Drive and Smell the ‘Roses’.

To blog or to bake.  Well, I’ve decided that since I made 3 batches of fudge today, (and they’re already in the freezer) I’ve earned myself a blog break.  My house is also ‘trimmed’ in Christmas spirit, so I’m feeling pretty good.

Here’s my fudge, in case anyone’s hungry…

Peanut butter chocolate.

Cappuccino.  I don’t like coffee – at all.  But in fudge?  That I can do.

This one is almond bark…very easy.

I left a bit on the scraper – to be sure it was going to set right…  it did.

Ready for the tummy, er,  freezer.

But back to my writing.

I left this morning at 6:55 – our normal departure time – to take the kids to school.  Neal usually takes them, but seeing that he’s in Nigeria right now I figured I should pull my weight and drive.  I’ve found that as much of a morning person that I am not, I am making the best of the early morning drive.  This time of year, the sun is coming up a bit later, so we basically get to see the sun just coming up over the Niger river as we cross the bridge. It’s beautiful.

I don’t have a picture of that (note to self:  take camera tomorrow morning), but I do have a picture of the sunset on the same river by the same bridge.

One of the benefits of leaving so early is the lack of traffic.  Driving is not high on my list of likes, so this is a big plus.  The traffic drastically starts to pick up when I’m on my way back home.  Today, there was a glaring absence of activity on the road.  Even by 7:30, which can be brutal.  Not only were there fewer 4 wheeled vehicles (including donkeys pulling carts) there were fewer camels, cows, bicycles, wheelchairs, motos, people – and there were no bunches of children dressed in uniforms on their way to school.   Hmmm.  Must be a holiday.  Niger loves its’ holidays.  Upon arriving home, I asked our guard, Mohammed, if today was a holiday.  No, not that he knew of.  So, I googled it.  Sure enough, December 7th is called Muharam or Islamic New Year.  I should have known.  Well, maybe not.  No one else seemed to.  Except the drivers.

I had planned to do some errands this morning, but wasn’t sure if anything would be open, given the surprise holiday.  I decided to attempt anyway, taking advantage of the refreshingly open roads.   Comparatively speaking, one might think they had become like the ‘Autobahn’.

I don’t know if I’ve made myself clear or not.  Driving in Niamey gives me ample opportunity to practice using the fruit of the Spirit.  And I’ve discovered that I still need lots of practice.  Lots.  Anyway, today, minus the stress of all that is frustrating while driving (well, most of it anyway), I discovered that there are many things to enjoy while out on the road.  Like the military men all in uniform, marching in organized rows down the middle of the road (probably something to do with the holiday).  I had to stop behind several other cars to wait for them but instead of being frustrated, I rolled down the window and enjoyed the sound of their marching.

And if I’ve seen it once, I’ve seen it 100 times.  The man marching his camel down the middle of the 2-lane road as if he were a vehicle.  Isn’t there a law against that?  But today, instead of being annoyed to be sharing my lane with the pair, I enjoyed watching him as man maneuvered  camel to what I’m sure was a known destination.  And I realized that though the going was slow, that camel was carrying much more than my 4 wheel motorized vehicle could ever carry at one time.  The reason he had to walk down the center was because his load spilled over the center line on one side and what one might call the shoulder on the other.  Darn – really wished I would have had my camera!

Then there was the pretty lady.  I was at a stoplight – the one that the little guys with the squeegees (sort of) sneak up from behind your vehicle and start washing your windshield, uninvited.  This (and I’m not exactly sure why) seriously annoys me.  Little guy wasn’t there today, but I have a feeling that if he was, I not only would have allowed him to wash my window, but would have given him something for it.  At least he’s not begging.  But back to the pretty lady.  Head ties here are not only worn, they are encouraged, and in many situations, required.  I don’t like head ties.  I never have.  I have 2 reasons.  One, I’m from Minnesota, and I know for a fact that wearing something on your head keeps the heat in.  And for most months of the year in Minnesota, this is preferable.  But I live in Niger, considered by some to be one of the hottest places on the earth.  Speaking of earth, why on earth do we want to cover our head?  Reason number 2 – my head is oddly shaped.  I didn’t know this until I had to start wearing head ties.  But it has become very clear.  Most ladies, ethnicity notwithstanding, can tie their head ties in various styles and shapes and they look pretty cool.  Me however, am pretty much stuck to 1 or maybe 2 ways that look acceptable and won’t fall out.  But today, while waiting at the red light, I noticed a lady slowly walking down the street.  She was wearing a beautiful white wrapper and top, trimmed in black and gold.  And of course her head tie matched perfectly.  But it occurred to me that it wouldn’t have been near as complete or ‘together’ looking without that head tie to top it off.  So, kudos to head ties.

Here’s my attempt at a head tie.  She’s got me beat by a long shot.  And I’m sure that took her all of 3 seconds.  But  check out her teeth….guessing that took a bit longer than a few seconds.

And lastly, today anyway, was my trip to the market – the inside one, a regular grocery store if you will.  I was actually there to purchase a case of margarine for Dani, one of our team in Maradi.  I asked at the counter for ‘carton guda na buerre’ (1 carton of butter).  I had noticed a young man on my side of the counter when I walked up and was surprised when he’s the one that answered me, saying ‘ba su da shi’.  They don’t have any.  What does he know?  I could tell that he was trying to be funny and at first I just ignored him.   But he was an outgoing fellow and wanted to chat.  I felt rushed, only because I always feel rushed, so I felt myself relax and say that it’s ok to stop and talk.  Isn’t it for people that I’m even in Niger?  We discovered communicating to be somewhat challenging because my French, sadly,  is non-existent, and his Hausa was pretty rough.  But he was determined to have a conversation with me so off we went.  He was shocked at how long I’ve lived in Niger but said he knew I had become a Nigerien because of how I was dressed.  I think I’ll take that as a compliment.  He asked what I was doing here and I told him I was a missionary and our church was Vie Abondante.  He told me that he used to live in Mali and was a Christian once.  Hmmm…  I invited him to come to our church and he asked me what day.  I could tell from his responses that it wasn’t likely that he had been a Christian once, but that maybe he had been to church.  I explained to him where our church was and told him the time (the guy behind the counter helped interpret back and forth between French and Hausa).  My new friend’s name is Abdurahaman, but I was told his friends call him Bak.  So Bak it is.  Bak also said he’s looking for a job – like a driver.  Funny, given my thoughts on driving today.  I told him that we do our own driving – which seemed very odd to him.  Now I realize that the likely reason Bak even started a conversation with me was because in the end he might get something out of it.   But in end, if he comes to church and hears the Gospel, what does it really matter how he got there?  And who knows, maybe someday I will have a driver and will be able to enjoy the sights and sounds around me every day, not just on a holiday.

2 thoughts on “Drive and Smell the ‘Roses’.

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