Saturday, November 27, 2010

Tabaski Part two

This has been a long week. A little over a week ago was the Tabaski holiday, where every family slaughters a sheep, goat or cow to commemorate God’s provision of a ram when Abraham was about to sacrifice his son. The first day is more of a family day as the animal roasts over an open fire. The second day everyone begins to share their meat with family, friends and the poor. We visited a couple of homes where we were given lots of meat to eat and Tamajeq style tea. My last round of tea and meat was around 11 PM with a neighbour. That night it caught up with me—I was up hourly and probably only slept twenty minutes in the night. My insomnia was also
accompanied by troubling symptoms that have followed me on and off for the last week. On Wednesday, our doctor friend threatened that if something didn’t start improving soon she might consider having me evacuated someplace where more extensive tests could be done. I think most of my problems have been gastro-intestinal but some symptoms have made the doctor wonder if we shouldn’t consider having a stress test for my heart. Just suggesting that is a stress test for my heart! (I’ve already had EKG’s on two separate occasions since late August.) There have been days when I just wanted to go home, feeling like questions could be answered and resolved quickly. The truth is, as some of you know, even in North America some medical questions aren’t answered quickly, and treatment can require patience. It’s easy to become focused on ourselves in these moments but I know this has been trying on our family as well—my wife can’t remember when she last had a good night’s sleep.

We are thankful for God’s faithfulness. Last week we received four different gifts of meat—the most we’ve ever received, and perhaps a sign that we are starting to fit into the neighbourhood. The first morning of Tabaski I slept in thinking that all my neighbours would be busy saying prayers and talking their animals off to the mosque to be blessed before slaughter. However I awoke to the dog barking, and my wife saying, “I think someone’s knocking at the door.” I quickly pulled on my clothes but no one was there. Later that afternoon while going out to visit, my neighbour who is a marabout (Islamic teacher) accosted me on the street saying, “Daouda, where were you? We knocked on your door this morning to greet you. Your dog barked but no one answered. There were ten men standing at your front door wanting to greet you but you didn’t come out!” With embarrassment I explained that I wasn’t appropriately dressed to receive visitors which is why I was slow to answer.

Tomorrow is the first Sunday of Advent and I’ve cajoled my “Sunday School” students into doing the lectionary readings and to share a few thoughts on each in the morning service.

Please pray that as we work with the church and our neighbours that Christ’s light would shine through our lives.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tabaski Part One

Sorry for the long silence, but we were without power for the majority of last week and we were in the process of writing our e-newsletter with whatever amounts of power we could access. It is interesting how God can take a situation like having no power (or water because our water is cut off when the power is off for any length of time) and use it. There were two things that stand out about last week: 1) we were frequently asked if when we come back next time whether we would be moving to Kwara Kano, a neighbourhood made of mostly expatriates and influential Nigeriens—their power is rarely interrupted. 2) we found and frequented a new restaurant.
The questioning was interesting because it was a reminder once again of why we are here and doing what we are doing. We chose where we live very specifically because there were no other churches in our neighbourhood (or for two or three neighbourhoods nearby). We knew that we needed to live where we work in order to build relationships and live the gospel. It would be great to live in a nicer part of town where things are more convenient, but this is where we felt lead to be and where God has been using us so in all likelihood we’ll be returning even if we get to live with limited power and/or water. But, it was good to have the reminder that someone else put us where we are and He is continuing to sustain us despite the difficulties!
When you are afraid to touch your fridge or freezer because the power has been out for so long cooking can become a challenge. We were truly blessed that Grandma had sent us a jar of chunky peanut butter in a recent package because it really helped to take the edge off of breakfast (and bag lunches) when the only options were day old baguette and bananas or oranges “fresh” from the market the previous day (which doesn’t say much for their “freshness” with the heat we usually experience here), oh and of course warm water. The boys survived (and I don’t think they lost too much weight), but it meant that we went out to eat frequently. However the restaurants that have a generator for fans or air conditioning (and the opportunity to recharge your computer) can get to be pretty pricy when you frequent them regularly. So we saved them for when the boys were home from school, and found a new place to eat at lunch that was a step above street food (there was seating and fans when the power was on), but almost as cheap. We got to chose one of the two specials of the day (usually African cuisine) for 1000-1500 cfa (about $2.50-3.50 CDN). In going to the same place a few days in a row, we got to know the man in charge (the guy who yells out the window at the cook and brings you your food) and he gave us a complimentary Fulfulde lesson with our meal the last time. Please pray for this new relationship and that we will continue to seek new God opportunities. We also hope that you will praise God with us for the reminders that He is still at work in the midst of difficult times and that you will see God at work in your daily lives this week, whatever the circumstances.

Today was the end of Tabaski and I have much to write but, I think that will have to wait until next week. However, tomorrow is Field Day which is a day filled with so much mixed emotion in our house hold that I frequently approach it with fear and trembling. For those of you that know my boys (If only through this blog) please pray for them and for safety for all the participants.

Friday, November 5, 2010


This past week I had an e-mail from one of our supporting churches asking how they could pray for us and I didn’t realize how timely that request was until the experience of the last few days (that kept me from responding to this until today), so I thought I would share my response with you:

We really appreciate your prayers. The one prayer request that stands out right at the moment is for health. Dave has been having some weird symptoms and a missionary doctor is struggling to figure out what is happening. It seems like sporadically his heart is racing and he is having shortness of breath and stomach cramping. They have run an number of blood tests and are planning on doing an EKG and some thyroid tests, but the labs and things here are not always reliable (in fact tomorrow will be the third time that we have tried to do the EKG—last night they wouldn’t run any of the test and this morning they told him to come back at 4 when the technician would be there, only to find at 4 that the technician left at noon!) He is supposed to go in tomorrow morning, but it is unlikely to show anything unless he is experiencing symptoms when the test is actually being done. I am not sure how to pray—that he is really bad tomorrow and they figure out what is going on or for complete healing. Sorry this is a little on the heavy side, but Dave’s health issues has consumed a lot of the last couple of days.

On a positive note, you could pray for the kids club that is meeting at our house on Saturday’s that God will use the stories and colouring pages to transform their lives and the lives of their families.

You could also pray for property. There has been some money donated to go toward the purchase of property for a ministry centre/church here. We have been searching for a number of months and things are either too expensive or not the most ideal (ie. we thought that we had a reasonable piece of land at a reasonable price, only to find that it was on a garbage dump and we would have to dig through and remove 2-3m depth of garbage in order to find solid ground to build a foundation on.

We know that many of you do pray for us on a regular basis and that means a lot to us. I am reminded daily that I am not adequate to the ministry that the Lord has called us to but as we turn to him he is able to work through us.

And who is equal to such a task?... Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant… 2 Cor 2:16; 3:4-6