Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Dave's week

It’s been a slow process of getting back into routine. Jennifer and the boys have been back to school for two weeks now. With the increase in driving the boys back and forth across town I managed to be in two car accidents last week. No one is hurt but they are reminders that the number one reason for missionary mortality is motor vehicle accidents.

On a brighter note the clean-up at the house is progressing and may well be finished this week. Jennifer was encouraged to see that some of the brick and debris was being put to good use in the neighbourhood potholes. Pray that the Lord will give us wisdom as we discuss the plans for rebuilding with the architect and that things will come together in a timely manner.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Faithful In the Little Things

We all know people who are quick to offer us the world but let us down regularly in the day to day of life. I think it is important to have people around that can help expand your vision and catch a glimpse of the possibilities that are out there, but what I appreciate the most is the friend that is faithful to take care of the little things when you need them the most. We were blessed to have visitors that were those kind of people this month. It is always a tremendous blessing to have visitors from home that help to reconnect you to home and provide a new perspective on life (and bringing treats is a real bonus)! I want to thank the Redcliffes for all their encouragement: not just their words and gifts but also their acts of kindness at a time when I really needed them. I really appreciat

ed their willingness to do the little jobs that get pushed aside when life gets busy, but can add pressure if they aren’t done when they are needed. Thanks for being willing to cook supper when I was in a meeting all day, for fixing chairs and door locks and outlets and more chairs and helping to place buckets in key locations during the rain.  Thanks for being willing to look at and brainstorm on the jobs that you couldn’t do too, even that is a tremendous help (saving us time trying a bunch of things that won’t work can be valuable too). Thanks for being willing and being faithful to come and be with us for awhile. It is great to have friends that understand us a little better having lived with us even for a little while.
The layers of what is left!
I guess what I am saying is so many times in life we get caught up in the “mountain moving” big events and think that that is what we need to be a part of or accomplish, when a “cup of water in Jesus name” can be just what is needed in the moment.
A bit overwhelming
Since I mentioned moving mountains, I should add that they have started the clean up on the building site. It is my prayer that somehow God could use even this to be a blessing to our community. Please pray with me that the broken bricks and cement could be useful in filling rainy season potholes and pits and that the truck moving it would not dig up the road any worse than it already is. Pray that we would have an opportunity to meet with the chief du quartier about this soon.
May you find yourself faithful in the little jobs God is providing for you this week!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Ten Days with the Wrights by Doreen Redcliffe

"It is who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for those who are simply and honestly themselves before Him in their worship.” John 4:23-24,   The Message

Jenn & Dave’s lives as Christ worshippers are seen in their interactions with anyone they meet. Although sometimes western dress is seen, they are careful to wear African clothes, greet people properly—even when in a hurry, and show utmost respect for the culture and country where they work.

During our visit we experienced a heavy rainfall. With no sewage or drainage systems in the area, flooding soon caused havoc on the roads. We saw an 18 wheeler coming with water above its tires. When Jenn’s turn came to navigate the water, she prayed for guidance & protection and started through. The water was up to the headlights on their 4x4. On the other side of the water we were able to get much needed gas, watch guys pushing vehicles out of the water and praise God for safety. Jenn shared her praise with the attendant at the gas station who laughed and agreed. Their lifestyle shows their worship.

We had the privilege of attending the 6th anniversary of the first Free Methodist Church in Niger. Although it was hot and humid, the Wright’s dressed according to African custom. Jenn wore a head covering in spite of the heat. The service was in French with lively singing and everyone participating. Together we shared communion. During visiting time after the service Dave & Jenn were very careful to follow African protocol and show their love for this church family. Once again, their lifestyle shows their worship.

One day while running errands, the car started to jerk and lose power and stall. In Niamey traffic this is not good.  As episodes became more frequent,  Jennifer decided to go to the mechanics. Since the car needed major work, she called Dave to come and get us. After completing more errands we headed home to put away the solar cooker. Just then the wind came up and clouds rolled in. There was just enough time to put away the solar cooker and close windows before the rain started. Rain came fast and hard as did the leaks. Basins & pails were used to catch the water. During dinner Dave felt drops on his head. He quietly got a bowl and held it to catch drops while conversations continued. At these trying times they praised God for the many positive things happening. They show their worship in difficulties. What a privilege to be here and experience a little of life in Niamey with the Wright family.

Praise God for:
 -safe travel from Germany and visitors from Canada.
 -Protection and safety when the car broke down and the roads washed out.
Pray for:
-Ben, Cole Dave & Jenn as a new school year, with new challenges begins next week.
-rest for Jenn & Dave who are exhausted
-guidance for next steps in the building process & ministry
-strength to show God’s love in numerous daily upsets

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sad news

I have some sad news to share today. We have been away taking courses but while we were away their was a serious accident on building site. We have been building with a special kind of compressed earth brick. The bricks are very dense and insulate better against the Nigerien heat. However they are also very susceptible to water and need to be treated with a special coating or covered with a layer of cement to prevent them from dissolving. A little bit water is not a problem but a lot can be disastrous. I spoke with the architect in May about this since the bricks had not been covered yet and rainy season was about to begin. Not only that, the top floor had not been entirely roofed in but was waiting for the cooling tower. The architect had originally intended to put the tower in earlier around January or February but had shifted to installing the wiring instead. When I spoke to him about this, he said he wasn’t particularly concerned because Niger doesn’t get a lot of rain to begin with.

While we were away their was a huge rain storm that started around 10 PM and didn’t stop until 5 or 6 AM the following morning. The guard who lived on site to watching over the workers equipment had been living on the main floor with his family. Around 8 AM he noticed some of the bricks near the ceiling starting to crumble and realized what was about to happen. He called his wife to grab their small child and get out while he got the workers out of the building. When the others were out he himself went out and found his wife standing alone. He asked her where their three-year-old was and she replied that she was still sleeping inside and didn’t want to disturb her! He chewed his wife out and then finally went back in to retrieve his daughter. He threw the child over his shoulder and was about to step off the front porch when the building came down on top of them both.  One worker had remained stranded on the roof of the building but managed to stay on top of it all as it came down, receiving only a few scratches and bruises. The guard and his daughter did not survive buried under the rubble.

Our architect was kept in police detention as a result of the deaths. A preliminary inquest was done to ascertain if the foundation had been properly laid and the initial response is yes, it was dug into an appropriate depth. The architect was known to have had a positive relationship with the guard, so his extended family declined to press charges and he has been released. I spoke with him yesterday for the first time since our return over the weekend. He felt that two things had happened to bring about the situation. First he admitted that the lack of roof had allowed a large quantity of rainwater to collect in the interior of the building. He also felt that the electricians had perhaps significantly weakened certain bricks by cutting into them to run some of the wiring. This observation was based on the fact of where the bricks initially began to crumble and how the building fell in two stages (the front went down first followed by the back end).

I have visited the site where our building once stood. The first floor ceiling and the roof which were made of cement are still more or less intact though bent and twisted but the rubble of the bricks are scattered all around. They even knocked down some of our outer wall and the neighbour’s house that was connected to it.

Our architect has communicated his intention to rebuild and replace what has been lost despite the fact that he has no insurance. When I visited him yesterday, the strain of this ordeal was clearly written on both his face and the face of his wife. The fact that people were killed in this accidence remains with him and he has not been able to sleep. Moreover, the whole affair has been on local television news including an interview with him about the bricks he has been using to build. (We were not the first to use these bricks; he has already built a couple of homes, including his own, as well as a hospital for another Christian organization—all of which are still standing).

The first job over the next few weeks is to begin to clean up the mess, which may not be easy. In the mean time we will be reconsidering our building plan. The architect is concerned about the negative press that his bricks have received and would like to make some changes. I have suggested a structure where cement posts hold the weight of the building with perhaps the red bricks functioning as insulation rather bearing the load of the building. Connected with this of course is the public perception of our property in the neighbourhood.  To rebuild exactly the same building may not inspire confidence and safety among the neighbours and community we would like to reach.

We invite you to pray with us for this building project and the ministry initiative that it represents. We know that God is able to take our tragedies and our failures and use them to accomplish his will and mission. We invite you to pray particularly for our architect who is not only a brother in Christ but a church planter, with his own congregation. Pray also for the grieving who have lost loved ones.  We also would appreciate your prayers for Jennifer and I. We have both been taking courses this summer and have assignments yet to complete. Jennifer is actually still in Germany as I write completing her last classes before her return on Saturday.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Cooling Tower

Things continue to move forward at the house and we hope to see the last of the roof go on soon. The are starting to work on our "cooling tower,"  that forms almost a third floor. The picture shows the grating they're starting to put in for it. It's intend to allow the cool breezes caught by the tower to drop down into the house and let hot escape upwards. We intend to put clay pots with water up there to help humidify, cooling it further as it drops down into the house.