Sunday, November 25, 2012

Further Adventures in Medicine - part 1

Monday I flew to Abuja to have an MRI done. There are only a handful of large cities in Nigeria where there is a hospital with the right machinery. I stayed overnight at the 3Js hotel, my second trip there. The in-room internet still gives me trouble, but at least they have a cyber cafe where I can pay $1.25/hour or sometimes convince the guy in charge to let me work for free since my laptop has problems with their systems. I was thankful to have had a pleasant flight (if 2-3 hours late) and no problems getting to the hotel. I was also thankful the travel guy at HR got everything set up in record time and I made it to the airport on time despite not knowing when I was leaving until an hour before the flight ... in the middle of a class!

Nigerian beds remind me of hymn 86: How FIRM a foundation. It's sleeping on a board, almost literally. No bedsprings. Just a board and a mattress. I am thankful every night for the memory foam pad we brought with us to sleep on. When I woke up Tuesday morning, I was in agony. I needed both my cane and the support of the furniture around the small room to be able to move at all. Though I finally walked off most of the stiffness, I was in a quiet agony all day long.

I got to the hospital for my 9am MRI appointment and all wahalla broke loose (that's Hausa for problems).

Thankful for Sleep Problems

We never had a problem getting Prince to sleep. He could sleep anywhere and for the most part slept through the night. What he didn't want to do was feed directly from Mommy. So she spent long months pumping so that we had milk to feed him and I had the opportunity to feed him, day or night, from an early point. I felt very blessed. I remember more nights when he was a baby waking him up for another feeding than him waking me up.

I never had that chance with Princess because she was a good feeder and a bad sleeper (relative to Prince anyway). It took a lot of effort to get her to a place where she could sleep most of the night. Even as recently as last month we expected her to wake up once or twice during the night for yet another feeding. I couldn't feed her and I couldn't put her back to sleep. I felt left out.

Over Fall Break, we decided it was time to fade out the late night feedings. The way to do that was to send in Daddy who can't feed her to take care of her at night. Even though it's only been scarcely above a month, I am so thankful for this time with her.

She cries and I run right in to her. I hold her a moment then begin singing. As soon as I sing, she calms down. Within a verse she is calm enough to lay back on her mattress. Within 2-3 she is drifting back to sleep. It's so very sweet.

Things did not go all that smoothly that first week, of course. It's taken time to get to this happy relationship. I finally get to comfort my little one in the dark. And as expected, now that she doesn't get fed at night, she is much more likely to sleep through it.

Even though I'm just as glad when she does sleep through the night without waking, I cherish the precious moments holding my little daughter and having the power to calm her cries, wipe her tears, and restore the peace of sleep.

My baby's words

Princess has been coming up with a lot of new words lately. I helped her say her very first prayer over the food this week: "Dear ... Fadda ... Tankee ... Eat ... Jesus ... Amen." Her favorite word is "yeah." She will agree with almost anything. If she doesn't say "yeah," it means no and that's the only way to tell. She was looking SO ADORABLE reading with Mommy, and then stopped as soon as I grabbed the camera.

Some new Vocabulary:

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A single tear

I was talking to brother-in-law-the-doctor tonight about my MRI and was delighted to learn this pain might not be permanent. A couple quick snips and the pain should vanish (even if the risk of more bad stuff happening is a permanent feature).

Then I read a few verses of scripture before bed. I've read this before, many times, and we manly men love verse 44. Tonight, I grew one little tear for verse 43 of Alma 11:
43. The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame....
44. Now this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame...

Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Adventures in Birthdaying 2 - in which happier times are foretold

The best way to start a birthday is by having crepes. I'm so thankful that Derrill made me crepes for my birthday. They were so yummy.

Princess kept wanting pieces of my crepes with nutella on them.

Prince wanted a crepe-Nutella-crepe sandwich, as you can see from the picture of Prince with his tongue sticking out.

We had pumpkin chocolate-chip cookies too, and opened presents. I got a trip to Disneyland [during the summer], a Christmas advent calendar, the first season of Bewitched, and Dominion: Hinterlands. Yay!

Some of my presents had not yet arrived via Whispernet. Then I got a nap

[A very important birthday present, that. - DW]

I had a longer nap today. When I got up [yesterday] it was time to get ready to go to the Thanksgiving party we'd been invited to. It was very nice to have turkey and pumpkin pie and masheyed potatoes...

We got to see some friends and let our kids play outside (on the rocks). I'm glad we went. We ought to get together with these friends more often over Christmas break. [DW - I made a pumpkin soup which was eaten alllll up.]

[DW - I had an interesting conversation with the head of AUN's various supporting schools. Her Farm School students meet with my freshmen once a week so that my students can tutor her students in English conversation. I give my kids some training and then step back to let them do it. She said she was extremely pleased with her students' progress, that they were speaking up and speaking out as never before, and that it was clear she felt I was doing a wonderful job. In my student evaluations, my students also love it - they universally feel they are learning from the experience and it's their favorite day of class each week.]

On the way to dinner, I got to open four more presents - some yummy books to read. One was Ally Condie's new book Reached, which I don't get to read for a little while cause Derrill and I want to read it together

[DW - but we're reading 3 Musketeers right now.]

And I got three more Georgette Heyer books: my third of the Alistair trilogy An Infamous Army, The Quiet Gentleman, and Venetia. I have to recommend Georgette Heyer. She is such an awesome writer. I have fallen in love with many of her heroines. I still like the books that I didn't fall in love with, but I really like the way she writes and, if you like Regency romance, she's very clean and a great author.

Prince bought me The Quiet Gentleman and I made sure to thank him a few times, because it's one of the first times that he got me something that I was really asking for instead of something he really wanted for himself. I think that's amazing for a 4 year old.

When we got home, we watched the first episode of Bewitched. It was a little over the kids' heads, ... which was a good thing. [I had no idea they had scenes like that in Bewitched!] But Prince really got into Little House on the Prairie after dinner - I had told him that it was one of my favorite shows and so he wanted to watch it. And we ended the evening playing Dominion after the kids went to bed.

It was a nice, comfortable, relaxing birthday.

Adventures in Birthdaying - in which disaster strikes and is overcome

"When I get up in the morning and I hear my baby, I usually a) give my son a hug and tell him I love him; b) get a drink of water; and then c) go and nurse my baby," Joy starts. "But Saturday was my birthday celebration and I wanted to have my computer charged and I knew it had turned off for dead battery the night before. So I plugged in the cord and plugged it into my computer. Nothing.

"I can hear my baby crying and I think, 'I'm coming'. I figure out that the stabilizer won't turn on. So I check to see that it's plugged in, and it is. I take out the fuse. It's the first fuse I've ever seen that has completely burst. To get the part out of the cap so I could replace the fuse, I had to use a pair of scissors with a narrow point.

"So I wasn't using very much of my brain and figured I needed to do that to get the rest of the fuse out of the stabilizer itself, forgetting that it was plugged in and turned on. So the first time I woke up Derrill was my scream from getting electrocuted from my scissors stuck in the stabilizer."

It focuses the mind in a way that is not difficult to describe. ... Then I went back to sleep.

LDS Pioneers in East Africa

Following up on the April article on pioneers in Africa overall, the October 1994 Ensign included an article on pioneers for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania in east Africa. By the time of the article, the Church had only been officially recognized by each country for 2-3 years. Here are some of their stories that weren't shared in the April article.

Charles Asiago 
The first Kenyan to join the Church was Charles Asiago. Charles studied at a theological college for three years. In 1978 he was introduced to the gospel by Boyd Whipple, a Latter-day Saint who was working in Kenya with USA Aid. “I asked him many questions and he answered them,” said Charles. “I began asking myself, ‘How can someone who is not a theologian answer the questions more perfectly than the principals of the colleges to whom I had already asked the same questions?’ The Spirit of God touched me.”2... 
 Since his baptism on 15 March 1980, Charles has visited the old men of the tribe who know the oral histories back to A.D. 1500. He has collected his family history from them. Temple work has been completed for about three hundred of Charles’s ancestors.
It took until 1985 before the government gave permission for more than Charles to be baptized, so some people had been investigating the Church for more than 5 years, including the first missionaries from Kenya.

Joseph Sitati, First Kenyan District President
In 1989 government officials in Kenya restricted members to meeting in groups of no more than nine adults. In July 1989 all full-time missionaries were asked to leave the country. Joseph Sitati, a convert of only three years, was set apart as the first Kenyan district president. ... On 25 February 1991, President Sitati, Charles Asiago, and two other brethren were asked to come to the attorney general’s office. They were overjoyed when they were presented with the registration certificate for the Church. President Sitati recalled, “It was a very, very happy occasion. We cried. I thought I was dreaming.”
Today, Joseph Sitati is a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, the most senior governing council in the church after the apostles and First Presidency. In fact, he is part of the Area Presidency overseeing us here after being a mission president in Nigeria. He studied mechanical engineering and accounting. 

Edward Ojuka
One of the first to join the Church from Uganda was Edward Ojuka.... In 1982 Edward traveled to Perth, Australia, with a scholarship to study physical education. His wife and children remained in Africa with her family. The first people Edward came to know in Perth were two sister missionaries who knocked on his door the night of his arrival....
After studying the gospel for four months, Edward was baptized in May 1982. Of this experience Edward recalled: “My baptism was one of my most special days. I know that I was born on this earth for an important mission.” ...
Before long, he decided to pursue a doctorate in education at Brigham Young University. Three months after their arrival in Provo, Grace was baptized. A year later their family was sealed in the temple. As Edward reflected upon what is of greatest worth, he said: “I have a very strong testimony, and I want my posterity to know that I know the Church is true. I have no doubt about it. The Church’s power is based on the truth of the gospel. My desire in life is to serve. I will be returning to Uganda to work with our people.” 
The article also praises various LDS pioneers who helped establish the gospel in east Africa as foreigners:

Thankful 3

I wanted to be thankful this week for better pain medicine, but I certainly didn't get it. Instead I can be thankful that - now that I know what's gone wrong - I can do something to relieve what causes the pain and that is lowering the pain significantly.

Monday I was quite thankful that my checkbook balanced on the first try. Few things are as aggravating to me as finding that missing $.06 in a month's worth of spending in a cash-only society.

Tuesday I got some work done I had not expected to get to. Anything that reduces that pile is a thing to celebrate.

Wednesday I intended to celebrate being all ready for Joy's birthday, but didn't quite make it. Instead I am thankful for student evaluations I passed around that will hopefully help me be a better teacher. My juniors want me to pass out my own notes more often (sometimes expressed as liking powerpoint which I avoid whenever I can, but more often asking to get their hands on my slides or other notes.)

I was also thankful to finally understand my student evaluations a little better. I tell them expressly - verbally and on the sheet - that I am looking for suggestions and ways to make things better. So when I have them fill in the blank "I like it when my teacher _______________________" I'm expecting them to tell me something I don't do, but their other teachers do. It used to frustrate me to see them say something that I thought I was doing. "I do a shocking amount of relating what we cover to the real world - why do you think I don't??" Finally I understand they think I'm asking for attaboys and telling me something they like that I do. Well, that's nice and useful to know too. Thank you.

By the way, one of my students put that the best day of class was: the day I painted my face. Let's hear it for Halloween and being the only person on campus that crazy! (It'sa Luigi!)

Also on Wednesday, I was thankful this cute little girl wanted to sing on my lap. That was fun.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Thankful 2

Thursday I was thankful for a nap I didn't mean to take. Then I only meant it to be 30 minutes. When Joy got me after an hour and a half, I knew I could've kept on sleeping another 90. But the correlation cannot be denied: Wed I felt terrible, Fri I felt terrible ... Thur I did not feel terrible. Huzzah for a long nap. I would like to thank the students whose truly terrible writing made it possible.

Friday I was thankful to find out what's really wrong with me: Lumbar Spinal Stenosis. Which means two of the vertebrae in my lower back are kissing that have no business kissing. They are too closely related for that sort of thing! We'll see what the doctors want to do - cortisone shots,

We interrupt this gratitude to bring you Prince, who wants "to talk about Disney."
"I think the first, when we get to the Disneyland, I think the first ride is going to be Winnie the Pooh."
"Because I really like it! I think they have great sounds when they walk around the track. That's it."
Thank you, Prince.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled post, already in progress.
So I may get a cortisone shot and be put in a plaster cast/brace until the end of the semester, and then possibly have an operation to separate them. We'll see what the MRI says eventually.

Saturday I am thankful for Daddy again, but in particular for his tax preparation software and the fact that we're finally going to get a big refund from Unca Sam for 2011.

Today I was making my eggs when Princess came up. She reached out her hand to me and said, "Hand." I put my hand in her little one and she led me all around the house, saying "Hand" and smiling. It was very sweet.

This weekend I am also thankful for Prince and his amazing skills.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thankfulness: Week 1

A lot of friends are being grateful for something every day on Facebook and I wanted to join them over here. in some catch up. We have a lot to be thankful for, ________ living in Nigeria.

Why did I put a blank there? Well, there are just too many connecting words that fit. "Despite" and "even" might come to mind, but they're not very thankful; "because of" sounds more thankful; "especially" would suit the purpose well; "while" suggests that some of these things we can be thankful for here won't last and so we should enjoy them while we can. Pick your favorite or mad lib some more.

Nov 1 - I'm thankful for my father. That's an easy one because he was born Nov 1. Happy birthday, Pop! I'm thankful for a father who taught me to grin and bear with pain and keep working, who showed me you can be successful and play games occasionally at the office, and who made sure his kids knew they could come invade his office daily to spend a few minutes jabbering at him. I'm thankful for a father who taught me public speaking by precept and example - some of my best professional training. I'm always thankful when he takes the time to mention that he appreciates these blogs and status updates. Love you, Dad.

Nov 2 - I'm thankful for the new taxis!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Princess: What I did this week

I look fabulous! I got to dress myself. My next step was to hand Daddy his cane so we could go outside. I even opened the door for him. No dice.

I love to read. I take books up to Mommy and say "[r]ead." She reads them to me. Then I take the book to Daddy and ask him to read it too. Then I take the book to Mommy and ask her to read it too....

I only want Daddy to read because he does funny voices. When his voice hurt this week, I didn't want him to read anymore because he couldn't do Grover right. Mommy does not have to do funny voices.

No seriously, I really like to read. Book after book. Sometimes I read them to myself.
Here I am first thing in the morning pulling on a second pair of shorts - inside out and backwards, it's true, but sometimes you need to do bold things for new fashion trends.

My newest new word is "Game." As in, "Mommy, Daddy, why won't you let me play the Bible Trivia game you are playing with Prince?" It's not my fault all they heard was "Mommy, Daddy, Game!"

My favorite new word is "Gummy," as in "I would like my delicious and nutritious Disney Princess gummy vitamin, please."

The new word my parents have worked on the hardest is "Amen." They've tried to teach me to say it when they are done saying prayers. I'm now trying to teach them that when I say it, they are done praying!

LDS in Africa: Other Pioneers

One of the articles I shared in the last post had quite a lot of very remarkable and amazing stories. Here are some more of them. Everything after this comes directly from the article, so I won't indent it. - DW

LDS in Nigeria 1993-94: Footholds and Princes

Scarcely a month went by in 1993 without some mention of the Nigerian members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in some Church magazine. Letters from Nigerian youth and missionaries to the youth magazine, The New Era, come up particularly regularly. I'll record only a few of the more interesting ones:

A June 1993 Ensign article (the magazine for adults) talks about different ways the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has gained a foothold in different countries to spread the gospel. It mentions how various church pamphlets and reading materials helped open the way in Ghana and Nigeria, and how ethnic minority immigrants have also played important roles in introducing people to the gospel. Another article in May 94 surveys a large number of stories of early saints in Africa, including Bro. Obinna I shared earlier and Bro. Nwafor:
Dr. Clement Nwafor, for example, was introduced to the gospel by Reuben Onuokoa, the father of one of his patients. Dr. Nwafor is the chief medical officer for more than one million Nigerians and is a prominent and popular citizen in the Aba, Nigeria, area. When Brother Onuokoa took his daughter to Dr. Nwafor for a medical examination, he told Dr. Nwafor that, despite his titles and positions, he still lacked one thing: “serving the Lord who has brought you into this universe.” 
Not long after that bold declaration, Dr. Nwafor accepted the gospel. “I felt like a new person,” he said. “I felt like somebody who was born again.” Less than six months after Dr. Nwafor’s baptism, he was set apart as a high councilor when Elder Neal A. Maxwell organized the first West Africa stake in Aba, Nigeria, on 15 May 1988.
A July 1993 Ensign article about the 150th anniversary of Relief Society service starts with an example of some LDS women in Aqua Ibom in western Nigeria constructing a road to make it easier for the women and children to fetch water.

Picture cloth of African villageIn August 1993, another article recounts the history of the Church's beginnings in Ghana and Nigeria. It also has several works of art by LDS members in west Africa. For instance, this is a cloth painting drawn by a member who sold such paintings to finance his mission to Sierra Leone. In addition to the story of Bro. Obinna, the article includes this interesting background:
Simultaneously, between the years of 1959 and 1978, some Latter-day Saints lived in West Africa and worked on business or educational projects. Among those who became unofficial goodwill ambassadors were Virginia Cutler, a Brigham Young University faculty member who helped establish a home economics program at the University of Ghana, and Barnard Silver, who, with his wife, Cherrie, managed a cane sugar agro-industrial complex in the interior of the Ivory Coast. And Merrill J. Bateman of Provo, Utah, now a member of the Seventy, taught at the University of Ghana and later worked there. The friendships these people and others developed in West Africa eventually helped the Church acquire official recognition there.
Merrill J. Bateman later became President of BYU while I was a student there and after that joined the Presidency of the Seventy.

In October, the New Era contained this advice on fasting from a missionary service in Nigeria:
You say you’ve tried fasting and didn’t get much out of it. Elder Ifiok E. Okon, a  Aba Mission, offers some good advice. “Fasting is for spiritual upliftment,” he writes. “Just as faith without works is dead, fasting without a positive attitude towards it is dead and brings us no rewards.”
If you've been impressed I can be here so long without once mentioning a Nigerian prince, here is one. The April 94 Ensign highlighted the testimony of Ejikeme Egwuatu Enyii-Ineh, the son of the king of Imo (an Igbo state in southern Nigeria). He visited Salt Lake City in 1990 on a business trip and toured Temple Square. He spent the next year while working in Chad trying to find out more about the Church, but couldn't. When he returned to Salt Lake City in 1991, he stayed with a cousin who had a friend from the Ivory Coast who told him he was LDS. This is called Small World Moment: a Nigerian prince working in Chad met a fellow from Cote d'Ivoire in Salt Lake City. Oy. Anyway, the friend invited him to church.
After attending the meetings, Ejikeme [said] ... “The type of reception I received convinced me it was really the true church of God.” ... During the next week, Ejikeme listened to all the discussions. “God bless whoever gave him a tour of Temple Square a year ago,” Sister Smith [the bishop's wife] said. “He accepted the gospel long before he received the lessons.”Ejikeme was baptized on 7 September 1991, and in the week before he left, he received the priesthood, blessed the sacrament, and went to the temple to do baptisms for the dead. “This must be what it’s like to be in heaven,” he said upon entering the temple.
Several members of his family had been baptized by the time of publication.

More of my writings on LDS in Nigeria can be found here.

Mother would be pleased

Whenever Mom cut my hair back in the day, she would croon her hope that someday whoever my wife was would appreciate my hair - especially that one adorable little curl right in the center of my forehead that always shows up so prominently during a haircut.

She does, Mom. She does.


Mother would also be happy to know what good care AUN is taking of me.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The ethical problems of being a fanboy

Disney bought Star Wars. Movie 7 is on the way. I am extremely happy. Gleeful.

But I have a conundrum. [By the way, the comments on this thread regarding the plural of conundrum are some of the best grammar Nazi reading I've done in a long while. Brilliant.]

Surely Darth is going to make more appearances at Disneyland now. He's a much more practical autograph character than Solo or Leia, R2 can't sign very well, and 3P0 has fairly limited mobility. He already shows up a few times a day to test the kiddies' Jedi reflexes, but doesn't stick around for autographs.

Yet. Suppose he does. What is a fanboy in development economics supposed to do? Somehow it just doesn't strike me as right to squeal like a little girl [not that there's anything wrong with that] while asking a genocidal mass-murderer for his autograph. I mean, it would totally encourage real life mass murderers!

I do know he's fictional. I am rationally aware that it would be the caps-locked scrawl of an 18 year old, not even the Scottish guy whose name has been forgotten since the masterful James Earl Jones gave his voice. But for some strange reason the thought of standing in a one hour line to get that signature seems vaguely appealing.

And I'm worried that is sick and wrong.