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

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Adjusting to Village Life (Part 3)

Frustration of village life:
(written by Jody)

It’s without question that we are the richest people in the village. Which is interesting because I have never ever been rich, by the standards of what I consider rich to be. But the fact is, I am rich, very rich and sometimes just plain stupid rich. This is without a doubt very obvious to the people, considering I drive a vehicle. Hmmm, a vehicle, something that most Americans are expected to have by the time they are 16 or at least by the end of college just to get to work or school or a friend’s house. Most people we live around will never own a vehicle and possibly never have a job. And it’s not because they are all lazy, but it’s because there aren’t any. The fact is there just are no jobs for them, so they rely on farming to produce food to eat. So when the rains come late and the crop is bad, trouble and fear loom in the distance for the people of Niger.

In America we eat to satisfy the desires of our taste buds, we return food that is not up to par with our standards, we pick restaurants based on our likes and desires, not that these are all wrong, by any means. But the people in a village eat simply to put food in their stomach.

The people can be so poor that common medicine like eye drops cannot be afforded. And preventable sicknesses take the lives of people, especially young children, at sometimes an alarming rate. Death is also so frequent that when a mother tells us she has lost 4 or 5 children, not a tear is shed, because, well death is a way of life here.

All this is to say that I am rich. I sit in my house with air condition in the hot season (not to mention electricity and running water), eat 3 meals a day that I think taste good, receive a pay check each month, and drive a pretty nice vehicle. Also, I know that when my children get sick I can find and even afford treatment for them. So yes, I am rich. Which brings me to the frustration.

Begging. I don’t know if I have spent one day in Niger where somebody did not ask me for something. In fact it takes a whole 30 seconds on a good day when I walk outside my compound to hear the word “cado,” which means gift in French. Sometimes I think my name is “Cado” because I hear it so much. From food, to money, to the shirt off my back people are asking me for anything and everything. I find that sometimes my patience grows thin and I can feel the frustration building inside me. So I purposely carry no money on me so I can honestly say, “I have no money to give you.” But then some people make me empty my pockets to prove nothing is currently on me. Begging is frustrating.

But then I start thinking…what would I do in their situation? I’m hungry, I don’t know when I will eat again, my family and kids are hungry. The crops are running out or gone and the rainy season is still months away. Maybe I’m sick or my child is sick and I have no money to address the need. Honestly, if I put myself in their situation I would probably beg too.

And the answer is not that easy. You cannot just give to everybody who asks you. First off your resources are limited to some degree, and even if you gave everything you had away, and I mean everything, you would not even make a dent in the problem. People would still be hungry and needs would still go unmet. So you press on giving where God urges you to give and sharing the gospel. For what good will a full stomach be when your eternal destination hangs in the balances.

I write this not to make you give me money, but to just share with you the frustrations we often have. Maybe, however, the frustration does not lie with people begging me for things, but maybe the frustration is instead my own inward battle. When should I give and when should I not give? Should I sit and eat 3 meals till my belly is full when kids are hungry around me? Should I sleep so soundly in my soft comfortable bed mosquito free mostly, while others sleep on the dirty ground? The battle wages on in my head and in my life and to be honest I’m glad it does. I am fearful of ever getting to a place where these things do not bother me.

By God’s grace may the frustrations continue for the glory of Christ.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Update on Ishmael...

Written by: Sarah

Last week I told you about Ishmael and asked if you could pray for him. We thank you for your prayers! He is still very sick, but he has improved. Praise the Lord!

If you remember, the mother said she would bring her husband and Ishmael over to our house so we could pray for him. Well, they didn't come, so later we went to check on them and they weren't home but a boy told us the baby and his mother were at Jamila's house, who is one of my friends. So we went there and she was close by. We asked to see Ishmael and noticed that along with his malnourishment he had some lumps on his neck. We asked if we could pray for him and his mother said yes. It was good because many of my friends were there and they were able to see that Christians do pray. Since we don't pray during the call to prayer out where everyone can see, sometimes people don't realize that Christians pray. Not to mention we understand what we are saying and have a real relationship with God. We can talk to God as our friend and Father. The Muslims pray in Arabic and most have no idea what they are even saying. So we were thankful for this opportunity.

On Monday Jody took Ishmael and his mother to the clinic in Boubon and basically they said he was malnourished. They gave him some food supplement packages and said he should come back at the end of the week to check his weight again. So Jody went back with them on Friday and his weight was up a little bit and his mother said he hasn't been throwing up any more. So thank you so much for your prayers! We are still not sure about the lumps on his neck. The 'doctor' in Boubon said he would have to go to Niamey to have them removed, yet didn't seem overly concerned. So we don't know how big of an issue this is. Are they just an outcome of his malnutrition? Or are they there because there is actually a greater sickness? We are just not sure where to go from here. So please pray for wisdom and continue to pray for Ishmael's health and our continued relationship with his family. Thanks!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

March Prayer Calendar

Sarah and I have created a prayer calendar for the month of March. This way you can know how to pray for us each day of the month. Please feel free to download this and set this as your desk top on your computer or print it off and distribute it to small groups or Sunday School classes. If you cannot download this and would like us to send you an e-mail version please e-mail us and we would be happy to do so. Thanks for your prayers.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Pray for Ishmael

Written by: Sarah

Today I met a woman and her baby. She asked me to help her baby because he was sick. His name is Ishmael and he is 14 months old. He’s been sick about 1 month and he doesn’t have the energy to walk. She told me he has diarrhea and throws up a lot. I don’t have much experience with this kind of thing, but he looked pretty bad to me. She’s tried all the ‘local’ treatments and did start him 2 days ago on some type of medicine. I told her that I didn’t have medicine to give him, but that I would pray for him. I told her I was a Christian and would ask God to heal Ishmael. She did not want me to pray right then, but said she and her husband would come over tomorrow afternoon so that we can pray for them.

So I ask you all to join me in prayer for this family. Pray for Ishmael to get better and pray that we may be able to share the gospel with his family. Pray that they may hear the Word and turn to Christ.