Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What is a girl worth?

I have been researching and immersing myself in books related to the value of girls in different societies. I am shocked often by how wide the gap is across the world in different cultures and countries. Across my reading I came across some great thoughts and quotes. So I would like to share them here, along with some new portraits of some of our girls. They have VALUE. They are LOVED and CHERISHED and it is such a joy and honour to be part of their lives!


So what is a girl worth?

Maybe we could say:
...she is worth having her sexual purity protected

… she is worth advocating for. She needs you to stand up for her and her rights

…she is worth telling the truth to

…she is worth protecting from all kinds of abuse and violence and neglect.

…she is worth educating

…she is worth nurturing, mentoring and engaging in real conversation

..she is worth loving as Christ loves the Church, His Bride



Zuwera here has scars all up her arms and she is very self- conscious and feels no one could ever love her. Oh how I long for her to feel loved and accepted. I pray she gets that from us, but more importantly knows there is a God who loves her and knows she is beautiful!


Mentoring is an intentional relationship that is unlike any other.

It is not about knowing something. That is education.

It is not about learning to do something. That is training.

Mentoring is about showing someone how to be something.

Jesus mentored his disciples. He did not offer theoretical instruction. He “did life” with them.



His Grace says “even though (something happened)…I ALWAYS will LOVE you and ACCEPT YOU”

He’ll always see you as the precious, beautiful, sweet girl He created.

But evidence of Him is so obvious on the darkest of canvas like your stories…such beauty blooms when we reach out and ask for reminders of our worth–it’s our worship to turn toward affirmation, for our hearts know the truth.



To be able to walk this road with these girls.

To see God take them from defeat to success, from self doubt to confidence.

That is the best job in the world!


Thursday, February 23, 2012

The picaken–an epic feat of cooking!

Here in Niger we need to get creative in our fun. There just isn’t much to do! So when I read a blog about this crazy feat of cooking, I knew we had to try it! I found a partner in crime in Kerrianne and we plotted our cooking adventure to our unsuspecting victims at the next team potluck!
So have you ever heard of TURDUCKEN? You know, the main course dish where you take a chicken, you stuff it inside a duck, which you then stuff inside a Turkey before cooking it all together? As a meat lover this makes my mouth water but we have yet to make it. Paul brings it up every once in a while so maybe we will try it when we are home!

Anyhow…the picaken is the DESSERT VERSION of the Turducken. YOU MAKE A YUMMY PIE. You cook it. Then you pour cake batter all around it and you bake it right inside of a CAKE. COOL! So of course the first step is to come up with a yummy combination. Our options are limited so we decided to try a chocolate/peanut butter pudding pie with a white vanilla cake around it.

First we made the pie. (This is all done at Kerrianne’s place since our oven is still broken 2 months later with no fix in sight).

IMG_3215Kerrianne hard at work

IMG_3216You really can’t go wrong in my option with any dessert that mixes chocolate chips and peanut butter!IMG_3217The cooked pudding is ready to pour into the baked pie shell.


In it goes! After this we called it quits for the day to allow the pie to set. We wondered how to drop it in the middle of a cake pan.

IMG_3221Fast forward to the next day. We whipped up yummy vanilla cake mix. (As a side note- another bonus of doing the cooking at Kerrianne’s is that her mixer doesn’t shock you with electricity like mine does!) So we used a spring form pan so we could get a nice high cake. We poured some batter into the bottom first.


Then we dropped in our cold pie. It fit snug. I wished we had a bit bigger spring form pan.


Then we poured cake batter all down the sides and covered the top. The pie is totally hidden now!


We let the cake bake at this point. I realized when we got to the time when it should be ready that the middle top was not baking. I realized the error of my ways in using a cold pudding pie with no pastry top so it was not letting the batter cook in the middle top. So NEXT TIME I will use a more traditional baked pie with a pastry top (take note of that any of you who want to try this at home!) You can see in the picture that the middle is not quite cooked. But the pie is well hidden!


Then for fun I added a 1 inch layer of a yellow cake. Three flavours in one dessert! Of course this made it difficult to decorate. I had made an awesome browned butter icing from an old cookbook. It was so yummy it took willpower not to eat it out of the bowl!


OK so I definitely lose points on the decorating. At this point Cecilia texted me and said “FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION!”


At our potluck that night we let Cecilia be the one to cut it open. She knew we were having fun with our epic dessert plan but had no idea what it was. IMG_3230Check it out! You can clearly see all three layers!


The very inside white batter was still not cooked (due to the cold pudding error) but let me tell you- it tasted awesome! Decadent! You don’t need a very large slice to truly enjoy this rich dessert. And everyone loved the surprise of the pie hidden in the cake!


So here is my question to you- what kind of combination do you think would be awesome? Warning to my family – I intend to perfect this process and bring it to family events next year! And let me know if you plan to try it at home yourself! Go have fun!


Here is a picture of someone else’s  double decker picaken delight - courtesy of tasteofhome.com


For the original crazy inspiration – check out this YouTube video!

The Original Picaken

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Playing Tailor!

Today was a BIG DAY for our Girls at the Niger “Girls at Risk” school where we work!. For weeks and months we have been prepping them to be able to work as tailors. This includes strengthening their vocabulary, teaching the value of money better, math, measuring,etc. So many things! Their year end evaluation will include a portion to see how well they have been able to learn all these things and also it will help them launch their own small businesses one day.

So we decided to have a preliminary evaluation to help us see where the girls were at and what specific areas we needed to focus on more in our teaching.

Today we had 4 volunteers come to the Centre to pretend to be clients. They would only speak French to the girls. Each girl would take a turn coming in and setting  up at a desk behind her sewing machine like this was her tailor shop. The moment the “client” came in the door the evaluation would start.

Here is a group of girls practicing out in the yard while they wait nervously for their turn


Each girl would pretend to be the tailor and go through greetings, finding out what work they wanted do, picking a model, taking their measurements, negotiating a price, asking for an advance, getting their contact information and sealing the deal! It was so much fun to see their excitement and nerves and how much they practiced to be prepared for today.

Little Sahara here did not disappoint! She is in our lowest level of literacy class and yet she rocked it today! She spoke in French, wrote everything in the right place and blew us all away with how awesome she was! YAY!!


Here is Zeina taking Brenda’s measurements


Brenda and Fatima discussing which model she would like to make


Mira and Almanate deciding on their price


As the afternoon wore on it started to get hot! It is only Feb 1st (meaning barely even into a 6 month hot season) and already it was 38.9 degrees at 4 o’clock in the afternoon!! Pray for endurance and patience for us all!


And to top off an awesome day we spent some time doing some nutrition review with the girls in our health class. We introduced three balanced meal plans. We talked out sauces and each food items and the nutrition value of each one. Then we had the joy to tell them that we would be making those meals for them! Starting with two days a week until we have full funding, we are going to offer a hot lunch program until the end of the year to help them make it through the looming famine! Praise God!

What a great day!