By Danielle Hooper
Danielle is a middle school teacher at Sahel Academy, Niger. In this blog entry, she provides a glimpse into the adventure of being a teacher serving in a developing country in Africa.
On my desk at work I keep a five-year journal. This little yellow book is a place to record a cheerful moment from each day and I appreciate the reminder to discipline my mind, stop and consider what God is doing. This week I thought you might appreciate hearing some of my highlights.
- In 7th grade we are wrapping up the book “Seedfolks,” which addresses, among other things, views of children in the womb. I was deeply grateful for the opportunity to dive into this topic in further detail with these preteens. We looked at the scriptural defense for personhood beginning at conception, why Christians value human life, the reality of Jesus as Savior for all our sin, and our call to compassionately serve these mothers and their children. It is indeed a blessing to have the freedom to address life issues with the foundation of Scripture.
- On Wednesday I began a new type of community service. As Sahel’s ministry to the baby home needed another staff member, I was asked to transfer from the orphanage group. I am incredibly thankful that God has given me this new arena of ministry to abandoned infants and toddlers. On my first day I spent the time holding a precious, diaper-less child only a few months old. As I held her in my arms and prayed for her, I sang as many songs as I could think of that declared the Name of Jesus. How humbling that songs I learned in Idaho are now being sung over orphans who so desperately need the Savior’s love.
- THRIVE, the Saturday evening meeting for newcomers, concluded this week. We enjoyed a session from Monsieur Hama, who is also my French teacher, who instructed us on several aspects of Nigerien culture. I always appreciate the opportunity to hear parts of his story and be reminded that the gospel of Jesus Christ utterly transforms our lives.
- In 8th grade we had a potluck to celebrate the end of our book, “A Village by the Sea.” My students came dressed as various character and we enjoyed Indian food together. I thoroughly enjoyed the chance to share food and laughter with these girls, and was deeply touched when two students made snacks that I could eat. One of my students even brought me my own thermos of rice chi tea and collection of spicy crackers made with rice flour!
- Friday marked the day of prayer for September and I appreciated the chance to attend the evening, led by one of my student’s parents. Not only is it encouraging to lift up requests to the Lord together, but I am always blessed to hear about the ministries my students’ families are engaged in. Throughout middle school I have parents who serve as medical staff, Bible linguists, airplane mechanics, disciplers of local believers, trainers of pastors evangelists of the gospel through everything from technology training to cooking classes. The body of Christ is truly mind-blowing, and to serve in a supportive role to these ministries is a gift. All of you on my team through prayer and giving are a vital part of this community and I am deeply thankful for each one of you.
This weekend concluded with a sweet blessing as I arrived at Exodus 33, one of my favorite passages in all of Scripture. It is such a precious encouragement to meet with Jesus and know that I can praise Him for truths that we have returned to and dwelt in many times before. Verses 14 and 15 are especially dear, in the midst of the LORD’s conversation with Moses after the devastation of the golden calf. “And He said, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’ And he said to Him, ‘If Your Presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here.’” I just love that! Every time Jesus brings me to these verses I am reminded that to be near God is the very best of all. My prayer remains that He will not give me what I want, but what will keep me close to Him. I never want to be brought up from any circumstance if I am not brought up with Christ Jesus. May we be willing to remain in the desert and in the wilderness, following Him with soft devotion, for absolutely as long as He dwells there with us.