Thursday, June 19, 2008

An update

Our turtle slow internet is back and running again, so I can tell you a little bit about what we all have been doing

Chantelle: I have been unpacking boxes and trying to find places for everything. I still have piles of clothes on the kids floor since we ordered a dresser from a woodworker guy here that wont be ready for a few weeks yet. It's been fun to open some boxes and see things that people snuck in while helping us pack back home. All the sticky notes of love from Michelle and Danielle and the big multi pack of kraft dinner from Grandma are examples! Anything decorative is low on the priority list! I'm sweating through one shirt by noon usually, especially if I go to the market, and am washing a load everyday since i have limited drying rack space until our line is set outside. I really am not much of a skirt fan, and yet I wear one everyday because of the cultural norms and "proper wear" expectations for respect. I am working with Rebecca, our house help, to get everything organized and in a routine here. We enjoy talking (its in french) while we work and I am really liking getting to know her and ask questions about culture, etc. I do most of our shopping, be it at the outdoor markets or the indoor "white person" store where you can get special items like cheese, but at a premium of course.

Paul - I'm trying to get the house set up. I picked up several big fans today, one to put in the kitchen, which is the hottest room in the house and has no fan or screen door, so that will be nice, and a stand up fan that looks like a jet engine that we can move around the house to where we need it. I welded and mounted frames to put over our windows and got straw mats to put on them. This will shade the window to keep the heat out some and hopefully keep some rain out too. Our drains are plugged, things are falling off sporadically and there is no shortage of work. I dug a ditch yesterday in the heat to run our swamp cooler as soon as I get it plumbed in tonight. Overall, I'm working way too hard and need to learn to take a siesta! (ok that part was Chantelle talking). I was out in our yard the other night talking to our guard Mohammed until 3am and sharing Tuareg tea. My french is getting a lot of practice! I am also MacGyver. This afternoon, much to my wife's amazement, i fixed a problem with the radiator in the truck we are borrowing with two eggs. Yup - two eggs.

Bennett - I dont think I like this heat. i have asked my Mom and Dad to turn the heat down, but so far no luck. Each time the power goes out I also tell them to hurry up and call the city and usually they get it back on soon. They must have called the city. My biggest problem here is that I am used to so much activity and people back in Canada - play dates, excursions, family etc. So i think I find it a little bit boring here. My Mom and Dad try to set up games and toys where I can play, but I like to bug them a lot. I'm not really good at this whole entertaining myself thingy....but I'll get there. Hopefully I'll meet some friends. I do love the pool we set up on our patio though! Mom calls it a "terrasse" in french, but I keep telling her its just the patio!

Arielle - Do you all know how much sand is here! I love the sand! My hands,legs,bum and face are covered with it by 10:00 am every morning since we spend the morning on the terrasse while its still shady and cooler. I love the sand! I have trucks, shovels, toys and plants to water with the guards. I could happily spend my whole day out there. My adjustment here has been so much better than we ever thought and we are so thankful for that!

Dr Pepper update - I know you all read that my Dr Pepper didnt make the trip. And while that is true, it also creates its own great story! The cans were in a crate with Pauls tools (at the bottom thankfully) and when he opened the crate he saw that all the cans had expanded, popped a hole in the lid and much of its contents escaped from pressure. Many of the cans still had half their contents, which were now very warm and very stale. Paul took the 3 cases (36 exploded cans) and the mushy cardboard boxes and had them sitting outside our gate to get to the garbage. Well, did I mention that we live right across from a local school? It has a big open field and a few trailer like classrooms. ill upload a picture someday for you. Anyhow, the kids saw that these cans had been left outside our gate and they thought Christmas had come early! It didn't take long for every one of those half opened, stale cans to dissapear and Paul and the guard saw children running around the school yard with cans of Dr. Pepper and joy on their faces. I so wish I could have seen that. I think maybe I would have even given them up to them even if they had arrived intact just to see that. Picture a schoolyard of kids running around laughing and yelling carrying cans of Dr Pepper like it was the greatest thing they could imagine. That's so awesome and I wish I had a picture! I will of course take any that you send my way. Thanks for the offer Pastor Kevin ;) What you say at Sylvan even makes it's way here :)

Sorry there isnt more pictures here. i had a few more to upload, but after more than 20 attempts, only the one of Bennett ever got through. The curse of the crazy slow intermittent internet. I'll try again next time!


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Happy Anniversary and setting up life

So far we really are loving it here. God is so good. Paul and I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary on the 10th and we were in awe of where we are in our lives now and how long we have waited for and worked on this. The beginning of a very new chapter. We will keep you informed as this story unfolds!

Today there were a few clouds overhead and it didn’t seem as hot. Turns out I was right. It was only 44 degrees in the sun instead of 47 like the last few days! The clouds and breeze make a big difference though. While I am writing this, Paul is hammering away at the wall of our front room to make a hole for the swamp cooler. This uses air passing through a fan and a water covered membrane to cool the air. It works good in drier air, but when it gets humid out it doesn’t work as well. Hopefully this will help cool the air in our big front room on hot days without the use of the expensive air conditioners, which are only in 2 bedrooms anyhow. We all sleep in the one bedroom right now and turn the a/c on low to help cool and dry out the air. Getting a good nights sleep makes all the difference! The kids are playing on our terrace out front and we are thankful its not mosquito season yet since getting that area screened in is a bit down our priority list right now! We have installed some donated (recycled from a missionary leaving on home assignment) cabinets in the kitchen and I am happy to have some storage space and to get things out of cardboard boxes. As of this morning, we have internet at our house! Yippee! But it still is very slow and sporadic. I guess we will get used to it. So don’t expect lightning fast responses from us! (but we will try to respond!)

I went to the market on Monday with Rebecca, who works for us 5 hours a day cleaning, doing laundry etc. More on that later. It’s an adjustment too! The market is everything you expect to see in a third world country. Super crowded, chickens laying in piles with their legs tied waiting for people to buy them, bartering, people begging and following around the “white woman” to try to sell her anything and everything, piles of colorful vegetables and fruits and every small household item you can imagine, the hot sun, shacks and stalls made of a mix of cardboard, straw and whatever else they found, and 4 or 5 different languages being spoken at the same time (only one of which I understand – French!). And to think I get to do this every week! It’s a bit overwhelming and I’m thankful to have Rebecca to help and guide me and get normal prices so we don’t get completely overcharged for everything. I am sure I already pay the “white surcharge” sometimes and I don’t think there is a way around it. There is much more work associated with food here than in North America. Just as an example, the rice I buy comes home in a bag (they buy big sacks and then pour them into 1 kilo bags to sell) and it goes into our new freezer for at least 24 hours to kill anything in it. Then it gets washed and rinsed in a big basin, then lies in trays in the sun until it is totally dry. The flour gets frozen and sifted, all of the fruits and veggies get double washed and rinsed and dried. I’m tired even thinking about it all, and again am thankful for our help here! I’ll take some pictures of the market one day when I feel a little more comfortable there and am ok to bring a camera and will show the chaos. It’s crazy but awesome at the same time!

I looked out the window while unpacking in the living room to see one of our guards, Mohammed, giving the children wheelbarrow rides around the yard! We have such great workers here. The fact that he and children don't share a common language and were having so much fun made my heart so happy for all the blessings that this choice in life will give to our children!

Oh yeah- we got into Pauls tools crates and discovered, much to my deep sadness, that not a single can of Dr. Pepper made the journey intact :( *sigh*


Friday, June 06, 2008

The container has arrived!

So i thought about possible titles for this post, and here were some of the runner-ups

1) Africa's internet hole (thus why you haven't heard from me)
2) Sheep! Goats! Dirty! Bumpy! (what Bennett says everytime we drive)
3) 44 degrees? HAHA! I laugh in the face of heat!
4) The toilet seat that never was. (Brand new house - first time I sat on the cheap plastic seat it shattered under my bum. Ouch)

But I guess the biggest news (and thus winning the title competition) is that our container arrived, cleared customs in record time and was delivered to our house on Tuesday!! What a wonderful sight to see it still fully sealed and everything intact. In fact, with all of our unpacking, we have only found one thing that broke in transit, one of Paul's toiletries things. Praise the Lord! (not for his toiletry breaking - but for all the rest!). My 3 cases of Dr Pepper (my special treats) are still sealed in the crates with all of Paul's tools for the welding shop here and I hope to see if they made in intact by this time next week. If not, I think he will have a lot of sticky tools! So we now have everything in our house and have begun the large task of unpacking and setting up. The house we are in, while large and "new" by Niger standards, wouldn't pass building or health inspection in Canada. We are getting the washer plumbed in tomorrow, Paul got the stove working tonight after hours in the market with our guard finding parts, and overall its dirty and very poor workmanship. Its funny sometimes to really see the difference in expectations in workmanship and expectation for culture to culture and we are enjoying the opportunity to learn the culture, find things on our own, rough it and work alongside our national workers while we get settled. What a great place and we are truly excited!

Our container arriving at our gate and beginning the unloading process. Woohoo!

After it was emptied, they spent hours trying to position it INSIDE our yard. As of today it only made it half way and sits in a very irritating spot, but we may have to wait a month to get it to move the rest of the way. Everything takes longer in Africa! Notice some of the multiple safety violations! We thank God that no one was injured through all the crazy things they did.

This afternoon my thermometer registered 44 degrees celsius outside and 36 degrees inside. So we drink A LOT of cold water here, I find I don't eat as much, and we actually have managed pretty good! Just my feet are sore from heat and concrete floors. The kids are doing great. They both have a bit of heat rash, but it doesnt seem to bother them and they are loving all the sand etc. Bennett especially seems enthralled with everything!

The internet here continues to be poor where we are staying and we are sorry we havent been in touch more. Feel free to direct people here to read our update. Hopefully when we get into our house full-time we will have a better connection. So please continue to talk to us and we read it and will try to get back to you asap!

We are here, we are thrilled and we are adjusting. We couldn't ask for anything more.


Sunday, June 01, 2008

Arrival in Niger!

I am sorry this update is a little late, but as you can probably imagine, the internet here has more holes than swiss cheese.

We have arrived safely at 2 am our time here on Saturday morning. Most of the team was all there waiting to greet us and we had a mini party at 3am (once we got through customs, health officials and baggage! All of our luggage arrived safely with minimal hassle.

It was 30 degreees C when we arrived at 2am and will likely be 40 during the day today. So we are working on adjusting to both timezone and heat. The kids did great on the flights.

The shipping container with all our belongings has reached Niger customs, so join us in praying for a quick exit with all the paperwork intact this week! Woohoo! IT MADE IT!

We visited our new house yesterday and are getting ready for the work of getting it all set up to be a home, including such things as getting mats on the roof to reduce the inside heat levels, putting up curtains, installing shelves in all the closets in the rooms, sweeping, massive work in the kitchen,etc. Pray for stamina! Last night it was 33 degrees in our bedroom and sleep was hard coming, especially for poor Bennett who seemed so hot and cranky and out of sorts with the time change. Please pray for the kids as they adjust. Until our house is really livable, hopefully within a few weeks, we are staying with other families.

Ièll post pictures once we get our own computer hooked up to the internet and you can see all we are enjoying. We are thrilled to be here! (As I am writing this bennett just woke up and walked in and asked for cold water and says hello to you all!)