Thursday, March 29, 2012
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
I’ve said over and over and over and over during this whole process that I have been totally amazed by how personal God has been to me. I look back on every detail and I just see God’s love woven through both the big and the little things. We had one of those “in the details” moments last week.
We have 2 children who have excema. Their skin is really dry and needs lots of moisturizers. We put 100 tubes of cream on the crate for them. But the crate’s not here yet. And the tubes we brought on the plane are gone. We underestimated the “dry” in dry season.
In the 9 years we’ve been dealing with this, we have tried a gazillion creams. Cheap ones, expensive ones, prescription steroids and compounds, petroleum jelly, crisco, mayonnaise, coconut oil, and a variety of other quacky suggestions. But, the last 18 months, we’ve been using a moisturizer made by Avon. We never would have thought to try it, but a friend insisted and it has been the best we’ve found.
So, here we are in West Africa with nothing left except a few tubes that we’ve cut open so that we can dig out what’s stuck in the corners. We weren’t sure what we should do. We decided we’d just see what was available locally and we’d have to make it work until we could get our crate here.
Imagine our surprise when we went to the local store to look for some alternative and there on the shelf between the Jergens and the unfamiiar local brands we should find 6 tubes of OUR Avon cream. Can you believe it? Ryan and I stood right there in that aisle and cried. About the time we dried it up, Isaac came around the corner, gasped in unbelief, and we cried again. Then, we headed home to where the girls were and they pulled them out of the bag and shrieked with joy and I teared up again. Personal, that’s my God!
Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. Luke 12:7
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Monday, March 19, 2012
Sunday, March 18, 2012
One of the things that I’ve been adjusting to is the wardrobe changes that have come with my new life. Part of the expectation here is that I wear a skirt all of the time. When I go to lots of places like the market, a village, or to a church, I also need to wear a head-covering. I brought some skirts with me, but they are definitely not “Nigerian” skirts. To compound that, I didn’t have any head coverings, so I’ve been wearing an assortment of bandanas in my head. That’ll make you feel pretty on a Sunday morning. So, I was excited to have some clothes made that were “normal.”
Of course, this is no simple task. First, we had to go to the market and buy the cloth. They sell it in 6 yard cuts, which is the amount that you are supposed to have to make your skirt, matching shirt, and head-tie. There were so, so, so many options. In the small area that we walked, we saw at least 25 fabric vendors. Like everything in the market, it’s not as simple as seeing it, liking it, buying it. You must ask the price, insist that it is too much, banter back and forth, and then finally either settle on it or walk away. We were exhausted when we finished that adventure.
Next, we had to find a tailor. Actually, everyone recommended that we find several tailors. Apparently, it’s best not to put all of your eggs in one basket when it comes to having clothes made. There are 100s of tailors here. Many of them are talented and brilliant. Others, not so much. The trick is finding one that you like. We started with 3 different tailors. The first one I found by asking someone who had on an outfit that I really liked if she would give me the name of her tailor. She was kind enough to take me to her tailor’s “shop.”
I wish you could have seen it. Really, you can not imagine. It was one of my many, “Oh my word, I live in Africa.” moments. We walked through a series of dirt alleys in the middle of our city to her shop. It was no larger than an average American powder room. It consisted of a foot-pedaled sewing machine, some stacks of fabric from current orders, and a pile of “fashion magazines” that you can flip through for ideas.
I went through a magazine and picked some pictures I liked. Then, she sketched a rough drawing of my order. This skirt, these sleeves, a neckline like this., etc. She took a few measurements, laid my fabric in a pile on the mud floor, and then I paid her 1/2 of her fee. There was no pattern, no fitting room, that was it.
10 days later, I went back and picked it up. Actually, I ordered 2 pieces from that tailor. One of them turned out great. The other, not so much. I’ll be taking it back for some alterations. But, I was thrilled to finally have something to wear to church that didn’t involve a handkerchief on my head!
Saturday, March 17, 2012
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
This weekend, we went to our first service at a Hausa speaking church. Our first couple of weeks, we went to church at the local Christian school where most of the kids from the States go to school. We wanted to meet some of the other ex-pat families so that our kids could begin to make friends. After two Sundays there, we decided to begin attending a Hausa church. We had been trying to get there for the past 3 Sundays, but we had two weeks of illness and then the bombing. Finally, on our 6th Sunday in the country, we made it!
We had learned a lot at training about what to expect and for the most part, we were prepared. We had been warned that many of the services would last 3-4 hours. We were pleasantly surprised that the services at this church typically only last about 90 minutes to 2 hours. Now, that may sound awful to you. But, when you’re wrangling 5 kids, you can’t understand the language, and everyone is watching you, that’s long enough.
We had a great experience and we’re excited to go back again. I thought I’d try to share a few highlights with you, though I’m sure I won’t do it justice. First of all, when we entered, the women were seated in one section and the men went to another. The seating consisted of plastic chairs for the main congregation facing forward, but the choirs, musicians, and platform people were seated on wooden benches facing the center. The building was basic with one big room made of cinder block walls, a concrete floor, and a tin roof. I’d say there were between 150-200 people there.
We had never met the pastor, but he knew the crazy neighbor who took us and I guess that was enough to gain merit in his eyes, because he called on Ryan to pray 2 different times during the service. The first time, he called Ryan and I both up to the front so that Ryan could pray over a couple that will be married this Saturday. Then, he called him up to pray again after the invitation.
Because they don’t have bulletins or power points, there were lots of announcements and business which was dealt with orally, which I did not understand at all. Fortunately, my friend gave me tidbits of what was happening throughout the service.
Probably the most interesting part for me was the offering. The offering is taken up by groups according to where you live. We were told from the pulpit, during the welcome, that we were to go with the last group which includes the pastor, missionaries, visitors, and the children. Each group danced to the front, put their offering in the bowl, and then danced back to their seats. It was really neat to see. It was especially neat for us because we were surrounded by children as we walked to the front, which is exactly the crowd we love to hang with. There were dozens of children dancing up the aisles around us and it was a very surreal, “Oh my word, I really live in Africa!” moment.
The choir specials were also pretty cool. This week the women’s and the youth choir sang. One cool thing for us was that the solo part for the women’t choir was sung by our house helper, Naomi. I’d been trying to find her among the rows and rows of colorful head ties and just when I decided she must be missing for some reason, I hear this woman take off with the lead on the choir special and I realized it was her. The kids thought that was neat too.
After the service, we were called to the pastor’s office where we were served minerals. It is the custom here to serve minerals as a sign of hospitality. In case you’re wondering, minerals are what they call soda here and the best part is, they come in glass bottles! The kids were not excited about going to the pastor’s office, until they started handing out bottles of Coke and Fanta!
The whole experience was very humbling. One thing that continues to amaze me is that we are esteemed simply because of the color of our skin. People use terms of respect and give us privileges simply because we’re white Americans. I find it quite bothersome and it brings with it a heavy sense of responsibility.