Jody and Sarah Fox - this phase of our Journey as IMB missionaries in Niger, West Africa

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

How to buy a watch in Niger (23 easy steps)

1. Realize the only watch you brought with you is broken and you need to know what time it is to keep up with life.

2. Go to a store to buy a watch.

3. See that the cheapest watch is $90 and leave the store with no watch.

4. Learn the French word for ‘watch’, which is montre.

5. Go to the market to buy a watch.

6. Get lost in a maze of people and craziness.

7. Find an 8 year old boy who will hopefully help lead you to someone selling watches.

8. Follow the boy through the market, then leave the market, cross a busy street, walk past a dozen “stores” selling electronics and other random things, but still no watches.

9. Have a man tell the boy who you are following where to go to find watches.

10. Go back across the street and return back towards the market where you were.

11. After more walking, miraculously end up at a man sitting at a table with a pile of about 30 watches on it along with a pile of ‘spare watch parts’.

12. Realize all the watches are men’s watches, but since you have no desire to hunt for more watch ‘stores’, you ask for the smallest one. There are two smallish ones – shimmering gold and silver.

13. Tell the man you like the silver one.

14. Have the man fit it on your wrist (first class service indeed).

15. Ask how much it costs.

16. Have the man tell you it costs 4500 francs (about $9)

17. With much excitement say, “I’ll take it!”

18. Pay the boy some money for helping you.

19. Have your husband make jokes about your watch.

20. In reply say, “Look, it’s a CASIO!, it’s even brand new, look the plastic covering is still on the face.”

21. Have your husband reply, “Yeah, it was new back in 1980.”

22. Realize there will never be an end to jokes about the watch, but nonetheless you had a memorable experience and are grateful to know what time it is.

23. One week later, see a man in your village wearing… the exact same watch!

The Infamous "Casio"

Thursday, December 22, 2011

New Kittens

Just wanted to quickly introduce you to our two pets. When we moved to Africa we talked about getting the girls a kitten when we moved to the village. I (Jody) am not a cat person, but I do love my children and they did want kittens. So when we moved to Boubon a few weeks ago we started looking for a kitten. Since the girls wanted a kitten and not a cat we had to find a young one so it would be a kitten longer. My friend Mounkaila found a kitten for me and called me and he told me he would pick it up for me. I agreed at first, but then called him back and told him I had another kitten I was going to try to get so don’t worry about it. He said Ok and we went and got ourselves a little black kitten. As I was driving away with the black kitten, Mounkaila called me to tell me he had picked up the kitten for me. I was thinking, “I told you not to” which apparently means, “do it anyway.” I thought briefly about having two kittens, but quickly came to my senses and remembered I don’t even like cats. However, when I got to where Mounkaila was working and saw the kitten, he looked pathetic. I took one look at the cat and knew I could not send him back to where Mounkaila got him. He looked sick, starved and tired so without my wives permission (she was not present for any of this) I now had two kittens.

Our girls love them. However, they did pick two strange names for kittens – Richard and Samuel. Why these names? Well I think Jordan named the black one Richard because that’s my middle name (I’m so honored) and I have no idea why Camryn named the white one Samuel. I pushed hard for Snowball or Tiger or something cute but in the end Richard and Samuel it is.

At first I found them cute and still do, but now I have remembered why I am not a cat person. Cats don’t learn, they just don’t care, they’re going to do their own thing no matter what you want. Sounds a bit like our sin nature…hmmm…maybe there is an application here somewhere for a new blog topic…we’ll see.

Lauren and Samuel

Jordan and Richard

Camryn and Samuel

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Swirly's Got Legs!!

Who knew so much excitement could come from a tadpole? Yep, we have tadpoles! It all started when we took a walk from our house in Boubon to the Niger River. The girls saw tadpoles and they just had to have some. I (Sarah) couldn’t resist because…well, I’ll be honest I was almost as excited as them since I love nature and science. The girls have wanted a pet (a kitten is at the top of the list), so I figured this would be an easy pet and give the girls something to take care of until the time is right for a kitten.

So the next day we went to the river with some jars and caught a dozen or so tadpoles. By the time they were jostled on the walk home, jostled on the car ride to Niamey, and messed with by the girls, only 1 survived! They named him Swirly because he has a spiral design on him. We researched how to take care of him, what to feed him, and went to the library for some tadpole and frog books.

I am amazed at the girls excitement over a tadpole. I never thought a pet that couldn’t be played with (though they’ve tried) could be so much fun. We fed him, changed his water, and waited…until, “Swirly’s got legs!!” They loved seeing this transformation taking place right before their eyes. Jody’s a bit worried that they’re getting too interested in science…but he will have to get over it.

The next week when we went back to Boubon we returned to the river and got Swirly some friends. This time 4 survived the transition and now most of them are growing legs too. Since we can’t tell these apart they all share a collective name “Poopy Misters” because their tank does not stay clean very long!

Our girl’s adjustment has been more difficult than we expected. They have struggled with the language barrier more than I thought they would. I knew they wouldn’t pick up the language as they stepped off of the plane, but I did think they would love playing with kids whether or not they could communicate. This has not been the case! Camryn and Jordan are in the stage of play where there is a constant dialogue between characters and since they can’t speak with other kids, they would rather just play with each other. It’s been slow going in the village for friendships, so please continue to pray for them in this area. One thing we have realized they really enjoy here is animals, so we are trying to capitalize on that. So instead of saying, “ok kids, we’re going out to meet some new people” I say, “ok kids we’re going to see the kittens (or the bunnies, or baby chicks, or donkeys, etc.)” Of course we hope that that will soon change to “ok let’s go visit Marjeto (or Farita, or Raphea, etc.)”. But for now we’ll be patient and visit all the animals in the village!


Camryn reading to the tadpoles a book called "Tale of a Tadpole"


The tadpoles admiring the book


Lauren showing off the tadpoles


Jordan riding a donkey. She had a blast!


Jordan holding 2 kittens

Jordan and her best friend...


Our 'pet' chameleon Pascal who lives in our compound.

Friday, November 18, 2011

November Prayer Letter

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Language Evaluation

For weeks we have been busy learning the language of the Songhai people. Language learning is very interesting. It kind of reminds me of a roller coaster ride. There are terrifying moments – like that feeling you get as the coaster hangs over the edge of the first drop. There are exciting times – like the initial first drop. There are boring moments as the ride drags on doing countless circles. There are the monotonous times when you ride the same coaster again and again countless times becoming bored and tired of even riding it. Then there are the times when vomiting seems necessary. Learning a language has all these characteristics and I think we have been in every stage.

However, we are learning it, and little by little we are able to communicate in the Zarma language. As I mentioned in our prayer letter, learning the language is essential to our ministry here. Very few people here speak English and the ones who do only know a little, so if we are to minister effectively we must have a grasp of the Zarma language.

We have spent nearly every week here studying and speaking the language and still young children could speak circles around us. So we know that grasping the language fluently will take some time, even years of practice. However, we will press on believing God has called us here, so He will provide our minds with understanding and our tongues with communication.

We just recently had a language evaluation and we have been told we are right where we need to be when it comes to language skills. Sarah seems to be doing a little better when it comes to hearing the language and the pronunciation of words, but for all of you who know us that should surprise very few of you. I, however, seem willing to just let ‘er fly spitting out words faster than most people can hear them, which again if you know us should surprise very few of you. If those words always make sense, are pronounced right, or in the right order – well that’s another story.

Please keep us in your prayers as we move to 5 days a week in language study through the month of November. After that we hope to be competent enough to move to our village full time and continue to grow on our own.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

October Prayer Letter

Monday, October 17, 2011

Snakes are Scary!


This past week we had a close encounter with a snake! Too close for comfort. I (Sarah) was outside in the morning reading my Bible while the girls played inside and Jody had already gone to study. Lauren came outside, so I sent her back into the house. I heard her whimpering so I turned around to see what was wrong. She was standing near the door, so I thought she pinched her finger in the door or was seeing a bug (she even whimpers at ants). But she whimpered louder and it was not her normal “I see a bug” whimper, so I stood up and ran to her. Right near her was a big black snake! I picked her up quickly and backed away. By now Camryn and Jordan were standing by the doorway too. They were in the house and Lauren and I were outside – the snake was blocking the doorway, so we couldn’t go in. I didn’t want it to go in the house, so I told the girls to close the door and run to their room. I stood there a few seconds trying to decide what to do. I was looking at his features as well – dark navy blue, about so long, and it looks like it had breakfast because there was a big bulge about halfway down. At that point I think the snake wanted to leave, but felt threatened because he raised up his head and his neck flared out! Once he did that I realized this could be a very dangerous snake, so I ran next door to tell someone. A guy who was staying next door came outside to see it, but the snake had disappeared. About 5 minutes later a few of the compound workers came with sticks and started poking through all the shrubs around the compound, but couldn’t find it. Then they brought down lawn mowers and mowed down all the plants – they were determined to find this snake!

As long as this snake was out there, we were all a bit on edge. We didn’t want the kids going close to any bushes and we were extra careful in keeping our eyes on them when they played outside. We always have lizards darting around, but now the lizards made me jump and I was extra jittery just walking around outside. When I had told the girls to close the door, it didn’t latch, so we were also concerned the snake may have slithered into our house… not a comforting thought! We looked under the beds and in every corner, but no snake.

About 3 in the afternoon, someone came to my door and said, “Sarah, your friend has been found!” One of the workers had spotted the snake, tracked him down, and killed him! It was hanging limp over a stick and my first thought when I saw it was, “Man, that is one small and pitiful looking snake!” I felt stupid for being afraid of it. Was it really as big as I had been telling people all day? Was it even the same snake? He laid it out on the ground and I saw that it was pretty long, and I saw the bulge in it’s stomach. Yep, the same snake! The snake that was such a threat to us earlier in the day and had kept us on edge all day was now pathetic looking and was no longer a threat because he was dead!

This reminded me of our spiritual battles we fight. I’ve been having many these last few months. I’m pretty sure our enemy, Satan, doesn’t want our family here in Niger doing what we’re doing. And if we won’t leave, he at least wants to make us as ineffective as possible. But this snake episode reminded me that our enemy, Satan, will have his head crushed (Gen. 3:15). He will be defeated. He has been conquered by Christ, our Savior. In some ways I have to liken him to the living snake – dangerous, poisonous, and deadly. But one day he will be like the dead snake and will not be able to harm us in any way. Satan and his followers are real enemies, so I have to be prepared to fight against them with my weapons: the Word of God, prayer, and faith. So many times I live my life in defeat, fear, or discouragement because I don’t use these weapons God has given me.

They told us the snake was a black cobra. We’re not 100% sure if it was, but if so a bite from one would have killed Lauren in less than 30 minutes. Wow! When I think about that I just have to praise the Lord and thank Him for protecting our family! God’s in control and we rest in that knowledge. We can’t live in fear – neither earthly nor spiritual fears. Our God is greater! As I John 4:4 reminds us, “for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Frustrated and inadequate, yet never more confident in Christ

For the past 9 years, one of the key components to my life and ministry was my ability to communicate. Whether I was good at it or not is debatable, but talking about the gospel was something I could do from all kinds of angles. However, in the past few weeks I have been reduced to a mere infant all over again. Sometimes trying to get my words across by grunts and charades.

As frustrating as this is, what is even more frustrating is that even when I can communicate the gospel it becomes very apparent that I have no ability to convince anyone that Christ is the way, the truth and the life. It does not matter how well my argument is crafted, how well thought through my words are, how good my illustrations are or even the ability to prove their belief system is misguided and lacking. The message seemed to fall on deaf ears. 1 Corinthians 4:4, which says “…the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God”, has been given greater clarity in my mind the past few weeks. I cannot describe it any better than that. The minds and hearts of many in Africa and all over the world have been blinded by Satan and the darkness is overwhelming.

You may be thinking, well of course it is not about your ability, but about the God in which salvation belongs to. And yes, if pressed this would be my answer, but it has been too easy to believe that somehow I am responsible for the salvation of souls, even though I know this is opposed to Christ and the scripture. This lie from Satan is what wants to hang us up. It’s what makes us envious for praise for our part in someone’s salvation or growth in Christ. It’s what destroys us when the message of Christ is rejected by our friends and family. And it’s what keeps us from sharing the gospel because of our fear of not doing it well enough or feeling as if we are not qualified to labor for the gospel. These lies are from Satan and are his ploys, used to make us take our eyes off of Jesus Christ, “…the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2), and keep our eyes fixed on ourselves. And if we are honest with ourselves, maybe we can see in some way how we even have believed that lie.

My supervisor continues to say the same words to me again and again and I believe this sums up the problem very nicely and has become a great comfort to my soul. “God’s sheep hear His voice.” When hearts seem to be held captive by the power of darkness, “God’s sheep hear His voice.” When all illustrations are used and reused, “God’s sheep hear His voice.” When words are lost and darkness seems to prevail, “God’s sheep hear His voice.” God’s Word will prevail, God’s Word penetrates the darkness and has “…delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:13-14). This is humbling considering we also were once lost and just as we heard God’s voice call to us, others will hear the voice of God call to them as well.

So therefore, proclaim the gospel confidently, for Christ saves lost souls, and He does this for His glory alone by using simple people like you and me. People who don’t know everything, people who have problems and sin, people who are uneducated, people who stutter, people who the world would cast off as nothing. Because in the end, it’s not about us, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” (Revelations 7:10).

Take it from me, almost anybody can share the gospel better than me at this point. But it’s not about my ability or inability and it’s not about yours either. “God’s sheep hear His voice.” Be faithful to share God’s Word with everybody and anybody and expect the words of God in Isaiah 55:11 to be true, “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” May you find comfort in these words, not because you are strong but because Christ is.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Our Home

Well, maybe this is a little late in coming, but I thought I'd show you some pics of where we are living. From the time we arrived until the end of October we are living in one of the guest houses on the Baptist Mission Guesthouse compound. In a past post I showed you pictures of the playground here, but this time I want to show you some pics of our house.

This is outside of our house. Camryn is standing in front of our door and the door on the left goes into a separate guest house.


This is our living room. There's plenty of space for the girls to play. You can see our desk/office area in the back left corner of the room. The hallway you see next to the girls actually leads to two bedrooms and a bathroom that we don't use except to store some things.


This is our dining room table/homeschool work area. We usually eat dinner here because it's 10 degrees cooler than the kitchen. The doorway you see leads to our 2 bedrooms and bathroom.


This is ours and Lauren's bedroom.


However, this is usually where Lauren falls asleep - on the comfortable tile floor!


This is Camryn's and Jordan's bedroom.


This is the bathroom. Thankfully there's a 'normal' toilet in it! The girls were sad not to have a bathtub, but they are getting used to showers. Lauren hated them at first, but now we can't get her to come out!


This is the kitchen table where we usually eat breakfast and lunch.


This is the rest of the kitchen.


This is looking right outside our front door. You can see how close the playground is and you can see our Toyota Landcruiser. Jody's so glad not to have a minivan anymore! There was a tree in that circle of plants, but it blew over in one of the storms. It fell on the building, but it was not a big enough tree to damage anything.

As you can see we've got a great place to stay here! Thank you so much to all those who support us through giving to your church and the Lottie Moon Christmas offering. We are very blessed with our living conditions and are grateful for this home.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

African Names and Happy Birthday!

Well, I've never understood this before, but apparently it's just the normal thing. I'm talking about receiving an African name. Why in the world can't we just be called by our American names - Jody, Sarah, Camryn, Jordan and Lauren? Up to 2 days ago we have introduced our children by their real names and we have been getting some confused looks and people repeat their names, but they don't sound quite right. But 2 days ago I was visiting with some African women and I told them the names of my girls. She repeated them slowly and then said 'ga sandi', which means they are difficult. That's when it hit me. What's familiar and easy to me is foreign and difficult to them and vice versa. The past month as I've been meeting people I'm always thinking how difficult their names are and that I'm never going to be able to learn them. Names such as Mounkaila, Hawa, Daouda, Khadijah, Rashida, Farita, Hamsatou, Sumana, etc. And those are just the names I could understand well enough to attempt to spell them out. Other names are like 4 syllables and completely unintelligible to my English ears. Occasionally I would meet a Layla or an Anna and I'd think, ok, I can remember this one.

So even though the names I'm used to seem so much simpler - Luke, John, Susan, Amy - they're not easy for Nigeriens. If we want people to be able to understand our names and remember them, it's best to have names they are used to. So this same lady who said my kid's names were difficult took it upon herself to give my children African names. I hadn't planned on giving them new names, but it just makes sense. So, I now introduce you to....

Hilema
(aka Camryn)

Cherifa
(aka Jordan) This sounds like a little diva name, but what can I say, it fits Jordan!

Nana

(aka Lauren) The a's sound like the o in otter.

In case you were wondering, Jody and I also have African names. Someone gave Jody the name "Gado" which means 'one who comes after twins'. Of course this doesn't make sense because Jody is the firstborn, but I think they chose it because it sounds similar to 'Jody'. Then someone who Jody was talking to gave me the name "Khadi" which I was ok with until I found out that it was one of Muhammad's wives...so I decided to switch to 'Saharatu' which is how Sarah translates into Zarma. It's not a super popular name here, but they understand it and I did meet a little girl with the name. I prefer to be associated with Abraham's wife than Muhammad's! J

Also, today is Lauren’s 2nd birthday! We went to the zoo to celebrate and then had some birthday cake and opened presents at night. She’s been practicing the ‘Happy Birthday’ song since Jordan’s birthday last month, so she was prepared! She loved having a special day just for her and loved getting some new toys to play with.

At the Zoo


In front of the lions...don't stick your hands in girls!

Cute little baby hippo!

Lauren lookin proud of her cake!

Lauren playing her new drum!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Our Awesome Playground

We just wanted to show you all some pictures of where we're living. I decided to start with the playground! For these first few months we are living in the capital city, Niamey. We are staying at the Baptist Mission Guesthouse. This is a gated compound that has several guesthouses as well as an office building and missionary lounge and meeting area. Basically it's the hub for all the IMB missionaries in Niger. Those missionaries who live hours away from the capital will come here to stay for a few days if they need to do shopping, other business, or just take a break and have some consistent electricity! Living here has been great because we are able to meet many people who we wouldn't normally come in contact with - missionaries from the IMB and other agencies as well as volunteer teams who stay here.
The compound here is very nice and there is an amazing playground right outside our front door! There is also a basketball/tennis court where the girls like to play with balls, 'play' tennis, have races around the court, and play with the giant parachute. Here are some pics of the girls enjoying the playground:This is what the girls call 'the tower'. Have you seen the movie Tangled? They love that movie and so this is where we always play Rapunzel. Whoever is Rapunzel lets their hair down by the ladder where the evil stepmother (Sarah) climbs up into the tower.

This is the gigantic swing set! In the background is the basketball/tennis court.

Good old teeter totter!

The tire swing - they scream like girls on this thing!!

The trampoline. Now whoever came up with this idea is a genius - the trampoline is not only enclosed with a net, but it's also in the ground! We don't have to worry about them falling off or always be there to help them on and off. They love performing ballet shows and doing tricks on the trampoline!
Aren't they too cute?

Picnic area (aka mommy or daddy rest area)

There's even a play area for the littlest kiddos. I've never seen my girls play on this, but they had to get a picture with every piece of playground equipment!

The little swing set

Lauren loves to swing!

As you can see, there's a lot to do here! We really are blessed to have this playground, especially considering that other than this one there are only 3 other playgrounds in all of Niamey -- 2 of which cost admission to go to, and the 3rd is at the Christian school, so it's not always open to go to. The girls are having lots of fun and we're enjoying being here at the guest house!




Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Our New Normal

We’ve been compiling a list of things that may seem strange to some people, but for us, it’s our new normal. These aren’t just things we’ve heard about, but they’re so common that we’ve already experienced all of these things in only a month's time. You may have seen or experienced some of these things in America, but it would be out of the ordinary, but this is normal here and no one even looks or thinks twice about these things, except for us, but we’re getting used to them…

Driving

· Being cut off by sheep, goats, or cows crossing the road

· Rules, what rules? Just don’t hit anyone, oh wait, there is one rule… you must use your turn signal.

· We came across an accident the other day in the road. They had put out a road flare 10 feet behind the vehicle, and by road flare I mean a big rock.

· Round-abouts are common (just like you would find in France) except there are different rules for each one. Good luck remembering which rules apply to which round-about.

· Babies riding on motorcycles. Other things we’ve seen on motorcycles: huge tv, 20 ft. ladder, dad with three kids, two men on one motorcycle – each with a live sheep in their lap. We just can’t make this stuff up!

· Driving in general is pretty crazy. You’ve got two lanes (you aren’t required to stay in your lane, it’s really just a reference to width) and there are all sorts of different travelers sharing those lanes – pedestrians, bicycles, mopeds, motorcycles, donkey carts, cars, majorly overloaded vans, camels, donkey carts with long poles sticking out into ‘your’ lane, goats, sheep, cows, donkey carts being driven by kids, etc. etc. etc. It’s so crazy because you’re sharing the road with things of different speeds, so everyone is constantly passing someone and then you throw in the swerving to avoid potholes…You have to be constantly aware of everything which makes driving stressful to some (Sarah) and exciting to others (Jody). Think: real life frogger.

Food

· Cooking with a gas stove and yes the propane tank is inside (not sure this would pass fire code in America). At least when the power goes out you can still cook.

· Kitchen is unbearably hot when you cook

· Finding bugs (sometimes living) in your dry food (rice, flour, etc.)

· Have to bleach all fruits and veggies before you can eat them

· Not being able to read most food labels, including cooking instructions. I even bought a bag of French fries only to discover after baking them in the oven that they were actually beans!

· Hot dogs in a can

· Powdered milk – Lauren didn’t fuss about it at all, but the other girls still won’t drink it at all.

· Constant use of ice cubes…drinks don’t stay cold for long!

House

· Power outages frequently (where we are living now there’s a generator so they typically only last 10 seconds). This is so normal for the girls that they made a game to go with it…whenever the power goes out they stop whatever they’re doing and pretend to be sleeping (fake snoring and all) until the lights come back on

· Brushing our teeth with filtered water (can’t use the tap water to rinse, however, Jody forgets sometimes, he’s going to get sick).

· Cockroaches, do I need to say any more?

Out and About

· Lizards running everyone around our house – sidewalk, trees, up the side of the building. The girls love seeing them and they’re really no problem, except for the one that got into our house. There are a few different kinds we see and even tiny baby lizards can be seen everywhere.

· Sand everywhere…this is the desert after all

· Getting used to the metric system…I should have paid more attention in 5th grade!

· Not being able to communicate with anyone…hopefully this won’t be normal for too much longer, but it is for now.

Church

· Never sitting together as a family again. Guys sit on one side and women on the other

· Hearing roosters crow during service

There’s nothing like living in Africa! What an adventure!!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Language Learning

Well we have been in Niger for almost 4 weeks now. We appreciate the prayers many of you have sent out for us. We can use all the prayers we can get. We have been in language class for the last 3 weeks. The language we are learning is called Zarma. Out of all the languages here, Zarma is the easiest to learn. We are very grateful for that. Each week Monday through Thursday from 1:00 to 4:00 we are in language class with a teacher. I (Jody) spend my mornings trying to go out and talk with people using the things I have learned from the day before. This proves very interesting, but always very fun. The people I approach usually love trying to talk to me and I appreciate the chance to practice. For the past two Saturdays, Sarah, I and the girls drove out to our village (Boubon) to walk around, explore, and talk to people. We wanted more chances to try to use the Zarma language. We spoke to several people near our house and it seemed to go very well. My ususal approach is to approach someone and greet them, by saying “Mate Ni Go?” (matay knee go). This means “how are you?” I then try to greet them with many other little greetings which seem customary. I finally have a bunch of questions and statements I have either memorized or written down which I attempt to use. Sometimes it goes well, other times they look at me with this puzzled expression on their face. Please pray for us as we continue to study the language. We spend a majority of our time studying the language. This is our main job at the moment and we pray we know enough Zarma to move into our village by November 1st.

As some of you may know, Jordan had a run in with a ceiling fan this past week. She was up on the top bunk of her bunk bed and the ceiling fan whacked her in the head. The result was a little gory, so if you do not like blood you may want to skip down a few sentences J. The fans here are like weapons - 3 pieces of metal flinging themselves around in the area. When Jordan was struck it opened up a gash in her head about an inch long and pretty gaping. It was also really deep and pretty wide. We were in language class when it occurred and the girls were with the babysitter. The babysitter came and got us and we took her immediately to the medical center, where Jordan received 3 stitches in her forehead above her right eye. This is pretty much the first major accident we have had with our girls in 5 years of having kids. In looking at these fans, we are grateful to God that the result was only 3 little stitches. A little lower and Jordan could have easily lost an eye. Our God is good and is always watching over us. We are grateful for His provision and protection.

Please continue to pray for us and the people of Boubon - that God would ready their hearts for the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am including at the end of this blog some pictures of our village.

The white domed roofs in the distance of this picture is our house in Boubon. We move their around November 1st.

If you were to walk out of the gate of our compound. This is the first thing you would see. The sticks in the ground are where they bring the cows for market day on Wednesday. Yes, the cows are right out our front gate every Wednesday.

This is a picture of the market in Boubon on Wednesday (Alarba).

Friday, July 15, 2011

WE MADE IT!!


Well, we landed in Niger. Let me (Jody) give you a brief overview of our 24 hours of traveling to arrive at our destination. It all started the night before we boarded our first plane in Erie, PA. Between packing, anxiety, and children who got up in the middle of the night, we got about 2 ½ hours of sleep. This was not a promising start. We were hoping to bring just a couple of carry-on bags because we had to get 3 children successfully through airports, but instead we found it necessary in order to get all our stuff here to bring many carry-ons. This made it difficult to board and exit planes and go through security at several different airports.

Finally, one of our children (maybe two, it’s all really a big blur) got a fever halfway through the flights, which made sleep difficult on a plane (which is already hard enough). This sickness led to crying and even at one point vomiting. While trying to catch our last plane in Paris, Jordan, who was exhausted and looked dead as we dragged her through the airport started crying and telling us she did not want to get on another plane. Although, at this point I did not want to board another plane either, we put the kids on against their will and made our last flight to Niamey, Niger. 4 flights, 3 children, 2 exhausted parents later, we were on the ground in Africa getting ready to adjust to our new surroundings. Eleven out of our 14 checked bags arrived and the other 3 arrived on Sunday night and for that we are grateful and thankful to our God.

(The girls enjoying a movie on the plane)

It has taken a few days to get caught up on sleep and we are still adjusting to the elements and different challenges Africa brings, but all seems well.

Now for the “funny things kids say on planes” section I promised.

1) Jordan, while we were sitting on the runway, says, “Is this the speed way?” in which I replied, “Yes, this is the speed way.”

2) While coming into New York, we had a view of the ocean. When I told Camryn we could see the ocean she responded with, “Is this the deep end?”


Sunday, June 12, 2011

So, what will you guys be doing in Niger?

This has been a common question posed to us recently, so I will attempt to answer it in this blog. Our primary goal and desire is to follow God’s call in our lives. We believe He has called us to Niger specifically and we desire to obey this calling on our lives. Just how that will actually flesh out in all reality is unknown to us. However, we will fill you in on what our plans are and as we continue on this journey God will be the one who directs our paths.

We are going to Niger as church planters. After a few months of culture and language learning in the capital city of Niamey, we will move out into the village of Boubon to minister among the Songhai (SONG-high) people. There are two to three million Songhai people who live mainly along the Niger River from Timbuktu, Mali to Niamey, Niger and also into Burkina Faso. The Songhai people are 99.5% Muslim, however they mix in animistic beliefs such as spirits controlling their lives, charms, family secrets, and sorcery. They live in great darkness, oppression, fear, and hopelessness.

In Boubon, there are no churches and only 1 known believer. There has been abundant gospel sowing over the past few years, but our family will be the first permanent residents/Christian witnesses in this village. As we develop relationships with the people we will be sharing the gospel with the goal to plant a church that will multiply into other churches throughout this village and other villages of Songhai people.

The village of Boubon (approximately 10,000 people) is an important market village and every Wednesday many people from surrounding villages come to market. The market actually takes place directly outside of the compound where we’ll be living. This means Wednesdays will be very loud and wild, but also full of many opportunities to meet new people.

Boubon is known for two things – hippos and pottery. It is located on the Niger River, so the hippos are close by. I’ve been told they stay in/near the water during the day but come up away from the river in the evenings…better keep our gates locked! I don’t know much yet about their pottery, but as I was reading in the Bradt Travel Guide of Niger, it mentioned a Swiss woman who moved to Boubon in the early 1990s who worked as a potter and developed new methods of the art that fit in well with the existing ones. The reason I tell you that is because she actually moved out of Boubon about a year ago and as an answer to prayer, we will be living in her house! We will have running water and electricity (though not constant) in this home.

Of course there will be much more to share once we are there and experiencing things, but I just wanted to give you a quick overview. Please be in prayer for the Songhai people, specifically those in Boubon. Pray for God to prepare their hearts to hear the gospel message. Pray also for Emily and Erin who are living in Boubon this summer and sharing the gospel mainly with women and children.

If you have any specific questions that I didn’t answer, I’d be glad to try to answer them!! Just post a comment…