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

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The streets of Lagos

Had an outing this week visiting missionary apartments for the placement of generators. As I have told you before, electricity goes out frequently so generators are a necessity. One apartment has not had electricity for two weeks. When electricity goes out the water does not pump from the bore holes. (There is no infrastructure providing water so everyone has to have a bore hole (deep well) providing water for the building or apartment.) So the missionaries have had to go outside to a well to get water and carry it up in buckets. We saw two bore holes that the Mormon Church provided in two areas allowing two small towns to have access to clean water. Most apartments in Lagos do not have a water heater so there are many problems with illness because people do not take the time to heat water to wash dishes or bathe. All the missionaries are provided with a water filtering system, but if electricity goes out it doesn't work properly. 

There are a few main streets that are paved in the outer areas of the city, but most are dirt and are deeply rutted making four wheel drive a necessity if you are in a vehicle. Some areas are cleaner than others, but trash is everywhere and people dump everything into the deep ditches by the side of the roads. Some ditches are covered and others are not. Goats are frequently seen in front of where people live and they wander in and out of the living quarters that are sometimes just huts. Most areas of the city have stalls side by side selling a variety of items and vendors wander through traffic offering sunglasses, belts, magazines, etc. There are so many needs here that it staggers the imagination. I just hope we will be able to help a little.

Women walking in front of stalls

One of the paved city streets with typical crowds

Missionary kitchen

Wife of one of the security guards with her baby 

Stalls and mothers with baby 

Women carry heavy loads on their heads 

Four of the sister missionaries

Bore hole (built by the Mormon Church) for one of the local areas allowing them to have fresh water

One of the many vans used as public transportation - a person is always hanging out 

This woman owns several apartment buildings, one of which is a building where four of our missionaries live 

These ditches are at the sides of all of the roads