Thursday, June 30, 2011

Dirty Jobs, Nigeria Edition – June 30, 2011

Today was “team prep” day. We have a team coming in next week, and we had to clean and get the house ready for them. Of course, this means that we had to fix all of the “little” problems around the house as well…

Well, two of our “little” problems included fixing the electricity (we haven’t had power in almost 3 days), and fixing the toilets in the girls’ bathrooms. We knew the electricity would take some effort, but we assumed the toilets would be an easy fix… oh, assumptions….

I will spare you the nasty, disgusting details, but will say that fixing the plumbing involved 2 of our staff members elbow deep in sewage, reaching into pipes coming from the bathrooms. It was several hours of a crappy fiasco, which they referred to as an “M.B.” or major blockage. Hahaha No worries, though, we video-documented the whole thing and have been referring to it as “Dirty Jobs, Jos, Nigeria Edition”.

Anyway, praise God that we now have both electricity and toilets that work.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Mosquito Net Outreach - Saturday, June 25th

Today was such a joy.

We had the opportunity to go into the village today and provide mosquito nets to the widows and their children. I have to say, I had all of these expectations going into it: that the widows would be so excited and grateful for what we were doing. Of course, God quickly humbled me by showing me that it’s not about me or any satisfaction I can get from seeing people react with such gratitude and excitement. He spoke to me saying that it was about HIM. HE was the one providing the nets, and I was only there because He had given me the opportunity to fulfill this part of His plan.

Any joy and excitement, therefore, should be geared towards Him: not towards me because of some little thing that I had done. I was there to glorify God and bring Him glory, and I am glad He gently reminded me of that.
Like I said before, today was such a joy. While many of the widows were grateful, many were also not home because they were working in the fields, therefore we were not able to see their reactions. We prayed with the ones who were around and left nets for those who were not. Many times, we had to be creative with how we hung the nets since their walls and the rafters were weak or not well designed.

I was so blown away by the state of their homes. None of the beds I saw today had sheets. Most of the beds didn’t even have a mattress. Many were just a sheet of cloth on the ground of a mud-made hut. It was terribly heartbreaking at times.
Another thought from the day is that there is an interesting line separating provision from dependence: essentially, how do you supply gifts for people without creating their dependence on you? It is an interesting balance that I definitely want to give more thought to over the next few weeks.

As I process all that I saw today, I am left with one thought: to pray.

So God, thank you for today. Thank you for providing these women and their children with mosquito nets. Thank you for choosing me to help you carry out this task. I pray blessings over each of their homes. I pray health and love into their lives. And I pray that through our seemingly menial act of love, they find You. In Jesus’ most holy and precious name, Amen.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Deafening Rainy Season

It’s very common for days here to be bright and sunny; then, almost without warning, the sky turns dark and an absolute downpour ensues. These torrential rains last anywhere from 20min to 3 hours, and are quite the reprieve from the heat of the day.

Today’s downpour though, was unlike any other since I have been here. It started out as any other rain, but then it got louder. And louder. And louder still. It got so loud, that in order to hear each other, we literally had to scream at the person sitting right next to us. So naturally, we ran outside to witness this amazing event.

To our astonishment, it was hailing! We are what? Six degrees off of the equator, and ice is falling from the sky!? So crazy! The air was so chilly because of these ½ inch chunks of hail. It was truly something to witness.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Shinge: A Nigerian Delicacy.

In the rainy season, a unique event occurs some days after it rains. Shinge (pronounced shin-gay) flies appear, much like cicadas appear for only a short time every few years in the US. These seasonal Nigerian delicacies (yes, you heard me right), are quickly snatched up as a treat or die shortly after their wings fall off. Well, guess what we did the other night…? That’s right, folks! We interns got to experience a true Nigerian delicacy.

Ok, so I know you want to hear all about it, right? Ok, good. Well let me tell you how it works.

First, you have to catch a shinge. These bugs look similar to dragon flies, having maybe an inch long body and 2 ½ to 3in long wings. If that’s not a feat in and of itself, once you catch it, you have to pluck the wings off. Eww! Right? Yeah. Ok, so now you have this creepy, squirmy, wormlike bug wiggling in your hand, and you’re thinking, “Oh my gosh! What am I thinking!?”

At this point, you have 2 options: (1) Catch more shinge flies, throw them in a sauté pan with a little bit of butter, and eat them as a sweet, crunchy snack, or (2) Pop the shinge in your mouth and eat it as is (yes, while it is still alive and wiggling all over the place).

While option #1 may seem like much more of a culinary adventure, we interns were looking for a true experience…. And was it! I think I downed a liter of Gatorade and a bottle of Sprite afterward. Bleh! Er, um, I mean, it was so great … let me know if you want me to bring some back for you. Mmm….

As a side note, for those of you worried about my new diet, fear not. I am actually eating quite well here – so well in fact, that I may have actually gained weight. Ok, maybe not, but whatever. They really try to keep things “Americanized” for us (Well, most nights). For example, for our first morning in Jos, the staff made pancakes for breakfast. Yum! Other menu items include spaghetti, pb&j’s, banana bread, and mango cobbler (we actually have a mango tree in our backyard, so the mangos were straight off of the tree!!).

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Lesson in Hausa. – June 16, 2011

Ok, so for all of you Farm Basket folks, I have learned to say something in Hausa that you might be able to use… ready? Alright.

Ku zo ku ci abinci.

Any guesses on what it means? Ok, ok. I’ll tell you. It means “Come eat food” when speaking to more than one person.

In addition to that, we learned quite a bit during day 1 of our Hausa language crash course. I know a bunch of different greetings, pronouns, a few basic verbs and nouns, as well as a song in Hausa (don’t ask me to sing it). I also learned that the Hausa language does not contain the letters p, q, x, or v.

Here are some phrases I thought might be fun to share:

Sannu means Hello (to respond, you would say “Yauwa sannu”)

Ina kwana? Means Good morning or literally “how did you spend the night?” (to respond you would say “Lafiya” which means “well/fine/good”; you would say this whether or not your night was actually good)

Yaya aiki? Means How is work? (to respond, you would say “da godiya” which means “work is fine”)

Sai an jima means See you later

Sai gobe means See you tomorrow

Ban iya Hausa ba. means I don’t speak Hausa.

Menene wannan? Means What is this?

Ok, well that’s all for now. Be sure to practice up :)*

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Day 1… and maybe 2 and 3

Well, I made it! I am finally here in Jos and am getting ready for some much needed sleep. The flights went well – I was even given a rose when leaving the plane in Frankfurt, Germany. The food was alright. On the trip from the US, we had this amazing meal – everything was beautiful and fresh and delicious! On the way to Nigeria however… let’s just say, I’m still not certain what I ate. I know it was supposed to be chicken.

We ran into some trouble with the visa official… he was hassling us about where we were staying and who we were staying with. He kept wondering who this “Jason” character was – even said he wanted to meet him (that was a fun experience, I’m sure for the friend of Jason who actually picked us up from the airport). Of course, after stamping our visas, he told us that next time, we should come back and visit him.

We spent our first night in the country at a guest house. They gave us the speech about how we are NOT to drink the water or even brush our teeth with it … of course 15 minutes later, there I am throwing out my toothbrush because I had already failed that one vital task. No worries though for all of you out there who are worried about my dental hygiene… I brought 7 more :) Let’s see how long it takes me to go through them hahaha Any bets?

The next morning (Monday), we traveled to Jos. It was about a 4 hours drive passing through 6 checkpoints. Obviously, we made it through them just fine as well. We were greeted with a lot of new and friendly faces as well as a homemade lunch of chicken salad and watermelon.

The goal of these new people (and our staff members for the summer) was to keep us awake and active for as long as possible today (they said it was to help us adjust to the time change, but I think they were just being mean :)* ). Anyway, the day was filled with hiking, devotionals, pictures, dinner, and games.

I think it’s going to be a great summer. I am looking forward to our crash language course in Housa this week. Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to post some key words and phrases for everyone back home.

Ok, well I am off to bed :) Miss you all already!

Monday, May 2, 2011

God is SO good!

Last Monday, I sat down and looked over finances – I needed $1300 by Friday!
I had already sold off some of my clothes, some paintings that I had done, and pulled all the tips that I had made from work. I also looked at all the support checks that had come in. Well, by Wednesday, I was down to needing $972. This was so encouraging! The next morning (Thursday), my fiancé called to let me know that one of his friends wanted to donate $100 to the trip! It was so cool to see God moving.

Of course, I still knew that I needed a lot of money to come in one day’s time. I had received a larger tax refund this year than I was expecting, so I was beginning to think that perhaps God was providing for my trip through that. If I used my entire tax refund, and a large chunk of my savings (which I had already been planning on using towards my wedding), I figured I could still go on the trip, but would be flat broke by the time I left for the trip, and especially when I got back to the States.

I figure that when God calls you somewhere, you have to drop everything and go. Sometimes it means making sacrifices. If this was the sacrifice He was calling me to make, it would be worth it, and I would trust Him to provide for the wedding in another way.

So here I am, resigned to the notion that I am going to Africa and that God is calling me to sacrifice literally everything to be there. I had already taken many of my clothes to a consignment store to sell, set up a yard sale to sell my furniture, and done some more paintings to raise money.

Then…. I get an email from the director of the mission trip. He says that one of my team members has raised excess funds and wants to use them to help fund my trip. I was in complete disbelief! It was a huge rush of emotions. Disbelief. Excitement. Relief. Joy. I was in shock.

This suddenly meant that not only was the cost of my trip covered, but I could use the cash that I had received from selling off my clothes and from selling my paintings, tips, my birthday money, any Christmas money, etc to fund my immunizations, visa fees, etc. Not only that, but I could once again use my savings towards my wedding. It was an enormous blessing!!

The way God provided is amazing. It was provided in a way so huge, that only God could orchestrate it. Based on the things God has already been doing, I would say that we should expect to see Him move in some AMAZING ways this summer! :)

Thank you to everyone who contributed. I cannot wait to share in this adventure with you.

There's just over a month to go!!