Wednesday, April 24, 2013

New Friends!

"Make new friends but keep the old,
Some are silver and the others gold."

These are the words of a little song we sang in Pioneer Girls (a Christian based girls club at church). We used to sing it in a round and I loved the harmony as a young girl. Now that I have lived a little longer, the meaning of the words catch my attention. I realize that friendship is truly a gift. It must be cherished an nourished just like a marriage relationship. Traveling around as much as I do, it can be hard to maintain relationships and keep in touch. Yet, I am so grateful to those of you who are my friends. So thankful for Facebook and blogging so that we can keep in touch.

African culture is all about relationships! Having a friend outside of the family and local community is quite something. To be received into someone's home is also a very special gift. Last visit to Niger, Sodogas, our physical therapist invited Angele (the nurse manager) and myself into his home (s) where we met his mother, siblings and two wives (separate homes).  The first wife received us into her home and lavished us with food, water, gifts etc. At the time she was great with child.  It was such a joy when yesterday she unexpectedly visited me at the hospital. She brought her dear baby Caleb with her. Aminatou, (I think that is the name is spelled or at least pronounced) is a new friend! She is a school teacher in a village about 15 miles away (1 hour) from the hospital.

Another little fellow is a very sweet company. He speaks a little French but communicates with smiles and gestures. He is very content to enjoy silence together.  Abdoul Ganu is his name. He loves my songs and actions that go along with the words.....He understands the joy that Christians have as they sing to God and recount His faithfulness.

Mamma A with sweet!
My dear office companion Abdul Ganu....just being together is precious!
In all these encounters with people in Niger, I am reminded that the LORD GOD is in control of every relationship. I pray that every word, gesture, and action would communicate the love of the LORD Jesus Christ.

Commit your activities to the LORD, and your plans will be achieved. The Lord has prepared everything for His purpose.....Proverbs 16:3, 4
I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Forever Friends

One great joy of serving the LORD with CURE International is meeting some of the most amazing people.  Josh and Julie are a couple that I have grown to love over their time in Niger. We began our acquaintance when we stayed at the CURE guesthouse together. We talked over tea and treats from the USA. How could a young married couple be so nice to an itinerant visiting nurse? Why? The answer lies in the bond of Christian love.  Regardless of our age differences, educational backgrounds, life experiences......we share a common love for God and the people of Niger.  Specifically, we love working with the dear ones that come to the CURE hospital for children in Niamey, Niger.  Josh is a Spiritual Director at our hospital. He is such a good pastor and Bible teacher. Julie is a very gifted art therapist. The children are so excited to express themselves through painting, drawing and any other art forms Julie dreams up for them!  Beyond my admiration for their professional and ministry skills, I am delighted that we share a warm friendship. Each visit is richer and more precious. I am so blessed to know each one of them.
Last Friday, we enjoyed an evening of pizza made my Josh, cole slaw and cookies by Julie....but more than the food....we had a super time of fellowship with Julie's special friend Naomi. What a joy to play with Leon, Josh and Julie's (soon to be adopted son) Leon. What fun!!
So blessed with these dear friends!! God bless them everyone......what a gift friendship is in a foreign land....with these dear ones I feel right at home!

Josh is Mr. Pizza Man! Wow, he makes a fabulously delicious pizza :)

Maman Maureen enjoying some Leon time!

Wheee! Flying baby Leon!  

Can I get down now?

This little guy is so adorable! I am missing my grandkids so much!

We ate so many pizzas....I lost count!
Josh at work at the hospital with Pastor Hassane
Art Therapy with helpers from Sahel Academy

Naomi on the left, Leon, center, Julie on the right.....such dear women!
 Casts ready for Julie's artistic is rare to see the plain while casts on CURE hospital campus for too long! Paints and glitter make them beautiful pieces of art.

Baby Dedication-Celebrations!

We waited for the parents and baby to awaiting for the bride and groom at the wedding...We chatted and enjoyed being together outside of the hospital. It was so heartwarming to see nearly every nurse attend the celebrations.

Angele ingeniously wrapped her gift in a reusable bag from Fayette County heating and cooling company. I gave my version of a baby gift card....CFAs Central African currency FRANCS :)

We were ushered into a home where we were royally served huge between 3-4 people. Upon a bed of rice, there was a sauce made of eggplant, olives, onions, piment doux and fort.....sweet and hot peppers....the platter was crowned with a piece of lamb shank......delicious! We ate with our fingers.....I managed to get rice everywhere! We were each given a small bottle of juice to go with our meal.....very generous!!

We squished in every corner possible. It was a lot of fun....we got to be inside with fans.....the rest of the guests were served outside......they had some kind of doughy stuff with a fish sauce. I think the hospital staff were considered close family and served special platters.

Here are three pregnant nurses sitting on a couch. Haoua, Djamilla and excited for them! Children are considered such a blessing to these families.

Natalie is a sweet sister in the LORD! She is one of the nurses who is so nurturing and cares for each of us so generously. She planned a surprise birthday party for Angele the Thursday previous to this Baby Dedication Celebration. I love Natalie so much! She means so much to the CURE nursing team.

Every party has a photographer!!

It is hard to see but this is the kitchen central for all the food at the celebrations! These dear women are outside in the sun tending the fires and pots! They deserve a medal for all their labors.....or at least an afternoon in an air conditioned room!

The parking lot outside the parent's home.....canopy is what we sat under until lunch time. A super time was had by all! What a great joy to enjoy a time of fellowship and friendship last Sunday afternoon! God bless Leonie, Wilfred, Adora and Issac!!!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Part 2- Baby Dedication Sunday

Everyone wants to have a turn at holding the dear baby-this is Nurse Amina

This is Nurse Neffissa, she has been married for one week, but wants to see what it feels like to hold a newborn!

This man is a natural with babies....he is Abdullay, works as a cook at the hospital....a true nurturer. He is such a sweetheart! He came to church even though Christianity isn't his religion. He is so sensitive and a blessing to our hospital.

This sweet Christian couple have been married a year and are expecting their first baby soon. They asked to hold the baby to get some practice!! Habib works with me at the hospital. He is a great help to me in many ways.

Family photo with the grandparents

Don't forget me!! I'm the big brother!! I remember holding this little boy when he was just weeks old! I've seen him grow into a sweet 3 year old. He is charming and so delightful. He has wonderful Christian parents!

Hassane and Ali politely wait for lunch to be served after church.

Angele went for the African look on Sunday

This was our communal pot of ice water which we dipped communal cups while we waited for lunch to be served. We were seated under a canopy to shade us from the sun...but it was still quite hot. Lunch was served inside.....Part 3!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday: Baby Dedication.....great celebration for all!! Part 1

Some people were even bringing infants to Him so He might touch them, but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. Jesus however, invited them: "Let the little children come to Me, and don't stop them, because the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I assure you: Whoever does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." Luke 18:15-18 HCSB

Here she is: Adora Jessica-dedicated this day to the LORD!
Wilfred and Leonie and their daughter Adora Jessica; brought before the LORD and the church family
Helema from the CURE hospital

All the nurses are so pleased to be a part of the celebrtions

Maman Maureen and Leonie with her dear little one. (Africans do not like to smile often in pictures)

Cure Family rejoice together!

In spite of the heat, noise and being passed around....Adora Jessica sleeps peacefully in my arms!

Angele with the dear baby...she is Aunty to all the nurses' babies

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Learning to make alala (Galettes) : A lesson in cooking and microfinance at CURE

Step # 1 Prepare white beans and peel lots of garlic

Step #2 & 3  Grind the beans and garlic and some onions together, gather mixing bowls and palm oil

Step #4 Pound the peppers-dried and fresh.....HOT, HOT, HOT!!!

Step #5 Mixing of ground beans, water, Maggie cubes, more chopped onions and mix

Ishatou is the woman in the yellow top, she helps with the social worker and pastors to help the poor women to learn how to make a living preparing 'Street food'. 'Ah lala' is also called galettes, in French and I think we would call them dumplings in Kentucky.

Step #6 The sloppy mixture is put into small plastic bags-available everywhere apparently!

As we bagged the mixture the women ask questions about how to make the Alala or galettes. They were taught about the nutritional value of the mixture. This is a fast food item that is sold at the gates of schools in the villages. It is a sure money maker. The initial outlay for the grinder/mill for the beans etc is soon recouped.....I wondered?

Step #7 Get a big pot of boiling water and  set up a trivet to steam the bags

Yummy! Lunch in a and ready!

Waiting......fanning the fire!

Mother's are excited of the prospects of having a little business that would support their family.

Health is more than the surgical needs of these children. Their health is affected by poverty, lack of education, lack of knowledge, lack of social support, lack of spiritual encouragement and lack of material resources to live healthfully. 
It was such a special privilege to spend the afternoon at the CURE hostel. The caregivers and their children stay there while waiting for surgery or during continued medical/surgical care. Many people stay at the CURE hostel while having prolonged treatments for osteomylitis or wound care for burns.  These long stay patients and their caregivers are given the opportunity to learn life skills to earn money in their villages. It is a real community of many cultures. There are many tribal languages spoken.......yet the common ones are love, cooperation and mutual concern for their dear children. Friday was wonderful. As we waited for the galettes to steam, I sang all the Sunday School action songs that I knew. Issatou translated them simply. The children loved the actions and tried to learn them. It was a great ice breaker. The women loved seeing me help with the chopping cooking etc....I guess cooking is a common language among women! Oh and by the way......these dumplings were delicious! No kidding! I ate it....very filling!!  Anyone want the recipe?

I am the bread of life, Jesus told them. No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in Me will ever be thirsty again. John 6:35

True satisfaction!!