Friday, September 30, 2011

Ghost Monster

Today I got to hold babies!! We all know that’s the real reason I came here.

The only problem with this baby holding session was that the babies hated in, they were sobbing as soon as I squatted down towards them. And they would continue to squeal until they were in their mother’s arms. It was like someone had a ‘pause’ button…they would instantly stop whining, but if I edged towards them…more complaints, I step away…pause. Understandable because being surrounded by beautiful brown skin, I was probably one of the first ghost monsters they had ever seen.

The spot that I went to is a section outside the hospital that houses mothers and their sick toddlers, in order to teach them how to take care of their children. So for at least a month, these brave women and their babies sleep and eat right next to each other in this outdoor, walled in area.  This place specifically broke my heart when I was given a tour because the babies are SO TINY. There are flies all over their faces and in their ears and noses, their black hair is blonde from lack of protein, they have fire hose arms and legs, and most of them look like infants until they smile and you see teeth.

So timidly (I asked God like 54xs if He thought it was a good idea), I thought I would go over and love on these kids, or give the mothers a change up from an otherwise not very eventful day (what their taught is so helpful but like the time consuming classes we know of), or see if any of the Nigeriens needed help (no white people work there…making me even more of a monster) after I finished with school.

Too bad the babies hated me!

But, because God is creative, the mothers loved it. Not in a cruel way, just in an entertained way. They laughed and laughed when their baby would whine if I neared them and laughed more at my (probably dramatic) shocked reaction. Others would line up and call me over to see if their child was gonna hide its little face. And everyone cheered and laughed when one little trooper (my personal favorite now, duh) let me hold her.

The laughing turned into an invitation to sit on their mats, they practiced speaking Haussa with me, showed me how to grind their grain, and asked when I was coming back. We even had a successful joking session with just gestures about how if I tied a baby to my back and started batting grain, that poor baby would be a goner.

And by the end, the babies weren’t so scared of me. And the mothers had laughed a lot that day. So thanks, God! for using me to give a lot of brave women some joy, even though it was in the opposite way that I had expected. And I hope You’re proud of me for not stealing a single child.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Quotable Quotes

There's a lot of good things being said 'round here:

“I always popped my squats next to a shrub …they need the hydration…that way I could add agricultural helper to the missionary resume.”
 -ExNigerien missionary

“And now I'm in the post-Notebook slump. Wishing I had a man that looks like Ryan Gosling. UGH. Totally equatable to the struggles your going to face while living on your own in a third world country and teaching children. I probably have it more difficult, honestly.”
 -Awesome email from a funny friend

“Is that an airplane?”…”no, i turned on the ceiling fan.” 
-A dinner conversation interruption...seriously, though, they're so loud

YOU PUT THE COBRA IN YOUR FRIDGE?!”…”well, he would go bad on the counter…”
 -My neighbor (who will now be referred to as Tarzan..on this blog…and to his face...and probably behind his back) kept the cobra that was found and killed here yesterday

Later…”don’t worry, the snakes don’t always come out…only if they’re hungry.”
-Nigerien making honest efforts at a pep talk for me

“Here’s a bag of sugar! Let’s buy this one.” …”Um, I think that’s sodium nitrate…for fertilizer.”
-Friend to a friend...but I say whatever, all those things look the same!…and its not like my cooking could get worse

And from the kiddlings:

No, they make them too spicy.” ….”only if theyre cooked, I don’t really like them raw.
-My students answers to if they like eating grasshoppers (you think they would say ‘no…cuz they’re insects’)

“It would be hard for people like you…whoops!..I mean old bend over and get it…” 
-A boy to the teacher (the younger ones haven’t learned how to cover their tracks well yet, I guess)

And the real deals:

"Have you ever noticed that a lot of Jesus' ministry was when He was interrupted?"
-Shyikes! and to think I'm always trying to avoid interruptions when I'm working or even doing ministry

Monday, September 26, 2011

Niger's Next Top Models

It has become very obvious to me that I am surrounded by natural beauties. No make up, straightened or curled hair, no perfume or expensive clothes…Walking around in the heat and the dust makes it very difficult to look put together, in fact, you don’t even try. And yet, I find myself with some of the most attractive women I have ever met. They glow. Yes, it starts on the inside, but it radiates all the way to the outside. I literally can see the beauty from their hearts on their faces. I didn’t even believe it worked that way.

It’s in the way they live, the sacrifice is obvious, from the climate to the simple living to the far away families…But what is more captivating is their every day interactions.  When I see a certain woman here, she always asks how my day was; and the way she asks tugs so deep inside that I realize what I actually think about my day and feel so welcomed to share it with her. Another woman greets every child here with such compassion and joy that I know their entire morning has been brightened. The doctor walking through the hundreds of hospital beds can still notice a young girl’s newly braided hair. Busy with a million things, a wife turned around and walked all the way back to help me buy fruit at a stand she had just returned from, and another took the only restful part of her day to show me around the compound.

Their laughs spread warmth not just comedy. Their basic practices of hospitality and honesty have power. It's not that they aren't busy or tired...because they are so busy and so tired. But somehow their hearts don't beat for themselves but for others. And in wanting to imitate that type of purity, I realize who I am really imitating is my Savior.

All that to say, bring on the wrinkles and the gray hair because I can not WAIT to be as good looking as these desert ladies.

…and I also hope to dance like an old crazy at weddings and absent mindedly say a lot of shocking things at dinner tables …but that will come later...and they don’t do that here.

Those who look to Him are radiant. Psalm 34:5

Friday, September 23, 2011

It's all fun and games...

...until you meet the spideybird. Honestly, it was a bird-spider..a spideybird. And I thought I was so emotionally prepared for spiders too.

I just had my first full day in the actual area I am living. And I loved meeting a few of the missionary families that I am staying with and seeing the apartment that I'll be living in. I even met a few of the kids that I'll get to teach. They were out killing crickets for their pet hedge hog, Snuffles, and their preying mantis.

And like I said...hedge hog, preying mantis...even the everywhere lizards, or the toad I stepped on, the three unknown bugs in my room I just killed, or the crickets (which one of those louder lil guys sounds just like my alarm clock, what a punk) and games. But this spider was massive and he was a HOPPER.

I came home after dinner at the house of the teacher I'll be working with and saw him fling himself from the kitchen counter to the wall. After a bit of yelping (screaming) and deep breaths, I took off my shoe and started giving myself a pep talk about how I was gonna smash him. And if one smash wasn't enough, I would just do it again. And if he escaped, I'd find him. The problem was I knew this spideybird hated me so if I killed him, his children would come find me, so a few seconds of pep talking turned into a few minutes...

Then I realized there was a brave just out of high school boy in the apartment next to me. So with glee, I scurried on over and smashed myself against his window and did my effective loud whisper "D...D...are you scared of spiders?!"...and I heard his voice from his room, "my sisters make me kill the spiders, too".

And he didn't even kill it, he captured it in a big jar and let it outside. So now the spideybird's children aren't mad and I'm thuh-rilled. I told my neighbor the next one was on me, but maybe I conveniently won't have a jar to put it in or something...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Truman Show

Before I came here, my friend mentioned she wished I was on the Truman Show (you know who you are, ya creeper) so she could see every thing that was happening. And it’s so ironic because the past couple days, I’ve really felt like that dude. Not so much the ‘everyone is watching you’ Truman, moreso the “freaking out in the car as the bike lady cycles by again and he realizes its all a set up’ Truman.

From receiving encouragement from two men in the airport traveling with Samaritan’s Purse who had been to Niger…to talking with a guy about his book called Knowing Jesus on the airplane…to partnering in the impossible mission of finding our international flight with a young girl who had recently aided sex trafficked victims in India…I have been encouraged and in awe at the work and the testimonies of so many amazing people from around the world.  Every time, I walk away from an encounter with someone, whether it was a long conversation or the janitor that tracked me down to tell me that I had left (my only) long sleeved possession in the airport chair (what kind of airport janitor does that?!), I‘m always shrieking (in my head, no worries), “THAT WAS A SET UP!!”.

But unlike my man Truman, I’m so thankful that Someone is not only setting me up but experiencing and enjoying it with me.

Not to mention the added comic relief when a missionary in Charlotte turned to me and said, “You wont starve, as long as you can cook. And you’ll have no problem with the language, as long as you’re not tone deaf.”…Seriously?! The two items on my top five list of things EVERYONE KNOWS I can’t do…I was just waiting for him to say “you won’t die…as long as you’re coordinated.”

I’m also pleased to announce that I’ve introduced the word “awesome” to the people at my layover in Casablanca.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mike and Joan

I usually get motion sickness on planes so I've never been a huge fan of them. And considering I used to cry every time I went back to college, I'm also not a huge fan of saying bye to my family. So I think in an effort to comfort me, God put me on jusssst the right spot on the plane. Right behind my new favorite older couple/new best friends, Mike and Joan. And by best friends, I mean we never talked and I just eavesdropped on their banter. Although, I was tempted to squeeze my head in between the airplane chairs and say "I just think you guys are great".

Joan:  You already ate the whole cinnamon roll?
Mike:  Yup. (wide smile).
Joan:  Wow... Didn't even offer this old woman a piece, Mike?
**Keep in mind that Joan laughs at all her own jokes. Similar to my mother...and unfortunately, myself.**
Mike:  No way. I heard you sniffling. YOU have a cold.
Joan:  You could have ripped me off a MORSEL, Michael.
Mike:  Gross.
Joan:  (pauses...then sniffs right in his face...followed by lots of laugher done by Joan).

Joan:  I'm hungry.
Mike:  Eat your granola bar.
Joan:  No. I'm MORSEL hungry.

Even later...
Mike:  (to flight attendant) Excuse me, have you ever even heard of such a thing as being 'morsel hungry'?
**Keep in mind that Mike also laughs quite a bit at himself.**
Joan:  (to grinning flight attendant) MICHAEL, HOW DARE YOU!!! DONT GIVE HIM HIS DRINK!!

Pretty sure that this (quite) old couple were the best part of the attendant's and my flight. Their humor was hilarious, but it was their lively cheer that got me back into the groove. Crazy how contagious a joyful spirit can be...and you never know who is watching, or needs it!..could be the misty eyed and slightly nauseous girl sitting behind you.

Best part about it: Joan had a zebra bag. Seeing some zebras after all.

**(to keep this blog honest, you should know that I made up the name Joan. but I am sure that was the woman's name. she looked like a Joan AND I feel that the name goes great with Mike).**