Niger, Africa

This winter I had the opportunity to travel to Niger, Africa, to be a part of a medical and evangelism team with General Baptist International. But guys. I don’t know a darn thing about medicine and sometimes bandaids are a challenge for me. But I knew God was still going to use me and a willing heart was worth so much more to him. I decided to leave my doubt and fear behind, and say heck yes to this.
Before our trip, we had a 24-hour layover in Istanbul, Turkey. We visited a few mosques including the famous Blue Mosque. We needed to have our heads covered but all I had was this floppy headband. Also it was COLD and the only warmish thing I packed were some selwar kameez pants I got in India a few years ago that definitely resemble pajama pants. So altogether I looked awesome. But in a nutshell, the coffee in Turkey is intense, Turkish Delight is weird and delicious, and there are cats everywhere.
When we got to Niger, I really had no expectations. Despite if you’ve had the “culture shock” before, nothing prepares you for that first sight of extreme poverty. Each day we drove a couple hours to a village to set up our med clinic and treat as many people as we could. Some days hundreds of people would be sitting in line in the dirt waiting for us. Word travels. Our team had 2 doctors and 6 people who weren’t medical. Quite the team, huh. Having the extra hands was still beneficial in helping register people, bandage wounds, hold sick babies for overwhelmed mothers, give them their medication, and talk with them about the love of Christ. Though I wish we had more resources, a dozen more doctors or so, and tons more time, there’s always going to be that feeling of wishing we could’ve done MORE. That’s the cool thing about the God we serve; he’s got this great plan and asks us to be a part of it, despite our limitations. He prepares the way and the hearts of those we’ll reach, and when we get discouraged for wanting to be more impactful we have to remember the all-powerful God who’s orchestrating everything. And he loves the Nigeriens more than we do. We did treat so many people. And the more people that came, the more we could tell about the Savior that loved and died for them. That is really why I signed up for this. That is why I left my husband and 1 year old daughter halfway across the globe. To travel to a place where less than .5% have the knowledge of Jesus.
We worked with 6-8 amazing interpreters/pastors who knew 4 or 5 languages and we basically would’ve been dead without them. However, some of the “unreached” villages we traveled to had such complex dialect that even through 3 or 4 interpreter we couldn’t communicate with the people. That will boggle my mind for a long time.
On the last day of our trip we got to see some wildlife, and I wasn’t about to leave without riding an African camel.
I will miss the warmth of Nigerien people. Their enthusiasm to see and hear why we came. The crowds of kids running the dirt roads laughing and coming close to touch my arm hair like it was the most amazing thing. The colorful outfits and babies wrapped on their mommy’s back.

God is doing big things in Niger.