28 June 2011

Saw these pics on FB the other day...

...and started feeling really homesick for Michigan and our friends and family there!

(photos from the class trip to Mackinaw Island, May 2010)

27 June 2011

Multitude Monday - 1000 Gifts: "In learning you will teach and in teaching you will learn..."

The kids were watching a movie with a dear and special friend of ours who has now left Niger, at least for the immediate foreseeable future. Although we are excited for all that God has for her, we are sad because we will miss her very much.  Several of the littlers were piled on her lap on the living room tile while I was working around in the kitchen, and the phrase blared from the TV: "In learning you will teach and in teaching you will learn." I was struck by the truth of that statement. The second half seems a foregone conclusion... in teaching school, my kids, my colleagues, ladies at church, it is easy to see how the act of prepareing to teach as well as teaching itself requires that the teacher learn. But while wiping the remains of spilled chicken and dumplings off the dining room table, the very real truth of the first half of that phrase rang true in my heart... in learning we will teach!

One of the things I find most attractive in another person is a gentle, teachable spirit. I try to surround myself with the influence of people who "wear" that attitude. I so long and pray for God to develop the same in my heart and life.

Undoubtedly, those who guard carefully a teachable heart, working to maintain continually this posture regardless of the circumstances, joys, challenges and unexpected turns of each day find themselves learning. They have placed themselves in a position to be mentored by God Himself, as He guides throughout the day. One who chooses to live this way will stand out and the difference will be noticed by others. Watchers will see a magnetic, unmistakeable, undeniable distinction: the Presence of a living, active, loving God teaching a willing disciple, directing the steps of one who wants to follow. 

A friend of ours recently shared:

"...telling people about Christ is only a part of sharing Christ.  Living for Christ has to come first....  Before a person will listen to what we say about knowing Christ, they want to see exactly what knowing Christ looks like in our lives.  Though my [different language] vocabulary is incomplete, the Gospel must still go forth.  I have but one option: to show [others] who Christ is by the way I live.

The ability to lead others to Christ does not come through special training and is not something that is reserved only for the most talented soul-winners.  A [teachable] heart that loves Jesus cannot be concealed.  Jesus said in Matthew 5:16-'
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.'

If you want to bring your friends to Christ, love Christ in front of them.  Your lifestyle will confirm your verbal witness. They will see the change that He has made in your life and will be drawn to Him because of it."

Forever thankful for a patient and gentle Prof... for the examples of amazing learners all about me... and praying that my Teacher grows me into one who teaches because I "learn of"  and live for Him...

this week's gratitude list ~ please forgive my recent absence... life has been busy and I've been busy learning...
(#s 1224 - 1255)

the Almighty Teacher

influential learners

the opportunity and privilege it has been to work with her this past year; she's taught me as she has learned!

never being able to think about recycling in the same way again

high fevers that are nothing more than high fevers

cool rains

breezes blowing off the river

listening to the frogs and crickets at night

almost finished moving - hopefully for the last time for awhile

completed roof

new friends

teaching literacy

practicing my zarma

three ladies who are not longer just sisters because they love Jesus, but who are becoming friends (despite the language challenges) and who are most definitely learners teaching me

talking, for just a few moments, to a friend in the hospital back home

standing firm when discouragement attacks

viruses that force much needed rest

listening to his speech - so improved - as he reads... and reads... and reads... and begs to read more

books piled high for me to read this summer

wonderful neighbors

shared milkshakes by the side of the pool

high school graduations and diplomas

seeing the itinerary for my niece and sister arrive via email... we're countint the days

my gentle, sweet spirited, teachable oldest child

relearning details from high school biology... so I can teach it

computer programs that providing algebra practice

beautiful handwriting

kids motivated to work on their French studies

coooool showers for feverish babies

hanging laundry outside on the line... and the lovely fresh smell that results

Disney movies through which my Teacher can speak


24 June 2011

Mullings & Musings

"...I didn’t start trying to find out whether bilingualism was bad or good. I did my doctorate in psychology: on how children acquire language. When I finished graduate school, in 1976, there was a job shortage in Canada for Ph.D.’s. The only position I found was with a research project studying second language acquisition in school children. It wasn’t my area. But it was close enough.

As a psychologist, I brought neuroscience questions to the study, like “How does the acquisition of a second language change thought?” It was these types of questions that naturally led to the bilingualism research. The way research works is, it takes you down a road. You then follow that road."

  • "Meningitis Cases Dramatically Down" (I understand those who are hesitant about vaccinations... and chemicals - like chlorine bleach, insecticides... and all of the "unnatural" stuff we use in this day and age. But I also think some of these modern tools are gifts of God and they prevent many deaths, especially when used carefully and in moderation.)
"The roll-out of a revolutionary meningitis vaccination in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger has dramatically cut transmission rates, according to the World Health Organization (WHO)..."

  • "Bullet Holes and Lost Livelihoods" (Sheltered Americans... we really have no clue what life is like in the rest of the world. If we did, we'd show more gratitude for the amazing provision we enjoy.)
“ 'The most pressing need is food, then mosquito nets.'

'Generally families take one meal a day - usually `garba’ [fish and cassava],' 28-year-old nurse Albertine Anoh told IRIN.

'For the moment we cannot live as we did before,” she said, explaining that no money is coming in after her husband lost several public transport vehicles in the fighting...' "

"I saw Jordan [Michael] walking to his car in the parking lot. I ran out after him as fast as my little seventh grade legs would carry me and said, 'Excuse me Mr. Jordan, can I please have your autograph?'

23 June 2011

Elijah and the Prophets of Baal ~

I'm guessing you are wondering:
 "What in the world does this picture have to do with the title of this blog post?"

Each year, Ecole Goudel has several assemblies where the students recite verses they've learned, sing songs and perform skits. Tim, as Field Director and the resident sound man, usually attends... and he now has a number one, top-favorite skit, a couple of years running.

It is a "re-enactment" (I use that term loosely) of Elijah's confrontation with the prophets of Baal (found in I Kings 18)...

  • different students as Elijah, King Ahab and the prophets
  • the school's director as God (sending fire to consume Elijah's sacrifice - with the help of kerosene and a match)
  • Pink Panther as the bulls to be offered up
  • spectacle "spectators" as the Biblical specators
Go ahead - try and picture the scene,
With 400 or so children and parents watching!

One of these years, he really needs to get a video instead of these after the fact photos.

Can't you just imagine...

21 June 2011

Stormy Horizon

We woke up the other morning to the wind slamming a door shut... signaling the arrival of a dust storm. Tim had his wits about him and snapped the following photos...

satellite image of the storm

dust cloud rolling in...

bright orange Niger dust!

storm is finally about even with our terrace... instead of breathing in all the sand, we moved inside

all of the dust in the air makes it quite dark... we've actually seen it get darker than this...

the first wave of dust has passed and the rain is beginning

I remember the first time I saw dust storm depicted in a movie. I thought it couldn't be true...that what was shown in that movie was definitely a "Hollywood"-ized version... until I saw my first. Hollywood didn't do it justice!

19 June 2011

Sundays are for resting...

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water,
and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into thepresence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

(by Wendell Berry, in Collected Poems)

Although the view isn't exactly the same as that of the author of the poem... although the water isn't still as I hear it rush over the dam... and I'm sitting on the terrace and watching the birds... listening to donkeys bray, water move and leaves rustle... catching glimpses of fishermen with their nets... I'm delighting in God's marvelous creation, a good book and a cup of tea... and either way, it adds up to peaceful resting...

Is there a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon?

18 June 2011

No... we really haven't wandered off and gotten lost in the desert...

...we've just been really, really busy.

So, today, I'd like to catch you up on several key events of the past few weeks and then share a few links you might find interesting. I hope to move back into a regular blogging routine over the next few days - we like to keep our friends up-to-date... we like for you to be able to picture our lives here and know best how to pray for us!

So... deep breath... the last two weeks have included:
  • 2 swimming competitions involving over 100 swimmers
  • Final exams
  • Finishing up on-line courses
  • 3 end-of-the-year closing assemblies
  • having an 11th grader, 9th grader, 7th grader, CM2-er, CM1-er, CP-er as well as one about to begin Grande Section and another the Petite section this next year... if you count that all up, they'll ALL be in school next year
  • Parent-teacher conferences (as both parent and teacher)
  • end-of-the-year parties (and the making of treats to go along with those festivities)
  • moving out of our house (and our belongings are now scattered over three houses and one storage container)
  • moving out of my classroom
  • Graduation and the reception afterwards
  • Tim's mad dash to edit the school's drama/musical before students scattered all over the globe
  • planning three "summer school" classes for students trying to earn recovery credits
  • finishing up IEPs and other official documents
  • planning a literacy course (which I'm not sure will take place now)
  • planning a seminar on radio script writing to teach to a local acting group
  • an attempted break-in (we think) the first night we left the old house
  • the beginnings of raining season (which is delightful in every way - unless you are behind on laundry)
  • a few illnesses scattered here and there
  • preparing for the arrival of one of our sending church pastors, as well as my sister and niece (who will be staying with us for the year)
  • making decisions about our house in progress
  • trying to find time to spend with friends-more-like-family who are leaving permanently as well as show Niger field to some folks out on a survey trip
... I'm sure there are things I'm forgetting, too. So, although we've been silent, there's been lots going on. Thanks for  your patience as we essentially disappeared from cyberspace the past many days.

And now... a few links you might find interesting:

1.   "Doomed Desert Nomads"

Photo from BBC article linked to above.

2.   "In Pictures: The Trials of the Tuareg"

10 June 2011

06 June 2011

Multitude Monday ~ 1000 Gifts: Thankfulness and Trust

"...We have a strong city;
He sets up the walls and ramparts for security.
Open the gates,
that the righteous nation may enter,
The one that remains faithful.
The steadfast of mind
You will keep in perfect peace,
Because he trusts in You.
Trust int he LORD forever,
For in God the LORD we have an everlasting rock..."
Isaiah 26:1b-4 (NASB)

In a heart where thankfulness is chosen,
trust thrives.
Thankfulness and trust travel together, hand in hand ~


meeting with both joy and sorrow,
relief and suffering,
ease and hardship,
courage and fear,
delight and irritation...
but regardless...

perfect peace reigns!

this week's gratitude list
(#s 1201 - 1223)

the end in sight

finished finals

all day Friday at the pool

watching the kids' faces as they received their awards

the thrill of victory

the fun of congratulating a friend's great performance

competitive water polo games

daring dives off the platform

the satisfaction that comes with pushing yourself to a new height... trying something that is new and scary and finding it fun

friends who pitch in and serve... taking photos, tying plastic bags filled with Koolaid or cookies, bringing peanut butter covered crackers for a much needed snack...

new friends

oversleeping... and finally starting to feel rested again

looking forward to literacy

ladies who want to learn to read their Bibles

metal trusses and looking forward to seeing work on the roof start

shared chwarmas and conversation in the AC

getting ready to move

packing and finding things that we thought we'd lost

songs about swimming and summer time hanging out at the pool

looking forward to free afternoons and time to take my kiddos to the pool

anticipating visitors... and being able to actually see target arrival days on the calendar without flipping too many pages

yearbooks, sparking wonderful memories, for sale... now!

her grins as she sees what friends have written in the yearbook

04 June 2011

Small but mighty... she's a competitor...

...and it was my revelation of the day!

It totally caught me off guard.

...I guess I just didn't expect

such a fierce side

to our sweet little Elsie Mae...

She certainly doesn't look fierce, does she?

Yesterday was full of swimming races and competitions for the students of Sahel Academy... and Elsie Mae tagged along. It didn't faze her in the least that she was swimming against 3-6th graders... she was tickled pink just to be at the pool and a part of all the excitement.

She cracked me up as she swam her races... each time she'd touch the wall, she'd hardly take a breath before asking:
 "Did I WIN! Mama?"
This is the race where she did... and don't forget to notice that smile on her face in the very last photo!

...and they're off! GO ELSIE MAE!!!

Nadia cheering for her lil' sis!

She was the 1st to touch the wall!

See that super big grin of delight?
(Lucky me! I got the happy hug, too!)

03 June 2011

Mullings & Musings

"...attitudes on marriage are changing, too. About 39 percent of Americans say marriage is becoming obsolete, according to a Pew Research Center study published in November, up from 28 percent in 1978."

"...depression is not simply a universal pattern of neuronal firing caused by predetermined genetic combinations. At least, it consists of an experience that is shaped by a cultural narrative. Depression has a story overlaid on it. In some cultures the story suggests that the experience is normal and is part of the process of developing character and strength. In others, such as our own, it is a brain pathology that must be treated quickly or it will leave the victim incapacitated.

Your interpretation of pain affects the experience of your pain. If the pain in your chest is from a slightly pulled muscle, you are proud that you are working out. If you believe it is from a tumor or incipient heart failure, it will hurt much worse.

If you experience peculiar sadness, and you are persuaded that God is with you and, through his love, is making you increasingly fruitful, your emotional limp will be less noticeable. But if your hardships are merely neuronal, there is nothing you can do except hope for the right combination of medications."

"When the U.S. economy was riding high for most of the 20th century, it would have been impossible to imagine a foreign city--especially one in a Communist country--with more of the planet's very richest than New York, home of old-money Wall Street. But that indeed is the case..."

"...the refreshing sugar rush that tastes so good to me... the amber colored tonic sets my heart at ease... when you pour it over ice there's nothing quite as nice... if you plan to venture south, you'd best prepare your mouth... if you tested diabetic, you just may need a medic... my nose ain't outta joint, but if it ain't sweet what's the point...?"

Photo by AC.


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