I have found myself alone, on a Sunday afternoon. I have decided to do some catch up writing – a hodge podge of things that I have wanted to get ‘down on paper’, so decided to take this quiet time to do it. Mostly because I’m thinking I won’t have a chance to write again until our Kansas team returns home. Even though I have finished with much of the preparation, I still have quite a few things to do before they arrive. That takes place this Wednesday at 3:35am. Most of my preparation revolves around food. Since we will be traveling to Maradi and staying in a place with a relatively small kitchen, I have done much of the food prep ahead of time. My freezer is full and I’m ready to go! Almost. It’s at times like this that I wish we at least had the option to run to Pizza Hut, Subway, or Taco Bell. Team Word of Life is made up of 11 team members. They, together with our family of 5, will make the now 10 hour road trip to Maradi on Thursday morning. We will be going in our 4WD vehicle, and Neal’s parent’s 4WD (they are so wonderful to loan it to us for this (and many other) trips). It doesn’t take a professional packer to realize that 16 people and all of their luggage will not be fitting into 2 vehicles. We have informed the team that 3 of their members, along with Trae and Tanika, will be taking public transportation to Maradi. They have informed me that they have 5 members ready to do so. Thanks guys!
Friday starts the annual bible school alumni meeting – they will be ministering in that both Friday and Saturday. Then, on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday evenings we will go into villages to do evangelism. We are bringing a generator (which Word of Life bought for us) and will have lights and music, complete with keyboard, bass and drums. We have great expectation for these meetings, and know God will move in a powerful way. The team has been preparing for a year! We will return to Niamey on Wednesday (and I’m assuming that 3 different team members will check out the public transport experience). Trae and Tanika are such troopers, having had to go on public transport for several trips recently. The team will minister in some of our churches here, before beginning their journey back home very early Friday morning. We’re excited for them to get here. They begin their journey to Africa at 3am tomorrow (Monday) morning.
The reason I’m alone right now is because Tanika is at her friend’s house, Neal and Trae are playing tennis with Grampa and a friend, and Tobi is watching them play tennis (and hoping he can get in on a few balls too). Although he really does enjoy watching tennis, both live and on TV, I think part of the reason he went with them is because he is afraid if he stays home with me, I’ll make him read! (which he is finally catching on to).
Speaking of tennis, last Sunday was the same setup. Neal and Trae met Grampa at the court. Not sure if I mentioned it or not, but the day after camp was over, Trae was able to remove his sling. A couple weeks after that, he started some physical activities. He’s not (supposed to be) doing anything weight bearing or contact yet, but he’ll get there. Anyway, they play tennis at the American Rec Center. It, understandably so, is situated right next to the American Embassy. The other side of the Amer. Rec. Center is the French Embassy. Since the tennis court is in the corner of the property, it shares a wall with the French Embassy. One of the above players (who will remain nameless as I’m not sure who it was) hit the ball into French Embassy property. Trae, either because he’s young and in shape, or because he was the one that hit the ball out, went to retrieve the ball. On a side note, one might wonder why it was so important to actually go and retrieve an already over-used tennis ball. That is simply because those balls are precious commodities around here, imported from America with whoever is willing to bring a can or two of tennis balls when they come. Back to my story. No one was at the French Embassy gate, presumably because it was Sunday. The friend they were playing with had also joined Trae. They assessed the situation (really?), and decided the best course of action was to go over the wall. What?!!? Jump over a cement wall, one belonging to France, protected on the top by iron spikes?!? This is the same boy who finished the year with a 4.0 GPA and will attend college in a year. He got over the wall – only using the weight of his ‘good’ arm. He retrieved the ball. While doing so he discovered that his hand was covered in blood. He took off his shirt and wrapped it around the bleeding hand – there was a deep gash on his left hand, straight down from his pinky on his palm. He got that from those pesky metal spikes, put there to keep trespassers OUT. I wasn’t in his head, but I’m thinking he knew he was not in a good place, and needed to get back over the wall. How would it look now for a young, shirtless guy with a bloody hand to walk (from inside) to the other side of the property where there were actual people, and ask if they could please open the gate and let him OUT! That’s what I think went on in his head as he attempted, and succeeded, in scaling the wall using the cut hand only, as he could not put weight on his ‘other’ bad arm.
We decided that though stitches could definitely be warranted, they weren’t really necessary in this situation. We simply poured betadine in the very deep wound, squeezed it together and taped it up. We still had plenty of supplies from his other, rather recent, injuries. What’s another 1 inch scar when added to the rather large one along his collar bone, and the few down his back? He’s a guy. Scars are cool. So I’m told.
As I sit reflecting on this, I almost wonder if this is the same kid that was afraid to get on a merry-go-round or ride his bike down a hill. The same guy that went to Disney world, was picked for a nickelodeon show and when realized that it was possible he’d get slimed said ‘no way’ and left. The guy that was at the top of a zip-line platform and was about to turn around and said to his Dad “You think I’m going to jump off this?”, and his Dad replied “Sure, let’s go”, while pushing him off the platform. Yep, this is the same guy. Only now he’s grown up, is maturing, and it has become clear to me that his confidence has been developing all along. I know he’s developing wisdom, and is becoming all God has created him to be. I am watching it happen before my very eyes.