Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas in Niger

He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.

This has been tiring Christmas. I (Dave) preached last Sunday, Christmas day and I’m preaching again this Sunday. That in itself is not a hardship but Jennifer has developed a nasty ear infection that has progressively gotten worse over the week to the point that ear drops were useless because her ear swelled shut. The pain has made sleeping difficult, as well as bouts of fever. The church had a late night Christmas Eve program scheduled but Jennifer’s fever started to spike that evening and I was concerned to leave her alone for too long. (The church program was intended to start around 7:30 with the Jesus film, and continue on until 1 AM. I was later informed that it continued until almost two in the morning!) I made a quick stop at the church with the boys to drop off our Christmas Santa gifts and then visited a few non-Christian families in our neighbourhood to deliver cookies. One family lives next to our house in a grass hut. As I walked into the yard one lady said, “Oh David, do you remember my little sister who got married awhile back? Well she’s here now and she just gave birth! Come and see the baby.” In the darkness I was led into their hut and in the faint glow of someone’s cell phone, a sleeping baby was brought and put into my arms. I couldn’t help but thinking that in the simple family’s hut with sheep out in the yard, I was here holding baby Jesus on Christmas Eve. Surprised by it all my Zarma language skills went out the window, and the family giggled because all I could keep saying was “A ga bori—it’s good.”


I hope that somewhere in your holiday season you’ve encountered the Christ who was born at Christmas. Jennifer is still fighting fever as the pain and swelling moves out from her ear and into her jaw and neck. We did get to a clinic today and hopefully the meds she received might allow both of us to get some sleep tonight.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Building Advances & Signs of Christmas

This first picture is what the construction site looked like last week when we where there with the architect and his wife.


The beginnings of a ceiling/floor!

This week we were able to see some advances with some of the walls and ceilings going up.
Building some walls for support!
 We are so grateful for so many of you who keep us in prayer. We were reminded once again of how vital that is when a friend in our congregation talked about the accident that he was in this week during bible study. Thankfully his injuries were minor, but driving in Niger is never without its risks.
 Holidays have their own challenges here. Please pray for many of the staff at the boys school who are experiencing the challenges of living in a place so different from home and so far from family. Pray that we will be able to come up with some creative ideas for engaging our community for Christ as we celebrate this year. The last picture is one of the signs that the holidays are approaching here in Niamey. I was at a Christmas bazaar today at the American Rec Center where I ran into this.

Our prayer is that you will experience the Christ of Christmas this year in a fresh new way.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Road trip & Conference in Pictures

Our first breakdown


Where we stopped again for help

The road conditions probably had some thing to do with the breakdowns!



Finally there!















Praying for the new West African Executive-- Congratulations Pastor Soter  for being elected treasurer!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Roadtrip

This last couple of weeks have been a bit crazier than usual in our household. And yet the craziness has been a reminder of how much we need your prayers and how good God is to us. The week before last we were at a conference in Lome and on the way there we broke down three times. The first time the truck was over heating, so we pulled over and as we were debating how much of our drinking water we could afford to use on the rad (we were 20-30 minutes from the nearest village). We looked across the road and in the middle of nowhere there was one hut that just happened to be right next to us across the road (with nothing else to be seen for miles around). They were gracious and gave us a small bucket of water for the rad. On a closer look it was decided that the rad cap was broken. Our mechanic from Niamey gave us some advice over the phone and (without air conditioning) we made it to the next village/city where we were able to get some help and find a new rad cap. Two hours later we were on the road again. Because we had lost so much time it was well after dark before we could get anywhere to spend the night and I made the mistake of asking if we could try to a/c again, now that the sun had gone down and the outside temperatures had dropped. Of course, we over heated again a few minutes later and had to pull over to add water to the rad. Five minutes further down the road, we started over heating again. This time we were able to pull up behind a bush taxi that was loading up to take things to the market in the morning. The ladies who were loading up their wares for market were kind and brought us some more water for the rad and the bush taxi driver realized that the water was running out almost as fast as we put it in because there was a hole in one of the hoses. He decided that if we cut off the hose where the hole was there was probably enough left to reconnect the hose so that the cooling system would work again. So he went back to his bush taxi, pulled out some tools, removed the battery and some other things that were in his way and climbed into our over heated engine so that he could trim the hose and reattach it. When he was done we were able to maintain water in the rad, (but some of our lights were doing funny things and there was the odd strange noise) and where able to make it the last half an hour down the road to a city where we could find a hotel.
The next morning we were debating heading home or sending some on the bus while others waited for the mechanic from home to come get the truck or what we should do. When we asked Pastor Soter what he thought he said, I think we should keep going because Jesus is with us and whenever we have needed help on the road there has been someone to help us. He was right so we kept going, knowing that we had an even longer journey the second day because of all the interruptions on the road.
Our second day could have been very miserable squeezed between the two boys with no a/c but God was good to us and provided over cast skies. The trip was slowed significantly because of the potholes and construction, but we were able to make it all the way to Lome without breaking down.
The conference was for the leaders from all the West African countries where the FM church was working and there were a few others that had stories to tell of their problems in getting there, but it was a good time of fellowship, sharing and connecting with others at various stages of ministry. I am not sure that the boys got a whole lot out of their time there but I think it was good for them to get a break from the regular routine.
We tried to get the truck fixed while the conference was going on but that only partially worked so we had to delay our return an extra day. Thankfully we were almost out of the mountains before the truck started to do funny things (the ABS brake light came on). So again we checked with our mechanic in Niamey who gave us some advice. I asked some friends in Niamey to pray that we would have daylight to make it through the rest of the mountains and that our brakes would hold (both of which happened! Praise God!). We seemed to be making good time and knew of a guest house in Burkina that would get us much closer to home, so we thought we would try to make it there. About a half an hour from the Burkina border we decided to phone to make sure they would have room for us, only to find out that they were under a curfew, so we wouldn't be allowed into town after dark. The person at the guest house recommended that we find a hotel at the border. When we got the the only hotel at that border we found it completely in the dark with no one there. The neighbours told us it was Monday and they were closed, so we had to back track about an hour down the road to the last town that had a hotel. Thankfully they were not only open but they had space and the restaurant was still open, so that we could get something to eat. I was so exhausted by the time I fell asleep that night, I was able to sleep through the awful sound the a/c was making and didn't even mind too much when it kicked out part way through the night.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Rebuild in Pictures

At last my internet has decided to work again so, here are pictures from a couple of weeks ago on the building site.
The neighbours wall that collapsed in the accident is replaced (better than it was before)
The gates have been rehung (but still need a little adjusting)
Pilings are dug for the supporting pillars that will hold up the second floor


Support pillars for the new Ministry Center




Recycling the rebar from the original
The newest addition to the project is the guard room 
We decided to build the guard room early on to allow us to connect to the electric company (hopefully). Please pray that this will be a possibility that happens in good timing (and soon) as this can pose real challenges here.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Another breakdown...?

Wednesday I (Dave) met with a couple of young men from the church to debrief their visit to a village last weekend. Their visit had been the first in a few months due to vacation travels and other distractions. They had intended to attend the Sunday morning service but arriving at 9 AM they were disappointed to find only one person in the village. He informed them that because it was harvest season, they had met around 7 AM to sing and pray before heading out to the fields. We began to discuss potential strategies as they made observations concerning the exodus towards the city of most of the men in the village.

My meeting with the two guys almost got cancelled just as it began. We had just ordered lunch when Jennifer called. “I just filled up the car with gas and now it won’t start—it won’t even turn over.” It was already 1:30 PM and probably over 40 degrees.  Do I call the meeting off and go rescue my wife? “Call the mechanic and get him to come,” I decided. Something about the timing seemed fishy.  It reminded me of when we started a prayer group in our church back in Caistor Centre. The second week we met to pray,  Jennifer and I arrived extra early at the church and waited for the other ladies to come.  And we waited. Finally I felt that we needed to pray that people would be free to come. No sooner did we finish praying than the ladies started to arrive. “Did you just unlock the door?” they asked. One woman had tried the door and sat in her car in the driveway for ten minutes because when she tried it the first time it was “locked. ” Another who lived next door had been over and tried once and gone home because the door was “locked.” Both decided to come back and try once more while we prayed for their arrival. Suddenly the door that had been “locked” was now open—though no one had touched it in between times. On Wednesday, our faithful mechanic sent a couple of his workers over to rescue Jennifer (I am useless when it comes to fixing cars). When they arrived they tried once more to start the car, even though Jennifer had tried several time while waiting and even had a gas attendant look under the hood. It started immediately when they tried before they did anything else. When I called the mechanic later to ask about it, he said his guys thought maybe the battery clamps were a little loose and so they tightened them, just in case.


Please pray for the church as it seeks to find new avenues to reach out and show God’s love. Pray also that we would have wisdom in mentoring and developing leaders in the local church who will take up the challenge of reaching their communities.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Sacrifice


This past weekend was Tabaski  (in West Africa,) or Eid al-Adha, “the feast of the sacrifice”, where Muslims celebrate the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son and God’s provision of the substitutionary lamb. As I understand it (and my understanding is very limited) each family has to have a lamb (one for each wife), the lamb is blessed by the religious leaders and slaughtered to cover the sins of the family for the year. Then the lamb is roasted by an open fire all day and the family enjoys the organ meat the first day than shares the roasted lamb with family and friends and the needy. This year was the first time that I can remember the celebration falling on a Sunday, so as we were leaving church we had the experience of seeing family after family skinning and preparing their sheep for roasting—it is a very involved process. One of the boys commented that they saw a sheep looking on while the others around were being slaughter and they thought that was crazy that the sheep didn’t seem to be reacting.  Dave commented that sheep are stupid like that.
 But I think that sometimes we are like those sheep and are willing to turn a blind eye to what is happening around us and hope that it doesn’t really affect us. It is easier just to look out for number one and not care what is happening to others, because if we start to care we may have to try and do something about it and that might cost us. How often do we choose to just nod or smile and say hi to our neighbours without taking the time to find out what is really happening in their lives?  Or live in fear of rejection instead of sharing the hope that we have in Jesus? What kind of hope do we have if we live and fear and keep it to ourselves?
As an outsider I see a lot of the good and the bad of Tabaski. I know that the hope of the sacrifice covering their sins is futile. The sacrifice and cost of the sheep, no matter how expensive, can never be enough no matter how often it is done. I see so many who can’t afford this going in to debt to make it happen because of the shame that comes if you aren’t participating. There is an incredible amount of pressure for those who walk away from Islam because so much of this celebration is public (the fires burn on the side of the road with all the neighbours sheep roasting together). There is a unity in the celebration that binds the people together in the joy (or is it the competition) and there is a generosity that  becomes a necessity (because who can eat that much meat before it goes bad).
 I guess it makes me wonder what we as Christians have to offer in the area of celebrations, Christmas, Easter and maybe Thanksgiving? Have we let the world so commercialize them that they are no longer communal celebrations and times when we can share the love of Christ with those around us? Or are we just selfish in how we choose to celebrate? I know that I get really tired even just thinking about trying to share Christmas with my Muslim friends and neighbours and they come with a lot of their own expectations that the media has fed them too. It makes me want to give up and run away because I know that I can never measure up, but I guess that is not the point. The point is to share the love of Christ and let them know there is a sacrifice that is sufficient.
Things seem to be moving ahead on the building reconstruction. Pray that the construction goes well and good decisions are made (I’ll try to get some pictures up soon).
It is hard to believe that the first quarter of the school year is drawing to a close already this week (but that is what happens when you start school the second week in August.)  Please pray that I would be able to get caught up in my marking over the school break.
 

 
 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Pictures from the wedding

The Ladies gathered under the tent
The men enjoyed the shade of a tree


A surprised "selfie" with the older ladies (one jumped away before I could take the picture)
These were just a few of the pictures from the wedding a few weeks ago. Sorry it took so long to share them.
Hope you are having a good week (or at least better than ours)!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

A week in the Wright household

Last Sunday night we came home and found people waiting for us. One little boy who knew us from the old neighbourhood told us his father couldn't pay the rent and was being threatened with eviction. The mother from the wedding a couple of weeks ago showed up with her little brother to say that her father was ill. I had taken the old man to the clinic a year ago (his medical file says he's 98). I spent the morning at the clinic with him at the clinic. He apparently lives on sheep and goats milk and refuses most other food. We had skype meeting scheduled with our boss but discovered that afternoon that half the outlets on the main floor were dead but none of the breakers were tripped. Thus began three days of visits with the electrician trying to troubleshoot the problem working through bad wiring in couple of places to finally find a faulty breaker. Thursday the dorm kids arrived for the weekend because Friday was a PD day for Jennifer and three are staying with us so the dorm parents can have a weekend off.  One was still recovering from some kind of illness going around the dorm (slight fever, sore throat and cough). Friday we took them into the school to eat with the teachers because I had luncheon meeting provided by the Canadian embassy. The school sent home leftovers from their lunch which we had had for supper (spring rolls/nems and Cantonese rice). The school had an all night lock in starting at 7 pm. Jennifer and I were looking forward to a quiet evening at home but she had an upset stomach and decided to go to bed. I decided to work on my sermon for Sunday. Around midnight I got a call from the school saying Cole wasn't feeling well and wanted to come home. He ended up vomiting out the window several times on the way home. When we got home Jennifer informed us that she also had started exploding at both ends. Cole was sure it was supper so I called the school to warn them  and waited awhile lest another call should come. This morning I brought the rest of the boys home and half way one of them said I think I might be sick. He was sitting in the middle of the back seat so I quickly pulled over so he could leave his breakfast on the side of the road. Jennifer is still running to the toilet but I think I'm only having sympathy pains so far....

This was Dave's recounting of our week only he neglected to add the situation on the home front: His sister-in-law lost her brother (I believe the funeral is sometime today) and we were told that the tenants in our town house maybe leaving (just when we had a new furnace installed for them). Through it all God has been so good to us, I am totally amazed! It must have a lot to do with your prayers for us. Thanks for keep us in your prayers.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A wedding


This week we had something of a new experience. We were invited by a friend and neighbour to participate in his daughter’s wedding. We had actually been invited almost a month in advance but weren’t really clear on the date (it had to do with how long it took the groom to get the bride price together).  This was a unique wedding in many different ways. Instead of the bride being housed in the most luxurious family member’s house, she was at home in her families hut. Instead of there being lots of musicians around looking to “patronize” the wedding participants (singing their praises until they are given money to quit)—there were none. This could have been a reflection on the wealth of the family (or not) or  (if we understood correctly) may have had something to do with the fact that this was the third attempt for the bride to marry.  It is sometimes difficult to sort some of these things out since we don’t share a common language. This was a Tamajek (Touareg) wedding and our Tamajek doesn’t get beyond a few greetings; our friends don’t speak French and only a little Zarma. We enjoyed sharing in the celebration despite the difficulty with communication.

 I (Jenn) had fun taking pictures. The kids were trying to teach me how to count to three in Tamajek, but unfortunately I think I may have forgotten as quickly as I learned. It was also great fun to see the reaction of the older ladies when I showed them how my ipad could take a reverse photo. The oldest lady there jumped back with surprise when she realized that she was seeing her own reflection in the camera. I don’t think I have had that much fun taking a “selfy” before.

Tonight when we went to deliver copies of some of the pictures they tried to give us a lesson in who was related to whom. I am not really sure that I followed it all but it clearly brought them a lot of joy to have pictures of their family members. Please pray for this family that they might discover the truth about Jesus. Pray for the bride who is young.

Thanks for all your prayers for my back they have really made a difference. I am moving much better these days and it seems like the spasms are much less frequent.

 Please also continue to pray as we make decisions about the property and the re-building. Things have slowed down in the clean up a little as there is less demand for the bricks and debris with the rains slowing down. On that note, you can pray that the rains will continue long enough for the crops to make it to maturity and provide a good harvest.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Unexpected Rest

I have given the special blessing this week of time to rest, reflect and pray. It wasn’t really of my own choosing and I really wasn’t expecting it. Unfortunately it wasn’t an all expense paid vacation to a mountain top (or coastal beach) retreat centre (maybe that will come some day!). I simply put my back out and was having a really hard time functioning. So, I spent a few days rotating between laying on my back, walking oh so carefully and sitting in the best chair in our house trying to give the anti-inflammatory drugs a chance to take the swelling down and hopefully get me functioning better. The end result was I got to take lots of naps (although I am not really sure how well I was sleeping at night) and I spent a good deal of time praying and praising. I have had to learn to ask for help with things and I might be driving my family crazy because I haven’t been able to do a whole lot, but maybe they are coming to a better understanding of what I usually do (although sometimes whether they even see half of the things that drive me crazy). The doctor here has switched the anti-inflammatories that she has me on and I seem to be a bit better in the mornings for a bit longer, so hopefully it will resolve itself soon. I am grateful for the rest and the time to refocus on God, but it would be really nice if it didn’t come at such a cost.
 
 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Dave's week

It’s been a slow process of getting back into routine. Jennifer and the boys have been back to school for two weeks now. With the increase in driving the boys back and forth across town I managed to be in two car accidents last week. No one is hurt but they are reminders that the number one reason for missionary mortality is motor vehicle accidents.


On a brighter note the clean-up at the house is progressing and may well be finished this week. Jennifer was encouraged to see that some of the brick and debris was being put to good use in the neighbourhood potholes. Pray that the Lord will give us wisdom as we discuss the plans for rebuilding with the architect and that things will come together in a timely manner.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Faithful In the Little Things

We all know people who are quick to offer us the world but let us down regularly in the day to day of life. I think it is important to have people around that can help expand your vision and catch a glimpse of the possibilities that are out there, but what I appreciate the most is the friend that is faithful to take care of the little things when you need them the most. We were blessed to have visitors that were those kind of people this month. It is always a tremendous blessing to have visitors from home that help to reconnect you to home and provide a new perspective on life (and bringing treats is a real bonus)! I want to thank the Redcliffes for all their encouragement: not just their words and gifts but also their acts of kindness at a time when I really needed them. I really appreciat

ed their willingness to do the little jobs that get pushed aside when life gets busy, but can add pressure if they aren’t done when they are needed. Thanks for being willing to cook supper when I was in a meeting all day, for fixing chairs and door locks and outlets and more chairs and helping to place buckets in key locations during the rain.  Thanks for being willing to look at and brainstorm on the jobs that you couldn’t do too, even that is a tremendous help (saving us time trying a bunch of things that won’t work can be valuable too). Thanks for being willing and being faithful to come and be with us for awhile. It is great to have friends that understand us a little better having lived with us even for a little while.
The layers of what is left!
I guess what I am saying is so many times in life we get caught up in the “mountain moving” big events and think that that is what we need to be a part of or accomplish, when a “cup of water in Jesus name” can be just what is needed in the moment.
A bit overwhelming
Since I mentioned moving mountains, I should add that they have started the clean up on the building site. It is my prayer that somehow God could use even this to be a blessing to our community. Please pray with me that the broken bricks and cement could be useful in filling rainy season potholes and pits and that the truck moving it would not dig up the road any worse than it already is. Pray that we would have an opportunity to meet with the chief du quartier about this soon.
May you find yourself faithful in the little jobs God is providing for you this week!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Ten Days with the Wrights by Doreen Redcliffe



"It is who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for those who are simply and honestly themselves before Him in their worship.” John 4:23-24,   The Message


Jenn & Dave’s lives as Christ worshippers are seen in their interactions with anyone they meet. Although sometimes western dress is seen, they are careful to wear African clothes, greet people properly—even when in a hurry, and show utmost respect for the culture and country where they work.

During our visit we experienced a heavy rainfall. With no sewage or drainage systems in the area, flooding soon caused havoc on the roads. We saw an 18 wheeler coming with water above its tires. When Jenn’s turn came to navigate the water, she prayed for guidance & protection and started through. The water was up to the headlights on their 4x4. On the other side of the water we were able to get much needed gas, watch guys pushing vehicles out of the water and praise God for safety. Jenn shared her praise with the attendant at the gas station who laughed and agreed. Their lifestyle shows their worship.

We had the privilege of attending the 6th anniversary of the first Free Methodist Church in Niger. Although it was hot and humid, the Wright’s dressed according to African custom. Jenn wore a head covering in spite of the heat. The service was in French with lively singing and everyone participating. Together we shared communion. During visiting time after the service Dave & Jenn were very careful to follow African protocol and show their love for this church family. Once again, their lifestyle shows their worship.

One day while running errands, the car started to jerk and lose power and stall. In Niamey traffic this is not good.  As episodes became more frequent,  Jennifer decided to go to the mechanics. Since the car needed major work, she called Dave to come and get us. After completing more errands we headed home to put away the solar cooker. Just then the wind came up and clouds rolled in. There was just enough time to put away the solar cooker and close windows before the rain started. Rain came fast and hard as did the leaks. Basins & pails were used to catch the water. During dinner Dave felt drops on his head. He quietly got a bowl and held it to catch drops while conversations continued. At these trying times they praised God for the many positive things happening. They show their worship in difficulties. What a privilege to be here and experience a little of life in Niamey with the Wright family.

Praise God for:
 -safe travel from Germany and visitors from Canada.
 -Protection and safety when the car broke down and the roads washed out.
Pray for:
-Ben, Cole Dave & Jenn as a new school year, with new challenges begins next week.
-rest for Jenn & Dave who are exhausted
-guidance for next steps in the building process & ministry
-strength to show God’s love in numerous daily upsets


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sad news

I have some sad news to share today. We have been away taking courses but while we were away their was a serious accident on building site. We have been building with a special kind of compressed earth brick. The bricks are very dense and insulate better against the Nigerien heat. However they are also very susceptible to water and need to be treated with a special coating or covered with a layer of cement to prevent them from dissolving. A little bit water is not a problem but a lot can be disastrous. I spoke with the architect in May about this since the bricks had not been covered yet and rainy season was about to begin. Not only that, the top floor had not been entirely roofed in but was waiting for the cooling tower. The architect had originally intended to put the tower in earlier around January or February but had shifted to installing the wiring instead. When I spoke to him about this, he said he wasn’t particularly concerned because Niger doesn’t get a lot of rain to begin with.

While we were away their was a huge rain storm that started around 10 PM and didn’t stop until 5 or 6 AM the following morning. The guard who lived on site to watching over the workers equipment had been living on the main floor with his family. Around 8 AM he noticed some of the bricks near the ceiling starting to crumble and realized what was about to happen. He called his wife to grab their small child and get out while he got the workers out of the building. When the others were out he himself went out and found his wife standing alone. He asked her where their three-year-old was and she replied that she was still sleeping inside and didn’t want to disturb her! He chewed his wife out and then finally went back in to retrieve his daughter. He threw the child over his shoulder and was about to step off the front porch when the building came down on top of them both.  One worker had remained stranded on the roof of the building but managed to stay on top of it all as it came down, receiving only a few scratches and bruises. The guard and his daughter did not survive buried under the rubble.

Our architect was kept in police detention as a result of the deaths. A preliminary inquest was done to ascertain if the foundation had been properly laid and the initial response is yes, it was dug into an appropriate depth. The architect was known to have had a positive relationship with the guard, so his extended family declined to press charges and he has been released. I spoke with him yesterday for the first time since our return over the weekend. He felt that two things had happened to bring about the situation. First he admitted that the lack of roof had allowed a large quantity of rainwater to collect in the interior of the building. He also felt that the electricians had perhaps significantly weakened certain bricks by cutting into them to run some of the wiring. This observation was based on the fact of where the bricks initially began to crumble and how the building fell in two stages (the front went down first followed by the back end).

I have visited the site where our building once stood. The first floor ceiling and the roof which were made of cement are still more or less intact though bent and twisted but the rubble of the bricks are scattered all around. They even knocked down some of our outer wall and the neighbour’s house that was connected to it.

Our architect has communicated his intention to rebuild and replace what has been lost despite the fact that he has no insurance. When I visited him yesterday, the strain of this ordeal was clearly written on both his face and the face of his wife. The fact that people were killed in this accidence remains with him and he has not been able to sleep. Moreover, the whole affair has been on local television news including an interview with him about the bricks he has been using to build. (We were not the first to use these bricks; he has already built a couple of homes, including his own, as well as a hospital for another Christian organization—all of which are still standing).

The first job over the next few weeks is to begin to clean up the mess, which may not be easy. In the mean time we will be reconsidering our building plan. The architect is concerned about the negative press that his bricks have received and would like to make some changes. I have suggested a structure where cement posts hold the weight of the building with perhaps the red bricks functioning as insulation rather bearing the load of the building. Connected with this of course is the public perception of our property in the neighbourhood.  To rebuild exactly the same building may not inspire confidence and safety among the neighbours and community we would like to reach.

We invite you to pray with us for this building project and the ministry initiative that it represents. We know that God is able to take our tragedies and our failures and use them to accomplish his will and mission. We invite you to pray particularly for our architect who is not only a brother in Christ but a church planter, with his own congregation. Pray also for the grieving who have lost loved ones.  We also would appreciate your prayers for Jennifer and I. We have both been taking courses this summer and have assignments yet to complete. Jennifer is actually still in Germany as I write completing her last classes before her return on Saturday.





Friday, June 27, 2014

Cooling Tower

Things continue to move forward at the house and we hope to see the last of the roof go on soon. The are starting to work on our "cooling tower,"  that forms almost a third floor. The picture shows the grating they're starting to put in for it. It's intend to allow the cool breezes caught by the tower to drop down into the house and let hot escape upwards. We intend to put clay pots with water up there to help humidify, cooling it further as it drops down into the house.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Insufficient for the Task?


It has been an intense week with lots of power cuts and friends leaving the country (unfortunately both are just facts of life here). In fact I am writing this at 3am simply because the power is finally stable and I can’t sleep. We are told that the power cuts are due to work on the lines and we are grateful that they have been way better than a year ago at this time (when we were lucky to have an hour or two a day), but it is still frustrating when you are trying to get work done and you can’t. Our situation is also complicated by the fact that when the power is out for extended periods of time our water is cut (because the water tower needs electricity to power the pumps that keep the water pressure going), so it gets to be a vicious cycle.

We have had cause to rejoice in hearing that at least part of the team will be coming in August! Thanks to those who have been praying about this. Please keep praying for them as they have to get their paperwork together and have lots of decisions to make.

Please pray for Dave as he tries to finish up his marking for the bible school and preparing for the student’s defense of their final papers, in addition to getting ready to take a couple classes himself this summer and his usual jobs (like taking a turn preaching this Sunday). Pray that he would be able to make the most of his time and focus on the task at hand regardless of the circumstances.

Please pray for me that I would be able to get accomplished what I need to for the courses that I am taking this summer and be able to balance that with the needs of family and ministry.

Please also pray for the great people that are ending their time of ministry here:  that God would be directing them to what He has in store for the next stage of their lives. They will be deeply missed and it is hard to say goodbye.  Pray for the gaps that they leave behind that others would come along to fill them. Pray that others would come to work alongside us. We recognise that we are insufficient for the task, but thankfully God supplies all our needs.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Obstacles or Barriers

So many times in life we face difficulties and most often those are the defining moments in our life. Will we choose to rail against God, have a pity party, or see those situations as one more growing experience? I think I usually fall into the "all of the above" category, but thankfully God is always faithful to see me through.

What I find really tough is knowing when the obstacles that are coming my way are just that: obstacles for me to over come or barriers that are God's way of saying no, this isn't my plan for you. We are supposed to be having a team coming this summer but they have been facing problem after problem and trying to know whether this is another hurtle along the way or God's way of letting them know that they need to reconsider. It is a tough call and one that they will have to make for themselves. I have found that when the obstacles boil down to fear, then that usually isn't God (based on 2 Timothy 1:7). Not to make light of fear, there are things in life that deserve a healthy dose of fear and should be taken seriously, but scripture tells us that that is not how God operates. More often than not when I get caught up in fear it is someone else that is playing with me, not God. Philippians 4:6 & 7 is usually how I deal  with those issues: giving my anxious thoughts to God and looking for his peace. Will you pray with me for this team that they will know what God has planned for them and that He will direct them in His perfect peace?

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Testing

The last full week of classes before the regular exams had a few unexpected surprises that came with it. There were two days when the school closed down because of university student protests that got out of hand. You would think that this would be a good thing for us (the time off not the rioting!) because we would be saved the one hour round trip to school; that we could sleep in and take life at a slower pace. But, no... it just so happened that Cole was writing IGCSE exams on both of those afternoons so even though school was closed he had to get in there to write his exams, thankfully God took care of us and although we saw signs of the commotion all around town and a number of burning tires we didn't run into any problems on the road. Instead of being able to use my day off teaching to mark and do some work around the house, I had three extra bodies to manoeuvre around and meals that needed to be timed so that the commute across town could be done. I must admit that I did appreciate the opportunity to sleep in, even if my body doesn't know what to do with that and gets up anyway. We are truly grateful for the number of people that prayed for our safety at the time and to God for answering those prayers.

This week Ben has started his final exams and Cole will have his 13th and final exam next week. They would appreciate your prayers.

We were told this week that there might be some complications for the remainder of the team coming in August. I am hoping and praying that they would be able to come, it would really mean a lot to us (even just to see faces from home) but I am afraid that God might be closing that door for some reason. Please pray that God's will would be done in these circumstances and that the building project would move ahead whether this team comes to help or not.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Too much for one weekend

This was another really crazy weekend in the Wright house. The craziness started a little earlier than I was prepared for. Friday morning when I arrived at school, I was shocked to hear that one of the French teacher's sisters died in the night. She was 23 with three small children: a three-year-old daughter and twins that are three weeks. It came as a shock to everyone because there were no real signs of her being ill until the night before. This tragedy had a ripple affect because that French teacher is set to marry the school secretary in a few week's time, putting a serious damper on what should be a joyous time for them. It also caused a few others on staff to be reminded once again of their recent loss of family members.

Please pray for this situation, for the family dealing with such a tragic loss. For the husband left without a wife. for these children left without a mother, that God would work in a mighty way in their lives and fill in this gap. For the staff at Sahel that we would be able to support this couple in their grief and help them celebrate and find joy as they start a new family together. And for those that are still grieving their own losses that have happened over the year.

Part of the craziness of this weekend was something I had been looking forward to for a long time: General Conference for the FMCIC. I had been praying for the event for awhile and even though I was disappointed that I couldn't be there in person, I had hoped to reconnect to the church at home as I tuned into the live stream broadcast and catch glimpses of friends and family. I got up super early on Saturday morning and tried to log on to the website to see what had happened on Friday night, but the internet didn't seem to want to cooperate. Later in the morning the page would come up but it would cut in and out as the internet/computer tried to handle the download and by early afternoon when the next session started we had to give up. The website wouldn't load because there were too many video connections on it for the internet to download. (Or at least that is what we think happened.) I was really frustrated that I couldn't even be a part of things from afar. I pray that it was a blessing to all who attended and I look forward to being there in person in 2017!

In addition to the funeral on Saturday and trying to catch part of conference, Dave had to help with the church board meeting on Sunday after the morning service. (He has been helping the leadership to develop their vision for the ministry of the church and to understand their roles on the board.) Then in the evening he spoke (probably the first time in a year because he likes to let others in the missions' community have the opportunity and only fills in when there is a great need) and lead communion in the English worship service. It was probably too much for one weekend and I am afraid that I am still trying to recover from it all.

We also received news from home that Dave's uncle and our renter are both receiving radiation treatments this week and that Dave's sister-in-law's mom is in the hospital with water around her heart. Please pray for these situations and for us as we try to love and support from a distance.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Reminder of how blessed we are

There are times that I have to remind myself of how blessed we are (and there are other times when that comes easier). This past week was one of those times when God shakes you up a bit, so you can get your perspective back. I had had a particularly challenging week that came to a climax on Saturday when our water was cut for most of the day (8:30 am-10 pm). I wanted to grumble and complain but then I realized that:
a) the water had lasted long enough to have my morning coffee :)
b) I still had some water in the barrels that we keep in our bathrooms (because it isn’t really that unusual for us to have brief water cuts) and
c) that in reality I am living on the edge of the Sahara—I should be grateful for the amount of water that the Niger River provides us in the capital!
I have had friends from home ask about if we have to ration water and things of that sort but other than occasionally having a problem with the water towers not being able to provide water pressure (because of electricity cuts) and the odd shut down to work on the lines, we have been truly blessed!

I also discovered this week that our newsletter was feeding responses to an email account that I don’t normally use and that I had year old email waiting for me. If one of those emails belonged to you, please forgive my lack of response and know that you are very important to us and our ministry here in Niger. I will do my best to sift through it all this coming week.

Thanks to all of you that have been praying for Cole (and my class) as he (they) writes his (their) exams. Cole finishes his 6th and 7th (of 12) exams this afternoon and I know that your prayers have made a great difference in this very stressful time.  My class seemed pretty happy with the exam they took yesterday and will be writing one more next week.

We are very sad that we couldn’t be part of the FMCIC General Conference this coming weekend. We especially miss the opportunity to reconnect with so many of our supporting churches (& you!), but know that we will be checking in to follow on-line when we can and that you are in our prayers.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Life Under The Sun

I think the sun and the stress of life under its intense heat has sent us all a bit loopy this week, but loopy is much better than the alternative which is usually miserable. At least that is my explanation of the latest attempt at a family photo.

We have also faced the disappointment of hearing that half of the team that we were expecting in August will be unable to make it. Please pray for the rest of the work team that this setback would not be too discouraging and that all the details will come into place for them to come. Pray also for clear communication with those involved, for some reason that I can't explain some of the emails that are being sent aren't getting through to me.
 Cole would also appreciate your prayers for him as he is in the process of writing his IGCSE exams (these are special exams that come out of Cambridge University for international students).

Please also pray that we can keep our eyes fixed on Jesus so that life under the sun is really Life under the SON.
.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Easter in the village

I celebrated Easter with a new group of believers this year. Our local church here in Niamey has been working on developing a relationship with a village an hour outside of town. While they are not the first to present the gospel in this village they have been hoping to start a new church there. Last fall one young man in the church took it on himself to move out to the village in order to be a witness there and in the surrounding region.  In the last month or so he’s moved on to some other villages but the church continues to maintain a relationship with the people of that first village.

Last weekend I had the opportunity to take a few young men out to the village to celebrate with them. We brought along some homemade “biscuit” (basically a timbit) and some frozen juice packages. We listened to them sing songs of praise in French and in their mother tongue. I was hoping to see what they did to listen to the Scriptures together but unfortunately white man often translates into preacher in these circumstances and so I ended up sharing about the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.


Tomorrow I am having a meeting with the board of the Niamey church. Even though they have elected boards in the past they have struggled to figure out what is their role and as result the board have not functioned beyond a few meetings. Nevertheless, the church has good intentions and desires to move ahead but requires the necessary organization and administration to capitalize on the work that they are already undertaking. Please pray that the board will come together to identify the mission that God is giving the church and to see it accomplished by his grace.