Last night we said a very bittersweet goodbye. Danika and Daniel got on the airplane for a brief time of vacation in France. Daniel will then go on to America and a new job in Haiti. Danika will spend some much needed R&R time with our friends Helen and Phil in Europe and then see the Teagues in the Ivory Coast before coming back here in January.
Saying goodbye to Daniel was very bittersweet because we’re not quite sure when we’ll see him again. And his face has become very familiar these last two and a half years.
[Daniel and Sam Christmas 2008. ]
We didn’t know Dan, really at all, before he moved here. We knew his family a little. His parents a little more.
When God brought Daniel to Niger, he sent us a friend. And God has done amazing things in him and through him these last years. Dave told him the day he left that we have watched him become a man.
Also this week, we received a sort of every-day-kind of email from our National Office just asking us about our intentions here in Niger and re-clarifying our term here. Currently, our term ends June 30, 2010. Many times since moving to Niger, Dave and I have had periods of long discussion about why we are here and how long we should stay. This week has been one of those weeks again.
I want to ask you to pray for us in this regard. Specifically, that we will hear God’s voice clearly. There are some things that we feel Him telling us and there are other things that leave big question marks in our hearts.
This morning, as I drove across town, all of this put a new perspective on the sights and sounds that have become so familiar to me. I thought of Daniel. Thought about how he felt as he began to accept that he would soon be leaving.
And then I was filled with a sense of gratitude. And a little bit of sorrow
Gratitude for the years that we have now spent here. For the way that this life and this land have changed my perspective. Grateful that I have smelled and watched and tasted and danced and grieved for Niger. Sorry that I have ever let a single minute pass me by without that gratitude. Somewhat fearful that I have taken for granted these moments.
I prayed, right then, that I would never take this moment, this season, for granted any more. Even if this “season” of life in Niger lasts another decade.
Balance is such a very tricky thing for me here. I have spent some time reading this blog in the last day or two. I’m inspired by this mother of seven living a life pretty similar to mine. I want to stay aware of the needs around me. Some times I feel that the wall surrounding my house separates my life from my neighbors in much the same way the Atlantic separates your from Africa. Funny.
[A walk in the bush, January 2009]
As I look back at my own thoughts, I realize that I have said much about our life and very little about the lives around me here lately. There are many reasons for this.
Today God encouraged me to dive in deep. In friendships, in outreach, in love. I want to take advantage of every moment I have here with them. To treasure each trip outside my door. To engage this people in conversation, in relationship. I have become so comfortable in my understanding of who they are. Comfortable with the fact that I will never completely understand them. I no longer feel uneasy in a taxi or in the market. I know how to smile and greet them and laugh at my mistakes with them. I know when they insult and when they joke and when they are just being friendly. It has become my little world. Full of people and things I know.
[Spending time with some of my favorite kids this summer.]
So, I write all of this to petition you to pray. If you are reading this blog it’s because you have invested (to some degree) in our family. Would you take a minute and ask the Lord right now to give us direction? To make the opportunities clear. The best thing about these last years, as a wife, has been watching my husband in work that he loves. A job that fulfills him. A language he never thought he could learn. As we wrestle with the possibility of leaving all of that behind the big question becomes… TO DO WHAT? Is there a place for us where we fit as well as we do here? And we know the answer. If God chooses to move us, then the answer is yes. This is his show, not ours. We are following our LEADER. (but still, please pray).