Monday, October 13, 2008


I’m sure most of you have consumed your share of turkey, stuffing and cranberries this weekend. Our Thanksgiving weekend had a slightly different flavour. For the last year or so I’ve been going to the American Recreation Centre on Saturday afternoons to play softball. It’s about as close as I get to exercise and so I do my best to get there before teams are chosen each week. However twice a year, softball takes on a more serious tone. This weekend happens to be one of them—the annual NUTS tournament. NUTS has a double meaning: Niamey Universal Tournament of Softball, and, well, just plain old nuts, because you’ve got to be nuts to play! October is typically the mini hot season—the rains have come to an end but the humidity is still hanging in the air and the temperatures start aiming for 40 C and above. I’ve never actually played in the tournament before, but the American Embassy was short of players this year and so they quickly recruited all the best missionaries. I guess that’s why I got asked to play with the remnant of missionaries. Fortunately the weekend was mostly overcast this year—we even had freak thunderstorms Friday night. Our team sponsor was the French telecom giant Orange, and they provided us each with two free T-shirts as team colours. We predictably finished last but had lots of fun nevertheless.

Between games Saturday morning Jennifer and I received a text-message on our cell phone from a woman that Jennifer has been meeting with on a weekly basis. She’d had emergency surgery the night before as a result of internal hemorrhaging and was recovering at the Maternité Centrale. After lunch we stopped into visit and pray with her. She seemed to be doing well, but local medical facilities still frighten me. Fortunately she has nurses’ training and knows how she should be treated.

After church Sunday we stopped in once more to read a Psalm and pray. While we were there her aunt came in to visit as well and listened as we read to our friend. In the course of conversation we were surprised to discover that we shared a mutual friend with her aunt.

Today we celebrated Thanksgiving in a slightly different manner. There are always certain adjustments that you have to make just because you are living in Niger, for example our turkey consisted of a number of drumsticks roasted instead of the whole bird because that is what we could buy in the market. (I’m not exactly sure what happened to the rest of the bird, but sometimes it is better not to ask those questions). In addition to that, the way we actually celebrated was a little more Nigerien as well (or at least a blend of Canadian and Nigerien customs), instead of inviting a number of people to come for dinner we just fed whoever did come. (And yes one of our neighbours actually showed up at supper time). Then in a more typical Zarma style we sent some of our turkey to friends that lived near by and visited with them. There are still many things that we miss about home especially on days like today, but it was nice to be able to join in the celebration that we knew was happening back at home. Happy Thanksgiving everyone (a little early for my American friends, but the sentiment is still the same)! I hope that you can all find lots of things to be thankful for today.

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