Friday, November 28, 2008

A day in the life...

It was a morning like any other, pulled myself out of bed sometime after six. I watched while the rest of the family ate breakfast. (Breakfast rarely sits well with me first thing in the morning.) We read together from 2 Samuel and said our morning prayers together before loading into the car with the night guard to make our morning trip across town. Jenn stayed home this particular morning. I dropped off the night guard near the end of the Petit Marche. It was shortly after seven and morning traffic was starting to pick up but not quite rush hour yet.
I pulled onto the Kennedy bridge—the only bridge over the Niger River in town. Traffic was relatively clear in front of me except for two cyclists hugging closely to the side of the road when suddenly they jostled one another and I saw the full round of a bicycle tire and a rider heading for the pavement. Reflexes kicked in as I swerved and jammed on the breaks simultaneously. WHAM. The taxi on my tail had slower reflexes. The two cyclists stopped and stared at us for few moments before continuing on their way. I checked with the back seat and the boys were fine though a little shocked.
Despite the lineup of traffic building behind me I got out to inspect the damage. I knew that I couldn’t move my car anyway. Local traffic laws stipulate that vehicles involved in a collision cannot be moved until the police come to investigate and determine causes and any faults. My back bumper showed a few scratches and one hole poked in the plastic. (Fortunately my hatch still opens and closes.) The taxi on the hand had crumpled his whole front end—bumper hanging, lights smashed and hood buckled.
Rubberneckers passed slowly by, including other parents who were now returning from dropping off their kids. Eventually an officer showed up to chalk out the vehicle positions so someone could come later to assess who was at fault for any insurance claims. Once off the bridge, the officer took all of our paperwork (driver’s licenses, vehicle registrations, insurance cards) saying he had to get back to his post but that someone else would come to finish the process. And so the wait began.
I took the kids around the corner to school and returned to wait. By 9:30, after hearing the sirens of the president’s cavalcade, the taxi driver and I decided to walk back across the bridge to see if we could find the officer who’d told us to wait. “They haven’t come yet? Well just take the good car up to the station—your paperwork is all there.” At the station we headed for a little office off to one side, surrounded by confiscated scooters, motorbikes, cars and trucks. Inside were six desks crowd into a single room with a little crowd of a half a dozen or more people standing in the little space between them. A man by the door directed us to the main desk in the centre of the room where most of the people were gathered.
“Yes, what do you want?” said the man behind the desk
“We had an accident. We’re here for the paper work.”
“I haven’t seen any paperwork. It’s not here”
“I had it in a clear plastic envelope like this one,” I said, pointing to an empty envelope on his desk.
“I’ve been here all morning and I haven’t seen it.”
“Yes, you did, I remember seeing it come in,” said a man sitting at another desk.
“I’m telling you I don’t have it. Just go outside and wait.”
Obligingly, we headed outside and found a bench by the impounded vehicles. We waited. We watched officers go through their paces in the courtyard. (“Attention. Eyes front. About face… ) After a while the officer from the accident came in and noticed us sitting outside waiting. “What are you doing out here? Just go on in the office, I’ve already dropped off the paperwork. It’s there.”
As we headed back in I noticed the numbers waiting around the desk had doubled to about a dozen or so. “What are you all doing in here?” exploded the man behind the desk. “I can’t work with you all standing around here! Well what do you want me to do?” he said, as those waiting looked sheepishly around at one another. “Well, do you want me to just leave you?... That’s it, I’m going!” and he pushed through the crowd and disappeared across the courtyard. As everyone slowly drifted back out the door, I realized I’d lost my spot on the bench.
At eleven the investigating officer returned once more and saw us still outside waiting. This time he lead us back to the office himself. I hesitated at the door, as I saw him exchange some rather sharp words with the man at the desk.
“What is your license plate number?” asked the man at the desk. “Is it this one?” pointing to a page in big book on his desk.
“Yes, that’s it I replied.” Recorded there was the all the information from my paper work.
“Oh, I did this first thing this morning. I gave your paperwork to the guy who sits in that desk but he’s gone out and I don’t know where he is.”
Fortunately, the officer pulled out his cell phone and made the call, assuring us he would be here shortly before heading out once more. Eventually, the taxi and I visited our respective insurance offices together to make statements before reporting one last time to the police station. I made it home just in time for lunch.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fall Colour

Dave and I have been discussing lately whether the weather change of late in Niamey feels more like fall or spring in Canada. Those wonderful days were there is a chill in the air first thing in the morning that makes you want to wear a sweater (think 25C), but by noon it is quite warm in the sun (think 35-40C), but still cool in the shade. Oh well we can dream of what Canada is like, but I suppose you are starting to see the occasional snow now and the fall colour is gone.

I decided to bring some of my own "fall colour" inside today and to share it with you. I hope it warms your day!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Street Lights

Have you ever got so used to something not working that when it actually does work you are taken by surprise? You know, that printer that jams every time you use it or your husband that carries a cell phone in case you need to get a hold of him, but forgets to turn it on or to charge it… You get the picture. Today I had a pleasant surprise as we were driving up to one of the busiest intersections near us the lights were actually working! This is the same intersection that hasn’t had working lights for at least four months (the team from Brantford can testify to this because they had the pleasure of experiencing grid lock you have never seen in North America at that intersection a number of times –in fact one of them told Dave that normally he would have been scared to death of driving through that intersection if it hadn’t been for Dave being so calm and just taking it as a commonplace experience as he drove through all of the traffic.) I know that the only way that I have made it through that intersection a number of times is by prayer and the grace of God. So it was indeed a pleasure to find it operating, maybe even sweeter because it seemed like so many other things were going wrong this morning.

It was interesting to watch the other drivers respond to the light though, there were a number of them that didn’t expect to find it operating and nearly charged right into on coming traffic (that is the typical way to deal with no lights, you assume that you have the right of way for at least the first half of the intersection and then keep nosing forward into the second half until you are through!). But luckily, they like us, realized just in time that there was not only a light there but it was working.

Sometimes I think that this is the approach we have to the Bible. Those of us who have grown up in the church assume we know what it says and how a certain passage is going to apply to our lives—afterall didn’t we memorize part of that chapter in Sunday school when we were kids? We think we know how it is going to work, so we ask God to speak to us as we try to fit some bible study into our busy schedules, but don’t really expect that He will. There are times that God will just allow that to continue, but we are the ones that are missing out of the deeper meanings that come from reading and re-reading and listening to what He has to say. Then there are other times that God will use something to get our attention, maybe a sermon, a song or even illness that makes us slow down and realize that maybe life isn’t quite the way we originally expected. I would like to propose a remedy for a dry bible study—get to know a new Christian, or a “future” Christian and talk to them about what you have been reading. It is amazing how the most familiar passages will take on new meaning and the context around some of those passages may surprise you.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Ben's Knee

Accidents happen, but when they happen here they can bring additional complications. This past Tuesday Ben fell and hurt his knee. The only problem is that at 7 when you fall and hurt yourself you sometimes forget that you are hurt and keep playing. So he went half a day, before he really began to complain and someone noticed that it was really swollen and bulging. Dave got a call from the school that Ben knee was looking really bad and that he needed to go see a doctor. As he was driving to the school, he started thinking about the worse case scenario and what that would look like. What would happen if we had to have Ben evacuated for treatment? When he arrived school the teacher was describing how it was bulging on the one side and that he might need an x-ray, but as she took the ice off she exclaimed “oh, it’s gone!”. The ice had taken care of the swelling and the knee was looking normal again. When he got to see the doctor the doctor told him it was a sprain and that he needed RICE-rest, ice, compression and elevation. Thanks for keeping us in your prayers. We are praising God that Ben’s injury was something minor. However, you can pray for complete healing not only of the knee but of all his concerns because Field Day is next week and he is afraid that he won’t be able to participate the way that he wants to and because of that “his team will lose”. Pray also for Cole because Field Day is always a stressful/ depressing day for him as he faces the limitations of wearing orthotics.

Also pray for an English teacher for the high school for next semester because the expected teacher is no longer able to come. This causes additional struggles for me because I love being in the class room and teaching English, but can’t do that and everything else that I am here to do.