I last left off at the Softball tournament in which Trae’s team took the championship, and Neal’s team 2nd place.  Where to go from there?   During the tournament, Trae had a birthday – his 17th.  Not really believing that.  But if I check his birth certificate, I can see it’s true.  We had a big group of his friends gather Saturday night at one of the newer restaurants in Niamey – you can actually get ice cream there.  So that ‘s what we all did.  Winning the tournament then was appropriate since it was his birthday.  Since Trae was in the motorcycle accident, we haven’t had the bike repaired – it’s a very long and painful story – insurance is refusing to pay a cent, even though it was clearly ruled the fault of the driver of the truck.  In the meantime, we all decided that it would be best if  Trae could drive a car instead of the bike.  So he persued getting a license.  Technically in Niger, you are not eligible for a license until you are 18. Trae was 16.  But he ‘looked the part’, so he started drivers training.  Those 2 words can be a bit deceptive.  ‘Drivers Training’.  I think it’s more like ‘Drivers Un-training’.  But I’m not going to dwell on that.  It was a long and very painful process, one in which we had to submit to the powers that be while trying not to spoil our testimony.  But victory was finally had and Trae recieved he license 2 days before he turned 17.

Grama & Grampa were heading for the US and will not be here for Christmas, so we celebrated our Christmas with them in September.  It was quite fun, as their gift to Trae was his very own car!  The idea is that he’ll use it for this year and then sell it and have some money for college.  Works for me!  It’s a 2-door Toyota and it reminds me of my first car – a Ford Fiesta.  My dad lovingly referred to my car as a ‘rollerskate on wheels’.  That it was.  Trae’s car is similar – only smaller.  But unlike a bike, it’s all enclosed and he can fit 4 people in there (sort of) besides himself.  It’s been a great blessing to us, as he is able to take the kids to and from school when we need him to do that.  And he has been willing to do so.  Fuel is amazingly expensive, so that’s been an education for him all by itself.  He’s a good driver and it seems that parents of most of his friends are ok with their kids being in the car with him.  That’s something we told him he always has to be sure about.

OK, what else…I guess since I’m on the subject of Trae, I’ll continue.  He has applied to and been accepted as a student at Oral Roberts University.  He has also been nominated for an invited to campus for the “1st Annual Whole Person Scholarship Competition”.  So he will be in Tulsa the last week of February.  It’s a huge investment, but it will be well worth it if he were to win one of the 25 full tuition – 4 year scholarships being awarded!  So, please begin praying with him for favor even now.  I’m somewhat in denial that I could be old enough to have a kid about ready to enter college, but again, unfortuantely neither of our birth certificates will lie.  Registration is August 14th.  If anyone has figured out how to slow time, please let me know.

In October we had a medical team come for their 2nd year in a row.  We traveled with them to Maradi for several days of medical outreach and ministry.  This was scheduled during our kids Fall break so they could be a part of the team.  Trae and Tanika interpreted for doctors and nurses, Trae helped wrestle cows for the vet, and Tobi worked in the ‘pharmacy’, counting meds.  We then were in Niamey for more village outreach, as we are now working on doing more in this region.

In November we had our 10th annual campmeeting – another trip to Maradi and though it was short, it was well worth it.  Our guest speakers were from the US and from Nigeria – ministering on our theme – Unity: One Vision, One Purpose.  We enjoyed ourselves – especially the part about our pastors taking care of most of the details.

This past week we had 3 visitors from Kensington Temple in London, England.  They were looking to come and ‘check out Niger’ and we offered to show them some of the things God is doing here.  We kept them pretty busy and according to them they accomplished even more than they hoped.  That’s what we like to hear!  We ended up with 2 bonus days with 2 of them though, because Air France would not allow them to fly – they were told the validity of their passports was questionable.  So it took 2 days of running around, again working on maintaining our testimony, but they were finally allowed to leave.  At one point Neal asked me to go to the Air France office because he was so frustrated and he didn’t want to ruin his testimony.  It was basically harrassment and when they arrived home they were told that Air France in Niger had been ‘unreasonable’. Ya think?

This next week we have a Nigerian pastor coming from Benin for both our Maradi and Niamey bible school graduations.  Then, the day after he leaves, my brother Brian, his wife Kim, and our nephew and neices, Jake, Kate and Ellie are coming to visit for 2 weeks!  We can hardly wait.  It’s their first trip to Africa and we are so thankful for the sacrifices they are making to come and be a part of our life here.  It’s going to be a great Christmas!

I really have so much more to say, but I need to stop for now.  And I’m sure you are ready for this novel to be finished for now as well.

I plan to write again soon.

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