Saturday, July 31, 2010

Mango Worms

*Warning* This post may be considered gross by those who have queasy stomachs.

'Tis the season worms. Ugh.

During the rainy season flies lay their eggs in damp, moist places. The eggs/worms burrow into skin and begin living off of the host's body.

Our three little kittens had a rough bout with these invasive creatures when they were just a couple weeks old. This little guy had it the worst. We thought he had a bad eye infection because of this huge pustule-like thing crowding his eyeball. Turns out a mango worm was sharing the eye socket with the eye. This photo was taken one day after we squeezed and tweezed that nasty parasite out.

Perspective: here's a squeezed out mango worm next to Tobi's index finger.

This same little guy had two mango worms in his jaw as well. I popped one out--see the hole, but I couldn't get the other one out at that time.

Small animals can die if they are infested with mango worms. The worms simply consume everything that the animal needs for life. Our kittens were already in a weakened state with their 4 to 5 mango worms a piece.

Of course, humans are not immune to mango worms. I've only had one, and I got it out while it was still quite small.  The worst story I ever heard was of a foreigner who was a runner. Every day he would take off his sweaty shirt, put it on the clothesline, then throw it on again the next day. His back was completely infested with mango worms.

We take extra precautions with laundry during the rainy season: all of it is either ironed or run through the dryer in order to kill any of the worms that have been laid in the seams.

Why are they called mango worms? I don't know. Maybe because they come out during mango season which is also the rainy season.

By the way, our little kitten appears to have completely recovered his eyesight.

The Local Oven

The other day I saw Esther, the matron of Bezer Home, outside picking up sand. I thought she was getting cat litter, but she said she was baking a cake. Would you like to hear the story?

Esther collected sand in order to bake with what is called a "local oven." The large pot is partially filled with sand.
Then the pot or pan that holds the cake batter goes inside the larger pot.

Here's the cake after she had trimmed it a bit to make a uniform shape. I never got to see the finished version with the icing. Esther took it to a graduation party at one of the area schools.  Everyone was so happy with the cake from Mashiah Foundation.


During the last week of July, we opened our new Women of Hope shop on a major thoroughfare in Jos. About 5 minutes after I got to the shop on Friday, we heard a loud crash and looked upon this scene. The Mercedes station wagon was trying to turn and head the opposite direction when this over-loaded lorry full of mattresses slammed into the side of the car. Thankfully no one was injured. Even though the car was making an awkward turn, I'm sure the lorry will be at fault since he was coming from behind.

After it was obvious that no one was injured, the immediate concern was the downed power lines. I heard questions of "Akwai wuta?" meaning "Is there light (electricity)? After the first few people passed through without being electrocuted, then all the traffic started to move again.

These photos were taken from the balcony of our second floor shop. Pictures coming soon!


Wow. Where did July go? I had a goal of blogging 20 times this month...the days were just incredibly jam-packed. I'm trying to be intentional about not being on the computer in the evening hours when the kids are still awake. I don't like it when they always see my back hunched over the computer.

Well, let me at least write one thing about today. When Lily reached about 3 1/2 years, I felt I didn't need to be so hyper-vigilant about where she was every time she went outside. We live in a walled, secure compound. It was a relief that I could finally do something inside the house without having to go check on her every five minutes.

We have tried to make sure our compound is a safe place for young children. Sometimes this means just walking throughout the entire compound and trying to have the eyes and thoughts of a child in order to ascertain what may constitute danger.

Today something very unexpected happened. Lily had a friend over and they were playing under some bushes, perhaps jumping or dancing or stamping--and the ground collapsed below Lily. She nearly fell into an old septic tank. Thankfully some strong roots kept her from going down. This septic tank was completely off our radar screen. It never would have crossed our minds to look for potential danger here. I suppose with all the heavy rains we've been having, the ground above became very spongy.

A few years ago, a 4-year-old child of missionaries drown in his backyard while his parents and siblings were home. There was an old pit that had somehow filled with water. This was a tragic wake-up call for all of us. We checked our compound then--and now we've been reminded to do it again.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Way to a Man's Heart--Guacamole!

Well, at least to my African man's heart. Bayo loves to come home from work to find fresh guacamole in the fridge. He eats it with cheese crackers, wheat crackers or pita bread.

I've never been a fan of avocados, but I've learned to buy them because Bayo and Lily enjoy them so much. I think the season will end pretty soon so I'm trying to buy them often.  I don't know of any way to preserve them. They are quite cheap right now. I paid 50 naira for each of these--about $0.35. Avocados are called pears here.

My mom was amazed at how large the seed was in this variety. I've never bought avocados in the U.S. so I wouldn't really know.

Lily loves to help me make guacamole. The pastry blender works well for mashing up the avocados.

We added some chopped up onions.

We added just half of this jalepeno, along with some salt and coriander. I couldn't find any cilantro in the market at this time of year.

Voila! The nutritious snack is ready.

I'll be making a big batch of guacamole for our staff meeting on Monday. In general, most Nigerians love avocados. I have shared guacamole with a few of my friends, and they are just crazy about it! They ate it with bread and thoroughly enjoyed a new-found snack from local ingredients.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Random Pics

Hey! I just figured out how to import pictures without all the distortion I've been having. Great!

Here are a few random pictures from life here in Nigeria:

The women are putting cord through eyeglasses cases. A missionary ordered 250 cases so they can give them out with the reading glasses they are distributing in some rural areas. The women are laughing, joking and telling stories as they work.

I couldn't resist taking a picture of this little guy at Bezer Home. His mother bundled him up because it was such a cold morning in Jos--about 65 degrees F! I was wearing a sleeveless blouse as usual, but then I have Minnesota blood in me.

Have you ever said, "It's easier if I just do it myself"? Well, yes, that's often true, but then how will other people learn? Lily really wanted to help with transferring the flour from the 50 kg bag to smaller containers, so I let her. She took great delight in her work. (When she woke up this morning, she had this "statue of liberty" hairstyle because of how she slept.)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Oh, Happy Day!

We are invited to many, many weddings, but I only go to a handful. If I weren't selective, I would be spending nearly every Saturday at a wedding/reception from about 11 a.m. til 4 p.m.

Last weekend, there was a wedding that we simply could not miss.

About ten years ago, seven children, ranging in age from 17 to 2 years, trooped into Bayo's office, and the eldest announced, "Our father told us that when he died, we should meet you, and you would tell us what to do." Dumbfounded, Bayo's jaw dropped in amazement. The ministry immediately started taking care of their feeding, school fees, and basic living expenses.

The children live in a town about an hour and a half outside of Jos. They continued living there with the ministry providing for their needs. One church in particular has been supporting many of this family's needs through the ministry for the past five years or so. When the children are on their school holidays, they often come to Jos and stay in Bezer Home.

Well, on Saturday, July 3, the eldest child got married. This was such a happy day for us, as we have seen how the Lord has truly been "the Father of the fatherless."

The wedding was slated to begin at 10 a.m. The first car from Mashiah Foundation arrived about 9:30 a.m. bearing the wedding gown. Amazingly, brides here don't really stress about things like that. We came in the second car and arrived about 10:30 a.m.

We had time to chat with both the bride and the groom. The bride was all dressed and ready, sitting in the back of a car, waiting for the service to start. The groom was ambling around nervously, just waiting.

After 11 a.m., I went into the church with the kids. It was pretty empty except for the band which had been playing ever since we arrived. I loved the toilet tissue streamers that were dotted with markers and strung throughout the church.

And then the different groups of girls/women started dancing into the church. This is always my favorite part of any wedding so I really try to get there "on time." Here, Sister #6 leads the way with her friends, all dressed in their uniform of choice.

Sister #3's group is close behind with their own uniform. Two more sisters with their groups of friends followed.

And finally, the bride danced her way down the aisle.

That's Sister #3 looking on. Bayo actually stood in as the bride's father and gave her away.

The newest couple in town.

Sister #5 dancing away. Notice all the money on the floor. This is a Nigerian custom called 'spraying.' People come and place bills on the bride's face and groom's face as they are dancing. The money falls to the ground and designated 'secretaries' pick it up and give it to the couple later. Generally, small denominations are used. Most of these bills are ten naira notes which are worth about seven U.S. cents.

People coming out of the church after the wedding. Notice the planted field which is probably for the pastor or the congregation.

Lots and lots of dancing at the reception.

Sister #2 looking on.

Sister #4

Sister #5 posing for the camera.

Sister #6

And the only brother, following 6 sisters.

It was such a joyous, wonderful day. We were pleased to participate in all the festivities.

In Nigeria the honeymoon doesn't always start immediately. The newest couple in town went to church on Sunday morning at the same church where they were married. Then on Monday, they came to Jos to greet their Mashiah Foundation family. (When a couple wears matching clothes, it is symbolic of their oneness in marriage.) Now I think they have finally gone for their honeymoon!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Nigeria ~ A Simply Amazing Place!

Recently while chatting with some Bible translators, I heard these interesting facts about Nigeria:

One in every five Africans (20%) is a Nigerian. I've heard this one for years and have often used it when trying to explain how densely populated Nigeria is. Keep in mind that Nigeria only occupies 3% of the land space in Africa. By the way, Nigeria has a population of approximately 140 million, which is about half of the U.S. population.

One-quarter (25%) of the African languages are found in Nigeria. There are 58 countries within Africa. Isn't it amazing that one-quarter of the African languages are found here?! Not only are we densely populated, but we also have very diverse languages and people groups. By the way, these are unique languages, not simply dialects of one language.

Nigeria has at least 500 known languages! Let's put this in perspective: Nigeria is one-tenth the size of the USA. If the United States were comparable to Nigeria in terms of language density, the U.S. could boast of 5000 different languages.
Plateau State, Nigeria has more languages per square mile than anywhere else in the world. This is the state we live in!

You may be wondering, "How on earth do they communicate?!" Quite well actually. Almost all of my experience has been in the city, and many of the people I work with easily speak 3-4 languages--and think nothing of it!!

  1. They speak their tribal/village language.
  2. They speak the trade language which is Hausa in this region.
  3. They speak Pigeon English or Broken English if they have not gone beyond a primary school education.
  4. They speak English if they have had a decent amount of schooling.
I have seen illiterate women switch their tongue from a tribal language, to Hausa, and then to English in a period of one-minute--depending on whom they are speaking to--and they don't even realize this is amazing.

Just as I am amazed by them, they are also amazed that I only speak one language--and I'm educated!

There are three major trade languages in Nigeria: Hausa in the North; Yoruba in the Southwest; and Igbo in the Southeast.

With different languages come different cultures, foods, and traditions. Obviously, conflict can and does occur. However, now that I think of it, I guess it's actually pretty amazing that we don't have more conflict than we do. Overall, I think the cultures interact and get along amazingly well most of the time.

I really wanted to post some maps with this blog, but had a hard time getting some decent ones off the 'net so we'll just have to make do with photos of the maps on my kitchen walls. Here is Nigeria with its 36 states. Plateau State is the green one close to the middle, and yes, part of it is on a plateau.

And here's the map of Africa. Sorry, it looks a bit squished.
Nigeria is the orange country right in the bend of the continent.