Heartbroken

Sahel Academy.

I don’t even know where to begin.

I spent 5 years of my life living on the campus of Sahel Academy, another year spending a vast majority of my time on campus. I remember where the old gate was, I remember the ground breaking for the high school building, I remember when there was a big swamp out where the soccer field is now. I remember trying to swing across that swamp on a tree branch (like Tarzan), and instead fell in and got a leech on my big toe.

I remember playing Go Home, Stay Home, then as I grew up playing Capture the Flag, Soccer, Volleyball, Ultimate Frisbee, Knock Out, Hockey and even Dodgeball on the campus of Sahel Academy.

I remember meeting my first roomate- Hannah Palmer. I remember crawling through cooler vents and hiding in cupboards with her, bawling our eyes out because we were so homesick. I remember my second roomate- Joy. I remember sharing clothes, doing everything together, shaving our legs for the first time ever, and then drawing tape down the middle of the room because we were so mad we didn’t even want to speak to each other.

I remember surviving junior high at Sahel. The patience of my teachers and even my friends is remarkable. There are so many relationships that should be destroyed because of selfish decisions that I made in junior high. I remember a ton of new people coming, and my selfish heart simply didn’t want to hear their stories of a campus that was destroyed by war. You see, many of my friends that year had to evacuate from ICA, coming to Sahel as their final destination.

I remember leaving Sahel for a year- to head back to the States. I remember missing Sahel with all my heart, just waiting for the moment that I could go back. I remember going back to Sahel- seeing the campus, seeing the AMAZING changes that had happened in just one year at Sahel.

I remember meeting God there. Oh, I already knew Him…but really meeting him, on that very campus of Sahel Academy. I remember going through the ups and downs of high school, of asthma, of relationships…every day growing in the Lord. I remember my teachers- Miss Carriger, Uncle Dave, Uncle Tim and Aunt Janice, Aunt Anora, Aunt Danette, Mr. Hama, Mrs Schmidt, Mr. Field, Mr. Stam, Mr. Meade….just POURING into my lives and the lives of my friends. I remember being healed of my asthma and standing in praise in the dining hall/cafeteria.

I remember walking down the grass strip in a black robe to receive my diploma, looking out into the faces of my missionary family, as they cheered for the accomplishment that they had all had a hand in.

And all those memories are currently submerged underwater. Over the past 6 days, due to torrential rains, both in Niamey and upstream, the Niger river has overflowed it’s banks straight onto the property of Sahel Academy. Slowly, the water has reason and despite the best efforts from every missionary (that I know!) in town, the wall collapsed and the river entered the property undeterred. Much damage has been done, and the rumor is that school (on campus) may not open again for several months.

I don’t doubt that God is going to do mighty things…yet how difficult it is to see a thriving ministry literally washed away overnight? I feel so heartbroken…I feel so very far away. I feel like prayer is not enough. And yet it is. Because you know what? The God that established this ministry, Sahel Academy, knows exactly what is best for it. He knows the plans he has for Sahel Academy, and who are we to doubt Him? He is the God who split the red sea…he is the God who caused a flood to cover the whole earth. He is the God of the wind and the rain, and no flood is too big for our God. I am clinging to this hope as I struggle through my classes and homework, thinking only of how badly I want to be at Sahel Academy in Niamey, Niger…right now.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, Theo and I will be running a half marathon at the end of September. I had mentioned before that we would like to raise money for Niger. At the time, I did not know the specific project that we would run for. Now I know exactly what we want to run for. We want to run for Sahel Academy. You decide how much money you give to Sahel Academy through our half marathon (13 miles). If you can only afford .50 cents a mile, then you will be giving us somewhere around $7. If you can give us $1 a mile, then it will be $13. If you want to give $2 a mile, then it will be $26, etc, etc.

Pray with me please? Support Sahel…please?

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3 thoughts on “Heartbroken

  1. Katie says:

    Suzanne, you write beautifully, so filled with emotion and so intentional with your words. I’ve enjoyed reading about your wedding and your life. As a cyber friend of your mom’s I’ve been keeping up with their ministry and your family’s life over the past 5 years after we met in VA. (since then we’ve lived in Baltimore, Chicago, and now Boston). My brother and sis-in-law live in Xenia – so I feel a connection to you guys there too. We’re praying for Sahel and the people of Niger.

  2. Beth says:

    Thanks for this post, Suzanne. Like you, I am having to come back to the character of our God – his faithfulness, his power, his ability to bring life where there is only death!

  3. Robert A. Chapman says:

    Great letter Suzanne. Heartbroken says it well. We met your parents in Sebring several years ago, and have prayed for you, your brother, your new marriages, and now Sahel Academy and Niamey.
    Doc Chapman

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