A Gracious Place

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Cattle Drive

Cattle Drive
Originally uploaded by dandeelines.
Driving in Nigeria is an interesting experience. You never know what you'll see. Somehow these fellas got a cow into their Chevy Starlet, and are taking him for a ride. I'm not sure if you can tell from this pic, but there are also three men in this car. The car is a hatchback, not much bigger than a Civic. Incredible!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Nigerian Security System

Nigeria was incredible. We arrived safely back in Dallas at 2:00 pm Friday, June 16- A special day, our five year anniversary! A great day to be reunited. Diedra had some beautiful flowers on the table, and prepared some delicious food (steak) to celebrate. Home sweet home.

The morning of our departure, we got up around 5:30 am to get showers, pack our stuff, and leave. We were staying in a guest house established by the Lutheran Church in Nigeria. Early on in our stay we noticed a sign in our bungalow that read, “Guests are advised to stay inside between the hours of 10:00 pm and 6:00 am as guard dogs roam the grounds.” Duly noted.

As I was preparing to leave, I noticed we were without water. Strange, as we had not had any lack of running water during our two-week stay. The electricity was intermittent, but not the water. I’m thinking, “This is not good. It’s going to be at least 35 hours until I’m home, and it would really be nice if I could get a shower before we start the trip.” By this time John is up, and I let him know that we don’t have any water. We decide together to walk to the reception house to find out what’s the problem.

We left the bungalow and started down the path toward the reception house (about 100 yards away). My step was a bit more brisk than John’s, and I was ahead of him on the path about 20 yards. Suddenly these huge black shadows came out of nowhere, snarling and barking. Two German Shepherds, each the size of Martin Luther himself, charged me and knocked me down. Screaming, I scrambled in the gravel to get away. Miraculously, they let me up and let me run with John back to the Bungalow. Bleeding from multiple abrasions, I found no bite wounds. Thank God!

I washed my wounds with our bottled water and laid down, thankful to be alive. The water came on at 6:45 so I was able to bathe and get ready for our long day. I was able to teach my last class, and we left Jos around 1:00 pm. A bit more drama than preferable, but so thankful that it wasn’t worse. Some third-world international travel advice: heed the warnings in your room carefully!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Weekend Adventure

We had a very full weekend. A lot of fun. We left Jos friday afternoon went east into the next state. After a long ride, we arrived at a Wildlife Reserve. It was pretty cool. I got a lot of pictures. I didn't see any elephants or lions, but we did see some strange animals I've never seen before. I don't know the names. We had baboons come right into our camp! (We stayed in bungalows, and were well protected). My best pictures were of these monkeys, because they weren't very afraid of humans. We took a safari tour on a big truck. Not as nice as the ones Mom and Dad had in Southern Africa, but fun anyhow.

This park also had warm springs we could swim in. When we arrived on Friday night we went swimming after dinner. The water felt great (probably around 90 degrees). One of the African guys wanted to play, so I got some wrestling in. Reminded me of the dunking games I used to play with my brothers whenever we went swimming.

Our van had two flat tires that we discovered late Friday night, thankfully after we had safely arrived at our destination. The park had a shop, so we were able to get the tires fixed without being stranded.

Saturday we continued traveling east into the next state over. This is Bitrus' home state. We visited the Bible college where he got his undergraduate bible diploma. That was pretty cool. Nathan (our host and driver) is also a graduate of this school. And Jeremiah, one on our team, was their principle there. Anyway, John and I enjoyed watching them take a trip down memory lane as we visited the campus and some of the current staff.

Saturday night we stayed at the home of Bitrus' parents. They were very kind, and live in humble village conditions. It's so funny- as soon as someone sees white people they will say "Baturay" (Bah-tour-A), and before you know it a crowd forms of mostly little children just staring at you. At one point I counted over 25 people!

Another funny thing: after we've suffered from Diarrhea for a whole week, Bitrus nonchalantly sends someone into the town to buy Flagyl. We asked him why he waited so long to tell us we could get prescription strength medicine without a prescription. He never thought of it. Mom told me on the blog to get some Flagyl, but I hadn't yet figured out who to ask or how to get it. Anyway, we all laughed, and we are very glad to be rid of the scoots (mostly) for now. Consequently, my appetite is back, and I am again enjoying the food.

On our trip, we would buy the most delicious roasted meat along the roadside. Roasted lamb called "Suya." It reminds me of something you would pay a lot of money for at the fair. Delicious!

After visiting about a hundred people (I seriously lost count after awhile) and stopping in a bunch of villages, we finally arrived back in Jos last night, exhausted. I was glad to get back to a familiar bed, and woke up refreshed this morning.

Class went well this morning. We have started the more practical side of our course, and are having a nice discussion about the spiritual disciplines. Today we talked about Meditation (daily Quiet Time) and Contemplation (practicing the presence throughout the day). We continue to grow in our friendships with one another. Thank you all for praying. The Lord sustains us, and has kept us safe!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Into Africa

Well friends, finally I'm able to post. Internet has been fairly difficult to access until now, and still it is so slow, that it is doubtful that I will be able to post any pictures anytime soon.

Our flights were fine. The cabin temperature on the trans-Atlantic flight was a bit too warm, which made sleep difficult. However, our flight from Amsterdam to Abuja was rather empty, and quite comfortable. We did have a slight issue with our luggage. We were missing a piece containing four laptops! Praise God, though, we received word that they found it yesterday. One of our team members, Jeremiah Gado also did not get his main suitcase when we arrived in Abuja. He's been a model for patience as he's lived off the few items in his carryon for five days now. His suitcase should arrive in Jos today.

We stayed overnight in Abuja, before departing next day for Jos. The driving is insane! Tons of small motorcycles all over, and very lax traffic "rules." Quite the experience, and I found myself holding my breath at times.

The Nigerians are most hospitable, very gracious, and warm. Our hosts (Nathan and Jane) feed us delicious food, and have given us accommodations that are better than expected. They are tireless in serving us, a most humbling fact. They have so little from our American perspective, yet are so generous! Now in Jos, we have a little bungalow on an old Lutheran mission compound. Everything reminds me of the countless slides and stories I saw and heard growing up as my Grandparents, Dad, Aunt, and Uncles (and countless visiting missionaries) recalled the days in India. In a strange way, I feel more connected to them, though through a different country.

It's hot, but not unbearable, as we are on a plateau, and the temps are cooler than the rest of the country. We have showers and even warm water (sort of, sometimes)!

Church was a wonderful experience, and makes me long for the diversity of our worship in heaven with representatives from every nation and tongue! I took some great video of this little Nigerian boy dancing to the music! So precious!

Today was the first day of class. My students are wonderful so far, and I anticipate a mutually encouraging time together. I took a picture of each one, so I might memorize their names tonight. A nice thing about digital cameras, eh? Our team has been struggling a bit with intestinal issues. Not necessarily from bad food, as much as a radical change in diet. Please pray that this will go away soon. Pray for wisdom, stamina, and safety. Pray that our teaching will glorify God and edify these brothers and sisters. Thanks!