Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Nighttime Adventures

Hi to all- this past Sunday we had the opportunity to visit a Nigerian Christian church. The church sits in a community where Muslims and Christians coexist in close proximity with one another. Apparently it was one the few communities where people refused to fight in the riots of 2001 where many people died. The church has a large congregation with young and old, families and expatriates. After church our girls went to a future classmate’s house with Valerie (daughter to Mark and Brenda). It’s so nice that the girls have already found some friends- it helps with them sleeping better at night. Speaking of nights-yesterday evening we got home and the girls found a huge cockroach, it took some time but our hero Randy finally conquered and squished it. So later when randy and i went to bed, we were settled under our mosquito net when just at the same time the generator was turned off-we discovered a huge cockroach inside inside our mosquito net over our heads. About 2-3 inches long. Needless to say it did not take long for us to wake up our neighbour to turn on the generator so we could have some lights on to tear our bed apart and find that bleepin’ cockroach. Randy said that one time it even leaped onto his head- I’m laughing hysterically while typing this with tears in my eyes. What a relief when we finally found it on our bed frame and randy smashed it with a shoe. With that to the beginning of our night-it took some time to fall asleep. We had a great rain storm after the cockroach incident to cool the night down. Nights are still trying especially last night with the cockroach and then–we got woken up early with Tanner fainting and smacking onto the concrete floor. Yesterday he started with a rash-not sure yet what caused it –but it progressively got worse with red welts all over his body. Then in the morning he was complaining of stomach pain and head ache. So we just happened to meet a doctor we will by working with in Vom so we called her and she was very helpful in getting tanner some blood work done and meds. Results were normal- with no malaria – probably just an allergic reaction to something. Today we got a chance to visit a local hospital and drive through downtown. I’m still amazed at the means in which people, animals, motor bikes and cars all co exist on the streets with no traffic lights and few traffic cops to direct vehicles. We still mostly live with the city water and electricity off. We have a water tank outside our current house to use for toilets, dishes and baths. The electricity came on for about 20 minutes today. We have a young housekeeper that works for us now while we are in jos. today she did our laundry, cleaned house and watched our kids for a few hrs. The kids loved it, she played games with them and the girls had fun helping her with the laundry. Interesting when i cant get them to even put their dirty clothes in the basket back in wpg. In the next few days we will be making a village stay about 1-2 hrs from jos. I’m surprisingly looking forward to it. Bye for now- i have great hopes that i will get a good night sleep tonight.---charlotte

Saturday, September 20, 2008

We've made it to Nigeria!

Hi to all- well we have finally arrived. We a had ruff start with our change in flight due to hurricane Ike in Houston, so we re-routed 2 days later through Dallas . That though gave us a few more days to relax in Albuquerque with Steve –randy’s brother and his wife Gail. The plane flight was long with short layovers. It was strange being at the Frankfort airport and not being able to experience the city-was way too exhausted anyways so crashed on some benches. The kids have done well so far with the time changes and experiencing new sights, sounds and smells. We arrived in Abuja the capital of Nigeria and were welcomed by Mark –our MCC rep and Matthew one of the MCC workers. Our first night was great in a hotel-we all had a shower and slept well. The next morning was our 3-4 hr journey to Jos. One of the vehicles broke done so Matthew had to stay back and the rest of us and our 12 suitcases plus carry on bags piled into one vehicle. That was quite the journey. It will take me awhile to get use to the traffic on the roads. There are really no divided lines between lanes. Cars just weave in and out between and around other drivers, telling other people they’re coming close by honking horns. When we got out of the capital we were inundated with motor bikes all over the place. Apparently in the capital they are not allowed. They also weave in and out of traffic carrying move then twice their weight—many picturesque moments like motor bike riders carrying huge logs, suitcases and other building materials. At times on our journey we would slow down in small villages and the local people would come up to our windows selling fruits, nuts, cell phones, drinks, and vegetables. One time Riana was by the window and some kids were grabbing and pinching her skin on her arm and tugging on her dress. She was just laughing and the kids outside the car were laughing too. It was quite the sight. I was surprised that she handled it so well. Once in Jos we unpacked some of our stuff into the temporary house on the compound where MCC is located. The kids have found some local Nigerians to play sports with outside and the girls were so excited to see Valerie –one of the children of Mark and Brenda-MCC reps. The kids have had a chance to see their school and seemed excited about going there. Last night was a long night. Jos time is 6 hours ahead of Winnipeg. The girls did not want to sleep on their own so I slept in the room with them. Riana and I could not fall asleep- it will take some time to get used to the noises of Jos- music playing, dogs barking, car horns and then you have the early morning, about 5:30, prayers over the loud speaker. I also was having these small anxiety episodes where I could feel myself falling asleep but would feel like I was shaking on the inside. I don’t know if that was jet lag or Jos lag. Today we went out to Vom to see the house and compound where we will eventually be living-in about one month. It’s a beautiful setting with lots of guava, mango and avocado trees. Our kids seemed excited about it too. Anyways in the midst of all these new experiences I think of our life back in Winnipeg and the friends and family we missing already. So far I think I am adjusting well to the different way of life here considering that the electricity and water has been off longer than it has been on, I took a cold sponge bath this am and I am learning how to use a cell phone for the first time.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Getting ready to leave for Nigeria

We’ve had a wonderful summer, starting with our orientation to Mennonite Central Committee in Akron, Pennsylvania, the first part of July. We traveled from Winnipeg by train and were able to stop and see good friends in Ohio along the way, as well as seeing friends and relatives while in Akron. It felt good to renew meaningful relationships and update each other on where we are in our life journeys. The MCC orientation lodging, grounds, food and discussions were all wonderful. Lots of new friends for all of us. There is an amazing support structure in place to help our family’s transition to Nigeria.

The rest of the summer was spent wrapping up work and wrapping up boxes in between spending time with family and friends. My parents and brother and wife visited us in Winnipeg- we enjoyed our annual fishing/camping trip. Our Winnipeg neighbours, church, and work communities all gave us nice send-offs. We moved to Winnipeg four years ago to spend more time with Char’s family and it was especially hard to say goodbye to our frequent, easy visits with them. The house has been rented to a family that we hope will enjoy it while we are away. (It was important to the kids to have the home to come back to.)

The last 2 ½ weeks have been spent in northern New Mexico, first at a folk festival we have loved over the years, then seeing friends in Santa Fe, and finally with a Miller family reunion at our parent’s cabin. The energy of 14 kids running around made for quite a week. My younger brother without kids has termed such gatherings “Miller-mageddon”. (“But in the good sense,” he says.) There were also plenty of relaxing times with lots of meals prepared over the open fire. The New Mexico landscape has a way of opening the soul. Our family has a very wide range of spiritual paths as we live out our relationships with God and we are all passionate; so we were provided a good opportunity to flex our “diversity appreciation” muscles in preparation for moving to Nigeria. We are blessed to have the support of our families in our lives.

While traveling to Albuquerque today where we will depart from, Riana asked again, “Why are we moving to Nigeria?” (Leaving friends and family behind is still hard.) That gave us a chance to review again what MCC work includes: Relief, Peace and Justice, and Development work, with transformation for all involved. After the discussion we summed up our move to Nigeria as part of our exciting, sometimes painful, and ever-evolving, wondrous faith journey.