He had stopped by the post office - to try and mail a letter for Brendan and to pick up mail for the mission and our EBM missionaries (one of the many little tasks that often falls as his responsibility).
He walked up to the window and asked the lady if he could purchase stamps to mail a letter to the United States...
"I'm sorry, you cannot mail a letter to the United States through the Niger Post any more," she responded.
"I'm sorry," he replied, not believing what he'd just heard. "Can you repeat that, Madame? I can't believe that I heard you correctly."
"I said that I cannot sell you stamps to mail a letter to the United States," she repeated once again.
"You mean," Tim continued, totally shocked at how a relatively simple task had suddenly become quite complicated. "You mean that I cannot purchase a stamp to place on this envelope to then be mailed from Niger to the USA?"
"That is exactly what I mean," said the lady with a bit of a grin. "If you need to mail a letter to the States, you will need to use DHL or Chronopost." (which would only cost about $90)
"Can you tell me why and when this changed?" Tim asked. "Or, is their a supervisor nearby to whom I can speak?"
"Well, it is a recent change, but I'm not sure why. I'm not sure about a supervisor either. I'm really sorry, but I can't help you today. Have a good afternoon and evening," and the lady dismissed him so that she could moe on to her next customer.
As he was walking out of the building, a bit befuddled by this turn of events, he noticed an official looking lady in an office and popped his head in to ask her if she could explain why it was no longer permissable to mail letters from Niger to the United States.
"I'd be happy to explain," she said. "Just before Christmas, the US Post began rejecting all mail we sent. Apparently in the last bag they accepted, someone had mailed Tabaski meat to friends and/or family, and now Niger is on the 'bad' list with the US Postal Service."
Um... ok... hopefully, the USPS changes its mind soon... or all of our friends just dying to receive a real letter with a real Niger stamp will be disappointed...
...but at least we had a good laugh.