Lucia learns behind the lens
By Tianna Haas | Niger in west-africa
Photo by Lucia Eberle.
Lucia and husband Scott were strolling along a dike in Niamey, Niger, and admiring the view when two bikers cycled past. One of them exclaimed, “Everyday_Niger will have a great picture today!”
Lucia wondered right away how they knew about her Instagram account, Everday_Niger, and stopped them to ask. One of them said he had been following the account since the beginning three years ago and spotted a rare post of the photographer herself. Phone camera in hand, Lucia snapped a selfie with them.
While Lucia was surprised, her photography has made her recognisable to many others in her community. She posts a shot each day of her beloved country of service, where she has spent the last 25 years with SIM as an educator, teacher trainer, and minister to widows with the Dorcas Project. Lucia delights in the messages she gets from both prospective residents of Niger and people of the Nigerien diaspora, all appreciative of the daily dose of the country.
Walking and capturing the extraordinary landscape, faces, and details surrounding her began as something just “for her.” Lucia says, “It has been such a joy at many levels – God has spoken to me in every encounter with nature or people in my photo walks.”
From a passerby’s spontaneous gift of cucumbers to prayerful times before God, exploration behind the lens has offered a welcome reprieve in her mission life. She says, “It was a way that God renewed me … and especially in very hard moments or very intense workload of our past few years on the field.
“Photography has opened my eyes and my heart to God and to people around me. I am forever grateful. God has changed me through a camera lens.”
It has also been a chance to develop relationships and cultivate familiarity. Lucia says, “I have gotten to know Niger and Nigeriens better. I have practised Zarma (the local language) in a fun way. I have discovered beauty in the everyday moments of life in Niger. I have met wonderful and hospitable people. I have made friends.”
Lucia’s favourite kind of picture is portraits but her subjects often take some convincing because they often think she’ll sell them. However, she has committed to never use the images for profit, preserving the organic nature of her hobby. She says, “It’s neat to have no agenda. Just meeting for meeting.
“My goal is personal. I tell them I’m an educator and I want to teach others about the country and its beauty. … Even after all these years, I am still learning.”
And in these meetings, she has become acquainted with the habits of launderers to the crop preferences of gardeners. Lucia likes to bring them gifts along with her photos when she discovers a need, like soap, seeds, snacks and SD cards with scripture.
Her friends, visited on walks, notice when she has been absent, gone on trips outside the country. And soon, they and she will actually notice a change in her walks, for in two months, she and her husband are relocating to Texas.
Lucia says, “We are leaving a big part of our heart in Niger and will forever be grateful for the way Niger and Nigeriens made who we are today.”
The ties will by no means be cut, as she and her husband will still participate in the summertime teacher training in Niger. She will also remain in charge of the Dorcas Project from a distance, assisting widows across three countries and visiting them.
Lucia is planning to leave a goodbye gift, the great treasure of the Bible loaded on to radios in Zarma, Gourma and French, to many of her connections who have not yet believed in Christ. She intends to share that God’s Word has transformed her life, hoping it will theirs, too.
Lucia and Scott leave their respective ministries in good hands, with local leaders to take the reins.
• Lucia and Scott during the transition, as it is an emotional time. Pray they have peace while they say goodbyes and handle the particulars of the move.
• The connections of Lucia who will receive God’s Word, some of them for the first time, that they would be receptive and come to know Jesus as their savior.
• The SIM Niger’s ministries, including the Dorcas Project and the SIM Education, which they were involved with this past 2 terms. Pray the new leadership thrives.