Friday, February 26, 2010

Some days are like that…

Three weeks ago I was working on a blog that just didn’t want to get posted (or maybe written). At the time we were having power cuts on a semi-regular basis that kept interfering with my working on the computer and burned out a transformer in our house. (Interestingly, the regular power cuts seemed to stop about the time that the coup happened). I was going to write this last Saturday, but I had visitor after visitor that were in no particular hurry to leave. The added difficulty to this was I was trying to get some baking done because the boy’s school was to host an accreditation team. Unfortunately, that team was either sent back or not allowed to get on their flights because of the political problems here and never made it. Yesterday I went to write this again, but was interrupted by a number of meltdowns by little boys that belong to our household not to mention class work, bible study, carpooling and a number of other things. I mention all of this because I find it really funny that this is what I started to write three weeks ago:

I had a conversation a little over a year ago with another missionary that told me he didn’t believe in Murphy’s Law (anything that can go wrong will go wrong). His theory was that we as missionaries had faulty expectations, that we had the assumption that things should always run smoothly.

Well, whether I am prone to make those false assumptions or not there is one thing that I think I have been learning through the events of the last few weeks: that many times in life, it is keeping your perspective that makes all the difference. You see while what I was experiencing was simple inconveniences, one of the people that was supposed to becoming for the accreditation visit (from another country in Africa) is the principal of a school where he had a parent kidnapped the day before the coup, and a parent and student car-napped the day after the coup (needless to say, he is no longer able to come for the accreditation visit). I also had a friend who had to head to the US just before Christmas with her youngest daughter that was very ill. She wasn’t able to return when the daughter recovered because she had back problems that needed treatment. When she finally thought she was coming back to Niger to reunite with her husband and other children she discovered that her tickets for the flight were cancelled and wasn’t allowed to leave until a few days later, only to be in the air between Paris and Niamey when her flight was rerouted to a neighbouring country because it couldn’t land here because of the coup.

I guess I am just grateful that my problems have all be relatively mild.

Please pray for the accreditation visit it is supposed to proceed this coming week with only 2 of the original 4 team members (another person was stuck in Abidjan for the better part of a week because he flight to Niamey was cancelled due to the coup and had no way to fly back to Cameroon before then). Continue to pray for us too whenever we happen to come to mind.

Hope you are having a better day than most!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Breaking News

No doubt some of you have heard something of our yesterday’s events here in Niger. Many of you probably haven’t simply because Niger hardly makes into the news in North America. Yesterday the military staged a coup d'etat, storming the presidential palace with soldiers and tanks. Late last night they announced the suspension of the constitution and all official institutions while they attempt to restore democracy. This was not an unexpected move and with the political situation here for the last few months and various people have felt that a coup was just a matter of time. The president seemed to be moving towards a dictatorship, as the European Union, the U.S. pulled out they’re aid support. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had also warned of impending sanctions if the president did not change his course and step down. The prediction of famine/food crisis based on last summer’s harvest did not help.
I think this has probably been more stressful for the boys than for us. We happened to be at home when things started to unfold, with no awareness that anything was happening until friends called. The boys were at school however just down river from the presidential palace where the action was, with machine gun and cannon fire echoing down the river. The school went into immediate lock down. Here’s a blurb from the director that we received last night:

Dear Parents of Sahel Academy students, and friends,
It is 6:30pm local time as I write.
Today, at approximately 1:15 pm the sounds of gunfire and heavy artillery were heard in the city. A campus lockdown was immediately called. The students knew exactly what to do. I am very proud of them and their teachers as to how quickly and orderly they responded.
The director immediately contacted the US Embassy by radio to inform them of the noises that we were hearing and that we had entered lock down…
Lock down was maintained as the noises of gunfire were quite regular. At around 3:30pm, when about an hour had passed without hearing gunfire, we allowed the students to also use the library.
During this whole time the students, the youngest to the oldest, were well behaved, played games, sang or worked quietly.
At around 4:30pm the US Embassy security officer drove to the school campus, having checked which roads in the city were passable, and which roads to avoid. We were given the OK to call parents to come and get their children.
At 6:00 pm the last students were picked up by their parents. All staff are now safely home as well.Please make time to talk with, and listen to your children about the day’s events.

A friend commented, “Our kids have snow days, your kids have coup days”
All of that said, we are not in any danger. The coup had nothing to do with us and we don’t expect it to affect us or our ministries in any direct way. In the mean time the city is under a curfew and the embassy has advised us not to leave the house today or tomorrow and possibly Sunday. Please pray for peace.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Journée Continue

Journée continue is an expression that is used here to explain that you are working through a rest period. Frequently when Dave and I are somewhere in the lunch hour or early afternoon people will ask us where are kids are because most schools stop for lunch and a rest hour and then resume classes in the later afternoon (because of the heat). However, Sahel Academy where the boys go is “journée continue” so that parents only have to go back and forth with their kids at the beginning and ending of the school day. It is also sometime used with businesses, especially during Ramadan the Islamic month of fasting. Because people aren’t eating during the day, they will frequently work through the lunch hour and close their business early.

Yesterday that expression took on a whole new meaning and felt more like “the day that never ends”. I drove the kids to school in the morning so that I could meet with a mom’s group that prays for the school every Thursday. I then had my meeting with my accountability partner. I stopped at the post office on my way through town and then decided that because I was already in the down town area I might as well do some shopping. After about half an hour and three attempts to buy a kitchen clock (the shop owner had assured me that he could fix the one that I liked and that it would only take about 10 minutes to put a new motor into it, but that is another story!), I still didn’t have a clock and decided that I needed to get home. I got home for lunch to find out that my friend had just returned to town (which means that I needed to visit her). So I ate, put supper in the slow cooker and went to do my first round of pick ups at the school. I tried to squeeze in a visit with my friend before going back to the school to pick up Ben from boys club, unfortunately that meant that I was a little late in getting Ben. That gave us just enough time to get home, eat supper and head out to bible study (thankfully the boys didn’t have too much homework). I know that those of you reading this from North America are thinking that this sounds pretty much like a normal day for mom’s taxi service. But while this maybe a manageable pace in Canada, living conditions here mean that we are usually running on about ½ - 2/3rds of the energy that we would normally have in Canada. Thankful it is just Thursday that gets this hectic, but as hot season draws closer I am going to have to do something about it.

Thanks to all of you that have been praying for our health. I (Jennifer) am really glad to be finished up on my last round of antibiotics and Dave was able to keep his voice going well enough to preach last Sunday. It doesn’t seem to have hit him as hard. Please pray for a ministry retreat that we are trying to coordinate for the end of July or the beginning of August that we would be able to get the right people to come to help with it and that all the details would come together.