28 April 2009

He's such a goofball...

... and we are so super-glad he's ours!

I just love this outfit... once upon a time Brendan wore it, and it has been passed down through all of the kids. I finally had to find a new t-shirt to wear under the overalls, but I'm hoping it survives... so someday I'll be able to say that ALL my gang has worn 'em. It has been a top pick by the munchkin crew, too... well, except for Victoria - but she's always had her own ideas about things, so no suprise there! That has just allowed me to pass it down to the Jon-man a little earlier than expected... so what if it's a little too big? It highlights those beautiful blue eyes... and he is a silly cookie addict, so the "theme" fits!

Here, he's entertaining his little sis... who, by the way, adores him. Every time either he (or Brendan) walk by, her face lights up in a huge grin, sometimes even when she is screaming! But that isn't too much of a surprise either... most of what he does is, if nothing else, to entertain and inspired by a desire to make others smile.
See what I mean?

His big brother and dad must have taught him T.H.A.T!

27 April 2009


Another week is off and running:
  • The Ecole Alliance girls are on vacation and they as well as Rebekah and Jonathan are finishing up their morning chores;
  • while they work, they are plotting and planning their costumes for a medieval festival/fun fair that will be held later on in the week;
  • I just ate toast with butter and RASPBERRY jelly (I found a jar while grocery shopping on Saturday and splurged - $6);
  • while writing I'm also searching for my vanilla wafer recipe because I'll need it to make banana pudding later this week (it is quite a good recipe, too... or I've been here long enough that it doesn't matter anymore);
  • it is quite warm and humid already this morning and the girls are hoping it rains (I have my doubts);
  • I'm looking forward to our second session of the high school swim program tomorrow;
  • Elsie Mae is listening to and singing along with lullabies while rocking her baby doll;
  • the peanut M&M is sleeping in her bouncy seat - as long as my foot rests on her tummy, bouncing the seat up and down;
  • the menagerie of animals has been fed;
  • email downloaded;
  • before too long, I need to get back to work on Sheep Tales;
  • and while all of this is going on, thoughts about what to pack up and store/what to pack up and take/what to give away/what to sell are tumbling around in my head as the May 1 deadline for "starting official preps for furlough" looms quite near.

Yesterday was an interesting morning at church. Someone had given so that the people of church needing meningitis vaccinations could receive them. So, a nurse (who I'm assuming is a Christian - she certainly enjoyed singing and dancing during the praise and worship time and "Amen-ed" several times while Tim was preaching) was there throughout the morning and both before and after the service, people lined up to receive the shot.

Most of the service, I was outside in the courtyard with Mary - she was hot and fussy and I didn't want her antics to disturb her daddy while he was preaching. So, I had quite a bit of time to observe. The nurse brought the meningitis vaccines already drawn up in prepared needles which she kept cool in a small water cooler (maybe held a gallon of water) filled with ice. Throughout the church service, when she'd get thirsty, she'd come out and pour off a little water from the melting ice to get a drink. Later, as people lined up for shots, they'd roll their sleeve up, cover their eyes or look away and she'd almost gleefully stab the needle into their arm. Then the needle would be discarded into a large bowl by her feet (I was more than a little nervous about that, especially with all of the kids running round… including my own), and the next person would begin rolling up their sleeve. I used to think Tim was awful about shots and needle pokes (after 8 pregnancies, I'm a little less than sympathetic to those who are wimpy about such things), but these folks were hilariously so. And, no one minded putting on a show of hysterics for the rest of the church to observe. :P Chalk that up as another lesson in culture. Hopefully, my younger children haven't been horribly traumatized after having watched these adults and their reactions.

While the procedure was a bit unsettling, I am thankful that our church family had this opportunity made available to them. March – May is the worst time for meningitis. Recently, I read this, this, this and this… and even though we've not heard of a lot of meningitis actually here in the city, it is a reality of life in Niger, especially for those who live where medical care and medications are not readily accessible. So, that started me thinking about other "realities" in the life of most Nigeriens, and I decided to share some survey results with you.

This survey was conducted by another organization working in Niger; they carried out the survey in villages near the bush churches where Tim regularly goes to preach, so I found it particularly interesting.

Here are some of the results they obtained:

Malaria, diarrhea, fevers, stomach pains and worms are the most commonly reported illnesses.
Only 20% of children under five were born in a health facility.
79% were born either at home, in the bush or elsewhere in the village.
36% of children received more than six months of exclusive breastfeeding (based on recommended minimum from the World Health Organization)
58% of the people were ill within the last month alone and 80% sought help
Out of all deaths reported inthe last year, 79% of those were children under the age of 5
Only 20% of the people have ever attended school in their lives
Only 40% of the kids who should be in school today actually are
Only 7% of the population have ever completed primary school
70% of people use forage pump wells and 30% use surface (contaminated) wells
25% of the people spend between 1-5 hours for EVERY trip to get water: some walking 3-5 km in the dry season (or year-round) to reach the nearest well.
79% of the people have no toilet facilities and go out into the bush
the rest use occasionally a shower area behind their hut - in the Fulani villages, there are no properly dug latrines
40% of the population uses soap when washing daily

24 April 2009

Pondering Humbleness~

"There will be times when failures... will need to be brought and laid at the foot of the cross. One will have to say to the Lord, 'Lord, I didn't do well here; please cover for my failure. I wish I could have done better.' If we are going to lay our failures at the foot of the cross, then we must be willing to also lay our successes there as well..." (p. 108)

-Glenn J. Schwartz

When Charity Destroys Dignity - Overcoming Unhealthy Dependency in the Christian Movement

23 April 2009

Carseat Chatter... or Cries from the Backseat

I often hear interesting comments projected from the back seat while driving around town, but I can honestly say that today was the first time I heard this one:

"Mom, look! There's a hippo in the river!"
Guess that is just a perk
of life in Niger. :D

Don't worry. I didn't stop all traffic on the only bridge in the city to cross the Niger River just to snap these photos. These were photos taken at another time, but looked pretty much like what we saw this morning. Bet most parents don't get to hear that cry from the seat, although there might have been a few others today!

21 April 2009

So this is what it is...

...life with a teenager.

He leaves for school at 7 in the morning (Since we are in a carpool, we only have to drive twice a week... in the morning... to his school.)

I did see him for a few hours this afternoon - but I was also busy with our first day of the swimming/water polo phys ed unit and 40ish students.

He caught his own ride back to the school for orchestra practice after swimming classes were done.

After he was dropped at the Rec Center this afternoon, he did come and get his littlest sister for awhile... and caught my eye to come and take her back when she started fussing.

And then he was off again to play volleyball with his friends.

Fortunately, he's pretty responsible about making sure his homework is done and arranging for his own transportation!

I hope he'll be home before I wilt for the night - so I can hear about his day!

Praying for Stellan

Prayers for Stellan
You may have noticed the new button in our sidebar...

This little guy is only a few weeks older than Mary Michelle and is getting ready to have surgery on his heart. Will you join with us in praying for him?

If you want to read more about his family and his story, please check out My Charming Kids.

...And don't forget to pray.

20 April 2009

"If we had to have a moratorium where all believers had to just speak well of their brethren for a couple of days, there'd be tumbleweed...

...blowing through the Internet."

I was catching up on a few blogs this morning and came across the above quote. Intrigued, since I'm one who has a difficult time keeping my tongue under control, I decided to go and look it up. The man who said this, Jim Savastio of the Reformed Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, was teaching a lesson on "Destructive Speech," and the springboard for his lesson was the following text, Matt 12:33-37:
"Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." (NASU)

Sobering words, and Mr. Savastio went on to say, "Our use of language will either support our profession of faith or it will negate our profession of faith, and that is all that will be needed on the last day to demonstrate whether or not we have a new heart." The Bible has a lot to say about our speech and our use of this gift of language... another intense and convicting passage is found in James 3. I'm one of those people who likes words... likes using them - unfortunately, I must also say that I am not as careful as I should be about how and when I use them. I tend to be notably more prudent about what I write than what I say; and even more considerably careful about what I say than what I allow myself to think. And I am convinced, beyond a shadow of any doubt, that my words - particularly my thoughts - are a pretty good barometer of where my relationship, my fellowship, with the Lord stands, at that present moment.

Mr. Savastio went on to outline 5 characteristics or elements of destructive speech: Is is deceptive? Sensual? Excessive? Abusive? Or divisive? While in the lesson to which I listened he only really explored deceptiveness, that list seemed contains 5 good checks to utilize regarding how I use words, be they in ministry, in my home, with my neighbors, socializing on Facebook, or just sitting sipping tea at the side of the pool. Is what I am thinking about saying deceptive, misleading or purposefully capable of being perceived as something else... or is my communication transparent? Are words I use sensual or inappropriate? Here's one that is often a struggle for me: Are my words too many, too extreme or disproportionate for the situation, unwarranted? Or are they exact, gentle and few. I should never be using words that are offensive, cruel or rude - even though the temptation is strong when someone else has hurt me. And finally, is what I feel I HAVE to say intended to cause disagreement, debate, hostility or conflict? Or are they words that bring peace, healing, resolution or restoration. That's a lot of "stuff" to think about, especially in an environment that seeks and often approves of sensationalistic words, both written or spoken, that clearly fall into one or more of those destructive categories.

They bend their tongue like their bow;
Lies and not truth prevail in the land;
For they proceed from evil to evil,
And they do not know Me," declares the Lord.
Jeremiah 9:3 (NASU)

Note: If you'd like to hear Mr. Savastio's lesson yourself, please click here.

19 April 2009

Exquisite Excellence

A highlight of each week is the 9-10 grade Bible study each week. It's a fun group... great group of girls and always interesting to hear their perspectives, their understandings... how and what God is teaching them as they look at a portion of Scripture. There is no doubt that I learn as much and probably more than they do. This semester, we are studying through women in the Bible - last week we looked at Esther.

While Ruth remains my all-time favorite woman in the Bible... I also love the story of Esther, an exquisitely beautiful girl thrust into an impossibly difficult situation because she was God's choice, the perfect person for that time, that place, not because she sought that position. I love Mordecai's faith - how he could confidently see God's hand and His provision, even in the midst some very dark moments. I love Esther's submission and sacrifice - even when in the midst, she couldn't see God's hand directing and upholding all... She had to be terrified.... I love that God gives us stories like this, where we see Romans 8.28-30 ("And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified."), and Ephesians 2.10 ("For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them."), lived out by a real someone, in real life.

My favorite moment of Bible study last week, however, came when I asked the girls what attitude or attribute they saw in Esther that they wanted to try and apply in their lives the next day. One of the girls replied, "Excellence..." And then she went on to explain what she meant~ Esther was the queen, which obviously gave her some advantages that an average person would not have had. Yet she fall back on her position and those advantages. She didn't fast and pray for a single day... she did for three and asked others to join her. She didn't just wear any old clothes when she approached her husband, the King... the dressed in and looked her very best. She didn't just blurt out her complaint to the King... she offered to prepare a banquet (not just a meal) and lavishly serve him, first... which she then she did all over again, a second time.

Reflecting on this thought has led me to ponder, "What might happen if I chose to approach all that I do, from changing diapers, washing dishes and hanging laundry to writing/translating radio scripts, teaching Bible studies and leading French School Committee meetings..., committed to scrupulous excellence - not for man's reward or praise, but out of a desire to serve, so that God receives the praise and all reward? "

Nothing revolutionary or new here... but a good reminder that I need right now... as the thermometer rises, my to do list is grows and the time remaining to accomplish several goals shrinks. What a great flesh and blood example of the following Biblical principles: "Let all that you do be done in love" (1 Cor 16.14), and "Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Cor 10.31-32).

As my friend said, "Just ridiculous!"

...and what more is there to say? Thanks, Jenny, for calling my attention to this link.

18 April 2009

What about Your Daddy?

Awhile back, I asked this same set of questions to the kids about me... thought it would be fun and interesting to see what they said about their father (whom they often call Baaba.)

1. What is something Baaba always says to you?
Brendan: “No. You can’t play computer… even when that wasn’t what I was going to ask him.”
Rebekah Joy: “Wanna cuddle?”
Nadia: “Chicken duniya.”
Anna: “Have a nice day at school!”
Victoria: “Obey.”
Jonathan: “No go outside when it’s dark.”
Elsie Mae: “Sweetie.”
Mary Michelle: “Where’s the Mama? You are NOT the Mama!”

2. What makes Baaba happy?
Brendan: “Winning a multiplayer.”
Rebekah Joy: “Hugs and kisses.”
Nadia: “When I help take care of the kids and the dishes.”
Anna: “When I do what he wants.”
Victoria: “By obeying him.”
Jonathan: “When me tickle him.”
Elsie Mae: “Me.”
Mary Michelle: Clean diapers.

3. What makes Baaba sad?
Brendan: “Mom and I being on FB for a really long time.”
Rebekah Joy: “Computers not working or a power outage.”
Nadia: “When I disobey.”
Anna: “When I don’t do what he wants and I disobey him.”
Victoria: “By disobeying.”
Jonathan: “When me had to go to ‘merica wifout him.”
Elsie Mae: “Pankin’ bobbins.” – which interpreted means spanking bottoms.
Mary Michelle: When I’m grumpy.

4. How does your baaba make you laugh?
Brendan: “Being goofy.”
Rebekah Joy: “The silly explanations he gives.”
Nadia: “When he says funny things.”
Anna: “He tickles me.”
Victoria: “By saying stupid things he makes me laugh.”
Jonathan: “Tickle me.”
Elsie Mae: “Play my baaba.”
Mary Michelle: Wakes me up in the morning.

5. What was your baaba like as a child?
Brendan: “A goofball, just like Jonathan.”
Rebekah Joy: “Mischevious.”
Nadia: “Mischevious.”
Anna: “Nice, kind and cute.”
Victoria: “Mischievious.”
Jonathan: “Like a baby.”
Elsie Mae: “Good! Lotsa bisous” (the French word for “kiss.”)
Mary Michelle: ---

6. How old is your baaba?
Brendan: “39.”
Rebekah Joy: “39.”
Nadia: “39.”
Anna: “48.”
Victoria: “Uh… I’m not sure. Maybe 30?”
Jonathan: “Him 4 and very old.”
Elsie Mae: “Huh?”
Mary Michelle: ---

7. How tall is your baaba?
Brendan: “A little bit taller than I am.“
Rebekah Joy: “5 foot something.”
Nadia: “Maybe 5 feet?”
Anna: “Bigger than Brendan.”
Victoria: “He’s very high.”
Jonathan: “Very big.”
Elsie Mae: “Tawll.”
Mary Michelle: ---

8. What is his favorite thing to do?
Brendan: “Sleep.”
Rebekah Joy: “Go to the pool and hang out.”
Nadia: “Go to the pool, talk to his friends and sleep.”
Anna: “Play on the computer.”
Victoria: “Play computer games.”
Jonathan: “Go outside and feed the chickens.”
Elsie Mae: “Yum yum.” – which interpreted means eat.
Mary Michelle: Hold and rock me.

9. What does your baaba do when you're not around?
Brendan: “Works at the studio.”
Rebekah Joy: “I don’t know.”
Nadia: “Goes to the studio or the office and works.”
Anna: “Works.”
Victoria: “He works.”
Jonathan: “Work and take care of Mary.”
Elsie Mae: “Miss me.”
Mary Michelle: Not worry about me.

10. If your baaba becomes famous, what will it be for?
Brendan: “Some radio thing.”
Rebekah Joy: “Silly conversations.”
Nadia: “”Cause he’s really good working on radio things.”
Anna: “For being a good Daddy.”
Victoria: “For being good.”
Jonathan: “His smile.”
Elsie Mae: “Huh?”
Mary Michelle: ---

11. What is your baaba really good at?
Brendan: “Making me feel guilty.”
Rebekah Joy: “Sleeping.”
Nadia: “Working on the radio.”
Anna: “Making me laugh.”
Victoria: “Making us obey.”
Jonathan: “Feeding the chickens.”
Elsie Mae: “Tuddle, luf me.”
Mary Michelle: “ As her baaba always says, he’s “Good fer nuthin’!”

12. What is your baaba not very good at?
Brendan: “Short-term memory.”
Rebekah Joy: “Forgetting to turn the water filter off when he’s filling the water cooler. He gets distracted and I have to clean up the water mess.”
Nadia: “Cooking dinner.”
Anna: “Making me cry.”
Victoria: “He’s not good at sinning.”
Jonathan: “Holding Mary. He gives her to Mama, Bren-breb, Bekah or Lala (Nadia).”
Elsie Mae: “Weepin’.” – which interpreted means sweeping.
Mary Michelle: Feeding me.

13. What does your baaba do for his job?
Brendan: “Records radio programs, puts them on the air.”
Rebekah Joy: “Records, puts stuff on the radio… radio broadcasting.”
Nadia: “He helps people make new music albums and works on computers.”
Anna: “Makes songs.”
Victoria: “He spreads Jesus around the world.”
Jonathan: “Work at ‘tudio.”
Elsie Mae: “Pute – rrrrr.” (I think that means computer.)
Mary Michelle:.---

14. What is your baaba’s favorite food?
Brendan: “Salmon.”
Rebekah Joy: “Gampy’s grilled steak with mashed potatoes and gravy.”
Nadia: “Beef stroganoff.”
Anna: “Spaghetti.”
Victoria: “French fries.”
Jonathan: “Chicken duniya.”
Elsie Mae: “Booger.” I think she means a cheeseburger.
Mary Michelle: ---.

15. What makes you proud of your baaba?
Brendan: “How he does things that need to be done quietly and without making a fuss.”
Rebekah Joy: “He’s MY daddy.”
Nadia: “That she’s the best daddy in the world.”
Anna: “For being nice.”
Victoria: “He’s good and nice.”
Jonathan: “He loves me.”
Elsie Mae: “Me hug.”
Mary Michelle: ---

16. If your baaba were a cartoon character, who would he be?
Brendan: “Larryboy.”
Rebekah Joy: “Larry the Cucumber.”
Nadia: “Petrie.” (from the Land Before Time.)
Anna: “Mr. Lunt.” (from “The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything.”
Victoria: “Mad Mortigan… he’s silly and handsome.”
Jonathan: “Mario.”
Elsie Mae: “Waiwry.” (Also Larry the Cucumber…. She must have heard Rebekah.)
Mary Michelle: ---

17. What do you and your baaba do together?
Brendan: “Play computer games.”
Rebekah Joy: “Age of Empires multiplayers.”
Nadia: “We play multiplayers on the computer and we both sometimes read the Character Sketches.”
Anna: “Cuddle.”
Victoria: “We swim and he lets me crawl on his back and go for rides in the water.”
Jonathan: “Feed the chickens.”
Elsie Mae: “Tuddle.”
Mary Michelle: Cuddle in the morning and walk the hall when I’m fussy.

18. How are you and your baaba the same?
Brendan: “We both enjoy being outside.”
Rebekah Joy: “Blonde hair, blue eyes.”
Nadia: “Our blond hair and we both like reading.”
Anna: “We both got blue eyes.”
Victoria: “He’s my daddy and I’m his daughter.”
Jonathan: “We both big boys.”
Elsie Mae: “Take naps.”
Mary Michelle: We both like Mama.

19. How are you and your baaba different?
Brendan: “I’m more into music.”
Rebekah Joy: “He’s a boy and I’m a girl.”
Nadia: “He’s a boy and I’m a girl and he likes taking more naps than me.”
Anna: “My hair is going to have brown hair and he doesn’t.”
Victoria: “He’s big and I’m little.”
Jonathan: “He’s married.”
Elsie Mae: “Huh?”
Mary Michelle: ---

20. How do you know your baaba loves you?
Brendan: “By how he’s willing to change his plans for me.”
Rebekah Joy: “He takes care of me.”
Nadia: “’Cause he loves me and takes good care of me.”
Anna: “By the way he acts.”
Victoria: “Because he takes care of me.”
Jonathan: “Him tickle me.”
Elsie Mae: “Tuddle, tiss.” I think tiss means kiss.
Mary Michelle: He walks with me when I’m crying.

21. What does your baaba like most about your mama?
Brendan: “She keeps the house clean.”
Rebekah Joy:”Her humorous behavior.”
Nadia: “She’s his wife and he loves her.”
Anna: “Her pretty blue-green eyes.”
Victoria: “He likes her prettiness and that she’s a Christian.”
Jonathan: “He likes when he makes her happy.”
Elsie Mae: “Tuddles.”
Mary Michelle:---

22. Where is your baaba's favorite place to go?
Brendan: “The Rec (Center).”
Rebekah Joy: “Grandpa Gene’s boat.”
Nadia: “The pool to hang out.”
Anna: “To the Great Wolf Lodge. I think he likes it there.”
Victoria: “To the Rec Center.”
Jonathan: “America.”
Elsie Mae: “wimmin!” – which means swimming.
Mary Michelle: To lay down for a nap.

Note: Obviously, Mary Michelle’s and some of Elsie Mae’s answers had to be “interpreted.” *GRIN*

16 April 2009











~GANG of underage Wrights!~

Thanks, Ryan!

Disclaimer: Notice that neither "of age" Wright found the creature nearly so endearing, attractive or appealing... not at all...

11 April 2009


One of my gang's favorite songs right now is a recording of their cousin singing the following song:

The Look

I saw one hanging on a tree
In agony and blood
Who fixed his loving eyes on me
As near his cross I stood
And never till my dying breath
Will I forget that look
It seemed to charge me with his death
Though not a word he spoke

Forever etched upon my mind
Is the look of him who died
The Lamb I crucified
And now my life will sing the praise
Of pure atoning grace
That looked on me
And gladly took my place

My conscience felt and owned the guilt
And plunged me in despair
I saw my sins his blood had spilt
And helped to nail him there
But with a second look he said
“I freely all forgive
This blood is for your ransom paid
I died that you might live”

Forever etched upon my mind
Is the look of him who died
The Lamb I crucified
And now my life will sing the praise
Of pure atoning grace
That looked on me
And gladly took my place

Thus while his death my sin displays
For all the world to view
Such is the mystery of grace
It seals my pardon too
With pleasing grief and mournful joy
My spirit now is filled
That I should such a life destroy
Yet live by Him I killed

Forever etched upon my mind
Is the look of him who died
The Lamb I crucified
And now my life will sing the praise
Of pure atoning grace
That looked on me
And gladly took my place

It does my heart good to hear their sweet voices singing along with this recording of my niece... listening to them reflect upon His sacrifice... which has also led me to, once again, look upon the cross...

07 April 2009

Tim's Current Favorite Quotable Quote

"A kid goat named Boomerang...

...and a bunny named Menthe...

...have formed an alliance...


...AND are going to vote the chickens one by one off the island (and onto our dinner table)..."

...although WE suspect that they may be trying to convince one of the hens to join their alliance in the hopes that she'll be one of the final 3!

All photos taken by our nature smart budding photographer - Rebekah Joy!


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