Saturday, February 28, 2009

Season's Greetings?

When I consciously realized that today was the last day of February, I knew that I just had to get those Christmas dishes put away!
I normally use my Christmas dishes from Dec 1-Jan 31. This year, I'm not sure what happened...just got too busy to change them out, I guess. I normally take down the tree about Jan 6th or so. This year it was up til at least mid-January before I felt ready to take it down. I think part of the reason behind that was that December was a bit unstable in Jos with the violence at the end of November. December didn't feel normal in so many ways. Even Tobi's elementary school Christmas program was held at the end of January!
So, I just got the Christmas dishes packed away this morning, and then I bought a crate of Coke later this afternoon, and guess what's on all the bottle tops--Season's Greetings with a Santa Claus! This is the first time I have ever seen that bottle top! I guess maybe the bottling company is a little behind...just like me.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Phonics & Reading

David, 5, has been in an informal pre-school for the past two years. (He missed the kindergarten cut-off by 5 days.) Class size has been 4-5 with a teacher and an assistant. They have worked a lot on letters and their sounds.
Since David has mastered the basic sounds of letters, I have been doing some simple reading exercises with him. A couple months ago, he could only sound out words if they were written in all capital letters. But just recently I noticed that he is sounding out letters that are written in lowercase as well.
I tried him on some 'easy' readers that are part of our literacy library at Bezer Home. However, I found they really weren't that easy. In the first books he was encountering words like: look, here, where. These words are not ideal for a child who is just figuring out the basics of phonics. I have some sets of Bob Books at home so I went back to those. The Bob Books are built on basic phonics principles with only a few sounds introduced in each book. The child gets a lot of repetitive practice with the same sounds. I'm definitely a fan of Bob Books! I'm also a fan of phonics.
What a delight to see a child figure out how to read!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Angels All Around Me

About a year ago when I was driving home, a line from an old Amy Grant song "Angels Watching Over Me" flashed through my head: "A reckless car ran out of gas before it ran my way..." I laughed to myself at the improbability of that statement.

Less than an hour later an incident happened that really made me aware of "angels watching over me." After being home for a few minutes, I got back in the car to go out again. Then I remembered that I had forgotten something. So I dashed back into the house through the garage. As I passed through the kitchen, I saw my car going past the kitchen window. I was confused. Who was in my car? Then I heard a thump. I was out the front door in seconds. I immediately scanned under the car for any sign of my kids. I didn't know if they were playing inside or outside at that moment. Thankfully the only thing under the car was a bike.

I thank God so much that my kids were not playing in the front yard. If my two youngest had been there (2 & 4 at the time), they would have been too confused to move. They would only think: Mommy is in the car, and the car will stop. That car was an 87 Volvo which can only be described in one word: heavy.

How did it happen? When I had entered the car, I put it in neutral, then I remembered something, got out and banged the door, which probably gave it enough force to start moving. If the car would have gone straight it would have hit the garage. Instead it made a 120 degree turn on a barely noticeable slope and ran parallel to the house.

On an ironic note: of the four bikes in our front yard at the time, three were ours and one belonged to our neighbor. Guess which bike was hit?

Now onto what happened today. I was driving home from a little neighborhood grocery shop on a very peaceful residential road. Lily was in the backseat. I was about to round a blind 90 degree turn when I suddenly saw a little green taxi with about 6 men coming right at me in my lane. I swerved to the side of the road. If I had been 2 seconds faster, it would have been a terrible collision. As I was thanking God for the near miss, I saw a police patrol zoom by in hot pursuit in the correct lane.

We pray daily for God's protection.

"God only knows the times my life was threatened just today A reckless car ran out of gas before it ran my way Near misses all around me, accidents unknown Though I never see with human eyes the hands that lead me home God, I know they're all around me all day and through the night..."

--"Angels Watching Over Me" by Amy Grant.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Electricity Woes

Electricity has been a major challenge in recent weeks. We can generally count on it from midnight til 6 a.m. But wait, I'm supposed to be sleeping then.

My computer battery is dead. I can only get about 2 minutes on it after the electricity goes off. I'm trying to get one from the U.S. as soon as possible.

Our compound has a large generator which powers six houses. However, it developed a problem last week so we can no longer count on that from 6:45 p.m. til 10:30 p.m. as we had been.

We have a small household generator that we start up when we really need electricity to get some work done or get the fridge cold. We bought it about a year ago, and it was definitely one of the best investments we ever made. Just knowing that we have access to electricity when we want it alleviates potential depression!

We have some battery lights that run off a truck battery. The big battery charges whenever we have electricity. This has been a tremendous help over the years. The lights are actually very bright.

Even our 3-year-old has a basic understanding of which system we're using for light. She will talk about battery light, compound gen, our gen, and NEPA (the national electric company) with great fluency.

Just think of us the next time you open your fridge and see that beauitful light--or the next time you charge your cell phone--or the next time you print a document, etc, etc, etc!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Special Offerings

We have taken two "offerings" in recent weeks for our crisis victims within Mashiah Foundation.

The first offering was given by HIV+ women & orphans to our eight crisis victims who lost their homes in fires on Nov. 28. It was a beautiful thing to see them share money, clothing, shoes, kitchen items, and foodstuff with one another.

About a week later, the Mashiah Foundation staff took an offering for our two staff members who lost all their belongings in fires on Nov. 28. Money, clothing, & kitchen items were given.

Perhaps more beneficial than the actual items given was the love that the recipients felt at being remembered during this very difficult time.

The Salvation Army came to Jos to conduct their own research on who was affected and how they could help. A few weeks later they came into town with clothing and foodstuff for the crisis victims. I was pleased that they followed through on their promise. However, it is interesting to note that our "offerings" from within ourselves provided more for each of our victims than what the Salvation Army was able to provide. Yes, the Salvation Army reached more people than we did, but nonetheless, I'm very proud of what our people, out of their own lack, were able to provide for those who had even less.

I'm sure there were other organizations that responded to the plight of the victims; unfortunately, I just haven't heard those stories.