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

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Jordan and Sakena


Written by: Sarah

Although I have never moved as a child, I've heard how difficult in can be on children. It's difficult to leave what they are familiar and comfortable with and it's difficult to say goodbye to old friends and make new ones.  Almost three years ago our children made a BIG move.  They left their home, their country, their extended family, and their culture.  We were informed of culture shock and such difficulties that go along with moving to a completely new environment - struggles that both we and our children would face.  We also heard that young children adapt quickly and adjust easily.  Both bits of advice, though somewhat contradictory, have proven true in our family.  We've found it depends on the child (both personality and age) as well as our (the parents) reactions to life.  If we love our new culture, stay positive and relaxed; then the children will do the same.  They take their cues from their parents.  Of course, that is a general statement and there are many other factors that play a part in how a child adjusts to a move, but we have found that to be fairly accurate for us.

Anyways, my main point of this blog is to talk about our daughter Jordan.  She was just a few weeks shy of 4 when we came to Niger.  She is a very sweet girl with a compassionate heart.  When I'm having a bad day she's the first to come and encourage me and tell me she's sorry I'm not having a good day.  However, in many ways she struggled here.  She was fine at home and playing with her sisters, but when it came to interacting with Nigeriens she didn't want to have anything to do with it.  She did not want to learn the language, Zarma.  Her older sister, Camryn, started picking up the language and trying to use it, but Jordan fought against that.  A few times we would only allow Zarma to be spoken at the dinner table.  This was meant to be fun...but Jordan only got frustrated and did not want to participate.  She even told us at one point that she hated black people.  Wow, that was tough to hear.  We came here to share the love of Christ with people in Niger and our compassionate daughter says she hates them.  Then the waves of self-doubt came flooding in.  What have we done?  Our compassionate child now hates people?  Should we even be here?  Are we ruining our child's life? And so on and so forth.  However, with some further probing we figured out the real truth. She didn't acually hate Africans.  She loved Biba, Cephas, and Odette who are Africans who can speak English.  We realized it wasn't people with a different color of skin she hated, but people she couldn't communicate with.  And in all reality, she didn't hate the people, but she hated the language barrier that separated her from them.  If she could get through that, her loving and compassionate self would once again flourish.

Jordan and Sakena
Getting through that language barrier is not a quick fix.  Kala suuru (be patient). In fact, for most of this term we've been asking people to pray for our girls to learn the language and be able to make friends.  Since we live out in the village, it's essential that they learn the local language  - there are no English speaking children where we are at- if they want to have friends. Jordan especially has struggled the most.  I want to say to those who've prayed, thank you so much!  God has heard and God has answered.  Over the past few months I've seen Jordan make small strides, but this past month I have noticed her growth even more.  When kids from the village used to come and play, Jordan would usually go inside and play by herself, but now she is out there interacting with the kids and playing with them.  When they leave, she always asks them to come back the next day.  She is seeking out kids to play with.  They play tag, hide and seek, or color together.  Also, she has been making good strides in her language.  She asks me how to say things in Zarma and she even goes around our house speaking Zarma, which she hasn't done before.  I'm so grateful for her growth and happy to see her enjoy more parts of life.  And to top it off...last Sunday as we left our gate to 'hike' to church she said to me, "I love Africa.  When I grow up I want to live here in Boubon."  I asked her what she likes about Africa and she said she likes to play with kids and she likes that people are so nice.  So there you have it, from 'hate' to 'love'...but definitely not overnight.  Thank you again for praying for all our girls and I praise God for helping Jordan and for giving us patience with her.  Here are some pictures of her playing with one of her friends, a sweet girl named Sakena.
Coloring together


They hung their masterpiece up on our gate