Thursday, July 25, 2013

Scenes from a very long drive

To celebrate Pioneer Day, we drove to Rexburg, Idaho to visit BYU-Idaho and the Rexburg Temple, and then to Albion to visit Joy's father's graveside. The 10 hours in a car with two little ones went much better than anticipated. We may talk about the real reasons for the trip later, but until then here are several vignettes from the drive:

Monday, July 22, 2013

Prince turned 5 [a while ago]

"There were a lot of fun things about my birthday and I won one of my games on my birthday party. And hmmm, and that ... I, uh, hmmm, that I, that I stayed up until 8 o'clock. That's the last thing I want to tell them."

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Time capsule: Live each day

(Written Saturday, May 11)
Among my least favorite things this semester was a growing worry for my and my family's safety. There were two days in particular as I was getting ready to leave for school that I felt like there was a real possibility I might not make it home again.

Of course, there's always that possibility - crazy drivers and muggers are everywhere; food poisoning can happen everywhere; who knows what my immune system can't handle; everything we eat kills us by degrees. That's life.

But two days it really hit me that I might not be coming home. One of those was graduation. Boko Haram is a terrorist group whose name means (roughly) "Western education - boko - is sinful - haram." So here I am, Mr. Boko, doing something haram. A graduation of a western university sounds like an ideal target for any one of the dozens of splinter groups and copy cat organizations. When a (false alarm) report of 30 dead spread the day before, I actually prayed that I'd rather have another kidney stone attack to give me a legitimate excuse to miss it.

Living each day as if it were your last would be horrible.

The night before and the morning of graduation, the possibility of it being the Last Time really hit home. Singing to my children felt particularly important as I sang our family's song - I sometimes call it my spell of protection, binding our family together to survive any calamity. Trying any kind of discipline was very hard. I set my alarm earlier because I wanted to make sure that, if it was my last day, we had read scriptures together. When we did read scriptures, I found an excuse to bear my testimony to them ... just in case. Extra hugs and kisses before I left. Extra admonishments to be good and obey Mommy.

and to know I love them very much.

I told Joy I would send her a little email every 15-30 minutes during graduation so she would know I was okay. Turned out my connection was lousy, so they came in bunches. I thought about writing my children a long letter each - which didn't happen, sadly. Those last letters are useful things to have around, just in case, y'know? But I know what would've gone into each of them.

In economics, we differentiate between "risk" and "uncertainty." With risk, you have a pretty good idea what the relevant probabilities are: stock returns have a particular distribution, flipped coins will be 50/50 heads, that kind of thing. You don't know what will happen, but you've got a good idea of what might happen and how likely certain events are. With uncertainty you don't even know what might happen, let alone how likely each outcome is. I was very uncertain. I didn't know what the probability was, but with a new attack somewhere in this state or the adjoining one every couple days for the last several weeks and every week for the entire semester ... it felt high.

There's a natural tendency now that the "crisis" has passed and nothing at all happened to want to minimize all that fear. But it was a rational response, whatever the objective probability actually was. It's one of the top reasons I'm glad Joy and the kids will be living in the States next year. Bad stuff can happen to them there too ... but it's known risks and not uncertainties.

When we prayed last night, I told God I trusted Him with me and with the family. It felt very silly after saying that to even want to ask for anything else or more than for His will. It felt very foolish to worry - we're all in His hands anyway. But His ways aren't my ways. (Psst... they're better.)  Oh right.

Lord, I believe. Help Thou mine unbelief.

On the drive to the graduation, this is what I read next in my scriptures:
But I will deliver thee in that day, saith the LORD: and thou shalt not be given into the hand of the men of whom thou art afraid. For I will surely deliver thee ... because thou hast put thy trust in me. (Jeremiah 39:17-18).

Time Capsule: Toyland

**This was post was written April 22, but won't be posted until we're letting the world know of our machinations**

8 suitcases. That's it. 8. It's what Joy and the kids will live on for the next 8 months until I can bring another load from Nigeria at Christmas time.

As we roughly sketched out what would go in each bag, we said the kids would get one suitcase for their toys.


Three months ago, to bring some order to too-messy rooms, Joy collected all the kids' toys and packed them into 4 suitcases. We opened one at a time, occasionally replacing all the toys with those from another suitcase. So we knew exactly how many toys we had:

3 times too many.

What goes? What stays? How could we choose? I asked Superstar that question on Saturday and he said, "Let's do it Monday." Do what? I didn't know, but he had a schedule to keep apparently.

Confessions: Our plan for 2013-14

This has not been a good year for Nigeria. Increasing terrorist attacks, kidnappings, and more, and it seemed to be coming closer and closer to Yola. We were rather frightened and had Joy start shopping only every other week. On top of all the other stresses of last semester, this was too much.

We started contemplating the idea of moving Joy and the kids to the US in early 2014. We would only be apart a couple months - we've had to do that before - and it would give Superstar a chance to start school in the US before first grade .... it sounded nice and safe.

As things got worse, we even started to consider the unthinkable. What if we moved them to the US in summer? We prayed to know if that was what we needed to do to keep them safe and protect them. The answer to our prayers was unexpected.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Superstar tells a story

Some random person on the
Internet had the same idea for
Halloween, I guess.
This other website has
a noteworthy shot of Luigi
with "baby-"Merida.
Superstar likes pretending to be Mario at school, and the school generally encourages it. He gets to play Mario with his classmates, and they get turns with their favorite things also. Sometimes the teacher is Bowser. 

Yesterday he drew a comic strip of Mario. Another boy drew an Indiana Jones comic. A girl drew Rapunzel. Then they decided to put the stories together. [spoiler alert] The crystal skull would defeat the witch and then Mario would climb up Rapunzel's hair.

We are pretty impressed with Superstar's school.

He has also been creating his own brand new stories. Here is the one he told us at breakfast today: