TTC & Vie Abondante The Finale. Finally.

I know, I know.  Will there ever be an end to this drama?  Pun intended.

The team is now home – and I’m still writing!  Just so much to say.  Thing is, we’re also getting ready to travel.  We’re leaving tomorrow morning for Benin Republic.  We’ll spend the weekend in Cotonou where we’ll minister in our friend Rev. Joseph Nwobodo’s church.  Then  Monday we’re off to Grand Popo – to the beach!  And by beach I mean the real thing –  complete with ocean and all.  I enjoy sand a lot more when it’s accompanied with a large body of water.  Quite looking forward to getting out of this dust for a bit.  In spite of the 2 day drive on rough roads.  But one thing we’ll be giving up is the dry weather.  It’s hot now, but it’s also dry.  Benin will be humid.  Very humid.  But it will be tropical.  But I digress.  Let me get back to the story at hand…

The youth meeting on Friday was great – and Saturday was just as powerful.

Neal and Scott opening the meeting.  They’re both wearing dresses.

TTC performing King of Hearts

Vie Abondante performing Thank You.

The youth responded to the call to GO into their world with the Gospel.  It was a powerful time of impartation.

Our pastors were very encouraged by the youth.  One of my favorite parts of the day was when Scott had everyone learn the sign language to the chorus of ‘Thank You’ and then he asked everyone to go and thank people that made a difference in their lives while the song was being played.   As soon as the music started, it’s almost as the youth all rushed together as one over to where all the pastors were standing – to say thank you.  A teary moment and one that I believe had great significance.  Here they are.

Then there was a time of prayer where the TTC team prayed for the Vie Abondante team.

The next generation was there to.  This is Bulus and Abigail – children of 2 of our pastors.  They responded to GO as well.

TTC & Vie Abondante.  What a team!!

It wasn’t over though.  Sunday morning we took the team to 2 of our churches in town.  First, it was Vie Abondante – Ali Dan Tsoho

Then it was on to Vie Abondante Maradi to minister with more dramas.  The people loved it – even though we went beyond the normal time to dismiss.

Taylor, Nichelle, and Emily have collected several kiddos they’d like to take home.

At the end of the service, the church prayed for TTC.  It was a special time.

After the service, TTC leaders met with Vie Abondante pastors and youth leaders to talk about how to continue what’s been started.  The training provided tools and now our youth will use those tools and will do greater things than any of us could have done alone.

For lunch, we headed to the French Club.  The term ‘French Club’ could conjure up all kinds of images  – likely none of which are correct as it applies here.  I didn’t get pictures of Neal & Scott playing tennis on the clay court but I wish I would have.  Actually, video (at least sound) would have been even better.  They used to play each other many, many years ago.  Who thought they’d ever play tennis together in Niger!  Here’s where we ate – and you can see the lovely pool in the background.  And it really was lovely.  Too cold for me to go in until I commandeered Emily to work out with me so we’d stay warm.  We did dorky laps.  Sort of.

Now, not just any French Club comes equipped with camel rides.  This one doesn’t either.  But Mainassara, the man who has worked at the club for over 30 years, was able to contact some friends in a nearby village and they brought a couple of their camels over for our team to ride.  If you’ve ever been on a camel before, you know it’s just for a photo op.

Pretty sure Taylor is loving it.

Josiah – and that ‘saddle’ really is that uncomfortable.  And crooked.

Nichelle

Keagon.  Ride ’em —-cowboy?  Check out the guy on the left.  Wonder what he’s thinking…

Look Ma!  No hands!

Emily – really, she’s enjoying this.  I have no idea what’s up with the santa hat though.

And the fearless leader.  I think.

Take The Challenge!  I’m talking about serving God, not riding a camel.

This is the SIM guest house – their home away from home away from home.  One is never too old to enjoy the merry-go-round.  I take that back.  I’m too old for that.  I can NOT spin like that.  But looks like they’re having fun!

Monday morning we packed up for our return trip to Niamey.  It was a long one.  It was without incident, if you don’t count being asked for papers at the police checkpoint and having to return to Maradi to renew our insurance and start out again 2 hours later.  But we made it.  If you want pics of that – refer to the previous post about our journey here.  Not sure which one that was.

Tuesday morning Scott taught 4 hours at our Bible school, while I took the team to the National Mussee.  They saw some cool stuff, saw some crafts being made and did some shopping.  Didn’t take any pictures because frankly, I was tired of carrying my camera around.  We met Scott and Neal to finish up souvenir shopping then had lunch at Chez Chin – yep, a Chinese restaurant.

After that, we took the team to see our primary school.  It’s a great vision and a work in progress.

All too quickly it was time for everyone to pack up and get ready to say goodbye.  Several of our pastors came by to do just that.

Jenga – passing the time before going to the airport for the 12:45am flight.

It was pretty hot… and this was with the AC running – the one you see at the top of the picture above.

Here we all are together.

Some sad faces ready to go to the airport…or not.

Me and the girls.  And what great women of God they are!

This is the temperature on the porch after we got back from the airport.

TTC has arrived home and our team members have returned to their villages and homes.  But no one has returned the same.  God used each of them to effect the lives of each other.  And they have all made an impact on the nation of Niger.  And this is only the beginning.

To God be the glory great things He has done!

TTC & Vie Abondante Part 10

I don’t yet know how many ‘parts’ this saga will have.  But I’m glad I’m taking the time to document much of what is going on.  I wish I would or could do the same for everything that goes on.

After 5 days of workshops and discipleship, the seminar finally arrived.  Youth coming in to Maradi from 17 different villages.  There weren’t as many as were at the Niamey rally because many of them had school on Saturday.  But there was a good group – about 120.

The meeting started with the ‘GO’ drama being performed by the TTC and Vie Abondante team together.  It was awesome!  Here they are outside the church, waiting to make their appearance.

GO!

Neal and Scott explaining the drama .

More drama – the Gospel preached without words.

Josiah brought the message at the first meeting – identity – knowing who you are in Christ.

What one puts on, one must take off.  Not an easy (or painless) job.

Several of our pastors came to support the event.

As can be seen, it wasn’t just youth that came.  There were several children that enjoyed the meetings as well.

As promised, here’s a picture of Scott in his dress.

It was Emily’s turn to preach for the evening session.

Then some more dramas.  The Sin Chair

The Vie Abondante team ministering.  So proud of them!  And the crowd loved to see their peers doing this stuff!

See our proud TTC members giving cues and taking pictures from the back.

Neal and Pastor Hasimu closing the program.

This would be as good of place as any to interrupt myself and the chronological writing style of these posts…

I mentioned a few posts back that the heat was returning in it’s true form. That was on Thursday.  But then the dust rolled in and cooled things way down again.  I didn’t live during the Oklahoma and Texas dustbowl days, but this may have rivaled what it was like.  And it was as dusty inside as it was out, since the glass on the windows are louvres, and they don’t really close.  Even if they did, this fine (and by fine I don’t mean lovely) dust would find it’s way in.  We would wipe tables and counters down so we could eat/write/work etc.  Only to find that an hour later part of the lovely Sahara Desert had sifted it’s way into our living quarters.

This is the countertop 1 hour after being cleaned.  So much for dusting once a week!

Here’s what it looked like outside.  That’s not fog, it’s dust.

But the dust cover did keep things cooler.  So for a change I wasn’t desperate for a shower because I was hot  and sweaty, but because I was filthy dirty.  At any rate, this cool weather was a distinct difference for March.  And that’s been nice, because even though hot season started, it kind of stopped for a bit  – which gives it sort of a delayed start.  That makes it shorter.  And that’s a very good thing.

It took most of today to upload these videos so I want to post them here.  Pictures are great, but the sights and sounds of video – well, those are even greater.  Now someone needs to invent a media to communicate smells too…

This first one was the beginning of one of the workshop sessions.  Praise and worship.  We’re singing about being a soldier of Jesus – I’ll testify of Jesus wherever I go – No one will hinder me – Because I am a soldier of Jesus.  As you can see, understanding the language was not a requirement to be involved.

This next video is more praise.  In the beginning they are reminding the devil that he has no power – sin has no power – sickness has no power.  BUT – Jesus is all power.  You’ll have no trouble seeing when that part of the song starts.

And finally, the well.  The team is doing a drama at the well to ‘advertise’ our meeting that would soon take place.  Here we see how sin separates us from God.  After this, I got into quite a discussion with the women at the well – but I’ll save that for another blog post.

That’s it for now, but next up is Saturday, Sunday, our journey back to Niamey, and the team’s departure.  At the moment of this writing, they are somewhere in the air between Paris and the US.  Miss you guys!

TTC & Vie Abondante Part 9

Thursday was much the same as Wednesday.  The team went to the village of Kwadarawa and had a great time of ministry.  The difference is the heat.  Niger is returning to it’s normal state during hot season.  Still not as hot as it could be, but it’s getting there.  Everyone is coping well.  There are a few sniffles – it’s extremely dusty.  Hard really to describe what the dust is like.

Back on the homefront.  Which at the moment is the SIM mission guesthouse.  Our food is being provided by some Niger ladies who started a catering business called Circle of Hope.  It’s been a huge blessing to have our food not only prepared but delievered right to our table.

Then there’s cleanup.  Girls day.

Guy’s turn.

Crashed.

Then there was the lizard.  Gecko to be exact.  He was in the girls room.  Poor guy.  He was just doing his job, eating the other critters.  But Taylor was not appreciating him at all.  And she was doing that loudly.  Josiah and Keagon to the rescue.  Ok, Nichelle was trying to help too.

I told Jo to just grab him right as I realized that if he did that, the tail would remain in his hand while the rest of him runs away.  That’s what happened here – the tail is wriggling on the floor.

But check out where we find Taylor…  Josiah and Keagon have had victory and they are taking Mr. Geico outside.

March 14 was a big day for a reason other than the workshops.  It was Scott’s birthday.  We didn’t realize it til the end of the day.  But the next day, the team presented him with a birthday drama, sort of.  And a birthday bagel cake.  Again, sort of.  Here’s Scott with his ‘cake’.   Matches are posing as candles.

As stated before, this is a great group of young people.  They truly are spending themselves on behalf of the people of Niger.  The schedule is pretty intense.  Their diligence is producing fruit.  During the afternoon session it was again Keagon’s turn to do the Bible study (your’s truly was also being stretched as I was the only one available to interpret at the time).

We then had the V.A. team members give testimonies of what this training has meant to them.  What an encouraging time!  The theme throughout all the testimonies went something like this:

“When I first saw them do the drama, I didn’t think it was something we’d be able to do.  Then they started teaching us and we can do it!”

“I have really learned that this is a great way to share the Gospel.  I’m going to go back to my village and show the people the crucifixion and resurrection.”

“I used to think it took money to evangelize.  But I realize I can just walk somewhere and do this drama whether I have any money or not.”

There were so many amazing testimonies that were shared and the session finished with a bang!

That brings us to today.  This morning found everyone quite weary, but they began strengthening themselves and each other in the Lord.

Today is the beginning of the youth conference.  The youth will be coming in from villages all around this region.  TTC and Vie Abondante teams will be presenting lots of dramas and the Word will be preached.  The youth are on fire for the Lord right now and we believe that now is their time!

This morning the teams were putting final touches on the drama titled ‘GO’!

And GO-ing is exactly what they will be doing.  Taking the Gospel to their generation and the next.

TTC & Vie Abondante Part 8

We’re still in the village of Tamroro…

They  did one of their mimes right at the well.  Tamroro is a big village and this is the 2nd well we went to.

What a cutie!  And she was working hard.

Neal preparing the group for the drama.

The Crucifixion and Resurrection

This lady was watching from the sidelines.

Happy faces.

This man was really contemplating the message

Sweet kiddos.

Saying goodbye

Our time in the village of Tamroro was effective.  This is actually a village where many – even most – have heard the Gospel.  But today they were really confronted with the reality that today is the day of salvation.  Pray for hearts to be softened.

TTC & Vie Abondante Part 7

On Wednesday morning, we took our team to the Vie Abondante church in the village of Tamroro.  This village has had many seeds planted, and great fruit has come from there.  But there are still so many that need to respond to the Gospel.  The team went ‘in face’.  Here they are right outside the pastor’s house.

On their way to check out the village well.

Any idea how deep that is?

Pretty deep…

Taylor ‘helping’.  We’ll let her think that =)

And Nichelle

The team did some stroll miming to attract a crowd.

It was working.

So much more to show, but no time at the moment.  Getting ready for the road trip back to Niamey tomorrow morning.  These guys have been awesome!

TTC & Vie Abondante Part 5

Lest one thinks that it was all work and no play (though the work was sometimes like play!), let me set the record straight…

A fair amount of food was consumed.

Team meeting recapping the day – including ‘smile time’.

I believe this was an episode of ‘The Three Stooges’

Grabbing a well deserved mid-afternoon siesta

The fearless leader (aka Patty’s hero), doing more organizing

The girls’ room

The boys’ room

The occupant of the unmade bed shall remain nameless, only because I don’t know which one of the boys slumbers there.

Next Up:  Road trip to Maradi.

TTC & Vie Abondante Part 4

We’re still at the Niamey youth conference where there were approximately 200 youth in attendance.

Here a few mighty men of valor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some members of the V.A. drama team practicing just before they present.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the end, there was a very holy time of committing our lives to God and to His purpose for us – to own our responsibility to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth so that all will know the salvation of our God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our pastors were also encouraged to continue in what they have learned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before closing, the TTC prayed for the Vie Abondante team.  Powerful!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The conference closed with some joyous praise – worshiping God together!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TTC & Vie Abondante Niamey Drama teams

Vie Abondante and TTC Part 3

Wow!   Blogs posted two days in a row.  That might be a record for me.  Things are going great and I’m not needed at the training seminar this afternoon…that’s a good thing!  And besides – me and mime, well lets just say I’ve got other gifts.

Writing this way really goes against my grain.  I prefer to write and edit and complete something from start to finish.  Not just write and upload what I can in the time I have and  post something that is rather rushed and unfinished.  But I know if I was a parent of one of these team members, I would view every word and picture as if it were my food and would prefer to see those pictures while my kid was still there and not when they were sitting at the kitchen table looking at them with me.  So, where did I leave off?  Oh yes, we’re still in the village of Oumballa.

These 2 ladies both had twins, approximately the same age.  Since I don’t speak Gourmantche, I couldn’t get much more info than that.  But this picture doesn’t need words.

They truly are precious in His sight!  This little guy has a chance to follow Jesus from a young age.  Who knows what his testimony will be.  Maybe something like, “I remember when some Americans came to my village and acted out the story of Jesus and His love for me.”  Thank you for giving to the Lord…I am a life that was changed.

Here’s another one…

There were ‘High 5’s’ all around as we got ready to leave.  (after changing a flat tire)

This 29 day old baby’s mother was hearing the Gospel.  Generations could be changed because of it….

Friday morning we took the team shopping and they all bought some African clothes.  Scott will be sporting a dress – stay tuned.

But the exciting event and culmination of all that TTC and Vie Abondante had been working towards began on Friday afternoon.  We were expecting about 100 youth.  So yep, we were pretty shocked when we arrived to this crowd.

I counted 179 but Pastor Zabeiru tells us there were 200.  He should know.  He was taking care of the food.

We opened with dramas.  Vie Abondante performed one of the dramas they learned and I might add that they did it expertly!  Thanks to their teachers.  And to our God!

Here are the 2 teams performing together.


Tobi was thrilled to play the drums during praise and worship.  I was thrilled to watch him.

We have been friends with the Scott and Patty Roberts’ family since 1994 and they have been partners with our ministry since we arrived in 1998.  We’ve been waiting for 13 years for a visit from them to Niger.  So this was a thrill for us.  Here’s Scott and Neal.  Next time, I hope it will be a picture of Patty and me!  No pressure my friend.

When our families first met, Tobi didn’t exist and Josiah – well, I remember visiting Patty when he was nursing.  Sorry Jo, just keepin’it real!

Each one of the team members had an opportunity to preach or teach.  They all did an amazing job and were well received.  This is Taylor breaking it down!

Emily’s turn!

Keagon presented ‘in face’.

Here’s Josiah

And Nichelle.

Time and internet issues are forcing me to stop here.  Needless to say, the journey thus far has been an amazing one, and it is quite incredible to see lives being changed before our very eyes.  Hmmm, maybe I’ll ask each of the team members write me a little ‘blurb’ about what this experience has meant to them….We appreciate your continued prayers!

TTC and Vie Abondante Youth – An Army of God!!

We’re already underway with Day 3!  It’s a busy schedule but all is going well.  So you can get to know them, here is our Take the Challenge (TTC) mime team.

Taylor, Emily, Nichelle, Josiah & Keagon

They’re on their way out to minister in the village of Nikoye.

I don’t know how old you think these lovely faces are, but I can tell you Tobi was in quite a state of shock when he learned the truth for himself.  During the first workshop they did a get to know you game.  Tobi was there.  He later came to me and said, “Did you know these guys are only 16 or 17 or 18?!  I couldn’t believe it!  I thought they were 30 or something!”  Now to someone who is 30 or even 25, I’m pretty sure that’s not a compliment.  But coming from a 12 year old to teenagers, I believe that is a very high level of flattery and a compliment that speaks volumes of their maturity.  It should be noted that Tobi not only observed them in ministry, but they are staying in our house…that even speaks louder volumes.

We have completed 2 days of training with our youth here.  This is Josiah at the opening meeting.  He did a great job explaining the purpose of mime/drama was for evangelism.

Enough talk!  Let’s get started!  We have divided our youth into 2 evangelism teams – a Niamey team and a Gourmantche team.  First everyone was together in the church, learning some basics.

TTC demonstrating a mime.

The group was then split into their teams to learn some specific mimes.  These ladies are learning how to be ‘created’.

Some people might find it fun learning how to be the devil (for these purposes, someone’s gotta do it!)  But not Tobi.  When he heard them say ‘this group is going to learn the devil’s part’, Tobi looked in what I could safely describe as horror and said, ‘I will never, ever, be the devil!’  I’m pretty sure there would be no negotiating with him.  But Habibu – looks like he’s doing a pretty good job…

Let me insert here that teaching someone to move gracefully, use intense expression and follow music cues can be a challenge under normal circumstances.  But there are some obstacles that don’t translate well in the pictures…

Language.  The TTC team is teaching in English.  They are being interpreted into at least 2, and sometimes 3 languages.  Its tedious for all involved.  It would go something like this:  “First, you put your arm at your side.  Then you touch your middle finger to your thumb.  Then relax it.  Then let it roll up.”  Etc, etc.  But each of those instructions had to be translated not one, but two (and sometimes 3) more times.  But everyone is doing amazingly well and there are great cheers when they ‘get it’.

Heat.  We are in the beginning of hot season in Niger.  It’s well over 100 each afternoon and getting hotter by the day.  I don’t know if you noticed in the pictures, but the church/bible school is not equipped with air conditioning.  It’s also very dusty.  It’s amazing how ‘crisp’ the pictures make things look.  It’s just not so.  The girls are wearing skirts and are having to sit/move/slide on the floor.  The very dirty floor.  Combine that with sweat and well, you get the picture.   Thankful for our washing machine!

Oh – and during hot season, electricity often goes out.  Which was the case at the church during last night’s workshops.  That means no fans, no lights.  We had our praise and worship in the dark (and it was awesome because no one felt inhibited by being watched).  Then the lights came back on right before Josiah was going to do his Bible study – and he did a supreme job – talking about the need for the power of the Holy Spirit.  Lights remained on the rest of the workshop.  We’re thankful for both the big and small things.  That was a big thing.

I can assure you these guys are not doing ballet.  They are creating the world.

Meanwhile, the training of the Gourmantche team was taking place upstairs in the Bible school classroom.  Emily is teaching them and Neal is the interpreter.

Here, Scott is helping God create the birds.

Taylor showing the guys how to move their hands gracefully.  They’re looking pretty good!

I just thought this was a funny picture.  We were having fun!

Practice doesn’t stop when we’re at home.  Here is the team, teaching the drama to Delfin.  He’s one of our worship leaders and a great drama student.

Practice, practice, practice!

I’ll stop for now.  I have more pictures and even some video to post.  But I haven’t uploaded that yet.  And uploading the video literally takes hours.

We believe that TTC is here ‘for such a time as this’.  Our youth are motivated, capable and anointed.  The tools they are learning are going to produce a great harvest in this great nation!