30 December 2008

A Night Out for Richelle and Rebekah Joy

A few weeks back, Rebekah and I had the opportunity to have a mother/daughter night out and we went to see a Christmas concert performed by the group Selah. And we had a delightful evening, even getting to meet the group and talk with them for a few minutes afterwards. Rebekah was totally impressed that one of the group's members also grew up as a "missionary kid" in Africa! In fact, her very favorite songs were always the ones sung in a tribal language or with the distinctive sound of African tam tams. This song, "Mystery," however, was a new song for me and has become a favorite around our house this Christmas season.

A child was born on Christmas Day
Born to save the world
But long before the world began
He knew His death was sure
The pain and strife secured

Mystery, how He came
To be a man
But greater still
How His death was in His plan
God predestined that His Son would die
And He still created man
Oh, what love is this
That His death was in His hands

The Christmas trees
They glow so bright
With presents all around
But Christmas brought
A tree of life
With blood that sacrificed
The greatest gift in life

Mystery, how He came
To be a man
But greater still
How His death was in His plan
God predestined that His Son would die
And He still created man
Oh, what love is this
That His death was in His hands

I am just a man and
Can't begin to comprehend
When You look into this traitor's eyes
What do You see that justifies the Lamb

God predestined that His
Son would die
And He still created man
Oh, what love is this
That His death was in His plan
Mystery, mystery

Growing and Changing FAST!

You'd think I'd be used to that fact by now...

...but I'm not.

Yesterday was a first - from her first shower, she has loved them, until it is time to turn the shower off and leave the hot water behind. From that point on, until she was dressed and cuddly warm again (and usually with some warm milk in her belly, just for comfort), she'd protest. LOUDLY. VERY. VERY. LOUDLY. Yesterday (and today), however, she enjoyed the whole process: gently being dried off, rubbed and massaged with lotion, tickles and kisses while getting dressed, playing with her toes while inserting those little feet into teensie socks that still swallow those feet, having her hair combed and gelled. She even delighted her mama with some smiles and coos - the genuine thing! Wonder if that means she is going to be a talker...

We would ask you to pray for her - for good health, in particular, but also for the uneventful and rapid delivery of her Niger visa. She has had a cold - and the other two are recovering from colds that turned very croupy at the end. We are praying this doesn't end up one of those illnesses with respiratory repercussions... as we did have one of our newbies hospitalized with RSV several years ago. Thanks, in advance, for those prayers. And... three more Sundays (and counting) until we head back to Niger and are reunited as a family.

A Snow Adventure

Rebekah likes to take the kids out to play in the snow - when it is warm enough! Believe it or not, these pictures were taken during one of our lighter snowfalls so far this year, too.

Each child had their own plan when they were ready to come inside. Jonathan, once he'd had enough of wet, white stuff, wanted to cuddle up in blankets and watch a video. As a total aside, can anyone identify the video he's watching from the scene shown in the picture below?

Elsie Mae (who was the first to come in), on the other hand, hung out in her footie pjs that she had worn out under her snowsuit until she warmed up, then she cuddled under a big sweatshirt on the couch and crashed for a nap. After all, just trying to move all bundled up like that requires significant effort when you are just 2 years old.

Rebekah stayed out in the snow for at least an hour and 1/2 or so longer than the little kids. Once inside, she promptly warmed her hands up under hot running water and wated to hold her littlest sibling.

And even now, after several more snowfalls, they haven't tired of the snow, even though their mother has tired of shoveling the driveway...

26 December 2008

A Wright Christmas, December 2008

The Mysterious Wonderland of Forgiveness
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean:
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Ps 51:7
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD:
though your sins be as scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow…
Isaiah 1:18a

Richelle and kids have been in the States for 2 months now; they have enjoyed first the fall weather, and now, are being treated to a full dose of winter. It seems as though another snowstorm along with several inches of snow arrives every two or three days. While Tim and the gang that remained in Niger aren’t too upset on missing out on the accompanying bitter cold, they are, however, missing these occasions to enjoy the snow.

Walking outside after a fresh snowfall is a breathtaking experience. The snow insulates everything in peaceful silence, covering the death, dirt and brown of late fall in a layer of sparkling white that reflects with an almost painful brilliance the sunshine. The two Scripture verses above, comparing the forgiveness and acceptance Christ offers through His birth, life, death on the cross and resurrection to that image of purity, have fresh meaning as we celebrate the forever mystery of the incarnation of Christ. The following words to a “new to us” Christmas song expresses eloquently this incomprehensible truth, for which we are inexpressibly thankful as our family celebrates Christmas in a very different way this year.

Mystery, how He came
To be a man
But greater still
How His death was in His plan
God predestined that His Son would die
And He still created man
Oh, what love is this
That His death was in His hands
(from the song “Mystery” by Todd and Angie Smith)

Studio Happenings

Tim has continued to be very busy with work and ministry at both the studio and the office, even as he been the parent to the four children who remained in Niger with him. The kids have been real troopers, too – accompanying their dad to the studio as well as an album dedication and a few other events over the past few months. We are also indebted to friends who helped the girls with homework while Tim was working, invited the gang over for activities or meals, or who included them in special occasions.

In the past two months, they have finished a music album and saw it dedicated. God’s Story in the Fulfulde language has been recorded, edited and submitted. God’s grace was evident during this more intense week of recording as the voice actor, Billo, had been suffering from vision problems and severe headaches. Several Christmas and holiday themed programs have been produced and played on the local and government radio stations where EBM’s regular programming is broadcast. Some of you remember to pray each year for wisdom and creativity as those programs are prepared – now please pray that seeds sown will grow and bear eternal fruit. God’s protection and grace was also powerfully manifested in the life of our studio apprentice. He was recently in a motorcycle accident while taking his little sister to school. Both he and his sister received some nasty scrapes and bruises, but were able to recover at home and are back to full strength. Another huge answer to prayer has been that a portion of the funding for the Hot Wire generator project (seeking funding for a much needed hook-up to a generator which will then enable the studio to continue operating during the numerous power cuts and outages) has been received, and Tim has been able to begin taking steps towards initiating that project.

Thankfully Announcing … Our New Arrival…
French School Happenings

Richelle, in addition to home schooling, and having a baby, has continued to help with administrative details at the French School via email correspondence with the school’s director. There are approximately 570 students enrolled in 12 different classes this year. Please continue to pray for the ministry of this school, for interpersonal relationships and unity among the staff, for wisdom as they face some new regulations regarding classroom management, for the director who has a heavy load to carry and for the need to find someone who can work alongside him as an assistant principal. A few of our teachers are struggling with some more serious health issues, too, so please remember them in your prayers.

Family Happenings

Brendan is in eighth grade at Sahel Academy this year, has grown taller than his mother and is our first teenager. So far, we are really enjoying this adventure of parenting a teen (although we are, admittedly, still rookies). He is a good student, as long as he is taking his work seriously! He played softball in the annual tournament held each year in Niamey, trying out for the position of pitcher. He is a great big brother, and Jonathan has been missing him dreadfully these past few months. Brendan has also been caring for a new bird of prey these past few months - a Lanner falcon – as well as helping his dad and sisters in a poultry raising project our family began late last spring.

Rebekah Joy completed the CM2 class at Ecole Alliance in June, succeeded in passing her exams, and is home schooling this year (although she has had a long Christmas vacation with the arrival of a new little sister in early December). She is becoming quite an accomplished cook and bread maker even though she prefers making cookies. Before returning to the States in October, she began taking horseback riding lessons at the Equestrian Club in Niamey and is looking forward to resuming those in January. She has enjoyed playing basketball with the team at the school she will be attending while on furlough next year. It is hard to believe that in just a few short months, we will have two students in secondary school!

Nadia has had to be the big sister these past few months, helping out a little more than she has had to in the past. She continues at Ecole Alliance, and is presently in the class of CM1. Her teacher is pleased with her progress and her attitude in class. We are praying about whether or not she will take the French exams before we return to the States for our furlough next summer. She has also enjoyed helping raise the chickens and doesn’t mind eating the eggs – although she refused to eat an actual chicken recently.

Anna continues to make excellent progress in school. Although her French abilities still have much room for improvement, her confidence and willingness to participate in class continue to grow. She loves to go and watch Rebekah’s horseback riding lessons and can’t wait until it is her opportunity to have lessons herself. She has almost caught up with Nadia in height and is one of our more athletic children. She is learning more about responsibility and helping with chores and tasks around the house as well as helping to feed and water the chickens. We think she may need glasses, and are hoping to take care of that in the next few weeks.

Victoria has made an excellent adjustment from kindergarten to primary school. And although she can be a complainer, she is a good student and is doing quite well, especially with her French reading skills. She is excited about her new bike that she received as a Christmas present this year and is waiting anxiously for the return of her mama and other siblings in late January.

Jonathan continues to be a delight in so many ways. He is enthusiastic, loveable and lives each moment to the fullest. He is also an affectionate little guy who just loves people and making others smile. He is doing very well with his home school work, working through a kindergarten level curriculum even though he just turned 4 this month. Everyone who remembers Tim as a little boy says that Jonathan is just like his daddy – a comment we’ve heard frequently since arriving back in Midland. Please continue to pray for his speech development and diligence for Richelle as she works with him in this area.

Elsie Mae is a sweet two year old with the most adorable and mischievous smile. She is missing time with her daddy, but has adjusted well to her role as a big sister. She adores Mary Michelle and loves to help with – changing diapers, bringing clothes, putting clothes away, rocking her car seat when Mary is crying, and numerous other little things. She has also loved getting to know her cousins (again). It is amazing how grown-up she seems, now that there is an even littler one in the family.

Mary Michelle is now almost a month old – and the time is flying by. It is fun to have a newborn in the house again – and we are looking forward to the opportunity to introduce her to the rest of her family in a few short weeks. She is an alert baby and seems to enjoy the commotion that is always a part of our lives. She also causes quite a stir whenever people meet her for the first time due to her petite features and size yet full head of silvery blond hair (it looks like we’ve taken her to the salon for highlights – seriously).

Throughout the coming year,
may you be able to comprehend with all saints
what is the breadth, and length,
and depth, & height,…
and to know the love of Christ,
which passeth knowledge…
Celebrating His love, Tim, Richelle, Brendan, Rebekah Joy, Nadia, Anna, Victoria, Jonathan, Elsie Mae and Mary Michelle Wright

16 December 2008

Celebrating 14 Years ~

When Tim and I were dating, We used to joke that our dates consisted of me listening to him on the radio - for he worked at 2 different radio stations at the time. And often, he'd play a song for me...

This time, it is my turn to "play" a song for him... Remember to scroll down and turn the playlist music off at the bottom of the side bar first if you want to listen.

Happy Anniversary, Tim!

13 December 2008

Thanking God ... We Have it in Hand!

This is a huge answer to prayer, and we want to thank all of you who joined us in praying for a smooth and rapid application process for Mary Michelle's passport...

...as her passport arrived in the mail on Thursday. I'm finding it hard to believe after some of our other nightmarish applications for newborns - but am overjoyed! We know this is 100% due to the graciousness of our God, and also because so many have joined us in praying that we wouldn't run into problems or delays as we went through this process.

There are so many ways we've seen God's hand, even in this little detail:

  1. One of the county clerk employees told me exactly what to do so that I was able to get her birth certificate after only 3 days instead of the normal 3-4 weeks that all the hospital paperwork tells you to expect.
  2. When we went to the US Post Office for her passport photos, the man taking photos that day was a friend of ours from one of our supporting churches, and the Post Office staff were very kind and patient as we worked for nearly 45 mintues to get a photo of Mary Michelle with eyes mostly open and both ears visible.
  3. There were NO lines in the different offices, so we were able to keep moving right along.
  4. Her expedited passport arrived in less than half the time expected (with the added bonus of her social security card also arriving - they told us 6-8 weeks before we should expect that!).

Now, we just need to take care of her plane tickets and Niger visa. After 45 minutes on hold with Air France yesterday, I had to give up for the moment - but will be listening to their really strange "on hold" music again today when I call to add a lap child to our traveling reservations. It is so exciting and relieving - all at the same time - to see these little, but very important details being cared for by our God!

Thanks for those prayers... and keep on praying!

11 December 2008

Happy (Belated) 8th Birthday, Anna - Notre Petite Québecoise

Anna made her appearance just over 8 years ago, on December 5, 2000. There were two particularly unique things about her arrival: 1) We were in the frozen winter wonderland of Québec studying French, and 2) It took her 5 days of labor before she decided to make an appearance.

Daddy and Mama, on a language school outing a few months before Anna was due to arrive.

Perhaps the most famous landmark in Québec - the Chateau Frontenac.

City lights at night, from the St. Lawrence River.

Visiting at the hospital, after Anna FINALLY arrived.

Our Christmas family photo in 2000.

The kids with Miss Amber, the young woman who joined us in Québec as a nanny for our kids while we were in language school.

Richelle and Anna visiting with one of Richelle's language partners.

Some pictures of our winter wonderland that year.

Richelle found that putting Anna in her snow suit, in the snuggli and bundling her under her own coat was the best way to keep her warm when we wanted to be out and about for different activities, like the annual Winter Festival.

When we first saw others pulling their kids around, bundled in a car seat and fastened to a sled, we couldn't quite picture ourselves doing it. As you can see, it didn't take us long to warm up to the idea!

When the snow was minimal (or not there at all), we'd use the bike trailer as a stroller and it worked very well. Even with all the different weather extremes, people used public transport and walked a lot more than we were used to doing in the States.

AND THEN... we moved to Niamey, Niger...

This is a favorite memories of our first year here - this "elephant slide."


Here is our Christmas picture a year later - just after Anna turned 1 year old.

And here she is again, our beautiful 8 year old!


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