Friday, July 30, 2010

Please Pray for us Today

Hi, if you have taken the time to read this today, please take a moment and pray for us. We are running a leadership retreat this weekend and found out two days ago that the main speaker will not be able to make it here. So, Dave is preparing to preach Friday night, three times on Saturday and Sunday morning, with limited preparation time. The rest of the team that made it is preparing to run a kids program on limited sleep (having gone through a 5 hour time change in the last three days). Cole woke up early this morning with diarrhea and fever. So I am trying to care for him and pull all the rest of the administrative pieces together for this retreat. I am truly grateful that Ben is still healthy, pray that he will be able to enjoy the kids program and not feel lost in the busy-ness.

As I write this, I am praising God because I know that whatever happens this weekend will be because of His divine intervention and He will get all of the glory, because there is no way that we will be able to pull this together in our own strength. So, join with us in prayer and be apart of the miracle that God wants to perform in the lives of these church leaders this weekend.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Things look different in the dark

I got up at four this morning because I was going to take my Nigerien friend to the bus station. It had been a short night because we had been at a send off for missionary friends who were leaving the country too. My friend was directing me down what she felt was the best way to the bus station and we were talking a little. I noticed what I thought was the shadow of a large pothole ahead of me and slowed down (mistake number one) to enter the pothole. Within inches and seconds I recognized my second mistake, the darker colour wasn’t a shadow, I was driving into a swamp of excrement that covered almost the whole road and was at least four inches deep (if not deeper in places). I was moving too slow and the sludge was too thick and slimy to plow my way through and so I was stuck within moments. I tried all the usual tricks of switching back and forth to try to gain some ground, but it was no use. Under normal circumstances there would be at least a few people around that would be willing to help me out by pushing , but at 4:30am the street was bare. So my friend and her two daughters that were nicely dressed to travel for the next 24hrs on a bus, got out and started pushing. With some prayer and some pushing we were out of the hole in less than five minutes (I was really amazed! God is so faithful!) and on our way again. As my friend recommended another route that ended up going through garbage sledge, her daughter in the back seat got a little concerned—I think that she was afraid that she wouldn’t be leaving Niger today as planned. Thankfully they made it to their bus on time and were relatively sludge free. I got home and told Dave that I didn’t want to minister to women any more, he said why because you don’t like saying goodbyes. I said yes, that and I don’t like getting up at 4am for bus runs and I really don’t like getting stuck in the back streets of Niger. Oh well, God gives us the grace for each day and I will continue to love and minister to the women that God puts in my path.

Please pray this week for the team coming from Canada, they leave Monday and arrive Tuesday July 27th---hopefully I won’t get stuck in the mud with them too. Pray also for the retreat that they are coming to help lead the following weekend.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I'm a brunette

I guess it comes as no surprise to anyone that sees me on a regular basis, but I have really only just come to this conclusion. You see, I have always thought of myself as “strawberry blonde” because that is what I was growing up and I think even if I look back at my wedding pictures I was still strawberry blonde (I can’t confirm that because I don’t have them with me here). I don’t really know when I started to turn brown, but many would say better that then grey. (No, my brain has not turned to complete mush having gone away to work on my masters and I am getting to a point here). The change in colour was so gradual over time that I never really paid much attention to it and that is very much like our Christian walk. Our goal is to be more like Jesus and we make little decisions daily that may not seem like much or mean anything to anyone else, but are slowly transforming us and changing us. There are the occasional milestones along the way that allow us to look back and say, “Wow, look how far I have come!” There are also those moments when we are really tired and overworked and don’t choose as wisely as we would like to and wonder if we will ever make it. But all the while, God is using the good and the bad to mold us and make us into what He wants us to be.

I had a really great time in studying in Germany. I learned many things, and met many great people. There are moments when I wished that the time would go on and on and then there were moments when I couldn’t wait to get back to Niger. I am still hoping that some of the people I met might give Niger a try sometime in the near future. Thanks to all of you who prayed for me during that time, it did my heart good to know that the boys were praying that –I wouldn’t be too lonely and I wouldn’t get too stressed! I have until August 15 to finish up assignments on two of my courses (the one I finished while in Germany) and so this will be a particularly busy time for me.

We are expecting a team from Canada in a week. Please pray for their health, safety and effective ministry. Also pray that all the details of preparations would come together for them.

The boys’ school is still short on staff for the coming year. We don’t know who will be teaching Ben’s grade 3 / 4 class, or covering the principal’s leave, or art or music. There are others that are planning on coming but don’t have support in place yet. But we have been encouraged to hear that someone might be coming from one of our supporting churches! Please pray for this person that God will direct him through this process and also please continue to lift up the other needs of Sahel Academy through the coming year.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

She’s almost home.

Sunday Jennifer will be back from her classes in Germany. Things have gone relatively well for her so far. She’s completed her coursework for the second class and received a final grade of … 100%! The boys say that Dad’s cooking is okay but too much BBQ. I had hoped to go away with the boys but never made it. Originally I thought we’d make the three day trip to Accra, Ghana. When things didn’t come together I thought we might take some friends to Ouagadougou for a couple of days this week but that didn’t pan out either. Thursday I discovered that it was probably for the best. Driving through town the car suddenly died. I called the garage and after quick inspection it was discovered that the timing belt had snapped… Now if you’re familiar with timing belts you know that generally means rebuilding the motor. Late Friday afternoon the mechanic called. He said that 90% of the time, a snapped timing belt means secondary damage to the motor. My car fell in to the other ten percent—only the timing belt. I’m particularly thankful; not only did they not have to rebuild the engine, if I had taken either of the trips the car would have broken down in the middle of no place in Burkina on a road known to have problems with bandits… Thank you Lord.

The other thing that happened here this week was much more disturbing. Spring rains have been slow coming and the famine is getting worse as livestock that usually are feeding on new grasses are rapidly dying off from starvation. Friday our house-help told us that a young woman from his wife’s neighbourhood had been kidnapped and then butchered as a sacrifice in order to produce rain. That neighbourhood did in fact have a violent thunderstorm this week that included large hail stones. When his wife rode a bush-taxi out to her mother’s home, people in the van were commenting how rain had indeed followed the sacrifice. Our house-help is a conservative Muslim who rejects involvement with the fetishers and was happy to learn that, in fact, hail in the Bible was not a sign of God’s favour but of judgement. In fact the storm had been so violent that a number of homes were seriously damaged or destroyed, including his mother-in-law’s. She is now sleeping in a shelter in the front yard because of large cracks in the cement which threaten to bring the roof down as happened next door. Please pray that good rains will come soon providing food to the herds that remain and to calm desperate hearts that are tempted with desperate measures.