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.


As you know Grace looks after the Galmi guesthouse facilities and housing for short term associates. I would like to present to you the people that Grace works with on a reular basis.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


One of the short term doctors decided to do a series of paintings to be placed in the hospital. Grace, and others, had the opportunity to assist. Here are some pictures of their work. The people in the hospital were so excited when they were hung up.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Holiday in Niamey

A couple of days to rest, relax, enjoy an easy pace.

In Niamey – no way. Now it feels like we need a week to recuperate.

As we wandered through the markets my mind wandered to time spent in North American Malls. I thought of the differences and similarities. N American malls can be nothing short of chaotic, especially approaching special holidays. But the chaos is somewhat orderly. After spending time in the African markets I do not think I can rightfully complain about walking through a N American mall. Here the chaos is truly chaotic, in a true chaotic sense. In North America the struggle is too make money; here it is all about survival. You are accosted not only by vendors but by beggars as well.

You give a gift to someone and you get swarmed by others. Where did they all come from? They can sense you from far away. Our white skin just shows out too much. They know we have plenty and they want us to share. I cannot really blame them but how can you give, and give, and give? Sooner or later you run out of resources and there are still so many that have need. Not just the little beggar boys who do this as almost a job, but the ones that are disabled and really destitute. You can give and give but there are just too many. They keep coming without end.

We are so blessed with all we have, but when you shop for supplies you then step out of a store to a barrage of more beggars. You have all the supplies you need but they have nothing. You walk past them not wanting to make eye contact because you have just spent your money on yourself.

You travel through villages and you have to stop at these humongous speed bumps and there are more beggars waiting because they know you have to come to a stop to traverse the speed bump. Some of these are in just terrible shape. They are so disabled and sickly. I have never seen so many strangely distorted bodies.

Jesus said we would always have the poor, it just seems like so many are right here, ever present - ever needy.