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May, Hey…


For the past few months I have been taking classes to learn Zarma, one of the local languages here.   I now have a plethora of languages floating around in my head.  I think I’m fairly decent in English, but my French is not what it needs to be, and I’m not sure if my Zarma will ever become fluent.  So, I’ve decided that what I lack in language efficiency, I’ll make up for in language profundity.  The most common African language in Niger is Hausa; maybe I’ll take lessons for that next. 

I did, however, have a couple of encouraging moments recently.  I was sitting in an office, and a painter walked in.  I greeted him in Zarma, and he assumed that I could speak Zarma. This happens frequently and I am forced smile sheepishly and explain in French that my Zarma doesn’t really extend past greetings.  But this time, I actually understood what he said.  He asked me if he could start work in that room.  I couldn’t respond with a complete sentence, but I said ‘yes’ (in Zarma) and left the room.  We’re looking for small victories here.  A few days later, I drove into my driveway at my house, and two kids walked through my gate.  I know many of the neighborhood kids, but I didn’t know these two.  I asked them in Zarma what they needed.  They asked if they could pick mangoes from my tree.  I told them that they could have 5 or 6.  They giggled at the fact that I was speaking their language and smiled at the thought of taking their shirts home filled with mangoes. 

Life continues to move rather slowly.  I am still trying to put together a picture of what my life should look like here in Niger.  I continue to meet regularly with four or five national Christians and four or five missionary kids.  I teach at a Bible school in Niamey and will travel soon to a village to teach at a Bible school there.  I write Bible study notes for a local church.  I also may start editing dissertations for a seminary that instructs in English but whose students speak English as a secondary language.  If this happens, it would be a paying position and serve to augment my income.  There are other ideas that may or may not transpire.  I seem to wear several small hats.  Pray for me as I try to discern which hats I should continue wearing. 

For Easter, I was honored with the privilege of preaching at the sunrise service for the English-speaking community.  I could think of no better way to celebrate Easter, than to talk about our need to invest the love of Christ into individuals.  I have a friend who is a missionary kid and is about to graduate from high school.  A few weeks ago he was visiting a section of the Niger River beach (I hate to use that word for anything in Niger because it conjures images of coconut trees and water, but I’m afraid I must).  Anyway, he was visiting a restaurant situated near the muddy banks of our river and came across a lonely man who was obviously drunk.  My friend shared with this man a very brief message of the hope of Christ.  They exchanged telephone numbers, but the possibility was thin that any further communication would take place. The man’s cultural pride and inherited Islamic values would probably prevent him from reaching out to a Christian, regardless of how kind the Christian may have been.  However, the man did call.  He just wanted to talk about life in general.  My friend suggested a meeting, but that suggestion was denied.  I recommended patience.  I believe it was Tuesday that my friend was invited to the man’s home where he was able to share the message of the love of Christ with grandma, grandson, and whoever else may have been present.  I have found in my own life that when I ask God for opportunities with specific individuals, he is faithful.  And so, my prayer for you is that God would place an individual in your path who is hungry for the love of Christ.  May our hearts be filled with something to give.