Sunday, January 25, 2015

Watching God Work

 A week ago, a Saturday, we were all going through our normal routines around town. The Seniors were on a campout outside of town and the rest of us were just hanging around campus, playing, reading, sleeping or whatever we were all doing. Around 11 am, we were notified that some things were going on in town. I thought, this is Niger, it will pass in 30 minutes. This time of year, the university students march around town in protest to the government. So naturally, I thought it was finished.
 Then, the first report of the oldest baptist church in town was burnt. I thought, oh, oh, this isn't normal. The protesters have often thrown rocks, burned tires, and caused some mayhem, but they have never burned buildings of the government and especially not churches. But, today was different. As we sat safe in our compound and the military police began to assemble all up and down our road, we heard church after church was either burned or looted. Around 55 churches in all plus several French owned bars, schools, were destroyed. Most of the contents were burned inside each church and school. Fortunately, few people were killed since they did this on a Saturday. However, at least 5 people (identified as terrorists, not Chr*st**ns) were trapped inside these churches throughout the city and were killed.
 The pictures you see on this post are pictures taken by myself or others in some different churches. Many have asked why did this happen? Well, I am not sure. Since we live in a predominantly M*sl*m country, and people criticize them, even from a continent away, they respond in kind. Yes, this was a bit extreme, but it happened. Since last Saturday things have been calm. But, there are still threats and rumors that target people like us and the Chr*st**ns living in this country.
 There have been several cool stories emerge from all this. First, our seniors coming home from a camping trip had one of their vehicles break down. If they were not delayed, they would have driven right into the "mob". Since they were delayed, they were able to get to another m*ss**n*ary's house and hunker down until it was safe to come back to campus. While they were waiting, they heard the looters come down their street to the church around the corner and heard the cries as they burned that church. Needless to say, they had a lot of time on their knees in prayer. Their faith became very real all of a sudden.
 Secondly, the believers here seemed to almost be rejoicing in this suffering because it has made their faith stronger, and more resolved to furthur the k*ngd*m. Thirdly, the church pictured below was not burned because of one lady who stood her ground and forbade them to burn it. They could not get the door opened so they bashed the wall around the door to get in. They wanted to burn the church and the house behind it, but this lady stood up at the door and said that they cannot burn it. If they wanted to pull everything out and burn it, but not inside the church. When they pressed on, she told them that they would have to kill her first. They backed down at that point and pulled everything outside and burned it. The church lost everything but the building. The pastor's home was also spared.
 Some of these pictures that are shown taken by a colleague here show a cross in the ashes and a piece of  the B*bl* that did not burn. Just a reminder that that we are protected by the ultimate protector and that the church can be burned, but not destroyed. I pray for Niger that people will come to know G*d through this suffering. Persecution became a very real thing here for all Chr*st**ns here. Many people are counting this a privelege to go through this. They are counting it as Paul did who counted suffering for Chr*st a good thing. I see it as privilege to watch G*d work the way only He can. We got a front row seat watching all this happen! I wish you all could have watched this, but since you can't, I hope these pictures will help you understand better.
 We are so thankful to the thousands of you all over the world who formed prayer chains and held special meetings just to pray for Niger. I know it was those prayers that gave us hope and G*d answered in mighty ways. G*d is good....all the time.

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.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Fighting floods, 2013

I find it kind of ironic that the last post we put on this blog was last April during some flooding in Kokomo. We are updating our blog still talking about a the desert! I am not sure other countries want us visiting because floods seem to follow us :) Two weeks ago, I never would have thought that the Niger River would rise enough to cause concern for us. It was rather low for this time of year. We were really enjoying the abundance of rain we were having during the month of August. It actually rained every day there for awhile, but normally every other day was good.
All of a sudden, the river was beginning to tickle the top of the dikes and we became a bit concerned. The school canceled classes last Friday just to be sure that we didn't have the entire school here in case the river decided to come up on land. As it turned out, we didn't need to do that, but it did give us a day to further prepare our campus in case it did happen again. Our whole dorm was out Thursday night reinforcing our new wall into the wee hours of Friday morning. Then back at it again on Friday building berms around the outside of campus, on the dike and anyplace where water would be likely to go. I walked along the dike when it was close to coming over the top and just had a little time with God...more like a begging session pleading that the river would go down. It had been coming up at 2 cm per hour and  things looked grim. As we took turns throughout the night checking for breaches and taking readings on the water level, I went out one hour later only to find that river had indeed dropped by one centimeter. That was certainly going the right direction.
The river continued to descend throughout the next day much to our amazement. Although I have no idea why we were amazed because we know it was only through the power of God that brought this river down.
However, a part of the city still was flooded due to a dike not holding about a half a click north of campus. Much of that water was flowing across the road to the new bridge and then turned back up our road, so we now have water sitting on our outside wall. It isn't deep, but it could cause damage to the wall's foundation being waterlogged like that. As a result, we decided that that wall needed some help. We now have poles supporting that wall as well as dirt on the inside and outside of the wall to try to soak up some of the water. It has been a ton of work. The old wall was only letting water seep in thereby soaking the ground.
You can see how high the water was on the dike. Very very close to coming over. 
I will now post some pics of the kids working and one where you can see where the water was and where is is tonight. Please do pray that it continues to go down. While we love the rain, every storm that blows through even north of us causes some tension in wondering what it will cause the river to do.
This is a house just down the street with only a few inches of water in it. I witnessed it just collapsing Saturday. So sad to watch. The people got out the night before all the water entered. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

With the sun in Mikaylah's eyes, our two kids stand in front of a very swollen Wildcat Creek which left so many houses so full of water. The house I helped clean out yesterday had the high water mark up to my neck. The refrigerators were on their sides because they just floated up and were set back down where the water chose. There are piles of things all around town that was just destroyed by all this water. We are due for another round of rain tonight, so please pray that the houses stay dry. The creek now is down again, but will rise again!

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Ready to send!

Tim has been working diligently to perfectly pack our boxes heading to the container in Florida which eventually (God willing) will be shipped to Niger.  There has been a snag recently in the way we ship, as new agents in Niger are now in the customs department and have relinquished the exoneration status of many Non Government Organizations.  Not only that, they are also requiring detailed lists with receipts in French of every single item being shipped before the container leaves the United States. There is still a container that was packed last summer with supplies for the flood relief that has not yet been released from American soil.  Please pray that the new customs agents will recognize that our efforts are to help their people and to look favorably on the containers we send to Niger.  "And my God shall supply (fulfill, make complete) all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19.  Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20)

Monday, March 04, 2013

He is Sovereign over us

Lately I have been finding a lot to identify with in music.  so much so I am brought to tears.  This song, by Aaron Keyes is a beautiful testimony to God's sovereignty over us, that brings hope in the darkness...

Even in the dark night of the soul
we remember that Our God
has plans to prosper us
and not to harm us.
Not only that, He actively works all things
-- even the schemes of the enemy--
for our good and for His Glory.

Sovereign over us    by Aaron Keyes

There is strength within the sorrow;                                     (2 Corinthians 1:3-7)
There is beauty in our tears;
And You meet us in our mourning;                                      (Revelation 21:4)
With a love that casts out fear                                                  (1 John 4:18)

You are working in our waiting                                                   (Lamentations 3:25, 26)
You are sanctifying us                                                            (1 Peter 1:2)
 When beyond our understanding;
You're teaching us to trust                                                            (Proverbs 3:5)

Your plans are still to prosper                                                (Jeremiah 29:11)
You've not forgotten us                                                            (Hebrews 13:5 )
You're with us in the fire and the flood;                                     (Exodus 33:14 )
You’re faithful forever perfect in love;                                     (1 John 1:9)
You are sovereign over us;                                                             (Luke 1:33 )

You are wisdom unimagined                       
Who could understand Your ways?                                     (Romans 11:33 )
Reigning high above the heavens                                                  (Matthew 28:18)
Reaching down in endless grace                                                 (Ephesians 2:8-9)

You're the lifter of the lowly ;                                                James 4:6
Compassionate and kind;                                                             Matthew 18:21
You surround and You uphold me;                                                John 7:38
And Your promises are my delight;                                     Acts 3:19
Chorus 2x
Even what the enemy means for evil;                                    2 Corinthians 11:14
You turn it for our good, You turn it for our good ;            Genesis 50:20
And for Your glory;                                                                         John 12:41
Even in the valley You are faithful ;                                     John 18:1-5
You're working for our good ; 
You're working for our good;                                                 John 5:16-17
And for Your glory;                                                                        Romans 8:28
You are faithful forever, perfect in love;                                     1 John 1:9
You are sovereign over us;                                                             Luke 1:33