Saturday, June 30, 2012


Flexible, like a pipe cleaner, that's our strategy these days.  When we remember to be flexible, life is substantially less maddening.  Take last weekend for example.  We had plans to leave on our first real Nigerian roadtrip last Friday to visit another family.  We had it on the calendar for at least 6 weeks.  It was going to be the kid's first trip away with the exception of our short drive over Easter weekend.  Everyone was looking forward to a change in scenery.
Then on Wednesday we started hearing tidbits about some potential security issues.  By Thursday, the security concerns had been validated by more reliable sources.  We wrestled all day with what we should do.  Finally, we decided that it wouldn't be prudent to go.  There was nothing that we had to do that weekend which couldn't be done another weekend and with all of the warnings out, it just was wisest to stay home.
To say that the kids were disappointed is an understatement.  They couldn't understand why we would have to stay home for some danger that may or may not ever happen.  We were definitely wearing the bad guy hat at that point.
So, I suggested we try to make the weekend fun anyway.  I told them we were going to make a list of one thing that each person would like to do and we would do all of them sometime during the weekend.  So, that's what we did.  We had a campfire complete with s'mores, we jumped on the trampoline together, we paid a typically painful game of Monopoly along with some other board games and we had some time on the Wii.
Our other way of bringing fun to the scene was to eat fun foods.  We splurged and bought ridiculously expensive turkey breast.  We had seen it a few times at one of the Lebanese run grocery stores here (thank heavens for the Lebanese who import any yummy stuff we can get here in town.)   It was the first lunchmeat we had eaten since Canada and it was oh so yummy!  We also found real milk, which can be a rare treat here in town.
We used some of the milk to make pudding and to mix up some Dream Whip type stuff that we can buy here.  In the States I rarely made pudding.   It's just so gooey.  I like a dessert with some chew to it, ya know?  But the kids love it and we put a ton of it on the crate because everyone said we should.    Because of my pudding hatred, I had somehow never introduced my kids to parfaits.  So, I went all out.   Ryan bought a gas station sized pack of Oreos, we used that real milk, and TWO different packets of pudding.  To make them even more fun, we used some "fancy" glass dishes we had found in a storage unit here that was left behind by some other mission family to put our parfaits into.  I ended up with some major brownie points and some very happy kids.

After all of our precautions, the weekend ended up being pretty peaceful.  The security in our town was insane with uniformed officers and military checkpoints everywhere.  There was a no movement ban on vehicles for Sunday morning.  We stuck close to home, even worshipping on our compound instead of attending national church.  Apparently, all of that security paid off because and we are thankful that we stayed home for nothing.  Now we have our rescheduled trip to look forward to later in the summer.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Home on the Range

I think I've mentioned before that our town doesn't offer a whole lot of "fun" activities.  The absence of parks, museums, ice cream stands, movie theaters, etc. is definitely more noticeable when the kids aren't doing school.  So, when a group of moms in our town got together at the Easter celebration we attended and started discussing how they were going to keep their kids entertained for the summer, I was all ears.

Basically we decided that if the moms who were left in town for the summer each planned a fun activity to share with the other families, we'd all have some things to look forward to on our calendars.  This past Saturday, we took our turn.  I worked together with another mom to plan a family focused western style celebration.  She and I met because I overheard her talking about a Cincinnati landmark at the school carnival this spring.  We found out that we were both raised in the Cincy area and married to KY boys.  Later, we also found out we both enjoy planning events and decided we would try planning something together.  

 Here's Isaac, ready for guests.

 Enjoying a little Bluegrass music before dinner starts.

 Who could resist this cowboy's face?

 Plates are ready.

 Let's just say the sweets were a BIG hit.  Those cow patties and oatmeal creme pies went fast.

 Here's a cowgirl, panning for gold.
 Isaac, striking his Stick'em up pose.

The whole fam sporting silly mustaches.

Here are a bunch of us mommas cheezing for the camera.  

We had fun putting it together and I think that the families that came had a good time.  We started the night with a fried chicken dinner, then played some western style games, and ended the night by watching Home on the Range under the stars.  Fun was had by all!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Dr. Doolittle

As I mentioned before, we got a puppy.  We named him Snickerdoodles.  We should have named him Prince because he thinks he runs the place.  I honestly believe he is one of the most spoiled dogs in Nigeria.  But, the kids love him and he's pretty well behaved.

In the same week, we also inherited an African Grey parrot from the crazy neighbors.  His name is Joe Bird.  He is really amazing. His vocabulary is practically endless.  We've had him for 2 months and he still comes out with things I've never heard before.  He loves to yell "Go Dawgs!"  The other day he said, "The vet will see you now."  Not only does he talk, he whistles the Andy Griffith tune, whines like the puppy, and mimics a variety of different coughs and laughs.  Did I mention that when you sing to him, he dances?

Then, there is a cat that we also inherited.  He doesn't come inside the house.   We set out canned mackeral every night and he sticks close enough to keep the rodents away.  It's a win/win situation.

In 7 days, we took on 3 pets.  So, imagine my surprise when the kids actually expected me to let them keep this....

They named it Camille.  Camille the chameleon.  It was pretty cool.  But I have to draw the line somewhere, right?  After all, I am NOT Dr. Doolittle.  So, after a couple of days of observing Camille and his/her really cool color-changing abilities, we set it free.  I can't imagine what's next on their animal rescuing roll.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Send Forth

As I was going through photos, I realized that I had never blogged about an opportunity we had a month or so ago.  Our family was invited to attend a Send Forth, which is a Nigerian celebration that happens when someone is going away.  I guess it's sort of like a goodbye party, but with a church service sort of focus.

This one was for the man who was Ryan's first language helper when we got here.  This man has been pastoring a village church in the area for the last 19 years.  He has just accepted a pastorate at a larger church in a city north of here.  We were sad to see him go, especially since he is moving to an area where our Christian brothers face much  persecution.  However, we are excited to see what the Lord will do through his ministry there.  He is such a sweet, humble man who has a heart for those who don't know Christ.

We didn't really know what to expect, so we just went with an open mind.  It was a little bit of a long morning for the kids, but it was a great experience.  Fortunately, we went with a friend who has been in the country for about 15 years and she was wise enough to convince me that we needed to sit by a window.  About 2 hours into the service I was very thankful that I had listened to her.  Let's just say that those Nigerian outfits with a head wrap on in a church that has about 3 times the people that an American fire marshall would allow can get a little warm!

However, the spirit of the people and the whole experience made the heat and the length worthwhile.  After the service ended, we were whisked into the pastorium where they fed us.  That's one thing that takes some getting used to.  There were at least 100 people eating on the church grounds, but we were isolated to the pastor's house.  I know it was meant to be an honor, but it would have been really nice to get to talk to some of the Nigerian folks.

Here are the WMU ladies singing.  For those of you who weren't raised Southern Baptist, the WMU stands for Women's Missionary Union, and let me tell you... they are alive and well in Nigeria!  The purple and yellow fabric is the official WMU fabric for the convention.  Here, the different churches and even the ministries within a church will have different fabrics.  For example, the lady in the light blue is wearing the Baptist Pastor's Wives Fellowship fabric.  They even make fabrics for the various political candidates.  Ladies, can you imagine wearing Mitt Romney's portrait on your hiney?

The view out of our window.  
Beautiful!  I think she was as hot and tired as I was at this point!
Here is a line of ladies going up to present their gifts and offerings.  They gave money, groceries, fabrics, household goods, one even carried in a gigantic trashcan.  The different groups of the church came up one by one to present their gifts.
Here are the pastor and his wife standing at the front to receive the gifts as each group comes.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Settling In

We have had a great couple of weeks.  One of the things that has happened is that we finally got our long awaited crate.  It was a very exciting couple of days as we unpacked and re-discovered many of our old favorites as well as unwrapping lots of new goodies we'd bought for our home here.  There were lots of ohhs and ahhs as we unpacked.

Here are some photos of the truck backing in the gate. 
Getting closer...
Opening the door.  At this point, the stuff looked like it had just been dumped out of the crates into the box truck.  I was pretty nervous.

Here's much of the stuff piled on the carport.
Here's some of the carnage piled in the school room.
Here's Lizzy... reunited and it feels so good!

Here's the rainbow that appeared during our crate unpacking.  It was pretty darn meaningful to me!

With the arrival of our stuff, we finally feel like we're settling in.  You may remember that I mentioned our DIY disaster of kitchen cabinet painting a while back.  Our kitchen looked something like this, and on the counter you can't see, the tiles were popping off left and right.

Then Ryan went to work with a carpenter, a plumber, some tile guys, and a painter.  

Now it looks like this...

It turned out a little darker than I'd hoped, but all in all,  I'm really happy with it.  

We've gotten all of our goodies unpacked, we've had several pieces of furniture made, and the house really feels like it's ours now.  Here are a few more pics...

 Above is our dining area.
 This is Abby's room.  It's really, really pink!  Let's just say that the color palette is pretty limited here.  She's happy though, so that's what matters.

 Here is the girl's room.  They are last on the furniture making list because they have the nicest of the loaner furniture.

 Here is our room.  

Here is the living room.  That media cabinet is missing a TV that we haven't purchased yet.  We actually have an LG store here in our town that we plan to buy a TV from, but we decided we don't need it until the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, so we've been purchasing furniture first.  

That's it, a little tour of our home now that we've settled in!