I’m a Wogger.

Yep.  I’ve decided.  I used to call myself a ‘Slogger’, which was my word for the way I run.  Not run really.  It’s a slow jog. A very slog jog.  More like a shuffle really.  And ‘slog’ just feels like what it probably looks like.  In fact the average person that happens to see me as I trudge along would probably think something like – ‘well isn’t she motivated – just slogging along like that’.

But in all honesty, I don’t slog anymore.  I Wog.  My new word for what I do.  I Walk/Jog.

I went wogging on Wednesday.  For the first time in exactly 14 weeks.  Now for those who know me, you know that that is a VERY long time for me to go without intentionally exercising.  But it happened.  I’m not happy about it, but it’s a reality.  So just move on, right?  But the consequences? Those come with regret.

Another one of my realities (not whining here, just facing the facts)  is that I need to exercise regularly to simply maintain my weight.  Losing weight takes more drastic measures then a 3 mile wog 5 or 6 times/week.  So combining my exercise hiatus with eating being in the US,  we’re looking at 15 pounds. And believe me, they can be clearly seen.  Add that to the fact that I should have actually been losing 15 pounds,  and you get – well, you can do the math.

So, that’s where I am right now.  Thus, the wogging.  And why do I wog?  I think it’s because I can’t or won’t jog for long distances.  Especially uphill.  I walk up hills.  I’d rather do burpees than jog UPhill.

And believe me this is much steeper than it looks!

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Despite the heat in Niger I have a pretty nice place to wog.  It also happens to be where my mom and dad in-law live.  Here’s my ‘track’.

This is the top of my ‘track’.  It’s kind of like a teardrop.  I walk up the hill on the right, to where I’m standing taking this picture, then I begin my ‘slog’ down the hill on the left.

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From the tip of the teardrop and around, it’s ¼ mile.

I knew I was out of shape, but I had no idea how bad it really was.  I started off at a walk, to warm up don’t ya know.  I walked up that hill and Oh. My. GOSH! I began to wonder if that’s what it felt like to sprint a marathon.    Now the fact that it was 130 degrees (ok, so it was only 97) might have had something to do with it, but man were my muscles screaming!  It was quite pathetic really.  When I get to the downhill side of the teardrop I jog.  When I picked up my pace, I kept turning around, wondering what was back there.  Until I sadly realized it was just me.  The extra 15 pounds of me.  Ugh!!

My goal was to wog between 30 and 45 minutes for starters.  After I felt I had been going for a good long while, getting pretty close to my goal, I allowed a quick glance at the time.  Lord have mercy it had only been 12 minutes.  TWELVE MISERABLE MINUTES!  Why is it when I allow myself 15 minutes to look at Facebook, then I guesstimate my time, 30 minutes have actually passed?

So I wogged on.  And on.  I was trying to keep track of my laps, but I think I lost track.  I walked for about ⅓ of each lap, then jogged the rest.  When I finished what was either my 11th (2 ¾ mile) or 12th (3 mile) lap, I looked again at the time.  42 minutes.  That meant I had to go one more lap.  To make the 45 minute goal.  Which I exceeded. =)  And whereafter I felt like I had completed an Iron Man competition.  And I looked like it too.  Ask anyone who saw me. I was redder than my friend Patty’s very red and very beautiful homegrown tomatoes.  Yep.  I actually let people see me looking like that.  I was even going to take a picture and show it here, but I forgot.

Instead, I’ll include this one of the last time I ran 14 weeks ago.  I remember my last run because we were in Georgia, and I took a picture because Tobi ran with me.  That doesn’t happen very often.

This right here is a scary photo!

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So, in spite of the heat, and in spite of my screaming muscles and my red face, I will continue to wog along.  And go from there.

Can you say Hot?

There’s HOT, and then there’s H-AH-AH-AH-T.  We have now entered the latter.   It’s the topic of the season.  It’s pretty much always hot in Niger.  With the exception of a few of the nippier days when it will only reach into the 70’s in the afternoon.  Those are very few and some years are non-existent.   It’s interesting though, to listen to veterens talking about the heat (present company included).  You would think it’s something we’ve never experienced before.  “It’s soooo hot!”  “Does it always get this hot?”  “This isn’t right!”  “I’m sure glad I’ll be spending eternity in heaven.”  “I don’t think it was this hot last year.”  “I can’t stop sweating.”  “God, deliver me!”  I like to equate it to childbirth.   A very painful experience, but when it’s over the intensity of it is forgotten until one experiences it again.  This is what the experience of hot season is like every year.  During the rest of the year we do plenty of sweating so we think “how much worse can it get?  I mean 100 degrees is hot, right?  How wrong we are. 

During hot season:

Temps are commonly above 110 degrees, and often reach 120 (or more).

A cold shower is impossible (you actually have to let the tap water run so as not to get burned)

Candles melt in their holders, unlit (ours are melted into very interesting designs)

Walls are too hot to touch

Butter melts in a matter of minutes

Food spoils quickly – in the fridge

When sitting at your computer there’s no need to wonder whether it’s a bug crawling down your back or if it’s rolling sweat.  It’s sweat.

It’s 94 degrees at midnight. 

Certain hinder body parts stick to the commode (just being real, and I don’t usually use the word ‘commode’)

Clothes come out of the dresser drawer feeling like they came fresh out of a dryer set on ‘high heat’.

Shampoo is naturally heated. 

The kitchen maintains a temperature of over 100 degrees – unless one does something as absurd as turning on the oven.  Then it’s much hotter. 

I could go on.  Why, one might ask, do we not just use AC?  Well, as a matter of fact, we do.  For sleeping, and when we’re real desparate, we use an AC in the office in the afternoon.  Frankly, it’s used conservitively because of the cost of electricity.   Let me explain.  When we moved to Niamey this past August and decided to put ac’s in the bedrooms, our goal was to keep our electric bill at 200,000cfa ($400) per month or less.  This has been quite a challenge, particularly with the falling dollar.  Today, 8 months later,  that same 200,000cfa costs us $500/month.  So though we’re not gaining any watts, we’re paying $100 more.  That’s running AC’s in the bedrooms for sleeping only, and using an AC in the office in the evenings and like I said, when desparate, in the afternoons.  And of course other regular stuff – lights (flourescent), fans, fridge, freezer.   

We sometimes struggle with the knowledge of how much $ we spend to stay cool – thinking about all of the other areas in the ministry we could put that $ instead.   That and the fact that the vast majority of the nation lives without electricity – without even a fan to blow the hot air around!   We have, however,  learned that a good night sleep goes a long way to our longevity and effectiveness in Niger. 

And then we can look on the bright side.  Even though we do have to ration our AC usage, we don’t have to worry about pesky things like heating our house, frostbite, wearing bulky clothes, scraping frost off of our windshield, etc.

Anyway, this too shall pass.  It shall return to just being ‘HOT’. 

 

 

 

A little bit of everything

Well, lets see.  Alot has happened in the last 2 weeks since I’ve written. 

 Trae and Neal returned from the softball tournament in Ouaga.  Neither team won.  Neal’s team made it to the semi-finals and Trae’s team didn’t make it that far.  So they didn’t end up playing each other.  But Trae hit 2 homeruns, so that was exciting.  They both had a lot of fun.  And Neal brought back strawberries for me!  Fresh strawberries!  What a treat!

 What else…My class is going well at the Bible School.  I gave a test (in 3 languages!) and most of them did quite well.  Last week I took a day to show them how to use puppets.  It was quite funny, and one of the girls was terribly afraid of the puppet.  She jumped into the lap of the girl next to her when I brought it out.  It took some time, but she got over it and reluctantly ‘tried one on’.  I have divided them into 6 groups and each group is preparing a 20 minute children’s service using all they have learned so far.  We’ll see all those this week.  Next week I’ll start my teaching “Training your children”.  Sido continues to do well.  The persecution has escalated at home though, so he had to move into the dorm with the other students.  Since he lives in Niamey, he was living at home and going back and forth to school each day.  He has asked Pastor Abdu when he gets to start preaching!  Last week he told me he wanted to change groups because they had set a time to practice their children’s service and one of the members didn’t come on time.  He said that he can’t work with someone who is not motivated.  I told him that I wouldn’t change groups and that they would have to work it out -that this was a good opportunity to grow in the fruit of the Spirit.  This is when it really counts!  In church this morning I asked how it was going and he said they are ready.  Because of a bonus question, he got 101 on his test! 

We’ve recently finished up with a 3-person medical team that came from Kentucky.  They were great and saw something like 6-700 people in a week.  This is really a great opportunity for outreach because the people come to us.  Just like poverty, medical needs are rampant and drives people to get help.  Then we can witness to them and pray for them.   Each one.  I think the count was 52 that prayed to receive Christ.  Several of our pastors were there at each clinic and will be involved in the follow up.  I believe the recent medical teams we are having are only a precurser to the hospital we will one day build.

Friday after school, Trae and Tanika went with a group of about 25 other people from their school to the town of Tera – about a 2.5 hour drive out of Niamey.  Then they have to cross the river on a ferry.  It is an outreach trip where they are helping to put up some structures for school classrooms, and do some children’s ministry.  They will be home today.

Neal, along with his Mom and Dad, went to Maradi yesterday for the Executive Council meeting.  Thanks to Mom and Dad for driving, which left me with my preferred vehicle.  In other words, I haven’t had to drive the beloved beamer.  Good thing too, because the AC stopped working again and it’s getting hot!  It’s a short trip and they’ll be back tomorrow. 

 So that leaves Tobi and I here together.  We’ve had a nice weekend.  Yesterday we invited one of his classmates over to play.  Tobi and Morgan are very different personalities but got along quite nicely.  Morgan is a very outgoing confident little guy.  Also very athletic.  Here’s a part of a conversation I overheard / saw.  

While playing with matchbox cars:

Morgan:  I’ll have the 2 fastest cars, since I’m faster than you.

Tobi:  Blank stare that turned into an ‘I get it’ stare and then said “OK”. 

Off they were to continue playing with the cars.  Tobi is very matter of fact about these things.  Every once in awhile I get a ranking of speed levels of he and his classmates.  It doesn’t even sound competitive (but I’m no fool, it has to be!),  just very factual.  Last night we watched the original Charlotte’s Web animated movie from 1972.  It was really good!  I’d forgotten that it’s really a musical.  Tobi had already seen a part of it so he kept telling me what was going to happen.  Wilbur was going to ‘get dead’.  Like death is something you go and get.  We even had popcorn!

Today on the way home from church I asked Tobi if he had any ideas for lunch.  He did not.  I said – how about tuna – because I had some already made in the fridge.  His reply?  Are you ready for this?  Picture fist clenched in excitement and a shout of ‘YES’ as he pumps said fist.  The guy loves tuna!  And hummous, zucchini and hot sauce.  Not so interested however, in things like roast beef and mashed potatoes and gravy. 

I’m afraid (I know I shouldn’t fear) but I really am afraid of the heat that is here – and even more – the heat that is on it’s way.  When we left for the US in early April last year, it was 120.   That’s hot enough for a seatbelt to double as a branding iron.  We have been resisting the use of our air conditioners but last night I finally caved.  It was March 1st for goodness sake.  That’s officially hot season.  Even with our window open and fan on it was still 87 in the room at 11pm.  Tobi has been asking for quite awhile now to use his AC.  We’ve refused the poor kid.  When I went to bed last night, I couldn’t in good conscience use the AC while he remained hot.  It also didn’t make a lot of sense to have 2 AC’s running.  So I moved him into my room when I went to bed.  He was all sweaty…poor guy.  Sometime in the night the electricity went out.  When it came back on, I would have had to get up and turn the AC on again.  I decided to leave it off, (too lazy to get out of bed) hoping the room was cool enough to sleep the rest of the night.  It worked.  We were both comfortable.  This morning it was only 81 in the room. 

There’s always an adjustment when hot season arrives.  It’s hot most of the time, but March and April stand alone when it comes to heat.  I heard of a publication that said Niamey was the hottest capital city in the world.  Niger was also described as having 2 seasons.  Hot, and hotter then hell.  We thank God for the AC’s we have in our bedrooms – and the money to run them.  And we thank him for His son, Jesus, who has saved us from eternal fire!