Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Car Buying

Our little car has served us well over the last few years. Or at least it got us to where we were going most of the time. But the time is coming for a change. Lately the battery is starting to die and I've stuck a solar panel in the back window to keep it charged (which is fine as long as we're not out after dark). However, buying cars in Niger is another story. Most people hire an agent to go out looking for them. Middlemen in theory are supposed to be helping the buyer but nevertheless I still get the distinct feeling of dealing with a salesman. Cars aren't built in Niger only rebuilt, and having said that the best buy is probably imported. Toyota will ship new products but shipping alone is over a thousand dollars. So the short version is we've been looking at used cars in Niger. Imports seem invariably to have had their odometer rolled back though there's usually some indication of what the real mileage should be. One car had the Swiss maintenance record in the glove compartment. Another had a little sticker by the door hinge from an Italian garage recording mileage at the last oil change... Fun doesn't stop there. Imported cars need to passed through customs to have the appropriate taxes paid. Paying once doesn't mean you won't have to pay again. Friends from various other missions have had their vehicles impounded on occasion because someone in customs pocketed the money instead of processing the paperwork. Oh, and did I mention that on newer cars that have micro chips in the key, you can't have a second key made because there is no way to prove that the car wasn't stolen at some point in time. Needless to say this is somewhat stressful moment, but God is faithful.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Simple Pleasures

This week was Ben's birthday so we gave him some choices for his celebration: 1) have a party at school with his whole class or 2) have some friends from his class over for a party or 3) go out to the restaurant of his choice with the family or 4) have one friend sleepover. He chose to have the sleepover, which means that we delayed the celebration by a day so that the sleepover wouldn't be on a school day. This left the problem of the dinner meal for his actual birthday, to which he responded “chicken noodle soup!” Thanks to friends in Canada that had sent some we used the last package or chicken noodle soup to celebrate his birthday and to make the day extra special, God provided that Grandma & Grandpa's present arrived in the mail on the day of his birthday. Because we only had one friend for the “party” we decided to make the presents a little more interesting by sending him on a treasure hunt to find them. He was thrilled.

I am amazed at how it can take so little to make a seven year old happy. Why is it that as we get older we forget to stop and take the time to revel in simple pleasures? I decided to do something about that and to slowly revel in the peppermint patty that Grandma sent me in the package! :)

Thanks for those who have been praying for us. We used Ben's birthday as a opportunity to reach out to some young men that we have been connecting with and invited them over for homemade ice cream. They came and we had a good visit with them. Continue to pray for our language learning and open doors, I struggled to understand a couple of ladies who came to our house last night looking for work and missed an opportunity.

Monday, February 11, 2008

One Is Enough

People still marvel at our use of Zarma in the street even though we're still have only a survival level of Zarma at best. It's just enough to get into trouble. We like to go out to the main road by our house where there are a number of street vendors selling everything from soup to nuts as my brother would say. The other day we went out to pick up some breakfast, little deep fried pancakes that are a penny a piece but heavy on the grease. Balkissa, one of the vendors greeted in us in Zarma and chatted. Meanwhile a crowd began to gather to watch her carry on with the white people, including a couple of ladies that were standing behind us whom I could overhear talking about the Anasara's ie. white people. Balkissa turned to me and nodded to the ladies behind Jennifer, and I thought she asked, “Do you understand what they're saying?” “Yes,” I said. She repeated this time point at them saying, “You understand them?” “A little bit,” I replied. At that point Jennifer suspected that something might be awry as some began to laugh. Upon further clarification I discovered what she really had asked was “Would you like to take one of these women as a wife?” (“Yes”) And then, “That one, you would like her for a wife?” (“A little bit...”) It was one of those days when I was glad I had Jennifer standing beside me. I quickly explained that I was quite content with the wife I had, and desired no more. “Oh but this is Niger,” she said, “you can have four wives here.” No, one is enough, and fortunately she helps keep me out of trouble.