Thursday, May 29, 2008

The 124th good thing about Lagos: a family member came to visit us!

Well, last night we said goodby to our son, Jordan, who was here to visit for 2 1/2 weeks. It was so great to have him here and to now have someone else in the family who can more easily relate to our experience here. He kept saying he really enjoyed being here. I would ask him if he was bored, as there really isn't a great variety of stuff to do here, but he continued to insist that he was fine.

This picture is of him at Lekki Market with our driver, Sunday (no, we weren't shopping on Sunday, that is our driver's name).
We had a few social outings, and a few cultural outings, and he made himself very useful helping his dad out with some projects at the office, but he also had time to sleep in and watch movies and read and get some things done on the computer. I think some down time was probably just what he needed after a busy college semester and before a challenging summer internship. He enjoyed choosing a mask at Lekki market from the many options available, to add to his already interesting mask collection. He learned how to play Lagos Hand and Foot canasta and we took home money both weeks he was there -- the first week I won the "big money", and the second week he lost and took home the consolation prize. I'm hoping his trip home is less eventful than his trip here and he is able to make all his connections. It's a long, tiring trip, but we are so glad he was able to make it! We love you, Jordan!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The 123rd good thing about Lagos: lots of bananas and other sights on the road

We generally have a lot of bananas around the house. At the market they sell them in really big bunches -- much more than we can eat before they get overripe, so I end up making banana bread, as I did today, or I wrap them in plastic wrap and put them in the freezer for adding to a smoothie or baking later. They are one of the relatively inexpensive things here, though, so I don't feel too bad about buying more than we really need. I see produce transported in many different ways here. Often it is just crammed into a car, as we saw it on the road here recently.
These in the car are plantains, not the eating bananas that I buy. You always see people cooking these on grills over open fires beside the road. I guess it's a popular snack, though I don't think I'll ever give them a try. I'm not brave enough to try to roadside vendors here, though I did tried some packaged fried plantains bought from a vendor in a go-slow. That's one of the most common snacks that they sell on the road. We were stuck in bad traffic and a woman I was with bought some from a guy through the window and shared them. They were okay, but not something that I'll make a regular snack.
I saw something great on the road the other day that I would have loved to capture in a photo, but I was stuck in traffic and I was passed by a motorcycle taxi which can get between the cars in the traffic. In between the driver and his passenger were two goats, facing different directions, each with their head and two legs sticking out to the sides between the men. It was hilarious. I wonder what the goats were thinking of their motorcycle ride.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The 122nd good thing about Lagos: Internet brings us timely news about our new granddaughter!

Yesterday I was a bit preoccupied all day, knowing that our daughter-in-law was being induced into labor. Erin has had a difficult pregnancy and they were inducing her 5 weeks early. We were all relieved this morning to get online and have a message waiting that Maggie had been born and all was well. She was born at 10:37 PM (4:37 AM Lagos time) and weighed 6 lbs, 9 oz. -- good sized for being so early. We were told that she looked a lot like her big sister, who turns 3 years old today. But shortly after birth, Maggie exhibited some breathing problems, so today and probably on into tomorrow she'll be in the NICU attached to breathing tubes and a feeding tube. We were told that there are no big worries, but she just needs to learn to regulate her breathing.

It's hard to be so far away and unable to help with physical needs. But it is reassuring to get quick news and updates. Welcome to the world, Maggie -- we're praying for you!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The 121st good thing about Lagos: Though others struggle with life and death, we're still here

We had a great trip to Portugal and London with Jordan, even with some schedule alterations at the beginning of the trip due to a storm in Chicago forcing Jordan to spend some unscheduled hours in the plane on an airport runway in Salt Lake City while they waited for weather to clear so the plane could leave, which meant that he missed his connection and spent the night in an airport chair in Chicago. We delayed our flight from London to Lisbon for a day, but were able to connect with Jordan and change our reservations, so all worked out fine in the end. I'm still organizing my pictures, so I'll give you a link to an album later in case any of my readers are interested in seeing more of our trip. Suffice it to say that Portugal is beautiful and it was great to have our Portuguese speaking guide with us and see some of places where he served his mission. We were also grateful to make it through a week with the rental car without a mishap or accident -- those roads can be a little skinny and scary at places!

We've been back in Lagos for a week and it's been fun for me to see it again through Jordan's eyes. After a crazy time getting through his finals and getting moved and out of town and then a busy sightseeing trip, he seems to be enjoying the slower pace of life here and seeing a place very different from the United States and Europe. He's been to work with Brent, he made an appointment and enjoyed meeting with a very influential American here in Lagos and ask him questions about doing business in Nigeria, he came with me to my canasta group and learned the ins and outs of Lagos Hand and Foot canasta, and we've been to the handicraft market to do some preliminary viewing of the many masks available. I'm glad he is able to come and see what our life is like here.

Brent and I made a joint visit to the SOS clinic on Friday -- I have a fierce cough that won't leave, and Brent had a very painful eye. What the doctor gave me hasn't yet relieved my cough, but Brent got some relief after a referral visit to a Nigerian opthamologist. We were a little bit nervous to visit a Nigerian doctor, but he had received his training in London and he seemed to know what he was doing. We thought he did what any eye doctor in the States would have done for the problem, so we were reassured that we can get good care for specific medical issues here.

While we were in the clinic waiting room, I read the local newspaper which was filled with articles and photos regarding the pipeline fire in a Lagos suburb which had killed over 100 people the day before. The journalism here is quite sensational -- they talked of "ground zero" and compared the scene to the world's recent disasters with the typhoon in Myanmar and the earthquake in China. They had very graphic and grisly pictures of burn victims. This pipeline fire was caused by some construction equipment ripping open a pipeline. The operators had not bothered to get clearance to work in the area. The explosion led to a large fire and many people were killed in the fire and explosion and many more, especially children from a local school, were killed and trampled in the ensuing panic trying to get away from the fire. It was another sad reminder of the negligence and ineffectiveness that leads to loss of life here.

Shortly before Jordan and I returned (Brent came back to work while Jordan and I were able to spend some extra time in Lisbon and London), Brent called to say that our new driver (recently assigned to us) had lost his 20 year old daughter. She had died from complications from asthma. Our driver, Sunday, continues to be bereft from the loss. I know people die from asthma in the States, but I would bet that poor medical care had something to do with her death. A friend asked for prayers this week for her driver's wife, who had been pregnant with what they thought were twins. Her water broke last Saturday and when she hadn't delivered the babies by Monday, he asked her for money so she could have a Ceaserean section. My friend, a nurse, was sure that the delay in treatment was at least partially responsible for the deaths of two of the three babies it turned out she was carrying. One of the new scholarship students we had interviewed last month was killed on the road the following day as she was returning back to her campus. Of course, deaths like these happen everywhere and are a part of life, but it seems like life is cheaper here and death comes easier to Nigerians than Americans. But I got a phone call from our "stewardess" this afternoon. She had gone on maternity leave, expecting her first baby, just before we returned from our trip. She said that she had delivered a healthy baby boy on Thursday. He weighed 3 1/2 kilo and everything was going well.

I'm grateful that my daughter-in-law, who has had a challenging pregnancy, will this week deliver her baby in the United States, where I'm confident she will get good health care. Our prayers will be with her on Tuesday with our faith and expectation that she and our new granddaughter, Maggie, though less than full term, will come through the experience healthy and well. Though everywhere in the world there are disasters and illness and accidents and health complications leading to death, we in the Western world have the expectation and confidence that we will get the best results possible in any situation. We're looking forward to getting to know Maggie and wish her the best as she enters the world!