What Does He Do?

I have been so busy lately I haven't had time to blog. What has kept me so busy? I'm doing lots of things, but there are five main things I'm involved in.

The first is revamping our language learning program and trying to keep up with language learners on our field. This has involved a lot of work over the past few months. In July, I had discussions with a French language teacher from Quebec. We talked a lot about how to improve French language learning and keep in contact about learners in the pipeline. I'm also working on a new set of French-language standards for SIM. Many of our SIM people have to learn two languages: French and one local language. French is the official language of Niger, and there are seven other national languages: Hausa, Songhai/Zarma, Fulfulde, Tamajaq, Manga (Kanuri), Gourmantche, and Tubu. Our missionaries work in all of these languages (including two dialects of Fulfulde) except Tubu. In early October I led a workshop on independent language learning for eight people, most of them new to Niger. I have also been working on a collecting language learning resources and making a database of them for our people to use.

My second job is orientation. When new missionaries arrive on the field, I have the job of giving them an initial orientation to Niger and to SIM. This usually last one morning, and involves talking about the vision of SIM, a brief overview of SIM's ministries, cultural and practical guidelines, important health matters, writing a will, helping the newcomer figure out their finances and the new currency, and some paperwork (we have that everywhere, don't we?) Here's a photo of me in an orientation with two new teachers for Sahel Academy.

In addition to an initial orientation for every newcomer the day after they walk off the plane, I coordinate a one-day workshop twice a year for eveyone who has arrived since the last workshop. This helps newcomers process what they see and learn more about the country to which they have come. Part of orientation is getting housing set up for those associate members who will stay in Niamey for less than two years. In this capacity I assisst Nancy who is in charge of making sure each house is set up correctly. Here I am lifting some furniture with a young student at Sahel Academy.

My third job is teaching. If you don't know me by now, you need to know that I love teaching. It's my passion and my calling. I've done quite a bit of teaching this fall. I started out teaching algebra at Suzanne's school (Sahel Academy) for the first quarter of the year. I couldn't keep that up for more than five weeks, though, because I had many other things to do. After the workshop in Galmi, I started teaching a weekly course at my church on missions.

My fourth job is to keep up with the translation of children's stories that we completed while in Tera. I'm making slow progress on that one. Just last week, I was able to check 5 stories with a man who was in town from Tera for a few days.

My final job is worship leader. I play both guitar and piano and regularly lead worship for our mission family. At our annual conference in January 2009, I'm coordinating the worship team which will lead us all in singing and praise to God. I'm looking forward to that.

To do all this work, I spend a lot of time sitting at the computer writing letters or preparing for my classes. Sometimes I work at home and sometimes I work at the office. Here's a photo of me at my desk at the office working on my laptop.

So, I'm busy. What do I do in my free time? What free time? Actually, I like to read, work out, swim, run, watch videos, practice my guitar, and talk with my friends. There's not a lot of stuff to do here, but we make our fun. It's a simple life, but busy.