28 February 2011

Multitude Monday - 1000 Gifts

Quickly typing today's gratitude list - we've got visitors... keeping very busy... overwhelmed... and very thankful!

Tim showing Pam and Grandpa Gene the beginning foundation work on our new house - they should start laying bricks tomorrow, I think!

No rest for the jet-lagged... Tim put Larry to work right away. Pray with us that they will be able to accomplish all that is needed at the studio this week!

#828 visitors from our home church

#829 seeing Grandpa Gene holding his grandbabies on his lap

#830 listening to the kids holler for their grandfather to come see this or that

#831 seeing Tim introduce his dad at our English Evening fellowship as "my dad!" with a huge smile

#832 having to stop for photos - something we need to do more often

#833 brave boy mks

#834 silly girl wearing an ugly nightgown over her school clothes

#835 friends flexible enough to cover for my forgetfulness

#836 french crueller donuts - the recipe was not "exceptionally easy" as claimed, but definitely a thumbs up, try again... in a few months!

#837 Casa del Burrito - best Mexican food in Niamey!

#838 catching up with our Norwegian friends, who are also in town for a short visit

#839 raspberry chocolate torte - and a recipe that worked almost perfectly the first time I tried it

#840 Nadia's foccacia breat - OH. MY! There isn't much more delicious!


#842 hand carried birthday gifts waiting to be shared

#843 help around the house this week which will allow me to better prepare for ladies' Bible study this weekend

#845 strange fevers that hang on for 24 hours and then go away, without becoming anything more serious - one "side" -benefit? They force me to slow down and rest for a bit as I snuggle a sick baby.

#846 patient and gracious African friends - when we forget to follow through on one of our committments

#847 looking forward to chatting with my mom after missing the past few weeks

#848 doing something special for those I love and seeing their thankful smiles - even when they forget to whisper the words

#849 super-scrubbed sparkly clean kitchen floor, thanks to my 2 big girls

#850 my niece - officially approved to come to Niger as a short term misso next year... let us know if you'd be interested in contributing to her support for the trip.

27 February 2011

Gorgeous Glimpses

from Sunday School
just for you, this Sunday.

The class is growing - neighborhood kids are sneaking in to join! Pray for Amina, her two children, Brendan and Rebekah as they work together to teach this class.

26 February 2011

My babydolls playing with their babydolls..

...and yes, they are laying the the recently cleaned from breakfast kitchen table.

Some people really don't like kids climbing inappropriately on the furniture.

Their daddy finds that more disturbing than I do...
I really don't care as long as they don't fall from said furniture onto the tile covered cement floor. That leads to nasty bumps and bruises. Just as Mary Michelle.

I was just thankful they had some semblance of clothing on,
and thought it was precious to listen to them playing together with their babydolls!

Aww ~ the life of preschool MKs in Africa!

The most amazing part?
They probably hung out together like this for at least 45 minutes.

25 February 2011

What's Tim up to these days?

~ update!

~ with photos!

Check it out @WBTN.org,
and take a few minutes
to browse around

Let us know what you think.

Mulling over... Musing on... this week...

" 'We believe in the elevation and respect of woman and we don't think that wrestling a woman is the right thing to do. Body slamming and takedowns, that full contact sport is not how to do that.' Randles said Joel has been involved in wrestling for many years, and he and his family have discussed before the possibility of girls getting involved in the sport. 'It's totally his choice. He's a young man now and he's worked hard to get where he's gotten. It's up to him, and it was his conviction' not to wrestle..."

~ Amen! I love reading about young men and women who can graciously take a stand for their beliefs!
Raising a serious question about the contribution of current Christian music to the church, praise and worship... and if those benefits (given that you think there are some) make the dangers an acceptable risk...
Interesting and suprising - on many levels.
"I’ve always wanted to really “be” the hands and feet of Jesus to a hurting world, like,
literally, not just figuratively..."

But what if Jesus has called you to be the one that makes it possible for others to be His hands and feet? And that isn't what you want? ...hard questions for those of us serving on any mission field... reflecting on what it really means to serve...
Really, what do I have to complain about? Sometimes I amaze myself, in a very unflattering way, at how self-centered and selfish I can be when I think I've got the corner on problems in this life...
I'm reading this book... Did she know and follow Jesus? It is not clear, at least not at this point. But her sacrifice and gentle service is a haunting example...

24 February 2011

Just wondering ~

Read this comment on a blog post recently -
and thought it was worth thinking about a bit more.

“Most every service I do
is really more about my own self-inflated ego.”

What about you? Agree? Disagree? Tell me what you think!

22 February 2011

Extraordinary Ordinary

Some days, I don't know what I marvel at more:

*the fact that we actually see scenes like this as we drive...

* or the fact that seeing this is so much "normal" it is more bizarre when we don't...

It is a grand gift from God ~ growing up here...
seeing our children grow up here...

in EVERY way!

21 February 2011

Multitude Monday - 1000 Gifts ~ Preventable, not Inevitable

 Every April or May for the last several years we've been in Niger, I've taught a swimming and/or water polo phys ed class at Sahel Academy. I wasn't sure whether that would be the case this year or not, but since it has made the school calendar and the phys ed teacher has said he wants my help, it looks like that is coming up... soon! However, it has been a few years - and while in the States for home assignment, I did not swim laps a single time... so I'm trying to get into the habit again.

It is hard. It doesn't matter that 20-25 years ago I could swim several miles a day without even blinking an eye... It doesn't matter that just 2  years ago I could tread water all afternoon while teaching in 115' heat, could cart non-swimmers back and forth across the pool, and exhaust all of the participating high schoolers as they drilled along with me training for our intramural water polo tourney - because today, I'm sorely out of practice.

It isn't so much that I'm horribly out of shape either; rather, I'm out of condition in the world of swimming. Thus, these days, whenever I can get to the pool, I head that way and swim laps. After 30 minutes my arms feel like lead weights. Treading water is only a little better - at least I can still tread for extended periods relying only on my legs (leaving my hands free for helping others or tossing a ball around) and still hold a conversation. Yet it seems harder than I remembered - and last time was with a 4 month old baby in tow.

Can you hear me sigh...? It is hard work... I'm not afraid of hard work; sometimes, in fact, I relish it! But it isn't all just fun and games, that is for sure. Just thinking about it seems daunting and wearying.

As I've been swimming laps the past few weeks, I've had the following words mulling about in my head:

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. (1 Cor 9:24-27)

Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  (Phil 3:13, 14)

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb 12:1, 2)

Nearly 3 months in, it no longer feels like a new year - in fact, it will soon be 25% gone! It is that time of the school year when it challenging to keep pushing on as hard as we should. Mission-wise, we are beyond the "newness" of a new term and settling into routine - and realizing that that routine, without too much of any sort of break, will be our lives for the next 3+ years and some days, seems long and overwhelming. Rising prices make budgets difficult to make and keep. Security scares keep us on edge and wondering if and when "something" might happen...

And so the Holy Spirit reminds me that just as staying in shape to achieve physical and athletic goals is hard work, pressing on to do all as if unto the Lord while serving wholeheartedly in the spot where He has sovereignly placed me with my only goal being His honor and glory... well, that is also hard work. Sure, it is God who empowers and enables, but He expects me to keep on, even when I'm tempted to grow weary. In fact, we are told in Galations to "not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary..." and then again in Thessalonians "But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good..." Isn't it amazing? God knows that weariness will accost us - and we shouldn't be surprised or feel like He's let us down or we are doing something wrong when it does - but as long as we keep our eyes fixed on the prize, as long as we aren't striving in vain in our own strength and working towards our own goals, as long as we continue to keep in shape, spiritually.  Weariness isn't inevitable; rather, it is preventable!

This week's gratitude list:

#812 swimming laps and realizing that words studied and memorized years ago, even if they are still no longer word perfect, are still hidden, speaking God's truth to my heart

#813 knowing that I do not have to be bested by, or succumb to, weariness - as long as I'm following my good and gentle shepherd, abiding in Him and obeying

#814 my sweet girl who happily shares the gift of no-bake cookies made specifically for her with her family

#815 my girls' favorite young-woman-to-look-up-to - she came, made crepes for us on Sunday and then hung out with us at the pool for a bit

#816 new recipes to try this week and planning schedules and menus for visitors arriving early Saturday morning

#817 Little girls sharing a "pain au chocolat, des frites et un coca," (or a croissant with bits of chocolate in it, french fries and a coke) for breakfast and giggling because they knew they were getting away with something

#818 long weekends

#819 praising the Lord after hearing that a medical issue wasn't what we thought it was

#820 seeing amazing photos of this land and  her people

#821 eating at the Rec Center twice in one weekend... while Daddy's away, the wife and kidlets play - with his permission, of course

#822 Obeying and then peace even though the obedience was hard

#823 receiving and texting back "xoxoxoxo" to say goodnight, even when he's a country away

#824 hearing that my boy is becoming a decent first baseman

#825 rearranging the furniture in anticipation of Grandpa Gene's arrival - he'll be here in one week

#826  friends I can call when security seems questionable - and they welcome our family with open arms

#827 being held in a long glad-to-be-home hug


Voilà! Anna's award certificate - for some reason, they find her name very difficult to spell!
But she worked hard and she's very proud of her prize for this particular competition.
 didn't have any recent swimming pictures (in a few months!), but I do have several of the kids competing in track and field events - that seemed to fit the theme and I haven't had the excuse to post them yet! Thanks to my friend Shannon Maxwell for sharing a few of these with me. Several are ones Tim snapped of Anna when she was selected to be part of a group that represented Ecole Alliance in athletic competition.

19 February 2011

Hate to admit it, but sometimes I act just like Python...

Earlier this week, I shared one of my favorite W. African folk tales... and said I'd get back to it later.  Guess you could officially call now "later."


Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Earsretold by Vera Aardema, is presently one of Elsie Mae's and Mary Michelle's favorite stories. Frankly, I think they like the pictures and listening to Mama make all sorts of funny animal noises. But reading this to the girls the other day was a bit like getting a sledgehammer between the eyes...

There are many lessons that could be pulled out of this traditional moral story... and hopefully then applied in daily life, so we can ask all sorts of questions when we read this story together:
  1. Do you think Mosquito even thought about all of the bad things that would result from her silly lie?
  2. Could Iguana have picked a different, better response? What would have been a better way for him to talk with Mosquito about how lies and exaggerations irritate?
  3. What was silly about how Python responded? What would have been a wiser choice for him? 
~ and so on through the other different characters mentioned in the story...

I'll often ask the girls which character they feel like on a given day. Elsie Mae usually says Rabbit because she's a girl and because she would be scared of the big snake too. Mary Michelle likes to be the monkey trying to run through the trees!  And Nadia? Probably most often, she's like Mother Owl who can't do what she should when she is so sad, but as soon as she can direct her eyes away from her sadness, does what is needed and expected of her.

It is interesting to talk about how each one of the characters could have made a different decision, reacting differently to a scary, incomprehensible, unusual or hard thing in their day that might have changed the ultimate outcome. For example, how could the story have ended differently if Iguana had kindly and gently confronted Mosquito about his unbelievable and silly story instead of stomping off and putting sticks in his ears so he couldn't hear anyone?" Or, what if Crow had taken the time and initiative to simply ask Rabbit why she was running scared, and/or if there was something he could do to help?"

Lately, I've been feeling a bit like Python... and reflecting on my life daily and reading and rereading this story several times recently has given me one of those practice-what-you-preach-to-your-kids opportunites. Python immediately assumed the worst possible interpretation of his friend's lack of response to his greeting: it obviously meant that Iguana was mad at him about something. Python has no clue what he might have done to irritate or anger his friend, yet he was immediately convinced that if Iguana was so mad as to ignore him, then Iguana must be hatching a dastardly revenge plot for some reason and it was obviously aimed at Python.

Do you ever do the same thing in your relationships? Do you automatically assume, when a friend doesn't respond the way you expect, that something is hugely and catastrophically wrong? Do you get angry that a buddy didn't reply or take action in a manner you expected? Or do you consider the more likely and most obvious reasons... your friend may simply have not heard you. When Tim doesn't mumble good morning as he stumbles to brew his coffee in the morning, should I assume that he is furious with me - or just remember that generally, even though he appears to be awake, he really isn't conscious until after he's had a few sips from his cup of joe? What if my sister doesn't answer my email? Should I believe that she never thinks about or prays for our family - or simply remember that she hardly ever emails, they aren't her preferred mode of communication and it is better to text or skype if I really want to hear back from her?  What about when an email does come back - tersely worded... the bare minimum of words necessary to respond - do I presume and judge that my friend is frustrated and annoyed and therefore pull away and stop communicating... or should I remember that exhaustion and a temporarily heavy schedule factor into the equation and be thankful for the rapid response to my question?

Or maybe I'm the only one who plays these silly mind games? I'm thinking not, or the character of Python would have never shown up in a traditional tale. How about you? What do you think? How do you think that the python in this tale could have "biblically" diffused the situation. And what do you tend to do or think when one of your friends doesn't respond to your overtures in the way/ways you expected?

This post brought to you by intermittent internet ~

since it is only a few photos... and not too many words to think about...

since I've been wanting to get it posted...

since the internet rarely works for extended periods of time at my house...

and never when I'm DEPENDING on it for whatever reason:

I'm taking advantage of these few minutes while I have them...

and posting pictures from Nadia's 12th birthday ~ it was a different sort of celebration!

Nadia's favorite friend and her family (they are one of our favorite families, too!) joined us in January for our last Saturday morning of the month donut making escapade. This time it was powdered sugar-lemon filled... and cinnamon sugar.

It was a lovely morning - the kids played and had fun, the adults visited  - and we all stuffed those donuts into our open mouths... rapidly...

...they were yummy!!!
...donuts AND the delightful demi-day with friends!

16 February 2011

Sunday School @ Harobanda


This year, Brendan and Rebekah have been teaching Sunday School - their Tantie Amina translates into Zarma and is also "discipling" them through this process.

It has been exciting to watch the Sunday School program grow - they are already making plans for a Summer Celebration and a 3 day-3 night camp!

Wordless Wednesday - Handwriting Sample from Jonathan


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