Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A short note...

We followed the Connecticut tragedy on CNN.  I cannot imagine what it would be like to lose a child in such a violent manner.  It is incomprehensible.

We have been quite busy with missionaries coming into our mission as well as those going home.  They all come to the mission home complex, where we live and work.  Plus there are missionaries transferred from one location to another...all at the same time.  It is our job to coordinate all of well as arrange meals while they are here.  They are wonderful young people with much enthusiasm and energy.  Other than working here, we have not had a lot of other excitement as we are restricted to the mission home and immediate vicinity because of safety issues.  

Ogun State, near the City of Imodi; actually the country road.  Beautiful.

Ibadan Road, tallest hill I have seen in Nigeria.  A view across the plantations. 

The plantations are a mix of coconut, sugar cane and bananas.

Beautiful river with a sand barge in the middle.

Sand dredgers - very hard work.

Off loading sand to carry up the river bank.

Cut sugar cane in 10 foot lengths - and workers.

Penny in her African wedding costume.

Penny and Elwood in their African wedding costumes.

President Audebayo, our mission President, and us at the wedding.

An African couple at the wedding reception.

Two of the grooms mothers (his father has several wives). 

Official wedding stand with the "high table" on the right.  
The Bride and Groom sit on the couch to the left.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Another week...

We just got back from dinner with a family in our ward.  The husband is Nigerian and the wife is from Idaho...quite a combination.  They have 3 adorable children.  We are going to an African wedding on Saturday...I suppose the husband was able to raise the bride price. The tradition is for all the people who attend the wedding to wear clothing made out of the same material so Elwood and I had African-style clothing made for us by a seamstress in the area.

We visited some missionary apartments on Friday near the beach and we were able to see sand and ocean.  Unlike California, land near the ocean is not covered with luxury homes and condos.  People living near the beach are fisherman who live in very poor homes.  Many missionary apartments need generators because electricity is out so often (days and sometimes weeks at a time) that the food in their small refrigerators goes bad and they are unable to get water.  Most apartments are connected to a bore hole which requires electricity to pump the water in.  None of the apartments have hot water so even when they have water it has to be heated in order to wash bodies or clothes.  They do not have washing machines or dryers so all washing is by hand.  Our apartment is luxurious for most Nigerians in that we have hot water, a washer and dryer, and a generator that provides electricity when the power is off.   

We had a little shake up in the missionary office which is where we spend much of our time.  We work in this office with the mission president, two missionaries that assist us (Office Elders) and two missionaries who assist the president.  The two assistants to the president had some issues that caused the president to remove them from the office and bring in two new ones.   

The Christmas season has arrived in Nigeria.  The stores sell Christmas decorations.  A small string of lights costs 2000 naira (about $13).  It is quite expensive to buy most products unless it is grown and made in Nigeria.  We can buy some vegetables, bananas, and pineapple at reasonable prices.  If we ate pounded yams, rice, beans, salty dried fish, etc. and if it were safe to do so we could buy these products rather inexpensively at the many roadside markets.  We did go to one market with a driver and bought zucchini and cilantro...I even made some zucchini bread.

Elwood and a few others siphoning gas from a can into the van.  
Gas stations were out of gas as they usually are.

Fishing village just off 3rd main bridge, Lagos.  This view is from where we got a flat tire.  

The tire blew - looking for equipment to change tire

Fishermen in a typical boat

 Elwood directing traffic while tire was being changed

More fishermen... 

African art carvings 

Penny decorating their small apartment Christmas tree

Penny at the office as Santa 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving in Nigeria

We are doing well here.  We are trying to figure out what we can do to make a little difference.  
The needs are overwhelming.

We have discovered why the men are so old here when they get married.  There is something called a "bride price".  The man must pay a very large amount of money to the bride's family if he wants to marry.  Besides that he must pay for all the costs of weddings...(plural).  Each village that the families are associated with have special ceremonies and celebrations that the groom must also pay for.  Then on top of that, he must pay for an apartment for a year in advance (anyone who rents an apartment must do so).  There is no credit, cars must be paid for entirely.  There are no such things as car payments or loans.

We are loving this country and the people here.  We are actually beginning to understand what most people are saying.  Despite the poverty, there is a strong spirit of hope.  The people are loving and caring and families are everything to them.

We were invited to a wedding and found that we needed to purchase material from the bride's friend.  Evidently, everyone at the wedding wears a dress or shirt made from the same fabric.  The bride told us that this is the tradition.   A lady came over this evening and took our measurements.  Besides our usual activities working in the mission we went shopping on Friday in an area where artists display their wares.  We purchased a mask and some African figures.  I think we will go back as the prices were fairly reasonable and the art work was amazing.  On our way to the art area on a busy long bridge one of our tires blew...and completely shredded.  We will send pictures next week.  Elwood was out directing traffic.  We also bought 150 roll on deodorants at a local store to give to the missionaries as part of their Christmas present.  (As I have mentioned before, this is needed!)

Thanksgiving was quite different this year.  The night before we went with the mission president and his wife along with the other senior missionary couples to the Sheraton Hotel for dinner.  It was delicious...and the first time we have been to a real restaurant since we have been here as we are not encouraged to go 
out at night.

We put up a Charlie Brown Christmas tree on a little table in our apartment.  It actually is quite cheery.

Elwood has spent a lot of time checking out missionary apartments to see what needs to be done to make them more livable.  We have both been working with the mission president to assist him in what needs to be done to help make the mission more successful.

We love you all,
Penny and Elwood

Off-loading sand from sand barges.  They dredge where the river and ocean meet, load it on barges, off-load and sell

Plantain: a large fruit in the banana family cooking on a stove.  This is a very popular African food item.

Large tubers or yams, basic to the African diet. 

Penny and our shopping guide Freida at the huge shopping area called Balogun.

Moving product in Balogun.  Many "streets" are too narrow for a vehicle. 

Shoppers and two cars... even worse.

Now this is a crowd!

This is really dressing for work.

Carrying merchandise to stores 

Happy mother with child

Woman roasting corn at a shopping area in Maryland, which is a suburb of Lagos.

Penny purchased a basket

The roads are always muddy and rutted in the suburbs.

Festac Stake Center, quite nice on the outside. 

Elwood with the missionaries in Festac

Senior missionaries, President and Sister Adebayo, and Victor, the regional facilities manager,
after Thanksgiving eve dinner at the Sheraton Hotel - an unusual night out.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

November in Lagos

Went shopping with our driver for Christmas gifts for the missionaries in our mission to a shopping district called Balogun. Many people wanted to discuss the election and were excited that a black man had been elected.  The shopping area consists of block after block of "shops" stacked on top of each other very precariously and jammed together side by side.  The walkway is very narrow; in some places allowing only one person to squeeze through and in other places a little wider.  Amazingly cars and kaykays drive through, honking loudly.  And you had better get out of the way or you would be bumped. 

 We were busy this week receiving 14 new missionaries - 13 from Nigeria and one from Ghana.  They were interviewed; received a short training; fed and sent on their way.  Many of them did not have necessities.  We gave them sheets, socks, pants, toiletries, a mosquito net, malaria pills, etc.  While all this was going on, another group of missionaries were being transferred to a new location.  This group was fed and then moved.  None of them have cars so the mission vans pick them up at their apartments, drive them to the mission home and then take them to their new location.  The living conditions are quite basic (as you may have seen on our blog). 

 We get together frequently in the evening with 2 other senior missionary couples for dinner and games.  We are not able to go out at night because of mosquitoes carrying malaria and the unsafe environment. We attended a devotional where a member of the African West Area Presidency told us that our area will be piloting a new teaching program using General Conference talks instead of manuals for the youth.  Another program he announced is to help find members who have moved and cannot be located.

An African woman

Ditch along the side of the street.  Typical, who knows what all goes into the ditch, they stink.

Typical scene

An unusual church "Synagogue, church of All Nations" 


Woman cooking near a ditch

Kids at play

Kitchen, sleeping quarters, and motor cycles in a very small area 


LDS Church at Ejigbo 

LDS Church at Okokomaiko

Goats at play

This woman wants to make Penny an African style dress

This woman owns the sewing shop

Men in typical African dress