25 November 2008

22 November 2008


Jonathan has been cracking us up lately (us refering to Rebekah and Richelle). He loves to sit on the back of couch by the big picture window in the living room (all the finger prints and other assorted marks on the window clearly attesting to that fact) watching the birds and other assorted animals, keeping an eye out for the mail man (or the garbage man, or the recycling man, or the guys who come collect the leaves we rake onto the side of the street...). And he'll give us a running commentary of everyone who passes by:

  • Mama, HUMAN walking dog.
  • Come look! HUMAN riding a bike. Come see!
  • Can I get newspaper on porch? HUMAN boy on bike leave it.
  • I see HUMAN lady who brought us diapers. She wave me, Mama.
  • HUMAN drive big red truck!
  • ...and so on...

Why is he using this particular word? We have no clue! We don't speak about people like that - we refer to them by their names, or say "someone," "somebody," or "a person;" this "HUMAN" business (and I type that in all caps because it is always said in all caps - at a high volume and with lots of enthusiasm), or "oo - na - men" as he more realistically says it, all started after several minutes of frustration where Jonathan was asking me to help him draw something, but I just couldn't figure out what he was asking me to help him draw. Once we finally figured it out, I made a few stick figures for him.

And that is his other latest passion - sketching stick figures.

EDITED TO ADD: When he read this post... and Jonathan's word choice... his baba (i.e. daddy) is reportedly cracking up, too!

Field Day Photos

Thanks, Beka, for sharing these photos with us!
Friday, 21 November, 2008

21 November 2008

Today was Sahel Academy's Annual Field Day, held at the Stade. Brendan was there, of course... but we also typically pull the rest of the kids out of school for the day so they (this year that meant Nadia, Anna and Victoria) can go and compete, too. This afternoon, via Yahoo Voice Chat, I was able to hear all about the competition, and it sounds like everyone had a lot of fun. Nadia informed me that Brendan's team won the overall competition and that it was super fun seeing her friends. Now, I'm just waiting for pictures...

When it was Tim's turn to describe the day - he told me it was cold, especially of the morning. I don't think their cold can compare to the Michigan winter we are experiencing here - although I'm still trying to convince the munchkins to put their shoes on BEFORE they run outside.

I Remembered What I DON'T Miss~

I love snow...

...I love winter, I love winter sports - and snuggling afterwards in front of a nice, roaring fire while sipping hot tea, cocoa or cider... in general, with the coming of fall and the subsequent cold, snowy weather so common to a state like Michigan - I know my favorite time of year is arriving. It was one of the few "perks" of this trip back to the States, and is always a furlough highlight for me.

However, last night, as we arrived home late from dinner with my sister and her family (and they did have a lovely fire going in their fireplace, just for us), I remembered that the next morning was trash pick up. Dragging trash barrels and recycling down a decent length driveway, late at night, tempertures below freezing and with the wind and snow blowing~ is NOT something I eagerly anticipate. But, it does have to be done.

...is all I have to say!

20 November 2008

A Fun Foto

Well, I missed getting this posted for a "Wordless Wednesday," but, "c'est la vie!"

What is so fun about this particular picture, you ask? Well, here you see Rebekah, Jonathan and Elsie Mae with one of their cousins. What is still astounding me (even after a month) is that this particular cousin is 6 months YOUNGER than Rebekah, yet so much taller. When this photo was snapped, she was over spending the weekend with us - she and Rebekah made foccacio bread, filled up the bird feeder, caught a small sparrow with a broken wing and took care of it, played with and worked on taming Robby, Rebekah's hamster (who runs in his wheel literally ALL.NIGHT.LONG!), and spent lots of time playing with and entertaining Jonathan and Elsie. I think they all had a lot of fun! We are hoping she comes for another weekend - really soon!

18 November 2008

Our Schoolboy

I think I have mentioned before that I never really had any grand intentions of home schooling Jonathan this year - until after a little bit of research and a lot of prayer, I felt that maybe working on phonics sounds would help him with his speech development and improve his intelligibility. I'm certainly not an expert in this particular area, but figuring that it certainly couldn't hurt, towards the beginning of September, we plunged right in. I never dreamed he was as ready for "school" as he is. Every day, I'm surprised by how well he is progressing, and how quickly he is learning.

As we work on learning the alphabet, he learns a verse for each letter. Today, he was able to recite for me, with just a few reminders here and there, the following verses:

~~A ll have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Rom 3.23
~~B elieve in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household. Acts 16.31
~~C hildren, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Eph 6.1
~~D o unto others as you would have them do unto you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matt 7.12
~~E ven a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right. Prov 20.11
~~F ear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. Isa 43.1

He consistently recognizes 4 of the 5 vowels and produces the correct sound and key word for each one. He knows the phonics sound for 3 consonants: F, M and B - identifying the correct letter heard as the initial sound of a word and can also write upper and lower case of those letters. He is counting to 12, understands quantities through 10, knows several shapes, can compare sizes, quantities and capacites, can make a simple bar graph, measures units with a ruler, and is beginning to understand the concepts of more and less.

We are also reading books about space, the sun, the moon, the different planets and astronauts in space (He now asks if the planes that pass overhead to land at the nearby airport are the space shuttle.). He has loved learning about the different animals that live in the mountains and the rain forests. Thanks to Rebekah, he can identify several different types of birds that frequent our bird feeder hanging in the front yard, and he can easily spend 1-2 hours just watching the birds, squirrels, chipmunks and other assorted critters of the early morning.

One of my favorite times with him is Bible time - he asks fascinating questions - not always on topic - but still perceptive: Why were Adam and Eve sad to leave the garden? Who rolled away the stone from Jesus' tomb? Why did Jesus have to die? I hurt Jesus when I don't listen to you? God is much bigger than I think, right Mama? ... those are just a few of the ones that I remember. He loves Sunday School and Cubbies - it is exciting to see him starting to really wonder about God and to see his desire to find out more about Him.

He really has completely amazed me. I want to be careful not to push him - after all, he'll not be 4 until December - but he is delighted with learning, begging me to "do school" with him even on Saturdays and Sundays. I can't even say that part of his motivation is the individual attention - often Elsie Mae is right in the thick of things.

And it is not just in the academic area that he has surprised me: the other morning, he helped me dice tomatoes to make salsa. Today, when he accidently knocked a large handful of chips off the table onto the floor, he went and got the broom and swept it all up, all by himself. He loves to get the mail and helps to sort and fold laundry as well as put it away. You should have seen him raking leaves while we were still working on that chore. He likes to dust and has taught Elsie to help him dump all the trash cans. He hasn't complained, however, that I haven't had him helping too often with the dishes. :-)

It is so exciting to see all the things of which he is capable, things he wants and asks to do.

His speech continues improving, but I would ask you, if/when you think of it, please pray as we determine whether we need to try and have a speech and language evaluation done before we head back to Niger. His biggest source of frustration and discouragement is when he tries to communicate... and he cannot make himself understood. There really is so much more going on behind those sparkly blue eyes of his that I had never imagined, before we started on this little home school adventure together.

17 November 2008

Victoria's Turn this Time!

Victoria received a Virtue award this week - for cooperation. The note on her certificate reads "Victoria has shown cooperation when she contributes to the maintenance of an environment where we all feel happy and safe."

Great Job, Victoria!
We are so proud of you!


Yes, that time is drawing near. Tomorrow, I will be officially 36 weeks along and we are all getting a bit anxious to meet our youngest family member, officially. Please keep us in prayer - we are hoping and praying her arrrival will be sooner rather than later (i.e. any time after 37 weeks) to help with the birth certificate, passport and visa process so that we can be ready to head back to Niger mid January. Thanks, in advance - we do appreciate all of those prayers!

15 November 2008

Names and Reasons

We are often asked why we've chosen the names we have for our children; there are many things we consider when picking a name. Richelle likes names that are at least a little unusual. Tim doesn't. We've selected names because we like the way they sound, their meaning has special significance to us, and often because of our family heritage. And, with every child (except for Brendan, because we didn't know the mission field on which we would be serving when he was born), we've purposely chosen names that sound nice in both English and French. And soon, we'll be making public the name we've chosen for our little one that we are anticipating meeting in person in the near future. So, I thought it might be fun to go through and share a little about why we have picked the names we have...


Brendan's name is of Irish, Gaelic or German origin. It has several possible meanings (including "stinky hair" and we love to tease him about that), but the meaning that we found initially and that we so liked is “Dweller by the Light.” From his birth, it has been our prayer that Brendan would dwell close to Jesus, the Light of the world. His middle name, Stewart, is of English origin, it is Richelle's maiden name and means “Guardian of the House.” Again, as we pray for our son and his future, we pray that someday, he will be a godly guardian, or leader of the family God has planned for him. One famous Brendan, St. Brendan the Navigator (or the Voyager, or the Bold), was an Irish missionary who some believe was the first to sail across the Atlantic to spread the Gospel message, possibly even the very first to find America. Brendan isn't sure, but thinks that perhaps God would have him serve as a missionary some day. It would thrill our hearts to see Brendan using the talents God has given him, either in music or translation ministry.


Rebekah's name is a Hebrew name, meaning "Captivating," "Knotted Cord," or "To Tie or Ensnare." We are first introduced to Rebekah in the Bible as a captivating and brave young woman with a generous servant's heart, willing to haul water for camels and gutsy enough to leave her home to marry the man God had for her, sight unseen. It is a delight to watch the Holy Spirit developing some of these same traits in our Rebekah. Joy, Rebekah's middle name, means just what it sounds like: “Rejoicing,” whether you look at either its French or English origin. Anyone in the delivery room who heard her Grandma Betty's squeal of joy and delight as we called her to let her know of the birth of her first granddaughter would agree that Joy was the perfect middle name for Rebekah. And our eldest daughter, who loves to laugh, continues to bring joy to our hearts as we see her growing heart for serving people. Our prayer is that her heart is completely captivated by her Lord, that God will use this for His glory and to draw others to Himself, to continue to see God grow the qualities of generousity and service in her heart, and for her to have the diligence and the tenderness to use those qualities to love, bless and encourage others.


We receive more compliments on Nadia's name than on any other. Nadia is a name of Russian origin and means "Hope." A friend in our church died tragically just days before Nadia arrived, and while we had already decided upon her name, it made the name seem even more appropriate. Because of Christ, we do have an eternal hope. After the fact, we found out that Nadia is a popular name in Islamic and many African countries. In Arabic, it means "Tender, or Delicate." Nadia's soft heart, especially towards her younger siblings, is readily evident. It is also a commonly chosen name in the tribal language of many of our friends and neighbors... so much so that we are often named by them as Nadia's mama or Nadia's daddy. Monique is of French or Latin origin and means "Wise Counsellor." While only time will tell whether this is a part of who she becomes, she is certainly our most diligent child in finishing her homework and in reminding her little sisters to complete theirs. It is our prayer that Nadia never forgets the reason for her hope, and that by the testimony of her life and her words, she wisely counsels other to seek that same source of eternal hope.


We really thought Nadia's arrival had completed our family, and did not expect any further children. We were quite surprised when we did get pregnant again, and then devastated when Richelle miscarried and we lost that baby. God used that time to show us that He is the one who blesses a family with children, and as parents it is our job to welcome those He chooses to loan us, for however long He gives them to us. We were so excited when not long after, we realized that He was blessing us again... another baby was on the way. Anna is also a Hebrew name, a derivative of Hannah. Hannah's story in the Bible has always touched our hearts. She pleaded with the Lord of a child and the Lord demonstrated His grace and favor by granting that request. The name Anna means "God has Favored Me," or "Grace." Cossette is the English spelling of a French name that means "Victorious." After a long and difficult 5 day labor with her, it was a great moment of victory to finally hold our almost 10 lb baby in our arms. We are so thankful for the gift of our Anna, and pray often that God will give her the victory as she faces difficulties, struggles, trials and temptations in this life.


Victoria's name came about in a bit of a different way. Brendan was terribly excited when we told the kids we were expecting another baby... unknown to us, he'd been praying for a baby brother. After ultrasound confirmation of another little girl, he was terribly sad and disappointed. Thus, we decide that Brendan would help us in choosing the name for his new little sister. We picked out 5 first names and 5 middle names that we liked (it took FOREVER!), and that we felt went together well, regardless of the combination. Then, after she was born, we let Brendan pick from among those names to construct and name our then newest family member. He chose Victoria Rose. Victoria comes from the Latin and means "Victorious Conqueror." Little Tori, both super sweet and outstandingly ornery has conquered all of our hearts. Rose refers, of course, to the flower - one of Richelle's favorites, and is a symbol of Love and Beauty. Both Victoria and Rose are also family names from Richelle's side. It cannot be coincidence that of all of our children, she clearly looks like a Stewart. We pray daily for our spirited little conqueror - that the Holy Spirit will mold her nature into one that is victorious in the gentle love she demonstrates to others and in the beauty of a heart like her Savior's. She is the only one of our children who more commonly goes by her nickname, Tori. But, when you ask her to introduce herself, she will proudly tell you that her name is Victoria Rose Wright.


Finally! Here was the answer to Brendan's prayer for a little brother. And, he is the best anniversary present ever... arriving on our 10th wedding anniversary. Richelle never dreamed her joking reply to the question of what we'd do in Niamey for our 10th anniversary (She replied something to the effect of, "Knowing my luck, I'll be in labor and delivery, having a baby...") would be prophetic - she wasn't even pregnant at the time! His name was actually one that Richelle had picked out and had been planning to use since she was a young teenager. At that time, she was asked to sketch the birth announcement for a friend who had named their baby Jonathan David, and fell in love with the name and its meaning then. The fact that both names are family names from Tim's side of the family seemed to make it a perfect choice. Both names are of Hebrew origin: Jonathan means "Jehovah has Given," and Brendan most definitely agreed, for he was no longer the only boy child in the family! David means "Beloved, or Friend." When you consider the Biblical examples of these two men, our prayers for Jonathan are that he is a faithful friend, closer than a brother, like the example of Jonathan; even more importantly, we pray with our whole heart that he becomes a man after God's own heart, just like King David.


Elsie Mae is a combination family name. Elsie was her paternal great-grandmother on the Wright side of the family; Mae is her maternal great-grandmother on the Stewart side. But we also appreciate the beautiful meanings of this compound first name: Elsie means "My God is Bountiful" and is of Scottish origin. Mae is an alternative spelling of May - the beginning of spring which brings "New Life and Growth." God has been so bountiful in giving us this affectionate child with the most enchanting and delightful smile. Maybe we are getting more sentimental as parents or we are just learning to enjoy our children more, but how do you express the magnitude of joy there is in participating with the Lord in the shaping and development of an eternal soul? We pray regularly for her new life in Christ and then subsequent spiritual growth... not to mention the daily physical and emotional growth in which we presently delight. Her middle name, Brianne, comes from Gaelic roots, meaning "Noble, Strong, Virtuous, and She Ascends." What a a beautiful list of characteristics that we pray the Holy Spirit will someday grow in our current (but not for too much longer) baby of the family.


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