Sunday, December 27, 2009

Office Christmas Party

This year we tried something different for our office Christmas party and had a family party. Bonnie did a great job of organizing everything; we had a variety of African and Western style dishes to eat and lots of fun games. Here is Kay and her classmate competing in the three legged race. They did a good job! Here our guest house hostess is helping some of the littlest ones figure out the three legged race. In addition to the three legged race, there was an obstacle course, a water balloon toss, and a blindfolded pudding-feeding contest among other things. I still hope to download the pudding pictures, there was some classic messes there! Stay tuned... Everyone was engaged in cheering the competitors on. Although the kids did the majority of the competing, we got some of us "big kids" involved too. Here we have our acting director and construction supervisor in the wheelbarrow race. They barely won as our computer intern and a family visitor were right on their heels! Some of the ladies even participated in the water balloon toss! It was fun to interact as families with those we work with every day. Unfortunately two of our employees were sick and couldn't come, another had a wedding he had to attend, and Ian was on a flight and couldn't come either. Despite the missing faces, we had fun enjoying eachother.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Family Picture

Not planned for or dressed for, but we did finally spontaneously have someone take a picture of the entire family together. I am definitely becoming a picture-taking slacker!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

St. Lucia's Day

Kay spent the last two weeks of school learning about Christmas around the world. The great part about where we live is that we have a wealth of resource people from different countries. They talked about many different countries: Holland, France (with an accompanying bouche de noel), Mexico (with Mexican hot chocolate), England, Italy...

One of Kay's classmates is from Norway. Her mother came and explained St. Lucia's Day to the kids. I had to take a picture of this as every year my Swedish Dad tried to convince me to wear a wreath of candles in my hair and bring him St. Lucia's Day buns in bed. He was never successful. Too bad you are not closer Dad, maybe the genes skipped a generation! Here is Kay in her finery. She isn't the oldest daughter, and we didn't have a white dress, so a white tshirt had to suffice, but she enjoyed the celebration all the same!


We had to take pictures of this event to make my dad proud! You may have had pig experience Dad, but now, we have tried our hand at a cow... :)

Every December those of us living in Niamey are implicated in the preparation for SIM's spiritual life conference. It is a special time for our mission community to come together and worship, hear spiritual imput, fellowship together, laugh, cry, eat, and play together. We take advantage of the cooler weather and of school break to meet right after the new year. This means the weeks before Christmas are full of planning and preperations... moving furniture, cleaning houses, and this year, in an attempt to reduce our budget despite the soaring food prices, butchering!

This was a community effort for sure! Monday, one of our coworkers who lives about 45 minutes outside Niamey arranged for a cow from the market out there to be butchered for the price of the head, the skin and the hooves. He then brought the quarters in to town in the back of his truck. We were waiting in the Sahel dining hall kitchen with lots of dubious knives, several interested people, and very little experience! Here is Ian holding a piece as it is being weighed.Thankfully, a collegue from another mission was a butcher before coming to Niger. He was an emense help in guiding the rest of us amatuers. He could make that knife fly! That is speedy Roberto on the left.After the basic cutting the meat from the bones, we moved into meal preperation: bones went into enormous pots to make broth, meat was separated into quality for cubing (20 ki worth) and meat for grinding, and fat was trimmed and given to very happy canines. We attempted to do the actual grinding ourselves, but we didn't have a grinder that was sharp enough, so we had to give up on that. We did however, clean and cube 20 kilos of meat for conference sauce. We had a fun time together: lots of jokes and learning about animal anatomy! Here is Cindy finding the trechea... Ian very gleefully claimed the liver which he cooked quite expertly for our family last night. Much to my surprise, Tom and Kay both really enjoyed the liver and onions. Tom took four helpings! Unfortunatly, our total meal take was not quite enough for the meals we will share together at conference, so now we are looking into cow #2...

Piano Recital

Our girls have been taking piano lessons this fall from one of the ladies in our community. Just before Christmas break, there was a small recital after school where students taking instrument lessons were able to perform. The variety was lots of fun, ranging from violin and piano to clarinet and flute. The girls each played several Christmas carols they had been working on. In fact, the majority of the students played carols which made the occasion a very festive end to the semester of lessons. Heidi has performed in recitals several times before and was very confident. Kay, however, was nervous! Thankfully, she did fine. Once the first song was successfully behind her, her tummy ache diminished and she enjoyed the rest of her performance as is evidenced by the big smile in this last picture below. If that doesn't say success, what does!? Afterward the girls enjoyed yummy Christmas goodies and the even sweeter taste of practice that had paid off! :) We appreciate the many people in our community that graciously share their talents with our kids enabling them to grow in different areas and have new experiences.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I'll be there!

One thing we have continued to learn more and more in this culture is the importance of "being there." Back in the US, if you are invited to a special occasion, but you have to work, or your kids are small and ornery, or you have a really busy weekend, or you just don't feel like going to your neighbor's kid's piano recital, you can give a polite excuse and no one thinks anything of it. Here an event is AN EVENT with new clothes and lots of food, and to show you care, you must show your face, early though it be, tired as you are- being there for even a very short length of time is really important. I've thought about this in the context of Christmas. Isn't that what Jesus did for us? He came and dwelt among us, a physical presence testifying to God's love for us. We are slowly learning that our physical presence testifies our love for a person, and hopefully God's love as well.

This last month and a half we have had the opportunity to attend two different baby dedications. They were very different! The first was for our house worker. Salamatou has worked for us since our arrival here in 2001. She and her family are special to us, so we were excited to help celebrate the arrival of her fifth child, Zeeadd (spelled phonetically as I have NO idea how to spell it!). Idriss and Salamatou are Muslims, so typically a week after the birth of a child, there is a naming ceremony. The short ceremony is held outside among the men. The women are visiting with the mother and baby inside. The baby is brought out and the Muslium teacher, or maribou will chant some special things and the baby will be given his or her name. As here children "belong" to the father, often the mother has no idea what name will be given to her child until the grand announcement. This has been the case with our friends. After this comes the party! Often popcorn (with sugar) and cola nuts and dates are distributed to everyone. The women of the family or close friends will prepare a big feast, if the family can afford it, a sheep is slaughtered for the occation. Though we didn't stay for the feast later in the day, we enjoyed being a part of the celebration of little Zeeadd's birth! Here he is with his proud Mama and only sister (he has 3 older brothers.)

The other baptim we were invited to this month, Ian served as the family rep. Not only was he family rep, but also chauffeur! Fidel, a carpenter that Ian has worked with on several projects had another little boy. Fidel is from a Catholic background, so this was different than the majority of baby naming ceremonies we have attended. It was held in a local Catholic church. Ian used the SIMAIR van to transport the family over to the church. Little Sovereign was baptised and named much like a baby dedication back home. Here is a picture of his family (Fidel and his wife are in the yellow outfits and the little girl is their oldest.) with a few close friends.
After being together at the church, Ian drove a very FULL van back to Fidel's house where they celebrated the new little life in their family by, what else!? eating food!

We are greatful for the relationships of all sorts that we have here. Pray for us as we learn to "be there" in tangible ways that we would clearly show both our love and Jesus' love.