Sunday, January 12, 2014


 And yet, another excursion took us out to the dunes, just outside of town. We drive about 10 kilometers or so and find ourselves with the challenge to see who can drive up the dunes the farthest. So, far, I can only get up to a certain place where my car just can't make it up the hill. For those of you who have never driven on sand, just pretend you are on snow, a thick layer of snow that is not packed down. Lots of fun, if you can handle the sliding around. Of course, at the dunes, there isn't a whole lot to hit, so we just have fun.
 These are some views on top of the dunes looking towards the sunset with Jayson and Joel. We do have such a huge sandbox here. Do you know that the entire continental United States can easily fit inside the Sahara Desert?? It is HUGE!
 See our shadows? Can you tell who it is on top of the dune?? Jayson and his friend Joel decided to try sledding down this dune. You should have seen them. I will try to upload a video so you can watch it. I am not sure it will do it. Back home, at least in Indiana, you guys were being pelted with about 15 inches of snow and some super cold weather. This is the reason why my kids wanted to go sledding. Where do you go in Niger? To the dunes!

Giraffes with Brenda!

 Another one of our excursions was to go see giraffes that live about an hours' drive outside of Niamey. This year, we had a friend of ours from ICA. Brenda Allen was able to come spend about 2 weeks with our family during Christmas and so of course, we had to take her to see Giraffes. They are such nice animals. You can walk up to them and they will just walk away. They don't get too miffed at us being there. This year, however, they had migrated away from Niamey a bit and we had to search for awhile to find them. It is amazing that our guide has such good eyes. He was on top of the car looking while I was driving around and all of a sudden he banged on the car, got down and told me to drive through some millet fields. We drove for about 2 kilometers or more and there they were. I had no idea how he saw them so far away! They always make for some good pics though.

Vacation at Parc W, 2013

Right after Christmas, we had an opportunity to load up the car and head on down to Parc W where we basically sit around, read, talk, play games, chat some more and oh yeah, go look for animals. It is funny to find that when new people come out and they have been someplace like Kenya or South Africa, they become so disappointed at the lack of lion sightings. But, this year, the water buffalo and horse antelopes and other deer like creatures were out in abundance! We did see a herd of Elephants the first night, but I don't have pictures. We watched them through some trees and when we pulled up to where we could get some pics, the male stomped his foot, flapped his ears and then turned around and walked away. They didn't even charge at the car! 

 But, it was nice to get away from Niamey for a few days and be able to relax with others, sitting around a campfire, freezing at night, yes, I said freezing. I think it got down to around 14 degrees C. When you sit on top of the car early morning in hopes to catch sight of lions, it gets pretty chilly up there. I don't know if you can see the bird below. It was a rather pretty bird which are plentiful in this park.
 As I said the water buffalo were out in huge herds. Whenever we found a smaller one by itself, we would watch, and wait, not because the buffalo did anything funny, but because he was potentially the next dinner for a few lions. But, that never happened.
 Around the park, the guides have made these "salt licks" for the animals to come enjoy. Here you can see a horse antelope on his knees partaking of the salty solution. If lions were in the area, I don't think he would be on his knees...just saying. All in all, a very enjoyable time. The kids got to go hiking quite a bit and Jayson even found out what happens when you step on a thorn! ouch. It went into his foot and I think he thought he was going to die. But, he survived.

Christmas in Niger, 2013

Christmas often brings up all kinds of feelings, thoughts, and discussions of people back in North America. While we do not have to worry about even dreaming of a white Christmas, we find ourselves missing that part of Christmas, even though it is more of a North American thing to have a white Christmas. I am not sure of too many places that have that. So, we celebrate Christmas like any other North American in Niger. We wake up, open a few presents and have a big dinner. Janice actually found a 6 pound turkey here that sold for like 30 dollars. We had chicken. After dinner, the kids play with their new toys, or go outside to play with all the neighbor kids. We actually held a surprise from Mikaylah as shown in the photo below. Her neighbor last year in Kokomo wanted to bless her with one of her American Girl dolls. We snuck it into our luggage without Mikaylah knowing and got it over here for Christmas. Thank you Brooklyn, you made her Christmas! 

Jayson needed some new shoes and Uncle Ron and Aunt Linda did not disappoint! He has actually learned how to tie his own shoes now and loves running around in his new sneakers!

You know the most important part of Christmas our here is the fact that our kids get a unique opportunity to share with people who have little to nothing. Below is a pic of Mikaylah holding grandson of one of our workers. Our kids when trying to tease them about santa clause are very quick to remind me why Christmas is such an important holiday. Of course, we still can celebrate no matter the temperature, no matter the weather, no matter if there is family around because Jesus came to be the supreme sacrifice for our sins on this glorious holiday. While we love to decorate and open presents, we do make time to remember this very important fact. This baby had such eyes for Mikaylah. It was so adorable.
and of course, we miss the time with all our families back home. It is during this time, that we become a bit homesick. Knowing all our families are gathering for dinners and other such occasions. We have such a huge community of missionary families out here and that really helps. I often refer to the real missionaries as those who are living in the bush and are on their own. We, here in Niamey always have someone to hang out with when needed. That is what I like most about Christmas break. Just hanging out with people around town, at Park W, or some other place in Niger. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

January, 2014

wow! I almost forgot to advance to 2014. So sorry to all of you. We have posted nothing since September because we could not get into our blog to post things. We apologize. I finally tried again and finally, in French, figured out our password to post things. I am 50 now and my wife keeps telling me she is married to an old man. So, now that we have figured things out, be looking for a new post in the coming days! Thank you all for your patience.

We have enjoyed a rather relaxing Christmas break. I will post pics later of our trip to Parc W where we saw all kinds of animals and basically relaxed. We have gone to see the dunes, and the giraffes with our friend Brenda who came all the way from Guinea to spend two weeks in Niamey for vacation! imagine that, Niamey, a vacation spot! That goes for all of you people in the states who are looking for vacation spots where there is a guarantee that you will not be having 15 inches of snow with subzero temperatures. The polar vortex?? will not be felt here! Days still in the 90's and nights cool in the 60's!

We have finally moved into our new addition to our apartment. It still is a bit disorganized as we wait for furniture to be built, but we are thankful for such a beautiful little addition and for the extra room so our kids can each spread out a bit after sharing a room all these years. They still get to bunk in together when there are people vacationing here....hint, hint.

Ok, we will post pics later...I am going to bed now. Thank you all so very much for praying for us while being here at Sahel Academy. Please do pray for all dorm kids returning Monday for the second semester. Most will be traveling by car and some by air. Please pray for safety and a good start to the second semester.