Yesterday all over Niger, Muslims were celebrating the end of Ramadan. We have a young Christian friend who is from a Muslim family who asked us to come and feast with him. We are learning the balance of living in this Islamic culture and accepted his parents invitation. As we drove along, we noticed how happy and dressed up everyone was. It seemed that everyone was on way their way to celebrate with family and friends. Leron navigated the walled off neighborhoods like a pro. I am always impressed that he seems to know how to get anywhere. We soon stopped in front of Souleyman's house. No one was there and a kind man came and asked who we were looking for. He knew where Souley was and hopped (very common here) in the back of the truck to help us find our way.
We arrived at the small mud walled property and were greeted by Souleyman's father. He was so delighted to have us. He immediately walked us into their small house, it is worth mentioning that they are just staying at this house because their home has been destroyed by the rain. All the same, he gave us each a place to sit inside this small dwelling. It was a room with a thin mattress on the floor at one side of the room a small table at the other and then just a circle of plastic chairs that they had placed for us to sit. The walls were covered with some fabric to soften the mud brick construction and there was an opening for a window and a door. The door was covered by another piece of fabric that blew each time the fan osculated toward it. I looked and noticed that the three pictures that had been put up temporarily, all had people I knew. I happened to be in one, another was of the founders of CURE International. Souleyman was one of the first people we met in Niger. He was a go getter and wanted to help with anything he could at the Hospital. It is ALWAYS humbling to me when I am a guest here. I feel like I should be the one giving and hosting. I am learning so much about receiving and how to be a gracious guest. I have to admit that I was a bit apprehensive going. I am still learning a lot about giving my attitudes as well as comfort to the Lord. I have so far to go. I woke up in the morning sort of dreading how warm I would get, how long I would have to stay, not being to communicate the way I would like and if I would get a bit sick on the food and well, those can be concerns. They are not important. This family was extending to us the place of honor, their best. Like I said, quite humbling and I guess I do not have words.
It amazes me the simple joy it brings to break bread together. It was a bit funny though. When we got the invite they said to come at 9:00 AM. Interesting time for a meal of chicken and fries? Souley's mother and father had already eaten and just loved sitting there watching us eat and serving us. Their son and his friends. They know we are not Muslim, they know we are Christians and it was quite delightful to sit and talk and laugh, ALOT. The food kept coming and Souley's mom was quite pleased at how much Drew ate. His father kept commenting that Drew "eats like and African"...I have to say that I was delighted to look over and see his hands dripping with sauce and food on his face. He was truly enjoying himself and receiving with such grace. So, we ate and ate and tried new things and really enjoyed our time. There was chicken (torn apart by Souley...I had seen this before when attending a wedding with him), pate de mil, sauce, hard boiled eggs, egg omelet like things, beignets (fried dough) canned peas, and condiments. We learned some Zerma and Hausa and well something else. Souley's parents talked about growing up and where they were from in Niger. It was delightful. It just makes me happy just thinking back on it. When it came time to leave we were all offered a kettle a bucket and some soap to wash off.
Ready to leave we were offered a gift. Souleyman had caught a hen and a rooster and held them upside down by the feet. He and his parents were asking if the children wanted one? Leron immediately said...."we do not need a chicken, please you keep it." They were VERY insistent and so, we have a remembrance of our day. It had a turbulent ride home in the t ruck and is now running around our yard......Nugget, the hen. We did not dare choose the rooster,although he was pretty cool. We have an alarm clock already. So, I am learning more and more about the joy of giving and receiving and hospitality. It is something quite wonderful.
Monday, August 29, 2011
Yesterday, I planned a lovely brunch for a couple of guests only to have them cancel last minute. No problem....the family thoroughly enjoyed the bacon, egg and cheese casserole as well as apple cinnamon muffins, pineapple and fresh bissap. I got to thinking, although it takes longer to get things done living here, I am EXTREMELY grateful for the modern conveniences that I do have. My brunch would have been much more difficult to make without our gas stove. I so appreciate having a gas stove as not even our power outages can put an end to the yummy treats I can bake!
Last fall, when we were planning to open the hospital we arranged to have 6 sheep prepared for our guests. We delivered the livestock to a man who then slaughtered, cleaned and stuffed them with rice and couscous and then baked them in a special outdoor oven. I was so happy he could do ALL of that! I am so happy that I do not have to cook outside. Many people here in Niger cook over open fires or have small propane burners with large kettles many are outside in their courtyards or behind their homes).
Another lovely convenience is my washing machine. Boy, do my kids produce the dirty clothes. It is so nice to be able to wash them all together than to do it all by hand. Nigeriens wash by hand and many do it in the Niger River. After washing, they lay the clothing flat on the ground or hang them in trees or on fences or barbed wire or the guard rail on the bridge.
I am fortunate to use a clothesline. I don't really even miss a dryer. Funny, but that is one chore I don't mind....hanging my clothes on the line. It is actually relaxing to me and I have a beautiful bird that will even come and sing to me! There are advantages to simplifying too, I can do without much of what I used to think I had to have.
So today, I am marveling at wonderful innovations that make life a bit easier: for them I am quite thankful! Ovens, stoves, washing machines, fans, blenders, refrigerators, freezers, a/c and I should not forget indoor plumbing and toilets to say the least.....not to forget those things that keep me connected....computers, internet, cell phones, Vonage, i pods! Boy the list would go on and on. They all make life a bit easier and often in my case, yummier! I like things that make life easier but am discovering that it is not the end of the world if I have to exert a bit more energy or find a different solution. There is something to be said about living a simple life. I think my life could and should get simpler and simpler, just years of convenience are not easy to part with nor do I think we should not use the things that have been invented to ease our load. Oh, not sure what I am saying. Just very wonderful to have power today and to get my wash in and on the line......
Friday, August 26, 2011
Last night I joined some friends for a dessert. Our original plan was to visit my favorite restaurant, La Table de Vivanda, but that plan changed because it was closed. So, we decided to go to La Pilier, which is owned and operated by an Italian man. I had my mouth set for a banana split. Anne and I walked and were soon met by the rest of the gals. We decided to eat in the dining room as it is quite pretty but most of all AIR CONDITIONED. So, Anne tells the waiter that we would like the dessert menu and that's when it got interesting. Another waiter came over and explained to us that if we were only going to eat dessert, we would have to have move to the terrace, which is NOT AIR CONDITIONED. Climate aside, this was absolutely absurd as there were only 2 other people in the entire dining room! We tried to encourage them to let us eat in the cool, but there was not reasoning with them. A rule is a rule and a policy is apparently a policy.....we left never to return again (so some said, but I do love their homemade ravioli ;)). So now what? Niamey has some nice little spots to eat....Indian, Chinese, Lebanese and a few French places. Still we are somewhat limited, I am not complaining....I love the places we DO have, but we are limited. Third time is a charm. We chose to go to Paris a Niamey. Well, we got there and it was pretty deserted. The proprietor came out of his house quickly. He is a charming young french man, who is quite a talker, who lives in the house connected to the restaurant. I have to explain, this is "open air" it is like a glorified tent that does has an A/C and some fans but it is a tent. Anyway, we asked what he had as far a desserts and he started rattling off all the types of crepes. Sooo, crepes it was! No ice cream or other choices. So we settled into a a couple of fairly comfy couches and resumed our conversations and best of all our laughter!! I so love to laugh and this was perfect: laughing and eating sweet crepes with girl friends. Anne and I chose to have our crepes filled with banana and chocolate, so yummy...some of the others had pineapple and honey. I was delighted with our final choice as it worked out very nicely and was quite relaxing. The atmosphere was not the most important part. I was reminded how wonderful it is to laugh with friends and the crepes were a definite bonus! Thank you for a wonderful night out! Wonder where the wind will blow us the next time?
Thursday, August 25, 2011
I just love to be hugged. All kinds of hugs: bear hugs, fragile hugs, hot hugs, wet hugs, messy hugs, smelly hugs (I prefer the sweet smelling ones), tiny hugs and long time no see hugs (don't really like goodbye ones though). But today I received and extra good one. I was at the children's school when I was almost knocked over from behind. I looked down and two small arms were squeezing me tightly! It is so sweet to but hugged but even sweeter, to me, when it is done with such passion and reckless abandon. I love it when love is so lavishly displayed and so publicly. Becca made my day! She is someone quite wonderful. This reminded me of God who lavished HIS love on me when he sent His only son to die for for me. So that I could be saved, restored, live abundantly and brought into right relationship with a God who loves me more than I can ever imagine! His salvation is living and active and ever changing me with His unchanging love. God is the most wonderful someone ever! His love is like the best and biggest bear hug ever and it never ends.....
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
We are in the middle of some power "troubles" due to some problems in Nigeria. My something wonderful today is ELECTRICITY! Since moving to Niger, we have come to really appreciate this common everyday luxury. Last night when the power went off around 7PM we thought well maybe it'll just be a few hours and when it was time for bed we could use our A/C or at least the fan. Well, no luck the outage ended up being about 20 hours long with a brief 15 minute reprieve around 1PM this afternoon. I quickly put the laundry in and checked email and well, then it went back off and I just thought, oh well.....I have another something wonderful today a GENERATOR! It is amazing to me that we can generate our own power and when we are not having long outages and not as concerned (diesel is quite expensive as everything is here) about long periods of use we put it on automatic. That is a far cry from what we did last year...we sweat it out! I am a pretty big baby, but I am learning just to roll with it. Many people are not fortunate enough to have generators. so today we used the generator to do laundry and to of all things MOW THE GRASS. That is still so funny to me that Ferdinand uses a mower that is delivered to our gate and then plugged in! I do love power and all it affords and well I also LOVE a great display of lightning. I sure wish Niger would come up with a solution to produce more of it's own power. Right now they only produce 20% and the rest is obtained from Nigeria hence the problem! So if anyone out there is reading and wants to help Niger with a power plan and maybe some great funding for solar power....just let me know and i will lead your cause! So back to earth......for now, the power came back just as the kids walked in the door from school, and that is pretty wonderful too!
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
It has been a bit since my last post. That was at a different address. So, here it is, the first of many posts from this new location. I was pondering what on earth to call my new blog and I just kept thinking about my life. IT (my life) in and of itself is quite wonderful. As some of you may know, our family relocated here to Niamey, Niger in January 2010. I think our motivation was to experience "something wonderful". So far, we have not been disappointed. We are not only privileged to work for an organization, CURE International, that provides quality surgeries in the developing world BUT to see our family change as a unit as well as as individuals is quite amazing. Believe me, I don't always see it, but I am taking this opportunity to focus on all things wonderful and wondrous in my life and in Niger. I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend among other things who desires to love Jesus with all I am. So from that vantage point, I will share my experiences and thoughts.
Today started with a power outage that lasted for about three hours. So the kids got up at 6:00 to ready themselves for school and they did not skip a beat. We are very fortunate to have a generator, but we are trying to be VERY mindful of the diesel we burn, so we use it sparingly. After spending the summer in the US, it is so much more evident how simple our life is. The wonders and joys of daily life here are easy to find with the right attitude. Before we left for the summer sometimes it was hard to find the good in things. I am starting to see that is essential to life here. I could go on about the things that are tough but, I chose to talk about the bubbles, giggles, giraffes, crazy amusing traffic, livestock roaming the streets.....it is ALL about perspective, isn't it?? I have really enjoyed blogs that focus on thankfulness so, here is my slant.......
SO, today something wonderful to me is Bissap. This is a wonderful drink that is made from Hibiscus flowers. Leron and I visited the Petit Marche on Saturday and bought our first bunch of hibiscus. I found a quick and easy recipe and I was good to go. 2 cups of dried hibiscus blossoms, 2 to 3 bunches of mint (ginger can be added for a nice bite). I let these item soak for about an hour and a half. Strain. Boil for about 5 minutes and then add sugar to taste. This is simply delicious!!
This blog will probably be short writings about the wonderful things in my life. I am hoping to include happenings at CURE as well as Sahel Academy, the school my children attend. So, if you have any questions about my life here, please feel free to ask. It may provide some interesting writing! Hope you enjoy this window into my life.