Where has this week gone? My last post was an update on Sido as I was running out the door for the weekend. That was a week ago! Not sure why I haven’t written all week. I usually only feel like writing when I feel inspired. But the purpose of my blog is more like a diary – to record my ‘life in the desert’. So I’ve decided I need to write for posterity sake even if I’m not ‘feeling it’. It’s certainly not as if nothing of interest has happened. Interesting things happen daily. So where is my inspiration? Has the ‘interesting’ in my life simply become ‘mundane’? I think most would beg to differ! Take driving down the busy road of the hottest capital city in the world as you have to stop not for a stoplight, but for the camel caravan crossing the congested city streets. Fulani or Tuareg people relocating their family to a better location to deal with the lack of water and the impending heat. Not really sure where they are going to do that…
Here’s something interesting. Has anyone been hearing all the news of the weak dollar? It’s a glaring reality to us. It seems to be dropping more each day. When we left for the US last April, our $100 was worth 50,000 cfa. Sound like a lot. It is, when compared to the 41,000 CFA it is worth now. But just a few short years ago, that same $100 was worth 74,000 cfa. It has almost been cut in half – because of the wimpiness of the dollar right now. Interestingly (yep, there’s that word again) costs here have continued to climb. Fuel is now over $6/ gallon. That means it costs us about $240 (100,000cfa) when we say ‘filler-up’!
Oh, here’s a good one. Tobi’s birthday was last Saturday. We celebrated on Friday since I was leaving for the weekend, and it was easier to bring kids home from school on Friday for a party. Tobi – being properly trained by his older siblings – declared that he wanted pizza for his bday. His real favorite food is Spagetti – American or African. He loves the stuff. But who can resist the influence of “cool guys have pizza for their birthday”. So, pizza it was. That meant I had to buy some cheese. Cheese in Niger is one of those things that makes me cringe when I buy it, but it’s something I’m not willing to give up. Not yet anyway. I bought a 2.5 pound hunk of mozzarella cheese for $34. Nope. That wasn’t a mistake. Not a typo. 34 bucks. But that sufficiently – maybe not generously- but sufficiently – covered 4 large pizzas. (Hope I haven’t lost any supporters over that confession, on account of improper use of funds!) Here might be a good place to add that even considering the boys having a pizza eating contest, there was still enough pizza left over for another meal. I won’t go into the financial breakdown of the other pizza toppings but will say that Pizza Hut prices don’t really seem extreme to me. Let me also add that we are ever-increasingly aware of the fact that God is our source. And He has never let us down!
What else. Oh yes, I mentioned I was gone for the weekend. One of the SIM missionaries (Cathy) organized a women’s retreat for whoever could come. I decided it would be a good opportunity to get to know more of the foreign community here in Niamey so I signed up. Cathy’s sister does women’s ministry in her church and the church bought her a ticket to come. Another church provided all kinds of gifts and goodies for us. It really was a blessing. The theme was unwrapping the gifts of grace. They brought lots of fun gifts and blessed all who attended. I achieved my goal of getting to know a few people better, so will now know who more people are if I run into them when I’m buying cheese.
Each Sunday evening there is an English speaking service that is held at the school the kids attend. My very uneducated guess is that maybe 100 people attend regularly. We don’t go very often, as in our own churches we have opportunity to attend service 4 nights out of the week. (We don’t go to all of them though). Anyway, we do attend the English service if any of our kids are involved. That was the case this past Sunday night. The school was running the service that night, giving testimony of the ministry trips they have taken this semester. The school choir sang and Trae and Tanika are both in that. I was quite impressed. They have a great music teacher – who incidentally gives Tanika piano lessons. A side note…Tanika is pretty natural when it comes to music. But true to her unconventional form, she finds it very difficult to sing the melody. Any time she sings, she automatically will sing a harmony part. So she is working on learning to hear the melody. She is having beginner lessons and we’re both very thankful that I’m not her teacher. I want her to go by the book. Play the notes written. Her teacher does as well, but she’s a lot nicer about how she goes about telling her. According to her teacher, Tanika is a ‘beautiful girl that just oozes music’. Ooze away girl! (Tanika, I know you’re reading this, and you’re smiling right now!) Back to the service. Tanika is also on the worship team and it was their turn and her first time to be involved in the leading of the worship. It’s a group of 5 girls I think, and she did well. And she had a good time. Trae was asked to give one of the 3 testimonies from the ministry trip he was on. He and Tanika were both on the same trip. They went to a village about 3 hours away. They built some school classrooms (thatched lean-to’s) and did children’s ministry. That was his thing. He came up to give testimony about what they did. He is very confident but also very casual when he speaks in front of a group. He started by saying “Can we sing a song?” as he led the group in a chorus of Jesus Loves the Little Children. Then he said, “I guess you know now what I did in Tera,” as he proceeded to give his testimony.
Bible school this week was good. I started the section ‘training your children’. Pretty foreign to people here. I started out with the words God, family, job/ministry, and self written on cards. I asked different ones to come to the front and order them correctly. 5 people did it and no one got it right. Needless to say I didn’t get as far in my notes this week as I thought I would! Sido is doing well. Last weekend some of his relatives came to the church to tell him they were waiting for his answer (to the temptation of money). He told them he thought they understood that when he didn’t come they figured out his answer. Then they tried to shame him into leaving. Oh, and when I say they came to the church I just mean that they stood outside the door of the compound. They wouldn’t go inside. He’s living there now – even on weekends. But it helps him stay conncected with the pastor. The relatives in Australia that want him to leave the church haven’t had any contact with him in 8 years. Keep praying for him.
I think my rambling has gone on quite enough for one post. I’m going to go eat some cheese!