Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The 56th good thing about Lagos: Kids in cute containers.

As a follow-up on my last post, I had to show you this cute picture of a baby in a bucket -- this was at the Bar beach market where I buy my produce. I promised to buy some vegetables from the owner of this stall if he let me take a picture of his baby girl. She was sitting there very happily eating this carrot. So Nigerian babies are happy even when they're not tied to the backs of their mothers!

Monday, April 16, 2007

The 55th good thing about Lagos: Useful baby-carrying methods

I had to think up a post where I could show off some more pictures of my newest grandchild. Here in Boston on our few outings, Spencer has exhibited model behavior. He travels in a car seat or stroller, bundled up because the weather has been unseasonably cold.

In Nigeria, of course, the babies need considerably less bundling up, and also less equipment. They are usually transported on the back of their mother, tied tightly in a strip of cloth. I frequently see mothers riding on the motorcycle taxis with their baby tied on their back. You'd be charged with child endangerment in the US if you did this. But the babies always seem to be very calm carried around in this manner. I've never seen a baby tied to its mother that was fussy or crying. Here are a couple pictures of women at church with their babies and also one of a seller at the vegetable market where I buy my produce.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The 54th good thing about Lagos: Time to quilt.

I come from a female heritage of quilters, but I had never really got into it myself. But I decided that it was something I would enjoy doing in Lagos, where I have more free time. It took longer than I had planned to get our air shipment which had my sewing machine and fabric for my new grandson's baby quilt, so when I just had 2 weeks before leaving, I wasn't sure I'd have time to sew it. But I managed to finish it and I was quite happy with the results. The fabric is a batik flannel which is very soft -- I bought it at the Houston Quilt Show last fall. It ends up being kind of an international quilt -- the fabric is woven in Indonesia, purchased in Houston, sewn in Nigeria for a Boston baby. The front is a very simple strip quilt pattern -- I couldn't do something more complicated for my first real pieced quilt. The back I wanted to make like an abstract painting. I was inspired by the Gee's Bend quilters in my design. They are a group of Southern black women from a quite isolated and poor part of Alabama who create these great abstract design quilts. We've had a couple of exhibitions of their quilts at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts. I had a great time meeting a bunch of these quilters at the opening of their last exhibition at the museum. They talked about laying out different pieces on the bed until it just felt right. I did the same thing, only on my dining room table. My design was partly necessity because I was short on fabric and had to use absolutely every piece. I had about a 1-inch square and some skinny trimmings left when I was done.

Of course, the cutest view of the quilt is when there's a baby on it!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

A good thing for the whole world: On Easter, a celebration of new life!

Happy Easter! It's an extra-special holiday here in Boston where we are enjoying Spencer, who entered the world on Thursday evening at 11:50 PM. He was 8 lbs, 2 oz. and 21 inches long. He's adorable and he and his parents are doing well. He came home from the hospital on Saturday night and had quite a sleepless night, but he's so cute that nobody can get impatient with him. I attended a wonderful Easter service in Steve and Lindsay's ward. They have a great organist on a real pipe organ, a fantastic choir and thoughtful speakers. The congregation doesn't sing like the Nigerians, however. Mitt Romney, presidential candidate and a member of their ward, sat a couple of rows in front of me. That was kind of interesting. There's a wonderful spirit in a home with a brand-new baby. My heart is quite full with gratitude for Spencer's safe arrival and for Christ's gift of his life that gives the promise of eternal life to the world.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The 53rd good thing about Lagos: Leaving Lagos to be with family for special occasions!

Well, my trip to Boston went fairly smoothly. I arrived with luggage on schedule. After picking me up at the airport, Lindsay and I decided to take a stroll through Harvard Square. At this corner (where Lindsay is pictured) in front of the Harvard T Station I had a deja vu moment, remembering walking in the that very place after visiting the doctor when I was a week overdue with Daniel (26 1/2 years ago). I was really bummed out at the thought of collecting my urine for 24 hours -- the doctor had given me a jug and said I needed to do this. I went home from that visit and promptly went into labor and delivered just after midnight. Lindsay didn't deliver that night, but she is now a day overdue and we think she's in the early stages of labor. In the meantime, I'm really enjoying being in Boston. It's such a pleasure to feel brisk fresh air and to be able to go out for a walk on the street -- both pleasures not available in Lagos. We bundle up for a walk each morning. And yesterday afternoon was a real treat: a beautiful thick snowstorm! You can't really see it coming down in this photo (view from Lindsay's front door), but they were huge, wet flakes. It was still on the ground when we took our walk this morning.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The 52nd good thing about Lagos: Bonus Sunday -- Fast and Testimony Meeting in the morning and General Conference on the computer in the evening!

I'm listening to Elder Oaks speaking in the morning session of Sunday General Conference as I write this. It's 5:45 PM here. It's pretty neat to be able to watch a conference session live while so far away. I'm sure glad I can catch conference this way and don't have to watch it the Nigerian way. They announced in church today that the Stake will watch conference at the Stake Center on the last Sunday in April (from DVD). They will start showing the sessions at 8:30 AM and continue with all 5 sessions straight through till 6:30 PM! Not only are there the difficulties for us in getting to the Stake Center, but I'm sure my attention span and bottom are not up to that marathon viewing! But I'm heading out of here tonight -- my bags are packed, I'm ready to go....to Boston, hoping to beat the arrival of my new grandson to the world. I'm excited!

We had Fast and Testimony meeting at church today. It was, as usual, a spiritual feast. These Nigerian members are so earnest and humble and believing and they express themselves so beautifully. I will really miss hearing their testimonies. We heard a fun testimony from a new missionary in the ward. His name is Elder Mau and he's in the center in this picture (the other guys really wanted to be in the picture with him). He's the first young full-time missionary I've met here that is not from Africa. He's from Tonga. Though he is not much lighter skinned than the Nigerians, he is still called a "oyibo," which means "peeled one" -- the local slang for white person. He's 19 years old and has been in Nigeria for just over a week. He had 16 days of training at the mission training center in Ghana before he got here. He told of getting his mission call in the mail in Tonga. He said it's a big celebration time, the family gathers for the opening of the envelope to see where the missionary will be going. He said that he read the words "Lagos Nigeria mission" and everybody clapped and cheered and was so excited for him. But then someone asked "where is Nigeria?" And no one knew! He said it was a few days before he learned that he would be going to Africa. He said he was very nervous to go here -- worried about the heat and the food and the personal risks. I talked with him afterwards and asked why, when he was so worried about the heat, he was wearing this hot fleece over his shirt. It was a HOT day and the power was out for much of church, so without the ceiling fans moving air, everybody was fanning and sweating. He said that his shirt wasn't ironed this morning -- he said with a grin that his mom always ironed his shirts for him. I laughed with him at that. But he really paid the price by wearing that hot fleece jacket! He said it's a hard adjustment being here and I really felt sorry that I won't be here to befriend him. I'm so grateful for those local members that are kind and friendly to my son on his mission in Portugal. I hope Elder Mau adjusts to life here and also that he learns how to iron his shirts!
Our discussion in Relief Society (our women's meeting) was on honesty. It was very reassuring to see that, in this country where lying and corruption are endemic, there are people who value honesty and are committed to being honest. The women acknowledged that it is a very difficult thing here, but their friends and coworkers see the difference in their values and they are trusted and respected.
For my last Sunday here, I didn't get to play the keyboard at all. Either the power was off, or the keyboard wasn't working. So we sang the hymns without accompaniment and it was so wonderful to hear them sing the closing song, "The Spirit of God." I could tell it was a favorite hymn here. They were singing at the top of their lungs. Some of the young children were even almost shouting "we'll sing and we'll shout with the armies of heaven...." Oh, I will miss their singing the most!
Well, I've got to finish getting ready. My machine gun-toting escorts and the bullet proof SUV will soon be awaiting me! But, never fear, I've got lots of blog posts ripe for the writing -- so I'll keep up the good things even though I won't be back here for a while.