Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Deuteronomy 16: 15   For seven days celebrate the festival to the Lord your God at the place the Lord will choose.  For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.  NIV

Dear Family and Friends,
We give thanks for you, your prayers and financial support. You have been faithful in all God has called upon you.  Each morning we give thanks for the prayers, gifts and sacrifice you are making for Kingdom-building there, and here in Niger. We give thanks for those whom God has entrusted to our care. We are grateful that God sustains and equips us to continue do His good will here. 
Out of the sweat of your brow, you are busy with the fall harvest in North America so as to fill the bins and take to market the fruit of your labour. Here also, the people eagerly await harvest season.  In our travels we have seen areas of the country where there has been insufficient rain to produce any crop. In our region we are thankful to see better crops. The rains were late and therefore little harvesting has taken place so far. This past week there was an invasion of locusts which is devastating to standing crops. The good news is that it seems to be a particularly good season for peanuts this year. Peanuts here are about half the size you are accustomed to seeing in your grocery stores.  Some areas are hoping for 2 more rains to fill the grain heads adequately. The major crop is millet: it is used to make a drink called fura which is consumed in lieu of breakfast, and throughout the day. Millet has a high sugar conversion rate and is like an energy drink, but not particularly nutritious.  Pray for a good harvest.
Grace had an opportunity to speak with an educational consultant about the struggles in teaching 3 illiterate women to write. She has a new appreciation for kindergarten and primary school teachers in teaching children to write. As a result Grace has fashioned quite a number of aides to assist in teaching this skill. These past several weeks she has deployed these aides and is happy to report the women are responding positively and their comprehension is increasing. Because the Hausa alphabet is made up of letters that don’t exist in the English language the aides had to be made specific for this language. For example she used pipe cleaners to make the shapes of the alphabet.

We were eager to resume classes and fall programs after the delay created by our additional medical travels.  We used the time between trips to do additional preparation and planning for the fall. This was time well spent and will take off considerable pressure in the months to come. 
Pray for us to be effective teachers of English and God’s Word. Pray for our students that they would attend regularly and work on their English or Hausa lessons.
We have had an enthusiastic response from 3 local pastors in advertising the English classes being held at our home. It resulted in new students who are eager to learn English. We have set up some pre-requisites for those attending classes so that we can more fully meet our aims of sharing God’s Word with students. Pray for the new students.
We wanted to continue working with children from last year, but understood we needed to do it in a very different manner. This year we are do ing Wednesday afternoon kids club just outside our house. We are deploying the use of puppets, and with the help of Pastor A., we are telling the story of the Bible over the next several months. We were pleased with the initial response and look forward to continuing. The day after the last club date, 2 mothers with 4 children came to our door asking if their children can also come. Exciting! We have been brainstorming as to how best to create a shaded area for the children to sit. Pray for God’s Word to be clearly communicated and that the children would come to know and love the Lord.

Last letter I spoke about A. coming to the safe house because she was divorced and was sent away because her brother had taken a large sum of money from the community. He has since been located and returned to the community. As a result of his return, A.’s mother has been released from prison and A. returned to her mother’s home. A. has not returned to the safe house. Pray that the seeds planted within her heart, during her stay at the safe house, would continue to grow.
S., who is one of the women in the safe house, has 2 school age children. The private Christian school received sponsors for the 2 children’s school fees, however, we have had to purchase all the school books, supplies and uniforms needed for their school year. In Niger every family must purchase their own text books for their school age children. Because of distance and no school bus system, a taxi service has been hired to transport the children to and from school daily. Pray for S. as she seeks employment as a nurse and continues to grow in faith.
One of the pressing problems is the number of mental health issues the women in the safe house experience. We take them to Danja for regular follow ups and counseling. Danja is the location of one of the SIM hospitals. One woman has been particularly resistant to treatment and she is in the greatest need. Please pray for M. that she will understand that she needs this treatment. Her activities have been particularly harmful to herself and she is showing very little compassion or care for the welfare of her children. Pray the Christian community and leaders will come to learn and understand mental illness, and stop blaming curses and demonic activity as the source of these women’s behaviour.
There are many expenses related to running the safe house for displaced women and children. These costs come out of our ministry fund and our own pockets. We would ask you to prayerfully consider supporting these ministry expenses. We currently have a campaign on the website to raise funds. Please look under the tab called ‘campaigns’ and you will find ours at www.sim.canada. You may want to consider this project in your Christmas gift giving ideas.
Niger is the worst place to be a widow, not just to be a mother. Finally we wanted to tell you of an experience we had visiting 2 widowed women. Polygamy is a normal practice among people in this country who do not attend church. We entered a compound that held many family members. The man who had passed away had a history of diabetes. He had 2 wives and many children. His father the patriarch of the family had at least 3 wives and one concubine. The man who had passed was the son of his second wife. The first wife has the highest status and the status of subsequent wives becomes lower and lower depending on placement. Despite the deceased son living in this home for 4 decades, he and his wives had very low status within the family network. The widows’ roof had begun to leak during rainy season, so instead of incurring the minor cost to repair the roof, the family had asked the widows to return to their mothers’ family. On several levels the injustice and cruelty is so apparent. One, their husband had planted a crop that was just weeks away from harvest. This was their food for the next year. In their absence other family members would make claim to their deceased brother’s field without providing for his wives and children. Second, the family was forcing the women to leave in haste, with essentially only the clothes on their back and little of their personal possessions.  The children were to leave with their mothers. Third, the family they were to go to would not be prepared to provide for the needs of the extra mouths to feed, causing hardship beyond measure. Did the women want to leave? No. This has been their home for 15+ years, the place where their children knew.
To show God’s love, we covered the cost of the roof repairs. We know this is only a temporary stop-gap to their expulsion, but perhaps they will be able to harvest the fields of their deceased husband and not go hungry this coming season. Hopefully, they will be able to plan and strategize their departure, and retain those things they need to remake a new home. 
Our God of love and compassion for all people, particularly the widow and fatherless, is desperately needed in the country. Pray for workers for the harvest.
Please pray for our physical well-being. Grace has been experiencing considerable pain in her left foot after a slip in the bath tub. Continue to pray for healing in her eyes.
Blessings to all,
Orest and Grace Pelech
Serving in Maradi, Niger