Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas 2011

Merry Christmas to everyone.

Giving of Christmas gifts has been interesting so far. First of all, there is no such thing as Christmas wrapping paper. Gifts in a plastic bag are great. Gifts in a zip lock bag are even better or maybe you can utilize an old rice bag.

Grace made banana loaf which was used as gifts for Orest's staff. The one fellow was so happy and grateful he had to take it home immediately to show to his wife. You would not think it such a big deal, but people were excited about receiving blankets. That was a common gift we gave this year. That is what is in the rice bags.

Grace also completed seven more quilts which were given to the evangelist this morning for him to distribute to needy families. He had been given a total of 15 to distribute. She will continue this project in the future.

This morning Santa Grace hoped on her bike and distributed some gifts.

Christmas eve there is a service at the local church. There will be a local group recording a CD - The Ebenizer Group. Our hope is to attend. We were told that the Christmas Sunday service typically goes for 3 hours. 3 hours on benches made out of metal channels - I am so excited.

Here is a brief look at our Christmas decorations. We had purchased a Walmart post Christmas, Christmas tree, complete with lights and a wreath for $14.00. It survived the trip and we are quite pleased. We made up some paper ornaments, using water colors, and hung them from the tree. We are quite pleased with the results.

For unto us a Child is born....

Keep the spirit of the season.

Blessings to all.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Shopping

What a blast it is to go to the local mall just before the holiday. Today was actually payday for the hospital staff because this was the last market day (Wednesday) before Christmas. We needed a few gifts for staff and others so we headed to market. The place was jammed with people and it was very difficult to find a parking spot. It is certainly a lot easier if you have a moto or a camel.

Like a typical mall you can find clothing, jewelley, spices, shoes, perfume and the like. There is the local butchers, fish mongers and fast food outlets - make sure your stomach is ready.

Here are some pics

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Masa Tsaye

Just wanted to post some of the pictures from our recent trip to the Love and Respect Conference at Maza Tsaye. It was a great conference and we would definetly recommend it to anyone.

Green Invaders

Found this guy in our garden the other day. They seem to be particularily fond of the Okra plants. Have seen several this year.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December 1, 2011

Wow, the temperature dropped all the way to 19 degrees this morning. Was it cold, ask Grace, but first you would have to find her beneath all the layers of clothing she was wearing. Way too funny. The girl was literally a Friesen, sorry freezing. Next we are gonna have to find some gloves for this girl. At least it’s going to the high thirties later in the day.

So, one day we have a couple of short term missionaries over for a meal. Just as we were into the meal Sara and Sani stopped by for a visit. They joined us for the meal. They had brought along a sack of Meringue branches which is used a lot like spinach. After the meal we sat around the coffee table and stripped the leaves off the branches. After the leaves are cooked and then mixed with some onion, garlic, salt and peanut butter, ends up making a very delicious salad: more good African food. After this the girls tried carrying things on their heads African style. Sara makes it look so easy.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Many things are relative

Yesterday morning it was 25 degrees. When I was a child in the prairies of Canada this is the temperature I could start wearing shorts. Yesterday I put on a shawl to stay warm. Surprised myself as well as the local workers. It will be the flannels soon. Find the situation hilarious. Grace

The locals make a lttle round dough donut. Not much to it but when you have it with coffee it can bring back memories of timbits. These are actually better. The coffee here is better too. Orest

We are celebrating international thanks-giving this Saturday with a potluck dinner. We will have a large group because we have the LIFT Team here from the UK. Something like 52 people for dinner at the CC. People are excited because we were able to get turkey pieces for dinner - as in wings. Grace will be making the stuffing. Grace makes great stuffing. So who has the rest of the turkey? Orest prefers white meat but will be thankful for what we have.

We are believing that a vegetable garden is pretty much a waste of time and water. We were happy with what we had but the results were very limited. Our squash is plentiful and will be something we can joyfully share with many others. We have decided that we will support the local markets and buy our vegetables there and just plant trees. The goal is to plant trees that are more native and need much less water.

Right now there is a distinct drop in the bug population. Not that long ago we could not walk without keeping a hand over our mouths. Grasshoppers were everywhere and the results of their feeding were very evident. Do not know how long this respite from bugs will last but it is nice.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Angels at Work

The other day Grace left for Niamey to do some guesthouse shopping. She travelled with another couple. Her return was to be Friday via SIMAIR along with another missionary returning from holidays.

As the time for the return flight arrives I head out to the airstrip to greet my favorite person. As we stand there we watch the airplane circling the airstrip and find out that they are having problems. The throttle was not functioning properly. The pilot could go full throttle or half throttle. I guess he did not have the throttle control he needed to land.

There was someone on the ground relaying messages from the airplane back to Niamey for assistance on what to do. He could not land at Galmi because the airstrip was too short for what was happening. He had concern about going into a manual mode and being able to have enough control to land at Galmi.

While they were circling there was a lot of prayer going on.

Finally the decision was made to send the plane back to Niamey where there was a much larger airstrip to land on. So off they went.

For myself I could not handle just going to the office so I went home and prayed and prayed. After about an hour and a half I received a call that as they got towards Niamey the throttle was better and shortly thereafter they landed safely. I am so grateful that God hears our prayers.

As soon as the plane went back to Niamey a decision was made to send someone, via truck, to Niamey to pick everyone up and to get one short term missionary, heading home, to the Niamey airport. So now Grace and the others will be returning by truck tommorow. I pray they have a safe journey.

This whole scenario was obviously the result of the other passenger on the flight who has a penchant for getting into situations that do nothing but create news foder for her blogsite. This is the same person, who while in France (lotty datty da), would not bring me back fresh salmon because her mother would probably eat it before it got to Galmi. I gave her a perfectly good solution to the problem (duct tape) but she seemed not to want to abide by my advice.

Setting aside my fun poke at DB, I am ever so grateful to God for His wonderous provisions. I find it a great joy that I can serve Him.

Blessings to all.

Changing Seasons

Well it is happening. The days are getting shorter, not by a lot but shorter none the less. There really is not a huge fluctuation in day light hours like there is in Canada but the sun does set a bit earlier than the norm.

There are even a few trees where the leaves are falling.

The big change is the temperature. It can be quite bone chilling in the morning. The other day we had the morning prayer inside because the temperature dropped to a bone chilling 20 degrees celcius.

It may sound crazy but that does actually feel quite cool.

Our garden has not been able to produce much like we had hoped it would. Lots of plant but little yield. So much time and effort for so little results. We do have a good crop of squash. Our first squash was huge, so we sliced it up and handed it out to some of the local workers. They were absolutely ecstatic over receiving this. Hopefully the rest of the squash will ripen soon so we can spread it around to others.

We have planted 2 banana trees and are in the process of planting mango and papaya trees. Hope these will turn out better than the vegetables do. Very poor soil quality.

This weekend will be our first experience with Tabaski so it will be intersting to see how the locals celebrate this Muslim holiday.

Blessings to all

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Hello Again

Hello again to our faithful followers.

We are currently going through the second annual hot season and frankly it's hot, and dry. When we walk there are swarms of grasshoppers that take flight with each step.

The other day we were working in our garden and placing Neem leaves around budding plants to keep the bugs from eating everything. Seems the Neem leaves have properties that bugs do not like.

While working in the garden Grace called me over because she had found something. It was a very large beautiful green, chamelion. He blended in well with the okra plants. I don't know how large they get but this one was at least a foot long from nose to tip of the tail. Kind of weird the way the eyes move in different directions.

Below are some pictures of the recent snake incident. I did not know we had spitting cobras here but I was told this was one. It was 6 to 7 feet in length. Needless to say it caused quite a stir.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


The other day we heard that a local pastor had lamented on the over abundance of motorcycles (moto). As we walk through Galmi, and visit other communities, we realize that for the people here a moto is the same as a mini van in North America. We are always amazed at what they carry on these things.

I recently saw 2 young men on a moto carrying 6 five litre jugs. The passenger had 4 and the driver had 2.

We have seen up to 6 people on a moto. Needless to say these people are not robust in size, but then again, neither is the moto.

Try this configuration. First there is the driver, then you add 1 to 3 goats stacked behind the driver. Then you have another passenger. Behind the passenger you can again stack some goats. Then you have another passenger. You see then zipping by and you can see that even the goats know it would not be wise to make any unnecessary moves.

People will carry building material, such as sheets of curragted tin, on their heads as they drive. A roll of carpeting is no problem. Easy enough to throw 4 - 50 pound bags of cement on a moto and take it where you need it. (Just interesting to see them get the guy started and help him stay balanced on the moto. Makes you wonder what happens when he stops or some emergency happens.)

One of my favorites is seeing them carry large panes of glass. The passenger will be stretched to the maximum to hold the glass. This is the only thing he holds on to through the voyage.

They also transport gas cooking tanks (which appear similar to large Bbq propane tanks). These tanks have no valve covers. They just plop them on the seat in front of them and go.

The other day we were driving through Konni and a fellow behind us had so many things he was holding he actually could barely see above the load. His arms were stretched around the load to reach the handle. He was also travelling like one foot behind me. I was afraid to make any sudden stops or moves. It was bad enough that you have to drive through majority world traffic and throw in some guy who looks like an accident in the making.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Wedding pictures

Here is a brief slideshow with pictures from the wedding between Sani and Sara.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Wedding

I know that there will be some smart comments from the Great White North so I will say it now - Yes, I am wearing a man dress.

This is us with the couple right after the ceremony.

We went to visit some family at the home of Sara's aunt.

Sara and Sani after the wedding coming to our place to change.

Sara's hands with Henna.

The family collected money to buy some basic food supplies for the couple. This includes corn, millet, salt, sugar, macaroni and some others. By the way, the rains were too late for crops. Sani will not have a crop this year. Please continue to pray for him and others in the area.

Pictures of us with Sara the next day.

Other pictures at the home of Sara's aunt visiting the next day.

It was amazing to spend time with friends at family at our first African wedding. Especially when we had the opportunity to be so involved in the wedding. Children - they grow up so fast.

Blessings to all.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


The other day was a trip to Konni for some hospital related business. We had a driver and one other staff member join us on our half day trip. Grace came along because she wanted to get some items for Sara’s wedding.
I just wanted to write down some observations on our trip to and from Konni.
There has been a fair amount of rain lately. When we pass through the countryside there is water in a lot of areas. Not enough to do any flooding. There are small river beds with no water. The countryside is definitely greener. There are trees on river banks where the water has eroded all the soil and the trees are standing on about three feet of exposed roots. How long they will last I do not know but they were full of greenery.
People of all ages, from very young to very old, are working very hard to generate a sustainable crop.
There is millet growing everywhere. It seems that wherever there is a piece of ground someone has planted either millet or sorghum. Some of it has sprouted out quite well with the rain. Some areas you can see have been replanted in hopes that a new crop will arrive with the recent rains.
There is millet to the edges of the road. There appears to be no separation from one crop to the next. As we drive by I wonder how they know what belongs to whom. I know that they know, it is just a very interesting sight.
I see people scooping water wherever they can find it on the roadside and filling wheelbarrows.
People come off the fields covered with mud. They pick up a stone and just scrape it off.
No tractors, no plows or other major equipment. Just a lot of toil with some rudimentary tools. It is a hard country and a hard life.
Keep praying for this country that physical and spiritual crops would be bountiful.
At one point, in Konni, a beggar came to us. Usually we give some kind of coinage, perhaps 50 or 100 cfa. We did not have any coin and he would not leave. The poor guy had no recognizable fingers and his face was distorted. These are always the hard ones, the disabled, because there seems to be so many. I had a 1000 cfa bill I gave him. I was told that was too much. When I think of this fellow I know it was not close to enough for him or his needs. I was just glad it was a quiet area of town and it did not attract a whole slew of other beggars. I don’t know if my wallet or heart would be able to withstand the potential onslaught.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Trousseau Shower for Sara

Yesterday afternoon Sara came to our home and collected us to take to her home and said we were going to receive a gift. To our surprise we were seated in the court yard on 2 of several plastic lawn chairs the family owns. There is a steel bed frame with springs upon which a mat is thrown to be used as a sofa. A large mat was placed on the ground in front of us. But then Sara went off to prepare food for her catering business. We have a pleasant visit with the aunt and wait and wait. Then the women start arriving, laughing, chatting up a storm in Hausa and 3 suitcases arrive and a large sack. Orest attempted to leave as this appears to be a women's only event, but he is assured he should stay! The suitcases are opened and there presented to us is fabric to make clothes for the next 2 years, shoes, jewellery, makeup, toiletries, purses and undies including the suitcases. The sac contained essentials such as millet, rice, beans, corn, and salt. All part of the dowry or trousseau. After the presentation of the gifts the women take leave. But hold one, I forgot in interesting detail. During the party amongst all the fun and laughter, the goat from behind the house became untetherred and bolted for the compound door for a fast escape, with girls in hot pursuit. It returned as quickly as it left as the girls successfully rounded it up and helped it re-evaluate the options of the busy road out front or the safety and security of the compound. This added to the laughter and fun for the afternoon. The whole time Sara remained out of sight. The aunts, along with us, were presented with the gifts. It is the role of the family to provide all the gifts to the bride; this is a way for the community to help and aid the family. The obligation for the family of the bride in this culture is huge.
After the guests leave we again attempt to return home, but not so. The bride comes out and then is presented with the gifts. New round of laughter and fun begins. What a privilege and joy to be part of this special celebration.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Answered Prayers

I guess we really have a powerful group of prayer warriors. Last weekend we asked for prayer for rain. Well it has rained every day since Monday. Three of those days have been very intense rains. I was walking to the office today and the slickness of the mud reminded me of slippery Canadian sidewalks. I almost did a total back flip into a mud puddle. Just hope that all of this rain will benefit the Niger crops.
The rain does bring some other problems but right now concern is for future food needs. We are grateful to all of you who have prayed.
Mark 11:22-24
22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours

Blessings to all
Orest & Grace

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The hanging of the paintings

I did a previous post about the paintings for the hospital, now I have pictures of the paintings being hung in the hospital. They really brightened up an old unit.

I think this very wise looking child was probably supervising everyone.