Sunday, February 26, 2012

LDS in Nigeria's neighbors today

Here is the story of a young Ghanaian man who used the Perpetual Education Fund (what is it?) to finish a degree in accounting.
For me, the PEF program bears witness of a living prophet who reveals the will of a living Father who knows and is mindful of the needs of His children. This program has been a blessing that has helped me fulfill my dream of getting a higher education.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland visited Liberia, Ghana, and Sierra Leone in the last two weeks. He has been overseeing the African areas of the Church for the last five years, if I read the article right. He was most impressed by the spiritual and operational maturity of the members. Nearly all are first-generation members (converts rather than children of converts), and yet in the 30 years the Church has been active in west Africa he has seen how far these members have come in assimilating the patterns of Church governance and spiritual growth. He also talked about his hope for their future:

Expect not the worst, but defintiely the unexpected

Before we came here, I was told the secret to happiness in Nigeria was low expectations. I didn't like that principle. However, Joy has taught me a thing or two about the power of expectations [end of understatement], and in some cases the importance of not having any. This is a (partial) catalog of unexpected things that happened just in my travels this week.
You need to be more ...

Sunday, February 19, 2012

LDS learning from Nigerians

Oct 1988 Friend - Alexander B. Morrison is a Canadian nutritionist educated at Cornell who chaired  the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee to the Special Program for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases for the World Health Organization. He was called as a Seventy in 1987 and was serving at the time in the Area Presidency in charge of Africa. He wrote a book in 1990 about the growth of the Church in Africa. He was interviewed by the Church's child magazine, The Friend, and talks about children in Africa. Most of the stories describe what the children there do without, and yet are happy and faithful. Here he commends the children in Nigeria and Africa for their reverence:
 “I remember going to a priesthood meeting in Lagos, Nigeria, last year. There were about fifty men and boys there, all wearing shoes. Many of them do not have shoes to wear during the week, but they have them to wear to Church meetings. The priesthood holders were spotlessly clean, which is very impressive in a country where getting water is difficult. They were all dressed in the very best that they had. And they were all anxious to learn.
“The thing that amazes me about Africa is that you can go to a meeting and talk there for two or three hours, and the children will sit and listen very quietly. There’s no scuffling or punching each other, no wrestling, and no wanting to go out for a drink of water. The children don’t let their attention wander for even a second. They’re great kids and a great people."
Ann Laemmlen, an assistant editor of Church magazines, worked as a field director of the Thrasher International Program for Children in Nigeria. In a March 1989 Ensign article, she talks about how her time in Nigeria changed her ideas of what "practical Christianity" means.
I returned from Africa with a simpler definition of Christianity than I once had.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Shuffling the cards at AUN

I was sitting very comfortably, going from 5 classes and 4 preps* last semester down to 3 classes and 2 preps. I have been told by non-economists with more teaching experience that last semester was yoeman's work. I was ready for some sanity and some research time. I did (and do) feel sorry for my colleagues who had more classes to make that happen. But for the most part, I was looking forward to a much easier semester.

For about two weeks.

In order to accommodate Economist #7's arrival mid-semester (this week!) I traded one of my repeated classes for a new class: Game Theory.

I am very much of three minds about of this.

Monday, February 13, 2012

I figured it out: "I want those plans"

After reading todays' Darths & Droids comic, I wondered how it was that the Empire could search Captain Antilles' ship so quickly. How were they able to confidently report within seconds of boarding that the plans were not on board the ship? It's one computer file among millions upon millions needed to pilot even a small ship capable of light speed. That's not counting the encryption possibilities.

But now I know how:

Sunday, February 12, 2012

No one can make her laugh like the Prince

I'm trying to figure out which Muppet she reminds me of...

The other day, Prince and Princess got into a little game of up and down. Prince would hold her hands up, and then gently pull them down again. This stretched her to positions between reaching up to start staning and getting ready to crawl.

She loved it. She loves everything her brother does. No one can make her laugh like he can.

She sure looks up to her big brother.

Sometimes Prince is happy to have her attention. But if he is doing something else, he is very disturbed whenever she comes over and tries to grab him. It's almost comical how he flees to me during family time [from all the way over on the next couch cushion, mind] when she finishes her after-dinner snack and looks around for some fun.

During meals, she just looks over at him and smiles. Babbling, playing with food, being crazy, she's delighted by anything he says or does. 

Prince is keeping a diary of sorts where he makes a mark each day if he shared with someone. He doesn't have an easy time sharing his toys with his sister, but it's important to him.

It's so nice when someone agrees with me: Book of Mormon vs. America

I've been reading Bushman's biography/study of Joseph Smith, Rough Stone Rolling, and was gratified to read the following passage on politics and government in the Book of Mormon:
American constitutionalism is faintly invoked and then dismissed. Book of Mormon governments are monarchies and judgeships. Old Testament governments, not democratic legislatures and elected presidents. Monarchy is terminated at one point ..., surely a republican moment, but not by revolution. ... The king's recommendations for a new government, moreover, are not democratic. ...
There is one apparently democratic gesture at this turning point. The first judge is selected by the voice of the people. But this step toward democracy is immediately retraced. Successors to the chief judge inherit their offices... . Thereafter, judges are appointed. The voice of the people is consulted only when the former judge's sons fight over the judgment seat or no natural successor is available. ... The most valued features of republican government -- regular elections, a representative legislature, and checks and balances -- are absent. Moreover, throughout the text, church and state are liberally intermixed. The first chief judge is also the high priest, and the prophets and the judges collaborate in ruling the people. Righteous rule is the prophets' object rather than limitations on power. ... Against republican government, it proposes righteous rule by judges and kings under God's law.
Chest-thumping, flag-waving American I may be, but I have been surprised that I have never been able to convince anyone of these notions. The Book of Mormon people is neither democratic [day to day decisions made by the people] or republican [decisions made by elected officials], and there is no sense of a separation of church and state. It's so very nice to hear someone of Dr. Bushman's standing agree.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

200 and counting

One of the economics blogs I keep up with was impressed to learn of a Welsh woman with 134 living descendants. That is impressive, and this is a happy story of the family getting together.

As I thought about it, I remembered how far along Joy's grandmother is.

Joyce Clark Elzinga gave birth to 14 children, 12 of whom are still around.
Her 14 children gave birth to 76-someodd grandchildren, and I think they're just about done.
Those grandchildren have given birth to over 110 great-grandchildren. Prince is around #97 and Princess is around #111 (it might #117) and when we visited with her a few months ago [right], another 6 were on the way.
Those 110 great-grandchildren have already started on the first dozen great-great-grandchildren.

Altogether, that makes some 220 descendants, nearly all living.

And though at one point in her dating career, Joy would joke that she wanted 17 children, just to see if the young men would run away, it is a certainty we will not achieve such heights ourselves.

So here's to Mrs. O'Flynn and Grandma Elzinga! Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: ... Happy is the [grand dame] that hath her quiver [jam packed] of them.

[For geneological purposes, her husband's obit from 08 is here.]

My freshmen seminars

AUN has a freshman seminar all new students are required to attend. It gives them a common experience, plus aids in the transition from high school to college. There was some hope originally of having me be one of the teachers, but the econ department has been running thin, so we couldn't spare both me and Dan Barkley who is also teaching it. Maybe next semester.

However, since I do love the idea, they did get me to agree to do a couple lectures - one on how to succeed in college and one on agriculture and food security. I was up this last week.

I had too much fun. For me, the best part was coming up with a parody of Sam Cooke's "What a wonderful world this would be" (Don't know much about history .... that one) to remind them of the tips I had given. I had graphs (I'll upload them later) showing that students who didn't attend class tended to flunk, that students who turned in their homework did well, and so forth.

Monday, February 6, 2012

This is how we do things here

We have now lived in Nigeria for six months. This is how we do things here ... this weekend.

I'm flying to Addis for a conference in a couple weeks. There are two airlines that service Yola to the capitol, each of them flying at a random time in the "morning" and "afternoon". My flight from Abuja to Addis leaves in the early afternoon, so I need the flight that really is in the morning. I dropped by the airport to buy my ticket (which you can't do online) in cash (another necessity for the time being).

There I was informed that they are no longer doing morning flights. This has been the case for ... 3-4 days now. They'll probably start up again, another source informed me, sometime this week. So I asked them, if I come back next week and you do morning flights then, can I get a ticket then? Yes. Okay. So I'll go get my ticket next week. If they still aren't, I'll have to fly out the night before and overnight in Abuja.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Princess' verbs: napping, clinging, sitting, and talking

**Princess is not sleeping well tonight, so while Joy paces the floor with her, I will sit here and play scribe as Joy recounts Princess' latest developments**

Prince starting school helped me remember some of the schedule of napping that Princess had had before. During the break, she was only taking 2 naps most days and being pretty grumpy at night. [D - I never knew that was odd!] I read somewhere about anticipating naps when they're tired, and I remembered about the times that she used to have naps last semester.

Playing with Prince's toys during Sunday School
I started putting her down to bed before she went to sleep around those times - telling her it was nap time and singing her a quiet song while I rocked her or bounced her. I could tell she was starting to understand me because she would start to cry or whimper a little when we'd start that process near her bed. She's been taking most of those naps and being overall happier.

Another thing that I've been trying for the first time is, when she hasn't gone down for her first nap, instead of saying, "Oh, that didn't work," like I used to, I have gotten her up out of bed in the dark room and spend some time trying to burp her - 5 minutes or something - and calming her, then laying her down for her nap again. And that has worked a few times! I used to just feed her when she got grumpy. If she fell asleep when I was feeding her, I'd put her down for a nap. But I've been concerned about helping her learn how to comfort herself and put herself to sleep. What I've tried has seemed to help her out.

I'm trying to get into some routine of bathing her, but it's hard to figure out if I'm doing it before or after nap.

For a couple of weeks she was really clingy and didn't want me to put her down. So this week I've been sitting down with her on the floor or bringing a food project into the living room and getting the room ready for her to crawl around and setting her down to see how she does. She can crawl in and out of my lap a little bit, or at least come up to me a leave me.

[D - My favorite new game

Prince: Eater of Mickeys

Joy says, it all started when Johnny from the bus reported that Prince wanted to eat his waffle.

I asked Prince last night if he wanted me to make him waffles, and that got us on a long conversation about waffles, pancakes, and their various shapes. He was quite decided about what shapes he wanted to eat. Once he learned about Mickey-shapes, though, all other interest evaporated. I can't make Mickey waffles, but I can do Mickey pancakes. He said he'd like some for dinner.

He ate four Mickey pancakes last night, two more (cold) with breakfast and three more (cold) for dinner tonight! Last night I said that four pancakes was enough for a boy of three. He counted a moment, then said, no, five is enough for a boy of three.

He enjoys biting off the ears and showing us that a "circle" is left, but he is quite unwilling to eat the leftover circle pancake. Only Mickey will do.

That night we also had a culinary success as the canned ham we fried (and fried and fried and fried and fried) turned into bacon. We have BACON! Mwahahahaha. Then tonight I made cornbread. It cost $2.50 for 1 cup of imported white corn flour.