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The word exotic is what comes to mind in describing Niger. As soon as you arrive you realize you’re in a different world. There is no modern architecture here but rather people and buildings from a time past. Other places I visited like Beijing, Bangkok, Lima and Harare all have a contemporary look and feel that has yet to come to Niamey or Niger.

After spending the first night in Niamey, Don Bolls took me the two hour dirt road trip to Ouallam where he and his wife, Teresa have lived for 18 of their 24 years in Niger. Ouallam is a small town of 10,000 people and about 20 cars, but rich with culture and tradition.

Most days on my 12 day visit Don and I traveled to different villages around Ouallam. These roads were more like trails across a landscape similar to West Texas except there were people along the way carrying water or food, sometimes on donkeys and occasionally on camels.

People in the villages were always happy to see us and we were there for two reasons; Jesus and trees. We came with Neem trees, orange, lemon, baobab, stage and mango trees. Trees that could mean life as well as words that could mean life.

I have owned and operated a small tree nursery in Oklahoma for the last 15 years which has created witnessing opportunities to local high school boys who have worked for me, but never has my knowledge of trees been so valuable. The Africans were very interested to hear the instructions on planting trees as Don translated into Zarma.

If there were Christians present we would do a Bible study and prayer as seekers would listen. If there were no Christians present, we would simply testify about Jesus. Even though most of them were Muslim, they would still listen and be respectful. Trees would be distributed and then on to the next village

Some of my time in Niger I spent prayer walking in the villages and in Ouallam. This was probably the most effective thing I did because of the spiritual darkness that consumes this land.

I would like to thank the Bolls for their dedication, hospitality and hard work. How Don finds his way through the meandering trail without getting lost – I’ll never know.

I appreciated Teresa for her love for the Niger people, her teaching on AIDS and health and her excellent cooking.

I hope to return to Ouallam some day. God Bless.

Paul Speake



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