Sunday, January 29, 2012

Ladies' Prayer Breakfast

Each year in January our entire missionary family meets for about four days for our annual conference.  This year I helped my friend Joy out with the Ladies' Prayer Breakfast.  It was a lot of fun designing the decorations and dreaming up the color scheme.
Anita and I made all the wreaths and cones out of newspaper.  That was all we had done until the week of conference.  Thankfully I had a wonderfully crafty guest staying in my house who helped Joy and I roll all the flowers and put them on the wreaths.  We would have been lost without her especially because I was sick with a fever for three days in a row.  

Joy's sister blessed us with some sweet treats for all the ladies including apple cider, hot chocolate, life savers, peppermints and granola bars.  So we hung out and stuffed goodie bags one night. 

Friday night lots of people pitched in to set up the dining hall and make it look like this. 

Saturday day morning the ladies arrived with all their delicious breakfast goodies.  Around 90 ladies enjoyed some great fellowship and time to praise God for the things that He has done in this past year in our lives, our ministries and the country of Niger.

The ladies squeezed a little unexpected fun into conference this year in the form of a flash mob.  You can read about that here.

The Baobab Made Us Do It

One evening as the sun went down, they decided to go for a walk and came to rest beneath a Baobab tree.

Unsatisfied with simply sitting beneath the tree, she felt compelled to climb it.

Inspired by one friend and prodded on by the next, she, too, climbed the Baobab.

She was sitting back, content to watch until the challenge was given.  "If you do it, I'll do it!"  Without a moment's hesitation, she began her ascent.

Having thrown down the challenge and watched her friend scale the old tree, it was time to fulfill her end of the bargain.  She flexed her muscles and showed her young friends that she was more than ready for the task.

Ahh, the glorious spotlight had turned to her.  So she clung desperately to the tree within inches of tumbling to the ground (or merely stepping down, if you must know the truth)!

Not to be outdone, He climbed higher than any one of them.

And so having been spurred on by one another and by the gnarly old tree, they scaled the heights and returned safely to the ground only to walk off into the sunset declaring,
"That old Baobab made us do it!"

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Very Gourma Christmas

I had the privilege of spending Christmas morning in a Gourma church in a village about an hour away from Niamey on the way to Burkina Faso. My neighbors work in this village amongst the Gourma people. They always come back into town with exciting stories about how God is at work in their area so it was really a joy to be able to see this church that is full of young people who are believing and trusting in God. Christmas is celebrated in so many different ways but perhaps one thing that Believers around the world do in celebration is sing. The Gourma love to sing and dance! I got a little bit on video but I've given up on trying to load it. So pictures it is!  The whole congregation was singing in a kind of call and response style. In this picture, you can see one woman twisting and throwing a calabash with cowrie shells attached into the air to make music.
Later the women's choir all sang.   They were all wearing their Christmas cloth and matching shirts.  Apparently in this village, polos are all the rage! :)  You can see that in this picture of the Youth Choir who
really get into the dancing.  They danced so hard that most of them were sweating profusely by the end.

It was a very Gourma Christmas!  I'll admit that most of the time church is pretty difficult because it's hard work to listen and to understand what is going on.  In my western mentality, I'm very tied to certain things. Time, order and variety being foremost among those things.  Things that aren't so important in this context.  As I sat there surrounded by young moms, peeing babies, restless children and dancing men I was challenged by the thought that nothing kept these Believers from worshiping God TOGETHER!
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