To Market! To Market! To Buy…Mangoes!

We recently heard from our language tutor that Niger has declared that they are experiencing a famine. But we really don’t experience the effects of this in the city of Niamey. The people in villages may be struggling to survive, while the city (where we live) has food. This reality is difficult to understand, but nevertheless our family is not suffering for food.

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Being mindful of this, one highlight for me is being able to buy local fruit, vegetables and eggs at the market. There are many roadside stands to choose from, but we have a particular stand that we prefer. It is a little off the beaten path, but we can find all of our “fresh things” we need there. Now that we are familiar, the vendor seems to know what we like and goes out of his way to keep us happy. I like to ask where the fruit is from, and buy what is grown in Niger whenever possible. Let’s keep this economy moving, I like to think to myself, one grapefruit at a time! 

Right now – it is mango season.

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Look at all these mangoes!!!!

Try not to be jealous, but right now I can buy a kilo of mangoes (that’s about 3-4 of these beautiful mangoes) for 500 cfa = which is a little less than one American dollar!

Yum! Now I need some creative ways to eat them…recipes anyone?

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Thinking About Communication & Learning Things the Hard Way

Communication is one of the things I think about a lot. And, now that we are on the other side of the planet from so many people I love dearly, I think about communication now more than ever!

I’ll be honest, thinking about this has given me stress since our arrival. I find myself wanting to write letters and share little tidbits throughout each week, though I don’t have any real method or order to do it, or even the time for it! For someone like me who strongly believes in the importance of communication in relationships, this “stress” is a very real battle! I realize we must fully invest our lives here, but I cannot ignore this inner urge to stay connected.

So, I have an idea to help me follow through. I simply needed a plan. I hope it will be a blessing to you – those who read this blog and our email updates, and who choose to follow our ministry here. And I also hope this will help me satisfy my desire to connect our lives here with the world we left behind.

My plan: I’d like to share here on this blog short “snapshots” of little things we see or learn here, without the pressure to write an entire blog article. This will be short and sweet, with photos and insights gained while living everyday life here in West Africa.

Without further ado – here is a quick look at something we “tried” last week: Hosting a dinner with a Tuareg family!

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This family lives right outside our front door, within our small walled compound. The mother and daughter do not speak French and the father only speaks a little bit of French. This has made our “co-habitation” somewhat challenging. But we wanted to extend our friendship to them by hosting a meal.

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We asked a few questions of a missionary friend here who works with the Tuareg people and we followed the advice. Invite them to our terrace (instead of inside at the table), men on one mat, women on the other. Simple food. Voila!

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Ruth and I shared some pens and paper to draw pictures and identify things in English, French and Tamajaq languages. Amie (the wife) wrote our names in Tamajaq, and she gave Ruth and I small beaded bracelets as gifts! Meanwhile Andy was trying to speak with Shorib (the husband) in French.

Here’s the funny thing – they hardly ate anything! Seriously, I wondered if I had done something wrong…here I had made plenty, and the food was simple enough (chicken peanut sauce with rice) but they just hardly ate more than five bites! It was so unexpected!

Upon investigation afterwards, what might have happened – according our local friends – is that the Tuareg are private and do not like eating in front of people. So until they are completely free and comfortable with people, they do not like to eat in front of them. What we could have done, then, is give them a large platter of food to take back to their shelter to eat privately. The other theory is that they simply did not like the food! And in this culture, apparently, it is completely acceptable to just not eat what is served.

Who knew? I guess sometimes you just have to learn things by stepping out and trying!