Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Every once in a while, though, I get a clear signal.
Like her username for one website is "Poorcustomerservice."
This is also kind of fun. "If you are not poorcustomerservice, please log out..." "We have some great products for poorcustomerservice."
She comments, "Shows how disenchanted I am with that company. It's a wonder I need an ID for that kind of company, eh?"
When we got to there we chatted and met people and were invited to start eating by Margee. It was a lovely meal, delicious, plentiful, and good variety. There were also people to meet that had been at AUN for a long time to greet us. While eating, when we were almost done, everyone was invited to introduce themselves. It was nice, I wish I had a piece of paper to help me remember names. A very kind person also offer to let us use their driver to get home early. After we introduced ourselves last in the group, we left and put our little ones to bed.
Prince was occupied by Daddy’s phone for some of the time, but was losing ground fast a little bit before we left.
It was a comfortable and happy evening. Thanks Margee.
Derrill adds: By the time it was our turn to introduce ourselves, Prince was going just a little crazy. He pulled on my face and distorted it and was almost wrestling with me. So with this monkey on me, I introduced myself as “my son’s plaything.” Someone asked what courses Prince teaches. I answered, “He teaches me to have fun.”
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Joining me in the blessing itself were my father, my brother, the bishop, the stake president, and a brother who had been stuck advising me and my cohort as a bishop's counselor for the better part of four teenage years. There are other dear friends and advisers I would have gladly asked to join us, but poor planning on my part prevented it. It was a lovely event, though next time (?) we need to find someone to watch Prince and Princess so Joy can appreciate it too.
|She drones on and on, man. C'mon.|
It's not like we haven't seen a baby before.
One of the fun things was at the cake store where Prince played catch with some kids with his Nemo fish (yes the one that is now gone). We haven't seen him willing to play with many children since we have been here. They were much older than him, but it was very cute.
It was the happiest thing for our family this weekend and I am grateful that we went.
Then we got our transformers to charge the DS, found out the Wii doesn't work, and instituted a new set of rewards for Prince. Instead of X's on charts that signify he hadn't been bad, we now give him "Prince points" when he is actively good out of his alphabet blocks. It does a much better job of encouraging good behavior, and that cuts down on the negatives too. He has started helping us put things on the table for meals and cleaning up again because he gets points for each of those.
5 points means he can either watch Backyardigans' Tale of the Mighty Knights or play on the DS for 15 minutes. Lately the DS has been winning. Winning so much that all his toys have turned into Mario Friends. In this version, Mario, Luigi, Wario, and Peach have all been captured by Bowser and put in cages. It's up to Yoshi to free them one by one.
Mickey friends are Mario friends: Minnie is Mario because she wears red. Donald is Luigi. Pluto is Yoshi. I forget who Mickey is. Who is Mickey, Prince? "Mickey is Bowser, but Bowser is outside the castle, Mickey is Bowser outside the castle. Goofy is a little Toad."
All his plushes are Mario friends: Mario and Luigi are themselves; Sorcerer Mickey is Wario; "Mickey Colors" is Yoshi; Tyrone is Princess Peach.
Pixar's Cars are Mario friends: the green car in the final race is Bowser; Mater is a goomba. I think that is a wonderful color choice, personally. "Lightning McQueen is not a Mario friend." Neither is King, apparently.
Prince is all of them rolled into one. Sometimes I get to be Luigi. Sometimes Mommy is Luigi, sometimes Peach, sometimes Toad.
Red and green baby books are a Mario game and a Luigi game. A toy hairbrush is a DS. On and on it goes.
He has started for the first time doing what I remember doing through much of my childhood: enacting his games throughout the house. He pulled up chairs to block the hallway, declaring he needs enough superstars or keys to get through the door; identifying where the castle is; putting toys in various cages so he can free them; and buying stars from Bowser for coins. Yesterday at Yakubu's, he sat on the floor using a shopping basket to imprison and then rescue Nemo (Mario). Nemo was sadly lost somewhere in the modern market, though, so "I don't call him Mario anymore."
Saturday, August 27, 2011
"Daddy, I don't like it when you're Dr. Daddy."
Prince scraped his leg today jumping around outside. So Dr. Daddy needed to come in, clean the wound, and then apply bandaids. This brought on misery and anguish beyond degree.
Once they were applied and he had finally stopped crying, I had a chance to interview him as to why exactly he doesn't like Dr. Daddy.
"Doctors give me shots. I don't like shots."
Son, I can't give you shots.
"... o_o ...? "
That's right. I don't have any shots to give you and I don't know how to even if I had them. I cannot give you shots.
"I like Dr. Daddy! And I like Dr. Mommy. I just don't like any other doctors."
We tried explaining later why he needs shots, but we're not quite there yet.
[pictured: Prince has claimed the ownership of my AUN polo shirts and hats because they turn him into Super Mario. They are also an ideal length for a potty-training boy.]
In other news, Princess rolled over. She rolled over off the couch and under the coffee table. She recovered quickly; her mother is another story.
Friday, August 26, 2011
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
I've been very good at getting her to smile lately. The big thing was making vowel sounds at her. She becomes entranced by my mouth and face, and if we both make the same sound, she gets these big grins on her face that last until I can get the camera.
Joy says, "I'm the only one who can't make her smile." Maybe, but you're the only one who can stop her worst crying, and avoiding unhappiness is a great part of the battle.
Joy improvised a wonderful four-layer cake: bread, Nutella, bread, Nutella ... Simple and beloved by all.
Joy got me a second copy of Civilization IV - I had lost mine, we got the second copy, and then I found my old one. At the moment, I'm just as glad to have two. Civ IV was such a delight and there was so much of it I hadn't had a chance to explore yet fully... To sit down tonight and play some Civ - my first chance in months - was a real treat.
I also got Scooby Doo's All-Star Laffalympics, if any of you remember that silly Hanna Barbera Saturday morning cartoon of recycled footage. Prince and I watched it this morning, but he was not pleased. "It was too long. Then it ended. I was happy." Then again, he doesn't know any of them. To me, seeing Dynomutt the Dog Wonder or Hong Kong Fooey or all the Yogi's Ark gang bring back many, many memories of hours of delightful cartoons.
My parents gave me some additional presents before we left town. Several are in transit, or would be if they had left New Orleans. The one I'm enjoying most that's with us is a DS game, Radiant Historia, an Anime RPG involving time travel through alternate histories. It ought to be more non-linear than it is, but it's quite entertaining notwithstanding. Very well thought-out.
I just got my advance copy of my textbook with Per Pinstrup-Andersen. Happy birthday to me! I am exceptionally excited to see this final, polished, beautiful book in my hands. I am also thrilled with the early praise:
"Food Policy for Developing Countries is a comprehensive and deeply insightful guide that will be of great practical value to policymakers, analysts, and students of food policy. It is a worthy capstone contribution that reflects the wealth of knowledge built up over the senior author's long and eminent career, and it should serve as the seminal work on this topic for years to come." -- Benjamin Senauer, University of Minnesota, coauthor of Ending Hunger in Our Lifetime: Food Security and Globalization
"Per Pinstrup-Andersen and Derrill D. Watson II serve up a rich multidisciplinary diet of insights into the incidence, causes, and cures for hunger in developing countries. The exceptional insights dished out by these authors known for their long practical and scholarly experience needs to be savored and digested by every student of food policy for the poor." -- Luther Tweeten, Emeritus Chaired Professor, The Ohio State University
"Per Pinstrup-Andersen and Derrill D. Watson II give us a comprehensive road map for understanding how governments and markets are shaping food outcomes in the developing world. The book provides food policy analysts with a sound political-economy foundation, international data on everything from sustainable farming to consumer food safety, and a complete set of recent and vivid stakeholder-based case studies. I have used the case studies to great advantage in my own classroom. At a moment when interest in global food policy is peaking, this is the book to read." -- Robert Paarlberg, Harvard Kennedy School of Government
Amazon tells me the book is scheduled for release there by Nov 24. Copies will be in the Cornell Bookstore well before that for this semester, though. I know that Cornell University Press is also trying to get interested faculty at other institutions textbooks as quickly as possible.
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Between that and being inspired by my dean's discussion of how they asked their incoming students at the international program to draw as detailed a map of the world as they could (with the requirement that before graduation they can find every state capital of every country), I drew Prince a quick sketch of our world and we had him color it.
It was easily his best coloring job ever. He wanted to color Africa first in his favorite red. It's the first time he's stayed so well within the lines. I helped a little with the ocean, but otherwise it's all Prince's work.
But that's why we have this blog, to let future travelers beware.
When I visited AUN before I had officially accepted her invitation, I was amazed at the universal praise she received from faculty and staff. Everyone I talked to told a very similar story: 'There were problems, and Margee has turned this place around. We're now headed in the right direction.' They praised her integrity, her ability to get things done, her superhuman energy. Part of the reason I accepted and came out here was that faith they and I have in her. Though in humility, she only claims to be a "noisy, short woman."
Granted, they also say she is a hands on manager with a bit of a justifiable smirk. The flip side of that is that she notices individuals. She personally welcomed us to Yola, climbing up into the plane to come and get us. When I missed a meeting with all the faculty because of an amoeba, she asked to make sure I was feeling alright. She moved schedules around to make sure my family could attend some of the welcoming functions with me and loaned us her driver to get the kids back home again near bedtime. This attention is not unique to me - she cares and she reaches out universally, indefatigably.
At the faculty retreat this weekend, our interim dean spoke to us about her. He met her when the school he started at UoP hired her as dean. He testified that she turned the school around and boldly led it in wonderful directions he had not even dreamed of. He spoke of the genuineness of her compassion, her vision, her unyielding integrity, and her faith in us and AUN. One of the most interesting things he said was when he reminded us that he was already retired and enjoying it very much thank you. when she called him up and asked him to fill in as dean. He doesn't like heat, or travel, and misses many of the comforts from home. But, and this was amazing,
"She is a person who is worth crossing an ocean for."
I feel deeply privileged to be working for and with such a person. I don't know whether she pronounces her name En-sin (a low ranking naval officer) or En-sign (a banner), but to me she is a banner, an ensign to Nigeria. I know I will try to do everything in my power to make her vision of AUN and Nigeria a reality. If she happens to see this, let me just say Thank you, Madame President. Thank you for this golden opportunity to be a part of this.
I cannot believe my good fortune, in moving from a wonderful inspiration like Per to her.
[Derrill interrupting here - When I went out here, my instructions were to take pictures of everything at Luka's so Joy would have an idea what we could get out here and know what to pack and ship ourselves. I got some pretty funny looks, taking pictures of everything on the shelves. The bright side is, you get to see where we shop! Back to Joy]
One day last week I decided that I wanted some things there and didn’t want to wait until Derrill went there again. He will go there after work some days and pick things up for us and then walk home, but he had a retreat and wasn’t going to be going again for a while.
It was the first time for me venturing out of our home by myself with our two children, so it was an adventure. I wrapped my carrier around me to carry Princess (I bought the material for the it Saturday at the market). Prince and I got on our shoes and we grabbed some money and we were off with a map from Derrill.
Luka’s is about a mile away from us. On my walk I thought it would be good to stop by other stands that I saw on the way, but I was too nervous to shop anywhere else, but Luka. We saw many people along the way. Princess slept the whole way. Prince said that he liked wearing shoes to the store. There was deep trench all along the road that we walked along and he also liked it when there was a bridge across it and would jump onto it and say, “See mommy, I can cross” at every single one. I kept him from jumping onto the flimsy wooden ones, but it was fun to see him enjoy himself.
We made it to the store. I was hoping to find more fresh veggies that day, but I did get a pressure cooker to help out with cooking the meat. I am hoping it will help with the tenderness of the beef. I also got some needed eggs. When we bought the things a boy tried to carry my pressure cooker for me. They are used to helping us out to the car, but I told him we were walking and he put it down. You may wonder how I got our eggs home. They do not have covers for their egg containers and they are in a large flat. They tied another flat thing on top of the eggs and I put it in my backpack sideways. I was sure I would lose at least one egg, but I did not.
On the way home I carried the pan on my shoulder, while holding Prince’s hand with my other hand. My arms were getting tired, so I was grateful when about half way home an AUN shuttle stopped for us and offered us a ride home. Prince wanted to keep going, but I was ready to be done. So we got home without incident and it was interesting to see some of Nigeria outside of a car.
We had been assured that shuttles could give us a ride most places and that we could request a UseMe service (like a taxi) to go other places. Another option is to hire a regular driver, and of course buy your own car. So, I contacted the shuttle service to see if they could give me a ride to the doctor. They let me know that their shuttles did not travel that far away from the school. We have requested phone numbers of UseMe services multiple times in the last week and had received no information, so I was feeling… impotent might be the word. Incompetent was not the word, I just didn’t feel like I could find a way to take care of my child. I haven’t felt like this since I was a child and unable to care for myself because of others.
Derrill called Rama. Rama really has been a angel of mercy for our family. He has helped us solve our small and large difficulties that have arisen with our challenges with this move of adjusting here. He is also the one that is letting us use his washing machine. Rama found us a phone number for a reliable UseMe, someone named Mohammed. Yeah! I called and his phone was turned off. Boo!?!
Joy said the other night that she had grown thankful for power outages. The power flickers or turns off at least 2-5 times a day, and more often on campus than at home. It flickers every time the national power grid goes out while we wait for our guards to turn the generator on. It flickers again when the national grid turns on. We have to run around if we have anything plugged in to particular sockets and unplug them to make sure they don't get fried during a power surge when it comes back on.
Mostly I was thankful for the emergency lights that turn on when the power is out so I'm not left completely in the dark. Joy, however is thankful for the blackouts themselves. They are a daily reminder that even though problems happen, they are all temporary and leave eventually. When the power goes out, we sit back and smile (once we unplug the computers) because we know that Even this shall pass away.
The House itself is a little weird too. It's pretty soundproof. We don't hear the baby next door or ant of the other people living on the complex. But boy can we hear what goes on outside! Every car horn informing the guards they want to be let in, every time the guards are laughing and talking, the generator, the birds, it all makes its way inside.
But of course, the car horns let me know that my ride to work has arrived and it's time to go downstairs. Yesterday during the faculty retreat, we heard from our head of security. I realized I should be, and am, thankful I get to go to sleep listening to the guards' boisterousness - it means they are awake. Silent guards I've noticed are guards that are laying down. I am thankful to hear the outside come in and know my family is safe.
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Our weather widget from the BBC isn't that accurate about how often it rains, but we have had a few showers and the grass and trees are in full bloom.
Where you can really tell it's winter is inside. AC units here are pretty powerful and universally aimed at me. In The living room, it's aimed at the couch. In the bedroom, it's my side of the bed. I sleep with two blankets, you realize, because 70 degrees is just frigid.
For matriculation [right] , the AC units were so powerful that I got chilled even in my heavy graduation robes! At the faculty retreat, the setting was a more reasonable 80 and it felt like a pleasant cool breeze.
Incidentally, this is the first blog post written on my new iPad that all faculty got to help us be more effective teachers. So here I am teaching you about the weather.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
I'm a night owl. Before I got married, I was a vampire. I never was and never aspired to being a morning person. Mornings are when I hurt all over, and who wants to be a hurt-all-over person? Mornings are when my wife has learned it's often happier if she doesn't talk to me because at best I can literally grunt at her. My morning shower restores life and eases pains. Nighttime is fun time though. Life can begin. Work, play, whatever you want - it's better at night. I go to bed before midnight to humor her.
So why am I so tired it hurts by 9pm? Or sometimes 8? Why am I waking up fresh and invigorated before 6am with a clear head and no pain?
WHO AM I????
-- Formerly known as Derrill
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Monday, August 15, 2011
My last one was a day or two before we left Ithaca. At that appointment, I learned that my allergy medicine was bad for my teeth, or my gums more specifically. The allergy meds dry out your mouth. With not as much saliva, the gum line recedes -- as if men needed another receding line. This creates larger and larger gaps between teeth for food to get stuck and for cold to hurt. Their recommendation was to try chewing xylitol gum, use a toothbrush with extra-soft bristles (check), and get out of Ithaca.
I couldn't find xylitol gum in Ithaca. I did find it here in Nigeria.
In Nigeria, my allergies aren't so bad, so I don't need the medicine that dries out my mouth.
Most importantly, the beef is really tough and stringy. Every time we eat it (read: lunch and dinner Tue-Sat), I got pieces stuck perniciously in my teeth. That means flossing at least twice a day. Keep this up, and Nigeria may be very good for my teeth.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
We had an hour of Sacrament meeting, the sacrament, two talks and singing. We did not get to nursery today, but Derrill and I did do some scripture study of the New Testament for our Sunday school class. We had a great discussion and it went well. We are planning on reading the lesson ahead of time for next week.
Our mission president said that Sacrament would be most important and that Sunday school would be more like scripture study and that worked out well. We are having some “excitement” planning together some things together. Some things we think need planning and some things we don’t and getting those mixed up between us.
As far as we know, this is the first meeting of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Yola, Nigeria ever. We spoke about the Atonement. Joy focused on how Jesus overcame sin and death and what that means for each of us. I addressed God’s love in forgiving us, our love for Him, and how loving God leads us to repentance and forgiveness.
It took a little bit to convince Prince that this really was church, as opposed to Jesus time, family home evening, or any of the other times we talk about the gospel at home. When we took the sacrament, though, he was pretty convinced this was real. It is much harder to be in charge of a meeting AND keep your children reverent, particularly when there are only two of you so one of you has to be up and doing something at every point.
We also took the occasion to dedicate our home – a special blessing or prayer asking for His Spirit to be in our home as we strive to serve Him. Despite the challenges, I felt the Spirit attending our meeting. [Joy – I did too, off and on, particularly at the beginning.]
And so we have now been in Yola for one week.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
You all know who you are, so I won't tell you. If you happen to have access, could you please print off these pictures and send them to the right family member who does not use internet? Thanks.
And no, none of the pictures look like you. You look gorgeous and these do not do you justice. But Princess will know later on that she was loved and held by family before coming out to Nigeria.
We started in SLC, drove south to Orem, then way way up north to Logan, Brigham, and Angmar. After a couple days there, we went down down down to Vegas, to Goleta for Princess' baby blessing, and back up to SLC again for our flights. 10ish days, lots and lots of driving, and lots of wonderful family.
|Our living room facing the front door|
I was very excited to see our new home for the first time. I had not imagined something so well-furnished, so large (3 bdr, 2.5 bth), so comfortable-looking. The folks at AUN really put a lot of effort into making new hires feel welcome.
Of course, all the carpets are currently off the floor in honor of the Month of Potty Training. Prince can't go to school if he isn't trained.
It also happens to be the month of Ramadan. In moving our hefty luggage last Sunday, one of our drivers commented that he was fasting and this felt particularly heavy.
|Our living room facing the other way|
|The guest room/Lavinia's room |
that she hasn't used yet
I agreed with him. It turned out I was fasting that day too, and they were heavy.
Among the silly things I packed were too many shock absorbers. They all only work with US voltage, so they won't prevent surges here until we have a transformer (which hopefully Joy is finding in the market this moment).
Thursday, August 11, 2011
I want to share with you some of the things that I mentioned in my journal tonight, since I am not able to get to sleep yet.
I am really grateful for our neighbor who let us wash our clothes in his washing machine and that Derrill started our wash a midnight and did a few loads before going back to bed and to work. I was able to do a load about every couple hours during the day (2.5 hours per load for the wash) and we got our last one out of the wash and into the dryer at 9pm. That has to be a record laundry day for us. Prince was very helpful. His official job was to pull the small suitcase around that we were toting laundry in to get it to the washing machine, dryer, and to our home (across the hall). We have our own washer and dryer, but only the dryer is working right now so it was such a blessing to us his. I was just about to start washing clothes in our bathtub.
I am also thankful that Prince hasn’t thrown up since Monday. Monday morning in all our lack of laundry facilities, he couldn’t keep his breakfast down, There were three targets hit besides the toilet: Derrill, just as he was leaving for work (had to change his shirt and Prince’s), our bed (thankfully there was a sheet on it), and a rug in our room (Doo doo voodoo to the rescue (as soon as I find it). I was also grateful that he kept down every meal thereafter.
I am also hopeful that there will be another family living here that are members of the church we attend. If it really pans out that they come the mission president has said that they will organize us into a branch not just a group. That would be awesome. A family told us they are coming in September.
I am also thankful to have a playpen for Princess to sleep in. Derrill picked it up from some new friends today and she is in it now.
Yesterday a friend whom we asked how to get more water for our cooler, stopped by with water for us and bought us some more as well. Things like that are amazingly wonderful when you haven’t figured out how to get around yet. You have to love these nice people :) I am going to try to get to sleep again.
Random thought for the day: There are a certain number of new smells for me in Nigeria and I have determined that one of them is insect repellant.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
The Wii doesn't work -- we had bought a 110V-240V adapter for it, but it was apparently not made BY Nintendo, so it's not functioning. We shall hope it isn't fried and that it will come back online in a few months when our shipment arrives with a transformer. I can't seem to find a Nintendo cord that does 240V.... My DS won't work (110V only, but I knew that), so we'll have to wait a few months to be able to recharge it. On the other hand, I did find a car charger that I might be able to use...
The VCR/DVD player doesn't work (110V only, forgot to check that), but AUN gave us a DVD player ... that won't play our purchased DVDs, only the ones my mother copied for us from TCM. Hmm. Thankfully, the computer will play the purchased DVDs ... but it had some troubles doing so today and since I was finally get my hairs cut at the time I couldn't do much about it.
The Kindle works, the computers work, the wireless internet router works, the Walkman still works (!), the camera works, my new phone works (both as a phone and as a Prince tranquilizer), the stereo system AUN gave us works. The water cooler leaks a little and we haven't figured out where to refill it (kind mentor provided us with more water today), but it works. I also checked out a Kindle from the AUN library, and it works. My new computer at school works. The internet overall shuts off now and then, but now that we have the router installed blackouts are rare. I am told that will likely change when the students are back.
For the most part we've run on the national electric grid so far, but it's needed to be supplemented by AUN's generators for large portions of the day. We had a few (<5) minutes with no power a time or two, but nothing serious. AUN also thoughtfully installed emergency lighting that turns on when the power is off.
The AC units work (happy day since we don't have fans!), but not in every room yet, and when they fixed one of them it started spitting out ice chips and water is running down two of the curtains and puddling on the floor. However, there is a high tendency for the electric circuits to blow. Our first night I reset the AC/fridge/freezer fuse more than half a dozen times. The second night after ten minutes of futzing with the three circuits, I left the living room circuit off in the hopes that the AC circuit would stay on, and it did. Tonight we're having no problems with them at all.
The most interesting device around, though, has to be the stove. Two ranges are electric, two are gas, and the oven is gas. When we moved in, we had no gas. We need to go to a dealer and refill the gas can. Our house mentor upstairs gave us some gas, though, so we're good to go for a while.
The electric is a bit more dicey. Our first morning I went to fry some eggs (AUN had provided us with bread, butter, eggs, and a few little luxuries like apricot jam). I put the high-stick metal pan on the herd and proceeded to get myself shocked. One jolt went right through my feet! The other herd, thankfully, has no such quibbles. So I can cook on LOW with electric or rather shockingly high with gas.
We tried baking the bag of meat I bought at the market. Testing out your brand new oven on the only meat in the house was a brave thing to do, but we're okay. When I checked the frozen meat 30 minutes into it, the bottom was already well done and not quite burnt with the middle frozen. I pulled it out and proceeded to fry the rest. This will take some experimentation to get used to.
Yesterday I saw a man sleeping on his motorcycle. I was impressed with the balance required.
Today I saw 10 goats in a 15 minute walk.
Today I saw the Friendship Guest House, whose motto is "... where hospitality ends!" It made me think of Germany, which has the odd ability to exemplify hospitality and guest-friendliness, but somehow customer-friendliness escapes them.
Today I saw a man sleeping on a blanket on the dirt, waiting for someone to come by and show interest in the 5 cages of song birds he kept by the side of the road.
Today I saw a woman carrying unidentified things to a medium sized fire, which I can only deduce she was using to create ashes for soap or charcoal.
There are so many places that I could start, before our move, more about the princesses birth, our vacation with family and then our move here. I better star with now.
Some of my impressions of Nigeria are:
1. The people really are FRIENDLY. One of the ladies that I met said, “You are very welcome.” after every sentence or thought. We have been welcomed from the airport in Abuja to the men that knock on my door that I didn’t even know were coming to help. At the airport one of the lady guards saw me trying to hold Prince’s hand just after we got off the plane while waiting for immigration. I was trying to keep him close. She said just let him play. I took her sage advise and although I was less in control of the situation (which is kind of hard with the changes) it seemed to be a good suggestion and we were happy.
When we went to church in Abuja people were coming up to us all over the place. If you have ever gone to a ward or branch and felt bad that no one noticed you were there, you really have to go to church in Abuja. Nearly half the branch approached us and welcomed us personally. That was really wonderful and I wish I could remember names. One gal even got our contact information and we look forward to getting to know her (the branch music conductor).
We received a really amazing welcome from AUN when we arrived. Before we even got off the airplane Margee, AUN president was on the plane looking for us to greet us. She even took some of our bags after holding our baby and was so friendly and helpful. Margee had brought a welcoming committee with her of at least 4 people from the school I remember the two that live at our same compound Rama and Linus who both teach at AUN. They were very helpful in getting us our first evening meal there and getting us to our home. Rama helped us to get connected to the internet which of course is home to Derrill :). And the HR rep Jasmine and another gal were there to welcome us and tell us a little about our home.
We could not have expected or received a more positive and thoughtful welcome. I really felt that this is a place that Derrill will enjoy and be valued, because they have already shown in small ways how they value him already.
2. They seem very interested in little ones. People here will always address Prince even if they do not address us verbally (they will with their eyes or nod). They call him little man or sir and want to shake his hand or ask him questions. Prince doesn’t always notice, but when he does he has been acting shy (I think he is actually teasing them), and pulling his hand away behind his back. People really like our baby. They tend to think that she is a boy. I asked one lady at the Abuja airport what they do in Nigeria to show that their babies are girls and I believe that she let me know that they pierce their ears.
Ladies at church were really sweet, only I wasn’t quite comfortable with all the ones that wanted to take my baby out of my arms. I really did try to hold on to her, but some were so insistent that she was gone momentarily from my arms. One lady actually took my baby off of the pew and starting walking away. I called for her to come back and she would not and went to sit on different bench. I smiled politely and shook my head and took my baby back.
3. They seem to be very VISIBLE. I could see people everywhere on the road and they didn’t look like they were going anywhere. In the United States I would think that they look like they are waiting for a bus, but not here, there are too many clusters of them all along the highway. There are some people selling things, and some walking, but many of them just seemed to be waiting for something. This observation was in Abuja. While we have been driving in Yola I have not noticed much, because I have always had some one to talk to in the vehicle and that keeps me from being as observant outside.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
I'm not going to try to describe "what Africa is like" on this blog because that's impossible. The continent is too varied, and even Nigeria is twice the size of California and would hold half the population of the US. That also means, though, that there are some interesting things for a person to look at while being driven to work. So I'm going to start regularly mentioning things I saw that were interesting. I may or may not comment on why they were interesting - it might be unusual or familiar; it might be artistic or practical;
Today I saw a roadside shopowner - one of the dozens upon dozens lining the main roads - sweeping the red dirt off the main road to make his stall more attractive.
Today I saw a fellow on a motorcycle - another thing there are dozens upon dozens of - whose passenger was holding up a wheelbarrow behind the bike (making it an in-line three-wheeler motorcycle).
Today I saw the Adamawa State extension centre. I'm going to have to go back to take a closer look.
Every time I'm on the road, including today, I saw the tire shack. One of the roadside shopowners has some motorcycle tires hanging from the wooden frame of his store and a small stack of car tires by it. For some reason it's the single most fascinating store to me.
Today I saw several pharmacies. The most interesting was named "Just Mediocre Pharmacy." Some people might be tempted to make a quip that there is real honesty in advertising, but that may not be assured; it could be a Pretty Terrible Pharmacy in disguise. I'm planning on visiting to find that out too someday.
Sunday, August 7, 2011
"We're going to Nigeria and our new house. Mommy didn't want to go to Nigeria. You wanted to go and I wanted to go, bu Mommy didn't want to go to Nigeria." [Where he gets this idea, I'm not at all sure. Mommy has wanted to go as much as anyone.]
What do you like about Nigeria?
"I like that I go to Nigeria. I like to be in Nigeria to go to a new house. I like watching a movie and stuff. I like watching movies." [He probably means watching TV on the last flight to Abuja.]
What movies do you like?
"I like Mickey's Prince and the Pauper. That's it."
And that looks to be about all I'm going to get out of him right now.
Prince and I played with his alphabet and number blocks today. He lined up each person in the family with a number, slightly differently than he did a few months ago:
1 - Prince
2 - Daddy
3 - Mommy
4 - Princess
5 - Pop
6 - Grandma Boo
7 - Uncle Doug
8 - Paris
Clearly, Uncle Doug made a pretty big impression while we were in Utah. I asked him what Uncle Doug says, and he told me about what he said when he put Paris in time out. Interestinger and interestinger.
Friday, August 5, 2011
Thursday, August 4, 2011
It's happening! Joy and I stayed up until 4:30am re-re-packing our luggage to make sure everything was ready for today. Prince was asleep in the same room at the time, so this really was a successful undertaking. Our cousin then helped us haul all the bags to the Salt Lake City airport at 7 so we were dropped off and at the counter about 8.
It took an hour to get through the ticket counter. 1 - We were too early and she couldn't clear everything. 2 - Joy's passport and ticket are in her maiden name, but her United number is under her married name, so they had trouble there too. But the big one was...
3 - It turns out that there was some mistake on the way from Ithaca to Salt Lake and I was mistakenly awarded 1K (elite) status for our flight here. So no, I don't get 3 bags instead of 2; no, my bags are still 50 pounds, not 70; yes, we really should have picked up an extra carry-on bag. Oops. So we reorganized every bag (all but two were overweight anyway). After identifying a few papers we don't actually need at all, we managed to still carry everything away with us. The feeding of the 5000 it's not; finding extra space for 60-80 pounds of stuff will go down in family history as a minor miracle.
We sat down on a bench across from the ticket counter for a bit to catch our breaths, eat, feed and care for children, and prepare for the TSA. ... We made it through! No problems!
It is amazing, how much discretion TSA officials have and how much of a difference their disposition makes. At SLC, every person was astonishingly pleasant, one wished me a happy birthday in two weeks, they made special lanes available for slow-moving families with itty-bitties, smiled when they talked to us, no one yelled at us to hurry up, and in a dozen other ways made us feel welcome. Yes, they had to open a couple bags, check a few things, and rescan them. They did so politely, acted like they assumed we were innocent people, and helped us through the process. Best TSA experience EVER.
The TSA at Syracuse on our first attempt two weeks ago, by contrast, insisted that the cans of chicken we brought were contraband while TSA in SLC said, and I quote, "We don't care about that. Enjoy." In Syracuse they insisted on opening and testing every travel container of Prince's perishable food while SLC has the ability to scan them without ruining the food. In Syracuse they gave me a full body pat down despite passing through the scanners without a beep. In Salt Lake, they let Joy go through a second time and when she passed they let her through. Syracuse TSA made Joy, Prince, and Princess cry and we missed our flight. (By further contrast, the next day through the Syracuse TSA, they still gave us very thorough screening, but managed to do so in half the time, no mean looks, and no violations of 4th amendment rights.)
Yes, people are just doing their job. What a difference a bit of courtesy and friendliness make when just doing your job! I'm so glad I do not have to fly through Syracuse for the longest time!
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
If you wanna to be my helper
You gotta do what I say.
Yes I know you're too cute
But when will you obey-eeyay?
If you wanna be my helper
You gotta do what I say.
Cause if you keep on fighting,
You'll-be in time out all day!
The other is a parody from every truck stop along the way in loving memory of Tex Ritter, below the fold because that's the only place for a song like this.