I took this picture at the Petite Marche, the market where we shop for much of our groceries. this section of the market is where you can buy meat — look closely and you will notice all of the sanitation rules that are being broken! What you can’t see are the swarms of flies that are present — covering a lot of the meat. I hope that isn’t too much information…we don’t buy our meat here!
Some of you have asked about a typical day in our lives right now. After being here a full month, I am happy to say that there is SOME sense of routine for our family. Our main “job” currently is to be trained — in French and in the Dorm day-to-day operations. I’ve read many interesting missionary books and this part is not in them! If you are adverse to the mundane details of other people’s lives then happily move on without reading this (seriously, no pressure…I am fulfilling request here!), but if you have curiosity — and time to boot! – then this is your lucky day!
Monday: Breakfast at 6:15 a.m. consisting of pb toast, pancakes, or cereal. Significant detail here is that the kids have to choke down their cup of milk. It is always a trial, but the kids have been champs! Family Bible time at 6:35. Brush teeth, comb hair, and backpacks loaded by 7:05. Driving through Niamey by 7:15 at the latest. Arrive Sahel Academy (across the river) by 7:25 for school starts at 7:30. (pictured here, crossing the bridge on our way back from school…normal traffic!)
Kids are in school until 2:30. Andy and Nik hit the market and shop for food and essentials with the Phillips – current dorm parents. They are training us to “do the market” and not die. Seriously! And the fact that we are not French speakers (yet) makes it a steep learning curve! This takes all morning. We go home to unload the stuff and then head back to the school to spend the day in the dorm…learning, hanging out with the kids, having dinner there, and being with them for their evening devotions. We try to be home by 8:00 and get our own kids to bed! We are not far behind – although we have French homework so that will need to be finished before we sleep.
Tuesday: Same breakfast routine. Same Family Bible time routine. Kids to school. Nikki attends a Bible Study with five other women – right now a Beth Moore Study called Believing God – from 9-11. Andy does something constructive during this time, I’m sure! Then we head to the school for the rest of the day again. Back home by 8:00 for bedtime. And that French homework! (pictured here – the kids in their nets for night — all three are in this little room! Jon’s bed is to the left of Ruth.)
Wednesday: Breakfast…Bible time…to school…Dorm staff meeting at 8:30 with the school director, current dorm parents, and dorm assistant. Andy and I hurry back home to have our French lesson with Hamani (pronounced hah-mah-nee), our tutor, from 11 – 1. Pick up kids at 2:30 and head home right away…we spend Wednesdays as a family at our house in the city. Bedtime and French homework.
(Sorry…I know this is probably getting boring now…I’d spice it up if I could do it without lying!)
Thursday: Breakfast…Bible time…school…French 12-2…pick up kids…home for the night. French! Hamani will quiz us!
Friday: Breakfast…Bible time…school…French 11-1….pick up kids….home for the night or spend time with another family.
Saturday: We don’t have a Saturday routine here yet. So far we have enjoyed having meals with families here to get to know them. The campus of Sahel Academy has so much room for playing – the kids run for hours exploring and getting incredibly dirty. One Saturday Ruth and I went to a local tailor to have our African dresses made, and today there is a campout on campus – tents, hotdogs, (& bug spray).The folks here wanted to camp out before the hot season comes…did I mention that it is 97 degrees today? Ha!
(pictured here is Ruth being measured for her new African outfit — this incredible woman supports her family by being a tailor. She’ll make both of our dresses and two skirts for me for less than $15!)
Sunday: We plan to attend Nigerien church once a month and on Sunday nights we’ll attend the worship service that is in English on Sahel Academy campus. Oh! And I almost forgot that sometimes Andy leaves around 8 p.m. to go to the US embassy here to watch NFL football with a few committed sports fans. He rolls in well after midnight, having had his fill of American life. It hardly seems fair to me, though, since there is no “fill” for my part? Does the Embassy have Starbucks? No. Does the Embassy have Fred Meyer or Target? No. So my “fast” from American life-stuff continues! (and I’m doing just fine! I mean, look at these delicious potato chip options for me?)
Other tid-bits about our life here:
- Nathaniel and I are the mosquitos’ favorites. He counted 21 on one arm! I joke that my new perfume is actually bug spray! Oh la la!
- Every day, five times a day there is the m*sl*m call to prayer – broadcast all through the city. The men wash their feet and hands and arms thoroughly to make sure they are “clean” before commencing with pr*ay*r, always facing East toward M*cca. It is a sobering reminder of the deep religious roots of this culture. Our hearts long to share the Love of Christ, so that motivates us in our language drudgery.
- Okay – the French is great. It is just quite challenging! Our tutor is perfect, a Nigerien who speaks several languages and works primarily with the Peace Corps who come to Niger to serve. He is teaching us in a ten week blitz (my term) of critical “topics”. The key to our success will be PRACTICE. And that takes time with any Nigeriens willing to stumble along with us…
- We drink only filtered water.
- We have a lovely woman, Hadeza (Huh-dee-zuh), who is our “house-help” three days/week. And we have a day guard & night guard, Salefou (sal-ee-foo) and John, for our house since we are on such a busy road in the city. Of course we will only be here for five more months before moving into the dorm, but Hadeza actually works for the dorm too on her other three days of work! At first it felt awkward having someone else help me with cooking and cleaning, but now I see that we are helping her family and it is part of the economy here to have westerners employ house-help. Not to mention the fact that this country makes things A LOT more dirty too! So it is a joy to have her with us and learn from her.
- There are so many normal conveniences that we are doing without that I fail to remember them now? Besides, by Nigerien standards we are rich. Just having cement floors puts us in an elite group here! Most Nigerien homes are mud-brick with no plumbing. They are square, two-rooms, tin roof or grass roof, a community “spigot” for water that several families share, and holes in the ground outside for bathrooms. No ovens, just a “cookfire” and no refrigerators – they eat all their food each day. It is amazingly simple for such a big city and so many people. Andy made the comment that most people here live like we would go camping back home. Can you imagine about a million-person campsite? Yet somehow this is how it works.