Monday, September 24, 2007

I'm Home and feeling great!

I know that might not sound like much but after all my world travels recently it is nice to be home and hanging out with my boys. Needless to say they were thrilled to see me which was nice. They literally hung off me for my first week home, always pouncing on me and hanging off me whenever there was a spare leg or arm to go around. They loved their gifts that we had bought (always a bonus).

Nige came home last week and brough with him more goodies. Even some for me which I love! I have to admit though that it has taken a little adjusting for us all to be back together again. Just a matter of realigning ourselves with each others annoying little habits! Not that I have any mind! We are all back at work this week although it is school holidays again so I am trying to get as much done while looking after the boys full time and organising a big list of things to do.

My big hooray though was when I went to Weight Watchers upon my arrival. I was thrilled to only have put on 400g in the whole time I was away. That was amazing!!!! Last time I went away to a conference I put on 1.5kg in a week so this feat in just 4 weeks was awesome. It has been hard to get back into counting points again and even sticking to what I am allowed but I will just have to pull my brain back into line and get on top of it again.

One of the good things about being away is coming home and this time it felt like I was coming "home". A really nice feeling to be settled and enjoying life again in the place the Lord has me.

Friday, September 07, 2007

The trip back to Niamey was supposed to be a cruisy flight of just 2 hours but again plans changed. The plane was not able to get to us in Maradi due to the weather so after waiting 4 hours for a final decision to be made we realised we had to go by road. I was prepared for anything but a plane ride would have been nicer!!!!

We are so thankful for the Nicholson family (kiwis) who were travelling to Niamey that day. We hitched a ride with them and set off. The first part of the trip was to Galmi where we rested the night in the guest house run by still more kiwis. That meant 3 hours had been done and we slept well that evening. Unfortunately the morning came round too soon and at 5 AM we piled into the cars again and began the marathon drive to the capital. Many had spoken of how bad the roads were but I'm not sure I believed them until we got onto them:-)

We had divided ourselves on gender lines....the boys in the HiLux and the girls in the Toyota sedan. Many a time we were lured into a false sense of security as we whizzed along tar sealed roads only to find huge pot holes in the middle of the roads. And when I say huge I mean HUMUNGOUS!!!! There were times when I was sure our wee car would be swallowed whole by the gaping caverns. The boys just flew over them all but Frouke took her time and took great care of the car. Many a time the tar seal disappeared and we were left to drive through thick, red, slushy sand also with huge holes. We liked it when the boys were ahead of us as we could see the holes and work our way around them but often they would hoon off and forget us girls. We travelled on detours of detours as roads were wiped out due to flooding. We sat, trapped by two big trucks as they tried to fight each other for the little passing space that there was. We drove through ditches that had been filled with tree branches to stop you getting totally stuck and then we met up with a huge traffic jam where trucks had spun off the road and caused a back up that would last for hours. All the time I was fearful that we wouldn't make it in time to catch our flight this morning but God was good and kept us and our vehicles safe. We snuck onto a new road that had been closed off by trees and bulldozers but that wasn't going to stop ingenious kiwis from going where they needed to. We just drove off road, round them all!

Twice we had toilet stops. I hate public loos but couldn't hold on any longer. The first was my first ever squat pit loo complete with horrible smells that made me gag and millions of mosquitoes buzzing in the nether regions. The second was a millet farm where I squatted behind a tall plant hoping no one could see me from the road. Little did I know but a Nigerien was riding behind me on his horse and got a full view of my little white behind! You've just gotta laugh!!!!

Nine hours later we arrived into Niamey totally exhausted but thankful for the Lord's protection and mercy. My African experience was complete. With 3 more days travel ahead of me I am tired but really excited to be heading home to NZ and my boys. I have missed them terribly so am looking forward to lots of snuggles and kisses. This afternoon we fly into London and then I will hit the sack again before my marathon 26 hour flight back to Auckland tomorrow. Nige leaves me and heads for the USA but he will be home again in just 10 days. I'm really looking forward to hanging out as a family again.

I have so much to tell the boys of my adventures. More than I could possibly write. It has been a thrill to see how the Lord has been using kiwis just like me in Niger.I do miss being on the field, at the core of missions work but then again it was such a joy to see kiwis thriving in difficult places. I'm glad I can go back and send some more.

PS...I was told to look out for giraffes as we travelled yesterday but despite 9 hours of looking I never saw one. How disappointing. Nevertheless I found this one so thought I'd pop him in here :-)

What a trip! Just a few minutes ago we arrived back in Casablanca, Morocco after spending 10 days in Niger. We have had a whirlwind visit but a great time all in all. The weather was gorgeous....quite like Guayaquil in the hot season and then again in the cooler season when the rains began. It was nice to sweat again after freezing our butts off in NZ this past winter. As can be expected in Africa things did not always go according to plan but we were flexible o see where the Lord was leading us.

After arriving in the capital, Niamey, early Wednesday morning we visited Sahel Academy which is a missio school established by SIM. It was exciting to see people really enthusiastic about ministering to kids. Great stuff. The next morning we jumped on the SIM Air plane (a little Saratoga Piper, 4 seater) and flew to Galmi. It was a beautiful day to fly and we saw so much of Niger from the air. It was fun to land on the dry, red sand airstrip with all the village kids and young mums running out to see us. Thankfully they had scared off the cows!!!

Galmi is a mission hospital established by SIM many years ago. I'm not very good in hospitals as the smells and sights of sick people make me quite squiffy (nauseous). I did do very well though and even got to goo over newborn twins. So cute!!!

My African experience was almost complete the next day when I got dreadfully sick. The old vomiting and diarrhoea with high, high fever. Not nice at all. Thankfully I was in the right place as I had doctors fussing over me and people visiting my room to take blood samples. No malaria was present so I was even more grateful for that. After 24 hours of feeling like total crap I perked up and was able to travel the next day to Maradi where we currently have 2 kiwi families living. It was great to be able to see them in their context and get a feel for their struggles and joys. All the families we saw are doing so well. I was so proud of them!

Maradi is a biggish town and we enjoyed poking in the markets and seeing the many ministries that are going on there. We visited a tree planting project, a Bible translation project and even another hospital (this time I nearly did puke!) I faithfully wore my skirt and head covering every day which was driving me nuts by the end of it. I'm so glad I could wear what was comfortable in Ecuador. Yesterday I rebelled and wore my capri pants but regretted that decision when I had to pee behind millet plants in the middle of nowhere!!!!! But that's another story.