19 March 2008

$$$$$ ????????s

One of the faith building aspects of life here - at least this term, has been trusting God to provide when the dollar is plummeting in the international economy - especially relative to the Euro. On top of that, prices in Niger are rising - even prices for staple items like flour, sugar, rice and milk.

But, inspired by a friend's blog, I thought I'd give you a few price comparisons - and then you could join us in thanking our Lord for His provision - which sometimes borders on nothing less than miraculous. At times, I truly feel like the widow who's oil and flour never ran out when she chose to honor God and feed the prophet first. I buy groceries on Friday or Saturday of every week, once a week, spending our entire budget allotment... yet the refrigerator still seems quite empty and I ask myself: "How in the world am I going to feed this family of 7 growing children on that for the next 7 days?" Yet we haven't gone hungry and sometimes, even have a little extra for treats like milkshakes at the Rec Center. Just about a year ago (last March/April) we roughly figured on an "exchange rate" of $100 = 50 000 CFA (our local currency). Today, we can figure on a rate of $100 = 41 000 CFA. Put another way, what cost us the equivalent of $20 last year now costs us $24, because the same amount of US $ just doesn't go as far. When we first came to Niger, back in 2001, $100 = 72 000 CFA. So, as you can see, there have been some rather significant changes. And what do we actually pay for some different items? Here are just a few examples:

  • Gas is over $6/gallon. If we want to fill up the Land Cruiser, it costs well over $100. Even filling up our little Toyota Corolla is way too much.
  • A friend bought 2.5 lbs of cheese to make pizza for her son's birthday party - and paid $34 for the cheese.
  • Last week, I tried to find a 100 lb bag of sugar (we tend to buy in bulk). After talking to a couple of different merchants, what would have cost us $42 a few weeks ago will now probably cost us $57.
  • The price of milk has doubled over the course of the last year. When we can find it in town, we buy powdered milk in a 50 lb bag, which will usually last our family about 10 weeks. That works out to nearly $17/week on milk - which we use primarily on cereal or granola, to make bread and to make yogurt.
  • Flour, too has shot up, from $.35/lb before Christmas to a current price of $.46/lb.
  • A 2 lb jar of jelly costs nearly $6.
  • 2 sticks of butter cost $1.80 - $2.20.
  • 1 liter of corn oil costs $3.50 - $4.
  • 1 lb of ground beef is approximately $3.
  • The very cheapest box of cereal (a generic and small box of corn flakes) is $2.50 - unfortunately our kids don't appreciate it because it turns soggy immediately in milk.

Fortunately, there is still a good variety and abundance of fresh produce!

If I sat here and looked at all of this and wondered, "How in the world are we going to do it?" I would become depressed and anxious. Thankfully, He is faithful; we have seen how He has provided in incredible and unimaginable ways, for our children's education, our Land Cruiser... and now we are literally seeing Him provide our daily bread each week. It truly is a privilege to be in this situation of dependance on our Lord!

The painting above is: 'Prophet Elijah and the Widow of Sarepta' c. 1630 by Bernardo Strozzi


  1. We've been praying here that missionaries will be able to find specific ways to stretch their dollars. We tend to think we have it bad when the economy is weak, but my dad keeps reminding us it is far worse for those overseas who are counting on a specific rate of exchange, and are on a fixed income. God is so good to keep His promise of faithfulness!

  2. Hello thank you for updating us
    this email is from the webmaster for niger1.com
    We have a representative in Niamey Kouara Kouano
    do you think may be we can meet for some tea
    check out the latest news on http://www.niger1.com
    My email is niger1.com@gmail.com


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