Monday, May 30, 2011

Galmi Pics

Just a picture of our living room.

After the last sandstorm we had a major downfall of rain. We have now had two sandstorms followed immediately by rain.

This guy was on our screen door. He was 4 inches long. I hear the locals will catch them, tear off the legs, and save them for a meal.

The other day the government of Niger gave out mosquito nets to women who had babies. They did this outside the office. There was a lot of women, and a lot of children, and a lot of noise.

A typical site is hard working Nigeriens, everything being done by hand. I am amazed that the Galmi hospital redevelopment is basically being done by hand. The only real piece of machinery we have is a cement mixer, which is not that large.


People have asked for pictures of our actual home, so here we go:

Grace leaving via the front door. We live in a duplex and share a back entrance with our neighbors who are from New Zealand.

Our kitchen, which is actually smaller than it appears in the photo.

Fancy this one is.

Our east side - you can see our African gazebo on the south side of the unit.

Our vegetable garden consists of this small patch of African sweet potato which is ready to harvest. We use the leaves as well, as you would spinach.

This is the view we have as we step out our front door. The little building is actually a guard house. As you can see the only green is where we have plants. There is no grass.

This is the view facing east towards the guesthouse which Grace is walking from. The guesthouse is one of the many buildings that Grace and her staff are responsible for.

This is my office.

We are looking after Wantee (not sure of the spelling) for a missionary who is on home assignment for 8 months. He is usually sprawled out on the floor from 6 in the morning until about 10 at night. Then he and Martin, another compound dog, patrol the compound and take care of unwanted little creatures.

Our neighbors unit is on the west side. They had to hang some bamboo mats to block out the intense sun in the afternoon. Unfortunately there are no shade trees on that side. Lucky guy, he works in the shop and has access to a quad to travel to and from his work.

I will forward more pictures in another blog.

Blessings to all.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The wind, the rain, and other things

Well there is harmattan season with winds that bring lots of dust, then there is a real sandstorm that brings a whole lot of dust and a whole lot of wind. I was thinking that a sandstorm is basically a Canadian blizzard with sand instead of snow, but I do not recall the blizzard winds of Canada being as strong as they were for this sandstorm. It was quite breathtaking - literally. The sky had a kind of reddish ting and then the wind came. Right after the sandstorm there was a down pour of rain. It was amazing to see all of that rain. Very refreshing.

This happened Sunday just before the evening Church service. After service we were having people over for dinner. We had the place all cleaned up. Now everything has to be cleaned again. All of the windows are made of rows of louvered glass that does not seal very well. The windows of our bedroom got the full brunt of the storm and so did our bedroom. The pressure within the bedroom was so strong it took a lot of force just to open the bedroom door.

We are starting the rainy season so we should be getting weekly rains and apparently more sandstorms.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Laughing Matters

Phil Callaway is one of my favorite authors. This is a quote from his book "Laughing Matters", which I am glad I brought to Galmi.

During the Civil War, an anonymous Confederate soldier wrote:
I asked for strength, that I might achieve;
I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.

I asked God for health, that I may do greater things;
I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.

I asked for riches, that I may be happy;
I was given poverty, that I may be wise.

I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men;
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.

I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life;
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.

I got nothing I asked for but everything I hoped for.
I am, among all men, most richly blessed.


When we were preparing for Niger we heard about how hard the heat and the dust can be on your computer. Certainly these are extreme factors, but the thing that really causes havoc is the power. The ever fluctuating, on and off again, electrical system is a real "joy".

Last Thursday we had a stretch of 20 on and off electrical situations that just seems to have scrambled the brains on the main server. So while we could get the internet we could not access our main data files. That problem continues now as I write this blog.

I have to admit that I (Orest) feel just a bit frustrated.

We have also learned that internet communications can also be difficult because of the power outages and other factors.

It's a good thing that the people of Galmi are so great that computer problems can seem trivial.

Blessings to all of our friends.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Morning Devotions

Every morning there are devotions at the Galmi compound. At 6:45 am some of the SIM missionaries gather for a half hour of prayer. Then at 8:00 the various departments have there own devotions. Orest meets with office staff and Grace meets outdoors with the guesthouse and some of the other compound cleaning and gardening staff. The other day I happened to get some pictures of Grace at her devotion time.

Below is the water jug, set up by Grace, used by the compound staff. The clay pot helps keep the drinking water cool during the day. The other container has all the cups with each workers name on them. Keeps them all from using the same cup over and over.

Had to show a picture of our thermometer. If you can see it, it is actually at the 50 degree maximum. So we will say it is 50 degrees even though if could (feels like it) be higher.

Monday, May 2, 2011


African Style

Yep, the compound gardner saw us having morning devotions outside and thought we should get a gazebo built - the African way. So here it is.

Here is the final product. This Saturday the compound gardner is bringing his family over to share tea under the gazebo. Should be good.


Yes, it's true, we have been married for 32 wonderful years and this year we celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary in Niger.

Niamey is approximately 500 kms from Galmi. It's not a terribly long drive and usually takes about 6 hours to complete. One of the biggest factors that slows traffic is the use of incredibly large speed bumps in the villages along the way. Most of the time there are multiple speed bumps to deal with. This generally means coming to a stop and slowly crawling over the bump. In a lot of villages the beggars have strategically positioned themselves next to the speed bumps because they know that people have to come to a stop and look at them. Quite a sad sight.

So overall the drive is not that difficult unless you are us, in which case the drive will take approximately 14 hours. It is also important to note that the temperature was very high, probably around 120 degrees.

After the first blow out on our right, rear tire we were told by the kind gentlemen who stopped to replace the tire that we need to drive slower in the heat. Hot pavement, along with hot rubber apparently causes the tires to - explode. We were very grateful to the two men who stopped and did all of the work. It would seem to be a respect for your elders thing. Anytime Orest wanted to do something they would step in and take over.

Did we slow down - well we averaged around 35.5 km per hour on our journey. We did slow down its just that another 3 blow outs tend to spoil your progress somewhat. Especially when you've already used up your lone spare tire.

Close to a town called Dogondoutchi a SIM missionaey was able to help us with the second incident. He managed to buy two used tires. He picked Orest up, along with the the blown tire and blown spare and they went off to town for repairs. Grace stayed behind on a barren, hot piece of land and entertained the kids that came to visit her. She managed to teach them some english and learned some Hausa from them. We sat under a very large tree for shade for about 2 hours before help came.

We got the new, used tire in place and now had a spare. All would be good - right. They lasted until we were 60 kms outside of Niamey. Fortunately, we were close enough to enlist the late night help of C and D to come to our rescue. They showed up with a new tire and got to work making the switch. As they were about to put the new tire on they realized the new tire rim had holes for six studs, not the required five. So quickly, they grabbed the tire, and a blown tire and went off to the nearest town to switch rims. This meant they would have to find, and wake up, the local tire repair guy. So glad for their experience.

Gladly, all was fixed and we managed to reach our destination at midnight.

Life is a blast in Niger. We are so grateful to all the people who graciously assisted us in our time of need. We are grateful that SIM is truley like family and that we have people we can call on anywhere, at anytime, for assistance. Being people that have been largely independent this was a great lesson in the need to rely on our fellow SIMers.