The observant among you have noticed that nothing has been said about Nadia's birthday (Please don't remind me that I'm one month "en retard.") Don't worry - we didn't forget her. January 25th, Nadia turned 9. Her birthday was a quieter celebration... several of her siblings were sick and #9 is not a "big" party birthday celebration. Instead, she got to do something a bit more quiet and sedate with a couple of friends. So, Nadia invited two of her best friends from school, Zeina and Haifa, over. The original plan was that we'd all go out to dinner and then they'd spend the night, camping out in the living room. But since illness descended, we modified those plans. Per Nadia's request, I called Miss Mary - our children's most favorite "chosen and adopted" aunt here in Niger, and she and I took the four girls out: Nadia, her two friends and Rebekah. We were very sad that Anna couldn't join us (since Nadia and Anna insist that they are usually "best friends"). We went to a restaurant called the Pizzaria. We had some yummy food. Pizza was the menu item of choice - probably because the girls could stand by a window and watch the cook prepare their pizzas. Pizza was washed down with a pop, and then followed by ice cream, so it was a real treat! We then came back to the house where we ate cake and Nadia opened her presents. Afterwards, the four girls watched several movies (in French) until the wee hours of the morning. Rebekah later informed us that the most important thing she learned watching the movie was how to say "chick" - as in the slang term for a young girl - in French - hmmmmmmmmmmmm. Nadia just enjoyed laughing and visiting with her friends until they all drifted off to sleep. They next morning, they enjoyed playing dress up, playing outside and just being little girls until it was time to take Zeina and Haifa home. It was such a delight to watch these girls enjoying themselves, so totally comfortable and at home in this world in which they live, a world which traverses two different otherwise very different lands and cultures. We are proud of Nadia; it is a privilege to be her parents. Nadia loves people and loves to communicate; she so easily makes friends. Everywhere we go as a family, people always remember Nadia because she makes an impression with her enthusiasm and her sincere love for life and people. Her friendliness, caring spirit, genuineness and her desire to learn about and include others are ways that we see God's hand working in her life. She's a precious masterpiece-in-progress, and it is a treat to be her parents!