Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Around 1997, we paid about $200 to get a landline installed in our house. We still couldn't call outside the country, but at least we could receive calls from abroad. Our line often went dead--especially in the rainy season. In 2005, our phone went down, and we didn't feel like paying to repair it. After 6 months, I just unplugged it and packed it away. I don't know anyone who uses a landline these days. I doubt that even 1% of the homes in Jos ever had a landline.
I don't remember when cell phones entered the scene, maybe around 2000 or so, in a limited way. I finally broke down and got one in 2004.
Now in 2009, I can pretty confidently say that 95% of the adults in Jos have cell phones. It's just assumed that everyone has one. Even people who earn less than $50 a month have a phone.
Phones can be as cheap as $15. Of course, there are also very expensive models available. You can buy a $2 SIM card for any of the four major networks. Just put the SIM card in the phone and then buy a card worth of "credit." Load the pin code into your phone and you're all set. Phone credit comes in increments as small as 70 cents up to about $10.
As long as you have even 1 cent of credit on your phone, you can 'flash' someone you want to talk to. If they feel like it (and if they have credit), they may call back. You can still receive calls even if you have no credit.
If your phone is lost or stolen, you can fairly easily reclaim your old number. A few years ago I had a phone stolen from inside my zipped purse while at church on Dec. 24th. I guess someone really needed a last minute Christmas present! Almost everyone can tell one or two stories of how a phone was stolen.
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges is keeping your phone battery charged since the electricity can be so erratic. I have often said to someone: I couldn't reach you! Their reply: my battery was dead.
Many people carry two phones (and sometimes three!) with different SIM network cards. That way, if one network is down, you can try another. I prefer to use my MTN network phone throughout the day, but the problem is, I can't receive or make calls on it inside my house. It's a common occurrence to see my neighbors outside, looking for higher ground, so they can hear their caller. I also have a phone that uses the Zain network. This allows me to take calls inside my house.
I primarily use my phones for texting which costs about 10 cents per text. Dialling a call within Nigeria is approx. 20-30 cents per minute. I don't call the U.S. that often, but it's very easy, and I think it costs about 50 cents per minute. (I could be way off on that--if you know, feel free to correct me.)
These phones won't work in the U.S. Thankfully, my parents always loan us one of theirs when we travel. Somehow, I think it's a little more complex to get started with a phone and a plan in the U.S.--especially when we're only there such a short time.
I'm quite sure it's against the law to use your phone while driving, but unfortunately, many people still do--and the vast majority of our cars are manual transmission--so figure out how to do that!
Having cell phones during the 2008 Jos crisis made it much easier to get information and to check on friends and relatives than it was during the 2001 crisis. In fact, before I stepped out of my house on the seemingly calm morning of the 2008 crisis, I had information from two different parts of Jos and from Bayo in the capital city that I should stay home. If we didn't have this communication network, we all just would have ventured out that day.
I bought phone credit today and asked Tobi to fill my phones. I figured it was a good exercise in following directions and achieving accuracy. He had a bit of frustration with punching in all 16 numbers just right, but he figured it out. What kid doesn't love messing around with a phone?
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Most of the activities described below were led by our staff. All in all, I guess this is a pretty typical day, but no two days are ever the same! By no means is this an exhaustive list of what we did today. It's just what I can remember while I was in the midst of my own projects.
- Finished reading Esther, chapter 10, as a staff.
- Designed surgical caps for a special order. Washed the fabric. Women began production.
- Figured out a costing plan for 6 different sizes of gift bags
- Received a request for a large student group from another state to visit us in May for the purpose of education and awareness about HIV/AIDS.
- Went back to the recording studio to fix one of our songs.
- Quilted a beautiful 50" Africa set on a maroon background.
- Affirmed the leaf quilt blocks that one quilter made.
- Consulted with another quilter on what color of sashing she should put between her quilt blocks.
- Drew up plans for wooden cabinets for the tailoring room and the quilting room. Called the carpenter.
- Had a major confrontation/counseling with a man who is trying to woo numerous women at the same time.
- Taught basic reading skills to a number of women.
- Did paperwork and entered data into the computer.
- Checked in new inventory.
- Cross-checked records and expense reports.
- Supervised the older orphan girls on sewing skills (they are still on their Easter break from school)
- Designed an extra-long table runner in deep autumn colors.
- Quilted bedspreads on the long-arm quilting machine for a guesthouse.
- Designed a better handle for one of our handbags.
- Had a major counseling session on marital issues.
- Did quality control on items submitted to the shop.
- Fixed a banquet dress for a student
- Tried to finish up a big order of 'dog clothes' for a foreign company.
- Sewed a dress for a customer.
- Picked up a dress to use as a pattern for another customer.
- Sent prices to a customer who loves our quilts and wants to buy more.
- Figured out a food budget for the Bezer Home residents for the next month.
- Met together for weekly staff prayer.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Zicam is a cold remedy medicine which is new to me. You take it at the first symptom of a cold and you keep taking it until the symptoms are gone. For me, it ususally takes about five tablets, taken at three hour intervals, until the symptoms go away.
Zicam is not available in Nigeria so I couldn't just go out and buy some more.
The last two times I felt a cold coming on, Zicam helped to head it off, and it never arrived. Well, this time, there was nothing I could do about it, and it hit me hard. I was sidelined on the couch for nearly three days. A cold never hits me that hard. I kept doing a mental search of my body for anything else it could me. But all I had were the basic cold symptoms and extreme fatigue. I felt like I only had about 5% of my normal energy level.
I did eventually treat for malaria as well just because it is so often the culprit. But I really didn't have any symptoms of malaria.
On Saturday afternoon, I was alone in the house with the kids (Bayo had traveled), and I just prayed, "God, please send someone to help me." Well, at 5 p.m. a 15-year-old whom we know well, just showed up at the door. She started walking towards Lily's room, and I said, "Are you spending the night?" She said she came to do Lily's hair and to spend the night with us. She had spent about a week with our family at Christmastime and was a huge help with the kids and around the house. She ended up staying until late Sunday afternoon. She was a neat answer to prayer in the midst of my incapacitation.
I'm certainly no scientist, but this is my take on the whole matter: Sometimes I think a cold can be the body's way of saying "slow down and rest." When I kept taking Zicam, my body never had a chance to get a little sick and recuperate. Then when I eventually didn't have the medicine, my body said, "Now it's time to really rest," and I went down in a major way.
So, will I buy Zicam again? Yes, I prefer to avoid the cold symptoms, but I'll try to make sure I rest a bit more at the time.
Friday, April 24, 2009
I remember taking a cohort of influential sophomore girls to the decorated chapel. I wanted to firmly plant in their minds the possibility of them hosting their own banquet right on campus as well. Well, they originally scoffed at the idea, believing it was only the Class of 2003 that was trapped by the curfew.
I'm quite sure the banquet has been held in the chapel every year since 2002. In fact, when I mentioned this story to some parents today, they had no idea that the banquet was ever held off campus. Now, everyone just takes it for granted that the banquet will be held in the chapel. And each year, we can’t wait to see how each class will make it a dazzling venue.
As far as I can remember, we have only had an extended citywide curfew during 2001-02 and now again in 2008-09. I find it interesting though that the Hillcrest chapel has become the undisputed banquet hall of choice for each junior class.
I love how crisis forces us to be creative.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Last week when I was visiting with her, she told me a visitor came to see her in Bezer Home, and basically mocked her: "Why are you wasting your time here, eating their food, sleeping in their bed? You know I'm just going to come with a bus (van) one day and carry your corpse out of here."
Well, that was enough to put some fire in her. She told me she was determined to get strong and be a living testimony to this person.
But I haven't yet seen her really discipline herself to take even baby steps toward regaining her strength. The only positive signs I have seen are a good appetite and a willingness to talk to others. I have not seen her make an effort to sit up or take a bath. She eats in a reclining position on her bed. I really spoke to her strongly today. As I was talking, she mustered great effort to get herself into a sitting position. I was so happy to see her that way, but does someone always have to cajole her into making an effort?
Right now one of her legs is bent at a 90 degree angle, and she can't straighten it. Most of her external wounds have healed, but her legs have continued to atrophy due to lack of use.
I think I need some advice from a physical therapist. I know they often have to 'force' patients to do their exercises if they really want to get better. I'm just having a hard time knowing how to best help Fatima to help herself. We are ready and willing to help her; it would just be nice to see a little more effort on her part.
Anyway, I told her I'll be taking her for a walk tomorrow. We'll see how that goes.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
...we went to visit a woman whose husband recently left her. It was too painful to see her slumped on the floor, overcome by sobs...
...later we visited a woman who had surgery two weeks ago. Unfortunately, the surgery was not successful, and she may need to undergo a second surgery...
This is real life. We are always on the edge. Days do not go as planned. We are often in response mode.
This morning as I encountered one glitch after another, the words of 2 Corinthians 4:8-11 came to mind:
"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed;
perplexed, but not in despair;
persecuted, but not abandoned;
struck down, but not destroyed.
We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body."
This is a major theme in my life these days: How do I respond when life doesn't go as planned? Is the life of Jesus revealed in my body? Tough questions and a good reminder.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
These women have all experienced tremendous heartache and sorrow. All of them are either infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS. But in the midst of their difficult circumstances, they pray, sing, and dance unto the Lord.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
This is not a review--just my random thoughts:
I really liked the way the directors, cast, and backstage crew opened the production with a song: "The Reason We Sing." It set the tone for why we do what we do. I love it when people do new things like this.
Small cast! There were only 6 parts, but there were 9 actors. Lucy, Sally, & Snoopy were played by two different sets of actresses. Since there were four performances, they each got to do two. Charlie Brown, Linus, and Schroeder were played by three young men all four nights. Once again, what a creative idea. I've never seen that done at Hillcrest.
Very short intermission--10 minutes or less--with no concessions sold. I've never seen that before, but it made sense because we all had to be home in time for the 9 p.m. curfew. The curtain opened at 6 p.m., and it was finished about 8:20.
There are a couple of sibling relationships in the drama (Charlie & Sally; Lucy & Linus) and we had a sibling relationship on stage. Charlie Brown and Linus were identical twin brothers! At least they were identifiable because of Charlie Brown's zig-zag shirt and Linus' ubiquitous blanket.
The young man playing Schroeder is a very talented musician so he actually played the grand piano for his parts.
I haven't read the Peanuts cartoon for at least 14 years, but of course those characters are indelible in my mind. However, my children didn't have a clue what was going on because they have no reference point for any of these characters. Since we're in a community that has not grown up on Peanuts, I have a feeling a number of people were a bit lost as to the significance of some of the little vignettes.
My favorite scene/song was of four students struggling to write their book reports on Peter Rabbit.
Lucy is busy writing long sentences that just keep repeating basically nothing. After every few words, she counts to see how many words she has left to get to 100.
Linus takes a serious, philosophical approach to Peter Rabbit and Farmer McGregor.
Shroeder is not at all interested in Peter Rabbit and keeps trying to compare the story to Robin Hood which he finds to be extremely exciting. His comparisons are weak at best.
Charlie Brown just can't get started on his book report because he's not really rested so he'll just leave it to tomorrow because it wouldn't make any sense to start it if he's not really rested...
All of these thoughts are going on at once, and they're woven into one coherent song. I enjoyed it so much because I've had to grade a few too many book reports in my lifetime!
Sorry, no photos. There are very strict copyright laws with this musical.
A visitor in the audience told me, "I just saw this musical performed by adults a few months ago, and they weren't even half as good as these students."
I have always been amazed at the extraordinary productions Hillcrest pulls off thanks to some talented directors, hardworking students, and supportive parents.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Here's our list of the fruit we're excited to eat in the U.S. this summer:
grapes, grapes, grapes (red & green)
apples (any variety)
I will NOT buy:
I will buy oranges just because I want to show the kids that it is possible to peel some types of oranges. Our oranges in Nigeria are impossible to peel and divide into sections.
My mouth is watering right now just thinking about the different options we'll soon have for fruit.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
We had not been looking for a teacher, so I gently explained to her that we currently have one teacher for our six students, and we're not looking to employ another teacher right now.
She then said she's looking for any type of job. It doesn't need to be as a teacher. She said she's been working as a teacher until very recently, but that her job is on the other side of town from where she lives. By my estimation, she spends about half of her monthly salary on taxi fares just to get to and from work. She is left with about $30 in the end.
I still let her know that we don't have any openings right now. Her next plea was: Please create a job for me.
Times are tough all over. For the most part, times are always tough in Nigeria. The recent worldwide economic downturn has not hit Nigeria as hard as it has other countries. Bayo says, "We're used to things always being tough here. We already know how to squeeze our money to the last drop." The only noticeable change here is that food prices have gone up.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
HIV manifests itself in so many different ways. Because the body's immunity is so depleted, any type of sickness can invade. The weakened body has a very difficult time fighting the sickness.
Fatima recently started her ARV (anti-retroviral) regimen. These drugs will actually suppress the HIV virus in her body. Almost everyone I know who starts these drugs goes through a tough two-month period while the body adjusts. I just pray that Fatima has the strength to get through this trying time. Please pray for her.
For example, my mom has been telling me for years that when I write about giving free drugs to HIV+ patients, I should use the word 'medicine' instead of 'drug.' Ok, point taken. In writing, I can usually remember to do that, but when I'm showing a foreign tour group around, it often slips out: We give free drugs to HIV+ patients. They know that I mean prescription medicine, but I would just like to use a term that they are more comfortable with.
I use the word 'drug' because that's the word Nigerians use. It has just entered my everyday vocabulary.
Recently I have come to understand that although 'medicine' can be used as another word for 'drugs,' it also has the connotation of witchcraft/charms/juju in Nigeria.
It's a real challenge to choose the best words to communicate to my audience. One day I'll have to come up with a list of different English terms used by Americans, Brits, and Nigerians. Good communication requires a great deal of thought.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Growing older is a good thing in Nigeria. Age is valued here. Wisdom is associated with age and sought after.
It was a good day. Since it was a public holiday for Easter Monday, this was the schedule:
Party. Swim. Party.
I hosted a few friends in the morning at the Rock Garden. (See pics of the location from Sunday post.) We had coffee, tea, cinnamon rolls, angel food cake, and egg rolls. I used some questions from the game LifeStories, and we all shared various stories from our lives. It's amazing to me how many stories each of us actually has stored up inside. We all got to know each other better. It was a really nice morning.
When I came home, I noticed that my househelper was making a huge fruit salad. I tucked that little detail in the back of my mind that something was definitely up.
Because of the large fruit salad, I decided to clear some clutter out of the livingroom.
I took the kids swimming for the afternoon. It's fun to see them develop their confidence as they spend more time in the water.
A friend had asked me to come to her house at 4:30 so she could discuss something with me. When she asked me a few days ago, I thought nothing of it, but later I figured she was part of the whole set-up. However, she actually did have some important things to discuss.
After I had been with my friend for about 40 minutes, Tobi called me on Bayo's phone, wanting to know when I was coming home. I asked if there was a problem. He said, "Uhhh...uhhhh....I'll call you later." I'm so glad he can't easily lie.
When I walked in the house, it was full of people and flowers and food! Bayo actually did a really good job since I didn't have a clue until just a few hours before. And it was very smart of him not to tell the kids anything until the very end.
Thanks to everyone who made my birthday a special day!
Sunday, April 12, 2009
When the river is full, there is plenty of current in this narrow channel. A bit further down, it becomes a waterfall.
Friday, April 10, 2009
If interruptions annoy me, and private cares make me impatient;
if I shadow the souls about me because I myself am shadowed,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If I take offense easily;
if I am content to continue in a cool unfriendliness,
though friendship be possible,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If I wonder why something trying is allowed,
and press for prayer that it may be removed;
if I cannot be trusted with any disappointment,
and cannot go on in peace under any mystery,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If the ultimate, the hardest, cannot be asked of me;
if my fellows hesitate to ask it and turn to someone else,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If I say, "Yes, I forgive, but I cannot forget,"
as though the God, who twice a day washes all the sands
on all the shores of all the world,
could not wash such memories from my mind,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If I refuse to be a corn of wheat that falls into the ground and dies
("is separated from all in which it lived before"),
then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If I ask to be delivered from trial
rather than for deliverance out of it,
to the praise of His glory;
if I forget that the way of the cross leads to the cross
and not to a bank of flowers;
if I regulate my life on these lines,
or even unconsciously my thinking,
so that I am surprised when the way is rough
and think it strange, though the word is,
"Think it not strange,"
"Count it all joy,"
then I know nothing of Calvary love.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
There are many different varieties of mangos. This is a different type which produces a lot more fruit than the one on our compound.
I was pleasantly surprised when my kids actually plucked the green mangos themselves and eagerly asked me to make sauce. I had to ask them to stop with one bowlful of mangos. They've never shown so much interest in the process before.
Here's the process: Peel the mangos; cut the fruit off the large oblong seed; boil; puree in blender; add lots of sugar and cinnamon. The result looks exactly like applesauce with a beautiful consistency. The taste is similar to a very tart applesauce.
We love to serve the mango sauce to unsuspecting dinner guests and have them guess what it's made from. The kids usually can't contain their excitement and end up blurting it out before the guest has time to properly guess. The guest is always shocked that it's mangos because ripe mangos are bright orange and very sweet. A Canadian chef was with us tonight and we managed to stump him.
Apples are quite expensive in Nigeria. I feel like I'm splurging if I buy them. Green mango sauce is a very passable alternative to applesauce. In fact, I shouldn't even call it an 'alternative'; it's simply a delicious side dish in its own right.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Years ago I used to tell the ladies: "I don't want you to work so hard that you get sick."
Their response: "It's the work that's keeping us well."
From their size (3"-4")it's obvious that they've been around for awhile, but where have they been hiding? Were they underground during the dry season, and now that it's rainy season, they are emerging?
For weddings and social events, I generally go two hours late. Weddings often last three hours (10 a.m.-1 p.m.) and the photos and reception take another three hours. If I have a personal appointment to meet with someone, I will usually go right on time, but if I have an idea that the person may not be there in time, then I will often delay.
A wise older missionary once commented to me, "Some missionaries were on African time before they ever came to Africa." Touche.
I was one hour late to my own wedding. (Oh yes, there's a story behind that.) And people actually came to our wedding on time because they knew that foreigners generally keep to time!
These days it's common to get a wedding invitation that says: 10 a.m. Jesus' Time. I get a kick out of that one. What they mean is: come on time. But actually, was Jesus so bound by time? Seems to me he was on African time--at least that's what Mary and Martha thought when he didn't show up before Lazarus died.
There's kind of an odd counterbalance to all of the laidback African time: Nigerians are excruciatingly proper about time labels in their conversation. Just for the sake of information: It is never proper to begin greeting with: "Hello" or "Hi" or "How are you?" You must start with "Good morning" or "Good afternoon" or "Good Evening." "Good morning" is pretty easy because it starts from whenever you get up. Good afternoon is from 12:01 p.m. til 3:59 p.m. Good evening starts right at 4 and goes until bedtime.
It always gives me a little chuckle when I see people check their watch, or more likely their phone, for the time before greeting someone--especially if it's around noon.
When someone says, "Good evening" to me at 4:00 p.m., I just can't say it back. To me, 4:00 is completely in the afternoon. In my response, I just avoid saying "Good evening."
One Sunday after church I told my friend I would contact her next week. To her that meant a week from Sunday, but I was thinking of the next few days. In my growing up years, phrases like 'next week' and 'last week' were a bit nebulous. But here, it's important to be very exact, i.e. the week starts on Sunday morning and ends on Saturday evening.
We also have some interesting phrases here such as:
the upper week (the week after this one)
the upper, upper week (two weeks after this one)
next tomorrow (the day after tomorrow)
beating up the time (instead of meeting up with the time)
While I'm at it, I guess I could comment on British/Australian uses of time:
I'll meet you at half two. (Is that 1:30 or 2:30?)
We're leaving Sunday week. (We're leaving a week from Sunday.)
Well, I need to beat up the time if I'm going to get my family ready for work and school this morning.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
I think this is bouganvillea too. I love that deep cerise color. I just learned the word 'cerise' a year ago when a customer from the United Kingdom (UK) ordered a quilt with cerise pink.