Sunday, February 19, 2012

Stories From Egbe

Thank you for your prayers for our team. After I posted last time, we all woke up the next morning, feeling more refreshed than we have since we've been here. My feet and legs had also gone down. It's good to know people are praying!

I have so much to tell you about that I hardly know where to begin. I'm a few days behind on my stories and I'm constantly thinking of new things to share.

Ronke and Toyin pounding the yam. 
On Wednesday, we had pounded yam for lunch. This is the best dish of the Nigerian people. I thought it would be like sweet potatoes but it is white and not at all sweet. It is peeled and boiled like potatoes and then put in a large bowl made from a hollowed out log. They add salt and water and pound it with wooden paddles or sticks. 2 people do it together and it takes a lot of work. Ronke, our cook needed a helper but she refused a couple of Abby's suggestions because they "have no power"! She finally allowed Toyin (To-een) to help her pound.

The yam comes out looking very much like potatoes mashed with cream. It is patted into balls about the size of a baseball and wrapped in plastic. Most of us could only eat 1/2 of one. It was served with a cooked mixture of beef and greens. You take off pieces of yam with your fingers and use it to pick up the meat mixture. To be honest, I really didn't like it. I probably would have except the greens tasted bitter and I'm not a fan of cooked greens to begin with.

We went to market on Friday. It happens every 9 days so next week, it will be on Sunday. Market was quite an experience. We went in the back of the truck so we had to stand and hold onto the frame in the front. Keep in mind that drivers have to constantly dodge holes and other drivers! When we go anywhere here, people yell out, Oyinbo (O-wee-bo)! Children come running and yell and wave at us. We are quite the spectacle in the back of that truck, yelling, "Good morning!" and waving back at them. We have to be careful how we wave too. It is an insult for us to wave with our left hand and if you wave with your fingers, they think it is a curse! We wave with our right hands - more like the queen, only not as graceful!

Back to the market... The ground is all uneven and it's dusty and dirty. There seems to be little reason to how things are laid out. We saw everyting for sale from packaged foods to sandals to cloth to meat to vegetables. The meat was disgusting! It was out in the sun and dust with flies all over it. We saw one tray with hairy legs with hoofs at the end but quite small. They told us it was bush meat, which must be a small antelope. There was a muslim section which we were warned not to take pictures in. There were items sold for black magic and charms as well. We met a new bride at market for the first time. The first 3 times a bride goes to market, she has a helper (a small girl) to help her carry things and she treks (walks) everywhere. This is so she is seen and people who know her will give her gifts. The one we saw had a white ruffled top like a wedding dress and a beautifully woven wrap around her waist, probably made by a relative. She also had makeup on. Probably a wedding gift. She stopped for us to take her picture. We had children following us all around the market and every chance they got, they posed for us. Many of them were selling things. One girl had a tray of rough black balls on her head. I was a little leary of what they were. They were actually soap made from ashes. Women were carrying large loads on their head and had babies on their backs. There was too much to take in. It was overwhelming but I wanted to stay!

I believe that is dried cassava on the ground.

The sticks in the center are covered in manure.  They're fire starters.
These children followed us all around the market wanting their picture snapped.  Many were selling things from trays on their heads.
We asked what this was and the answer was "bush meat".  It was a very small antelope or something.  Hooves still attached and flies all over it.  Yumm!

Loretta and I purchased fabric at the market and took it to the dress maker the next day. It comes in 5 yard pieces and costs around $6 - $20 depending on what you buy and it will cost less than $10 to get it made up. The dress maker was in her shop which was like a garage off her house. It was tiny and hot and piled with chairs and fabric. She was working on a wedding dress when we came in. To order our dresses, we looked through what I think were Nigerian magazines with many styles of clothing and we showed her what we wanted. This skirt with this ruffle. This top with this sleeve. She took our measurements and we will pick them up before we leave. Men go to a tailor for their clothes. Clothing is VERY important here. I've been told that for weddings and funerals, you HAVE to get a new outfit made. They end up having many beautiful clothes but live in hovels.

John and I were walking up from the computer lab the other night and were greeting the nursing students as usual. As we went by one area that is popular for studying, I asked how their evening was. They seems interested in us so I stopped to talk. One girl was embarrassed and ran away but soon came back. I was quickly surrounded by young girls who were all talking at once! They wanted to know my name and how we liked the weather and what we were eating here. I asked their names and got through about 4 Fruits of the Spirit before I realized they were teasing me! I love hearing their laughter! I showed them pictures on my phone of snow and our family and our dog. They don't understand how we have dogs for pets. They use them for security and most are afraid of them. They certainly don't understand a dog that stays in the house and does tricks! I showed them a picture of Caleb and they all oohed over him. One girls said, "I want to marry him!" I said, "He is only 15!" One girl wanted me to bring her home with me. I think most would do anything to get out of here. They all said, "I love you, Mam! We are so glad you come here!" They are such loving, hospitable people.

One of the hardest things to get used to has been what they call us. They call us Sir and Mam, Mamma, Papa, etc. Sometimes, they will even do small curtsey. I was appalled at first because I don't feel that I'm above them in any way. What I've come to find out is that these are terms they call anyone they respect. A girl in church today passed something to n elder and curtsied as she left.

John got called Papa the other day by our housekeepers. Papa is someone they think has wisdom. He caused quite stir! He has boards to carry down the hill to the shop so he carried it on his head and steadied it with his hands. Abby heard the ladies laughing and went to see. They said, "Papa looks like a Nigerian!" Mark snapped a picture on his phone so I'll post it later. Ronke also found it amusing that he was helping with dishes today. I told her that he does many household chores at home.

Toyin (To-een) brought his family by after church today. He and Kemy have 4 boys, 2, 4, 6 and 8. They were adorable! The boys were all dressed in matching Nigerian dress and looked like 4 identical stair steps! They arrived on 2 motorcycles (like taxi cabs). Mom and 2 boys with the driver on one and dad and one boy and driver on the other! I gave Kemy a gift of some makeup and I thought she was going to cry. She immediately wanted our picture snapped together. I also gave the boys some crayons and pencils and paper. You would have thought I'd given them the world.
Toyin and Kemy with their 4 boys. 
Motor cycles are used like taxis there but it was a lot of money for this young family to spend to come visit us.

Kim and Kemy!  When I gave her a gift of makeup she immediately wanted a snap of us together.
 We visited HELP Orphanage this afternoon. We played volleyball with the older boys the other day. It is a very nice place for this area but it still isn't anything like what we would call home. There are about 30 boys there right now and they have 6 girls coming this week. It has been opened for 4 years. The children have to be recommended and then people in the States sponsor them. Some come from the state orphanage. Some come from homes where the parents aren't caring for them. It broke my heart to see these beautiful boys and know that they have all come from such difficult situations.

After our tour, we sat in plastic chairs in a covered area with a ping-pong table. One of the older boys brought out pictures (many of the present boys are in them) and as we looked, the little boys crowded around John and I to see them. They were all over us. It was hot but wonderful. I wanted to scoop them all up and hug them! We spent time with one boy in particular. Tersough (Tay-soo) is 15 and wants to be a missionary. I asked where and he said, "Wherever God sends me." He asked us questions about how long we've been married and how we met. They seem to be starved for information about how families work. He and John walked some and sat talking for quite some time and then he took us into the boy's dorm to show us his room and his drawings. He loves to draw. He asked us to come again and bring our son and to tell Caleb he sent his greetings. We took his picture and told him we would be praying for him. We hope to come back and see him again.

One of my favorite moments of the whole trip!  It was hot and they were all over us - pointing at pictures and touching our skin and hair.
We were looking at pictures of the older boys.  The only family these boys have now.

This was across from the kitchen.  It's where they wash the dishes.

The HELP boys singing worship songs for us.  Check out the video below.

Me and Tersough (Tay-su).  What a great young man!

Tersough's room.  There were 3-4 sets of bunk beds. 
The older boys sleep on the top and younger on the bottom.  The older are in charge of the younger.

I'm sure I'm missing things but these are some of the big stories I wanted to share. I'll probably be sharing even after I get home, as things come to mind. If every American could see what we've seen here, we would change the world. There is no way you can see these things and not care.

Tomorrow is another work day. Please pray that we accomplish much and work well together. There is so much to do, it will be hard to leave it unfinished.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad you slept better and are more rested. This, and your stories above are prompting me to pray more often for you! God is so faithful. Love you both. :)