Thursday, March 27, 2008

Attitude Check

“You can’t always change your circumstances, but you can change your attitude and your behaviour.” My own words were coming back to haunt me. …

The night before I had been talking to the boys about how to deal with their disappointment because one of them hadn’t been able to eat at the place they really wanted to (and it had resulted in a “pout fest” –which is one step above a full fledged “melt down”). We had talked about the choices that we could make when we were disappointed and how they could make things better or worse.

The next morning I had the delightful task of picking up dead cockroaches, (which is much better than killing live ones or picking up ones that you only think are dead, ugh!) in order to get in the shower to clean my feet (which in Niger is a virtually futile task!). By the time I had deposited my eighth one in the toilet, I was annoyed and was starting to construct a top ten things I hate about hot season list. It was as I was scrubbing my feet and realizing that I wouldn’t make it out of the bathroom before they would be dirty again, that I heard my own voice saying a “you can’t always change your circumstances…” so I started thinking about how nice it was to have hot water to wash in and that I had some really nice smelly soap that my sister had sent me and just the fact that I had had the luxury of the time to clean out the cockroaches before I cleaned my feet. It is amazing how an attitude check can turn your day around. Paul’s advice to the Philippians still holds true today.

Thanks to everyone who has been praying about our car situation. It looks like we may have a new car. Well, new to us and the country car—a 1998 Corolla wagon that is coming to us from Milan. We are just waiting on some paperwork and finances. Hopefully it will serve us well and that the air conditioning will continue to function well. I am really looking forward to the occasional escape from the heat!

Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Patrick's Day

Today the boys have special pillow cases on their beds in honour of St Patrick’s Day. Jennifer had told her aunt that she felt the boys missed the seasons and holidays at home—not that they need to see the commercialism of Christmas shopping at home but an awareness of the seasons and holidays that we celebrate. She asked if someone could create some pillow cases that might reflect something of what’s happening at home, and so today we have shamrocks on our pillows that were made by a lady in her church. I must confess that Patrick is my favourite missionary/saint. That’s not because of my Irish heritage. The truth is my family lost all contact with Ireland when they came to Canada over a hundred years ago. Eric, an Irish friend who works here with the Irish Red Cross said, “Oh yes, they were called the coffin boats because once people got on them they were never heard from again.” What I like about Patrick was his sense of being underqualified and inadequate for the job:

I am, then, first of all, countryfied, an exile, evidently unlearned, one who is not able to see into the future, but I know for certain, that before I was humbled I was like a stone lying in deep mire, and he that is mighty came and in his mercy raised me up and,indeed, lifted me high up and placed me on top of the wall. And from there I ought to shout out in gratitude to the Lord for his great favours in this world and for ever, that the mind of man cannot measure.

Kidnapped and taken as a slave to Ireland when still a child, Patrick later escaped only to be compelled by a vision to return to the people who had enslaved him.

…there, in a vision of the night, I saw a man whose name was Victoricus coming as if from Ireland with innumerable letters, and he gave me one of them, and I read the beginning of the letter: 'The Voice of the Irish', and as I was reading the beginning of the letter I seemed at that moment to hear the voice of those who were beside the forest of Foclut which is near the western sea, and they were crying as if with one voice: 'We beg you, holy youth, that you shall come and shall walk again among us.' And I was stung intensely in my heart so that I could read no more, and thus I awoke.

Despite misunderstanding and conflict with Christian colleagues and much opposition from local leaders Patrick persevered to establish the church in Ireland. You can read a fairly good translation of his “Confession” here: .

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Marriage Proposals

We regularly walk our neighbourhood in the early evening to visit with our neighbours and scary as it may sound I am almost getting used to the fact that on a regular basis there is someone who wants to marry my husband off to someone else. Not that I would ever let it happen, but when you live in a polygamist society you don't generally change it all that fast.
But the other day I had a new experience... We went around the corner and started talking to a lady we hadn't met before. This lady looked like she was in her eighties (so she had to be at least in her late fifties--Niger has a way of aging people!). Anyway, she saw that we had Cole with us and said something that we couldn't quite follow, but it looked like she was suggesting a marriage. She called over her daughter (whose zarma was a little clearer) and said that she wanted our son to marry her granddaughter. We just needed to come by with a dowry. We just laughed.
Luckily Cole doesn't understand any zarma yet because like most eight year old boys he thinks girls are YUCKY! It made an interesting conversation on the way home, as we explained to him why we were laughing. He told us that he wasn't ready to get married and didn't think he would be for a long time! We told him that he was lucky to be Canadian and to have parents that thought that he should choose his own wife and that we would be happy if it didn't happen for a long time. --Don't tell him I put this in the blog he would be upset but it was too good to pass up.

By the way, we sent out our quarterly newsletter this week. If you didn't get it but would like to e-mail us and we'll be happy to send it to you. You'll find our e-mail address on our prayer card of on the FMC website:

Friday, March 7, 2008

Guards, Treasures and Thieves

19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal…”

When we first moved into our neighbourhood last fall, an older gentlemen, a plumber for the hospital, pulled up on his scooter, greeted me and welcomed me but then quickly advised me to be sure that I hire a guard. We already knew that was probably a wise plan, though another friend counseled us saying, “A guard is good; a guard and a dog is better; but just a dog is best.” We’ve taken option number two till this point, but have never felt the need to be concerned. This week however things changed. We have a woman who comes to cook and clean a couple mornings a week, and yesterday while we were out she had a visitor at the front gate. He said, “The white people who live here sent me to get the television—you’re supposed to give it to me.” Fortunately, she knew better and sent him on his way. Our language teacher told us this is a typical ploy, and often works with young houseworkers fresh from the village. We shared the story with neighbours as we went out to walk the neighbourhood yesterday and today, and everyone seems to say the same thing: there’s a lot of thieves in the neighbourhood. One neighbour, David who works at the garage where I take my car said, “A dog is good but you need two.” The imam who lives next door said, “You need to talk to the guy around the corner who’s a municipal police officer, he’ll catch him for you.” The Chief of the Quartier’s son who sells vegetables on the corner told us that a thief was in their compound last night and the only reason they were able to chase him away was because the children hadn’t fallen asleep yet and heard him in the yard. I find that the story tends to arouse a strong reaction with neighbours. I must say that I don’t feel overly concerned but whether that is simple faith or simply na├»ve, only the Lord knows.
(Jenn says: little did they know that our tv is kind of like our car hardly worth the effort!)

Please remember Jenn's sister and her family as her father-in-law is battling cancer.

Here is the real treasure in our house: