Another Sunday in Niger

So I was just going to post a picture or two on Facebook, but decided I would go ahead and blog instead.  It’s been so long I almost forgot how to open it.

I think I like to write about Sundays.  I’m guessing if I search back some years, I’ll find several posts based around the first day of the week.  Or around other days we have church services.

With 52 churches in Vie Abondante, and invitations to speak in other ministries, we obviously don’t get to every church very often.  And even though the village churches are significantly further then going to one of the churches in the city, (not to mention the ‘road’ challenges), we really enjoy being in the village.  I think that’s because that is Niger.  The majority of the people live in villages.

Today we went to Fera.  It’s a Gourmantche church, pastored by Omar & Aisha.  They’re wonderful.  And they ALWAYS smile like that.

IMG_2734

The trip is about 1.5 hours.  The first hour is on good road.  One of the best roads in Niger, really.  The last 30 minutes make up for the great road preceding them.

IMG_2023

Little guy herding his cow.

IMG_0547

In case one might be concerned for our safety, no worries.  Here’s one of the many police checks along the route.

IMG_0689 2

Enough of the good road.  Here’s where we turn off into the bush.

IMG_6965 2

 

And where we picked up Pastor Omar & Aisha.  I love taking pictures of these two.

IMG_4674

All tucked in…

IMG_8917

And it was here that a couple people in our party had to move to the ‘way back’ cause we were already full when we stopped to pick up Pastor Omar.  You see, as many times as we’ve been to the Fera church, we still can’t make it on our own.  One of the reasons for that is you go a different ‘road’ each time, depending on what season it is.  Rainy season washes out roads.

I’m sure this brought back fond memories for Tobi, cause when he was a kid, his regular seat was usually in the ‘way back’.  He and Pastor Jack were good sports. We had to stop at one point and if Jack had eaten any cookies, he would have tossed them.  Tobi said he was holding his.  Needless to say it was a rough 30 minutes for the back sitters.

But they smiled anyway-in spite of the fact that they are just climbing in for the trip home.

IMG_7146

Rainy season is finished, but there was still some lovely green.  Mostly because the Dawa (Sorghum) hasn’t been harvested yet.

IMG_5240

And this area has THE coolest trees.  The Baobab.  (Bay-Oh-Bab).  It’s even fun to say.  I’ll try to refrain from including every picture I took of them.  They are in ‘bloom’ this time of year.

IMG_6837

IMG_8089

IMG_5318

Storage for grain.

IMG_4526

Here’s another.  Do you remember it’s name?

IMG_9721

Can’t help myself… Check out the size compared to the motorcycle.IMG_0719 2

Fera is a large village, and the homesteads are in family units, with quite a large distance between them.  When the fields are harvested, you can see your neighbor. Here’s one family home.

IMG_0104

We’re almost there…

IMG_2623

That’s it!  The church.

IMG_5998

This guy is bringing his bench. It’s on his head.

IMG_7681

We’re here!

IMG_7924

Several different people led the worship, ending with Pastor Omar, before Neal preached.  The majority of the people speak Gourmantche, but Pastor Omar speaks Zarma and Hausa and his wife only Zarma. So Neal preached in English, Jack interpreted into Gourmantche, I interpreted into Hausa for Pastor Omar, and Jack’s wife Fati interpreted into Zarma for Aisha. I think everyone was covered.  That blasted Tower of Babel.

IMG_1683 2

It was a great message, preached with excellence to hungry and receptive hearts.  Faith.  Without it, it is impossible to please God.  And it’s in the heart, not in the head.  You must have hope first. And if there are questions or doubt, that’s not faith.  You believed that Jesus died and rose with faith.  That’s the same way you believe for everything else.  That’s it in a nutshell.

We spent some time greeting the members before we started on our return trip.

This little man wasn’t too sure about Tobi.  But seriously, who doesn’t love Tobi?

IMG_6400

Nearly everyone has a baby. Fast Fact: Niger has the highest birth rate in the world.

IMG_7872

We have Vie Abondante cloth and these ladies are admiring it, making plans to buy some to have outfits sewn.

IMG_0342 2

Happy faces.

IMG_9215IMG_3936IMG_2247 2IMG_2725

Time to say goodbye.

IMG_9376

So now you can scroll back up to see the reverse drive out of the bush. Or just move on.

We left at noon, and it was warming up quite nicely.

IMG_4581

We followed this guy until the ‘turn-off’.  =)

IMG_4265

 

Pavement!

IMG_8500Once we got to the paved road (not without some tummy mishaps), we pulled off as we had some things to discuss with Pastor Omar.

IMG_9590

IMG_2774

A site for sore behinds.

IMG_5999

A pretty awesome thing is that on our way from our house to Fera, we pass 3 other Vie Abondante churches.  We drive right through Torodi where one of them is, so even though their service was over, we stopped to greet Pastor Ibrahim and Hawa.

Along the way, there are lots of interesting sites to see.  If I was the guy pushing the cart, I think I’d try and throw it up on that big truck that’s passing by.  (It is over 100 degrees).

IMG_7104

Mosques are everywhere, even fancy ones like the one on the right.

IMG_7764

This is the road that leads to Burkina Faso.  A few more miles and we’re in another country. But I digress.  That’s the reason when we go this direction we have to take this detour around all these trucks. Many trucks. The trucks are held here before being allowed to move on.  As you pass by, it looks like nothing is being done.  People sleeping under their trucks etc.  But something is happening.

IMG_2561

Then there are the speed bumps.  The awful, horrible, obnoxious speed bumps. Multiple speed bumps.  Everywhere.  I don’t like them.

IMG_7073

And here we are.  Torodi.

IMG_3901

There is a well at the church.  After services people come and get water.  It’s a great ministry.

IMG_2797

And a suit to pump water?  Why not.

IMG_2447

Tobi taking a few minutes to ‘settle’ after the roller coaster ride.

IMG_1344

Pastor Ibrahim’s youngest.

IMG_3300

After a quick visit and goodbye’s, we were back on the road again.

IMG_6760

But our trip isn’t over yet.  We pass through a town/village on our way that has a meat and vegetable market.  Jack asked if we could stop so he could get some meat.

IMG_6853

Where’s the beef?

IMG_3658IMG_2625

And this is what I call service.

How about a side of beef?

IMG_9825

It’s fresh.  I promise.

IMG_7899

We had an audience while we waited.

IMG_4496

So yeah, we did end up buying some meat – for lunch. The stuff that was already cooke. And while waiting, we decided we’d go ahead and get some okra too.  When is the last time I cooked okra?  I don’t remember….19??  Talk about the power of suggestion.  But seriously, don’t those veggies look beautiful?

IMG_8225

This guy didn’t look quite as thrilled as I was though.

IMG_0793

On the road again – though officially we never really left it.

IMG_3901

And I’m thankful that I’m not carrying my food home this way.

IMG_9810

Getting closer to the big city.  And where is this little guys mom?

IMG_1520

And here’s how I know that the trucks don’t sit at border control forever.  These guys are entering Niamey, the capital of Niger.

IMG_9192

Getting closer

IMG_3903

Here’s another one of our churches!  Right on the main road.

IMG_4834

Those are water towers.  Almost home.

IMG_4803

Final road.

IMG_5475

There’s our house.

IMG_9850

 

IMG_9418

Our garage.

IMG_3386

There’s our okra.

IMG_4949

There’s our meat.  It’s beef.

IMG_1760

Sunday lunch!

IMG_2666

So. There you have it.  The thing I’ve realized as I’ve been writing this is that even though I’m writing it like it’s something new and different, it’s not.  It’s our life.  There is nothing unique to us about any of these pictures or things we experienced today.  These journeys happen at least weekly, sometimes more.

At the same time, we love it.  We are energized by this kind of stuff.  After all Jesus said in John 4, “My food is to do the will of my Father and finish His work”.  Doing what He’s called us to do is where we get our strength.  Our food.  And let me tell you, we enjoy food – a lot!

That Got Me Thinking…With God

Last night Neal and I got dressed up (African style) and went out. We looked pretty good! On the way to our destination, I commented that it was kind of like we were on a date.  It was a date. A date with about 3000 other Nigeriennes.  It was an evangelistic meeting with a ministry from Burkina Faso, and was organized in conjunction with the churches in Niger.  Here’s just a small part of the crowd.

IMG_2264 3

Many that came were Christians, many were Muslims, and many came out of curiosity.

IMG_2249

It wasn’t really possible to get a full crowd shot without rushing up on the platform, and as tempted as I was to do that, it may have gotten me arrested – or at least tackled.

IMG_2262

We arrived to our very own Pastor Nelson leading the praise – as only he can do.  And they had those speakers turned up loud.  I should know because we were sitting right in front of them.  After all the preliminary stuff and announcements, the Evangelist arrived.  First came the military escort vehicle, and then his vehicle.  All of the military police surrounded him as he walked to the front row and took his place.  He’s the man in the suit.

IMG_2245 2

What you may not see are all of the ‘bodyguards’.  Here’s a better shot.

IMG_2243 2

We were fortunate to sit on the front row so had a birds eye view.  Well, maybe not birds eye, but we had a view.  It was almost fascinating to watch these soldiers fan out in formation as the man of God arrived.  This guy and his ‘gear’ was standing about 6 feet in front of me.

IMG_2235

Now it’s pretty standard protocol that you never take pictures of police, military or government buildings. That’s seriously frowned on around here. So even though seeing the military police is pretty par for the course for us- as we see them around the city most days, I don’t have many pictures of them. (I’ve sneaked a few here and there but that’s a secret). Here, however, everyone had cameras, so I decided to join in the fun and snap away.

IMG_2236

The preaching was being done in 3 languages, unfortunately none of the languages we speak.  So we asked our trusty friend and master interpreter, Habibu, to sit with us and help us out.  Anyone who know’s Habibu, knows that he’s always happy to help out. Clearly.

IMG_2240

However, when the entourage arrived, Habibu looked anything but pleased.  There was even some eye rolling going on.  Then he started counting all of the soldiers out loud.  And pointing.  We had to tell him to stop pointing.  He thought it was serious overkill.

That got me thinking….I’m watching everything going on. All of our senses are involved.  It was hot, dusty, very loud and lots of interesting stuff to look at.  The only thing missing was taste.  But then I realized the dust in the air we were breathing had that covered too.

I understood where Habibu was coming from.  In our ministry, we sort of frown on big titles and positions that make one’s chest expand.  So he could not understand why the man of God needed all this protection.

And I was still thinking.  Here we are in Niger.  A nation where the vast majority of the people claim Islam as their religion.   And here they were. PROTECTING a Christian event.  An event where hundreds were giving their lives to Christ!  I can almost guarantee that every one of those soldiers was Muslim.  But they were committed to protect the man of God, and really, all those attending.  And they themselves, as ‘soldier like’ as they remained, were also hearing the Gospel.  There is no way they could turn off their ears.  I wasn’t kidding when I said it was loud.

Earlier today I was reading in Mark about the camel and the needle and things being impossible.  The disciples asked a question.  “How then can anyone be saved?”  Jesus replies, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

With God.

People are being saved in a place that once looked impossible for Salvation to penetrate. These are Muslim ladies rushing to the front for salvation.

With God.

IMG_2254

The government, in a nation that espouses everything Islam, is protecting massive evangelistic campaigns.

With God.

Hundreds ran to the front to receive Jesus.  I saw it with my eyes.

With God.

IMG_2261

It’s an amazing time to be in Niger.  We have been here for 20 years and have had the privilege to see the growth.  To see the Gospel expand.  To see the local church rise up in authority and boldness, breaking down denominational barriers.

With God.

When we arrived in 1998, we were told that there were probably about 3000 Christians.  Today, there are several hundred thousand of us.

With God.

And those were the thoughts I was having last night as I proudly watched ‘The Church’ in Niger very successfully host a mass evangelistic campaign.

The best is yet to come.

With God.

PS.  If you’d like to see a video of people rushing to the front for salvation, check out my Facebook page – Danette Goodmanson Childs

Continue reading “That Got Me Thinking…With God”

A Sunday Here, A Sunday There

We’re traveling to the US in 2 days.  So right now I should be packing.  Because I haven’t even started.  But I can’t. Because I have to get my thoughts down and I think my blog is the most convenient avenue for me to do that.

Today is Sunday, so of course we went to church.  We are usually in a different church each Sunday.  Neal is often preaching.  Today we went to the village of Fera.  Fera was started because Pastor Omar of Nikoye started evangelizing there.  It wasn’t long before there were new believers needing a church and needing to be discipled.  So Pastor Omar goes back and forth between his village of Nikoye and Fera.  He used to do that on his motorcycle, but we have learned that it is out of commission so now he walks.  About an hour 1 way.  In the hot sun.  With a smile.  Pastor Omar is always smiling.

IMG_3822

And here’s his beautiful wife, Aishatu.  She’s always smiling too.

IMG_3780

So we left this morning  and on our way out of town we picked up Pastor Jacques.  He’s coming to interpret because Fera is a Gourmantche village and Pastor Omar doesn’t yet speak Gourmantche.  But he obviously didn’t use that as an excuse not to evangelize.  We drove on the paved road for almost an hour where we met Pastor Omar and Aishatu waiting for us.  (They walked an hour to meet us there).  The drive (in our 4Runner) to Fera from there is 20 minutes into the bush.  Distance is difficult to nail down, because of the ‘road’ conditions, and direction is difficult too – which is one reason Pastor Omar was with us.  We’ve been several times, but still don’t know the way on our own. Don’t judge, if you saw the place, you’d get lost too.

IMG_3825

Had fun conversation about family as we bumped and jostled along.  We were in Maradi a couple of weeks ago where Pastor Omar’s daughter is part of Abraham’s Place.  I showed them pictures I took of her and told them how she is thriving there.  More smiles.  We talked about the church and its growth.  We arrived to the people gathered and already singing. The church is meeting in a thatch structure right now, but we are building a church there that will be completed in a few months.  The bricks are made on site, and the foundation is in the process of being dug.  And that is NOT an easy job.  The ground is incredibly hard and rocky.  So – just pour water on it to soften it.  Good idea.  Except that water comes from a well, and has to first be pulled up and then carried from a long way away.  In the hot sun.  The church members are helping with that.

IMG_3748

Here are bricks fort the new church.  The current church is in the back right.

IMG_3758

After some lively worship and dancing, the choir sang.  The choir is made up of young girls who are quite talented.  They do choreographed dancing while singing.  The dance moves are not something that you should try.  Unless you want to put your back or neck out.  Or unless you have Gourmantche in your blood.

I love taking close-ups of faces.  Here are a few from today…

IMG_3789

 

IMG_3769

IMG_3768

IMG_3736

Then came time for my favorite preacher to preach.  That’s Pastor Jacques interpreting for him. He preached a message about ‘Invitation’.  Jesus goes where He’s invited.  It was a great message and the people were very engaged.  At the end they all prayed and invited Jesus into various situations in their lives.  Then we prayed for the sick.

IMG_3739

 

IMG_3737

 

 

IMG_3818

 

IMG_3796

Then I greeted the congregation and encouraged them to act on what they’d heard.

IMG_3807

 

IMG_3803

At the end of the service Pastor Omar asked Tobi to come and greet the people.  Omar asked Tobi to greet in Hausa so he could interpret for him himself.

IMG_3812

After the service we all shook hands with everyone.  Everyone shook hands with everyone.  Which everyone always does.  We did that outside of the church though, because only the children could stand up straight in most places inside.  Even me- as short as I am.  That made me feel tall, a very foreign feeling…

Outside as we were investigating the building materials for the new church, a dust storm rolled in.  It had been very windy all morning, And finally the dust came.  I had just made the mistake of applying lip gloss.  Bad decision.

Here’s a picture of our drive back home – to get an idea of why lip gloss wasn’t wise…

IMG_3828

We got back in our 4Runner with Tobi, Pastor Jacques, Pastor Omar & Aishatu.  We basically retraced our steps.  When we dropped Pastor Omar, we asked him about his moto.  He basically said it’s not worth repairing and that in fact with what he’s spent on repairing it, he could have bought a new one.  So they walk.  Another hour.  In the hot sun. (Note to self.  Help Pastor Omar get a new moto).

So. Back on the main road we were and we began talking with Pastor Jacques regarding his ideas about new pastors in villages that have believers but no pastors.  When one particular man was mentioned he just kind of laughed.  Neal asked him what was up.  He said basically that that guy wasn’t serious. “Why?” We asked.  Because he wants Nigelec and things like that.  What is Nigelec you ask?  Electricity!  Jacques very matter of fact like said that this man was not ready to be a pastor because he wanted, of all things, ELECTRICITY!  Can you believe it?  The gall of that man.  And there I sat, comfortable in our air conditioned vehicle thinking, “well I darn sure want Nigelec!  What does that say about me?

You’d be amazed to see the hoops we jump through to keep our electricity constant.  In fact that could be its very own blog post.

On our way back, we decided to stop by and visit Pastor Ibrahim and Hawa.  They have been pastoring a church in the town of Torodi for several years.  (It may be interesting to note that they don’t have electricity either).

The service was over but there were still lots of people hanging around.  Pastor Ibrahim and Hawa’s home is right there with the church.  They have the luxury of a well in the compound and people were lined up pumping water.  It’s not open during service, but starts up right after.  It’s a huge blessing for the people of Torodi and a great testimony for the church.

Unfortunately I left my camera in the car when we hopped out to greet.  I regret that, because so much took place in a matter of about 10 minutes that was photo worthy.

Hawa informed us that Pastor Ibrahim was meeting with some people in the church. She called him out.  Ibrahim was happy to see us, and brought out the group of men he was meeting with.  Turns out, they were guys from 4 villages where pastor Ibrahim has been evangelizing.  The villages are from 30-60 minutes away (again, in a proper vehicle), and are places that don’t yet have a pastor.  Ibrahim has a motorcycle with a small trailer so he sends someone from his church to pick them up and bring them to Torodi for service.  Then he takes them back home.

Oh, and yesterday we were told about an attack that was made a couple of nights ago on one of our village pastors and his family.  It was at night but they were still awake so they themselves captured the attacker and brought him to the village mayor.  He said his reason for attacking the pastor was because he doesn’t want Christianity in their village.  They didn’t warrant it big enough news to tell us about it immediately.

So why the play by play of our Sunday worship?   I think its because I started thinking about the contrast of where we’ll minister just 1 week from today, compared to where we worshiped today.

The way we worshiped today is considered ‘normal’ for our pastors and church members here. Just as ‘normal’ as the service we’ll be in next week.  The things are pastors here do and the things they face in order  to evangelize and disciple are considered normal, when in our reality there is nothing normal about it. Perspective.

I write because as I sit here in my electricity filled home I realize again how humbled, honored and proud I am all at the same time, to be serving with men and women like these.  People who consider things like running water and electricity to be frivolous and unnecessary to spreading the Gospel.  When Jesus said go into all the world, He didn’t mean go only where you find Nigelec.

This has been a great reminder to me as we struggle during this hot season.  It’s been a tough one.  We moved into a wonderful new home, but the electricity doesn’t come in at full power.  And then sometimes it’s not on at all. I can’t do some important things like run the microwave and toaster.  And then there’s the heat.  Did I mention how hot the sun was? Some days 112+ degrees hot.  With no relief.  I have an unfinished blog post about how much I detest hot season.  (I may or may not finish that one).

Seriously?

These men and women that we are privileged to work so closely with are really the ones who are daily laying down their lives for the sake of the call….with no electricity and smiles on their faces.

IMG_3822

 

Tamou Guest House. It’s Not the Ritz, But It’s Pretty Close!

I began but never finished the following blog post nearly a year ago…. Why? I have no idea. Right now we’re in another cold season and are looking forward to being at the guest house again next week for children’s camp.

March 16, 2016
Today we went to Tamou. Tamou is our Discipleship Center in the Gourmantche region. The headquarters of the region is the Tamou Church compound. In addition to the church there is a discipleship school, men’s and women’s student dorms, the pastor’s home and we’ve recently built a guest house on the compound so we can spend more time there.

Here’s the church.  The dorms being built (now complete) are to the left.  The Guest House is at the back of the church – the green door at the back right is the entrance.img_0668

You see Tamou is a 90 minute drive (Neal’s driving, so longer if you’re not with him). It’s a pretty remote location without many amenities. So when someone from Niamey goes to teach in the school, it’s best to teach for the whole morning, 4 hours, to maximize your effort, and then drive back. It makes for a long day.

We’ve also done events in Tamou – all day events. And not many people go all day without having to ‘use the bush’ as we affectionately call it. When in Tamou, there is no place to use said bush – not really even any bushes – and certainly no place to rest or have any down time. But it’s a place we love to be, and a place God is moving.

Thus the guest house. Really, it’s a thing of wonder. It’s tucked behind the church and has it’s own wall so is quite private. But if you step outside the door you’re right there with everyone. Best of both so to speak.

The guest house is back to back with the church.

img_0651

Welcome inside!  This was taken as construction was being finished.  The 2 square holes are for trees.  We dug about 10 feet down, removed rocks and fertilized well in advance.  A picture at the end shows the progress of the trees.

img_1189

Neal and I have stayed in the newly built guest house a few times, trying it out, getting the kinks out, before we had our first team visit. That happened in February — last month. We had a children’s camp with a team of 6 from the US. It was WONDERFUL! Better even than we had hoped. That could be partly because it was such a great team. Thanks Bob and Team Christian Life! (Note: that was Feb 2016).

When you walk in (door on left like in above photo) you see the kitchen/common area to the right.  That is where this picture is taken from – the dining area.  From here, you are looking at the 2 guest rooms.  They mirror each other and there is a small veranda in between.  Each has it’s own bathroom.  If you look to the top at the center, you see the roof of the church.  Also, take note of the spots on either wall reserved for planting.

img_1190

And just for perspective, here’s what you see when you walk out that green door. The church is to the right.

fullsizerender

The dining/common area is open, but is attached to a kitchen that can be closed.  The kitchen is where this photo is taken from.

img_1718

And here’s the kitchen- from the outside in….

img_1720

And from the inside out…

img_1722

Like I said, that was February. February is still considered ‘cold’ season. And relatively speaking, it is cold. Like cold enough for me to wear a sweatshirt early in the morning. Of course I’m in a sweatshirt if the temperature drops below 72….you be the judge.

Until right now, March 16, 2016. February was our last visit to Tamou, on account of our trip to India and Philippines. But for pete’s sake it’s only been a month. Where did this heat come from?

This is our first time to stay out here during hot season. We’ve done all we can to make the place comfortable. Because we really enjoy being out here, and we feel that we can make much more of an impact when we can spend more time with the people. More time than just teaching in a classroom setting. But I’m not gonna lie. I really enjoy a real toilet. With toilet paper. And lights. And running water. We even have hot water (though one might wonder why, but when it’s only 72 degrees…) AND, drumroll please—we have air conditioning.

Yep. We’ve outfitted the guest house with AC. It was wonderful during the days of cold season – because the days still get quite toasty – 90’s. And at night it wasn’t even needed.

Here’s one of the the guest rooms – the one on the right.  Picture is taken from the bathroom.

img_1724

And here’s ‘our’ room.  Or the room we use when we’re here.  But it’s also a guest room.

img_1726

You can see from this angle where the bathroom is (white door). It’s a mirror of the bathroom in the other room.

img_1728

And here’s one of the bathrooms.  They’re both the same.  Strangely I don’t have any pictures of it finished.  It looks quite nice.

img_0241

And here’s the veranda between the 2 rooms.

img_2772

Hot season though, that’s the real test. And we’re in that test right this minute. Today, it was 107. So while hot, 107 is still not THAT hot, compared to what will be coming. Needless to say, the AC came in handy. It would be interesting to note that Tamou doesn’t have 24/7 electricity. It’s a ‘town’, but an up and coming one. The town has a large generator that provides electricity from 10am – midnight each day. Except for Wednesdays. Lovely Wednesdays. Power comes on at 12 noon on Wednesday and because Thursday is market day, it stays on straight through to midnight on Thursday. In other words, 36 hours of beautiful, uninterrupted power.(Well, barring any generator issues…) Being the strategists we are, we try to plan our overnight trips to include Wednesdays/Thursdays…

However, so as not to be powerless in Tamou, we also purchased a small generator for guest house usage. Here’s what we now know.

We’re thankful for the generator.

There are 2 rooms for sleeping (each with an AC), and our generator is only strong enough to run 1 AC at a time.

The one AC takes the edge off the heat but isn’t strong enough to properly cool the room during hot season. In other words, walking into a room cooled to 90 feels like an arctic blast when it’s 115+ outside–until you’ve been in ‘cooled’ room for a few minutes and realize you’re sweating.

One working AC is better than none.

If a group of people is staying at the guest house, someone has to make the decision as to which subset of that group gets to stay in the AC room, providing a great opportunity for character growth.

Eventually, we will get a larger generator and install stronger AC’s.

My husband is not only a missionary, a great preacher, and great Bible teacher and a whole host of other things, he’s a great architect.

The Tamou Discipleship Center is amazing. We’re so grateful to those who gave to make it a reality. The guest house really has helped to advance what is happening there. Churches in the region continue to be planted, disciples are being made, and pastors are being trained.

Tamou Guest House update February 2017:
The guest has continued to be a blessing. Not only for ministry teams, for Bible School teachers, but also for the well drilling team. The first Vie Abondante wells were completed recently and the team was able to stay in the guest house multiple times for long periods, enabling them to spend more hours drilling rather than driving back and forth to Niamey (you may remember that’s a 90+ minute one-way trip journey).

The Christian Life team has come and gone- just a couple of weeks ago. We had a successful camp with 225 kids and about 50 volunteers. Neal and I stayed with the 6 member team in the guest house for 4 days/3nights. Why I didn’t get pictures of the 6 of us ladies crammed into 1 room with mattresses covering all available floor space, I don’t know. But what an awesome time we had.

And last, here’s the picture I promised.  Pastor Samuel is helping me show perspective on the size. These 6″ trees were planted about 9 months ago.  Nine months!  And check out the greenery on the walls.  This happened because of the diligence of Pastor Sule, the director of the Tamou region.  He not only waters the leaders and members of the now 14 churches in the region, has faithfully watered our trees 2X/day, month after month.  This is all fruit that will remain!

fullsizerender-2

You Know You’re on an International Flight when…


cropped-blog-banner.jpg

Below are some random observations I have made on flights to and from West Africa.  Do you have any to add?

You take a bus to the plane.

The bus ride is 30 seconds long.

A man gets up to give a woman his seat on the bus.

A young man gets up to give an old man his seat on the bus.

The vast majority of people on the bus don’t speak your language and are holding various colored passports.

You understand what some of the people are saying because you speak their language.
You are the foreigner.

The bus takes you to the waiting plane on the tarmac where you carry your carry-on up a huge flight of stairs while wishing you had packed lighter.

The safety demonstration on the plane is done in 2 languages.

The safety demonstration suggests loosening your tie and removing your high-heeled shoes in the event of an emergency. I mean seriously, how many ‘westerners’ still wear ties or high heels when they fly?

Actual food, not just pretzels, is served on the plane.

There’s a good chance the food will be appetizing.

More food is served on the plane.

Nearby passengers have prayer beads.

Nearby passengers pray those prayer beads.

Nearby passengers bow down in the aisle and pray towards Mecca.

Passengers have multiple and massive carry-ons – causing you to wonder how they get them up those stairs.

Passengers argue with flight attendants about what they are allowed to keep in their seat.

‘Carry-ons’ are plastic bags, boxes, cages, suitcases, and anything else you can imagine.

There are a variety of smells-many unpleasant -on the plane.

The bathrooms get really nasty by the end of the flight.

The airlines typically use their ‘older’ planes for these flights.

You often have to go the ‘wrong’ direction to get to your destination i.e. Travel east before you go west.

Most men are wearing suits or long flowing african attire.

Most women are in fancy african dress complete with head tie and scarves long enough to hide several children.

You’re underdressed.

In what seems like a matter of minutes you go from being surrounded by darkness and an amazing blanket of stars to bright sun while zipping through time zones.

You see breathtaking sunrises and sunsets on the same flight.

You ugly sleep – mouth open, drool.

More food is served.

Upon landing, flight attendants walk through the plane spraying some type of ‘safe’ insecticide because you’ve come from a malaria infested country.

Your departure airport is hotter than you know what, but you wish you had a parka upon your arrival.

Your bus ride from plane to terminal upon arrival is much longer and further than the departure bus ride.

You have no idea what time it is where you are, where you came from or where you’re going.

You have a connecting flight to the ‘West’.

Your layover is either very long or very short.

Getting food or drinks in your connecting airport can be difficult because you don’t have their currency.

You learn that you can’t assume that the connecting gate listed on the monitor is correct.

You assume that your listed gate will change.

Sadly you can spot (or rather hear) an American from across the airport with expletives like ‘Oh sh**!’ Etc.

You wonder why people (Americans) are so annoyed with rather than appreciate extra security, particularly in an airport where recent attacks have taken place.

You may not have to take a bus ride from the terminal of your connecting flight to the West.

Passengers clap when you land.

You join in the clapping and dream of a bed.

Wogging. Still writing about it.

So here I am again.  It’s like visiting an old friend.  My blog.  It’s interesting that considering all of the experiences I’ve had since I last wrote (March), that I would choose to write again on the same topic as my most recent post (which isn’t recent at all).   It was a letter to myself, to get my rear in gear and be committed to my workouts.  Which I did. For a month.  In spite of hot season, I did my jog/walks (wogs) consistently.  In fact my record temp for running was 108.  No – not MY temp, the air outside!  And that was just stupid.  But that’s how committed I was.

What happend between then and now?  Well, quite a few things….

We have a well-drilling project underway, and beginning in March, we had 9 people in varying combinations, from various nations coming and going over a 3-4 week period. All of these people stayed in our home.

Above team, together with us and the local team we were training, went to the village where we were attempting to drill a well (a 2 hour drive, 1way) multiple times.  Well,  daily.

It was 115 degrees, daily.

Pipe stems got stock 180 feet underground. (They’re still stuck, but we expect to free them soon!)

A part on the drilling rig broke.

Tried to fix the part over and over again – to no avail.  A new part is needed from China.  (That part was delivered this week!)

I discovered I had gallstones.

I had Malaria while I had gallstones.

Went to Paris with Neal and had my gallbladder removed. Yep, Paris.

Returned to Niger and hosted another team.

Traveled to the US for 2 months,  logging 18 flights and changing locations 21 times.

Got to see our 2 incredible grandkids 2 different times.

Had an amazing time with family and friends all over the US.

Spoke 14 times in various churches/groups.

Returned to Niger – Thank God for rainy season!!

So, in my defense, it’s been somewhat busy.  And although I missed working out for 8 weeks (and I did miss it), I am happy to say that I kicked it back into gear 1 day after arriving into the US.  It was rough, but it was 5 weeks post surgery so I was trying to give myself a break.  Or at least an excuse!

Running the US is so lovely.  Well, the running isn’t at all lovely.  But the fact that I can wear anything I want and no matter where I am I can step out the door and run at any time of the day I choose.  Because nowhere was it about 108 degrees, and I knew that was my threshold!

I got to run in some pretty cool places all over our great nation.

Here’s one of them.  I got to run right along that beautiful ocean – and the temp was about 68.  I barely broke a sweat!

image

 

From the East Coast, to the South to the West Coast to the North.  I ran by rivers, lakes, and mountains, through forests and in commercial areas and neighborhoods.  What’s not to love?  Well, the actual running part, but I can overlook that.

I just checked my journal and I am happy to say that I wogged 38 of the 62 days we were in the U.S.  I’m ok with that.  I would have preferred it be more, but I’m not complaining.  I averaged 3 miles each time.

Now, I’m back in Niger.  And between preparing to travel, actual travel and jet lag (which apparently I’m still dealing with because it’s 3:14AM while I’m writing this), I missed 8 days in a row.

But I got back out there this past Monday – back to my old stomping grounds.  And you know, I quite enjoyed it.  While slogging (that’s a slow jog) up the hill, memories came back of the last time I was running there.  I was sick and it was sickeningly hot.  But rainy season is now here, and since I went at 6:45AM (I am NOT a morning person, but Tobi’s school schedule is what got me out at that time) it was not hot.  It was really, really humid.  But it was not hot.  It was somewhere in the 70’s.  And that’s a far cry from 108.  And that 8 day break did me good because the 12 laps around the  ¼ mile loop that is ½ hill was much easier than I expected it to be.  That, too, was lovely.

No matter that the rains are washing away the road.  Look at all that green!

image.jpeg

And besides, this is home.

 

 

 

 

Note to Self

Dearest Danette,

WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU?!?!!!??!

It’s been months since your last walk/jog (aka WOG).  You really have no excuse.  None.  You turned 50 continued working out for a short time and then stopped.  You skipped working out nearly all of ‘cold’ season.  For no reason that is legitimate.  So today you decided it was time to pick it back up again.

In the past you’ve never needed someone to work out with, an online buddy or a workout journal to be consistent. In fact you prefer to go it alone.  But obviously something has changed.  So I’m writing you this note for all to see (if they so desire), as a committment to continue – cigaba – swagaliga.  You are going to workout a minimum of 4 times/week, but preferably 5 or 6.  Keeping your word is pretty important to you, so with this in writing, there’s no turning back.

After much contemplation (days & days & days, ok – weeks) you decided that today was the day to start.  Again I ask, WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU?!?!? It was 105 degrees out there.  But if you were going to start anytime in the next 2 or 3 months, those temps (not to mention humidity) will only get worse.

So out you went.  And remember you have witnesses to your craziness.  Neal & Tim saw you.  But they were just as crazy, because they were playing tennis in the heat.  And I think the heat was doing something to the message center in their brains because they continued to play for quite awhile after you finished.  And you wogged for at least 45 minutes.  That’s usually your average.  Not sure of the distance since your running app stopped working – it was too hot in your pocket.

And after you finished, you did your push-ups. (Girl  style) And you will continue to do them. No matter that a few short months ago you could do 3 sets of 30.  The 3 sets of 15 today was better than nothing.  Much better.  Keep it up!

Here are the tennis players.


Now lest you get discouraged or tempted to quit, you took a few pictures to remind yourself that it’s really not that bad…

Here’s your view – at least the downhill side.  Quite lovely.  Who wouldn’t want to jog here?  (What one can’t ‘see’ is each one of those 105 degrees). But we don’t need to dwell on that – not with the beautiful Niger River in the background.


The uphill side is a bit more challenging, but keep in mind the downhill side is right around the corner. The picture just doesn’t do justice to the upward slope.  But remember, this is where you do the walking part of your Wog.  So it’s all good.


And remember the lovely smells you smelled?  You had great opportunity to suck in those smells.  Panting some might call it.  So you got nostrils full of flowery smells.  Keep in mind that most places you go don’t smell nearly as wonderful.  And some places there’s nothing wonderful at all about the smell.  And let’s talk about the butterflies. Well, you only saw one today, but I’m sure there are more.  He was lovely too. 
And you even had a laugh, in spite of your panting.  Remember?  You allow yourself a drink after every 2 laps.  You were greatly anticipating that water as you came around the bend –on account of your throat sticking shut.  But when you reached the place you stashed your bottle, IT WAS GONE!!  You started to panic just a little as you tried to unstick your throat.  Then you looked at the tennis players, and thought to yourself “I’ll bet Tim took your water as a practical joke”.  Yep, your mind went there.  And you didn’t find the humor in it.  But just as you started to accuse him, you spotted the missing bottle.  Right where you left it – in the drainage ditch.


But in your defense, you thought you put it here, just a few feet away.   
Looks pretty similar, right?  AND it was 105 degrees. The synapses in your brain may have been misfiring. Give yourself a break.

Also keep in mind how much you like music pumping into your head.  This is the perfect opportunity for that – without interruption.  And – some of your best prayer times are while on the ‘track’.

So dear self, this is a note to you.  Just in case you forget or think this all a dream.  It wasn’t.  It was real.  You are real, and you will run.  Or Wog. No matter how you feel in the morning.