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.