Tuesday, January 29, 2008


I learned a new Hausa proverb this week that goes something like, “Your feet are your commission…”. I gathered that the essence is something like “your feet show where your heart is…”

I had been talking to my accountability partner about my frustrations with language and how I feel utterly useless because I can’t communicate. It makes me want to hide out or to go back to teaching English (where I know what I am doing and can feel a measure of success). She told me that in using my feet and getting out there to visit my neighbours I was not only exposing myself to the language to learn it, but I was saying that I cared about the people I was visiting even if I couldn’t understand or speak to them in a way that I would like to.
It makes you think doesn’t it? Where have your feet been spending most of their time? What are your priorities really? It is easy to let the busy-ness of life take over and direct your steps, so that you find your feet are always on the gas pedal and rarely stopping to visit that friend or neighbour that you have been meaning to catch up with. Or so busy rushing to the next location, that you don’t take the time to ask the store clerk you see weekly (or daily?) how they are doing –or even worse never take the time to really listen when you do ask. Maybe when you put your socks on tomorrow (or in my case, sandals) you’ll take a minute to ask God to direct your steps. You might be amazed at where you end up.
[About the pictures: The first is traditional henna tattoos that the women here do to get ready for a wedding. They usually decorate their hands too. These feet belong to me and a cousin that came for a visit we actually did this with a friend who was getting ready to go home to get married. The second is a shoemaker making sandals.]

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Murphy's Law (anything that can go wrong, will!)

--of electricity
Last week Murphy’s Law of electricity struck us when I was up at 4am writing the blog and getting other jobs accomplished that required electricity before the power went out, because that was the only day in the last two and a half weeks when the power didn’t got out! Dave thought I should do that more often. I figured that it is his turn, but that would just turn into another exercise in futility because Dave is not a morning person.
--of propane
The other night our neighbours come over to confirm that they couldn’t find any propane in town for their stove. Of course, we run out of propane that night too! (Praise God! We were able to find some the next day—our neighbours haven’t been so lucky, but they have someone working for them that is quite good at cooking over a fire)
--of vehicles
This morning I was racing off to school and a meeting only to find as I pulled out the driveway that my tire was flat (of course our compressor had died from too much use, or the dust in the air!). I eased the car around the corner to the guy who fixes tires, only to find out he wasn’t open yet (and we weren’t exactly sure when he would arrive). So we tried a neighbour that we knew who had a compressor. Only to find out that he was sick, so instead of using the compressor he lent us their second car. The problem was that it was out of gas. When we finally got to the third gas station (the first one that was actually open), we couldn’t get the key to work in the lock on the gas cap and had to try to get to the school on fumes. Oh, and did I mention that the cell phone didn’t work the first two times we tried to phone the school to let them know that we would be late. (All before 8am! However, even with all of this I was only 5 minutes late for my meeting and it hadn’t started yet!)

I am so glad that we serve a good and gracious God that supplies all of our needs, gives us the strength to endure and doesn’t test us beyond what we can handle. And I am also grateful for all of your prayers! Thanks.

Friday, January 18, 2008

There is darkness and then there is darkness...

Darkness is taking on a whole new meaning for me these days. With the power outages starting a 6am (or sometimes earlier—so I am writing this a 4:30 if it lacks all sense you can understand why) and with having to get up at 6 to get everyone off to school, I have learned how dark night can really be. Usually during the night there are security lights or street lights that you take for granted, or at least I do. I frequently wander around my house “in the dark” so as not to wake anyone. But it is totally different when there is no power in the neighbourhood! Please pray that we will graciously cope with this inconvenience and will still get to school on time.

Thanks to all of you that have been praying for our New Year’s requests. I found out this week that there is someone who will be coming to teach Cole’s class in the summer which is an answer to prayer. Continue to remember Ben who doesn’t have a teacher for the 2008/2009 year yet. Both Ben and Cole are on the recovery from being sick (another item of praise).

I also asked for prayer for peace in Niger with the trouble in the North. Please continue to remember that situation. We had a incident about a week ago where a land mine exploded in another section of town. We are not sure whether it is related or not because no one has claimed responsibility for it. We are not at risk because we live very near a paved road and travel mostly on pavement, but you can pray that God will use this situation for His glory.

Sorry there aren’t pictures the connections are a bit slow, but maybe I’ll be able to add something later from the boys school (if there generator is working!).

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Planned Power Outage

Well I guess that Christmas is finally over for me. I am eating the last of the Christmas chocolates and it doesn’t matter what I do to make them last they always disappear too fast! But, I have been given some motivation to clean them up a little earlier than usual this year. We were told yesterday that we could expect power outages starting tomorrow from 6 am to 6 pm everyday for a month! At least these power outages are planned and we were warned about them. (Two steps above the usual!) They are trying to improve the system between here and Nigeria as so it will effect the whole country (except those places that never have power!). I’m not sure what will happen to my stuff in the fridge and freezer. So I figure, why risk the chocolate! I’ll take a picture so I can drool over it in a few weeks time when I am longing for Canadian chocolate!

Please pray for Cole, he is running a fever and feeling kind of miserable. (Believe it or not this is the way that he rests on the couch!) You can also pray for our car. It was supposed to go in for two days of repairs (to redo the clutch) tomorrow, but we aren’t sure how that will work if the garage doesn’t have power!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Year's Prayer Requests

As we enter into 2008 there are so many things that we have to be thankful for, God has been so good to us in helping us find a house and get settled in Niger. (I was thinking this afternoon that sometimes our house has more bathrooms than towels, but they tell me that is an intentional thing in Niger to ensure that you generally have at least one that works. Sometimes we get to play “progressive hygiene”, where you use one bathroom for the toilet, another for the sink and the last for the shower!). It has been encouraging to see His hand leading us in so many ways.

However there are still a number of things that you can be praying about through this coming year:
--Dave and I are studying “Zarma” a local language in order to be better able to communicate the gospel here in Niamey. Please pray that we are able to focus on our studies, that we will be able to remember what we learn and to use it effectively. The other day a neighbour came by and told us that she wanted to visit “almari” (tonight in Zarma) unfortunately we thought that she wanted to visit “mardi” (Thursday in French).Please pray that these kinds of misunderstandings become less frequent and especially for me (Jennifer) as I struggle to communicate in both French and Zarma.
--pray for opportunities to connect with our neighbours in meaningful ways, developing good relationships that we might have opportunities to eat with them, bless them, learn with them and see God at work in our community.
--pray that God will bring others alongside to work with us in our ministry in Niamey
--pray for the boys and their adjustment to life in Niger (especially for Cole who has asperger’s syndrome, making it all the more difficult for him)
--pray for teachers for their school (as of right now neither of them will have a teacher for next year, unless God provides and they are desperately in need of a Math teacher in the high school for this semester)
--please pray for our health and safety (especially when traveling –we have a fairly long drive to get the boys to school and see car accidents regularly). Along those lines, pray that we would have wisdom and good judgement as we need to replace our car in 2008 and aren’t really sure what would be the best thing to replace it with.

Most of all pray for peace in Niger. There is some fighting in the Northern area going on that at this point only affects us indirectly (ie.the price of gas has gone up to about $1.50 /litre) the people living in that region are having a hard time receiving food and other supplies which is especially hard because a large number of Nigeriennes struggle to provide food for their families. (I heard a statistic somewhere that most Nigeriennes live on less than a dollar a day). The other problem with the conflict is that there is no guarantee that the unrest will remain there and there is always the possibility of it escalating and ending up in the capital city where we are.

Blessings to you in 2008 where ever it may find you!