From Jerusalem to Timbuktu (almost)

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

(Acts 1:8 NRSV)

After many months of preparation, and a few very long flights, we have finally arrived in Niamey, Niger. Niamey is not quite Timbuktu, but in the same neighborhood; Timbuktu is in Mali which borders Niger and benefits at least from some name recognition; most people have never heard of Niger and if they think they have they are usually wrong – “No, not Nigeria, Niger.” Coming from Jerusalem, a place everyone has heard of (even if they sometimes think that it is a mythical/biblical city and are surprised to hear that it really exists), this is a dynamic that we will have to get used to. Then again, I think there is much about Niger that we will have to get used to.

We have come to work with an organization called CURE International, which does great work. Their website is http://cure.org/. CURE has hospitals all over the world, and their newest hospital is the CURE Hôpital des Enfants au Niger, right here in Niamey. It has been open for close to a year, actually the one-year anniversary is this month, and they have already treated many children. Julie and I are both very excited about joining the CURE team here and about being here in Niger.

For me (Josh), coming back to West Africa after such a long time away from it has conjured up a strange cocktail of emotions. On one hand, Niamey does seem very much like the end of the earth; even just our drive from the airport to the hospital revealed how much of a dry, hot and poverty-stricken place Niger is.

On the other hand, however, there is so much of it that is familiar to me, the smell of burning trash, the easy smiles from everyone you meet, the brochettes (or meat skewers) we ate last night when we were welcomed by some of the hospital staff. In many ways, Niamey already feels like home, even though I have spent less than 24 hours here.

Our flight here from Paris was headed for Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso after it dropped us off, and part of me wished that it would have stopped there first so we could have seen it, at least from the airplane. Ouagadougou was a place that I often visited with my family, growing up in northern Togo. But there will be a time and a place for walking down memory lane, for now it is good that Julie and I are starting something totally new together. We have come to a place where there is great need, and we cannot wait to start trying to be a blessing to the people of Niger.

This entry was posted in CURE International, Niger and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to From Jerusalem to Timbuktu (almost)

  1. jessica korn says:

    awesome!!!! i already love your blog and am excited to hear more and see some pictures!!! it is so exciting that you guys are THERE!!!! back to the motherland. you guys are far away but always close in my heart and mind.

  2. This is so great, Josh! Very excited for you guys. 🙂

  3. Tamira says:

    The beginning of a great story, can’t Wait to hear more. Our years in Togo were hard but wonderful and embedded West Africa and her peoples forever in our hearts. Very excited for you both.

  4. Sarah O. Shelton says:

    So excited for you guys! I know you will be such a great blessing to everyone you come in contact with!

  5. Liz Kopp says:

    I can only imagine the feelings you must be going through to be back in Africa and I am so thrilled that Julie gets to experience the African side of you in this new venture! It’s going to be an amazing saga and I am so grateful for internet which allows us to experience it vicariously to some degree with you.

  6. Danny Kopp says:

    How exciting this is going to be for you, clearly, but for us as well, to follow this fantastic experience! I want to be there already. Keep these posts coming.

  7. Cheyenne says:

    Josh, I stumbled on your blog on Facebook and was amazed to hear that you are in Niamey. My husband and I have very good friends who live in Niamey and are on staff with the IMB. It is a place we think of often! Small world! Blessings on your new adventure! Cheyenne (from elementary school in Kentucky!)

  8. Mary Dudley Stewart says:

    So excited you get to go home! I can tell I’ll be addicted to this blog.

  9. Josh and Julie, My wife and I met your parents just last weekend. We worshiped with them. I can see why they are very proud of you. Keep up the good work. Africa needs more good people like you. Ron Meyers

  10. Nancy Rothstein says:

    I am excited for all that G-d has planned for you in Africa! Nancy Rothstein

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