Snapshot: Finding Rest

Finding a way to rest and relax here in Niamey is extremely difficult. Just try to imagine a city without lovely parks or quiet places to take long walks. Imagine a sprawling, dusty city without coffee shops where it is comfortable to simply relax and read a book or have a date. We live in a rather noisy, dirty city where you are always being watched (because you are white), and entertainment options are little to none.

But we realize that we still need to rest and be refreshed. The work we do here is difficult and stressful, so our bodies and spirits need respite. This is a snapshot about how we found a way to do this!

About two hours outside of the capital city of Niamey (where we live), there is a large recreational park, called “Parc W”. It borders the Niger River and boasts the only “safari-like” experience of this country.

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With our Christmas break being so long, we decided to venture away from the city for a few days for refreshment. A group of missionary friends came too – we were quite the international group! There were Americans (us), 2 Australian families, 1 Norwegian family, and 1 Korean family!

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Our entourage: Americans, Koreans, Norwegians and Australians!

If you have heard about African safaris, Parc W is nothing like that. Niger’s landscape and animals are quite different. (I’m including lots of pictures so you can get the idea.) Though this place is nothing that National Geographic will boast about, we found it beautiful, tranquil, and a true respite for our bodies and souls.

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Sunset on the Niger River

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Were were required by law to hire two guides as we drove through through the Parc. They would help us see wildlife, if there was any.

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This is where we stopped for a picnic.

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Ruth and Youna

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“Really mom, you want a picture right now?”

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A boat was needed to cross to the island where we were going to stay.

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We all fit! Amazing!

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Our guide was bailing water the entire time, though – a bit unsettling considering there are hippos everywhere!

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Did I say hippos? Well, we immediately met this group of hippos as we were on our way to the island!

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Arriving at the island, you can see a lovely patio, welcoming us to relax and enjoy ourselves.

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The eco-lodges, like this one, were interspersed throughout the island. They have two beds per unit, an eco-toilet and even a little shower! It certainly isn’t rugged camping…I think we can safely call it “glamping”. (fancy camping)

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This is the iconic Baobob tree – plentiful on this island.

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Exploring was fun for all of the kids!

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Serious climbers there 🙂

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Playing games for those who didn’t go on the hike that day.

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Our hostess, a woman from France, had this “Christmas tree” set up since we were there just days before Christmas. 

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Morning coffee and a delicious breakfast.

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Andy and I took a private boat ride for two hours one afternoon – just to enjoy the tranquility of the river and hopefully to see some animals.

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We didn’t actually see many animals, but we witnessed the quiet village life along the river.

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A lovely woman, taking care of her daily work.

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I managed to capture a shot of this little monkey!

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Here are the ladies, enjoying some conversation.

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Each night, we experienced a bonfire like no other! Our friend, Minsung, made it his goal to “wow” us with his fire-building skills!

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And finally, a family picture before we left the island.

We are so thankful for this getaway! We were blessed with the cool weather, great time with friends, and the peace of God in a truly dry and desolate country.

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Snapshot: Our last-minute New Year’s Eve Party

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We hosted a last-minute party for New Year’s Eve – which is WAY out of character for us. (Usually we are in bed before midnight on December 31st!) It all happened so fast we didn’t have time to think about it carefully.

Our church called on the 29th.

Pastor Jeremie informed us that all the small groups were celebrating New Year’s together in their individual groups.

We, being brand new small group leaders for our neighborhood, were in charge of hosting a party.

Voila! A party must be planned.

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We quickly called the only two people we knew for sure were in our small group, and asked them to help (rescue) us.

They knew right away what was needed: text/call everyone, plan a snack to share at midnight, and make a plan for worship, prayer and a message.

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Here I am with Fanta, putting together the meat sandwiches which we were going to hand out at midnight. She did all the shopping and preparation and we simply paid for it. Her husband, Soumana, contacted everyone on the list. Andy planned for the “program”. I was just kinda stressed about having enough space in our little home!

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People started arriving at 10:00 p.m. (Don’t worry – Andy and I drank some coffee around 8!) And I am happy to say that everything went quite well. We met so many new people and it gave us fresh excitement about leading the weekly small group.

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The party died down around 1:00 a.m. and we crashed! Who knew that these Nigeriennes would bring out the party animals in us?

We pray that your New Year 2018 is off to a great start! God bless you!