allowed into town after dark. The person at the guest house recommended that we find a hotel at the border. When we got the the only hotel at that border we found it completely in the dark with no one there. The neighbours told us it was Monday and they were closed, so we had to back track about an hour down the road to the last town that had a hotel. Thankfully they were not only open but they had space and the restaurant was still open, so that we could get something to eat. I was so exhausted by the time I fell asleep that night, I was able to sleep through the awful sound the a/c was making and didn't even mind too much when it kicked out part way through the night.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Rebuild in Pictures

At last my internet has decided to work again so, here are pictures from a couple of weeks ago on the building site.
The neighbours wall that collapsed in the accident is replaced (better than it was before)
The gates have been rehung (but still need a little adjusting)
Pilings are dug for the supporting pillars that will hold up the second floor


Support pillars for the new Ministry Center




Recycling the rebar from the original
The newest addition to the project is the guard room 
We decided to build the guard room early on to allow us to connect to the electric company (hopefully). Please pray that this will be a possibility that happens in good timing (and soon) as this can pose real challenges here.


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)!