Monday, November 24, 2008

The challenges of living in Nigeria . . .

Two things to begin this blog . . . Number 1- you will only understand and fully appreciate how cool the title of this blog is, if you live in Nigeria . . .

Secondly, I need to tell you just how wonderful our compound parents, Chris and Helen are and how continually thankful I am for all they do for each of us. Chris and Helen are from New Zealand, and have been missionaries in West Africa for over 30 years. They just moved to Nigeria a few months ago to help in the SIM office, and boy let me tell you, they couldn’t have picked a busier time to move somewhere and learn a new job.

From the moment they arrived they have been bombarded with lots and lots of work. Even though they have been so incredibly busy, they have the time, to throw birthday parties for missionaries, have a weekly prayer meeting for our compound, have seminars about how to live in Nigeria, make sure we have enough food and dishes, sort our visa issues, help us develop our goals amongst MANY other things. Just saying that makes me tired!

So on top of all this, Chris is also sort of the fix-it guy for the compound . . . when you run out of gas you tell Chris, when you can’t find your keys, or your door won’t open even though you have your keys, or if you don’t have hot water, or any water, etc. you tell Chris . . .
So over the few months that I have lived here in Nigeria we have had many (and I mean many) funny maintenance issues at our compound . . . several of which are VERY funny, so I thought I would highlight a few and share them with you, especially since a few of them have just occurred in the past 24 hours.

#1: Our septic Tank overflowed a few months ago . . .
At home, not a big problem, you call the sewage company, they bring a truck and pump it out . . . In Nigeria, sewage companies and trucks that pump stuff out don’t exsist . . . so you call the construction guy and get his men to dig a new hole, and empty the old hole with buckets and wheel barrows . . . The men that cleaned that out are amazing, praise the Lord for their servant hearts . . .

#2 Breaking down Ruth’s door (also a few months ago) . . .
When Ruth’s got locked out of her house . . .let me say she did have her key’s she just couldn’t get them to open her door . . . it was time to break down the door. Around 9:oopm on our compound, all the guys were up with their tools trying to open the door . . .they ended up just breaking down the door frame with brute force – it was quite hilarious to watch, but eventually Ruth did get back into her house!

#3 Jamie getting locked out of her house . . holding her keys . . . (yesterday)
So all of the sudden, I can’t lock or unlock my house, yesterday upon returning from the office, I tried to unlock my house and nothing happened. The key turns, and turns and turns, but the door doesn’t unlock. Ruth and I decide to kick the door really hard, cause you never know, it might work, AND praise the Lord it did work! The door opened! So when I left again, I wasn’t so sure that I wanted to lock the door, but we decided it would be okay . . . well when we arrived home from dinner, I couldn’t get my door to unlock again . . . praise the Lord after a lot of fiddling around with it, it finally opened, but the whole deadbolt came out!! I was holding it in my hand!

#4 A chunk of my wall tile fell down in the middle of the night . . .
At some point during the night last night, I heard a HUGE crashing sound. I assumed that my kitchen curtain had knocked over my bottle of dish soap, because that happens all the time. So when I woke up this morning and walked into the kitchen to make my coffee, I noticed that my dish soap was still standing on the shelf . . . while boiling my water . . . I looked and the ground and realized there was a pretty large chunk of something on the ground. Upon further inspection, I realized it was a piece of tile, looking up, I could see that it fell out of my wall from above my door!

Well, these are all pretty minor things (expect for the sewage thing), but I thought I would share a few funny stories about living in Nigeria . . . I didn’t even include the stories about our ever leaking water tank and our over-flowing washing machine, but I’ll save those for another day!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Making Happy, Happy . . .

As my time here in Nigeria begins to come to a close, I feel a mixture of emotions. There are definitely things I miss about being at home, and there are definitely things that I won't miss about living in Nigeria, mainly the unreliable power, water and Internet and the crazy driving. Although I won't miss those things, there are at least 19 little things I will desperately miss about Nigeria - Ruth, Alheri, Elizabeth, Myriam, Gift, Happy, Sandra, Rose, Patience, Faith, Precious, Rebecca, Simi, Mafang, Favor, Patience, Blessing, Godiya and Mary. It's hard to think of not having these little girls be a part of my everyday life. The thought of leaving each of them brings tears to my eyes.

A few days ago, I pulled Happy, one of our new girls out of class so that I could spend some one on one time with her. She has really been struggling adjusting to life in the Ministry- constantly fighting with others, not listening to directions and just been overall very difficult. We have all been praying for her. As it turns out the story we got when Happy and her sister Sandra arrived in the ministry is not entirely true.
Upon further investigation it turns out that the woman who brought the girls to us, made the up the whole story and Happy and Sandra do actually have a mother, well a step mother to be exact, who we happened to meet one day while walking down the Gyero road . . . go figure . . . Isn't it great how God always reveals the truth . . . Part of the reason why Happy has been acting up so much is because she misses her mother . . . Pastor has looked into the situation further and discovered that although the girls do have a mother, the mother is divorced from her husband and is not in a stable situation to be able to take care of the girls, the girls were badly neglected before they came to live with us - which we could tell from some of their physical problems. We are still in the process of contacting the family and trying to figure out the truth of the situation, but it looks like the girls are still in a position to stay with us in the Ministry.
Anyways, I had a good time with Happy, working on our ABC's, drawing pictures of our families and explaining to each other who everyone is and of course playing with my camera. Here are a few pictures . . .










Small things that make a BIG difference . . .

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. – Margaret Mead

This past week I have seen first hand just how much a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the World - and even more than change the World share the love of Christ in everything they do. I have been able to spend the past week working along side a short-term team from Maine. The team has a huge heart for orphans, especially girls - the team includes 3 young girls who have been adopted themselves. How cool is it that God brought orphans from Romania to come and play with our orphan girls in Nigeria. Just a small reminder that God is so much bigger than each one of us, and his plan for our lives is bigger than we can ever hope or imagine.


Along with doing a great job ministering to our children at Gyero through Bible Stories, songs, crafts and time spent getting to know each of the children individually, the team has put in many hours of painting and construction work to bring a whole new look to our girls compound . . . The team has painted the girls bedrooms, the parlor and painted a few murals. The mural on the wall is the seven days of creation! It looks awesome! Check out these pictures to see for yourself! It is amazing what a small group of people can do!












Saturday, November 8, 2008

Simple things in life . . .

Today I had a moment . . . I often have moments . . . moments where you realize that taking a picture will not capture the life of what is going on around you, or moments when you realize that you have the best "job" in the whole World, or moments when you realize that you have one of God's most precious creations sitting on your lap . . .

Today's, moment happened while at Gyero with the girls. I received a package last week (thanks Amy and Mona! :) and in the package were those blow up balloons that fly around and make noise when you let go of them . . . simple right . . . well for my little girls, you would have thought that I had given them the World, when they watched with excited eyes as I demonstrated how they worked. For the next 45mins, all we did was blow up the balloons, watch them fly and chase after them.

We all quickly discovered that Rebecca was by far the best at blowing up the balloons, and Godiya could find them no matter how far they flew . . . even the boys came out to watch and soon we had a whole audience! It was SO much fun! We were all laughing and chasing each other around- who knew something simple could be so much fun!


The day got even better, when I remember to bring "The Sara Movie" . . . translated means "The Little Princess" which is now their fav movie since watching it at camp . . . but to be honest it's one of my favs too! :) and THEN, when I brought them banana muffins, they got so excited they almost knocked me over! Yet again, another simple thing in life . . . I love that these little girls teach me so much about what is truly important in life . . . the simple things, and each other . . . I hope that I always have a heart that enjoys the simple things in life!




video

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

God's Glory in Creation . . .

"When you bow down before the Lord and admit your dependence on him, he will lift you up and give you honor." - James 4:10




Living in a culture and a place where I have so little control of how my day goes, really teaches me just how much I need to daily, and minute by minute admit my dependence upon the Lord. When I get stuck in a routine going about our day, knowing, or at least thinking I know how the day is going to go, I forget to rely upon the Lord. God has been showing me how I need to come to him more each day even with little things, and has been challenging me to realize that I am not in control of anything and I need to give all of that to him and admit my dependence upon him. If I am able to admit my dependence upon him, even in my weakness, then he is made stronger and it's all about bringing glory and honor to him. This seems to be a lesson I am continually learning throughout my life . . . and one I think God will have to continue to teach me in different ways throughout my life. Thankfully it's a process and God loves me no matter what!





Sunday I was able to go rock climbing just outside of Jos, with a couple of missionaries, and it was a blast! It was REAL rock climbing too! Like scooting between, under, around and over huge boulders! It was so refreshing to be out in God's creation and marvel and wonder over how these rock formations were created, and to see how creative God is . . . our World is so unique and beautiful in so many different ways! Praise the Lord for his wonderful creation!

"I Do" - Nigerian Style . . .

This past Saturday was a cultural learning experience for me. Uncle Musa, one of our Gyero Uncles was married, and I was able to attend the wedding and was even able to wear the official Gyero fabric! In Nigerian cultural, when you attend a wedding, people who are associated with each other, (for example people who work togther, or are in the same singing group, or something like that) all wear the same fabric. This way guests know who you are and how you are connected with the couple. So Nicky and I, and the rest of the Gyero woman all matched! Check out the picture below!






The wedding, scheduled to start at 10:00am prompt didn't actually start until 11:30am . . . we were wondering if we were at the right Church we when arrived at 10:15am and the church was empty . . . The ceremony was similar to a western wedding, except for all of the beautiful singing done by various choirs and even a number done by a group of our Gyero boys . . . Uncle Musa, even joined in with them singing and dancing!


After the ceremony we attended the reception . . . being the only white people in attendance, everyone made a big deal out of us being there . . . we got to sit on the "High Table" and even got to dance up front! There is a custom of "spraying money" for the bride and groom at anytime possible during a wedding . . . so while we were up dancing, people come up and put money on your head and then, as it falls to the ground people go and collect it for the bride and groom . . . the idea is that that everyone gives money to the couple to start their life off well. It was quite fun, and all of our Nigerian colleagues enjoyed spraying money on their baturi friends!



Although I was exhausted when we arrived home at 5:30pm, it was a lot of fun to be a part of something so important to our staff, and wonderful to be able to support Uncle Musa and his wife. Please keep them in prayers as they adjust to married life!