It came so unexpectedly. My phone rang with a number I didn’t recognize. Since I didn’t know the number I let it go to voice mail. I listened to the message almost immediately. The voice on the other end introduced her self (Mary Ann) and informed me that her daughter, Rachel, was a PCV in Niger, and that Heather was spending the weekend with Rachel in her village. She said they were giving us the opportunity to call Heather using Rachel’s cell phone, and gave me her phone number to call her to get the details. I wasn’t sure whether to jump or cry for joy. I quickly rushed home and called Mary Ann back. She gave me Rachel’s cell number and some other helpful information. We visited for a few minutes and then hung up. I set up the accounts that Mary Ann suggested and then took a deep breath and dialed my cell phone. Within a few seconds the phone was answered and I heard the voice on the other end that I had been looking forward to hearing say “Hi Momma!” After almost 3 weeks of no contact, I was talking to my daughter. The 6175 mile distance between Pierre and Niger didn’t seem as huge as it did just this morning.
I spoke to her for a few minutes before turning the phone over to her Dad. The usual questions were asked, “How are you? Are things going OK? Are you well?” Next in line was Chris. He updated her on the things going on in his life and then handed the phone back to me.
We had a wonderful 23 minute conversation. It was amazing to hear her voice and know that she was doing well. I can’t tell you how fantastic it was. The only thing that would have made it better was if Jason had been able to speak to her as well. We as a family are looking forward to the day when she gets her own phone and we can communicate more frequently. For now we say a huge Thank You to Mary Ann and Rachel for making this call happen. You will never know how much your generosity meant to us.
Right now she is living with a host family. Most host families consist of a husband and 2 wives, each of which has several children, and none of them speak English. Heather’s is a little different. Her host father only has one wife and they have two children, one that is 4 and the other is just a few months old (8 I think). Her host father speaks English so when Heather can’t quite get her French right they can communicate in English, the wife speaks some as well. There is one other PCV staying there also. I will let her tell you about the compound she lives in but she did say that they have a locked gate unlike most other places. Also they sleep outside and she said it is usually noisy so she has started wearing ear plugs and that has helped her sleep better. She did have to spend a night in the infirmary with a parasite but said they gave her some medication and she is feeling much better now.
The biggest challenge right now is the language. They have a few different dialects of French so even though she knows some French there is much to learn. She said every day it seems to get a little easier. She said that they have been told that in week 4 they will get cell phones so we will be able to hear from her much more often. She also has not had internet access but she hopes they will soon.
The one thing she did want me to include in this post was a big THANK YOU for the cards and letters she has been receiving, they are awesome, and to keep them coming. She is the envy of most PCV’s because when the mail comes most volunteers get one or two pieces but she has been getting 5 or 6 (thank you all for that.) She also said to let you know that if you write her she will write you back so….If you have written to her be watching your mail because she has already mailed you a letter.
To her family and friends,
She loves and misses you all!