A hymn of praise rang through the open rafters, a song made more beautiful by the stark devastation which surrounded us.
Six buildings and not one of them was left untouched.
A rope hung from the cross where the mob had tried but failed to pull it down.
A window shuttered closed became the recipient of a glaze of glass melting from the window above.
A beautiful building about to be dedicated was burned and broken right down to the newly tiled floor.
A man stood beside the goat he rescued from the mob, behind him the Sunday School room he taught in but was unable to save.
And this was only one church among almost 70 across the country.
Where does one even begin to wrap one's mind around what happened here?
Today, I sat with my children telling the story of Jacob running away from Laban, headed back to the land God had given to Abraham and the land he had promised to Jacob himself. We reflected together on what Jacob must have been feeling. Fear, no doubt, as this return meant facing a brother who had wanted to kill him. "But why would he have been afraid when God promised him that the land would be his?" one little guy asked. Good question. And so we talked about how we need to hold on to God's promises when we are afraid. Then I just threw the question out there, "Is there anything that you are afraid of?" It was quiet for quite a few seconds and I almost moved on but one little girl raised her hand and confessed, "I'm afraid they will keep on burning churches."
It's hard to say what fears reside in the hearts of those who have been affected by these events. But as I listened to my students' fears God brought Romans 8:35-39 to mind and I shared it with them,
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And so we hold on to His promises because He has been faithful through the ages.
And while we are at it we may as well fill those open rafters with a song of praise or two!
Every year the First Graders take a field trip out to the airport to visit SIMAir and see what we can see. This year the Firsties were so excited, they were flying high! I invited my friend, the elementary principal, to go with us and we were literally busting a gut because of the things coming out of one kid's mouth on the way to the airport. They were so hilarious that we had to write them down. Good thing I brought Bev along to transcribe them!
The two boys were sitting on the very front seat of the van where there are seat belts enough for three. But at one point during the journey one of the boys looked down and saw an unbuckled seat belt and got scared that his friend didn't have his seat belt on. When he realized there was an extra and his friend was still buckled in he exclaimed, "You scared me! I thought I was going to have diarrhea! What is diarrhea anyway?"
A little bit further down the road, we were discussing the train tracks that have just been built out near the airport and I quote the same kid, "I wish I could be a train and ride on the skis of awesomeness!" Haha! I don't think that that thought has crossed anyone else's mind in Niamey!
Just as we were about to turn into the airport the same kid, sighed admiringly, "I love the airport! It's my favorite place to go for inspiration. What is inspiration? I don't know but I just like to use that word."
Alrighty, then! With that kind of attitude there's no way that this field trip could be a bust.
So we were off and running getting a quick introduction to the plane, how it moves,
and sitting in the pilot's seat.
This little one was so excited to get to see her dad at work.
Then we got to make paper airplanes and fly them.
After which it was off to the Airport Fire Station where we got to try on the Firemen's helmets,
watch a plane take off,
see the firetruck spray it's foamy mixture,
climb inside for a visit with the driver,
and even see the jaws of life at work!
Normally, this is where our field trip ends but this year a helicopter company has set up shop next to SIMAir so we got to climb on board a pretty big helicopter. It could seat 12 people and can be used to medically evacuate three people. Because of the nature of their work, I promised not to post any pictures but I did get a good laugh out of the fact that this part of the field trip appeared to be a field trip for the SIMAir pilots too, all of whom climbed on board with us and proceeded to have a discussion with the helicopter pilot about autorotation. You know it wasn't the first graders who brought that up! Though I must say that they did sit there with rapt attention. Their attentiveness was rewarded with a bag of American Skittles from the helicopter pilot. A sweet end to a very fun field trip!
My feelings about ice are no secret. If you hang around me long enough, you're bound to figure out that I quite like it. Even my First Graders have picked up on that little fact.
One afternoon, out of nowhere, this little guy asked me what I would do if I had a million dollars. Before I even had time to answer the question he said, "I know, you would buy an ice machine!"
Asked and Answered! :)
After recess one day, this kid was having trouble getting any water around the big block of ice in his water bottle so he turned to me and said, "Miss Botheras, since you're an ice expert can you break this ice out of here." Chewing ice every recess qualifies me as an ice expert...if you have any ice problems, you know who to call.
So I was sitting across from this little one crunching on my ice when she looked across at me and inquired, "Do you like ice?" I happen to have quite the long history with her family, having grown up with her dad and his siblings. I looked across the table at her and began to wax eloquent, "In the long history of Botherases and Cs (being her family name), the Botherases have always been lovers of ice and the Cs have never been." She probably looked at me like I was crazy but it was the truth. A water cooler in the Botheras house is chock full of ice but in the Cs house the water temperature is nowhere near as frigid. However, being the kind and thoughtful people they are they always stock up when they know a Botheras is on the way.
Which was a bit of a concern for me when I unexpectedly had to evacuate my home and impose upon my friend Bev. Would we survive? There had been no time to prepare ice. Worrying, I know, but I'm happy to report I made it!