Saturday, September 27, 2008

Cokes and Air-conditioning

I poured myself a coke at 8:30 this morning (and got caught in the act). I said that I realized that it was a bit early in the morning for a coke, but since I had been up in the night and had been working since 4:30 in the morning I figured that my morning was already about half over. My friend that had caught me in the act (I was working at the boys’ school) said “What’s the difference between coke and coffee, especially here! It is hard though when you start to measure your days by cokes or coffees. ” So, how many coffees or cokes have you consumed today?
We are in the last few days of Ramadan which means the loud speakers on the mosques have increased in their volume and intensity (the reason for my lack of sleep and the use of coffee and coke). My language teacher told me something interesting the other day. He said the twentieth day of Ramadan is the night of power where people stay up all night praying and reading their Qu’ran, but any time between the 20th and the 30th if a person sees an angel they are allowed to ask for anything that they want from Allah. As a result there is an increase in activity the last few days of Ramadan. In an act of desperation to try to get a good night’s sleep, I tried to counter this the other evening by closing all the windows and using the air conditioner. (We try to save the air conditioner for when it is absolutely necessary during the hot season, to save on costs). However, some insects had decided our air conditioner drain would make a great home and blocked it with a hive. This discovery was made about a half an hour after I fell asleep when I started to receive a shower from the air conditioner when it couldn’t eliminate the condensation the way it was designed. Dave hadn’t gone to bed yet so instead of getting in on the shower he was blessed by a wet pillow.
This morning Dave tried to fix it by sticking his finger in it while it was running. (Mistake!) He still has a finger but the fan inside is missing a couple of teeth. I am truly grateful to say that the air conditioner is being repaired as I type this (but the repairman says that the part he needs to fix Dave’s mistake is hard to come by, but it shouldn’t be too noisy if you keep the fan on low).

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Distributing soccer balls for the team from Brantford. Please pray for the church that we helped to plant the last time we were here. They seem to be struggling.

Greek Day in Grade 5/6 at Sahel Academy. Please pray that Sahel will get all the teachers they need this year. There are still a lot of gaps and more next semester! Also, praise God for the great teachers He has already provided this year.

Rainy season is ending, please pray that the crops are good this year and that we will once again be able to deal with the heat. Thanks that the rains have lasted this long bringing some relief from the heat.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Fast

“Okay, a thousand?” I shook my head. “How about 800? 700? Alright 500”
“Non merci, pas aujourd’hui,” I said and closed my car door, and slowly pulled away. His bead necklace was nicely made if a little chunky but not quite my thing. I, initially encountered this street vendor when I got out of my car pick something at the “White Shack”—a little grocery store about the size of a 7-11 corner store. His starting price as I headed for the store was 5000 cfa, a little over ten bucks, and the 500 cfa he ended with about $1.
As I pulled away my mind went back to a conversation I’d had with a young neighbor the weekend before about Ramadan. After a month of daily fasting, there is a great feast and everybody gets a new set of clothes. The day everyone dons their new duds, the streets are filled with people as everyone heads into town to show off their new clothes. Most people seem to head for the Musée near the centre of town, a cross between a zoo, artisan village, and a museum. How many people actually get into the Musée, I’m not sure but I’ve seen the line-up on the fete-day to get in.
My friend suggested a comparison between the fete-day and Christmas. “And your kids, don’t they look forward to getting clothes at Christmas?” He had explained that if someone doesn’t get new clothes, they are too ashamed to leave the house. “Last year, my friend’s father had not managed his money well during the fast and so he had no money to buy clothes for the fete. My friend hid in his house and cried for two days—he was too embarrassed to be seen in the same old clothes. If you don’t have new clothes when you go out on the street, everyone will taunt and mock you.” When I tried to explain that my children would cry if they only got clothes for Christmas, I could see the incomprehension on his face.
I know that the desperate attempt at a sale that I’d encountered on the street was a reflection of Ramadan. The price of everything but food and clothing drops as people become desperate for money so that their families can celebrate and they won’t lose face in the neighbourhood.

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Isaiah 58:6-7

Friday, September 5, 2008

Ramadan Routine

It’s 4:30 am and the kids are running through the streets banging pots and pans (I’m not sure I even knew what that was until someone asked me yesterday “Do the kids bang with pots and pans at your gate?”). It’s Ramadan so this is the start of my day. Just in case, I am able to sleep through the pots routine the loud speakers at the little mosque next door are set extra loud for this month of fasting and they will begin to blare in about half an hour. I am a morning person so I wouldn’t find this too bad except for the fact that the mosque has had extra preaching at night to coincide with this (think blaring loud speakers for at least an hour at 11pm usually in Arabic). Unlike my neighbours, I haven’t been able to have the afternoon nap that allows most of them to keep these hours. It has just been too busy a week, but maybe this weekend.

I have been trying to see the call to prayer that is extra loud right now as a reminder to pray that God would reveal Himself to those that are genuinely seeking Him during this month of fasting from sun up to sun down. Will you pray for that with me? Pray that the Holy Spirit will be at work in dreams and visions and divine appointments, especially through this month that is set aside to focus on God for the Muslim people. Pray that despite the lack of sleep the love of Jesus would shine through us in all that we do. Please also pray for a friend that I am meeting with on a regular basis to talk about Jesus. She is hungry to know about Jesus and has lots of questions. My struggle is that she speaks French and Hausa and I know limited French and limited Zarma. I just trust that God is at work filling in the gaps and leading the discussion.

Please also pray for the boys school. The math teacher has been delayed because of finances and is waiting for his visa from the embassy in the US. Dave has been trying to cover 3 classes for him, but will have to give it up at the end of this week because it is interfering too much with what we are here to do. There is also a problem with the music teacher getting enough finances to return this year and needs for a book keeper and a P.E. teacher.

Oh here goes the loud speakers…