Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The best things in life are passed on…

I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and I am persuaded, now lives in you also. For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you… 2Tim1:5&6
I had an interesting conversation on Sunday with a couple of girls at church. I was admiring one of their outfits and saying that I wished it came in a larger size. Her older sister had been over hearing the conversation and said that it had been hers. So, I told her that I really liked the bright vibrant green of her dress and her response was that the dress was a hand-me-down from one of her cousins in American. I then responded by saying that some of the best things in life are passed down. (In recent years especially, I have come to love hand-me-down clothes—probably because my sister has such great taste!)

I was reading a novel last week that the narrator described their living room as being decorated in the style of “early attic” and as I was cleaning this morning I realized that my house is decorated in the “miscellaneous garage sale” style (with the exception of my living room which has a little “former airport restaurant” mixed in with the garage sale motif). Sometimes that means that I have to put a cover over a chair because the upholstery is absolutely thread bare but at least it means that I have a comfortable chair to sit in, which is a precious (and rare) commodity in Niamey!

As the verse at the top of this entry suggests, the passing on of things isn’t limited to just physical “stuff” and some of us have been blessed with a great Christian heritage. I am thankful for the faith that has been passed on to me by my parents, grandparents and others that have influenced my faith journey over the years. And I guess we never really know what impact we are having on the lives of others around us this side of heaven, but my prayer is that I am living my life in such a way that it is making a difference on others spiritual journey as well. --At least I hope that my boys are learning more than just to be stubborn and that my former students will have learned more than how to write a good paragraph. But there also comes a point at which, regardless of our heritage we have to take responsibility for developing our faith and spiritual gifts by “fanning the flame”. As graduation draws near for Sahel I am reminded that this will be a new reality for many of my former students. I would encourage them and you to “fan the flame”!

As you remember us in prayer this week, please pray for Paul who is coming to visit us, Dave for his extra heavy workload right now, the staffing needs at Sahel (if you would like more information about Sahel try this website: ) and for the government of Niger.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Grace and second chances

I am glad that our God is the God of second chances even though that frequently means that we are called upon to exhibit a similar grace.

Today was not the greatest day in the Wright household and I should have realized that it wasn’t going to be an easy one by the way it started. I had a heated discussion with one of the boys about why I needed to have a light on to eat breakfast that resulted in a hunger strike. Thankful Dave was there to extend grace while I got ready for my board meeting.

As I was leaving the board meeting (that wasn’t one of my finer moments –I kept falling behind in trying to keep the minutes and missed out on some of the discussion), Dave came over to me and said I needed to see what our other son had done. Thus getting dragged into another conflict that I thought I was being called upon to resolve with little or no idea of what was going on (thankful that was a misunderstanding on my part, because I really didn’t need it at that moment and someone else had done the conflict resolution already). But then when I get picked up at the end of the same board meeting (school board meetings take the better part of the day here—so don’t complain the next time your official board meeting runs a little over the scheduled hour that it is supposed to take!), I get to the car just in time to see an all out brawl happening in the back seat complete with tears and fists flying. Dave’s response was to yell which didn’t really help things, but after things cooled down a bit he prayed. I knew that as he was praying God was revealing to him the battle that was going on in our house and individual lives. Most of all Dave’s prayer reminded me of how grateful I am that God extends His love and grace to us regardless of our circumstances.

Please keep Dave in your prayers over the next couple of weeks as his work load has intensified with the course that he is teaching at the bible school and with the church plant that we have been assisting with. Also pray for my contacts with my neighbours, it seems like everyone is having babies these days which helps to provide a natural outlet for visiting at the naming ceremonies. The mothers also seem to appreciate my visiting their homes while they are in their 40 days of seclusion postpartum. Although I have found it a real stretch for my Zarma when there is no one around that can help by translating the odd words that I don’t know. I guess it is another opportunity to learn to “be still and know…” or at least be quiet and just relate. This is a picture of the sweater that I crocheted for my neighbour friend that just had a baby.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Dave's "Harley"

Parental Discretion Advised: (meaning my parents might want to think twice before reading the following.)

It was an ordinary day in the neighbourhood. I was at home putting some finishing touches on my Bible study for the church in Kwara Tagui just up the road while Jenn was picking up the kids. She arrived calling, “Dave come see the car.” With a note of panic in her voice, she explained how on the way home the breaks started giving out. “Take the car around the block to see what you think.” I hopped in a drove around the neighbourhood, testing the brakes periodically. Whenever I touched the breaks the pedal would drop quickly to the floor without resistance but as soon as I pumped it would grab and stop. I’m not a mechanic but it sounded like I was leaking break fluid.

Next dilemma: how was I supposed to get to church for Bible study?
Solution: my parents’ worst nightmare. My motorcycle.

When we were home two years, we received an email from friends in Niger who were selling off their stuff to head back to the UK for good. Among other things was a motorcycle for $200-300. My wife in a moment of weakness said, “Go ahead.” When we arrived back in Niger we initiated the process of getting it “dedouanee”, that is, because it was originally bought by an NGO the customs duty on it had never been paid, and permission needed to be given in order to sell to a non-NGO (me). A year and a half later, when the paperwork was finally in my hands, I set about getting it tuned up and ready for the road. What I had neglected to consider was the fact that it had gas in the engine which had gummed the engine after sitting for that time… After a month or so of it sitting at the mechanic’s shop and few minor mishaps it was finally home. (I have a feeling the delays have something to do with my mother’s fervent prayer life.)

I should let you know that I’ve never driven a motorcycle in my life… The closest I came was on a one week “mission trip” to Bermuda in college (O to be a missionary to Bermuda!). We’d raised enough money for the group to rent motor scooters for twenty-four hours, two passengers per bike. Five minutes out of the shop I hit a car travelling in the opposite lane. Fortunately, no one was hurt (except the scooter and the Scirocco) and I had insurance. I exchanged the scooter for another one but for some reason the girl riding with me always found someone else to go with after that…

Back to Niger. My first time out I needed a neighbour to help me get the thing started and managed to go twice around the block, though when I tried to stop my pants got stuck in the kick start and I just about lost it. I took it in with my neighbour shaking his head and all the children laughing and shouting, “David si wani poporo” (David doesn’t know how to drive a motorbike.) Since that first excursion around the block I’ve taken it once to my language class (instead of walking), but other than that it’s sat in the yard.

So taking my life into my hands and my Bible in a backpack, I started it up set off down the road. It’s a ten minute ride but three quarters of the way there, the foot rests came loose and started to swing around with my feet swing around bumping the gear shift up and down and into neutral. (So that’s where that big screw in the driveway came from!) The church is on the very edge of town and the roads get increasingly sandy and other than stalling in the sand the journey completed without major incident.

After the Bible study, one of the members took a wire (that’s a step up from binder twine!) and secured the foot rests back into place. While the work was in progress, I commented, “A friend told me there used be a lot of bandits in the neighbourhood at night, do I need to be careful on the bike?”

“Oh no, there all gone,” said one person.

“Yeah, there still around,” said another.

“We’ll go with you to the main road,” said another.

“Hey Robert is going down by his place. He can ride with him.” suggested someone else.

Robert said, “I think it’s going to rain, so we should just leave the bike here till tomorrow. Pastor Soter will be here soon with his car he can take us home.”

In the end, they convinced Robert to get on behind me, the brave soul. We headed out and came to the main dirt road without too much trouble. Another interesting feature of my bike is that it still doesn’t have a battery. That means that the head light only comes on while it’s running, and when you speed up it gets really bright but when you slow down… I got Robert home with only one wipe out in the sand but he was very gracious nonetheless.

This morning I managed to get the car to the garage without any trouble. The mechanic figures he will be finished in the early afternoon. My only problem is I’m supposed to have a lunch date with Annie’s step father. She’s given him a couple of books to read about the Bible and now he would like to talk to me about them. I think I’ll catch a taxi.

Thanks to all those of you praying about our electricity. We are pleased to tell you it is working much better now and have even been able to use the air conditioners. We just have to get an electrician in to replace all the things the died while the electricity was playing games with us.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Our two weeks in Accra are almost done. We have had regular meetings with the good people at the Mobile Member Care Team (MMCT) to discuss our family's well-being, particularly Ben who seemed to be exihibiting panic attacks earlier this year. MMCT is an interdenominational team of professional cousellors that services missionaries from across West Africa.We are thankful for their presence here and their experience and understanding in working with missionaries on the field.

After our respective homeworks (math, spelling, etc for the boys, other kinds of homework for mom and dad,) we also had the opportunity to visit the beach, go bowling, and of course shopping. Sunday we paid a surprise visit to the Free Methodist Church here in Accra and renewed acquaintances from our last visit. The rains here in Ghana were also refreshing and even the humidity was bearable in 25° as opposed to the 45° weather we left behind. Tomorrow we will be heading home in the little Cessna airplane operated by SIM to see whether the electric company has arrived to upgrade our service, creating the possibility of using our air conditioners once more...