Thursday, December 20, 2012

Quiet Days of Craziness

We locked Dave in the spare room this week in order for him to get somewhere with writing his thesis (I think that he is about a chapter or two behind). It seemed to have been working until today. I was outside hanging clothes on the line when I heard him yelling "turn it off!" I guess there was smoke and a big poof sound that he had been responding to. One of the boys (who will remain nameless) had plugged in the tv and wii to the 220V plug on the transformer instead of the 110V. Dave was afraid for all who were in the room and reacted a little loud--making those involved all the more scared. Luckily, the smoke is clearing and nothing seems to have caught on fire. We are waiting to see if the tv or the wii will work (it will be a slightly sad Christmas, if there is nothing to play the new games on), but we are truly grateful that no one was hurt (except maybe Dave's concentration).

It doesn't look like we will be able to get away for our holidays with the amount of work that Dave has (his first draft is due Feb.1 and he has two and a part chapters to write in that time). But I have been enjoying some restful days of Christmas baking and reading between the regular routine of caring for the family and checking on the building progress. (It looks like we have a foundation now --pictures will follow shortly). Hopefully we will all find some refreshment before we return to the regular school schedule.

We had neighbours from our old neighbourhood come and visit last night and invite us to a wedding this Saturday. When I mentioned it to my house helper he said, "You are going right? Because you are pretty important to them if they went to the trouble of going out of their way to invite you." Please pray that we would continue to make good relationships and that God would use them for His glory.

Hope you have a very Merry Christmas!

PS. It looks like the wii is ok and it is just the tv that is toast (which is very good because it is much easier to replace).

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Week of Ups & Downs

We had a great visit with the Mowchenkos and Dan Sheffield and were sad to see them go. But, after Jay's glowing review of our hospitality I have to say that our Nigerien friends put us to shame. We went to have "tea" with them at a 11 am thinking that it would be about an hour to have three rounds of tea. Instead 6 hours later we left having shared a delicious meal, two rounds of tea and Jay and Marilou had Tamjek outfits to wear in Canada. I was completely humbled by our friends generousity. What a way for the Mowchenkos to end there trip! Hopefully, they didn't pay for it on their trip home.

Since they have left I have been going crazy getting ready for semester exams (which start today for our boys--mine is given Wednesday) and trying to get caught up on my marking. I made an extra trip to school to work on this earlier this week and found myself in a divine appointment. Shortly after I started working one of the French teachers came into the staff work room and said that he needed to use the phone because he thought he wife might be having her baby (a first after 12 years of marriage). I asked if he needed a ride to get to the clinic and spoken like a true first time dad he said no I need to drive my motorcycle home, but then realized that he did need someone to get his wife to the clinic! So I got to chauffeur them to the clinic and do my marking in the car while I waited to hear if they would keep her, send her home, or send her somewhere else. Thankfully, Zachary Othniel was born around 4pm last Wednesday  and both he and mom are doing well.

The low point this week came on Friday, when we found out that a package Grandma had sent from Florida went to Nigeria instead of Niger --we aren't sure if we will see any of the contents of it, but it was the first time that it happened to us in 7 years. I guess I will get by without those extra sandals and Ben will have to make due with the shoes that he has (hopefully, they will still fit Ben if they eventually do make it through). But I will really miss the Starbuck's coffee!

To top off the lows, Friday night Dave got sick, so we missed our staff Christmas party (one of the highlights of the holiday season) on Saturday. And if that wasn't enough he had to give his stomach bug to me too. Please pray that they boys don't get it. They really can't afford to be sick when they are writing exams.  

Please also pray that Dave will be able to make up for lost time in writing his thesis. We are supposed to be taking holidays over the next few weeks but I am not sure that Dave will be free to do that with the deadlines for his thesis looming. Please pray that we find rest and refreshing in the midst of it all.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Guest Writer: Jay Mowchenko

Hello everyone, Jennifer asked me to write an entry for their blog while we were living with them, and of course I could not refuse her. I am Jay Mowchenko, Lead Pastor at Weyburn Free Methodist Church (in Saskatchewan, Canada for you international folks). I am here with my family – wife Marilou, daughter Keisha and son Josh. We’ve been here in Niamey, living with the Wrights, for almost 10 days now.

            It’s been an incredible learning experience for our family – enduring the relentless heat (40 degrees celcius – which the people here always delight in telling me is the beginning of their “cold season”!), seeing a Third world country up close and personal, hearing the Muslim call to prayer 5 times a day, and spending time with a community of people who have given their lives to help and reach out to others with the love of Christ.

David, Jennifer, Cole and Ben’s hospitality has been incredible – they have made room for all four of us in their home, basically shut down their own schedule, given up their rooms and privacy, fed us, and been our personal tour guides and interpreters for the whole time. 

In the midst of a million “ah-hah!” moments, one surprise that stands out for me is that there’s a fairly large contingent of international people here in Niamey: diplomats, aid workers and missions people. Because of this, there’s actually quite a few opportunities to “hide” from the reality of living in Niger. There are people who speak English; there’s restaurants, air conditioning, television, and English church… all ways to try and “hang on to home”. And some people do. But not the Wrights.

David, a natural introvert, is, against his nature, constantly looking for opportunities to visit and make friends with people on the street - especially in their neighbourhood. Everywhere we go, he is greeting people in one of the 4 languages they are learning (French, Zarma, Houssa, or Tomajek). He never keeps a conversation to “just business”, even when we are “in a hurry”. David always takes that extra time to ask how people are doing, and chat a bit about their lives. He’s been incredibly adept at including me in the conversation – using me as an excuse to spend more time connecting.

As diligent as Dave is at stretching himself beyond his comfort zone, Jennifer is a marvel! I have LOVED seeing her in action in the marketplace! She can bargain with the best of them in several languages, and has fully embraced the “game” of getting the best deal. I love watching the shopkeeper’s face as she switches from French to Zarma and makes a funny comment to one of the inevitable onlookers!

Even as they participate in a couple different congregations, and are mentoring several local leaders, they are also intentionally developing a “kindness evangelism community” – a relational network of local friends and service people that provide a context for them to show the relational love of Jesus.

Travelling around Niamey with the Wrights has shown me that you can be a “missionary” (physically leave your home country and serve God in a foreign land) without becoming “missional” (making the most of every minute, every ounce of energy, to share the love of Jesus with the people around you). And by doing so, have shown me that you don’t HAVE to be a missionary to be missional, either!

As much as we admire the Wrights for their obedient decision to serve God in Niger, I admire them more for their constant decision to serve God with every moment IN Niger!

I need to publicly thank them for putting up with us for the last week-plus. For patiently enduring my whining about the heat, our melt-downs inspired by jet lag, our demands for food and translation, for giving up their bedrooms and privacy, for cramming more and more into your already busy schedule, and most of all, for your unfailing kindness & patience in all of it – THANK YOU.

We’ve learned and gained so much from being here, I couldn’t tell about it all if I tried. I would say instead, “You need to come and see for yourself – just give David and Jennifer some time to recover from us, ok?”

From Niamey,
Jay Mowchenko

Thursday, November 15, 2012


The Building

Last week we paid a visit to the building site and the architect who is overseeing the construction. He was happy to show me a geological report of soil samples confirming that our property could sustain a two story building. This can be a serious problem locally since there are no designated garbage dumps. I have talked to others who told me that they had to dig a few metres deep just to get past the old garbage in order to lay good footings. (Basements are virtually unheard of in Niger).

Bricks in Niger are generally hand mixed with a shovel, and then shovelled into a mold. They are left to cure in the sun for three or four weeks before being used in construction. (I don’t know how long is really necessary but that’s what I’ve been told).  The bricks for the cement foundation are now ready to be used and work has begun for the special bricks we’re using for the building.

We have decided to build with compressed earth bricks. We are told that they are the more environmentally friendly option. They require slightly less cement but are formed using a hydraulic press. These bricks are mixed using a red soil called laterite and some people refer to compressed earth bricks as the reds bricks because of the distinctive color. Red bricks are not only slightly cheaper but because of their density they do not retain the heat like regular cement bricks—a real benefit in Niger!

Please pray that God would continue to oversee the building project here and that progress would be made in the construction. Also pray that the beginning contacts that we are making with our future neighbours would bear fruit. Jennifer was "christened" by a neighbours new baby the day that we visited.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Prayer and Changes of Plans

Andrew Murray wrote, "All the powers of evil seek to hinder our prayer life because prayer, by nature, involves conflict with opposing forces. May God give us grace to strive in prayer until we prevail."

I have noticed that there are some days that nothing works out as planned and they turn out great. Then there are other days that nothing turns out as planned and they are just really bad.

This last Thursday was one of the ones that turned out pretty good. I thought that I would go to a mom's prayer meeting for the school but I found out that they were meeting at the elementary school (shortly after dropping off our neighbour's kids there)--the problem was that I didn't have time to go back because Dave had to get to his class. So, I went on with him and we were both surprised to find out that the bible school was having a special prayer meeting for the persecuted church. It was not the prayer meeting that I thought I was going to be apart of but it felt like I might have been in the right place anyway. I was also able to get 2 hours of uninterrupted time in on my school work (I had brought it thinking that I would have an hour to wait for Dave's class to end).

Unfortunately, I find that there are a lot more of the other kind of days here in Niger where nothing seems to go right. I like to beat myself up and say that they usually happen on days that I haven't spent enough time in prayer and devotions. (Saying things like "I should have gotten up earlier to pray today"). Thinking that I would have a better attitude to face the situations if I had, but I sometimes wonder if it isn't the impact of the spiritual dynamic that is playing itself out around us. More prayer is always needed, but beating ourselves up instead praying is just another distraction technique the enemy likes to use to bring us down.

Please pray for visitors that are coming in a couple or weeks. The weather is still really hot (high 30's) and our mechanic has yet to find a replacement compressor for the air conditioner in our vehicle. I also ran into another snag this morning when I went to fill my crock pot with supper. The box it was in had fallen and the ceramic pot had broken. This wouldn't be a big deal in Canada where you can find them all over the place, but they are really hard to find here (ours came from our first trip to Ghana) and ones from Canada don't work as well here because the transformer splits the power level regardless of whether it is the full 220V or only 180V. (North American appliances require 110V). Oh well, I guess I will have to re-think my cooking strategies for dealing with the heat.

Also, please pray for Dave's accountability partner, Steve. He's just flew home because of vision problems. His insurance company was unresponsive to his concerns, and he has lost vision in one eye from a detached retina. He is having surgery tomorrow in Nebraska in an attempt to repair it but has been told the optimal period for restoring his sight has passed.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Niamey Diet Plan

It is amazing how fast the walls start to close in on you when you have been sick for a couple of days. This past weekend was Tabaski and I thought that I was going to make it through all of the visiting better than Dave this year because he had been having problems before the fete began. (He calls it his Niamey diet plan). But I guess my turn came the day later.
For many here Tabaski is one of the two times during the year that they will eat meat. They roast a sheep all day the first day and eat the organ meat and some of the roasted meat that day then they deep fry the remaining meat in spices so that it will keep without refrigeration. This meat is not only eaten by the family but is also supposed to be given to extended family, friends and the poor.
When my house help found out that I had been sick the last two days, he laughed and said that I must have eaten too much meat because that is what tends to happen with most people during the fete. They eat meat until they get sick. I just laughed with him and said I must be becoming Nigerien. In reality I didn't eat that much meat. I might have eaten some that wasn't cooked well enough and I did have deep fried intestine for the first time.... But, I suspect that my problem had more to do with drinking unfiltered water than the meat.
Please pray for health and strength for us, but even more importantly (I must be starting to feel better to say that!) pray that these relationships that we have built with Nigerien friends would begin to produce spiritual fruit. That God would gives answers to their spiritual questions.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A "WAWA" Day

It is 3:45 am and I really should be sleeping, but I am not so I thought I would take advantage of the fact that the internet seems to be working right at the moment...
Friends of mine coined the term a "WAWA Day" a few years ago. It stands for "West Africa Wins Again" it was their way of explaining those days that seem to have everything go wrong (and usually have a West African twist). I had a WAWA day on Monday.

I found out the truth about the washing machine that I thought was repaired of Saturday. It can go through some of the right motions and make a lot of noise but doesn't work properly. Now the question is do I pour more money into having someone try again (the repairman didn't really inspire a whole lot of confidence) or just give up and wait until I can replace it! Any chance one of my mechanically inclined friends would like to come for a visit? :)

I had talked to a neighbour about getting someone to come cut my grass. They showed up and started to do the job, but wanted to charge me more than two weeks worth of wages for a day's work (that most kids here would do for free because they can sell the grass --especially this week with Tabaski coming). At that stage, I tried to get rid of the guy by paying him a little bit for the little bit he did but he insisted on doing the job. Unfortunately, Dave was teaching and our night guard had left so I didn't have anyone to back me up. He stayed and I ended up paying him about the equivalent of a week's wages. Oh well, I guess someone will have a good Tabaski that might not have otherwise and it is good to be able to distinguish between the grass and the trees! I just hope that my neighbour who helped him received his share of the money.

Dave took the car in to get somethings repaired and asked the mechanic to look at the air conditioning because it was working some of the time but not really well. Unfortunately, the mechanic that we know and trust doesn't deal with air conditioning himself and has someone else come in. He was able to tell us that the gas isn't the problem, but since than the air hasn't worked at all (although Dave is sure he gets puffs of cooler air on occasion). Of course this happens to be the heart of the mini hot season! So, I guess it is supposed to be going back in today to see if they can find the problem.

I tried to finish putting up the curtain rods (trying to calmly do school work when I was stressing about the washing machine and the men in my yard wasn't working), but the cordless drill that we borrowed started to die so I couldn't get the one rod finished. The desk will have to wait until we can get the charger and recharge the batteries. I guess it just wasn't my day (Dave did get the drill to work long enough to finish the rod on our bedroom).

I am truly grateful that not every day is a WAWA day! Yesterday Dave was able to submit his first chapter of his thesis (I think it was around 30 pages) only a little outside of his original timeline. Praise God! (Now he moves on to the Wesleyan section.)

Please pray that God will bring fruit in spite of (or maybe because of?) the WAWA days. Or maybe, we should pray all that we learn the lessons God would teach us quickly and thoroughly so that the WAWA days are fewer and farther between.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Survivor or Victim of the Flood?

The lost has been found! This weekend when we went to move somethings from a friend's house on the school campus, the director told me that they had found our washing machine and water cooler (sorry I don't have a picture of it, but it is a glorified fan that stores water to humidify the air). It turns out that instead of being in one of the many containers that we had searched they were stored in a magasin (a cement storage building). Unfortunately they had been almost completely submersed in the murky river water that had taken over the school and had remained there until last week. We still don't know if they are victims or survivors. We have gone through extensive cleaning and drying and tried to get the washer going today, but the motor was seized up and wouldn't move. So, we called in the repairman and are hoping that between his skills and our prayers this might turn into a survivor. Otherwise, I will be hand washing until we can afford to replace it. I am just grateful to know where it is so that we can move forward from here.

There was a gas shortage in town this week, people were lined up at various gas stations around town for miles. I was so grateful that our new (to us) vehicle takes diesel and I was able to fill my tank before the real problems started to build up. I had friends that waited in line for 8 hours and where only allowed to buy the equivalent of $20 worth of gas. This coupled with a taxi strike has made transportation issues interesting.

The last week or so has been very tiring just to get settled into the house. We made several trips to the electric company to get the account transferred into our name, the same for the phone and internet company, and waited for days for the technician to finish servicing the air conditioners in our house. Even though he started a week ago Wednesday, he only just finished today. The problem with all these things is that half the time they need to get into the house and set meeting times and then never show up. Wednesday I waited down the street at the main intersection for an hour for a man who was coming to find our house to place a garbage can for pick up service. I finally called and asked if he was coming. He apologized, saying he had totally forgotten our rendez-vous but that he would come in fifteen minutes. The time was not lost as I made a new friend of a street vendour who was BBQing brochettes. I also happened to standing across from where our old house was a couple of old neighbours saw me and came over to chat and ask where we were living.

Pray that we would be able to redeem the time even when we are forced to wait and that the Lord would give us patience. Please also pray that the evacutation procedures that we have put into place would be successful in getting the furry friends that have taken up residence in the insulation in our stove to relocate.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

We Are In!

I am happy to say that we moved into our own rented house this weekend. So we now have a semi-permanent place to live while the ministry centre is being built with lots of extra space for visiting teams. I am hoping that I even get to sleep in my own bed tonight. I have been camping out on a mattress in the living room this weekend while we try to work the the logistics of putting together our waterbed. Please pray that there aren't any holes and that things will go well when we try to fill it today. It is very old having been passed on from other missionaries before us and I am not sure how well it has survived a year of storage.

I had an interesting visit at the market yesterday, I was mistaken for someone else by a couple of ladies and had a good chat with some others while I was buying plastic to line the bed and curtain rods. Pray that God would use our new location as a blessing to many, that we would not only find rest, but that we would make life changing contacts.

Please pray that we would be able to make arrangements for a team to come this summer to help with a leadership retreat. The group that was considering coming has decided that it won't work this year. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Much to Be Thankful For

We have much to be thankful for (despite some major internet problems):
-The boys and I are just finishing our first full week of school in the new buildings.
-We were able to get a vehicle for a reasonable price that Dave and the boys can fit into
-We have found a house to rent and are hoping that repairs on it have started so that we can paint and move in soon.
-The teachers that have been living with us for a little over a month now are moving out into their own place this weekend.

I will try to include a few more details and maybe some photos when I can, but we have had a few good rain storms over the last two weeks and they have knocked out our phone lines (and the internet with them). I am borrowing someone elses at the moment and they have been experiencing their own problems, so I am not sure whether this will have time to publish.

Please continue to pray for Dave and his papers. All of the details of the house hunting and rental have taken a lot of his time and distracted him from writing. Also, forgive us for not responding to e-mails right now because of the internet problems. Hopefully they will all be fixed soon.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Moving Forward

Our new gate is hung.

The water is in.
This coming week we are hoping that we can take the money out of our account here to get the builders working on bricks for the new building! Praise God that we are moving ahead with the new Ministry Centre.

Please also pray for us this week. We are considering buying a new used vehicle (the mechanic is looking at it on Monday). I am hoping that this works out for the sake of Dave's back and for the sake of our growing boys that are having a hard time fitting in our car (especially behind Dave!). We are also continuing in our search for a house to rent through the building process. Please pray that God will lead us to the right neighbourhood and that through this we might make new connections for the possibility of another church plant.

Another praise note, the two teachers that are living with us because they lived on campus at the boys school (that is essentially in the Niger River and will be until next Spring) have found a house. Pray that it will be fixed and painted for them in a timely fashion so that they can move in soon (maybe even before school re-starts on Sept. 17th??)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

One step at a time

We have much to praise God for despite the struggles we have had this week. We have succeed in getting things in place for a bank account to allow finances for the building to be transferred. The architect that drew up the plans for the building has agreed to oversee the construction (we just have to get enough of a down payment here for him). We are well on our way to having a door built for the property and hopefully it will be hung next Tuesday. We spent almost the whole day on Monday chasing paperwork and making arrangements to have the water installed, which should be completed sometime in the next two weeks. So pretty soon we will be able to begin building bricks and see some physical progress with the building. I am told money has come in already to cover about 1/5th of what we expect the building will cost, but we believe that God will continue to provide as the need arises. Thanks to the many of you that have contributed!

We are also excited about how God is working in the church. They have started holding nightly prayer meetings to intercede for their community and to consider where God would direct them to plant another church. There has been great need with the food shortages and the flooding but in the church there is a sense of anticipation about what God is doing.

Please continue to pray for us and the teachers that we have taken in because of the flooding. Pray that we would be able to find more permanent housing arrangements (where we are now is only available for a couple of months and could really be used by the mission organization that rented it to us). We were told this week that our old house is available--pray that it might be affordable or that we would be able to find something better. Pray also for Sahel Academy that they would be able to find an appropriate place to hold classes.

Dave could really use your prayers with all of the distractions of the flooding and getting things started with the building he hasn't had much time to focus on his thesis. On top of that his computer was attacked the other day and he is afraid that he may have lost some important files. His first chapter on church planting movements is due supposed to be due at the end of this week, but I am afraid that it might be late.

Friday, August 24, 2012


We were just getting up from our Sunday afternoon nap this week when a neighbour came by to let us know that the school was in danger of flooding and we needed to get our things out of the containers as soon as possible. Little did we know what the week would hold. We took a number of things from the container but were unable to take everything and decided to hope for the best and pitch in with the work of preparing sand bags in hopes of holding back the water from the school property. The above picture was our family last Monday after putting in some time carrying sand bags to help protect the school property

Unfortunately our hopes were not realized and the property for the boys school has become part of the Niger river for the time being. This picture was before there was a breach in the wall that brought the water levels to 3ft in places. There are very few buildings that are still dry.
The bible school that Dave teaches at is on slightly lower ground than the boy's school and there are places where it is chest deep.

We have adopted a couple of the teachers into our family that were displaced because their houses were flooded but they have just been notified that they won't be able to return until next March or April at the earliest. Please pray that they (and the 5o other missionaries living on these properties) would be able to find more permanent housing arrangements. This is just how the flooding has affected us, but really we have been blessed. There are thousands here who have lost their homes and family members as a result of this crisis. Please pray that God would be glorified in the midst of this tragedy. Pray that Sahel Academy and ESPriT would find alternate locations to hold classes and that we would be able to save what we can of the resources that God has blessed us with.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A visitor

This afternoon Jennifer came into the bedroom and said in dazed voice, “I just found a strange woman in our kitchen…” We are currently living in a SIM compound that was offered to us for two months.  There are three houses in the compound and two gates.  Only one of the other homes is occupied.  Apparently the woman hadn’t noticed Jennifer come into the kitchen as she quietly slid open our back door.  “Oh, is this Krista’s house?” she asked surprised. Jennifer was taken aback and said, “no,” at which point the woman quietly disappeared. (Krista is a SIM missionary who visits the women’s prison regularly.) When Jennifer mentioned it to me I immediately ran to the front gate that is usually unlocked during the day, and it was standing ajar. I crossed the street and asked a neighbours day guard if he’d seen a women come out of our gate. “Yes,” he said, “she ran down the street that way and around the corner.” Feeling my suspicions had been confirmed, I headed back inside. A few minutes later our neighbours were home from school with the children, we explained what had happened. This evening the husband came over to tell us that the girl who is staying with them can’t find her new laptop. He’s feeling terrible because he had been sleeping in the house the whole time.

Jennifer is missing our dog right now. He’d always been a bit of dilemma to us. We’ve never really had a day guard but didn’t worry as long as we had the dog. (A friend of mine has a proverb that goes, “A guard is good. A guard and a dog are better. Just a dog is best.”) With our old dog we never really worried about people coming into the yard like this since everyone was afraid of him. (Except the developmentally challenged boy who seemed to be able to find his way into the driver’s seat of our car—the dog didn’t even bark at him.) What worried us was that he might be scaring off the people we wanted to talk to. We wondered if some of our friends might come more often to visit if they didn’t have to worry about getting past our dog.

That was just kind of the icing on the cake for our day today.  We just got our car back from the garage yesterday but this morning Jennifer couldn’t get it started after getting money at the bank. (The garage had washed down the engine and water got in the spark plugs.) She was getting money to pay the mechanic—the power steering pump was making an awful racket and the mechanic told us someone had put engine oil into. We had it replaced.

It was also the first day of school for both Jennifer and the boys. The boys were both ready to go but school also brings its own stresses.

I’ve managed to lose about fifteen pounds in the first week coming back, at least according to the scales in our house. I’ve been working on cold or flu for the last day or so and Jennifer has had a lot of upset stomach. Hopefully our bodies will transition over to Niger soon. Last night was the first night I was able to go to sleep at a reasonable hour but I think that was just because I wasn’t feeling well.

Yesterday I met with our pastor here. I asked him what he was envisioning for the near future of the church. He said that he felt it was time to look at planting another church. We are meeting tomorrow to talk about how that might happen.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Sleepless in Niamey

Well we have physically made it back to Niger but I am afraid that my body still thinks its in Canada. I am having a hard time getting to sleep at night and getting up in the morning, but that could be the result of missing two nights sleep on the way here. We are extremely grateful for all of you that were praying for our travels, we were blessed to arrive with all of our bags (including all 40 books for Dave's thesis).

Our internet hasn't been working for the last three days, we finally had it on two days ago but it only lasted for about an hour hopefully it will last a little longer this time. Along with the internet we have had a few other minor obstacles and set backs. I was pulled over by the police to have my papers checked the very first time I drove anywhere, thankfully everything was in order. Dave has already had his first accident (luckily no one was hurt & no damage was done when a motorcycle hit him). We haven't had a phone because the line that comes into the house where we are staying hasn't been working (which is why the internet wasn't working) and we haven't been able to get our cell phones unlocked yet. Oh well, I guess that all just goes with life here.

As with all of life, things in Niger seem very much the same and yet different at the same time. Please pray for us as we reconnect with our friends here, especially that the Spirit would grant us the right words at the right moment. Today we were asked why it was that Christians were responsible for caring so much for those in need, unfortunately lack of sleep got the better of us and we probably didn't give the best response to the statement.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

We're Back! Just in Time to say Goodbye

We got back last night from a vacation in Florida. We had a lot of friends and family question that idea of going to Florida in July, but it turned out to be one of the most restful vacations we've had. I don't know that we really did a whole lot, but I guess that was the point. I think I have a greater appreciation for Dave's grandmother's philosophy that you need to have three weeks in order to have a vacation: one to unwind, one to have a vacation and the third to wind up again. Long before we got in the car to head home I found myself winding up again, waking in the night thinking "oh I have to remember to do that", or "I forgot to do that" and I hope I haven't neglected too many people's e-mails, hopefully I'll get caught up on that. But, the time to relax and read some good books was definately worth the drive. I have also run into some technology glitches with our latest e-newsletter that I posted before we left for holidays that I didn't get a chance to resolve--if you were interested and didn't receive it let me know I will try to fix that. This coming week is all about packing, final appointments/prepartions and saying goodbye. Hopefully we will be able to see many of you tomorrow in Brantford to say it in person. And hopefully we will have an internet connection next week when we get back to Niger, so we can update you on life there. In case we don't get to say it in person, thanks for being a part of our ministry and for making our time home in Canada so rewarding. May God bless you until we meet again.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Not Quite Packing

This week I thought that I was going to get most of my packing done but plans never work out the way that you thought they would. Instead I have had a number of meetings, extended telephone "conversations" --you know the kind, press 1 if..., press 2 if...., please stay on the line etc. and oh yes did I mention getting immunization shots. My arms are still aching from them! So needless to say, not a whole lot has gone into boxes or suitcases. The highlight of my week has been hearing that the BOA has approved me for Commissioned Minister to Niger, I am just waiting to hear if that service will be part of our farewell service on July 22 at 4pm at Freedom Christian Community in Brantford. Whether it is or not I hope that I will get to see a number of you there to say good bye. Cole graduates from grade 8 on Monday and I am hoping that he can find the tickets so that we can be there. We are hoping to hold a pseudo-graduation from elementary school for Ben because he will be missing the elementary grad in Niger and it is at a different stage here in Canada (all part of the fun of living between two worlds). I'm open to any ideas on how to make it special for him. Time is running out if you were hoping to get in on the matching donation for the building project. Money needs to come in before we leave on July 26th in order to get the building started as soon as we get back. Praying that you have a strong sense of God's presence with you in whatever you face this week.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


In my readings for the Wesleyan Theology course I am taking I came across this quote:
Love cannot be appropriated as an abstract idea; it must be encountered, it must be allowed to work its transforming power in our hearts, at the centre of our identity, where its affirmation is received and responded to. (The New Creation: John Wesley's Theology Today)
Wow, isn't that what we all crave in the deepest part of our being to have that kind of encounter of love that changes us completely. The world understands this kind of desire and we catch glimpses of it in romantic relationships but miss the fact that it can only be completely satisfied in a relationship with the God of Love. It was this transforming love that enabled John Wesley to make such an impact on his world. We may not touch as many lives with God's love as Wesley did but I pray that we will each let God's love transform us and those we come in contact with today. Dave is in Calgary for the rest of this week visiting with his ailing aunt and family. Please pray for him and the family there that they would sense God's presence as they go through this time. Pray also for the boys and myself as we manage without dad for awhile.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

An Angry Christian?

Last week Jennifer and I sat in on a course together at the McMaster. I enjoyed the opportunity to be with her in the classroom, even though the professor made us work in different discussion groups. I’m actually looking forward to reading the main textbook, The Angry Christian, even though it’s about 400 pages long. The course developed the idea of taking a realistic look at anger and correcting some faulty ideas about it. So often the Christian community perpetuates the idea that getting angry is a sin. Unfortunately, what that means is that we don’t have any really good ideas about what to do when we are angry since we weren’t supposed to get this way in the first place

Though anger can be and is regularly misused with horrendous consequences, anger can also be a function of love.  In the scriptures, both God and his servants get angry at things like injustice, or like Jesus who got angry at people who were indifferent about others suffering and sickness. Anger can be a sign that something important is being threatened or violated—it’s an amber light that allows us to be aware of danger ahead. I haven’t solved all the world’s problems with anger (nor even my own) but there was lots of helpful stuff for reflection and change.

This weekend I’m travelling alone to Saskatchewan to meet with a couple of churches. Originally I was to fly home on Tuesday but my Aunt in Calgary is not well and may not last the week. Since my flight already had a stopover in Calgary I’ve arranged stay until Sunday. I spent my teenage years in Calgary and our families were very close. My parents are heading out today and I will be meeting up with them on Tuesday to say our good-byes. My aunt has been a faithful supporter of our ministry over the years and will be dearly missed.  Jennifer and the boys will be making do without me for the next week and unfortunately this  is  moving into a stressful time as we get ready to move out of our home and make preparations to return to Niger.  We would all appreciate your prayers at this time.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Every Person You Meet Has Something to Teach You

The title of this is a quote from the Prof at a Pastoral Counselling course that I am sitting in this week. It struck me as so true as I think back to this past weekend's Wesleyan Theology Course. You see I really appreciate the knowledge and insight that the two instructors brought to the course, but I think I may have learned as much from all the other people in the course. If you get a chance to take one of the FM courses it is very worthwhile for both the teaching and the interaction amongst the group. Thanks to everyone who was praying for me last week. Amazingly, I was able to get through the precourse reading before I got to the course--now I just need to find the time to get through the assignments. Well, I need to get back to the class. Please pray for Dave as he tries to complete this last course, while trying to collect the resources he will need for his thesis and deal with all of the things that need to be done before leaving. Please also pray for the boys as well as they get a little less of our time and attention these days in our business.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Day Surgery & Other Points for Prayer

I could really use some extra prayer today because this week is taking life in Canada to a whole new level of crazy. I was going to list the additions to the regular routine but I am not sure how much of the regular things I will cover this week. Today Ben had a field trip that meant getting him to school for just after 7am (hopefully we will be back to get him for 5 without having to call in reinforcements). I need to leave in a half hour to go into Toronto for day surgery (I am hoping that having my boil removed will be the end to some of my troubles. I am just so grateful to be able to get it dealt with here before I leave!) Dave gets to go too for a check up (and to watch my procedure if he can stomach it). Friday morning I start my Wesleyan Theology course and sometime before than I have to finish my precourse assignment and help Dave make arrangements for his trip to Saskatoon. From there my course is to be prematurely ended by a trip to Peterborough (I really hope that we can get away before 9pm so that I can get to bed before 11). I am not sure this craziness would be all that bad if it ended there but next week is Dave's last class for Mac before he writes his thesis. I was originally supposed to be taking it with him, but it all depends on how my other course goes. Oh well, I am sure we will make it through, but I would appreciate your prayers just the same! In my readings on Wesley I was struck by how his teachings on money are so different for both our culture and that in Niger. He basically teaches: work all you can, make all you can, save all you can so that you can give all the you can. In Niger If someone close to you comes along with a need and you have money --it doesn't matter whether it is yours or you have a plan for it, you are supposed to help. So instead of Wesley's attitude they try to spend what they have as soon as they have it so they aren't obligated to give. What would happen if we all took Wesley's advice a little more seriously? Something to think about this week.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mother's Day and other extras

I've gotten out of touch with writing this lately and have let Dave have a few turns which has been a great relief in a busy time (even if he didn't always do them in the timing that I thought they should be done).The week before last we had the opportunity to participate in the Church Planting Summit in Toronto. It was a great opportunity for learning that I am sure Dave mentioned in his blog. I thought that my interviews went well with the denomination and had some encouraging feed back.  Thanks to everyone who prayed for me, I know that it made a difference.

I don't know whether it was the business of the week before or the stress of sermon writing (not my forte), or maybe it was just allergy season, but last week I came down with a bad sinus infection that put me out of commission for a few days. Somehow by the grace of God I was able to pull together a Mother's Day sermon for Caistor Centre that fulfilled my annual (or once every five years?) speaking requirement for them. It is amazing how God puts pieces in place when we need them most. I received an article in my e-mail about Niger being the worst country to be a mother this year (according to an annual report by Save the Children) that linked the two topics that I was speaking on: Mother's Day and our plans to return to Niger. Please pray for the food crisis that is going on there and that we would be instruments of God's peace as we return.

One of the recommendations that came out of my interviews was that I take the next Wesleyan Theology course (at the end of May). I had previously looked into taking the course but decided that our speaking engagements and other obligations where too much of a conflict, so I had written it off. (Ironically, I had dinner with the teacher of the course and had told him that just the weekend before). So it was a bit of a surprise and a scramble this week as I tried to find text books and delve into the reading to hopefully get the precourse work done before the course starts. I guess I will get to practice what I have been learning about resting well (Sabbath) in order to work hard--maybe I'll even learn how to work smart in the process.

Praying that you are able to thoroughly enjoy your long weekend for those of us who are celebrating Victoria Day this weekend. Long live the Queen.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Church Planter's Summit

This week, Jenn and I went to the church planter’s summit organized by Church Planting Canada. We enjoyed the opportunity to wrestle with some of our questions and hear other people’s stories. Even though the summit was aimed at church planting in the Canadian context, we found it beneficial for thinking about our own context and helped us think about the next steps in our ministry in Niger. We were able to connect with other church planters, two of whom had overseas experience with another mission. I also gained some insight that I think will be useful for my thesis.

Saturday Jennifer is going for a check-in MEGaP (Ministerial Education, Guidance and Placement) the committee for the Free Methodist church. It will include three interviews and some conversations about the training she’s been doing for ministry. Please pray for good counsel as she meets with these people.

Time is winding down as we near the end of our speaking schedule. We’ll be visiting two churches this weekend just north of Toronto.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Too Many Extras (or just an absent minded husband)

Sorry to those who were looking for a post last week and didn’t find one. We have had a harried few weeks. We are about to embark on our third long drive weekend and seem to have run into a number of mishaps on each of them (and are hoping that the trend is broken).

We had a great time worshipping and visiting with the folks in Sudbury. There was a real spirit of excitement and anticipation about what the Lord was doing in their midst and we pray that God will richly bless their work there. But that was the start of the misfortune (or Dave’s forgetfulness). The weather was so beautiful when we left Sudbury that Dave forgot his leather jacket behind. Luckily we were able to make arrangements to meet with the pastor’s wife later in the week on the other side of Toronto to retrieve his jacket. This reduced our trip tremendously but ate up the better part of the day.

This past weekend, our drive was to Almonte, just the other side of Ottawa and we were blessed to meet one of Dave’s cousins that the boys and I had never met before. The church there was very welcoming as well and doing a great job managing without a pastor. The boys got to watch some British “football” on the “telly” with our gracious hosts and we took a little time out to visit the Canadian War Museum. But, there again we had a unfortunate connection with a pillar in the parking lot that cut our trip a little short so that we could get back home to deal with accident reports with insurance companies and the rental agency.

On returning home our own car was dead –the battery had died and needed to be replaced. We tried to return Dave’s library books to Tyndale only to have him leave behind his credit card in the book store (making for an additional trip to Toronto on another day this week). We went to the seminary library here at Brock University to confess that Dave had lost one of their books and to find out about replacing it—only to find it a day later.

One of the highlight of all the miles that we have put on our car this past couple of weeks was a trip yesterday to Boston, ON (yes there is a Boston in Ontario! It is a one intersection town). Where we did a presentation for a grade one/two class that is taught by the pastor’s wife in Brantford. Thankfully, the only trouble we had was missing our corner and having to double back to get there.

Thanks to all of you that have been praying for our safety on the roads. We really appreciate it and know that despite all of the difficulties we have had things could be a whole lot worse. Dave also wants to thank all of you that have been praying for his thesis proposal. He is happy to say that it was approved, so now the real work begins (he will have to produce a chapter a month starting in September and finishing in January). Unbeknownst to them, Jennifer is looking forward to celebrating her birthday with the people in Arlington Woods this weekend.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Thesis proposal

Yesterday I sent off a rough draft of my proposal. Now I am waiting to find out how much revision it needs before he'll send it on to the approval committee, (assuming he will). Essentially what I've proposed is putting together a ministry plan for our church planting work in Niger. Though it will require lots of writing (the thesis is supposed to be roughly 80 pages), it will be focused on what we are actually doing in Niger, and actually be a resource for our ministry.

I'm looking forward to allowing my brain and my reading stray a little further afield for the next few weeks though if all of this goes through, I'll be back to more focused reading in the near future to get the ball rolling on my research.

Last weekend we enjoyed a weekend off, visiting family.  Now that Jennifer's parents have returned from Florida the boys have decided to start taking more weekends off of travelling and spending time with Grandma and Grandpa. This is probably a good thing on a couple of fronts: the boys will not only get a day off everyweek but they will have a little more stability in their, get to make the most of their time with Grandma before heading back Niger and its probably better that they not listen to the same sermon from their father every week. It does put a little logistical snag in our program though since Cole has ben running the power point my message. The timing is good since we're looking at 12 hr travel time for each of the next three weekends.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Isn’t it amazing how small things can create unheard of amounts of pain! Think of the last time you really stubbed your toe, it was probably the last time that you gave any serious consideration to that part of your body. It is that way with the body of the church as long as things are going smoothly we may not even notice other parts of the body in operation, but as soon as something goes wrong every part can feel the pain.
This week I have been struggling with a boil. I have been amazed at how something so small can cause so much pain and distraction keeping me from being able to focus and do the things that I need to. (I suppose that it doesn’t help that I am trying to write a sermon outline on the Holy Spirit for my ministerial candidate interview—both a daunting subject and a form that is not my strength.) The boil had reached the stage that it had to be lanced yesterday to drain the infection. I will spare you all of the gory details and just say that it hurt despite the doctor’s gentle touch and my brave face. It made me think back to the presentations on conflict at the regional gathering and the importance of dealing with conflict well and early because the longer hurts have to fester the messier and more painful they are to fix.
My prayer for each of you is that as we think about the suffering of our Saviour this week (the kind of pain that puts my boil to shame in comparison) that we will find a new perspective for dealing with our hurts and be able to restore any relationships that may not be what they should. Peace friends!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Connectionalism & Regional Gatherings

The FM church has connectionalism as one of their core values and it is one of the things that we have missed the most over the last four years while in Niger. Being the only missionaries in the country and having principally one church that we are working with on a regular basis, it is easy to lose sight of the big picture and become lonely. So it has been nice to be home this year and reconnect with our partners in our ministry, our sending churches. This past weekend we had the added pleasure of attending a regional gathering where we were able to meet with many of the pastors and representatives of our supporting churches in a slightly different format. It was really nice to be able to hear the stories coming out of many of the churches and to be able to pray with thankful hearts for what God is doing and to lift up the challenges that these churches are facing together. I would highly recommend that you take advantage of the opportunity if you are in a position to participate in one. It is a blessing that we will miss when we return to Niger later this year.

We pray that you will have a special sense of the Spirit's presence as we celebrate the death and resurrection of our Lord in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Put Your Heart Into It

I have found God talking to me in a few different places this week, a song from a movie, quotes from a novel and even a heart & stroke flyer! The heart and stroke flyer has been lying around our house for a while now and I found myself dwelling on the motto on the back--“Put your heart into it.” So often in life we tend to go through the motions doing the right things because we are supposed to (or maybe only because they have become routine) and we lose out on the heart or the joy of what we are doing. Don’t get me wrong I believe that sometimes we need to persevere in order to grow and I think that routine is very important.

But there are other times when we need to stop and reflect on what we are doing in order to find God’s direction or to ask Him for “open heart surgery” that we might find a new heart for the work that we are being called to do. There are some jobs that I have no problem putting my heart into and there are others that are a real struggle. Then there are seasons of our lives that pass with remarkable ease, while others seem like an unending uphill battle. My prayer for you (and for me too) is that with whatever season you may be going through or job that you may be facing that you would allow God to help you put your heart into it by finding His heart in it.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Dave's Update

Last Friday, I mailed off three assignments to a prof at Tyndale Seminary, completing another seminary course. Most of my time in Canada has been taken up with courses as I work towards the completion of a master’s degree. Time is running out however since I have to finish what I’m doing by the end of 2012. To that end I hope to put together a thesis proposal for next month. I would like to do something in the area of training pastors and leadership development for my thesis since much of what I hope to be doing in the next few years will be in this area. I’ve already been involved in doing this both at the bible school; in our church in Niger and in retreats but still have lots of room for growth.

We are starting to consider return flights to Niger for sometime in July. We are struggling because the most direct flight is so much more expensive but the alternatives involve more than one stopover and changing airlines in European airports. Please pray that we would have wisdom in making the best use of our resources and time, and also that I would be able to put together a proposal that would not only satisfy my academic requirements but would be useful for our future ministry.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Exciting News!

We praise God for the way that churches have come forward to support us and the new Ministry Centre Project. It has been really encouraging (not to mention humbling) to see the way that God has put things into motion for this and here is another exciting opportunity for individuals that are interested in being involved.
We have had a donor come to us that would like to give up to $10,000 in matching gifts for the building of the Ministry Centre in Niger. Here is a great opportunity to have your gift go a little further than you would expect. Individuals that would like to be a part of this can contact us either by e-mail, or by commenting on this blog.

Thanks to everyone who helped to make our holidays special, the boys especially enjoyed using the gifts given to them by a number of the churches we visited just prior to going away. We are so blessed to know you and to have you as part of our team.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Responses to a Bad Day

Ever have one of “those” days? You know the kind. Your favourite pair of jeans rip. You try a new fitness class and can’t get your feet to move in the right direction at the right time. You think the cold your son has been harboring has finally caught up to you. Someone shows up for a meeting you forgot you had arranged.Your vision starts to go funny and you contact the eye doctor only to find out that you are probably about to have a migraine. How do you respond to that? My natural response is to start to feel sorry for myself, which just makes me more miserable with myself and everyone else around me –a very slippery slope.

I found myself there this week and caught myself just as I was about to start feeling sorry for myself. I remembered reading in my morning devotional that we need to remember that trials can be a gift from God because that is when the most growth occurs in our lives. So I reluctantly turned to God and asked for forgiveness for my attitude and an opportunity to have a glimpse of what good He might be using this for. I am still not sure I see the good, but I guess not all prayers get answered the way we want. I realize that what some of you are facing today far out ways my bad day and I pray that God will meet you in your difficulty and give you peace. For the rest of you I pray that two left feet is the worst that your day will hold.

Please pray that I will get my voice back before tomorrow might when we are supposed to be presenting at a banquet and that I will be healthy for our vacation next week. Pray also for Dave as he has been really struggling to get his papers written before we go away so that he can have a good vacation and not have work hanging over his head. Pray that Cole and Ben are able to have a really good break, they really need it!

Oh, that also means that there probably won’t be a blog next week while we are away.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Thoughts from Habakkuk

“Look at the nations and watch—
and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe,
even if you were told.” Hab. 1:5

I was struck by this verse this morning when we did family devotions. It made me wonder if part of our problem today isn’t that we don’t take the time to see God’s hand at work in our lives, or that we are too caught up in ourselves to notice when God is working, or maybe we just don’t expect God to work in miraculous or wonderful ways any more. But then I realized that I was taking the verse out of context because the chapter seems to suggest that the amazing work that God is doing is using the Babylonians?? It is hardly what the average Jewish reader would have been wanting or looking for. They wouldn’t believe it because they would never consider that God would use their enemies in such a way. Is it possible that God might be doing something similar today. I look back at the world events of 2011 and I am amazed at what has happened in so many different places around the globe, both economically& politically. Even things like the crazy weather that we have had this winter where Asia and Europe are having the cold that would normally be in Canada and we are experiencing such warm temperatures. It makes me wonder what God is doing or how it all works. It is a really good thing that He is in control and knows the big picture, because I know that I couldn’t begin to handle it.

Please pray for Dave as he tries to write papers for his latest course. He lost his glasses yesterday and is working with his older ones (a little scratched from their time in Niger, but at least it is better than nothing). Special thanks to the folks at Harrowsmith for the offering they took for the new Ministry Centre.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Professional Development Days

Today is Dave’s birthday and I think the best present that he will receive came from the school board. It is a professional development day for the boys, so he gets to spend the day with his kids. He rarely gets a day off so I am trying to cover the other business that needs to happen before we head out this weekend and let him enjoy his day. Maybe he’ll take the boys tobogganing for the first time this winter. If you are in the neighbourhood feel free to stop by for some cake later on tonight.

I have always loved professional development days. As a kid they meant a break from the regular routine of school and an extra day to sleep in. As a teacher, they meant an opportunity to sharpen my skills and interact with colleagues as well as a bit of a breather from the routine. The other thing that I appreciated about PA days as a teacher is that they are usually planned for you. Someone else decides when they will occur and most often what will be on the agenda. As a church leader, I am responsible for my own professional development which can provide its own challenges. It is great when I am in Canada and have access to conferences and seminars like the church planting congress that we went to last November. However, it can be a little more challenging when we are in Niger. I recently read a book that was lent to us, Leading on Empty. In which the author recommends a monthly spiritual retreat day (among other things) during which time a person does a number of things to reconnect with God, reflect on priorities, ministry and passion –basically to become more intentional and accountable in your relationship with God, your personal life and your work. Isn’t that what we all need?

Please pray for me that I would be able to make time for this valuable activity. You can also pray for my health—I am struggling with a cold that turned into a sinus infection this week. It has really done a good job of draining my energy.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Minstry Centre in Niamey: New Endeavour for 2012

Happy New Year everyone!
I know that I am a little late for this greeting, but it is still January so I think it counts. I hope that everyone of you had such an amazing holiday that you didn't have a free moment to look at our blog (because I was too busy to update) or that you enjoyed finally getting caught up on our old blogs.

But now for the latest news!

Some of you may remember an older blog that I wrote about buying property for a ministry centre for the church that looked something like this.

The week before we left Niger it looked like this.

The day before we left Niger it looked like this!
This was the result of a gift from the estate of John Sigsworth and some money that came through the FM church in Canada.

But ideally we would like to have it look something like this:
This building would serve many purposes:
  • to provide us with the opportunity to continue to reach out in the neighbourhood that we have developed contacts in 
  • a place to continue our kids ministry and develop other minstries that might help to meet the needs of the community
  • a leadership training centre for church leaders
  • guest house and living space for us and those that may come to help us (or have need)
  • offices for the administration of the FM church as it grows
  • possibly provide a gathering place for another FM church
The possiblities go on and on, but I confess that the building project seems overwhelming. Not just the amount of money that would need to come together for it to happen but also the incredible amount of details that go into a project of this sort. It is all too much for me (especially because I have no background in construction), but the good thing is that those are the kind of projects that God specializes in -- the kind where we have to acknowledge that we can't do it without Him and He gets all of the glory.
Will you pray with me that if it is God's will that everything will come together for this building and that He will be glorified not only in how it happens but by all that goes on there?