Thursday, April 23, 2009


I don’t know about you, but it seems that around our house you never run out of just one thing at a time. You can go for weeks without having to replace something and then it seems like you are replacing everything at once. This was my week to throw out the tube of toothpaste, the bottle of hand soap, the bottle of face soap and three containers of Dave’s deodorant. I don’t know if these things are more noticeable here because they are the remnants of home that we have been using sparingly to make last as long as they can or because there is no recycling program here (other than the kids on the street picking through our garbage barrel) and garbage is a problem that we face every time we leave the house.

I think that as Christians we have a responsibility to care for the world that God has given us authority over and so I tend to spend a lot of time thinking about garbage while I am in Niger. When I am grocery shopping, I ask myself it is better to spend a little more for a container that I can use again for something else, or that has a better chance of disintegrating. I try to remember to use the cloth grocery bags that a pastor’s wife gave me the last time I was home as often as I can for groceries and invent other ways of using the plastic bags that accumulate in spite of my efforts.

I am still trying to wrap my head around composting. I have tried explaining that peelings, etc. are good for the soil and that they need to go into the yard instead of in the garbage, but it seems to fall on deaf ears. I now have two rabbits that help with this because it is easy to say that the rabbits will eat the vegetable scraps and at least that keeps from encouraging mice. But it seems like this is a completely foreign concept to my Nigerien friends—the closest they get is throwing all of their garbage into the streets and letting the sheep and goats eat whatever they find. But then again maybe my neighbours have the better idea because the goats feed on the garbage in the streets and add their own deposits along the way. Then when rainy season comes they will harvest the crops of plastic bags, tin cans and glass remaining from the garbage and plant their beans, which in turn feeds their animals.

We are leaving tomorrow to go to Ghana to visit the Mobile Member Care Team there. Please pray that all goes well with our travel and time away.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easter Weekend

What a crazy weekend! It started on Friday when we took the boys to school and stayed for the special Good Friday Assembly where the whole school took us through the passion week. They started with the triumphal entry where all the elementary students waved branches and cloaks and laid them down for Jesus to walk on—unfortunately the donkey never got properly detached from the cart to allow Jesus to ride him through the crowd this time. Cole was especially excited because he got to be one of Jesus disciples for that part. Then different classes acted out different portions of the story ending with the staff re-enacting the resurrection.

Saturday we woke up to find a dead bunny in the rabbit cage. Ben and Cole had used their money from good report cards to buy themselves baby rabbits a week ago. Ben’s rabbit had died in the night. So our Saturday morning plans were traded in for a “funeral” and deep conversation about death and the life to come. Ben was absolutely heart broken. When I tried to contact one of Ben’s friends to arrange a play date for the afternoon, it was too late and they were already busy with their Saturday plans—which was maybe for the better because he might not have been the best company.

That afternoon Dave was scheduled to speak at a youth picnic. One of the churches we have been working with had arranged to use someone’s mango grove just outside of town for the afternoon. The few church youth (ie, anyone over fifteen who isn’t married) had been instructed to invite a non-christian friend. Inspired by the morning events Dave talked about death and Christ’s resurrection and was impressed with the response.

Sunday morning consisted of two services. The English service that we usually participate in on Sunday nights had a special Easter service at 7am with finger foods after and then the church that had the picnic the day before had their service at 9am. I had the fun experience of getting to Sunday school with the boys and having the person responsible turn to me and say do you have something prepared for this morning I am just too tired to do this. Dave found it hilarious to look out and find me scrambling to lead a Sunday school program totally unprepared and not only working in one, but two languages that I have limited knowledge of. God is extremely gracious, but I can’t say that I communicated all that well. Hopefully, I at least communicated an interest in them and Christ’s love.

That night at 9:45pm we got a phone call from the woman I had been discipling that had gone back to her home town. She was on our way to our house, her bus was just arriving in town. So, we have a house guest for the next few weeks and she will house sit while we are in Ghana. Please pray that she will have better luck finding work and be able to move out on her own again or that she will be able to get the visa that she wants to visit her cousin in France.

Hope your Easter was a little more restful then ours!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Jenn's Devotional Thought: Names & Relationships

I’ve been drawn lately to Psalms 27. I just love the way that it describes the Psalms desire for a relationship with God. There is some passion here, a desire to continually be in His presence.

I don’t exactly know why but this morning it made me think about my paternal Grandmother and the difference between my sister and I. You see my Grandmother had all boys and my sister was the first Granddaughter. So, we have all of these beautiful sweaters and things that she made my sister when she was little. My mom tells the story of my Grandmother taking my sister for the weekend and telling my mom not to bother to send any clothes instead she came home with a bag of new ones. My sister had a great relationship with my Grandmother. I on the other hand, was named after my Grandmother (don’t ask because I won’t tell—she didn’t like the name either!), but I never had the opportunity to know my Grandmother. She died of cancer a couple months before I was born. The only relationship I have with her is sharing a name and a few photos and some hand me downs from my sister.

I am afraid that too often our Christian walk is the difference between my sister’s relationship with my Grandmother and mine. God offers us a deep, intimate and personal relationship the kind that you hate to leave behind, but instead we opt for a name and some hand me downs.

I hope that you are aware of how much the God of the Universe loves you and wants to know you and spend time with you today. Can you find some time to “pencil Him in” to your week this week?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

"Spring" Break

The boys have been home the last two weeks for spring break. We had tossed around the idea of an escape to Ouagadougou, or Jenn had a friend going east to a place called Goure to visit friends. In the end we stayed home and just slept in a later than usual. Not too late though--morning walk to Zarma classes for 8 AM has kept things moving for the most part. Ben has been asking about tennis for the last few weeks and so we decided to sign up the whole family for an hour of tennis lessons four times over the break. (Yes that means about 15 minutes a person at each lesson, but at 3 pm in the middle of hot season that's enough. As the life guard at the rec centre commented at our first lesson, "Oh so you're the ones who signed up to swim in the sun instead of the pool!")

Hot season has come but the power company hasn't, so we haven't turned on our air conditioners yet. The boys spent a couple of nights sleeping in a mosquito tent on our roof but we broke down and bought a portable humidifier. These days everyone is sleeping in one room in order to share the little bit of cool it passes on. The only problem is it seems to run out of water by 2 AM which might not be too much of a problem if it didn't continue to beep until you do something about it.

With less running around to do we have had a little more opportunity to connect with the neighbours. Please pray that those relationahips will develop into real friendships and the God would be involved in all of them.