Monday, December 23, 2013

joy. so much joy!

OH MY GOODNESS I am one happy happy girl! I had tears in my eyes at dinner when all of us were holding hands around the dinner table, praying and thanking God for all of His blessings on us, and giving us the privilege of all being together. It is SUCH a gift!

My mom and I finished all the baking and cleaning and even had time to add fun little signs to the doors. Kyle and Andrew get one room and the girls in another.

We left for the airport at 17h and saw their plane fly above us!

We had a long while to wait, and it seemed like the looooooooongest hour EVER! I was SO anxious to see them!

While we waited, I took a picture of the pesky mosquito that had been bothering me and whose life tragically came to an end on my finger. Why take a picture of it, you might ask? Well, I happen to know this handsome doctor and he can tell me if it's a malaria-carrying mosquito or not. The verdict J$?

But back to the hour wait at the airport...Our prediction was that all of their bags would come (we were really hoping so!!) and that Lindsay would be the first to come bounding and leaping out of the airport. Both were true!

Oh man was it was a great reunion!! We're not allowed to take pictures at the airport, but imagine lots of smiles, squeals of delight and joy! The squeals of delight were more from the girls than from Ando.

Linds, Shorty and I rode with Moussa, our faithful and hilarious taxi driver. Lindsay was so happy to see him again, as he had taxied her around when she was here a year ago. 3 sisters reunited! Whaaaat!

And man oh man did we ever have the welcome when we arrived at our house! All of the neighbors came out to meet Monsieur et Madame's kids and they were thrilled! I'm really sorry for the quality of these pictures, but I was too excited to focus and change settings on my camera! :)

(Joel, that's Ramatou on the far right!)

They all came out to see the new arrivals! 

My siblings met their kids, and Mom introduced her kids. 

They loved seeing Mom and her son.

Ramatou, White Grandma (my Mom) and Nigerian Grandma had all decided several days ago that when everyone arrived, they'd all dance! And dance they did! 

Just imagine: a Mennonite from rural Kansas dancing hand in hand with an African Grandma on the dusty streets of Niger. It was quite a sight. We told my Mom that her "cool dance moves" are probably going to be seen as "this is how people dance in America" and everyone will start doing the same here in Niger. Oh my. There was so much joy. 

Now they are all sleeping and hoping to quickly get over jet-lag. And tomorrow is Christmas! We all open presents on the 24th at night and put on a Christmas play for our parents. Shorty thinks we're too old, but is super excited deep down, Linds has a million and one ideas of what we can do, and Andrew and I are more than happy to participate! And Kirk and Becca -- there are lots of surprises awaiting you!!!

Merry Christmas! And a BIIIIIIIIG congrats to Caleb and Cynthia on the birth of baby Esther Rose!!! 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

niamey = awesome

Our days have been full of baking, crafting, sewing, exploring, shopping, and enjoying the sights and smells of Niamey. It is so nice to be here! Have I already mentioned how at home I feel? Time is going by quickly but even more excitement is coming! Tomorrow 4 more cool people start their journey from Kansas and Minnesota to Niger! Monday night is going to be a BIG celebration here! Eeeeeeek can't wait!

I have done more crafts and sewing projects here than all semester combined and it has been doing my heart good! It's so fun, especially to do things with my mama. She is SO talented and continues to amaze me with her creativity and skill in card making. But we haven't just been crafting. Yesterday was our big baking day.

We made lots of goodies to store in the freezer with strict instructions for the man of the house not to have any until the appointed time!

At one point during our day, I was sitting in the living room when all of a sudden I noticed on one of the windows several big splotches of what looked like mud. I told Mom to come in and look and come to find out, the guy next door was putting on a new roof -- tin and cement, and he was flinging cement all over! You can kind of see him out of the window

So Mom opened the window, "HEY!! you're getting cement all over our windows! Please watch where you're throwing it!!" And then she cleaned her window sills. 

She's a hoot. Today I went shopping with her and Becca and as we were meandering around the store, the electricity went off, and for about 5-10 minutes, we were in complete darkness before the generator was hooked up and we had lights again. But no problem for mama Dorsch! She got out her handy flashlight on her phone and kept shopping! 

It's SUCH a different experience shopping here. Most of the big grocery stores are lebanese run, and then there is the "cheese and chicken place" where you can buy small frozen chickens from Brazil, and big chunks of cheese, hence the name. Mom smelled the flour before buying it, to make sure it was good. 

The most fun though, is when you're buying fruits and veggies from the side of the road. There is so much to see all the time! Sugar cane!

Today was a historic day for Becca! She asked how much bananas cost and understood the answer all by herself and ALL IN FRENCH! Woohoo Becca!! Great job!

I love these peanuts, and they're so much better sold in old whiskey bottles.

Even our taxi ride home was cool. Taxis are everywhere! To catch a taxi, you hold out 1 finger/person who needs a ride and then yell in the window at the driver where you want to go and he either says yes or no, depending on where he's headed. 

Heavy laden with sugar cane, a bag of rice (maybe?) and a suitcase. 

Our taxi driver was chatty cathy today and he kindly slowed down so I could get a picture of a camel. Remember how I said I wanted to get pictures of camels for all to see? Well, this is the best shot I could get:

I'll keep working on it! 

My Mom treated me and bought me a HUGE mango 2 days ago! It's not really mango season anymore, but she loves her daughter and let me have one! I was SOOO happy! It was delicious! The best fruit out there! I was smiling the entire time I was eating it. I heard that she froze a bunch when they were in season for us kiddos for a special Christmas treat! 

Hurry up and get here guys!! 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

an "uncle gordon must read"

Aunt Terry, can you make sure Uncle Gordon sees these pictures? They are especially for him!

Everyone is very cold these days, with the temps between 70-80. Our night guard got out his stoking cap to keep warm, and our taxi driver had a matching one! So cool that they are reversible! :)

I asked them both if I could take a picture for my Uncle and they were very happy to oblige. 

You may remember "Grandma" from my Mom's blog... our sweet next door neighbor who LOVES my Mom (also known as Grandma around here). 

She comes out of her yard with a few-toothed-grin and comes and puts her arms around my Mom. She doesn't speak French, but my Mom has learned a few greetings in Housa that always entertain everyone. 

We got stuck in a lot of traffic yesterday coming back from downtown, and it's always a great chance to get some pictures! 

It's really hard to tell from this picture, but there were about 4 lanes of traffic merging into 1... we got rear-ended twice yesterday. Nothing serious of course, and we weren't moving very fast -- just a little nudge! It's giving me good ideas for driving in Rennes! Rapha, you should try too!

I was so sad that I haven't been able to get pictures of camels laden with straw yet! All of a sudden I see their long legs out of my taxi window and then it's too late for a picture. 

I made 156 cut-out cookies and then Becca and our fun neighbors came over to decorate them for the campus Christmas party. 

While we were waiting for the students to arrive, Becca, Kirk and I entertained the kids. Kirk took pictures of the kids and then showed them and they were sooooo excited! Doesn't it look like the little boy he's taking a picture of is making a fishy face? 

I LOVE puzzles. Who doesn't like puzzles is the question!? So this morning I asked my Dad if we could do one together and he got out a 1000 piece one and we're almost done with it. He puts about 10 pieces in for every 1 I find, and then "encouragingly" says "oh good job, Liss! That was a hard section!" :) 

But oh how I love my Dad! These are such special memories and I am feeling so blessed to be here! 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

hello cold!

My suitcase arrived! Thankful that everything made it! It's still cold here, but the sights and smells are as they ever have been.

There is always so much to see. Yesterday as we were waiting for Dad to pick us up, I snapped this picture of a boy carrying his little shop around. Nothing unusual for here, but not quite an everyday occurrence in Rennes!

Then when we were driving downtown later that afternoon in our taxi, I tried to get a picture of the crazy traffic we were in. Pictures don't do it justice. Cars, trucks, people, bikes, mopeds, and the crazy taxi men are all weaving in and out of each other.

Yesterday we celebrated Kirk's birthday by going over to their place for taco soup and apple crisp. Yuuuum! After a great lunch, we helped Becca decorate for Christmas, which included cutting out paper snowflakes and Christmas trees. My Mom couldn't quite remember how to cut out a chain of trees and it looked quite...unique... Susan's turned out great!

On our way home we stopped at a fruit stand to pick up some produce. Moussa, our taxi driver, assured us that we were at one of the best fruit stands in Niamey and was very happy we were stopped there.  

Moussa is so funny. He has limited French. At one point he started talking about how he wanted to take us out to see the giraffes as he had done for me when I was here last, and for our cousins when they had come to visit. He said that now was a good time to go and you could see 40-50 of them at a time. 

We kept on driving, and all of a sudden we drove by this school where the kids had just been let out and there were children EVERYWHERE! So many kids! And I said "wow look at all those kids!" And Moussa goes, "yeah, the kids have all grown up too! There are more kids now again!" I didn't quite get what he was saying, and then realized we were still talking about the giraffes. 

Today we're having a big student Christmas party so we're baking cutout cookies and wrapping a gift for everyone. Will be fun to see the differences between having a student Christmas party here and one in France. 

The wind was blowing, and the sun was in our eyes, but it's me and my mama! 

Monday, December 16, 2013

feeling so at home in Africa

I am so happy to be in Niamey with my parents! Africa is just...home. Being here feels like coming home. It's a good feeling. It's harmattan time (desert winds that blow sand everywhere) and there is dust everywhere! So much in the air in fact that it looks foggy. If you don't believe me, just put on chapstick and then lick your lips. :) 

I arrived on Saturday night with just 1 of my 2 checked pieces... how one can get here and not the other, and just coming from Paris, one will never know. When I went into the back room to declare my lost luggage, they had already filled out a form with my information on it, so they knew it wasn't on the plane. We even got an email saying that it wasn't able to make the plane, but would be coming later. Hopefully we can pick it up today! Everyone's Christmas gifts are in it, so Ando, Linds, Shorty, and Kman -- better start praying! :) 

Sunday we dressed up for church and I finally got to meet Kirk and Becca -- the new staff couple working with my parents. I knew Kirk already but had never met Becca. They are such a fun couple! 

Church isn't in a building, and yesterday was COLD! 

It never got above 79 and the windchill was 70!! We met some students on the way and they were FREEZING! People were wearing coats, hats, and shivering! One of the students said it was "excessively cold" and when he got up to translate, he could hardly translate he was so cold! I could understand his pain. I am hoping it gets a BIT warmer yet...

The church service is in French, translated into Housa, and so we sang a mixture of French and Housa songs. I laughed so hard when I saw that this particular Housa song was to be sung to the tune of "tramp tramp tramp". Hahaha. Anyone know that hymn? Flat, I thought you would've gotten a kick out of that :)

The white people got up to sing a special number "O Come All Ye Faithful"

It was a bit slower and there was less movement on their part than when the African choir sang!

But the drummer played along with them, giving it a bit of an African feel!

There's so much more sand than in Burkina. 

As we were leaving church, Mom pointed out our Christmas dinner that was fattening up for the occasion. Keep eating little guy!

I'm off to try and find my lost suitcase!