Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Finally home

Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. (Psalm 61:1-4)

After almost three weeks gone to France, Bennett and I were very very VERY happy to return to Niger. There was something familiar about the humid heat, gritty air, blowing sand and even the smell of Niger when we got off the plane. Even being delayed 2.5 hours on the tarmac in Paris couldn’t stop our joy! We are so thrilled to be reunited as a family!

So as promised, I am writing a few of my thoughts and lessons from the past three weeks. Obviously that fateful Sunday night just as church was about to start, I had no clue how tumultuous our month would end up being and that everything would change in a flash on the monkey bars.

Everytime I leave Niger and go to a Developed Country I undergo a little bit of culture shock. This time I journalled a little while sitting on the beach watching Bennett play with his friends in the sand and waves. Here is the scene where I wrote it


“How do I keep my 5 year old rambunctious boy from getting his cast wet without totally killing all his chances at fun? He keeps trying all these different ways to get water into his bucket without actually putting his arm in the water and it is pretty funny to watch. He lines it up where a wave will fill it, and watches the next one roll in, only to watch it knock over the bucket completely. He anchors it with sand next time, tries a few other ideas, until he finally gets it to work.

I am sitting in a pile of sand. This is so familiar. And yet my other senses are super aware that everything else is different. I can smell the ocean, feel a crisp breeze on my face and see more ( A LOT MORE!) skin on people that I am used to. it shocked me at first. Oh my gosh- I can see her whole legs!! I am used to arms and feet only. I roll up my own jeans to my knees- how scandalous! So interesting how our worldview changes. That is more leg than I have shown in public in a year!

This beach is full of people. There is a plethora of snacks all over the place, no one is worrying where their next meal will come from. Food is thrown out and a bird picks away at the leftovers of fruit left idly by the side. People are lounging, playing with their kids, showing affection for each other, etc. There is a peaceful relaxation that is evident that is not evident in Niger. The daily worry of life in Niger seems to etch lines into the fabric of their lives that doesn’t exist in places where life is easier on a basic survival level. On our way to the beach I passed rich green farmlands and fat cows. I noticed them because they were different than my “normal”.

I find it hard to wrap my brain around this. I know in Niger there is a famine, that people are struggling for daily life and are dying.  I have seen it with my own eyes. And yet here I am in France where everything is so carefree and beautiful. How can these co-exist? How can famine and drought and poverty and death be happening in one place, while in another there is plentiful and beauty and ease. Too much to handle sometimes. The diversity of the world is truly incomprehensible.

I feel sometimes like I live in multiple worlds. In my Niger life we couldn’t get Bennett’s broken arm set in Niger because of risks associated with anaesthesia and surgery and therefore he had to wait 3 days and fly 4000km to get it fixed. That never would have happened in my other “Canadian life” where a hospital and good care is nearby. Part of the life we have chosen when following the call to work in Niger”.


Things in life don’t always go as planned. There were days in France that were awful and I fully needed every ounce of strength and energy to get through. When I was weeping in the hospital hallway and I didn’t know what to do and couldn’t find anyone to help me. All I wanted was help. One person to care and come alongside of me and help me navigate the system with the speed we needed. I didn’t take any pictures those days. I mean really…who wants to see pictures of all the hours we spent in waiting rooms, talking to doctors, going from one office to another trying to find the “right place” to help us. Fighting with the people at Western Union, trying to pay at clinics when they said it would take 3 weeks to add us to the system to pay, getting robbed, prodded, poked with needles and walking miles. Nobody wants to see those photos!

Those days I prayed lots. I felt the support of so many of you around the world trying to do your best to help us through. Your emails, skype calls, etc were such a blessing to me in our “alone-ness” in Paris.

And then we had other days, infinitely better than the crappy ones. Days where we had no doctor appointments or tests or people to fight with to get service. We had a clear schedule and I was determined to make the best of it! We can’t expect everyday to be good, but we can make the best of the days we are given. I think even in the worst of circumstances there are things to be grateful for, to turn our faces towards little joys and choose not to let the bad things control us.

Those days we choose to go to movies, many parks, to smell flowers, to eat Happy Meals, to go to a carnival, to go see fireworks, to go see friends on the coast for a few precious days of respite. And those are the days you will see pictures of. The ones I choose to remember, the good memories I hope Bennett will hold on to rather than the long, crappy ones we also had to endure on the journey. We choose to get out of the hotel, see the sights, eat crepes, smell flowers, go on rides and feel the breeze on our faces. I am so glad we did.

20100609-DSC01694   20100609-DSC01634


We aren't completely finished with the whole situation yet. I still have a lot of work to do filling out paperwork to hopefully get reimbursed for most of what we had to spend on hospitals, hotels, tests, xrays, etc. I am thankful for insurance and hope this process won’t be so painful and will be quick as well.

But we made it. With God’s grace we came out ahead, still holding onto our sanity and sure that through it all, He never left our side.



Choosing the sunshine side of life,


Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace—because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord God you have an everlasting rock. (Isaiah 26: 3-4)

1 comment :

Claudette said...

Chantelle -- Life is so cyclical -- all those ups and downs, who knew it would be a crazy rollercoaster ride for your family?! Wishing you some calm "straight-aways" -- also sending hugs your way. That cast will be off and Bennett will be as good as new in no time - he WILL master those monkey bars yet ;)