Our bags were packed and we were ready to go by Monday afternoon. Caira took us to the airport on Tuesday morning. That was a huge blessing – so we didn’t have to take the metro with all of our bags. The fact that we checked only 4 bags when we could have checked 6 really went against my grain. I’m trained to NEVER come back to Niger without all that I’m allowed to bring. But I did manage to bring back some mozzarella and parmesan cheese, which was about 1/3 of the price we pay here. Also brought back some cool pasta and gifts for everyone here.
Our flight went really well. That is until the pretty strong turbulence towards the end that made me lose my cookies. But it’s so nice to only have one flight – to almost the same time zone. So there was no jet lag when we got here. The only adjustment was the heat. And what an adjustment! In Paris, I was taking a very hot shower every night to warm up before getting into bed under 3 thick blankets. In Niger, I take a shower (wish it was cold but the water comes out hot) to try and cool down before getting into bed. I realized while in Paris that household chores weren’t really bothersome at all because it was so cool. In fact I looked forward to doing dishes because I would be able to put my hands in hot water, and to folding laundry because of the warm dryer – while wearing a sweatshirt and flannel pants! I helped Caira make 13 beds and never broke a sweat. It was almost like a new experience for me. All work, no sweat. Cooking was also pleasant. Never once felt like I was slaving over a hot stove…I enjoyed the heat of the gas fire. In Niger I have to be careful in my 100+ degree kitchen not to let dripping sweat pour into my cooking. Just being real!
We have an outdoor thermometer and though I know it’s not actually this hot outside, when the sun passed over it today it read 125.5. It’s almost 5pm and it’s now 109 in the shade. But what’s crazy is we have the AC on in our office and it’s still 95 in here. But when we walk out of this room, we are hit with a blast of heat! The rain is coming and temps should drop some. Waiting (not so patiently) for that.
When it’s this hot, I have to remind myself that the vast majority of people in this nation are living without so much as a fan. So I don’t need to whine. But being cool (on a relative basis) is not without cost. Our electric bill last month was almost unbelievable. We run an AC in the office in the afternoon if we are desperate, and usually most evenings. We also have AC’s in our bedrooms and use those at night. Trae carries Tobi into his own room at night when he goes to bed so 1 less AC is used at night. Other than that we have fluorescent lights, fans, a fridge, a small fridge and a freezer that run pretty regularly. Our bill? $850. That’s not a typo – eight-hundred fifty. That’s partly due to the weak dollar, and to the increased cost in electricity. But, we have realized that our effectiveness here is increased when we know that we will get a good night sleep. So in the big picture, it’s worth it. That’s what I’m telling myself.
We arrived back on Tuesday at about 5pm. Trae had a school banquet to attend at 7. He made that and had a great time. The next morning was the last day of school and the final assembly. We all (Neal & I, Grama & Grampa), went to that. Tobi preferred sitting with us (between Grama and Grampa to be exact), rather than with his class. The Student Council gave out various awards and Tanika received one of 2 awards for being ‘most encouraging note writer’. Sounds just like her! The Video editing class presented the music video’s they had been working on all semester. Trae wrote the words and music for his group’s song. Before his accident, they had recorded the song (he played guitar and sang) and done some of the video. But the rest of his group had to finish it without him. It was a pretty cool video. While it was playing Tobi asked if Tanika had a video. I told him that she wasn’t in that class, that her class was art. So he asked if they would be showing her art. Pretty funny. Speaking of her art though, she did some pretty amazing drawings this semester – including a really nice self-portrait. She is the one with the creative bent. We also have good reason to be proud of Trae and to brag about him a bit. Sahel Academy belongs to ACSI – The Association of Christian Schools International. The teachers nominate juniors and seniors for the Distinguished Christian High School Student Award. Trae is a junior and was selected for outstanding achievement in: Academics, Leadership, Athletics and Christian Service. We’re proud of him and it will look great on his college application.
Wednesay night Trae went to the Student Council dinner. Last night was Sahel Academy graduation. There were 3 graduates and they came in on camels. It was pretty cool. Trae’s class is much bigger than that, and it made me realize that his graduation is going to come sooner than I’d like. Tobi is with me. On the way last night he told me that he wished Trae was only in 10th grade. I asked him why and he said because then he’d stay here longer. Point taken. As you can see, the arm in a sling hasn’t slowed him down much. He’s bummed about not being able to play sports though.
School is out for the summer and we have lots of great ministry stuff planned. I’m so glad that kids are going to be involved with the things going on. They don’t get a lot of opportunity for that during school because of their academics/activities.
It’s going to be great!