Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Advent Hope

Advent is about to wind up this Saturday night as Christmas is almost upon us. One of my favourite themes of Advent is hope. Hope says that even when life isn’t everything I wished was, that’s okay. Perhaps you’ve had your share of disappointments, and maybe your Christmas isn’t shaping up the way you thought it would. We’ve certainly had our share of frustrations and disappointments. I (Dave) need to take one more history or theology course for my degree program but my seminary isn’t offering one in either department next semester so I can’t do it. Our family visit to the dentist last week turned up three cavities (but I won’t say who got them). The flu has been travelling through our extended family for the last week and even right into our home. I’m sure my wife and children could add to the list and that your family has its list too. But advent is the season of hope and anticipation with the knowledge that Christ enters our world to right what is wrong, to restore what’s been lost, to heal what’s been broken and to establish God’s abiding presence in ways we’ve only glimpsed until now. Hope keeps us looking forward and not backward, anticipating rather than dreading the future. But advent is also preparation knowing that I myself am part of the wrong that needs to be righted (wrighted?) I confess that I’m sometimes my own worst enemy, and often the primary cause for my disappointments and frustrations, no doubt the disappointments and frustrations of others.

O holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born to us today…

May God’s presence be birthed in us that we might be the answer that others are hoping for…

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


I had planned on writing about advent and the themes that go with it since we are in the first week of December and Christmas is coming. Those of you who are traditionalists will tell be that I am getting a bit ahead of myself by starting with Joy, but it seems to go with the events of the last week. I had the opportunity to get to prayer meeting last week and found myself praying for the pastor and his family that they would experience all the joys of the season despite the heart ache of going through the process of saying good bye to a beloved family member. Little did I expect that I would find some extra joy myself this week.
I had the pleasure of helping my sister move back into her house last week (thanks again to all of you that have been praying for them --they can still use your prayers as they continue in this transition process). You may remember that they had a house fire last May and haven't lived in their house since then. It was a long hard journey and the house still needs a lot of work done to it but it was great to see the expression on my nephew's face when he said "You mean we get to sleep HERE...TONIGHT!!" It was pure joy.
I also had the joy of being present at my neice's baptism ceremony this past weekend. One of the things that we miss the most when we are out of the country are all of the special occasions with family, so it was great to be able to participate in this joyful occasion and to see what God is doing in her life.
My most recent joyful moment occurred just a little while ago when Dave phoned to say that he had handed in his last paper for the semester. He had struggled to get the last couple of papers completed and I was called in to edit and work through his thoughts with him. It is a great relief to know that it is done and that we can look forward to Dave's family arriving in the next little while.
Here is hoping that you have had many opportunities to rejoice this week as well!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Our society would like to make us believe that we need the latest, the newest and the best in order to be happy. It is so sad to see how we let consumerism consume us only to find out that it is never enough.

My thoughts have been running in the direction of abundance over the last few weeks. We sometimes forget that we have so much. I was at the breakfast table and looked down to realize that there were five different types of fruit on the table (we are trying to encourage healthy eating) and most of them were fruits that we can’t get in Niger. I turned to Dave and said now this is abundance!

Then we took our car into the garage to be fixed just before we left for a weekend of driving and presentations. We were surprised to have a gift given to us at the one church and even more amazed that there was some left over after we paid for our car repairs. Now that is abundance!

God is so good to us in providing for our needs and blessing us, but how often do we take those blessings for granted.

I was reading in a devotional the other day “Though I [Jesus] have brought many pleasures into your life, not one of them is essential. Receive my blessings with open hands. Enjoy my good gifts but do not cling to them. Turn your attention to the Giver of all good things, and rest in the knowledge that you are complete in me” (Jesus Calling). The media would like us to be unsatisfied with who we are, what we have and try to get us to focus on more stuff. But really it is all about the Giver.

May you rejoice in the blessings & the Giver today!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I have had two themes running through my mind over the last two weeks- renovations and abundance. (I guess they must really have been running because my word processor can’t keep up with my typing at the moment). I think that I will only take the time to deal with the first this week because I am still processing the latter.

A little over a week ago I was helping my sister and brother-in-law preparing their house for hardwood flooring. As I was ripping out staples from the floor boards, I was reminded how much more work renovating is to building new. When you build new, everything is fresh and new and you get to see the progress almost immediately. When you renovate, you have to rip everything out and get rid of the old (or take the time to repair it) before you can begin to see progress. It can be a painful process, but at the same time incredibly rewarding.

My epiphany amidst the drywall dust and staples was that this is what God does for us as believers. He reaches out and says you are worth all the hard work and sweat that it takes to remove all the crud in your life, even when it is one small staple at a time. He takes us where we are when we give our lives to Him and He slowly goes about making a new creation out of us. It is incredible to think that the creator of the universe would think that I am worth it. We have much to praise Him for! I think that He must have the same sense of accomplishment that comes to a renovator knowing the before and after. Maybe the “well done thou good and faithful servant…” is a commendation that goes both for the servant and the creator that enables us to finish well.

Dave is away at school today trying to get caught up on the classes he missed last week while we were away and trying to complete his assignments for next week. The boys had a great time with their uncle and cousins while we were in Winnipeg, thanks to all who were praying for them. Dave and I learned a lot at the church planting congress and hope that some of the teaching will take root in our lives and ministry. It was also nice to connect with some western FMers who were there as well. We had a great trip to St. Joseph’s Island and were truly blessed to have the opportunity to connect with the people there. Please pray for our time in Prince Edward County this weekend, that we would be a blessing to the people there

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Week of Presentations

This past week was marked with meetings and presentations. Here are a few pictures from the presentation at the boys school.
Unfortunately we forgot to take pictures at the presentation for the Board of Administration.

We were truly blessed to be at Caistor Centre Free Methodist Church this past weekend to help them celebrate their anniversary. It was great to be able to visit with old friends and to meet some of the new families that have been added to their midst since we left. Thanks for the warm welcome it really felt like a home coming.

Dave is hard at work presenting an assignment for one of his classes even as I write this, hopefully he will be able to get the accompanying paper written before we start out on our next series of travels. Please pray for us as we are in Napanee, Winnipeg and St. Joe's Island all in one week's time. The boys will be staying with their uncle while we are in Winnipeg and I am sure that they would appreciate your prayers. I don't know if I'll be able to post next week while we are on the road or not hopefully no one will be too disappointed.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


What an amazing institution that God has designed? They tend to know us better than we want to be known on occasion. They are the source of our greatest joys and some of our deepest disappointments. They may look very different in different cultures and at different stages of our lives, but these are the people that we have the biggest commitment to and that have the biggest commitment to us. It seems like each family has their own unwritten rules about how things are done, some of these are cultural related and some are just specific to an individual family. While we were in Niger we had a couple of opportunities to open our home to minister to ladies that needed a place to stay and they became part of our family. As a result we had the opportunity to learn some of their unwritten rules and discover some of our own.

It was interesting to discover something about family dynamics in Niger. My friend told me that the younger sister is expected to help with chores for an older sister and in return is free to ask for financial help or to borrow any clothing or other items that they might have need or want of. It made a lot of sense in the context and doesn’t sound too different from life here. –At least I know that I have been blessed by hand-me-downs from my sister over the years.

When you leave your extended family behind to serve in another country it can be really challenging. Who do you turn to for help with your kids, or when your car breaks down, or when you have a medical emergency? This is the loss that happens when someone converts to Christianity in Niger, most times they become outcasts from their family and friends. This is where the church has to fill in the gap. It is a complicated process filled with difficult decisions. How do you care for others without having them become financially dependent on you (especially when that is what they are used to)? How can you make what you have spread far enough to care for the need? When is it ok to say no, I don’t have any more to give?I have really been enjoying being home these last few months and reconnecting with family. It has been great to be able to not only visit but to be able to help and hopefully make a difference by being there. Isn’t that what family is all about?

Saturday, October 29, 2011


I guess that it was inevitable that I would be blessed with Dave's cold after so many sleepless nights hearing him snore. I guess that is what married life is all about --sharing! I don't think that he will have the same difficulty that I did with sleeping but that is probably a good thing with the work load that he has right now. Hopefully I will be able to kick this cold before our really busy stretch next month. Luckily the boys haven't caught it yet. Like most pre-teens they feel immune to those things and are more interested in fashion statements than warmth when dressing for school --maybe they have adapted to the climate of Canada better than the rest of us.

Please pray for Dave's work load and that I don't pass on this cold to anyone else as we travel. This week in addition to our regular routine we will be making an extra trip to the boys school to do a presentation on Niger for the other fifth grade immersion class and doing a presentation for the National Board of Administration for the Free Methodist Church.

Friday, October 21, 2011


I thought this was published awhile ago, but I just found it my draft box I guess I can add computer malfunctioning to my week too...

I am so thankful to be living in this time in history in this country, mostly because I can see.
This week (Oct.5) I went to see if I was a candidate for laser eye surgery to correct my vision and even though the technology hasn't developed to the place where they can correct my -13 eyes. I was reminded that I have been on the cutting edge of technology with my eyes for most of my life. If I had been born in my grandmother's generation or in a less developed country I might be fumbling around with the foggy blurr that is my vision without the help of glasses or contacts,
This is just one of the many things that I am thankful for today, I am hoping that you are finding many things to be thankful for too as we draw near to Thanksgiving here in Canada,

One of THOSE weeks

I am having one of those weeks, which probably has a lot to do with the fact that I haven’t been getting a lot of sleep. Dave has had a head cold for the last two weeks and as a result has been doing a lot of snoring. So this morning I decided to take advantage of the fact that I wasn’t sleeping and the computer was free. This is my disclaimer if this is full of mistakes or doesn’t make much sense.

It is amazing how fatigue can affect your ability to cope. I found myself struggling with reverse culture shock so much more this week. I have been trying to come to terms with how much we have in Canada and how much money is used for various things in contrast with the stark poverty that we faced daily in Niger. It can almost make you sick and I confess that I cried myself to sleep one night this week—but maybe that was a blessing because it was the best sleep that I have had in awhile. There are no simple answers, but God is gracious through it all.
In addition to those challenges, I have had my hot water tank die this week (good thing it was a rental and the gas company repaired it), I lost my son when trying to pick him up from school (partially my fault for being late, he was found an hour later), my dinner exploded in Dave’s hands when he tried to take it from the oven (thankfully he was ok, but we had to throw out the meat that was covered in shattered glass), I had two e-mails from Niger –one saying that my car had broken down and needed repairs and the other saying that my washing machine wasn’t working. I went to do a presentation in Ben’s class yesterday and the clothing rack decided to fall apart and dump everything just outside my front door and yes it happened to be raining slightly. Then when we went to give the power point presentation I realized that Dave had put the wrong one on the flash drive so we didn’t have the one that I had spent the better part of two days working on. (I think that there is a country music song in here somewhere…)

My list of gripes may seem long this week and you may have had bigger and worse items that you could add to yours, but I am grateful that in the big scheme of things they are nothing major and for all the things that have gone wrong God has turned them around for good. My prayer for you this week is that you would be able to see the good that God can bring about in whatever circumstances
Please continue to pray for Dave as he writes papers in addition to his regular work.

Monday, September 26, 2011

sorry for a long silence

I really am sorry for the long silence. We have been working our way into a routine for the boys, but have yet to work out a routine for Dave and I that gives me some time with both the computer and internet access. I have had time and ideas for blogs while Dave was off with the computer at school (the advantages of being grounded without a car), but otherwise I have either been without the computer or haven't been able to find the time. It has been great being able to visit with so many familiar faces and making some new friends along the way. We are so blessed by our extended family that is the FM church. Ben summed it up so well yesterday when we were in Brantford when he said "I could live here. These people have known me a whole lot longer and better than my friends at school and I really like them." Thanks for welcoming us back to Canada and loving us inspite of our worts! We praise God for the opportunity to know you and work with you. This week we are hoping to get some of the results from our medical tests that we have been going through since we got back. We would appreciate your prayers for that. Please know pastors that you and your families have been in my thoughts and prayers these last few weeks, may you sense God's nearness.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Labour Day or New Year's Day

I heard a reporter this week say that Labour Day was like another New Year’s Eve in many ways. It is especially true for those that are teachers or students because a new school year provides the opportunity for a fresh start. One of the things that I enjoyed the most about teaching was the new opportunities that each year brings. It was like you could make up for past mistakes or choices and try new things and make a difference. There are things that are the same and familiar, but just enough is different to make you feel like you get another chance. That is also what is amazing about the Christian faith, you get offered an opportunity to walk away from your mistakes and start fresh. Your circumstance may not look any different but your attitude and response to those circumstances is totally transformed. Instead of a list of New Year’s resolutions that you hope to put in place you receive a relationship with God that helps you to become even more than you ever imagined. Yesterday was the boys first day in a new school. It is a real blessing for us that they are both able to be in the same school this year. They thought that it was kind of neat that they got to go to a school that their mother had gone to many years before. Thanks for everyone that was praying for them, their first day seemed to go pretty well (I am not so sure about the second based on all the things that I have found left behind that they were supposed to take with them). Cole grew at least 4 inches over this summer, so keeping him in clothes this year could be a real challenge. There are real advantages to living in Niger, where the boys can wear shorts year round. Shorts just don’t seem to get too short as fast as pants, oh well! This week also marks the beginning of our travels as we head to Wallaceburg to visit friends at the Charlemont F.M. church. Please pray for us as we prepare for the trip and try to get everything in place. I still have suitcases to go through and unpack/repack and I feel like I lose things as fast as I find them these days. We have had so much change over the last few months that it seems hard to find a routine or to establish systems that will help things work better. Praying that you will receive the fresh start that you need whether you are going back to school or just back to the same old routine.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Finally Finished!

I am finally finished my course work for the summer, just in time to pull my house together and get the boys ready for back to school. I had totally forgotten what back to school was like in Canada, (not to mention grocery shopping). I think that I will have more fun picking out school supplies and getting the boys ready for school than they will. My biggest problem is that I am so out of touch with life here that it is hard to know what they need. Hopefully when it is all said and done, I will find the time to get a break too!
Aside from getting my papers finished and trying to settle in we have been busy trying to help my sister move. She had a fire in her home last spring and they rented a town house while the repairs were being done in hopes of being able to move back by now, unfortunately the house isn't ready for them (and will probably be a few more months to repair the damage)and the place they are in is spoken for, so they get to move one more time! The move was complicated by her having back problems. Thanks to all of you who have been praying for her back she has been improving significantly over the past couple of weeks and is much more mobile now.
Please remember Sahel Academy (the boys school in Niamey)in your prayers. They started classes this past week with a building that isn't quite finished and they are still waiting on a shipping container with textbooks and other supplies (including the doors for the building).
Praying that you will enjoy your last few weeks of summer with all that it holds!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Not so smooth transitions

Well I think that my body is starting to find the right time zone as I adjust to life in Canada. It has been an interesting trip home. I got to the airport to find out that my flight to Toronto had been canceled and the air line was going to put me up in a hotel either in Mulhouse (where I was starting from) or Paris (where my flight had been canceled). I decided that this might finally be my opportunity to see Paris, so I took the first flight to Paris. Boy was I mistaken! I got to Paris and the airline personnel gave me paperwork to stay in a hotel,for meals and a card to phone home to let my family know that I wasn't coming home at the planned time. Trying to follow the directions I was given resulted in a 6 hour tour of Charles de Gault airport lugging two large duffle bags, my backpack and purse. By the time I ended up at the hotel, I was too tired to try and figure out how to get a tour of Paris and was just happy that I could eat supper in the hotel without having to go anywhere else. I guess it serves me right for not packing light.
I have since returned home to other challenges. Dave and the boys and I spent my first morning in Canada connecting with our boss before he headed off for a trip to Sri Lanka and then on a one month sabbatical. The afternoon was filled with being poked and prodded at the doctor's office as we had re-entry physicals. Thankfully that went pretty well, but we will have to wait for the results of all our tests. Just before I got to Canada my sister was put on complete bedrest for a back problem while she waits for a doctor's appointment, so I have been trying to divide my time between helping with her and her family, getting our house set up and finishing my course work. Unfortunately, I have been having a hard time concentrating on the school work, so it isn't getting done as quickly as I would like.
Thanks so much for those of you who were praying for my safe return. It is really good to be together with family again. Please pray for my sister's back and her pain levels and that I would be able to start making some headway with my school work.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Moving... the ongoing saga

Sorry for dropping off the map for those who check our blog regularly. At the end of May we moved into a mission guesthouse while the boys finished off the school year. Towards the end of June we moved to Germany where Jennifer is taking courses in Education and Theology. (I had originally signed up to do courses as well but my seminary wouldn't give me credit for them.) I have since left Jennifer behind in Germany to finish her courses while I set up the house. Last weekend I moved our stuff from Caistor Centre to St. Catharines with more than a little help from my friends and family. (Thanks to the good people in Caistor Centre FMC and Grapeview.)Just about everything is now moved but now it needs to be unpacked. I hope to have the house more or less organized by the time Jennifer comes home on the 23rd. She will be coming home with much homework and hopefully will be able to transition without too much difficulty. In the meantime the boys and I are enjoying home cooking. MMmmm, apple pie.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Sorry this took so long to post, it was written a few weeks ago but got over looked in the moves and internet complications...

Transition looks like many different things to many different people but to TCK’s (Third Culture Kids: those that are born into one culture and raised in another) transitions become a huge part of their lives. Right now we are in the thick of transition, so our house is torn apart with boxes everywhere, some that have been packed and re-packed only to be broken into one more time because you realize that you really need something out of it in order to get through.

There are some really good things that happen at these times of transitions, like the way things are re-evaluated. There are a lot of things that you realize you don’t need and can live without or that someone can make better use of than you have been. This is especially true when you are putting things into storage for an extended period of time and have seen the damage that mice and termites are capable of. There are so many reminders of how blessed we are. The fact that we have so many boxes to pack and so much furniture to lend to others while we are away are huge testimonies to that. It is really nice to be able to pass some of that blessing on to others. Transitions also provide the opportunity to re-evaluate relationships, to give thanks for those who have become so important to you, to encourage those who will be carrying on without you, as well as to ask forgiveness or to seek healing in those relationships that have not gone the way that you intended. So, thanks to all of you that have been remembering us over our time here in Niger.

One thing that is for sure, transitions are never easy. Anyone who has ever had to say good bye can attest to that. No matter how much you are looking forward to what lies ahead or how challenging what you are leaving, good byes are never pleasant. Please keep us in your prayers (especially the boys) as we enter into this time of extended transition.

We are in our third house since I wrote this (a few weeks ago) and still have two more to go before we can settle for awhile. Our sincerest apologies to those that have sent us e-mails for church bookings we hope to be able to respond to them soon. Thanks for your patience with us we are looking forward to seeing you soon.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Answers to Prayer

I have had a few answers to prayer over the past little while. So, I think that I will list them in hopes that I don’t forget something:
• We get to stay in our own house when we return to Canada
• The boys and I survived two weeks single parenting while Dave was away taking a course
• The weird things that were happening with our electricity were more wide spread that just our house and thus not our problem to resolve
• Our car here waited until Dave returned before it broke down on the road! And the problem was only a battery issue and not the alternator or something worse
• We now have a car to use when we return to Canada
• We think that Ben may have been accepted into a French immersion program for the coming year (we aren’t sure because the acceptance e-mail said that he was accepted into the seventh grade and he will be going into fifth!). If that is the case, it means the boys will be able to be in the same school.
• Rain! We had a slight taste of rain this past Saturday, but unfortunately it didn’t amount to much where we are living and so the heat continues
• Preparations are starting to come together for our move at the end of this month (we will spend our last couple of weeks here in a guest house before going to Germany for studies)
• If you are reading this it means that I even had enough power and internet (at the same time!) to post this
At this time of year it is really difficult to keep our focus on the Giver of Joy and not get caught up in our circumstances, but we are grateful that we really do have a lot to be thankful for. Please pray that we would be able to have contentment regardless of our circumstance—it is such a difficult lesson to learn! Praying that you will know His joy and contentment too.

PS. This is dave. The car is starting to die again. I think it's the alternator killing the batteries but I don't know. My mechanic is closed until Monday. Don't know how we'll get to church on Sunday but God will provide. Internet is really intermittent.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Sunday School Explosion

A few weeks ago a pastor in our church preached on evangelism and how it was everyone’s responsibility to share what God was doing in their lives and to invite others to know Him and become involved in a church. On Easter Sunday, one of the little boys in my Sunday school class had taken that message to heart and had invited four of his friends to join him. Because we were celebrating the resurrection of Christ, I had special treat bags made up for each of the kids as they left Sunday school and went to join the morning service. I had expected extra kids because it was a special week so I was prepared. What I wasn’t prepared for was this last week, when my Sunday school class went from the regular 12 kids to 28! I don’t know if word had gotten out in the neighbourhood that they could get candy in church or whether my little evangelist had had a taste of success and expanded his horizons. I had a little boy of about 11 years old offer to translate for me into Zarma for the kids that didn’t have enough French (which was really helpful. But, what was really interesting about that is that my translator who had come for the first time that morning) kept getting ahead of me and telling the story for me and I only had to correct him once! I hope that my little evangelist hadn’t taken the kids from the other nearby churches to join us.

I suspect that there might be a slightly smaller response this week (because the kids didn’t go away with a bag of candy), but please pray that God will be at work in the lives of these kids. Pray that we as a church will know how to respond to them as well (there were more kids than adults in the service on Sunday morning, but that is a closer reflection of the population of Niger). Pray that my Zarma will be able to keep up with the need, so that I can communicate with the kids that come and can follow to know when someone is translating correctly or not.

In addition to the regular problems with electricity, I am also having computer problems with the power cord. Please pray that it would continue to cooperate until I can get a replacement.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


This past week I found myself in my kitchen, dripping sweat from every pore of my body thinking as I made Danish for my husband and kids that it was only because I loved them that I would even consider doing this. (And to be truthful, I was thinking about how many things I would not have to make from scratch next year when I am home!) The temperature was in the 40’sC and my kitchen fan was broken and I was about to light up the stove. It got me to thinking about the sacrifices that we make for our kids or our family members. We are willing to go the extra mile for those that we love simply because we love them. That is what is so amazing about the sacrifice Christ made for us. He gave up everything and submitted himself to a horrible death for us –even when we didn’t acknowledge or know him. That is love and it makes my dripping over pastries seem pretty small in comparison.

I hope that you have had a moment to bask in God’s love for you this week, if you haven’t take one now.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sensory Overload or Exhaustion

I am trying to figure out if I am on sensory overload or just exhausted. But either way I am truly grateful to a great God that sustains us regardless of circumstances.

The sensory overload comes from way too many visits to clinic/hospitals in Niamey in the last week and a half. Some of these clinics were nice and others not so much, but all included really long waits and entertaining two preschoolers (because their mom was with us to translate for the sick person). I will try to give you a glimpse of one such visit: we thought this visit was going to take a half an hour while we waited to get an appointment date. Instead we spent four and a half hours entertaining a really tired three year old. He eventually fell asleep in my arms with the sweat pouring from both of us. I wasn’t able to put him down because the only place that I could have laid him on was the tile floor that I noticed had drops of blood here and there. (It was one time that I wished I had worn a head wrap—I would have gladly sacrificed messy hair for a little less heat). While I sat in this pool of sweat in the hallway in the emergency ward, I noticed a cat wonder in and out of the rooms nearby like it owned the place. I can’t even begin to describe the smells. After a number of trips to the pharmacy (where I had to buy everything from a plastic drop sheet to be used in the examination process, to a bottle of bleach), and 4 ½ hours later everything was completed including the original procedure that we thought we would only be booking. I just wish that I could say this was the only day like this instead of one of many…

The exhaustion comes from the heat and power issues. We are in the heart of the hot season and so there is a huge drain on everyone here. But to make matter worse we have been experiencing numerous blackouts, both day and night. (I suspect everyone is desperate for A/C and it’s overloading the system which was already underserviced either that or it is related to the situation in Nigeria, the source of our electricity.) For example, last night the power went off about two hours before I wanted to go to bed, when bedtime rolled around it was still out and the temperature in our room was 37.9C or 99.9F with no hope of fan, let alone air conditioning. The power did come back on, only to go off again. Unfortunately, the power outs also mean water cuts at our house. Luckily we were able to go out and buy a couple of cases of drinking water today.

Please pray for us as we try to persevere gracefully and share the love of Christ with those who are suffering with us. Pray also that we will have the strength to make it through the packing process without getting too caught up in looking toward going to Canada.

PS Could someone remind me next fall that I really want a camping fan for Christmas (the kind that runs on cordless drill batteries)and maybe a lantern, especially when I am being tempted by iphones, itouches, tvs and all the other great technology available in Canada.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Let the Church Be the Church

Last night we were invited to another missionary’s home for supper. Our two boys joined their son in playing soccer video game. Our two boys got put together playing one team against the other boy. They got thrashed. Near the end Ben said, “ I don’t like playing with somebody else on my team—it’s easier when I do it all myself!”

I am a “doer” that likes to make things work and as a result, there are many times that I struggle with letting others do. I heap all kinds of extra work on myself by insisting that I know a better way to do something or can save myself time by doing it myself (probably a result of my own insecurities and pride). It happens with my kids, I think that it would just be so much easier if I did it myself. Denying them the privilege of not only learning how and developing their gifts and skills, but also the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and/or gain a sense of accomplishment.

How often is this true of the church? So often it is easier just to teach the Sunday school class or put together the Christmas program. It takes more time to collaborate with others showing them how it has been done in the past and learning from each other about possible ways of doing it in the future. It takes physical and emotional investment to work with someone else to accomplish a goal. But isn’t that what being a body is all about? We weren’t meant to be “lone rangers” dealing with everything on our own. It not only hurts us but it also hurts others when we try. That is why God put us in the church.

This morning I am trying to put some of that into practice. There is someone that has been coming to my house looking for help and I have been trying to go it alone, with my limited Zarma and cultural understanding. I had been thinking that there was no one close enough to help deal with this situation and that I wasn’t sure what to do. I finally humbled myself to ask a couple of ladies from our church to help me out with the situation and was truly blessed when one offered a better solution than I could come up with and said that she would come help. I guess I am slowly learning to let the church be the church. Please pray for this lady from our church that she would be enabled to deal with the situation and that God would bless her as she uses her gifts and talents for his kingdom. Let ‘s also pray for each other that we would be more willing to take the difficult route of investing in those around us instead of “just doing it” alone.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Rollercoaster Rides

I was prepared to write this week about the rollercoaster ride of Cole’s birthday: after two days with no water, his gift from Grandma is lost in the mail and the best present he received was the time we spent playing Risk with him that ended with the power going out. But…

Then we went to bible study to night and the plunges on the roller coaster got a little steeper. We found out tonight that a young man from our congregation was killed this week in an accident on his way to Ouagadougou. He was going to write an accounting exam with a number of other students from the business school when the bus they were riding in broke down along the road. He was in the process of helping the driver with the repairs when a truck came along and ran them over. Both he and the driver were killed and a couple of other students were injured. Please pray for their families and all the people involved in this accident that God can turn this tragedy into something good. Pray also for Pastor Soter and the members of his family that work at the school and were friends with Jean-Claude as they mourn and care for those who mourn.

We had also considered going to Ouagadougou ourselves for a couple of days this week for the boy’s spring break. It’s about the only get away within driving distance of home. We discovered that it was a good thing we didn’t go since political unrest has suddenly erupted this week in the capital city with protests and gunfire. We heard that there were four deaths yesterday as shots were fired at protesters but that the military has since come onside with the protesters. Please pray as political unrest continues in the countries surrounding us.

We came home from bible study to receive the good news that we will have a place to live in Canada next year. We will be moving back into our own condo which is really nice for the boys to have a sense of “home”. Unfortunately it means that our renter is moving out and we will have to find someone new to move in when we leave. We had hoped to keep our renter and find another place to live because it is easier for us to find an apartment than to find a good renter, but God had other things in mind.

We were extremely grateful to receive word that my mom’s surgery went well. Thanks to all who have been praying, please continue to remember her over the next little while that he body may be fully restored.

Praying that your week has had a few less bumps than ours and that you are also experiencing His peace with every curve that comes your way.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Rough Week

It has been a bit of a rough week. Aside from the usual power on, power off, water on, water off saga that goes with hot season and makes things like cooking, cleaning, laundry and sleeping a little more difficult. (I am told that I might be better off in the bush where I wouldn’t expect to have such luxuries), I have had some other interesting challenges to face.

I have been working with a young woman who has some serious problems but is not really interested in dealing with them in a constructive or realistic manner. So, it comes down to the fact that I really can’t help someone who isn’t interested in helping themselves or to accept the help I have to offer. I guess my biggest struggle with this is trusting God to take care of the situation when I can’t.

On that same note, I have been learning to trust God with the things that I can’t deal with on the home front. My mom is going in for back surgery today and I am continents away. It is not that I think that I would be able to do anything major if I were actually there, but it would be nice to be able to be there for my parents. I guess if the truth were told I would like to be there for myself too—to be reassured about her health, to help and to be able to see improvement. But, I get to wait this one out from a distance, knowing that she is in good hands which does make the waiting a little easier. (I guess I must be working on patience at the same time as trust!) You're in our prayers mom.

On a more positive note, the kids are enjoying a break from school this week. It has been nice have a little extra time in the day without the commute and to be able to do some extras like playing board games in the evening. Now if I can just get them into sorting and packing mode that would be really helpful.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Planes, trains and automobiles

“You wanna fly to Cotonou tomorrow?” So began a four day adventure, the results of which remain to be seen. I had come across the existence of Free Methodist churches in Togo through the American Free Methodist World Missions website recently. A few years ago a Free Methodist from Cameroun initiated a ministry in the capital of Lomé but the ministry has since continued under the leadership of Togolese pastor. I had discussed the possibility of making a connection with the Togolese church with Dan Sheffield, since it’s the only other Francophone country in the region where the Free Methodist Church is present. He agreed that such a connection might be useful in the future but not necessarily our top priority as we prepare to transition back to Canada. The week following my conversation with Dan, the Togolese pastor himself contacted me out of the blue.

In the past we’ve flown to Ghana in a little 4-5 seater plane that SIM makes available to the mission community, though it’s not necessarily cheap. The price for round trip to Lomé was too exorbitant for me to book it and so I had been contemplating the possibility of taking the bus—a 24 hr trip one-way, and probably no A/C. Perhaps that’s why I was taking my time about planning the trip. When Ed offered the ride to Cotonou it was hard to pass up. Cotonou is about a two hour taxi ride up the coast from Lomé.

As chance (God) would have it, I never took that taxi. As we were flying into Cotonou we heard another pilot making arrangements to land with the control tower. She commented that after dropping off her passenger she was continuing on to Lomé. I said to Ed, “Wouldn’t it be nice if she could just take me on to Lomé—that would save me a lot of time and grief.” In Cotonou, we got out of the plane and a couple of pilots walked up.
“Where are you from?” one asked.
“Niamey,” replied Ed. “How about you?”
“Just returning to Lomé,” she replied.
“He’d like to go to Lomé,” Ed put in.
“Oh, come, come” she said, “we just dropped off the future president, we’re empty,” and then grabbed me by the arm and dragged me off with her co-pilot. That chance encounter saved me a visa, a trip through customs, a border crossing and a 2 hr taxi ride. We glided gently down the coast of beautiful sandy beaches at low altitude. Only the pilots had head-phone radios to talk so I contemplated the coastline in silence, as the roar of the engine drowned everything else out. Unfortunately, I never got to visit those beaches.

Back on the ground I easily found the pastor. I settled into the SIL guesthouse and spent the next two days visiting his churches in the area. Pastor Dosseh gives primary leadership to the church in Lomé but then gives oversight to lay church-planters in a couple of villages. He also oversees a church plant in central Togo, in a town called Sokode—it’s considered the Muslim capital of Togo and also his home town. His experience in Muslim ministry has useful potential for collaboration in Niger.

Wednesday morning he took me to the bus station downtown to catch my ride home. The bus was supposed to leave at 11 AM but it still wasn’t repaired… At 3pm we finally hit the road and I waved good-bye to my new friend out the window. The long bus ride home had its own adventures… but I arrived safely and was reunited with my wife and family.

Since then hot season has kicked in and power keeps going out.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


The clock on my computer says that it is 1:50am and I am wide awake.

I could blame it on the heat and humidity and the fact that my ear is oozing and has been annoying me all night. But I know that in reality if Dave where here I would have whined at him about my ear and he would have groaned sympathetically and we both would have rolled over and gone back to sleep, (at least until the pain got REALLY bad). However, my respect for single parents and just single missionaries in general has grown this week—I should say that I have always had a deep respect for those who are able to manage life as a single especially because I am not one of those people.

I think the real reason I am awake has more to do with the cockroach in my bathroom that I found when I tried to doctor my ear. I tried to pitch my shoe at it a couple of times because it was out of reach, but by the third poorly aimed throw he surrendered for parts unknown and I was wide awake.

As I was sitting there trying to figure out what happened to my little friend, I realized that I was hearing voices on the street. It never ceases to amaze me at how my Nigerien neighbours seem to function at all hours of the day and night. I am amazed at how late young children can be found in the streets. There is a part of me that understands the nocturnal side. When temperatures are so hot during the day, I can see taking advantage of the cooler evening, (but for me that would mean getting some much needed sleep). I suppose the other difference is that I have to live on a different time clock because of the boys’ school. Our guys start school at 7:25am (on the opposite side of town) in order to make the most of the cool of the morning and to avoid rush hour traffic. Then school goes straight through to 3pm. For the few Nigeriens that go to school here their day starts much later, then they take an afternoon rest hour and start school again in the afternoon from 3:30-6:30pm (depending on the age and school). I am guessing that the long rest hour is what makes the difference.

I will let Dave talk about his trip when he gets back. The good news for me is that he has a bus ticket and hopes to start home today. The bad news is that the drive time will take 24hrs if all goes well according to the bus company! Please pray with me that the trip home is a good one and that they make really good time.

I think my doctoring is working and if my cockroach friend will remain in hiding I guess I need to be getting back to bed. In a few hours I am going to have to wake the boys and get on with the rest of today.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

West African Adventures and Single Parenting

You can pray for us today.

Dave just left for a West African adventure. It started last night when we went to a dinner at the boys’ school. I casually asked one of the SIM air pilots if he had every taken a bus to Lome (the capital of Togo). He said it was a number of years ago when the roads were better and it had taken 19 hours. I was asking because we were planning on putting Dave on a bus to meet with the pastor that is overseeing the Free Methodist work there, but after I asked the pilot added, “but I am flying with an empty plane to Cottonou tomorrow. Do you want to go?” That lead to a series of phone calls and Dave’s departure with no known return date. (He hopes to take a bus back on Wednesday, but he doesn’t know anything about the bus schedule yet). Right now he is planning on taking a plane to Cottonou (Benin) and we have friends that will meet him at the airport and put him on a bush taxi to Lome (Togo) where the pastor responsible for the FM work there will meet him. (The flight should cut 16-20 hours off of this trip and make it possible to be able to do it in less than a week). Please pray that this will be a profitable time for all those involved as he meets with the leaders of the Free Methodist movement in Togo. My prayer is that they will be an encouragement for each other and may be the start of some “connectionalism” for FMers in francophone West Africa.

Pray for the boys and me as well, as we try to manage without Dad for awhile.

Monday, February 14, 2011

اركي غَ بَ نِن

What do you see? How does it make you feel? Nervous? Annoyed? Left out? The truth is all it really says is God loves you in Zarma. A week ago I had a crash course in the Arabic script which many languages use for writing. When the language actually being written is not Arabic, this writing is called Ajami which translates into something like “ignorant” or “barbarian”. I took the course with an SIL missionary who worked in Cameroun. He discovered that people who may otherwise have been considered illiterate were able to read the scriptures the moment they were written with this alphabet. Many children here are daily memorizing this alphabet in order to chant the Qur’an, in a language they don’t even understand. The standard educational method of many Qur’anic schools is to first teach the alphabet, then memorize the entire Qur’an, and then teach you how to understand Arabic. The process apparently takes about 12 years… Most kids never get that far but they do know how to sound out the letters. Likewise my neighbour, who doesn’t speak French but does have a little prayer mosque in front of his house where he prays and reads the Qur’an every day, would probably have no problem figure out what those squiggles at the top of the page mean. Pray that I would continue to understand how to read this and find ways to use it effectively.

In mean time we have finished paying the owner for the property we are buying but have some final paper work to fill out with the notary in order to have a title deed in our hands. And she needs to get paid too.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Gift of Today

Life has been very harried the last few weeks, but I was blessed with a gift last summer that has really helped to keep me focused. You may remember that last summer we hosted a team from Canada, while they were here one of the members gave me a copy of Jesus Calling. It is a daily devotional that I have really appreciated. Today before I tried to tackle my “to do list” (that seems to grow longer instead of shorter as the day goes on), I took some time to read it and was reminded once again about where my priorities should be. The author Sarah Young writes, “…Each day is a precious gift from My Father. How ridiculous to grasp for future gifts when today’s is before you! Receive today’s gift gratefully unwrapping it tenderly and delving into its depths. As you savor the gift you find me [Jesus}”. My hope is that you can take to time to enjoy today for whatever it holds.

As for us we are finishing up negotiations to buy a piece of land, we just need to work out the details of how to get the money here to pay for it. Please pray for that. Dave has also been involved in some workshops here in town learning how to use the Arabic script to write the local languages. This holds some exciting possibilities because even the kids that haven’t gone to a public school (because of a lack of birth certificate or for other reasons) may have been taught to sound out the Arabic letters in order to participate in the local Mosques and Quaranic schools.

Niger had their first round of Presidential elections this past Monday. That reduced the number of Presidential candidates from ten to two. The final two will face off in an election at the end of March. Please keep this in your prayers as Niger so needs good leaders that will keep the best interest of the country in mind and rule with honesty and integrity.

Special thanks to Grace Methodist for sending the boys scooters! They are slowly learning how to use them and will be sending you a more personal thank you very soon.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Visitors from Canada

Last week we had the privilege of hosting Dan Sheffield, Jared Siebert, and Mary-Elsie Wolfe. Jared and Mary-Elsie now have Nigerien names: Garba and Mariama-Salamatou. We enjoy sharing our lives with others from home and giving them an opportunity taste what life is like here. However it was not all fun and games as we had meetings with different church leaders and other business to accomplish as well.
I think we packed a lot into the six days they were here but enjoyed every minute of it. The church here was also appreciative of their ministry.
Some of you have asked for an update on my (Dave’s) health and it’s probably about time I said something. We enjoyed our week in Ghana. We spent time with the psychologist at the Mobile Member Care Team. Most of my systems were stress related and we spent time discussing some strategies both for managing and reducing some of
the stressors in our life. The primary stressors I had been experiencing were directly tied to the symptoms themselves, i.e. as I had chest pain (a stress symptom) and the doctors suggested this could be heart related my stress would go up, producing other stress symptoms like heart pounding, increased blood pressure, etc… Now that heart problems have been eliminated from being a primary concern, my basic stress levels have dropped but the residual effects are still there. Stress is cumulative. In other words, things from two months ago may no longer be on your mind but our bodies continue to carry that stress and it takes time for the effects of it to fade away. That’s why when a doctor/psychologist evaluates your stress levels they ask about events of the last six month to a year of your life—your body/psyche is still carrying the effects of those things and they affect your experience of stress today. Fortunately there are some things we can do to help our bodies and minds to better deal with the stress. So for the time being I have to avoid caffeine (which can produce heart palpitations), get more physical exercise, as well as some other relaxation techniques to help scale down some of the cumulative stress that I’ve managed to build up with my experiences of Nigerien health care… I am still experiencing those symptoms but I am no longer getting stressed about them

The next big stressor in our life is buying a piece of property. We’ve just entered into negotiations for a property in our neighbourhood. Please pray that the details will work out for a price and getting money transferred in a timely manner.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

King's Kid

Ever have one of those moments when you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that you were blessed. I had quite the conversation yesterday at breakfast.

Ben was very impressed with a buffet breakfast in the hotel that we are staying in and turned to me and said “I feel like a king!” (It is amazing what unlimited bacon and 2 kinds of sausage can do for a nine year old boy.)

I told him that I was very happy and asked him to take a moment and take a picture to put in the back of his heart and mind so that he could remember clearly the feeling of being blessed by God. So, that the next time that things got rough in Niger or Canada or where ever he happened to be, he could recall this moment and remember that regardless of his circumstances God truly loved him. Both Cole and Ben took a minute and closed their eyes and savored the moment of knowing a loving God that cares for them (a true act of worship).

We all need moments like this to carry us through the rougher spots in life. It is my hope that if you are going through one of those rougher times that you can recall clearly God’s blessing and sense His presence. On the other hand if you are having a moment like Ben and everything seems to be going your way, take a minute and remember the source of that blessing.