A Full Life – Contentment

Wow, it’s crazy to think that we have been here for a month already. We have noticed a shift in the weather, the days are not as intensely hot and the nights cool off to the high 20’s. It’s amazing how cool that feels after a day in the high 30’s. I am a little nervous about how -30 will feel back in Canada.

With only two days until we head off on our family holiday, there is much to tackle. With no working washing machine at home I have been hauling our clothes in a suitcase to campus everyday to wash laundry here. It has worked out quite well, most days. The past few days, Stacy has been working diligently on the schools water system so there hasn’t been water on campus. I am hoping for his sake and mine, that they are able to get it working again before we leave. I don’t really want to haul along sweaty dirty clothes for a week, our luggage will be the easiest to find on the luggage conveyer, you’ll be able to smell it before it comes around the corner!

Last night the school had a Christmas Fair. It was a lot of fun to attend that. There were lot’s of fun games and food.

This past week I had the privilege of helping out in the kitchen. The Senior class is doing a dinner theatre this coming weekend and I was able to pitch in and help make a bunch of lasagnas. I have been reminded since being back here that serving is very satisfying. Doing something that is a blessing and a help to someone else is a great energy booster.

This past week the girls also were able to get braids and hair extensions in their hair. Really hoping they last until we get back to Canada. They look so cute with their hair done up in braids. I love it.

Our last few days are also filled with a little more adventure as we no longer have a vehicle. The one that we were driving no longer has brakes. It was real exciting (I’m not sure thats the correct word to use) as we drove home and Stacy was using the emergency brake to bring us to a stop. It was a little crazy amongst all the taxi’s, and donkey carts. We all really miss our truck and look forward to getting home to a much more comfortable and reliable ride again!

It’s been an incredible time. We have had the opportunity to visit with so many friends and complete a lot of projects. What a blessing to be able to travel to the other side of the world and have friends here. This past week I have found myself sitting down and working on a list of things that we have to be thankful for. Truly as I sit and look at it, it’s an amazing list and God has definitely met me. I realized how I’ve lost that perspective over the past few months and it’s time to get back on track. It’s time to be thankful. It’s time to look for God. It’s time to embrace all His given to us. It’s time to stop looking at myself and the things I haven’t been happy with. It’s time for an attitude adjustment. I am so glad that God’s still working on me! It’s been fantastic to be back, but I am ready to return to the adventure that God has for us in Canada. Returning to Niamey has been a great healing for me and I am thrilled that our family is able to come and serve, we all look forward to returning next year for more of the same. For now, I feel a little more ready to embrace our life in Canada – snow, cold and all!

One last thought, today is the first day of advent and I have the privilege of being in Africa. An environment similar to what that first night might have been like. In Africa, Christmas is just another day. It’s not celebrated. It’s not commercialized. It’s dusty and dirty. It has a funny smell. There are animals everyone. Life is a lot of work and one can easily find themselves exhausted. I think of that stable and I am humbled. I think of the conditions and I am convicted for my bad attitude for my ungrateful attitude of late. Whether I have been given much or a little, I should be full of praise and thanksgiving. My sins have been forgiven, I have been given grace and mercy and I am loved by the King of the universe. This Christmas, no matter where I am I feel I have a better understand of  Phillippians 4:12  and I hope I can let the truth and application of it settle deep into my heart. My first candle of the Christmas advent this year is Contentment! Phillippians 4:12 “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”


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Why We Came

Psalm 91:1 – He who dwells in the shadow of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

Jeremiah 6:16 – This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.

Matthew 11:28 – “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

These verses were a big part of what we were planning for the staff at the school this past week. Thursday and Friday were days of rest and renewal for the staff and leadership of the school. It is hard to create in this area where it is so hot, dirty and demands of everyday life are numerous. Just getting out of bed in the morning is exhausting.

The staff here are amazing. They have made huge sacrifices to come and be a part of something that is so much bigger than themselves. They give and it hurts. They are exhausted and weary. They love their students and pour into them academically, spiritually and emotionally. They face long hot days and then head home to deal with the demands of keeping a home, and speaking in a foreign language. They struggle with hurt, loneliness, anger and many other emotions. They are just like you and me, human, sinful and trying to follow the leading of Christ. Sometimes questioning and wondering why.

Guest speakers arrived last week. They came to bring words of encouragement, challenge and personal guidance for the staff. While they were busily investing in the staff, Stacy and I were preparing the meals and snacks in the kitchen. The staff came each morning and shared breakfast together before heading off to their days of renewal. It was a very satisfying time for all.

We really felt God asking us to come back and help care for the staff and leaders at Sahel. We wondered how it would happen and what it would look like. We wondered if it would meet needs or just be another thing on a long to do list. In fact, I believe God meet each of us and we all hope to see this happen again next year. God is good and in fact, these past few days have been very rewarding and fulfilling. It’s an honour to serve and I am so glad that we listened to the prompting that we felt from the Lord.

Stacy continues to serve now as he walks around campus fixing and replacing many things. He is in the heat, full of sweat trudging away, each step and each action a continued blessing.

Although the retreat is over, there continues to be much work for Stacy to do; we likely will not be here for enough days.

On a completely different note, life here in Africa continues to entertain us and I marvel at the ridiculous things we are able to endure because it is Africa. Oh that we could live with this same perspective in Canada.

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Here We Go Again!

Well, last Tuesday morning we were sitting at home twiddling our thumbs waiting for the FedEx man to arrive. He finally came at 1:30 pm with the girls VISAs in hand. We were out the door in a flash!

Our trip to Calgary was beautiful with sections of snow covered mountains and prairies with a full rainbow. What  a gift from God.

The next morning we were up bright and early as we were heading to the airport. The first leg of the trip was an easy one, but as the day wore on, it seemed it would never end. It was a particularly long trip as 7 hours were added on last minute because of having to reroute the trip. We did eventually make it, 33 hours later, with 8 of our 9 pieces of luggage. It was good to be back.

We stepped off the plane and all smiled as we felt the warm air. It was 11 pm and 30 degrees. We collected our luggage and stepped out of the airport to a warm welcome from our dear friends. It was so good to be reunited. The trip to our house in the van was a noisy one…. I think  all 8 of us were talking at once, it was comical.

We arrived back at our house, but Chaco was not there. It seemed strange. The good thing is he is waiting for us in Calgary. When we return we get to take him to our home in Fernie :). Anyway, although the house was a little bit empty in comparison to when we lived there it still felt like home. Now it was time for bed.

Friday was an exciting day as we headed to the school. The smiles, hugs and squeals of delight seemed unending. Man did that fill us up. Seeing my sweet students from the past two years and receiving all their hugs meant so much to me. Seeing friends that we have missed so much in the past few months. It was such a great reunion.

In the afternoon, Stacy pulled out his African driving skills again and we headed out to get some groceries. It was a huge success. We forgot though how much longer things take here and what chaos the driving is.

As we start off this week, it is a busy one. We are feeling the heat and the sweat begins to pour once again. While in the kitchen I wipe my upper lip from the droplets that continue to form. While sitting down to do some work, I feel the sweat run down my spine. Something very satisfying about that…. I am not shivering!

So our week is full. Stacy is busily repairing locks, replacing toilets and light bulbs, and working through his “Honey Do List”. I have been shopping and organizing details for the retreat and will begin preparing food in the next day or so. The girls have gone off to classes and are making the switch well, attend a class then work independent, attend a class, then work independent. They have loved the reunion with friends too. It is so good to see everyone laughing and smiling.

It all sounds so sweet, and truly, most of it is, however, we are still on adrenaline. One cannot possibly stay feeling this way. If it wasn’t for the adrenaline, we would likely be annoyed by all the little african inconveniences like: the fridge that speaks to us all night long with its high pitched squeal, the burnt out light bulbs, the quirky vehicle that we are driving (it has no power steering, but once did and really only the drivers door works), the lack of a properly functioning washing machine (we cart our dirty laundry with us to campus each day)… and we remember why so much here is exhausting. Yet, so much of it is satisfying and we wonder why our “simplified” life in North America although easier, seems dull and at times unsatisfying. Why can I feel okay with the inconveniences of life here but not in North America? I am perplexed by this world and it’s extremes. I am challenged and continue to wrestle through it all, hoping one day for a greater understanding, but content to know that God is still in control. He is still working on me no matter where I live.

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