Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Transitions- Pain and Joy mixed together

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“Look on every exit as being an entrance somewhere else.”

 

We have just arrived back in Niamey, Niger. Our second home in this world and arriving is exciting and brings tears of joy to our eyes, but also we realize there is great sadness in the leaving. One of the hardest things to do is big transitions. Where life looks so different on one side as compared to the other. It takes weeks and lots of purposeful time talking, praying and preparing to do this as well as possible. We have spent lots of time talking through it with our kids to help them do it well this time. Now that they are older, the transitions are harder and more real to them.

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The leaving

The hardest thing to leave is people. Nothing can replace the dear family and friends we have at home in North America. We find that almost everything else is a willing sacrifice, but leaving loved ones hurts and truly costs us something in our hearts. I always say the leaving would be easy if we could only bring them with us. So many of them support us deeply and encourage us and we are so thankful, and while some don’t support us, we are assured none the less that this is where we are supposed to be. God has clearly placed his call on our lives to the work He is accomplishing in Niger, and the work He is doing in our own lives and characters through our time here.

Leaving this time after 17 months at home in Canada has sent us out with such an amazing group of supporters. We have connected deeply with so many of you on so many levels. I made so many rich friendships in different places. We tabulated it up and we had 76 speaking engagements and we drove just over 10,000 km in those 17 months, not including flights for work to Ontario, BC and Saskatchewan. You welcomed us and we were inspired by your own passions in your communities and for God’s work around the World. We were touched to see your generosity and partnership in the work He is doing in Niger. I can’t wait to see a bunch of you come out to Niger sometime in this next term to see first hand the Tuareg people, the school, and so much more. To experience this beautiful land and it’s people and challenges yourselves.

There are indeed little things we will miss. Coffee dates at a cafe (and good coffee in general). Easy grocery shopping and a large variety of food. Sane driving. Holidays celebrated and decorations. The colors of Fall, the amazing beauty of the Rocky Mountains. Camping. Activities like libraries, sport teams to join, weekend getaways to beautiful places. So many parts of everyday life that look a little bit different here.

The arriving

Coming home to our house in Niamey felt like home. Driving down the streets and seeing the same sights and smells and so many of the people we love, it felt like we had barely been gone at all. While the leaving was especially hard for our two older kids this time, once they were in our house they were excited to see some of their toys, their own beds, and to remember all the good memories here. What a blessing to have our home still here and not to have to start over setting up at some place new. It gives a good sense of rest and belonging already, even though there is a lot of work ahead to get it cleaned and set up again and unpacked.

The greatest joy in arriving is the people, which ironically was also the hardest to leave behind! While we can never replace the family and friends we left behind, we have been blessed with an amazing community here in Niger. We have a wonderful team we work with day in and day out. They are surrogate siblings, aunts, uncles and grandparents to our kids and us, they help to fill that gap in our hearts and it is beautiful to see community work as God intended. We have great sets of friends here in our team and in the general community. I personally count many of these women as sisters. Women who love me, walk with me, know me deeply and love unconditionally. We go through life together and I am so happy to be back among them. Our kids are thrilled to see their friends here again and we look forward to re-establishing family traditions and outings and community times as a normal part of our life again. Thank you Jesus for this community here in Niger of people who are full of grace, who seek your heart and serve you.

Already our Tuareg friends are also showing up to greet us. Our guards and their families re-embrace us in their lives. Paul’s apprentice Hama was waiting outside the gate on our second day here, eager to see Paul again. While we were gone we put him through a program at a local trade school so he could keep learning. He exceled and got his certificate and has been working at the International school as a welder/handyman where he has become known for his great work ethic and attitude. He is eager for the Men’s program to launch again so he can keep learning.

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I can’t wait to get out next week and starting visiting our Girls and their families. Some have gotten married and even had babies as well in this past year. I have missed them and I can’t wait to hear more about the changes in their lives and what is new and exciting with them.

In posts to come we will reintroduce you to the country we are in, it’s people and the things we are experiencing like for the first time!

Until then, a few pictures of our travels!

An early morning flights out of Amsterdam has us enjoying our last Starbucks and rolling our carts through the quiet hallways.

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Ella was an amazing first time flyer!

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Bennett’s picture out the window of sunrise over Paris.

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6 comments :

Di said...

May God richly bless you as you work & love among the people in Niger once again. And may he ease the pain of missing the ones left behind.

Judy said...

So good to hear your excitement and joy to be back in Niger and to experience at bit of it vicariously! Also sad for you guys and your kids to leave precious loved ones behind, but good to hear especially of the kids jumping into their "old" lives there with such excitement. Many blessings to you all!

Jenny N said...

Dearest Chantelle, I follow your blog and facebook updates about your family. What a journey you are on! I'm working for World Vision Somalia these days, and I often compare my experiences there with what you are doing-- its particularly nice to see how you and your family are a team in this! Lots of love to you all, Jennifer N.

Pamela Engel said...

Praying for your beautiful family as you all transition to life in Niger. Awesome picture of the sunrise, Bennett!

Joëlle said...

Merci Chantelle! J'aime beaucoup te lire, et je peux comprendre entièrement ce que tu veux dire. Je connais la vie canadienne, et celle au Niger aussi... Thanks for sharing! :)

Anonymous said...

I sure miss you guys. I can just picture you getting home and getting all set up again. Makes me miss Niger! I'm so so glad Bennett and Arielle got to be at my wedding with Rebecca and Ian while they were in Canada. They were my little Niger ambassadors! Love you all and can't wait to read more updates on life in Niger.
Katherine