Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Choosing Joy

You know there are seasons in a person’s life when joy comes a little easier than other times. Well, let me tell you hot season in Niger is not one of those. This has been an especially challenging one with a couple of days when we had no electricity (not to mention the regular interruptions), three consecutive days of +48C (47C in the shade!). I have had to remind myself over and over this week that joy is a decision and that I am going to choose joy and look for the good (this is a real challenge when everyone around you is complaining about the weather and there is a lot of good reason to do so). So, I prefer to think of this as mango season and the mangos have been exceptionally good this year. When the sweat is dripping off every portion of your limbs that extend in any direction what so ever I try to think of it as a weight loss plan—I know that loosing water is not really weight loss, but carting around the sweat soaked clothes that weight an extra few pounds in sweat has got to count for something.
There are also the extra opportunities to relate to those around you because you can’t greet someone without making at least a few comments about the weather or the power. I had the opportunity to make a new friend the other day; we went to a restaurant that we knew would not only have air conditioning but also has a generator (so the air still works even when the power is out everywhere else). There was a mom with a six month old there, trying to do the same thing we were—escape from the heat even if for only a half hour. So we started talking to her about her time in Niger and her plans (she had decided that she needed to head home to France for many reasons) and we told her about what we were doing here a bit. I got to hold and have a good visit with her daughter so that she could enjoy her chocolate cake without “extra help” and then we went our separate ways. I don’t expect that I will every meet my new friend again, but you never know when God will use those small encounters for something beyond what you thought possible and I can at least pray.

Note: I started writing this a few days ago and this morning as I post this I feel anything but joy, but I guess that is where the choice comes in!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Relating to our neighbours

Over the last 48hrs, I think that we have gained a greater appreciation for how many of our neighbours live. During that time we have had very little electricity (approx. 6 hrs, only 2 of which were yesterday!), and very little water because the water towers in town need power to pump the water up the tower in order to get it to our house. We don’t know the reason for the power loss and may never know. But I was thinking as I tried to fall asleep under the smog and sand last night (I would say stars, but you couldn’t really see them) that it did give us an opportunity to have a better understanding of how our neighbours who never have electricity or water live. Although I do not think a temporary inconvenience is the same thing as having to deal with 47˚ C in the shade with no fans, falling asleep to the sound of babies crying, children playing in the street until late into the night and the traffic driving by, did give me a chance to think and realize that it may start out warmer on the roof, but by the time the sun starts to rise it is a whole lot better than being stuck in a cement house with no ceiling fans! I am still debating whether it is better to risk using the air tonight and hope that the electricity holds or going back up to the roof that starts out at 38˚ C but actually feels kind of refreshing by the time that morning comes. One thing is for sure that first shower after two days without water flowing in the pipes does give you a whole new perspective on what abundant living is all about! Hope you are feeling more up for what life has to offer you than this candle that didn’t make it through the heat of the day today.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Celebrating Easter, Travels and Catching Up

This has been a bit of a crazy week, we flew home from France last Friday in time to celebrate Easter here in Niger. We had been in the Black Forest section of France and Germany for the previous week because I (Jennifer) was representing the school board for Sahel Academy at an international education conference. Dave and the boys came along and we all stayed with fellow FM missionaries in France. They got to have a bit of a vacation and I got a change of climate and a slight change of work. Cole even got to celebrate his birthday at an amusement park in Germany while I was in meetings, but at least I got in on a great Italian dinner with them after my meetings.

Easter Sunday was a bit of a whirlwind, there was an open air sunrise service by the river, in place of the English service that we usually try to take in on Sunday evenings. Then we went to our regular Sunday morning service. We decided that we were too old to get in on the young people’s picnic that afternoon and instead went home to prepare for a neighbourhood celebration. We decided to string a sheet across our driveway entrance and show Narnia to who ever wanted to come. There ended up being quite a crowd there and for a couple of days afterward we had people coming up to us and asking us if we were going to do it again “tonight” or “tomorrow”. Including a lot of people that I didn’t even realize had been there watching in the dark.

This week has also been very full with trying to get the school board evaluation completed as well as keeping up (or maybe catching up) with the regular work routine. Please pray that the follow up conversations that we have with our neighbours will be fruitful. Pray that I will be able to get caught up on my regular work load as well as find time to do the extra board work required at this time of year. Pray for Dave as he starts training some lay leaders in the church to help develop their teaching ministry skills and for me as I start to work with the kids and explore some new options for “storying” in zarma.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

We are so blessed

I started out thinking that this was going to be a plea for help and the more I thought about our situation, the more I realized how truly blessed we are. You see our oldest has Asperger’s Disorder a high functioning form of Autism. If he had a more intense form of autism I have my doubts whether we could be here. But not only are we here, but he is doing very well. In talking with a teacher at his school I was reminded again of how God has blessed us and him. She noted that language learning is difficult for ASD students but Cole is doing well in his French class as well as in his other academic courses that are taught in English!
This past week I was surfing the internet to consider my options for continuing education (I have a number of courses that I need to take) and I came across a conference that was being offered at Redeemer University in Ancaster, Ontario. It was a one day seminar for teachers to receive additional qualifications and was all centred around ASD (autism spectrum disorders). When I read about the workshops they were offering I went to Dave and said I want to go home. He commented on the heat and various other things in an understanding way and I said no I want to go home for one day April 10th! Then I explained about the conference. I immediately thought about a friend that taught special education and is very supportive of our ministry here. Before I had a chance to finish this blog (because of various other interruptions) she e-mailed to say that she would take the class for me and send me the information that she gleaned. Praise God! Thanks for all of you that pray for us and our kids on a regular basis. We really appreciate it and a special thanks to Cindy for being willing to give up a Saturday for me!