We enjoyed the family day long weekend as it was supposed to be by taking some family time. We travelled to Ouagadougou the capital city of Burkina Faso, where Dave participated in a baseball tournament and the rest of us enjoyed cheering him on (and eating strawberries that are larger and more abundant there). Dave's team didn't win but we had some fun anyway.
It is amazing to see God's hand at work even in our "down time". While we were crossing the border we ran into some trouble with our battery, but the soldiers that had been recording our information where kind enough to find us some help with a push start. We were so grateful that we made it to the guest house where we were staying without a problem, in fact Ben was even able to enjoy dinner at one of his favourite restaurants for his birthday. God provided the help that we needed at least two other times over the course of that weekend and we are truly grateful.
Unfortunately, it is easy to loose sight of the good things that God is doing in times of difficulty and I fell prey to that last Wednesday. It started when the battery on my computer died and I realized that the person who had packed up my computer in Ouaga had neglected to pack the cord. Dave tried to find an alternate that would work (but that hasn't panned out). I didn't see much hope for my computer that had all my students grades on it. Then later that evening on the way home from the boys' bible study, Dave and the boys where side swiped in the car. Luckily no one was hurt and the car even succeeded in making is a couple blocks closer to home before the tire blew and they had to call me to come help (the spare had a hole from the week before and Dave had no money on him). Now every time I open the passenger door I hear an awful crunching sound and I am grateful that it wasn't one of my kids that was crunched (and I am thankful for God's protection). But it is also a frustrating reminder of the guy who hit them and didn't bother to stick around and find out if they were ok. We appreciate your continued prayers for our safety on the roads. There is the possibility of my cord being sent to us on a bus, we know this happens all the time but there are no guarantees with the process and packages sent that way are easily lost.
On another note, we were able to sit down with the architect today and talk about the building process. He seemed to think that we might be able to move into the building by June or July (if we weren't worried about things like tiles, paint, interior doors, cupboards, etc. The one thing that concerns me a little was that he has discovered that the transformer in our neighbourhood is maxed out and so they won't connect another building to it. Our options are to pay for a new transformer and hope that they can get one in the near future (which is an expensive option) or to find an alternate source of power (pricey and also with no guarantees of success). Please pray with us that God will provide this need as well as for the finances to finish the building.
Friday, January 31, 2014
This week has taken several unexpected turns. On Monday, my father was following his usual routine of getting up at 5 AM to go to the exercise room in their condo when a cable broke on the exercise equipment while he was weight lifting. He`s still not quite sure what happened next but he woke up on the floor covered in blood and realized that at five in the morning no one was coming to look for him. He struggled back up stairs to the apartment dripping all the way and got my mother to call an ambulance. After an extended wait the ambulance finally arrived even though the hospital is a couple of blocks away. The paramedics were rather apologetic saying they`d been sent four times to get my dad but were called off for a more urgent call while en route. They think he`ll be fine but for now he has a concussion and over a dozen stitches. Please pray for his recovery.
Tuesday our pastor here in Niamey was informed by the UN officials in charge of refugees that Niger had signed off on the UN protocol ending his refugee status here. As a result he has until the end of March to either be integrated into Niger as a citizen or be repatriated to Rwanda and face three months military training. What will happen to the business school that he owns and the church that is meeting on his property? He could potentially go elsewhere if an official invitation were given from another country. Please pray for this family and the church that God would oversee their situation.
On a more positive note I met with a man from the church this week who has been travelling around villages an hour or so out of town. He says that in the last couple of months he`s baptised over a dozen people. We discussed what might be the next steps in moving from making converts to making disciples and planting churches in villages where there is no church. He faces real challenges in that he doesn`t read in French, but instead has been listening to audio versions of the bible in some of the local languages. Please pray that we would be able to find or put together some useful tools in the Arabic script that he can read.
The roof has been put on our building (well all but the cooling tower) and the electrician has installed some of the basic wiring. We praise God that we have been able to come this far with that. Please pray that we would be able to finish the rest of the building in a timely manner and that the wiring would be done well with the appropriate types of wire (as this is a major issue in many buildings here in Niger). Thanks so much for being there for us in prayer, may you see God’s hand at work in your lives and ministry this week.
Thursday, January 23, 2014
Just before we left for Christmas we had someone new show up at our church. She looked like someone that we thought maybe we should know but we couldn't figure it out until the time in our service where they have introductions. It turns out that she is the sister of Pennine, the pastor’s wife. When they were fleeing their homeland she was two years old and had been separated from them in the confusion and she hadn’t seen her mom until that week –18 years later! Pennine fled with her mother, sister and two younger brothers. This sister who was the youngest was somehow separated but has been kept by another older brother since then. Isaac, one of the brothers who is here, said to me, “All these years, whenever Mama has been sick it’s been because of her—it just made her sick all the time because she had lost our baby sister.”
Although our separation from our homeland wasn’t nearly so long ago, we were richly blessed to be able to go home for Christmas and see our family as well. We thought that we were leaving behind difficulties with internet and electricity only to arrive in time for ice storms that incapacitated much of the electrical lines in Toronto and to a house with no internet or phone. Jennifer had hoped to get progressive lenses for eyes as reading has increasingly become a problem. Our doctor had suggested it might help with the headaches she had been experiencing. We had our own “series of unfortunate events” that in the end we were not able to get glasses that worked before getting back on the plane. We were however fortunate to get on the plane before they shut down the Toronto Airport.
Posted by Jenn&Dave at 1:33 PM
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
I have had a surprising number of questions about my solar cooker blog so I thought that I should follow up by saying that I am still using it but with the days getting shorter and the harmattan winds starting to blow the dust in from the desert there has been less opportunity to do so. This is the before and after of one of my recent endeavours chill and baked potatoes.
We are truly blessed to be able to spend this Christmas with family and as the boys (and our parents) get older we realize how precious it is to be able to celebrate special days together. I hope that you are able to take advantage of the holidays to spend time with family and if not that you will be surrogate family for others that need that as well.
We are excited to hear about more groups interested in joining us to work on the Ministry Centre in various ways. Please pray that the right people would be able to come at the right time and that God would be at work in all of the details. The photos are of a recent inspection we made and I am hoping to be able to post the new roof sometime next week! Please pray for the guys that are working on the ministry centre that God would be at work in their lives drawing them to himself.
Finally a few other items for prayer. There is a young man in our church that has been very active in some of the villages outside of the capital sharing the good news with those who care to listen. Please pray for his protection and safety. Pray that the Holy Spirit would lead him to those He is already working with and God would use his efforts to build His church. Pray that we would be able to encourage and direct him in his efforts. Pray also for myself and the boys as we enter into exams next week.
Posted by Jenn&Dave at 7:48 PM
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
What are you thankful to God for this week?
This is a question that comes every Sunday in our church and I am grateful for the regular reminder that God is living and active in our lives whether we acknowledge Him or not. There are usually lots of responses to this call in our church but this week there was one that really made me think. One of the refugees in our church got up and told us that he was thankful for today because it was the anniversary of his death sentence. He had been imprisoned in his home country and sentenced to the die because of his ethnic background. What would it be like to have a death sentence placed upon you and then to live past it while you saw others receiving for theirs? I can't imagine what it would be like to survive twelve years in jail never mind knowing that you were supposed to die there and that they could give you a new date at any time. What a beautiful thing it was to be free and celebrating eighteen years after your death sentence!
When I think about it I realize that we aren't all that different. When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden we received a death sentence. It is only because Christ paid the price for us by his death on the cross that we can be free of that penalty, we just have to accept that gift. So I hope you are free and celebrating the number of years since your death sentence too.
The school's field day is coming and I would appreciate your prayers for that. Please pray for safety for all who are involved. Pray for my boys that they would learn to be a source of encouragement to those around them and be able to celebrate with those who succeed regardless of their own personal standing.
Please also pray for Sahel as the semester ends in a few short weeks, that exams would go well that the students would be able to perform to the best of their ability and finish the term well. Pray also for a youth pastor for the coming semester as the young woman (a former student at Sahel) who was leading that team returns home at the end of the term. Pray also for her that she would sense God's leading and direction for what she is to do next.