So I was just going to post a picture or two on Facebook, but decided I would go ahead and blog instead. It’s been so long I almost forgot how to open it.
I think I like to write about Sundays. I’m guessing if I search back some years, I’ll find several posts based around the first day of the week. Or around other days we have church services.
With 52 churches in Vie Abondante, and invitations to speak in other ministries, we obviously don’t get to every church very often. And even though the village churches are significantly further then going to one of the churches in the city, (not to mention the ‘road’ challenges), we really enjoy being in the village. I think that’s because that is Niger. The majority of the people live in villages.
Today we went to Fera. It’s a Gourmantche church, pastored by Omar & Aisha. They’re wonderful. And they ALWAYS smile like that.
The trip is about 1.5 hours. The first hour is on good road. One of the best roads in Niger, really. The last 30 minutes make up for the great road preceding them.
Little guy herding his cow.
In case one might be concerned for our safety, no worries. Here’s one of the many police checks along the route.
Enough of the good road. Here’s where we turn off into the bush.
And where we picked up Pastor Omar & Aisha. I love taking pictures of these two.
All tucked in…
And it was here that a couple people in our party had to move to the ‘way back’ cause we were already full when we stopped to pick up Pastor Omar. You see, as many times as we’ve been to the Fera church, we still can’t make it on our own. One of the reasons for that is you go a different ‘road’ each time, depending on what season it is. Rainy season washes out roads.
I’m sure this brought back
fond memories for Tobi, cause when he was a kid, his regular seat was usually in the ‘way back’. He and Pastor Jack were good sports. We had to stop at one point and if Jack had eaten any cookies, he would have tossed them. Tobi said he was holding his. Needless to say it was a rough 30 minutes for the back sitters.
But they smiled anyway-in spite of the fact that they are just climbing in for the trip home.
Rainy season is finished, but there was still some lovely green. Mostly because the Dawa (Sorghum) hasn’t been harvested yet.
And this area has THE coolest trees. The Baobab. (Bay-Oh-Bab). It’s even fun to say. I’ll try to refrain from including every picture I took of them. They are in ‘bloom’ this time of year.
Storage for grain.
Here’s another. Do you remember it’s name?
Can’t help myself… Check out the size compared to the motorcycle.
Fera is a large village, and the homesteads are in family units, with quite a large distance between them. When the fields are harvested, you can see your neighbor. Here’s one family home.
We’re almost there…
That’s it! The church.
This guy is bringing his bench. It’s on his head.
Several different people led the worship, ending with Pastor Omar, before Neal preached. The majority of the people speak Gourmantche, but Pastor Omar speaks Zarma and Hausa and his wife only Zarma. So Neal preached in English, Jack interpreted into Gourmantche, I interpreted into Hausa for Pastor Omar, and Jack’s wife Fati interpreted into Zarma for Aisha. I think everyone was covered. That blasted Tower of Babel.
It was a great message, preached with excellence to hungry and receptive hearts. Faith. Without it, it is impossible to please God. And it’s in the heart, not in the head. You must have hope first. And if there are questions or doubt, that’s not faith. You believed that Jesus died and rose with faith. That’s the same way you believe for everything else. That’s it in a nutshell.
We spent some time greeting the members before we started on our return trip.
This little man wasn’t too sure about Tobi. But seriously, who doesn’t love Tobi?
Nearly everyone has a baby. Fast Fact: Niger has the highest birth rate in the world.
We have Vie Abondante cloth and these ladies are admiring it, making plans to buy some to have outfits sewn.
Time to say goodbye.
So now you can scroll back up to see the reverse drive out of the bush. Or just move on.
We left at noon, and it was warming up quite nicely.
We followed this guy until the ‘turn-off’. =)
Once we got to the paved road (not without some tummy mishaps), we pulled off as we had some things to discuss with Pastor Omar.
A site for sore behinds.
A pretty awesome thing is that on our way from our house to Fera, we pass 3 other Vie Abondante churches. We drive right through Torodi where one of them is, so even though their service was over, we stopped to greet Pastor Ibrahim and Hawa.
Along the way, there are lots of interesting sites to see. If I was the guy pushing the cart, I think I’d try and throw it up on that big truck that’s passing by. (It is over 100 degrees).
Mosques are everywhere, even fancy ones like the one on the right.
This is the road that leads to Burkina Faso. A few more miles and we’re in another country. But I digress. That’s the reason when we go this direction we have to take this detour around all these trucks. Many trucks. The trucks are held here before being allowed to move on. As you pass by, it looks like nothing is being done. People sleeping under their trucks etc. But something is happening.
Then there are the speed bumps. The awful, horrible, obnoxious speed bumps. Multiple speed bumps. Everywhere. I don’t like them.
And here we are. Torodi.
There is a well at the church. After services people come and get water. It’s a great ministry.
And a suit to pump water? Why not.
Tobi taking a few minutes to ‘settle’ after the roller coaster ride.
Pastor Ibrahim’s youngest.
After a quick visit and goodbye’s, we were back on the road again.
But our trip isn’t over yet. We pass through a town/village on our way that has a meat and vegetable market. Jack asked if we could stop so he could get some meat.
Where’s the beef?
And this is what I call service.
How about a side of beef?
It’s fresh. I promise.
We had an audience while we waited.
So yeah, we did end up buying some meat – for lunch. The stuff that was already cooke. And while waiting, we decided we’d go ahead and get some okra too. When is the last time I cooked okra? I don’t remember….19?? Talk about the power of suggestion. But seriously, don’t those veggies look beautiful?
This guy didn’t look quite as thrilled as I was though.
On the road again – though officially we never really left it.
And I’m thankful that I’m not carrying my food home this way.
Getting closer to the big city. And where is this little guys mom?
And here’s how I know that the trucks don’t sit at border control forever. These guys are entering Niamey, the capital of Niger.
Here’s another one of our churches! Right on the main road.
Those are water towers. Almost home.
There’s our house.
There’s our okra.
There’s our meat. It’s beef.
So. There you have it. The thing I’ve realized as I’ve been writing this is that even though I’m writing it like it’s something new and different, it’s not. It’s our life. There is nothing unique to us about any of these pictures or things we experienced today. These journeys happen at least weekly, sometimes more.
At the same time, we love it. We are energized by this kind of stuff. After all Jesus said in John 4, “My food is to do the will of my Father and finish His work”. Doing what He’s called us to do is where we get our strength. Our food. And let me tell you, we enjoy food – a lot!