This is from my friend Tina who served with World Relief in Haiti as well as Niger. I’m sharing it with her permission, because I rejoice with her.
This photo is enormously significant to me. Here’s why.
When we lived in Niger, we traveled often to an encampment of Wodaabe Fulani called Tassa Ibrahim. We worked with the women on literacy, so that one day they could read the Bible in their own language. The problem was that this encampment was a good 2-3 hours from where we lived, through the sand, and our navigator at the time was a guy who sat on the roof of our Toyota Hi-Lux and tapped on the right side of our windshield to go right, left side to go left. Water had to be hauled in, and I cooked over hot coals that were banked at night to keep them from going out. We had three kids and were homeschooling them. We slept directly on the sand under mosquito nets (certain seasons) and the heat could be intimidating.
We had this language helper, Mamane, a mere 14 years old at the time, who had come to Christ through Tim Eckert, and was sweet and a little goofy and a great friend to my boys. He came with us on every literacy trip.
After a while, we could see the impracticality of running a program at Tassa. I remember going to Tassa after long discussion (John and I) to tell Ibrahim, the leader of the encampment, that we just weren’t prepared to do a full scale literacy program for the women. We hated to disappoint him, but it just wasn’t practical. We’d just have to wait and hope for someone or something else to come along.
While John talked to Ibrahim, I was waiting on a mat a bit farther back, and the entire time the women were passing me tiny pieces of paper from the notebooks I had given them with little letters written over and over. I had a small pile of crumpled papers by the time John had finished talking. The women were speaking to me through those ‘a’s written over and over.
I will never forget Ibrahim’s answer to us. He said, ” Well, we will do this. You give whatever is your part whenever you can, and then God will bring someone to do their part. And like this, we will have literacy for the women.” And that’s what happened. Many folks worked at Tassa over the years including the handsome guy in the picture. That’s Mamane. Guess what he does now? He teaches literacy to Fulani children. Booddum, Yesu Almasihu!
I share this story to encourage you: do what you can do, and let others do what they can do. Collecting those little letters on scraps of paper, I would’ve felt enormous pressure to keep it up, to keep going even if I knew it wasn’t what my family needed. Part of faith in God is also faith that He’s working in the lives of others to fill in what we lack. Trust him, mamas. Trust that others can hear his voice, too. I can say this because I know you’re wearing yourselves out–don’t do that. Samuel Voorhies writes for Healthy Leaders: “Someone said, ‘Well, I would rather burnout for Jesus than rust out.’ Well, either way, my friend, you are out, and that is never God’s desire for us.” Stay in. Set boundaries. Do what you can do. It’s enough.