Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Update on Christmas

Well here's the scoop on the gas situation because we have had a few concerned well wishers. The day after I wrote the blog last week, I went to worn a friend about the gas shortage. She responded with the fact that she had two electric hotplates that I could borrow and her husband who is the science teacher at the boys school mentioned that he had an extra gas tank in the science lab that I could borrow and replace. God is soo good and thanks for praying for us!

Here's how our Christmas went for those who were asking:
Christmas Sunday we went out to the main street by our house to get breakfast. Chenchea is a deepfried ball of beancurd dough that looks a little like a Timbit (or a donut hole for all of you unfortunate people who have never experienced Tim Hortons). The locals will frequently buy a piece of bagette and place these little balls inside then pour a little oil and a tomato and onion sauce over the top (oh and I forgot to mention the "piment" --hot pepper powder). But for the sake of the kids we brought a bowl for the chenchea and had the bagette separately. It was amazing how fast the chorus of "I'm not eating that!' changed to "This is good!" (especially when they got to add cinnamon and sugar instead of piment and tomato sauce). Dave had a good chat with some neighbours while I was picking up breakfast, there are always lots of people along the street there, especially in the morning and evening. One of them even complimented me, but saying that my Zarma was better than Dave's. I just laughed and said "uhuh", because he has a much better grasp of the vocabulary and structure. But maybe my pronunciation is better.

On Christmas Eve I baked coffee cake to take to some people to wish them a Merry Christmas, but it turned into a bagel and coffee cake delivery when Dave came back with 50 bagels instead of the 15 that I had thought that I ordered (another long story about communication break downs in foreign languages on cell phones!). We later delivered to an Algerien merchant friend that was missing thier kids for "Tabaski", a Togolese merchant friend and our neighbours. I also cut Ben's hair (I think that was mom's Christmas present) and constructed candy cane ornaments with the boys while the cake cooled. (I'll try to add a picture, but Cole was too shy to get in it.)

Christmas morning breakfast consisted of "Fruit Loops" provided by friends from Canada via Dan Sheffield. The boys and I ate them while Dad tried to wake up. Then we opened presents and I spent the rest of the day cooking. Cole had asked for "a real pizza" for lunch--which means a thick pizza crust, pepperoni (or the closest equivalent we could come up with --in this case a beef sliced meat with piment) and lots of cheese (cheese is expensive here so the restaurants use it very sparingly and there is no such thing as delivery!). But, I also had to make rolls, potroast, salad dressing and ice cream to take to a friends house later that evening for dinner. In between all the cooking we got to talk family on the Lawrence side, we are still waiting to talk to the Wrights tonight (we missed them when we were out for dinner). Oh and tonight we have also been invited out to a Nigerien friends house to visit for Christmas.

We hope that your Christmas was good too!
PS. If you are on our mailing list to receive our quarterly newsletters and didn't receive something in the last few days. It means that we have a problem with your e-mail address. If you would like to have that fixed you can either e-mail us (out address is on our prayer cards/bookmarks) or post a comment on our blog sending us your e-mail address (we monitor the comments so the address doesn't need to show up on the blog, but it will get to us). Thanks!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Urgent Prayer Request

Hi All!
If you get a minute to pray for us this week we would really appreciate it.
Here is our situation we just ran out of gas for our stove, which wouldn't normally be a cause for prayer, but we have had a few complications. When Dave went to get a replacement he was told at 8 different places there hasn't been gas tanks available in Niamey for the last week. There is some sort of problem with the supplier. That is the first problem which wouldn't be so bad, but the next two days are "Tabaski" a big Islamic holiday in Niger where EVERYTHING is shut down. That means restaurants, street food, markets, etc. So I can't even go out and buy wood and a cooking pot to cook out in my yard like many of my neighbours do. So you can pray that our electricity will hold up for the next little while (our neighbourhood has a tendency to have long power outages the last one was from 11am until 8pm a little over a week ago), so that I can make do with my electrical appliances or find favour with my neighbours. I confess that I would rather be invited to join in their feast rather than be an imposition. It will be really interesting to see how God uses this situation for His purposes and His glory. It definately isn't the way that I would plan to spend Christmas!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Strategies and Answered Prayer

Last week we had a visit from Dan Sheffield, the global ministry director for the Free Methodist Church in Canada. It is always great to see him because he is not only our boss, but our mentor and a friend from home. Not to mention that he was able to deliver many gifts from friends and family, a much appreciated plus! (Come to think of it, he does bear a resemblance to Santa.) In between various meetings, and things that needed to be done we had the opportunity to work on the details of our job description. One of the things that came out of that discussion falls under the anacronym “BELLS” , which stands for Blessing, Eating, Listening, Learning and Sending. This is part of our weekly tasks, so for the “blessing” we are to find a way bless one person with in the church and one that is outside of the church each week, “eating” is similar we are to eat a meal with a believer and a non-believer. With “listening” we are to spend an hour block of time a week in listening/meditative prayer where the goal is to hear from God. “Learning” refers to an hour a week where you study God’s word with a small group or in a discipling relationship. “Sending” isn’t quite what it sounds, but refers to the fact that when God sends us to do His work, He not only prepares us, but He goes before us. So by “sending”, we are to spend time journal writing each day in order to record where we have been seeing God working. All of these become interrelated, so that our blessing, eating and learning are all directed by what we see God doing and what we are hearing him say to us. So you can be praying for us as we start to try to put some of these new disciples in place in our lives and maybe you could try to put these disciples in place in your lives and ministries too!

I had a great opportunity to see God’s hand at work this week in an answer to prayer. I have been praying about an accountability partner and a cultural helper and when I talked to Dave about my options, he suggested a Nigerien friend of mine. I really wasn’t sure what she would say because it is really counter cultural for a Nigerien to ask the difficult questions that you need an accountability partner to ask. So, I asked her to think about it and pray about it and get back to me. But, instead she replied that she didn’t have to because she had been asking God for just that and had thought that her Nigerien friends would think that she didn’t need that or that she was thinking like a white person because she wanted that. God is so good! You can pray that I am able to disciple Hajara through the accountability process and that she would be able to adapt it to a Nigerien context and that she would disciple me through adapting to Nigerien culture and hold me accountable.

Even as I was writing this last paragraph I had another answer to prayer. Dave and I had decided earlier this week to set aside Thursday night as a time to have people into our home to eat with us so that it could become part of our routine. However, this was the last week of school and we had a lot “extras” going on so we didn’t have an opportunity to invite someone. But that was ok because God provided. Another Nigerien friend arrived just as I was ready to pull supper out of the oven and so we invited her to eat with us (that is a very common experience here, or at least Nigerien hospitality means that if someone is visiting and it is time to eat, you share what you have). When I had suggested that if we set aside a day for having people in it would be easier to be consistent with this discipline I hadn’t expected God to provide such a clear starting point. Please pray that we would be able to make this apart of our regular routine so that the boys are able to get used to it. I think they can get a little frustrated by the language barriers when there is company, but hopefully this will help to overcome that too.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Language learning has helped us to figure out more of what's happening around us. Two years ago Jennifer had a bizarre experience at the market with a 'beggar' who started singing “Merci, merci, merci,... (Thank you, thank you, thank you...),”at the top of his longs and shaking a rattle. When he finally 'cornered' her, he started shoving long metal spikes up his nose. She eventually managed to escape.

In our language class, our teacher was explaining three basic kinds of traditional 'medicines'. One was chaka safari which is the medicine protects against the soul eater—I have no idea what that they are supposed to do, but I'm guessing it's bad. The second is what Jennifer experienced at the market—guru safari, that is metal medicine which makes one impervious to the effects of metal. People who sell the medicine apparently will go around with saws, knives, and yes, long spikes, showing people that metal can't cut them or make them bleed. (Apparently some will accept using your knife if you offer one, while others insist on using their own...)

The third medicine I ran into yesterday: gondi safari. I was getting the tires fixed on Ben's bike, when a young guy came along carrying a viper. Another gentleman came and took it out of his hands for a minute or two, and so I asked, “Ifo no ni te nda ni gondo?”-- “What do you do with your snake?”. “Would you like it he asked?” I pictured Jennifer for a moment when I told her I'd brought home a viper and quickly answered, “No thank you.” The second man said, “He can sell you medicine so that even if you pick it up it will smell the medicine in your skin and it won't bite you. If one ever does bite you, you won't last five minutes. Would you like some?” A tempting offer no doubt but I think I prefer the testing that typically happens with major pharmaceutical companies. “No thank you,” I said once more, and with that he dropped his viper into a sack and put it back into a bowl on his head. It was a rather odd ensemble—western t-shirt and track pants with a baseball cap and topped off with a calabash bowl containing a poisonous viper .

Language learning still has its ups and downs. This past week Dan Sheffield, our Global Ministries director, came to visit, and we were invited to share in a local church service. Since there was no one to translate from English into French, I served as the primary translator for Dan as he preached with another gentleman then translating into Zarma. By God's grace that actually seemed to work—except when I accidently translated into Zarma instead of French!

The following Tuesday we went to the airport to drop off Dan's luggage, and ended up with a flat tire. A taxi and his friend took me and the tire to a tire repair guy. In hopes of avoiding outrageous prices I used my little bit of zarma on the technician. The taxi driver and his friend then asked me, “Do you know Hausa?”
I said, “No, why? Are you Hausa?”
“No, we're Zarma—it just sounded like you were trying to speak Hausa.”
So much for my Zarma—I guess I still have a ways to go.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Signs of Christmas

Today a friend wrote in an email, “…I'm sure that it must feel pretty different for you in this season of the year.” Jennifer has compiled her own list of the signs of Christmas in Niger…

Last Thursday was the American Thanksgiving and I know that for most Americans, the following Friday (“black Friday”—I’m not sure why it is called that) is the start of the Christmas season. I was explaining this to a friend who owns the local “alimentaire” (our general store or convenience store) because she was playing Christmas music in her store that day. She told me that Christmas was just one of her favourite holidays of the year because she is a Christian and I said that it was mine too. So I started thinking about what are the pointers to Christmas here in Niger (because they are soo different from Canada. My friend at the “alimentaire” playing Christmas music in her store is the exception not the rule here.)

Christmas in Niger means the beginnings of “cold season”. So named because the temperatures drop significantly at night (mostly to the 70’s F/ low 20’s C). Instead of snowstorms we get “harmattan winds” which are basically a wind that blow in large amounts of dust from the desert that insulate the ground from the sun allowing the temperatures to drop. This kind of “dust storm” looks very much like a thick fog only it’s a lot harder on the breathing. The air is nice and cool in the morning and makes you want to stay under the covers (as long as the covers haven’t had too much dust accumulate on them or in them). The locals pull out their heavy coats and toques which reminds me that probably somewhere back home it is snowing!

For us Christmas starts with the first Christmas cards that arrive. So thanks to Tilsonburg and Caistor Centre our Christmas season started last week! I guess it ends when the last card or present arrives (probably around mid April—if they come after July we will just figure that it is early for next year). In that way, Christmas is really fun here because we never really know when it will start or end.

This year Tabaski the Islamic sheep festival happens around the same time as Christmas (Dec. 20-21) so our neighbours will be celebrating with us (or we will be celebrating with them), although it isn’t quite the same thing.

Thanks to all of you that have been remembering us in prayer and that have been sending words of encouragement. Special thanks to those that remembered our anniversary this year too (this is our 13th not our 12th though).

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Dave's Thoughts on Language Learning

Language learning is pot pourri of experiences. Our classes seem to plod slowly along. We’ve been fortunate to find a gentleman who has worked with a number of missionaries and with the peace corps teaching zarma/djerma and who has developed a curriculum of sorts. I find the class is not my style of language learning but it’s helpful to have someone who has an idea of where to start and how to work through basic vocabulary and grammar.

Put our language learning into practice is another experience. Greetings, which are probably the most important thing, bring a variety of reactions. Some give cold stares or ignore us while most laugh at the annassara (white person) trying to speak their language. A couple of weeks ago I tried out the Tamajek greeting our guard had taught me on some other guards one afternoon on the way to class. They quickly responded with a few more greetings and some laughter and then asked me to join them for tea. Unfortunately my class was about to begin.

We decided to try out our language skills in a market one day, which is a real challenge because zarma numbers change when it comes to money. Actually it’s much more realistic—the smallest coinage in the local currency is a five franc coin, so instead of beating around the bush they call it “one” everything else thereafter must be divided by five (which is really a tangle when you’re talking about 2325 francs). The woman we were attempting to negotiate with didn’t speak French as far as we could tell though there were others around to translate when necessary. As we walked on up the aisle we could hear behind us, “Annassara… hahahaha… Annassara …hahaha…” There is always lots of laughter wherever we try to speak, but always in good way.

I was waiting for Jennifer to open the gate one morning, when a three year old on the street started yammering away whether to me or herself I wasn’t quite sure. So I decided to say hello. She didn’t respond to me as far as I could tell but the man (her father?) walking behind her laughed and very politely said “Comment allez-vous?” (French). After I parked the car I wandered up the street to where he was chatting with the local marabout and another man in zarma—they laughed at me (again), especially when I inadvertently told them I’d bought locusts at the market that morning. (not true). They said I was becoming a true Nigerien and that locusts taste great when they’re fried with a little bit of piment (hot pepper).

This evening Jennifer tried to share some fresh spinach with a neighbour lady—somebody had given us more than we knew what to do with. She came back frustrated, saying, “I couldn’t string together a single sentence in zarma and Hajara doesn’t speak French.” So I encouraged her with the words of a preacher who once said, “I know I’ve got the anointing when my palms get sweaty, my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth and I can’t think of a single Bible verse. I know it’s the anointing because at that point only Jesus can work it out.”

Please pray that would be able to put the pieces together as we study zarma and work to get to know our neighbours and community.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Cooler Mornings

It’s a beautiful morning in Niamey, the temperature outside dropped into the 70’s (F) in the night and so the temperature in my bedroom right now is only 80F—too bad I don’t have time to sleep in this morning. But there are always a few things that drag me out of bed: there is the call to prayer that lately has been starting at 4:45 am (instead of the usual 5am), this is generally followed by the “feed me” alarm on the newest member of our family. We adopted an African puppy that can’t be more than a month old and probably shouldn’t have been taken from its mother yet, so he is bottle feeding about six times a day, but at least he sleeps through the night. I thought he looked like coffee that had had the milk added but hadn’t been stirred yet, so the boys decided that he should be called “coffee crisp”. (I think that was because they have been missing chocolate and all those other good things that kids get at this time of year in Canada). But back to our morning wake up routine, the final stage is our alarm clocks, mine goes off at 5:45 so that I can choose between staying there for another ten minutes or getting up and having some time to myself (sometimes a difficult choice to make). The boys’ goes off anytime between 6 and 6:15 given than it is set and working, the batteries haven’t died and that they haven’t flung it across the room while playing earlier in the day—so in other words about half the time it goes off and half the time its mom’s problem to get them ready and in the car for 7am. (School starts at 7:30 on the other side of town). Dave finds his way out of bed somewhere in the middle of the scramble to get fed, dressed, and out the door with everything necessary for the day.

The boys have started TaeKwon Do at the school. It is an extra class that is run by a master from one of the clubs in town. It seems to be a fairly popular sport here—second to soccer or “football” as it is called here. That may be because it doesn’t really require all that much equipment, at least at the beginning stages, but I don’t know. Ben really isn’t sure that he likes it or wants to, but we’ll see what happens. Right now, Cole and Ben are the youngest in the group. The class started a number of years ago because there are a number of Korean students at the school that have to go home to do military service when they come of age and in Korea the kids take TaeKwonDo from an early age, so those that grow up outside of the country are at a disadvantage when they do their military service if they don’t have at least some experience with TaeKwonDo. We are really hoping that all of the stretching and kicking will do good things for Cole’s balance and coordination, not to mention help with his toe walking.

Just when we think that we are making progress with our paperwork in the government offices we find out that we need to jump through a few more hoops. We thought that we were waiting on our last signature from the Minister of Religious Affairs in order to get our mission status (and I think in reality that is the last one that is “required”), but we found out this week that it is in our best interest to submit paperwork to the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health at this point too, just in case the FM church is interested in doing development in these areas at a later date. I guess it is easier to get that approval on the front end. It just means more photocopying and more visits to offices in Niamey. Oh well!

The Zarma lessons are progressing slowly, I think that they are helping my competency in French more than my fluency in Zarma at this stage, but I guess it is still too soon to judge and either way it helps my ability to communicate. Please pray that I will become more competent with Zarma as most of the ladies in my neighbourhood speak Zarma and have limited French!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Warm Welcome

We received a “warm” welcome on our return to Niamey from our holidays in Ghana. The temperature was at least 10 degrees warmer. The winds had changed direction and had left their calling card on my house, a nice thick layer of fine sand (note: this sand is orange not the white that you see at the ocean or the beige that I usually think of when I hear the word sand, having grown up on the shores of the great lakes. It is also fine enough to enter any crack or crevice that exists and my house has many of those so EVERYTHING was very thoroughly coated.) The cockroaches had come out to greet us but died waiting—we found 20 of them in our master bathroom alone not to mention the rest of the house, but at least they were all dead. I much prefer that to the living kind! We also had new friends that had moved in with us while we were away-- somehow ants had found their way into the kitchen. Our car greeted us with three flat tires, one that we had expected because we have been nursing it along adding air at least once a day, the other two were just a bonus. Just like an animal lets you know that it isn’t pleased that you left it at home when you went away our car did two things to let us know that it didn’t like being left; the one tire that we had to repair the first day we arrived back in town went flat again the next day (that along with the spare) and in addition it has also developed this nice back fire when you are driving that it didn’t do before. I think that it is trying to tell us something and I’m not sure I like it or trust it to get me where I want to go. It is a good thing that I rarely have to go anywhere without Dave because he doesn’t seem to mind driving it.

I am smiling as I write this because for one it’s true and not an exaggeration, secondly because it has all been dealt with (except maybe the heat and that is just life in Niger—and I know that the “cold” season will come eventually. Oh and the car is still backfiring, but I don’t have to think about that until Thursday morning when I have to drive myself to mom’s prayer meeting at the school and there is still a chance that I can talk Dave into taking me.), so it is in the past and not my present reality and thirdly because it was ok at the time because I had come back well rested and was able to cope with what we found. God is good and thank you to everyone who was praying for us!

Lately, I have been reading Psalm 36 and I really like vs 5-7 “Your love, O Lord reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep. O Lord, you preserve both man and beast. How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings.” I like the pictures that it paints in my mind of God’s glorious creation and how much more amazing is his love and provision for us. It seems to be a theme that had been coming up for me lately between snatches of songs and just generally meditating on Him, His greatness and His word. My prayer for you is that you will have opportunities to sense His love, faithfulness, righteousness and refuge this week.

Oh, I almost forgot, my praise item is that I got a washing machine this week. Also I found out this week that neither of the boys have teachers lined up for next year. Please pray that God is preparing someone even now to meet this need for the boys’ school for next year.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Ghana on vacation

Thanks to everyone who has been praying that we were able to get away for a rest. I am writing this from the SIM guesthouse in Ghana where we are staying. The weather has been a refreshing change from what we were experiencing in Niger, much cooler with a lot more rain. We didn't get to spend all week on the beach as we had originally expected, but that worked out for the better in the long run.
When we did get to the ocean it was a magnificent reminder of the splendour, power and creativity of the amazing God that we serve. The waves were fierce. We got to the beach in Accra yesterday with friends from the guesthouse and they told us that they hadn't seen the water so rough or so high as it was yesterday. It is amazing how facing the power of nature can help to bring your life into perspective. God is good!
I am hoping that guest house has a quick enough internet connection to let me post pictures (unfortunately the pictures for some of the other blogs are still on my computer back in Niger!) Oh and by the way, Ben lost his first tooth this week!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Changes and Spirit Week

This afternoon I have spent some time reading a friends blog where she was grieving the loss that comes with change. As I was reading her blog I was relating my last few months and I had to agree with her victorious ending that no matter how much she loved where she presently was this was not her home and that the One that she loved even more was calling her family somewhere else. I think that I might have to work a little harder to recount the praises of Niger It isn't that I can't come up with a number of things that I can honestly say that I love about this place, but lately it has been a little harder to love. But God does know what he is doing and I am trying to rest in that.
This week we were able to get an internet connection (after visiting three different locations on three different days and spending another entire day in an office working out a contract with the phone company!) Yeah! Unfortunately, I'm not sure that the connection is actually fast enough to post pictures on the blog with, but we will keep trying.
Ben also got his new glasses this weekend and so he is able to see the blackboard at school. We still aren't sure whether it was quite the prescription that he needed or not, but it is better.
This is the last week of school before the kids have a break. The school always schedules this break around the Canadian Thanksgiving (partly because it is the mini hot season when we are blasted with heat and humidity as the sun slowly burns away the moisture in the air that has been left over from the rainy season). So we decided that because Dave hasn't had a vacation in the past year and a half that we would take this opportunity to go to Ghana on vacation. We are hoping to connect with the Cockram's another FM missionary family from Barrie, ON that are working there. Hopefully, we'll still be able to afford the washing machine &/or the air conditioner when we get back.
I am going to try to include a picture of the boys in their "Super Hero Day" outfits. (Note: Cole is dressed as"Pumpkin Man" a super hero of his own making). This last week of school is also "spirit week" where each day there is a different theme that the kids dress up for. Tomorrow is "class spirit day", so Ben's class is having a "stripe day" and Cole's class is having a "western"day. On Thursday they are having a hobo day and everyone is supposed to bring in a can of something to make into a hobo soup (hopefully they will choose wisely what they bring with them). You'll notice that everyone gets in on the costume design. I'm not sure that you will be able to see from the picture, but Dave cut up an old inner tube (that he had used part of the day before to fix the sink) to make Ben's mask.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Niger traffic test

I have been doing a lot of driving in Niamey lately (I usually let Dave do that for me, but sometimes that doesn't work out). Between that and thinking about Dave's nephews back home starting to drive I thought I might ask a few questions to give you a sense of driving in Niger.
Traffic stop
What takes priority at an intersection?
a. the traffic light
b. the police officer directing traffic
c. the stop sign (located with in two feet of the light)
d. the traffic the is trying to go the other direction
e. the truck that broke down in front of you
I am still not sure that I know the answer to this question but I suspect that the answer either varies from day to day or “what ever works”.
Traffic Circles
Who has the right of way at a traffic circle?
a. the person entering
b. the person leaving
c. the traffic light
d. the person with the nicest car
e. taxis
This is an especially interesting question because in Niamey “most”of the time the person entering the circle has the right of way, except when there is a traffic light that is working (hopefully at all the points of entry) or on the two traffic circles in town that work the opposite way. Please note that these trafffic circles were marked at one point in time and if you look really hard you might find some remains of a sign but otherwise you just have to know which ones are different.
Where is the worst and most likely place for your vehicle to breakdown?
The answer to this one is easy so I won't make it multiple choice: The JFK Bridge. It is the only bridge on the only river in the entire country and about two blocks away from the boys school. It is supposed to be one lane in each direction but that can be debated based on your chosen mode of transportation. I have a friend that suggested that vehicles that are getting ready to breakdown migrate there like spawning fish.
Needless to say that it took me eight months before I got up the nerve to drive in Niamey the first time we lived here. Luckily at that time we lived with in walking distance of the school that the boys and I were connected with.
I have to give thanks to God for His provision. This week our car went into the shop to have a much needed tune up and oil change and while it was there the mechanic looked at the steering wheel (because we had just noticed it doing funny things). We took it in after we took the boys to school and planned on spending the day in town because our language class was in the afternoon this week and not that far from the mechanic. So the plan was to pick up the car after class and then get the boys from school. However the mechanic called us after looking at the steering and told us that “IF he could fix it” he would need to have the car for two days! We thought our only other mode of transportation was to take taxis. Note: our house is on the opposite edge of town from the boys school—taking a taxi to school means you take a form of “bush” taxi to the Grand Marche (the big market downtown). Walk across the market to the other side (about two blocks)and then try to find a taxi going in your direction that is full enough for the driver to think it is worth leaving. There is one other complication for getting the boys to school on time. There school day starts at 7:30am before the market opens and about the time that the taxis are starting to run. But God stepped in and friends at the school lent us there second car while ours was in the shop—so we didn't have to figure out the taxi situation after all!
Please pray for our safety on the roads and continue to remember us as we study Zarma. We still haven't got our e-mail/internet situation figured out—sorry if you have been waiting to hear from us!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Finally Moved

This has been moving week. We're finally into our new house. We bought a new fridge without seeing it, borrowed a gas stove from friends, and hired a night guard. The house is starting to feel like home. Ben said, “This is the best house we've ever had!” When asked why, he responded, “Because we don't have to move again. This is the sixth house we've lived in since the beginning of July. All those transition have taken its toll. I'm concerned that Cole particularly is struggling with culture shock on top of all the moves—his emotions seemed to get the better of him more than usual.

The house is still a challenge however. It seems like all the faucets leak in one way or another, and monster cockroaches keep going belly up in our living room. The gas stove has an electric starter which is great for the stove top but impossible for the oven with the fluctuating electrical current—I currently have it plugged into two voltage regulators and it is still unpredictable.

Our new guard is named Mohammed—how ironic—Jesus is my saviour but Mohammed is my night guard! Mohammed, as best as I understand, has come into the city to find work, while his family (ie wife and kids) still live in the bush. He is a Tamajek/Touareg who speaks just enough French for us to get along. Touareg's are traditionally nomads who ride camels through the desert and have a reputation as raiders and warriors. (Currently, in Niger there is some political turmoil over a 'Touareg rebellion' in the northern regions of the country, which has included running gun battles and the use of land mines to blow up army personnel vehicles.) I told Mohammed he would have to teach me a little Tamajek and so far my lessons have been how to say hello and the word for “sword”. (He carries one to work with him everyday.)

Despite my expanding Tamajek vocabulary, we hope to work in Zarma here in the city. Tomorrow we start our first Zarma lesson with two other missionaries who also would like to learn. Different people have told us that we should expect a certain degree of fluency after six months but we also have a friend who spent the entire year the last time we were here and still didn't fell like she had a handle on it. Please pray that the former holds true for us.

Sorry we haven't been able to communicate the last little while we haven't had an internet connection since the end of August. (We hope to correct that soon!)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Hoping to move soon

Things are coming together for our new home quickly now. The painter started on Friday and hopes to be done in a few days. After that it will simply be a question of moving in. In the mean time we need to decide on a fridge and find a night guard. Friends from the CMA mission told us that we could borrow a stove to try it out—the owners have moved back to Canada permanently but will be coming to sell off their things in November. We would also like to have a dog—most people keep one simply as a watch dog. We are ready to settle into something permanent. The boys are ready to have a place where they can finally unpack all their stuff for good; Jennifer likewise is tired of living out of a suitcase, buying small amounts of groceries so that we don't have to cart it all when we move, and trying to figure out someone else's kitchen. She also says she's get tired of eating rice all the time, and I think the boys are looking for something other than peanut butter sandwiches in their lunch. I don't know if a new kitchen will inspire new creativity but I guess you can always hope.

The rains continue to come regularly. The other night while it was raining the guard came in the front gate wearing rubber boots, saying the water was up to a metre deep in the road outside our gate. In some ways I'm not surprised—we seem to have a permanent lake outside the gate at the best of times. Nevertheless the rain and the clouds that provide it are always welcome—they cool things off and keep down the heat.

The boys are settling into school, though not without concerns. This past Friday there was a family activity day with a kickball tournament for the elementary kids and court soccer ( i.e. tennis/basketball court that serves as a gym) for the high schoolers, followed by a potluck. It was an opportunity for parents, students and staff to mingle and get to know one another. The school is short a kindergarten teacher in the elementary and could use a few more in the high school. The solution they've come up with for the elementary is to put the kindergarten with Grade one for the morning, and bumping the twos up to the Grade Three and Four during that time. In the afternoon, there is no kindergarten and the Grade twos join the Grade ones. Needless to say, it's difficult for the two teachers to prepare lessons for three different grades each day. Ben and his teacher have both expressed concern that he can't see the board. We had his eyes checked a year ago and they were fine but it now appears that he will need glasses. Were not sure where to go have his eyes checked but apparently there is a place in town. Nevertheless, he is doing well—in fact, his teacher feels that he is not being challenged by the curriculum and is wondering about bumping him into grade two. We have mixed feeling about this but are trusting the Lord for wisdom.
Having some internet trouble but we'll add pictures later!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Weddings and Houses

I think that we may have been doing more house hunting and driving around town than I realized this week, because both Dave and I have been developing “driver’s arm”—you know, where the arm that rests on the window tends to get a little too much sun. I think that it is the result of not having air conditioning in our car. Sorry to those of you who were looking for an update last week (it came on Monday). With our most recent living arrangements we haven’t been able to access the internet very well or very often and we don’t have access to a phone other than a cell phone (much to the chagrin of my parents who are being so kind as to handle our affairs on the home front—with some difficulty right at the moment). Please pray for my parents with all of that!

Well here is the latest breaking news (or at least last weeks news):
We had the fun of going to our first Nigerien wedding this past week, which was fun, but a bit westernized. I will try to include some pictures (but the connection that I have is giving me some trouble with that!)

We think that we may have found a house to live in and are starting into some of the negotiations that go along with that. (This is a picture of Dave with the land lord and our "house hunter"). Until we can move into the house (there are some renovations that need to happen—like building a kitchen) we are going to be moving into another missionaries’ house who is leaving and their replacement doesn’t arrive until the end of October. Please pray that all goes well with this I think that all of us are getting pretty tired of moving and living out of suitcases. Please pray that we can make the right decisions that need to go with this house ie. appliances, furniture, guard dog and/or guard etc. Thanks for the e-mails of encouragement we appreciate them. (I have pictures, but can’t get them to upload, sorry!)

Now for the most breaking news!:

We have rented the above mentioned house and will be moving in when the land lord finishes the renovations, please pray that the land lord and work crew see these repairs as a priority too!

We were also invited to attend the 25th anniversary for SIL (aka Wycliffe) in Niger this past weekend. They are in the process of having the local churches take responsibility for much of the work of translation in the local languages. It was a great celebration, it was just a shame that we had to cut our stay short as we had to move into our third temporary home in Niger on the same morning.

The boys start school tomorrow and are really looking forward to it (or maybe just not having to follow us around town in the heat!) Thanks again for your prayers!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Moving Days (or is it Daze...)

AAH! I think that I just experienced a ten minute vacation. I just had a hot shower (!!) and to make it even better I found some relaxing body wash that someone had left behind in the guest house. You can’t really appreciate a hot shower until you have endured at least 5 cold ones –it doesn’t really matter what the temperature is outside. It was a little piece of heaven.
Yesterday was our moving day from one guest house to another (hence the hot shower!). We woke in the morning to streams of rain running off the roof just outside our window and the occasional gust that sprayed us with the fresh rain. So we gave thanks for the rain, because Niamey really needs it and because it brought cool weather, and then asked a selfish prayer that the rain would stop just long enough for us to load the car and make the trips to the next guest house. Praise God for answered prayer, we got here fairly dry. But, that was only the first part of the day, we also had the excitement of trying to get Cole out of a bathroom that he locked himself into. Then we went house hunting…
House hunting is an adventure here, especially because it is rainy season. We hired someone to look for houses for us, so he travels on foot through the neighbourhoods that we are interested in and talks to the guards at the houses that seem to be reasonably well finished (a lot of the houses in the neighbourhoods that we are considering are still under construction). If the house is for rent he gets a look at it and then gives us a call to come and look at it as well. Part of the fun is trying to find the house in a car when he has been circling the neighbourhood on foot. In addition to finding the house the other trick is to get there on washed out roads in an old Toyota Corolla that doesn’t have four wheel drive! Talk about mud bogging! Yesterday we even saw five kids playing in the street in a puddle that was about 20 feet across and about a foot deep. I wish I would have had my camera! (Sorry the pictures are from our other stay here—I’ll try and get some new ones).
We have also seen some interesting houses. One of the first houses that we looked at had a kitchen with two to three inches of water from wall to wall and continued down one hall. The showers can be placed in interesting places as well because most of the locals don’t use a shower curtain. We had a friend tell us that when the guest house that we last stayed at was being built the first shower was installed in such a way that it was located directly over the toilet, so that you had to stand with one foot in the shower and one foot on the floor next to the toilet. (It would have stayed that way too if the inspector hadn’t taken a sledge hammer to the work after telling the crew to change it four or five times!). Please keep praying for us as we search!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Sad News

Yesterday we received very sad news about the passing of Helene Zoolkowski. For most of you that's probably an unfamiliar name. Helene and her husband Chris lived in Galmi with their family where he was a medical doctor. We first met Chris when my parents came to visit and everyone was sick-Chris made a couple of housecalls to make sure we were doing alright. Our last year in Niger I drove their youngest son Joel to school everyday with our son Ben--they are the same age. (Joel and his mom are cozied up in the picture.) Helene's been fighting cancer for the last year and a half, but Sunday morning she passed away. Today a large caravan of friends is heading out to Galmi for the funeral at 4:oo. We'd like to go along too but it's an 8 hour drive both ways and we have to find a place to stay before Thursday when our time at the SIL guesthouse runs out. Please remember the Zoolkowski's in prayer today. Helene is leaving behind a husband, Chris, and three children, Elli, Zeb and Joel. Her mother is also here.

We hope to be looking at houses in the next couple of days. We've narrowed our search down to about three quartiers/neighbourhoods, and have been getting tidbits of advice on househunting from friends as well as some contacts about who would be helpful in locating a house. The paperwork for our residents papers are underway and a friend has offered to help with getting the paperwork for our mission processed. Little by little things seem to be moving ahead. We ran into a marine working at the american embassy who is leaving last week. He was having a sale and we managed to pick a nice desk and office chair and a few food items from home. (The boys were quick to grab the case of A&W Rootbeer--apparently the marines get one shipping container for furniture, etc, and one container for food! Unfortunately I don't think the rootbeer will last long... )
In a lot of ways I think we will miss the SIL compound when we move this week. The boys have become good friends with the kids who live below us and spend the better part of the day hunting lizards, checking out their pet snakes (poisonous no less!), pet owl, falcon and hawk and general all around playing in the dirt. The internet access is nice too.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Jennifer and I went for a bit of tour today. It's been over a year since we've been to the north end of Niamey, but this morning we went up to see how much things have changed. It's clear that construction is ongoing and that end of the city is expanding. We're looking at settling in this developing area. There still lots of open lots but neighbourhoods are also beginning to develop where there were once wide open spaces. Everyone seems to have an agent to recommend for finding a house to rent but we need to know where we want to be first, in such a big city.

The boys spent most of the day with friends down at the school dorm. The dorm mom had invited them over to play, and her son, Justin, wanted to try out the boys Wii video game. Justin is one of Cole's classmates. They weren't in a hurry to leave when we came to pick them up this afternoon.

There were some concerns about the rains when we first arrived last week but I think that was resolved over the weekend. It rained most of the day Sunday, and the Pastor joked in church that morning, commenting, “People weren't coming to church because they complained it was too hot, so last week we prayed for rain; today people stayed home because it was raining—I think we should pray that rains will stop so people will come back to church.”

Monday night we were invited over to dinner. Hajara and Habou are a vibrant Christian couple. We first connected with them at Sahel where Hajara is the French teacher. Her two oldest children Ezzy (Ezekiel) and Rachelle used to ride home with me when I picked Ben up at the French Preschool. She has a passion to see Christian education develop in Niger, as a result of her frustrations with the national system which is often crippled by strikes and other problems. Her husband is the director of the Alliance Biblique—that is, the Bible Society here in Niamey. We had a simple but wonderful meal of beans and rice—Cole and Ben had about three helpings apiece. She confessed that she was a little embarrassed to serve something so simple but Ezzy had insisted that it was Ben's favourite and she'd given in. Ezzy was right! She'd also prepared her own mixed drink—squeezed lemons with pounded fresh ginger boiled into a concentrate; it was like a nice ginger ale without the fizz but if you mixed in too much with your water, the ginger was spicy. Mmmmm—refreshing. It was good to connect with old friends.

Please continue to pray for us as we search for a home. We've been consulting with various church and mission leaders with regards to opportunities and needs. Pray that we will receive wise counsel and advice as we listen and look. Also, pray that the rains would continue to come because they have been late this year. We have a big dust storm this afternoon that we thought was going to develop into a good rain, but we only received a little sprinkle.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

View From the Guest House

Hi All!

Well we haven't made any headway with the battery situation on our camera(--I suppose it would help if we had left the house), but we did get Cole's working, so here is the view from our balcony at the SIL guest house where we are staying. (Sorry the picture quality isn't all that good!)

It looks like we will be visiting Air France today to see if our last suitcase will be arriving on the Friday flight and then we are off to check out some neighbourhoods and get some advice about where we should consider locating.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Arrival in Niamey

Well we finally made it after all the hours of preparation and travel--at least all but one suitcase! We are all really feeling whipped right now with the lack of sleep and the heat. Tomorrow we begin the process of searching for a house, please pray for us that we can make it through all of this. It all feels a bit overwhelmning right at the moment. But we have made it through the first day and even managed to get in three meals today. (We were blessed to have friends take us out to dinner last night when we arrived!)
You can also pray for rain in Niamey the capital city where we are has only had one good rain so far and this should be the heart of the rainy season. I think that Dave has some things to say, but he may have to save them for another day.
Sorry are batteries aren't working in the camera right at the moment or we would send some pictures--hopefully soon.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Our commissioning service on the 15th will be held at the Caistor Centre Free Methodist Church. It's on the corner of Silver St (Reg Rd 65) and Caistor Centre Rd (Reg Rd 6), just outside of Smithville (for some reason the map calls it West Lincoln instead). It's about 15-20 minutes off the QEW depending on whether you come up from Stoney Creek, Grimsby or Beamsville (the map calls this Lincoln).
The service time is 3:30 pm with BBQ to follow.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Early Morning Ramblings

I should be sleeping, but alas I am not. Those that know me well would take from that that either one of two situations had occurred that I had been out with friends and the extravert in me got so charged up by stimulating conversation that I couldn’t fall asleep, or that I am stressed. I wish I could say that it was the extravert in me at work because then I would have at least been doing some thing fun and exciting like visiting with some of you. But really it is a combination of stress, an ear infection that is driving me crazy and the fact that my neighbours have been out enjoying the Canada Day weekend early and the “extravert” in them decided that they needed to carry on a conversation at 3-5am. I guess there are some things that I won’t really miss about Canada.

One other thing that I won’t really miss but I am afraid that it follows me where ever I go is the packing. I had calculated being done this weekend, so that I could finish the last of the renovations next week and the shopping and packing the week after. Needless to say that my calculations were off and I will be lucky to have the house packed and the renovations done before the renters move in on the fourteenth. (Anyone interested in nailing up trim or painting a bathroom?) I just don’t think that I will be able to keep my sanity if the packing is still being done within hours of leaving for the airport. Last time we were still throwing things into a suitcase just before rushing off to the airport because we didn’t realize how much longer it takes to pack a suitcase that you have to be careful about weight allowances and size, etc. It was not a pleasant experience, especially when you have an hour car ride to the airport to remember everything that you forgot! At least on that front I am a little ahead of the game because I have two suitcases packed and weigh already and as long as they don’t end up in storage instead of going on the plane I’ll be in good shape.

This past weekend we made our last road trip to Deep River, Ontario via Huntsville. We took some pictures of the families that we visited and the boys in church with the pastor’s kids and all kinds of things, but either Dave has removed them from the camera and put them on the other computer or the batteries were too far gone and the pictures didn’t take. Sorry!

Please pray for us as we journey through this time of transition. Pray also for the boys, while in Deep River they told the pastor’s kids that the African boys used to beat them up. It was true that they both had a bad experience and so we are praying that they can get past that and it won’t interfere with their ability to make friends and connect with the community. Hopefully we will see many of you at the commissioning service (Dave promises to have a map up later this week!).

Friday, June 22, 2007

Weekend of Celebrations

This past weekend was definitely a weekend of celebrations. We started by celebrating my dad’s birthday with my whole family actually being there. My sister and her family had double cause for celebration because the deal on the house that they thought they had bought and then thought that they hadn’t actually did go through. (If you didn’t catch that –they took possession of a new house in Fonthill on Friday!)

From there we were off to the Jennings Family Reunion on Saturday where we had loads of fun reconnecting with Jenn’s mom’s family (any guesses where she gets her name?). The neighbours even got in on the action by providing additional entertainment—their hay bales caught on fire bringing the local volunteer fire fighters. Then Sunday we celebrated Father’s Day and even Cole and Ben got in on the action as the Sewing Circle at Zion FMC presented them with new quilts to take back to Niger. Yes, they do use a quilt in the heat. A lot of the time it is there to look pretty and keep the dust out, but occasionally during the cold season when the temperature drops to 20 degrees Celsius you will find the boys curled up under heavy blankets in Niger. For that matter Ben wore a heavy sweatshirt and long pants to school the other day when it was hot here and the humidity was high. I don’t know if he was just trying to get ready for Niger or he had spent too long with us packing in the basement and didn’t realize how hot it was outside.

Please pray for us as we take our last road trip this weekend to present at the Deep River Church. I am afraid that we are a little distracted with all that there is left to do and I hope that we will be able to do the service justice. We received an answer to prayer this past week and were able to make arrangements to book a place to stay at the SIL guest house in Niamey for at least the first couple of weeks in Niger (they have a big conference on Aug. 5 so we will have to be out by then). Please also keep in mind Sahel Academy (You can check out their website at: ) . We still aren’t sure if there will be a teacher for Cole’s class next year.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Dave signs in

Thanks for remembering Jenn's Dad. He's home from surgery but is having trouble with some kind reaction producing blisters.
Last Thursday Jenn met with a group of ladies from Welland at Esther Teal's home. They had a great evening of sharing together and getting dressed up.
On the weekend we decided to pick up the boys at lunch hour on Friday to head up to Ottawa. We spent the night at the Pilot's in Almonte, where the boys had a great time playing with Nathan and Natalie. Gerry cooked up a great breakfast for us the next morning, and then we headed out to the Museum of Science and Technology, where the boys had a great time checking out old trains, watching things explode and getting all revved up! In the evening we had a BBQ at the Hagget's and then the boys settled down in their hot tub. The following day we had a very warm response to our presentation at the Arlington Woods Free Methodist Church and quiet ride home.

Monday we visited Cole and Ben's classes at Meadowvale School where did a one hour presentation on Niger. The children were very attentive and enjoyed getting dressed up as well as seeing pictures and objects from our adventures in Niger.

I completed the papers for my last seminary course last week. I had hoped to take another course this week but we have just too much to accomplish in the next few weeks before we get on a plane. I am disappointed but am also attempting to set up a reading course or two for next year while I'm in Niger.


Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Exciting News!

We just got word today that we have been official appointed to Niger for missionary service by the Free Methodist Church in Canada. I guess that makes it official that we are going back. We are in the process of working out the details for returning and hope to be flying out on July 16 arriving July 17. I may try to get together a supplemental newsletter for before we leave because I don’t know how long it will take us to get established when we get there and what kind of access that we will have to the internet (and/or other forms of communication at least while we are trying to find housing and things.)
You can pray for all of the arrangements that need to come together over the next little while and I would appreciate it if you would remember my Dad in prayer as he recovers from knee replacement surgery over the next few weeks. Also, we are heading to Arlington Woods FMC this weekend where we will be giving a much abrieviated version of our presentation (10-15 minutes instead of 25) because they are having presentations from 3 different missions groups all in the same service. Please pray that God will be at work in the service and will use us to minister to the needs of the people there and that we can communicate something meaningful in that time.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Please Pray

This is just a quick note to ask for prayer. Both Dave and I are sick and struggling to maintain our voices. He is trying to get a paper written and we are scheduled to speak at his brother's church on Sunday. It's funny how everything happens all at once (or maybe not). We can't thank you enough for remembering us in your prayers and we try to pray for you every time we think of you! Thanks!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Patience or Long Suffering or Just Taxes

I’m tired and have had some of the wind blown out of my sails today. We received notice that all the child tax benefit money that we received for 2006 (and then some) had to be returned to the government. I had been expecting something because we had sent in an adjustment stating that the expense money we had received in Niger was our world income. We were informed afterward that this was money to cover expenses and therefore not income, but that was after the papers had gone to the government and I’m just too tired to argue with the tax man, so I’ll probably just pay it. I am saying to myself that it is only money, but it just hurts to lose so much!
This past weekend we discovered that we created a monster! We had introduced the boys to Calvin and Hobbes comic books this past fall not really thinking about the possible repercussions. On Sunday while we were trying to take family pictures with the Wright clan at our new niece’s baby dedication, Ben decided to pull a “Calvin” and every time the photographer tried to take a picture he made a face. (Sorry this picture is a bit too small to see--but maybe that is a good thing!)

Please pray for Cole this week he has been really acting up lately and we aren't sure that we are getting to the source of the problem. You can pray for Dave and I too as we deal with his meltdowns it can really drain the patience. Thanks to all we have been praying about the packing and finishing the renovations, it feels like we have made some headway this week, but there is still a long way to go! --This is Dave's "quick" installation of new kitchen taps to stop the leaking.

Friday, May 25, 2007

A Taste of History

This past weekend we were blessed to be able to spend some time with Grandma and Grandpa Wright (and if you have been waiting for this –it is their fault that it is late or at least that is my excuse).They came from New Brunswick in time to join us for a shower for baby Susannah last Thursday and will be around for a little while anyway.

We had a great visit at Cole Lake Free Methodist Church last Sunday and learned so much about how the Holy Spirit is at work in the lives of people there. I was additionally blessed to meet the Silvers who I had last met in Burundi when I was eleven. (It was during my visit there that I became interested in missions work.) We also learned through Mrs. Freeman, our hostess that the Women’s Christian Temperance Union is still alive and active in Canada and they have expanded their focus to include abstinence from illegal drugs. She even gave the boys water bottles that the WCTU had made up.

On Victoria Day we decided to take a mini holiday. So in the morning we went to Fort George in nearby Niagara-on-the-Lake. We had been reading a book at night with the boys about the main figures involved in the war of 1812 to give them a bit of our local history and they really enjoyed recognizing a number of the places. So, we took the opportunity to go and see where some of the action took place. I think Ben enjoyed the dress up part the best. Then after a McD’s lunch (one of those things we have to stock up on before we go back to Niger) we went swimming at the YMCA with our cousins.

We are home this weekend for the baby dedication of Dave’s niece, but we would really appreciate your prayers for our preparations as we begin the packing process. I could really use a dose of motivation, the job just seems so big and daunting and there are so many decisions to make in the process. Please pray that we make wise choices. Dave could also use prayer. He has two papers due for his course at McMaster, but he is trying to balance writing and visiting with his family while he has the opportunity—needless to say the papers haven’t really gotten very far!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Immunization Day

This is me…really it is! Yes, I am feeling just about as dead as I look here.

Today was “I” day in our house, the disastrous day when we all headed in for our latest round of immunizations. The boys had to have two and Dave and I had to have one. However there was no consoling the boys, because they know what immunizations are all about (they had to have 12 the last time that we went to Niger). It didn’t matter to them that they only had to have two of them or that these are designed to keep them alive! [I know that sounds overly dramatic but the extra one that they had was for Typhoid Fever a disease that killed a little boy from Cole’s class in Niger shortly after we returned to Canada last June.] They really didn’t care (at least at that moment). They knew that pain was coming and they were going to make as many people feel it with them as they could. I got to sit in the lobby and apologize to horrified passers by while Dave sat in the chair with each of them shrieking in turn. Then after all the fireworks were done, I got to have my own dose of fun. (My arm is still aching). Dave was talking to his brother Jim later in the day and his response was, “you know I love you man, but I’m NEVER coming to see you in Africa!”

It is amazing how we can know that something is good for us and that it is really “short term pain for long term gain” … yet we will still fight it and frequently that fight just makes it worse! There is many any object lesson here, but I’ll let you draw your own conclusions....

By the way this picture of the boys is the calm before the storm.

We had an incredibly busy but really good mother’s day weekend. It started with a presentation Friday night in Yarker were we got to meet both Dan Sheffield’s parents and Raymond Hartman’s parents among others. We were on to the regional gathering at Smith’s Falls where we meet with many new and old friends. Then we were on to Courtice where we were warmly welcomed and had a lot of fun (and hopefully we ministered to those who gathered to celebrate Mother’s Day). Thanks so much for all of the amazing hospitality we were truly blessed!

I’m sorry to say that I won’t be at Wesley Chapel on Saturday because the Ladies Tea was cancelled, but we were invited to visit Cole Lake on Sunday and are looking forward to that (especially Cole :) ).

Thursday, May 10, 2007


Have you every tried to renovate your home and keep it clean enough to have real estate agents show it at a moments notice? Factor into that a six year old that doesn't think that he is playing unless the floor of his room is covered with toys and a husband that is trying hard to do a night course (that runs every night for two weeks straight) and you have some idea of how things are going in my house hold. Cole also had track and field this week to add to our running around. He didn't do very well, but he seemed to have fun and at least he tried.
Last night was a killer, when I was trying to get the kids ready for bed I went into Ben's room to help him get the room cleaned up and noticed some art work on the wall that hadn't been there before. I asked Ben how it had got there and he told me that he had glued them to the wall! (He had also forgot something on one of the pictures and had to add some black marker which also found its way to the wall). Needless to say, my voice got a little loud and Ben cried when I made him try to pull the pictures off the wall because he had put so much work into them -----they were pretty good. Luckily, he had used glue stick and it hadn’t completely dried, so after some scrubbing and a lecture about how to get your pictures hung on the wall we were back in shape. Well, almost— because after that we went to brush our teeth in the bathroom and Cole decided to hang on the new towel bar which proceeded to rip off the anchor. What a night.

We were able to be a part of our home regional gathering on Saturday which was really nice to be able to connect with a number of our supporting churches. It is unfortunate that no one from Caistor could make it. Then we were off to New Hope in New Market last Sunday. It was really great to reconnect with friends from Pine Orchard camp and to meet some new people. We took the camera but forgot to use it. Sorry! Hopefully we will do better this weekend when we get to do a triple header: Yarker on Friday, Smiths Falls on Saturday and Trull’s Road on Sunday! In case I don’t see you personally, Happy Mother’s Day one and all!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Welcome Suzannah

To quote a friend "Thanks God, thanks so much!"

I have so much to be thankful for. I really appreciate all of you that have been praying for me as I prepared and presented at Springarama. I still don't think that I am the public speaker in the family (Dave does a much better job), but I really sensed God's presence while I was there. They even sang happy birthday to me. Thanks!

We were truly blessed while we were visiting Harrowsmith the week before and enjoyed the hospitality of the Adam's family while we were there.

We are also grateful for the safe arrival of the newest member of our family. We have a new niece Suzannah Evangeline Faith! So here are the pictures for Grandma and Grandpa! I hope to enjoy my new niece, but I confessed that I am glad I don't have to go through the sleepless nights again.

We look forward to catching up with many friends this weekend at the regional gathering in Brantford and at New Hope FMC in New Market.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Great White North...

It's been a long week and we're starting another weekend. Last weekend we left the boys behind with Grandma and Grandpa Lawrence and headed up to the Great White North. Fortunately, it's spring, and not quite so white, though we did see snow. After an overnight in Huntsville with Jenn's relatives, we arrived in St. Joe's Island to be treated to an island tradition by Tom and Jan Gurnick, of the pancakes at the Gilbertson's Pancake House during maple syrup season. The Pancake House is only open 6 weeks a year, at which time islander's congregate there regularly. Sunday, we shared with their Sunday school and then in the morning service.
Monday we returned to Val Caron on the outskirts of Sudbury, to meet with Gary and Marg Landers. We shared a 'potlove' dinner with their congregation Tuesday night, followed by a Nigerien dress up and presentation. It was good to reconnect with Gary and Randy, a member there,who had visited us with Dan Sheffield our first year in Niger.

Meanwhile back at the ranch...
Cole and Ben travelled to Kingston for the weekend to visit with their cousins while Grandma and Grandpa assisted at some meetings. We would have brought them along with us except Cole had to have his casts replaced Tuesday while we were still North. Ben was not about to be left out of the fun in Kingston so we travelled alone. Wednesday we returned in time to pick the boys up from school, after a short detour to Hamilton to find a replacement student card at Mac Div
Jennifer, throughout our journeys, has been studying feverishly for her final exam at Brock University. It seems to have paid off last night, when she completed it with confidence in a little over an hour. Also in the background, has been preparations for renting our townhouse. The Friday before our northern trip, and then yesterday also we had showings, with another one possibly on Monday.
Today we are connecting at the regional gathering in Wesley Chapel, Scarborough and then moving on to Harrowsmith to share with the congregation their on Sunday. (The guy at the car rental thought we were going to an Aerosmith concert.)
Please pray for us this coming week, as I have my Hebrew final exam on Friday, and Jennifer will be sharing at a ladies retreat this weekend in Kingston. Tuesday will be the end of Cole's casts and we're hoping that the new flexibility gained will remain.