Thursday, June 18, 2009

Kollo Zerma!

I don't even know how to begin....more things have happened these last 8 days than I could ever imagine. Bush life is really hard. Our house is a mud-brick hut with dirt floors. There is one little window in the back room and one in the front room. We sleep outside at night in our mosquito nets on a cot. The first couple days were survival mode...getting used to everything and figuring out how to live. But now I am actually really excited about it. I love the village life and all the people. One of my favorite things is showering outside...of course the fact that we shower in the same place everyone pees is pretty nasty but its kinda fun to shower outside. Apparently Hailey and I are really lucky because we have a rich lady who lets us use her poop hole and its porcelain! haha There are animals, children, and people everywhere. Oh and I carried a huge things of water on my head...Brandy said she had never even carried one that size on her head!! I am becoming an African!!! haha AND I got my hair braided haha I cried a little because it hurt so bad and Nana (one of the children) wiped my tears and told me not to cry (crying is not acceptable in this culture).

We have a mom named Faait. She takes care of us and makes sure we are doing okay. She brings us a meal at least once a day. Whenever we are trying to get the kids out of our house she leans over the wall and starts yelling at them and they leave. It's funny because we are still learning the language but somehow we can always understand her. She is really patient with us and always takes the time to figure out what we need.

The children here are is optional and they are always covered in dirt. You have to be really tough on them and it's hard but they love us and want to spend every minute with us. It's hard because I would love to spend every minute with these kids...they craze attention and love and I feel like I have so much to give them but they are not our ministry. We came here to minister to the women, in this culture if you spend to much time with the children the adults will think the Gospel is only for the children. Of course we do get to spend time with them each day just not the whole day. There is one little girl Aniffa (I think she is maybe 4) who everyone knows is my favorite...she isn't like the other children. In this culture they are trained to be tough because that is the only way you can survive. She is sensitive and when the other kids are being crazy and obnoxious she is just quiet and waits her turn. Her mom asked me if I wanted to take her to America (it's really common for the mom's to offer us to take their children home) and I said yes but of course I can't. It's going to be so hard to leave her.

Something I never thought I would experience in Africa...I fall asleep listening to a French soap opera every night. My compound has electricity (of course our house doesn't but the others do) so every night they get the tv out and watch it from 8:00pm till like 1:00am. It's so funny but kinda comforting... About 3:00am every night I wake up either to the sound of someone preaching over the loud speaker and then the Muslim call to prayer or the goats that are in our compound yelling. It is the scariest noise...they sound like humans being tortured. The first couple nights we really considered killing them...or at least setting them free so they could run around the village, but now we just laugh.

My partner Hailey is really great. We work really well together because we are similar in some things but very different in others. Whenever I am kinda down she seems to be up and whenever she is down I am able to encourage her. She is having a really hard time out here...she misses home a lot and the environment makes her really sad. It is really depressing but I am so grateful to be in a village where everyone has more than enough food and they all seem to have everything they need. Of course to American standards they don't have much but to African standards they are pretty well off. The supervisors said they put Hailey and I in the Kollo Zerma village because these people have a lot of attitude and they knew we wouldn't let them walk all over us.

The villagers love us...they are so fascinated by us. They are so patient whenever we talk to them even though there is an awful language barrier (which by the way I think we are definitely improving on our language skills). I love telling them about America...they tell me about the things they do like caring children on their backs and I tell them about car seats and strollers. haha It's really funny they love hearing about America. They all want to know if we have a boyfriend or a husband....the missionaries warned us to just say yes we have a "boy that is our friend". haha I really regret not doing that now. Every time I tell them I don't have a boyfriend they start pointing out guys in the village that I should marry. haha I just tell them no I want an American boyfriend and that I don't want to get married till after University...this is usually a good enough answer.

There have been so many things I have had to get used to:
-not having electricity
-always being dirty...even when you shower you are still dirty
-just tell yourself the crunching in your food is seasoning....not dirt like you know it really is
-not having a cold drink...ever
-animals everywhere...they just walk into your yard and hang out
-people always NEVER have any privacy
-nobody understanding English (this is actually nice at times when I want to tell Hailey something and I don't want everyone to hear)

I love it in the bush. I love the people we are working with and I love building relationships with them. The ministry is really hard because they are all so very Muslim in their beliefs. It is really sad to know these people are living for nothing... Knowing this and hearing the Muslim prayer 5 times a day is such a great reminder of why I am here. I know God is using us to reach these people but sometimes I feel like He is changing us more than anyone around us.

Yesterday, today, and tomorrow is our Sabbath weekend. The theme this weekend is America! Yesterday when they picked us up and well all got to be together is was so amazing to see how much we have all changed. Kanessa and Brandy (the journeymen) said they could not believe how much we have all changed in 8 days. God is really working on us and teaching us a lot about Himself and ourselves. So yesterday when we got into Niamey we went to the American embassy and we got to order American food! We all went crazy and ordered way to much food...I got a quesidilla, fries, and a milkshake! We had so much left over it was we just brought it back to the house for later. Then we got to go swimming! It was so nice...we just stood in it and chatted for 4 hours. It was great to hear about everyone else's experiences and be encouraged by them. Then we came back to the house and had pizza! Then we all sat around and chatted and some of the girls played worship songs on the guitar. It was such a good night...followed by sleeping in a real bed with A/C!!! I actually got really cold in the middle of the night...I must be getting used to this heat. haha Today we got to sleep in and then we are going to the sand dunes for a picnic and to sing worship songs tonight...also today is Brandy's birthdays so we are celebrating that!

God is teaching me so much it's crazy. The biggest thing I have learned is He is all I need. I always thought I believed that and I would sing the songs at convo and say that but I never really lived that way. I always had my family and friends and the comforts around me where I never really relied completely on Christ. This trip has made me realize I have nothing but Him. Being one of only two Christians in an entire village and one of only two people who speak my language or know my culture has been really difficult...but Christ has given me a strength I cannot even describe.

Please continue to pray for my team...most of them are really struggling with homesickness. Also please pray for the Zerma people...they live in darkness and they don't even realize it. Please just pray that God will give us all the strenght to go back out tomorrow and continue or minstry and bring light to this dark place.

I miss you all so much and I cannot wait to come home and tell you all about it...

Monday, June 8, 2009

I can't believe I have been in Africa for a week now!!

Sometimes I will be sitting there looking around and still can't believe I am actually in Africa. It has been the craziest week. We had 20 hours of language lessons (so everyone who thought we had an interpreter out in the bush...that would be a no). They say that 4 hours a day for 5 days is more than enough time to learn Zerma lol. I actually feel like I know it pretty well but it should be interesting. Our language teacher is Ibro a little Africa man...he is so funny. We have so much fun in class...we ask random questions to get him off subject and keep asking him how to say really funny words in Zerma. I get yelled at a lot because I keep saying stuff in English and his rule is not to speak English after like the second day. After language everyday we have a traditional Africa meal...they are some pretty interesting dishes. We actuallu really like some of them! Yesterday we had to eat the traditional Africa way, all sharing the same bowl with our hands! It was so disgusiting...and we were sitting on the floor. hahah It was this like slimey rice and beans and onions thing with hot powder stuff. After lunch we get a nap EVERY day!! Then we have sessions...sometimes just with different missionaries and one day they brought some Muslim men in to teach us about their faith. It was really neat to hear their story. Before coming here I thought being here for a week would be such a waste...not getting out and doing ministry immediately but I was so wrong. This week has been so great I feel so much more prepared and ready to take on the bush! haha

Yesterday was my birthday! It was so much fun! I woke up and they brought me a french pastry with a candle and sang Happy Birthday to me. Then after lunch they made cupcakes and sang Happy Birthday in French. Then after dinner we went to another missionaries house (the supervisor of the Zerma team) and they had balloons and a cake! Also HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANGELA! I hope you had a great day!! :) love you

Today is our day of rest (after language lessons of course) we get to call home and email and take long naps to prepare for the bush life. I am kinda nervous but really excited to finally get out there...we haven't been around very many locals since we have been here! We found out our partners today...I am with Hailey so if you could please keep both of us in your prayers we will definitely need it! Also please pray for the Zerma people. They are under a lot of oppression because of their Muslim faith. Being Muslim is what they do because their parents did not necessarily because they want to. Pray that we can start breaking some of those chains and show them the lies they have been taught all their lives. Lastly please pray for my team we are all having an amazing time but it can be really hard at times. The heat is defintely getting to people and the food and just learning the language. It is really easy to get irritated here because it is not the most comfortable environment so please just pray that God will help us work through all the things that could easily bring us down. Luckily our team all gets along really great and we are very open with each whenever someone get diareha they just announce it and keep everyone informed on how they are doing.

God is teaching me and growing me so much already. All the things I thought would be such a problem like the food and the bugs and the safety have not been an issue. I eat foods I don't like...I touch dirty stuff all the time (everything in Africa is dirty) and the lizards aren't even bothering me. God has completely taken care of me and shown me how much He cares for me. Also it is now the rainy season SO the temperature dropped quite a bit. It only gets up to around 100 everyday give or take 10....I am actually learning to live in it and not even notice how hot it is.

I will be back in Niamey (the capital city) in 10 days to have an America weekend. It will be our Sabath. We get to do American things like eat the food and go swiming at the United States embassy. Also they will take us to do some African things like ride camels and pet wild girafees but we get to do it with our American friends.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


At many point throughout this day I have asked myself...why did you ever want to go to Africa? Not that I am not enjoying it I just don't know why anyone would really choose to come here...other than God leading them. This has been the craziest day...I woke up drenched in sweat (we even had the air on most of the night) and I forgot where I was for a minute..I thought maybe our a/c broke at home. Then I remembered oh yah you wanted to go to Africa for the summer. By the time I washed my face and brushed my teeth I needed another shower. Breakfast was okay...pancakes (which I don't really like) and mango. I have already eaten three meals with something I don't like and haven't complained once. The heat is exhausting I get so tired of wiping my face that I am considering chopping all my hair off...or getting it braided like the Africans. Also the heat is so draining it makes you loose your appetite. We are staying in the IMB's compound called Mission Baptiste. This is on the safest road in Niger and one of the safest places. It is on the same road as all the embassy's. We are walled in and we have guards that walk the premises and stay at the entrance. To bad we will only be here till Tuesday then off to the bush.

Today we had a real Africa lunch, rice with some sauce that had meat and veggies in it. It was actually really good...I just picked around a few of the veggies. It is hard to eat you are never hungry but you just force it down along with the 70 bottles of water because nobody wants to get sick. After lunch we got a nap during the hottest part of the day then we learned some of the basics. We learned NEVER EVER go in the is full of diseases and you WILL catch one if you go in. Second rule NEVER let them braid your hair unless the missionaries (Kanessa and Brandy) approve because some people will use it for witch craft. Third pray with your partner every day...spiritual warfare is really bad and if you aren't united it will be really hard to work together. After this we got to go to the market...we went with Greg and Laura's house helper Zoleka and her friend. It was so amazing...being white we were like celebrities everyone wanted to talk to us and have us come in because they think we are rich. Which to them we average person here lives on 300 a year. The market smelled awful and I got really overwhelmed with all the people but had fun. It was so hard because nobody spoke English there...I got really frustrated not being able to communicate what I was thinking. They gave us 500 which would be 1 America dollar and we had to spend it. Finally I just grabbed a bracelet and bought it because I was getting stressed trying to pick something...this is what most of the team did. The saddest thing about the market was the fact that they all live like this all the time. I get to go home to the comforts of America in 2 months and they don't. It really made me sad but VERY grateful for all that I have. We all cooked dinner and then after that we had a time of de-briefing and talking about our experiences at the market. I held Greg and Laura's little 5 month old Maggie and she fell asleep (it really made me miss my little Maggie). After that we were about to go to bed and we heard the winds start and got excited so Hailey, Dani and I went out to stand it the rain. It felt so was cold and just wonderful. I think standing there in the rain was the moment I really got excited about being here.

I am having an amazing time! It is really overwhelming and I feel like if I don't write every single thing down i will forget something. I miss you all so much...way more than i thought I would. (Not that I didn't think I would miss everyone but I can go away for periods of time and be fine but I think being away from everything I have ever known and having no access to anyone is really hard.) I think some of the team has it worse than I do so I am just staying strong and knowing that i am here for a reason. I love you all so much!! I don't know when I will be able to update again but hopefully at least once before I go out to the bush. Please keep praying for me and my team...we need it!!

p.s. Kanessa and Brandy said there are no snakes...but there are lizards EVERYWHERE!! They are so crazy and the scare me!!! haha