Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The 40th good thing about Lagos: A ladies day out at the beach.

When I was here last summer, we had a fun Saturday outing to the ConocoPhillips beach house. So I was very interested when an ExxonMobil friend said she was reserving the ExxonMobil beach house for a weekday women's outing and arranging for the boat to take a group there. We went yesterday and it was a fun escape from the busy life of the city. It was especially fun to just go to the beach with some women. It's a different dynamic than when the men are along. We walked along the beach, chasing waves and crabs, both of which were plentiful. We gorged ourselves on the food we brought that could have lasted us several days and played a new (to me) dominoes game.

ExxonMobil's beach house is a larger house on stilts and then it also has a cabana in front nearer the water. We just set up in the cabana. Their house is situated on the same peninsula as our company's beach house that we visited last summer. But to get to this one, as we walk from the dock on the river, we pass through a village on the way to the ocean-view beach houses. This is not a great picture of our village helpers. But these women met our boat and carried our gear on their heads. It's hard to see, but the one carrying the basket also has a baby tied to her back. ExxonMobil has adopted the village school -- they paid to build a couple of new school buildings and pay the salaries for the teachers. This is from company sponsorship and individual donations. School was out about the time we were leaving and the school children came to greet us.

These children below came to see us off. I asked them if I could take their picture and they responded with these poses. I gave them each a small "dash" to thank them.

Here are the locals that came to the dock to see us off. Friendly, helpful sorts -- as long as they receive their dash/tip for their service.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The 39th good thing about Lagos: Nice young men piano students who gave good talks in church today.

Favorite moments at church today:

The opening song with all the congregation singing in full voice: "Faith of our fathers, holy faith. We will be true to thee till death."

Both of my piano students spoke in church today. Samuel (the one on left in the picture below) shared a beautiful and heartfelt testimony of what the gospel has meant in his life. I was especially touched by his talk.

Having a chance to talk to and meet more women in the ward. One young adult woman, Victoria, recently returned from serving a mission in Washington, D.C. She loved it there and considered it a wonderful opportunity to serve in the temple visiting center, as well as proselyte there. She's from Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, but is here going to law school.

I was again too slow with the camera. After church I watched as a mother flagged down a motorcycle taxi (okada) and arrange her 3 young children in front of and behind the okada driver and then hike up her colorful African dress and climb on the back with her arms around all 4 of the other people piled on the motorcycle.

The Relief Society president speaking during announcements at the beginning of our women's meeting saying: "Sisters, I must speak about the toilet facilities in our building. They are NOT OF GOOD REPORT! They are not fitting for Latter-Day Saints! We have learned about good hygiene, and it is not good for our health to use facilities such as these. We must take responsibility to clean up after ourselves and our children. If the water is not running, we must get a bucket of water to flush the toilet...." And so on. Amen to that!

After our meetings I gave a piano lesson to my young students. It was somewhat challenging because the power was out -- so we went through some theory lessons and they played some pieces on the keyboard without being able to hear anything. But they were good sports about it -- and I could watch their mistakes and check their timing without having to hear the sound. But I do hope in the future we'll be able to actually hear their music. That's a little more rewarding for them!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The 38th good thing about Lagos: Good intentions for community cleanup.

This is the last Saturday of the month and in Lagos State this morning is designated as an environmental clean-up day. No cars are allowed on the roads until 10 AM -- at least without risking a pricy ticket or pay-off to the police officer or even a trip to jail. So we're not going out till later! The idea behind this is that everyone is to stay home and clean up their area. Jamiu, our driver, said that this is not what happens. People stay home because they have to -- but clean-up is not a priority. No surprise here. Lagos is rated (by whoever has the unenviable job of rating these things) as one of the dirtiest cities in the world. Piles of garbage are EVERYWHERE. Each day I see people sorting through the piles looking for something they might find useful or something they can recycle. The UN says that it is projected that by 2010 (not too far in the future now) Lagos will be the world's 3rd largest city. The government isn't close to having the infrastructure to deal with the people they have now -- water supplies, electrical service, sanitation and garbage service to name a few of the areas in which they are noticably lacking. But still, it is a nice idea to set some time aside to clean up our surroundings. Our maid did a great job of this during the week, so, like the Nigerians, we're not stressing out about cleaning this morning. We're on the computer, just devoured some pancakes, and will head down to the exercise room in a bit to work them off.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The 37th good thing about Lagos: News of kidnapped missionaries' safe return.

Just yesterday afternoon I got an email notice telling of the kidnapping of 4 Nigerian missionaries in the Port Harcourt area. It's kind of chilling that Saturday when I was talking with Sister Carlson about how much she loved serving as a missionary in Port Harcourt and was sad to have to leave the missionaries and members there -- at that same time 4 of those missionaries were being kidnapped. I don't know how much the leaders at our conference session knew on Saturday, but I imagine at least by the Sunday meetings they were aware of what had happened -- but nothing was said about it publicly. Elder Cardon did ask the members in the Sunday meeting to pray for the missionaries -- and as I look back I wonder if he had this situation especially in mind -- but that's not an unusual request. I was relieved to check on the internet this morning and learn that they had been returned safely. Many kidnapped oil-field workers are held for long periods of time -- I'm so grateful those young, dedicated men didn't have to deal with a prolonged period of captivity. And yes, I will continue to pray for the missionaries!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The 36th good thing about Lagos: Sometimes those escort cars with the police lights really come in handy!

We had an experience when we came in to Lagos this time that I kept forgetting to write about. When we had the escort car to the conference this weekend, it reminded me of driving with the escort car (this is a van carrying the security policemen with the machine guns -- the van has lights like a police car, though I don't think it's officially a police vehicle) coming in from the airport. Though it was late on a Saturday night, there was a major road that was closed due to construction. The road we were trying to go on was heavy with traffic at a standstill in the direction we were trying to go. The road was divided by a median, with two lanes in each direction. Our driver just waved the escort van, which had been behind us, on ahead and we moved to the lanes that were going the other direction. The escort vehicle turned on its police lights and so the traffic heading straight at us was forced to move to a single lane. We just moved on ahead on the wrong side of the road without the long delay we would have had if we had stayed in our proper lanes. Brent hates it when he sees other cars of "important" people doing this, but he didn't complain when we were the ones escaping the traffic back-up. I don't recommend trying this in the States, however!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The 35th good thing about Lagos: Dedicated missionaries are here!

At the Stake Conference session on Saturday I went early so Brent could go to the men's priesthood session and while I waited for the adult afternoon session, I visited in the apartment of one of the missionary couples that are assigned here. It was a great place to wait because it had air conditioning -- and also more comfortable than sitting in a classroom. I visited with Sister Griggs while Sister Carlson finished a meeting with some single adult leaders. Then, after the meeting was over, we had some time to chat. I was so impressed with these women! It would have been so easy for them to stay in their comfortable lives in the U.S., but they indicated their willingness to serve a mission and -- even more remarkably -- accepted the assignment when they heard they would be assigned to Nigeria. They said a large majority of senior couples decline when they receive an assignment to Africa. Brother and Sister Carlson had been down in Port Harcourt and, amazingly enough with what I've heard about that area, they loved it! She was very sad when concerns for their safety necessitated their move to Lagos. There had been robberies and home invasions even with the missionaries there. The Delta area has become a place that is very unsafe for white people, so the church pulled out all the Westerners. Sister Griggs is newer to the mission and is still adjusting, but she has a great attitude and the willingness to stick it out, despite the difficulties. Sister Carlson said she thinks about how if she and her husband had not gone on this mission, she would have missed one of the richest experiences of her adult life. It's clear she's offering so much with leadership training here and loves the people and what she's doing.

On Sunday before the Conference session, we visited with some of the young full-time missionaries as they waited with their pamphlets and church materials under a tent outside the stake center. They are all from different parts of Africa. They have bright smiles, generous spirits and lots of energy. It was fun to talk with them. They radiate their love of God and the gospel.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The 34th good thing about Lagos: Another great Stake Conference

My first church experience in Lagos last summer was a Stake Conference and it was an amazing experience. This weekend was another Stake Conference (this is a larger church meeting that is held twice a year) and it was another really great experience. We were able to attend both Saturday and Sunday sessions -- which was nice because, again, we had to go with the whole security entourage -- bullet-proof van and trailing security escort van with 3 guys with machine guns. Even though they had announced that there would be no on-site parking, this time they let our cars into the gate even without the guy waving his machine gun. I think the security is a bit excessive -- but I guess it's good that the company cares enough about our safety to provide this service which is at an extra cost for them.

Saturday Brent went to the priesthood session at noon while I visited with some of the senior sister missionaries in their air-conditioned apartment next door to the stake center complex (which is not air-conditioned). I'll write about that later... Later in the afternoon was the adult session. A counselor in the Area Authority presidency was here presiding -- Elder Craig Cardon.

The Stake Choir sang both Saturday and Sunday and they were fabulous. They had different matching outfits both days. (The white shirts with scarfs were on Saturday and taffeta dresses -- men with matching suits and ties -- were on Sunday. Just so you know, I took these pictures before the meetings.) These Nigerians just LOVE to sing and it's wonderful to hear them and see their enjoyment of the music in their faces.

There were beautiful flowers at the pulpit. The speakers and stake leaders were impressive. We also heard from the new mission president and his wife. In January, the Lagos Nigeria mission was split in half. The new mission president of the Lagos East mission (our mission) came from the Nigeria Ibadan mission -- one that was just closed for what I assume were security reasons. I don't know how many people were in attendance on Sunday, but the huge room had a bunch of people standing and there were people in overflow rooms as well. There were hundreds there, but I'm not good at estimating. I have pictures here of members entering the building and then milling around outside afterwards.

We came in on Sunday an hour before the meeting started and the chapel area was full except for a couple of reserved rows in front. The available seats started back in the cultural hall area. We made our way to those seats and an usher came to us and said we had reserved seats up in front. It was a little unnecessary -- I don't expect or need to have any special treatment. But I didn't want to refuse their offer of giving the "white people" a seat of honor.

I love to see the women all dressed up with their incredible headdresses and colorful dresses. The men were not as colorful -- I think every man there was wearing a white shirt. In his final message, Elder Cardon referenced Joshua 24 and spoke on the importance of putting away all our false gods and choosing to serve the Lord. He pronounced a beautiful blessing on the people there and on the country of Nigeria -- blessing us with safety and peace and other good things which I can't remember now... But it was quite moving. This country and its people need all the blessings from God they can get!

Friday, February 16, 2007

The 33rd good thing about Lagos: Water aerobics in the morning with friends.

My friends from church invited me to join their water aerobics class which meets several mornings a week at 8 AM at their building. Since Brent was in Paris and not using the car (it will be possible when he’s home, just a little more complicated), I decided I’d take advantage of the opportunity to try the class out. So I went yesterday and this morning. At their building they have a nice pool with a pleasant view of a quieter side of the island than we see from our apartment. I got a picture over their wall of this man fishing in the bay (or whatever you call that body of water…) It's still a little hazy in the morning -- we're at the end of the time of year with what they call the "harmattan." These are seasonal winds from the north that blow sands from the Sahara. I was told that we'll need some rain to bring down the dust that's up in the air before the haze will go. Anyway, about the aerobics class, I pay the instructor 700 naira (about $5) for the hour class. And we have fun visiting before, during and after – so it’s a good way to start the day, and a nice change from my daily workout in our exercise room.
When I got home today still damp and ready to shower, I got a call from the building maintenance to warn me that they were going to work on the generator and the power was out, so I wouldn’t have power for an hour or so. (By the way – the local power company is called NEPA – people here say it means Never Expect Power Again!) I resigned myself to not being able to blow-dry my hair, but the power held out until I was done with the blow-drying, although I didn’t get a chance to use the curling iron. When I got back from a trip to the vegetable market, the power was on again, but there was no water running in the taps. My maid, Angela, was anxious to finish the load of laundry she had started earlier in the morning and was filling a bucket with bottled water to put in the washing machine! I told her to not worry about it – I could finish the laundry whenever the water came back on. I’ll wash and cook my vegetables in bottled water, but I’m not yet to the point where I’ll use it to do the laundry! We got running water a couple of hours later, but by then the internet connection was down, so I had to wait to post to my blog….

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The 32nd good thing about Lagos: It has a museum!

People who know me well know that I love museums. Well, Saturday we had our first Nigerian museum day. It was an interesting experience. When we were on our way, I asked our driver, Jamiu, if he had visited the National Museum and he enthusiastically said, "Oh yes, madam, many times!" He was most excited about the political display they have that in centered around the car that Nigerian leader General Murtala Mohammed was in when he was assassinated in 1976, which brought Nigeria's current president into power. I wasn't quite as excited as Jamiu about seeing the limosine with the actual bullet holes in it. But I guess it was interesting. We were in the building with the political displays at the end of the tour and a Nigerian boy (maybe 11 years old) and his mother who had come through the rest of the museum with us were there. As we entered, there was a display that showed the Nigerian pledge to their flag and the national anthem. I asked the boy if he knew them and he said they recited the pledge and sang the anthem every school day. He then sang it for us. He was quite good. And he also knew the whole story about Murtala's assasination -- when it happened and where he was and everything. Our museum guide, Christina, was not as informed about the political history as she was about the rest of the museum. I asked her about the upcoming elections and she clearly didn't care about them. She said that people were ready for Obasanjo to leave office, but she wasn't excited about any of the contenders. She wasn't sure when the elections were and didn't know what the voting age was. But she was very knowlegable about the collections of Nigerian antiquities. The museum had quite a lot of nice tribal stuff and she had some good stories to tell. I hope to come back again and read the labels. I got her story, but there were quite a few informative labels that would give me more background. There were a lot of similar pieces to what we have in Houston in the African collection of the Museum of Fine Arts. There was quite a nice collection of bronzes from the kingdom of Benin. She did comment about a couple of particularly important pieces, saying that they were replicas -- the originals were in the British museum. No surprise there that the British made off with the good stuff!

The museum itself was pretty dusty and dirty -- like most of Lagos. There was not much in the way of temperature controls. The entrance fee was reasonable -- 1oo naira -- about $.75! I wanted to get a picture of Christina, our guide, as she ran her hands over objects as she talked about them -- objects with a sign warning "DO NOT TOUCH!" But photography was not allowed inside the museum. Brent did take a picture of us together in front of the museum. She has a neater outfit than what I wear when I give museum tours in Houston. And she was quite pleased with the tip I gave her at the end of the tour. Nobody ever offers me a tip after a tour....

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The 31st good thing about Lagos: Another Sunday of worship.

I don't expect to do a Sunday church report each week, but I keep thinking of things that may interest you about church here. The keyboard was up and ready for me when we got to church today. But when I went to my seat after the sacrament, I turned it off to save energy and when I returned for the closing song, I turned it on, but it wouldn't go to the right setting or play, so the chorister went ahead and started the hymn without me. The ward music chairman came up and, by switching it on and off several times, was able to get it set right and he wanted me to charge right in and start playing, but I thought that would be a bit disconcerting when the congregation was singing in another key, so I just sat that one out. Next week, I won't turn it off!

After our meetings last week there was a baptismal service. We didn't stay for it, but it turns out that 8 converts were baptized, so we had 8 confirmations today -- that took a good share of the meeting! I can't remember ever being in a meeting where 8 people were confirmed. Nigerian names are so long and confusing. Many of them have kind of an English name they go by, but their last names generally have lots of syllables. I don't know how I'll ever get them straight.
Something else that is different here -- when people speak in church, they greet the congregation with a "good morning, brothers and sisters" and then the congregation always responds aloud with a "good morning" in return. It's kind of nice.

I was brazen and took a couple of pictures right after Relief Society. I think when I blogged about going to church here last summer, I mentioned the blue tablecloth with the RS motto and the blue vase of flowers. It's still there every week. The Relief Society Presidency sits behind it during the meeting, and I really wanted to take the picture when they were there because they looked so beautiful with their African dress and all holding their babies with heads full of bright barrettes. These African women are so beautiful! Some wear Western dress but I think a majority of the women wear African dress. This part of the room pictured is not all the seating. There's a row to the side (where I'm seated) along the windows. I like to sit there because there's more of a breeze and also more leg room. Just about every chair was filled today.

After church I gave my first piano lesson to two young men. The ward had previously paid for them to take piano lessons, but the money for that ran out. They were pleased when I mentioned that I would enjoy giving lessons to whoever would like to learn. The boys already have a good start and are eager to learn. They are polite and respectful. The only difficulty will be that the only access to a keyboard for them will be at the church, so their practice time will be limited. One of the adult women also came up, saying she would like to learn. She's a beginner, so I'll probably teach her separately. I'll take a picture of my students for you another day.

More good things: it wasn't as oppressively hot at church today; I made it through church without having to make use of the rest room facilities (something I've been told to avoid at all costs!); next week is Stake Conference -- that was such a neat experience last summer, so I'm really looking forward to having that experience again.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The 30th good thing about Lagos: Plenty of good reading material

I bet you thought that those library cards placed in the little pocket glued to library books and hand stamped with the date were gone forever. Those of you younger than 30 have grown up on bar codes and scanners and probably have no idea what I'm referring to, so I'll include a picture here. But those real library check-out cards and real card catalogs do still exist at the American Women's Club Library in Lagos. I was invited to come visit the library and, if I wished, become a volunteer there. The library collection exists solely from donations of books and other items from the expatriate community. It's open on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. The other two LDS American women here volunteer there on Wednesday mornings and they assured me that there's a great bunch of women there and they have a good time each week. So, having nothing better to do, I decided I'd go for a visit and I found that the library is a really "good thing." It's in an old house and has 4 good-sized rooms of shelves with books for adults (with more shelves along hallways and alcoves) and a 5th room with a nice collection of books and videos for children. This picture below is of the main room downstairs. Along with books, there are also magazines, videotapes and DVDs.

Membership costs 1500 naira (about $12) and will be well worth it. Though there is a good bookstore here on Victoria Island, books are very expensive. I did bring some with me, but I know I'll appreciate having more of a choice in reading material. After I browsed the collection, I offered my services and was given the task of organizing the magazine collection. I did a pretty good job, if I dare say so myself. Those years of volunteering at the Pattison elementary school library really paid off! The house also has a room that is a thrift shop selling donated items as a fundraiser and a service to the community. I looked over the goods there and just missed getting a real find. One of the other workers nabbed a Cuisinart ice-cream maker that looked in quite good shape. Brent and I had just been talking about how we should put one in our shipment. Ice cream here is very expensive -- about $27 for a half-gallon -- so we haven't been stocking our freezer with it! But it's probably better for us if we continue our ice cream fast. We may go without ice cream here, but we aren't pizza-deprived. After closing up the library I went with some of the other volunteers to a pizza place that was new to me and we enjoyed visiting over lunch. So Wednesday mornings now will be good: a volunteer opportunity, new women to get to know, book browsing, lunch dates and, maybe sometime, I'll get first dibs on the thrift store "finds."

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The 29th good thing about Lagos: Interesting little afternoon walks

About the only place I can walk is to the little shopping mall that's a couple of blocks away. I walk outside our protected gate --
and I'm met by the okada guys -- motorcycle taxi drivers who are always waiting to serve workers from the office next door.

Along the way I pass two different guys who have xerox machines. I asked the price -- it's just 10 naira -- around 7-8 cents a page. Not bad!

There are plenty of people selling food, both prepared food, snacks, gum and mints, and this fruit stand. I took this woman's picture and she remembered me the next time I walked this route and said: "There's my friend! How are you today?"

There's always people carrying interesting things on their head. This guy had a load of eggs. I have to get faster with the camera. Yesterday I saw a guy with a tall load of something that looked like burnt bagels. I don't think that's really what he had -- I never figured out what it was. I saw a guy with a very tall stack of folded fabric -- maybe it was clothes. The other day I saw a man walking down the street with an old-fashioned sewing machine on his head.

The view across the street of my destination is a typical Victoria Island street -- except here I managed to capture it when it wasn't choked with traffic -- a rare event!

But my destination is not at all typical Lagos. It is new, clean and modern. Inside is a cinema with at least 4 screens, showing mostly new American movies, a very nice book store, some clothing shops and electronic shops and a few restaurants. I walk over to see the sights along the way and check to see what movies are playing and just to get out of the apartment!
By the way, along the way, I spared you pictures of the piles of garbage and the two men I saw urinating on the street! Maybe another time...

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The 28th good thing about Lagos: Quick response to apartment maintenance.

Yesterday Brent and I went over to the ConocoPhillips offices to meet with a facilities person about choosing furniture for our permanent apartment assignment. They want to keep the apartment we are presently in for a visitor's flat, and they are contracting with the builder of some new apartments for housing for the Brass people who are coming. We all hope that Brass survives -- because they have to pay for 2-3 years of rent up front! And it's not cheap -- someone told us that our present apartment rent runs about $70,000 a year! Good thing they just take a standard housing deduction (which is about the same as our home mortgage payment) from our paycheck for our housing here. I've just seen the outside of the apartments where we'll live if we end up staying here, which look quite nice and they're in a (relatively) nice part of Victoria Island. Hopefully later this week we'll be able to tour the complex. But while we were in this meeting, Brent mentioned a few things that needed maintenance in our apartment. Shortly after I got home, I had swarms of maintenance people here to assess the things on our maintenance list: they fixed the flow in one showerhead and took another to be replaced. They fixed (or assured me that they fixed -- we shall see) an AC unit that periodically was leaking water. They checked the blinking lights on the alarm system and showed me how it worked. And they checked another AC unit (there's separate AC's in each room) that wasn't working with the remote (yes it is a challenge having to adjust the AC without a remote!) . Today some guys came and within 5 minutes had changed a sensor that made it respond to the remote. I wanted to take a picture of them taking apart the AC unit on this rickety homemade step stool with one guy handing the screwdriver and screws to the guy on the stool, but I thought they might think it odd. The funny thing is -- each time someone came to the door the head maintenance supervisor came and there were also 2 or 3 guys for each problem. The other day when I had questions about using the gas oven, 2 guys showed up to show me how it worked. Most of these guys seemed to know what they were doing, fixed the problems quickly and didn't give me a bill at the end! It was great! I think they need to put these maintenance people in charge of the country -- maybe they can make it work!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The 27th good thing about Lagos: Lots of people that God loves are here.

Of course, I know God loves everyone -- I just think he has a special place in his heart and his plan right now for these African people who have waited so long for gospel blessings. I just finished a book this week called "Safe Journey: An African Adventure," by Glenn L. Pace, who was an LDS Area President here 1998-2001. It was given to me before I left -- and I'm so grateful that I had the chance to learn more about the explosive growth of the Mormon church in West Africa. I highly recommend it to any LDS members who are interested (I'll share my copy when I get back to the States -- let me know if you want to borrow it). This book bore a strong witness that God wants to bless his children here in Africa and people here are very ready to receive His blessings. I had another experience with the faith and testimony of church members here today with our Victoria Island ward's fast and testimony meeting. For those reading this who are not familiar with Mormonism -- this is a worship service usually held on the first Sunday of the month, where members come fasting (the money that would be used for the meals that are sacrificed is donated in an offering that will go to help members in need of assistance) and during the service the time is opened up to members of the congregation to, in turn, bear testimony to each other extemporaneously. Though often in testimony meetings there is a lull between speakers, here that was not the case. Speakers were encouraged to keep their remarks to under 2 minutes and the one who went slightly longer got a poke on the leg from the bishop! It was beautiful to see the bright countenances, hear the strong testimonies and feel the joy of members here as they bore witness to what they believed. It is a real privilege to be among such people of faith.

Last Sunday after church I was asked to be the ward organist -- no surprise, since I knew they didn't have any members here who were able to play the hymns. They really do quite well singing the hymns acapella -- but I know they will appreciate having accompaniment. I got to church early to play some prelude music, but the power had gone out. The room was quite stifling without the ceiling fans going. But soon someone got the generator going so the fans started up, but we still couldn't get the keyboard going. We started the meeting singing hymns without accompaniment, but someone sat by the keyboard for the first part of the meeting and kept unhooking and checking cords and he was able to get it on and working, so I was able to play the closing hymn on the keyboard. Hopefully that won't be a weekly problem.

In Relief Society, our women's meeting, we had a very good lesson and discussion on fasting. The teacher asked the class why we fast -- and there were many good answers -- we do it to gain inspiration into our own lives, to ask the Lord for answers to our problems, to plead for help with family members who may need blessings. I don't know if I can state it as beautifully as one young woman who answered: "When we fast, by giving up such a basic need as food, we acknowledge before God that we are dependent on him. We let Him know that we rely on Him for everything in this world, we acknowledge His hand in all our blessings, and we look to Him with faith to meet all our needs." What a beautiful understanding of this principle!

On a totally different subject: the Super Bowl IS on live here on ESPN -- starting at about 1 AM. We were invited over for dinner last night to the home of another Brass employee and his wife who live in our building. We were talking about the game and "the wife" said that the sad thing about the game here is that they usually don't show the commercials, which are her favorite part. I have to agree that I usually watch them more attentively than the game. I'll probably stay up for the beginning of the game, but I doubt I'll last very long. I finally feel like I'm getting over my jet lag -- I don't want to regress back into US time!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The 26th good thing about Lagos: Computers and internet access make being so far away bearable.

I had a heart-stopping experience the other night when, for the first time when I was on the computer with it plugged in to AC power, the power went out and my new laptop went dead! What? This was why I bought a laptop and brought it here -- so when the power went off, it would switch over to the battery and I could keep going. We unplugged the computer and tried to switch it on and -- no lights -- nothing! We waited. Tried again. Still nothing. I had this sick feeling that something with the power outage had fried my computer and it was lost. What would I do? I realized how dependent I am on this lifeline. After a little while of panicky button-pushing, Brent took the battery out and then put it back in and -- whew! -- when the buttons were pushed, the little lights started flashing and it powered up. I'm still not sure exactly why my computer continues to die when the power goes out instead of switching to the battery (it's since happened a number of times without my ensuing panic). I have written a very polite email to Dell asking them why this is so. But since losing power here is a common occurrence -- I need to figure this out before I spend a lot of time writing on some project and then lose it to a power outage. It's 3 in the afternoon here now and the power has been particularly bad today -- it's probably already gone out at least 10 times. 3 times alone while I was on the treadmill --a different kind of heart-stopping experience. But the internet IS great -- very quick email contact and we've even called the kids on Skype, the internet phone service for free. That worked out amazingly well. One downside of internet access here -- they (the Big Brother who is watching us on the computer) know I'm outside of the US and -- the nerve! -- they won't let me watch my favorite shows over the internet! That was going to be a link to civilization -- I could keep up with Lost and Jericho -- who knows what will happen to those worlds before I return to the US? If anybody knows a way to get around this and fool Big Brother into thinking I'm in the US -- please, let me know! In the meantime, I REALLY hope the power doesn't ever fry my computer, or I may be returning to Houston sooner than I expected.