Been Waitin’ For A Word

Maybe I should say “wading” for a word? Not funny, I know, considering the circumstances. But you have to laugh a little when things go completely haywire.

Totally unexpected…


Unforeseen detour…


Plans awash…literally…


Dreams & expectations all drowned…


Vision now blurry…


This explains my recent silence. Waiting for God to show me the next step. Waiting for God to speak to my heart about His plans. Waiting for that reassurance of His guiding hand…not wanting to move without it, without Him.

The Niger River flooded our campus last week, and changed everything. All plans, all priorities shifted with this one unexpected event.



Many of my colleagues have written beautifully about this crisis and the aftermath, sharing pictures and thoughts and Scriptures. (I’ll share those links!)

I’ve been busy with the seventeen dorm kids (plus three of my own) — getting them out, then getting them back in (to get their stuff) — then back out again…all by canoe.



Then … housing them in a lovely guesthouse, feeding them, washing their very-dirty clothes (ten loads in one day — please come back my beloved househelp! — I cried!) Finally, getting them back to their homes (or to someone’s home!).




What was that heroic statement Frodo Baggins made at Rivendell? When all the mighty warriors were arguing over what should be done about that blasted ring? When all the more-qualified ring-bearers were bickering over strategies? What brave words did he manage to eek out?

“Well…um…I’ll take the ring. [pause..silence…] It’s just that…well, I don’t know the way.”



I have this strange feeling…just like that one — where I feel just barely brave enough to move ahead with whatever God is bringing or doing in this community. In me.

I do not know WHY He has me here at this time for this challenge and this responsibility.

I definitely do not know the way!

I just know that He has me here. Right now. For this.



“Show me your ways O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” Psalm 25:4

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9





Nitty-Gritty Update: Thank you for your prayers and words of support and encouragement! We are doing well and learning so much! We have shelter, food, and God has met our physical needs in generous ways. Our kids are handling the stress of being “homeless” with child-like enthusiasm! Today we found out that our beloved campus pet Rover was found alive, floating on some logs! So much to be thankful for. My emotions have been (predictably) up-and-down, but Andy has been true to his college nickname “Steady-Andy!” His faith has been unwavering, but his strength is sapped with all of the physical labor of it all. We all need rest now.

Our Nigerien friends who have lost homes and were working for the school are receiving aid already. They have a long road ahead — rebuilding their lives in a new location since the river is not expected to recede for many months. Keep them in your prayers — they are beautiful, hard-working people who are truly grateful for simply a kind greeting. We love them and are eager to see them back to work and providing for their needs!



My nursing skills could use some help. These poor children fell victim to my neosporin-bandaid treatment for mosquito bites! Seriously…this is embarrassing.



Someone reminded me recently that I said I would boast in my weakness….I AM A LOUSY NURSE! 

There. Was that loud enough?



I’ll finish this post with a picture of a really good-looking guy! (this was taken before the flood waters broke the dike and the water poured in.) He has been a champion — so glad we are on this journey together, babe!

Stay tuned for news of our RELOCATION!

Snapshots of our first week together!

We are in full swing in the Sahel Dorm now! Everyone has arrived, we’ve broken more than a few things around the dorm, had a late-night rescue on our first outing together, celebrated our first birthday of the year (yay Daniel!), played frisbee, softball, basketball, ping pong, foosball, scrabble, bananagrams, settlers, legos … I’d say it has been a pretty exciting start for this dorm family! Our “family meetings” are helping us iron out the important policies for this year, and our dorm devotions are simple and in the Word. Here are some pictures of our first week and half — enjoy!



(above) Ultimate frisbee on our first friday evening.





Even our campus “pet”, Rover, wanted in on the action!



We now have a slackline behind the dorm — it is supposed to be great for training balance and strength in all sports. But you can ask Aunt Ruth how dangerous it is when TWO people try it at the same time!



Little Ruth and Tryphene – she always wanted a big sister! (Now she has 7!)






Aunt Ruth and Tryphene — a little bit of girl-time.



Little Ruth found someone who like Littlest Petshop – Suji!



Here is the creative solution to being stuck-in-the-mud — and it actually worked! Our van got stuck as we ventured out to view the Pleides Meteor shower on Saturday night. Alas, no meteors were seen, but the dorm family bonded in our first survival experience! Thanks to John’s excellent French speaking, the creativity of positive-thinking Nigeriens, and a rescue by fellow missionary friends, the experience was redeemed!



Daniel’s birthday was a blast — he invited two friends and this is the birthday table (his hallmates and two friends).







Daniel’s hallmates set the tables for the meal — and decided to arrange them in the shape of a “D”. Creative, eh?


Well, that is a glimpse of our first week or so! We look forward to many more to come!

A tout’a’leure! (See you later)

– Dorm Mom (Aunt Nikki)

Home, Sweet (Dorm), Home!

Twenty-four beds, twenty-four chairs at the dining tables, twenty-four … well, twenty-four is the number of human bodies that will soon dwell under this tin-roofed building we now call home!

Here is the breakdown: 18 teenagers from Korea, Africa, United States, Great Britain, New Zealand, and Canada, plus three children from Washington State, USA (our kids!), plus one dorm assistant originally from Malaysia (but really from all over the world!)  plus Andy & I — two rookie dorm parents!

This is the dorm! Pretty, isn’t it?

In just a matter of days this building will be buzzing with all of these personalities, all of these precious people with needs, desires, hurts, victories, birthdays, homework, appetites… AM I READY FOR ALL OF THIS?

I feel sorely under-prepared. Deficiencies, insecurities, doubts..all bubbling up inside of me.

I grope for TRUTH…

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Was that “boast”?

Well, um….okay!

I really have no idea what we are getting into!

I am afraid that I won’t cook enough food! Or the right food! 

I am afraid that I will be tired all the time and become a super grumpy mom!

I am afraid I’ll miss all of the cultural cues from this diverse group — Koreans? British? African’s? TEENAGERS???

I’m afraid my own kids will feel lost in the shuffle of humans in this busy dorm family!

Fear fear fear! Anxiety! Doubt! 

(That was quite a burst, wasn’t it?)

This is the family room!

Voila — the dining room!

A fellow missionary said yesterday that we are all serving a bit outside our comfort zone here. How true!

Outside our comfort zone. But always WITH JESUS. Every day, every hour.

Part of the family room — ping pong and foosball!

This will be a year of growth for all of us, and I’m looking forward to seeing how God shines through my weakness — His power resting on me!

I guess if I was “in my comfort zone” I wouldn’t get the chance to experience this grace-power in me! 

So, bring on the cultural confusion!

Welcome home you teen-aged food critics!

Strange adolescent hormones — come on in! 

The boys’ door signs look like this…(one of my summer art projects).


Our dorm pool — to keep our sanity in the hot season.


So, HERE WE GO — the 2012-2013 Sahel Academy School year begins August 8th!

If you would like to follow our dorm family a bit more intimately, check out our dorm blog at!