Wednesday, August 15, 2007

"Weese" is Corbanese for "Please."

The high point of my day yesterday: an email from Heath...

When I woke Corban up this morning I was wearing my hat. He took it off and played with it while I was changing his diaper.

When I was done I took the hat back and put it on. He said "Hat weese." I said, "Do you want to wear a hat today?" "Hat yes!!" he said.

So I put the red Bass Pro hat on him, and he hasn't taken it off yet. Every time anyone walks through the room, he says "Hat" and smiles.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Scary Night

A few nights ago, Heath and I are sleeping peacefully when all of a sudden we both wake up to the sound of people shouting. Keep in mind, we live in a very quiet and safe neighborhood, so this kind of thing never happens. I look at the clock...3:00 am. Heath walks downstairs to see if he can tell what is going on. We can't decide if the shouting is coming from the street, a neighbor's house or from the church parking lot behind our house. I walk downstairs with him and as he is making his way out the front door, I hear some glass breaking and a man in a gruff tone shouting something about, "Where did you put the money?!"

I make my way back upstairs to see if I can hear anything from our bedroom window as it faces the backyard and the noise seemed to be coming from a neighbor's backyard. I kneel down and begin to listen. Almost immediately I hear a man say, "Take your finger off the trigger and I'll tell you." I panic! My mind begins to race! Where is Heath? Did he already make it down the street? What if our neighbors are being robbed? What if the robber runs out of the backyard and finds Heath out there and realizes he has heard everything?! I grab the phone and dial 911. I tell the operator our address and everything I had just overheard. It is then that I hear Heath call up to me from the BACKyard. "What are you doing?" he asks. "I'm calling 911!" I say, my voice trembling, "I heard someone talking about a gun!".

He comes back upstairs as I'm still on the line with the 911 operator. Then we begin to hear gunshots.

From a BB Gun.

Yeah...a BB Gun.

We listen closer and it all begins to come together. We hear the sounds of shouting intermingled with drunken laughter. It seems our neighbor has decided that Thursday, 3 am would be a perfect time to hold a drinking party and contest to see which of his buddies can shoot out the most beer bottles.

Monday, August 6, 2007


Finally a chance to show you some of what I experienced in Jos, Nigeria. These are photos of mine and Heath's 3 week trip to Africa. We were working at Faith Alive, a free HIV hospital and social services center. It was the most amazing and life-changing experience of my life (so far). I hope to have many more eye-opening experiences like this one!

In Nigeria they use a name, Baba which means father to address an older man they respect. He may or may not be related to you. Shown above is Baba on the left and David on the right in our kitchen. They cooked three meals a day for our team. We were able to try some traditional Nigerian dishes such as pounded yam, egusi soup and jollof rice.

We had a chance to visit the Plateau State orphanage on our trip. I was expecting a sad, overcrowded nursery, but was pleasantly surprised to see that there were only four infants there. And even more encouraging, was the news that these four babies would most likely be adopted as soon as they turned 6 months old. At 6 months of age they can be tested for HIV. It is very probable that all four of these children are positive, but even so, they will be adopted into loving Nigerian families. Here I am holding Amanda, only 2 weeks old. You can see she is wearing a wash cloth as a diaper, because the state doesn't provide diapers or formula for the orphans. The children rely on the workers to buy these items or people to donate them.

The children were amazing. They were so happy to see us. Many of them see only a few Americans each year, so they were very intrigued. We very quickly learned the Idu word for white person, which is Oibo (pronounced O-wee-bo). It became music to my ears to hear the children call out to us when we were walking in the city. Aren't they so beautiful?

All the women on our team had Nigerian dresses made by two of the graduates (Esther and Blessing) of Faith Alive's sewing school. The school is wonderful, because it gives women who are HIV positive a chance to make a new life for themselves. Blessing had been cast out of her family and had her two sons taken away from her once her family found out she was HIV positive. She came to the clinic for help, got better thanks to the free drugs they gave her, went through the sewing school and was given a sewing machine when she completed the one year course. Then she set up her own shop making clothes and bags. She now makes enough money to support herself and her two boys. She is an amazing woman-probably my favorite friend I made in Jos.

Hands down, my favorite moment of the trip! This is how Nigerian women carry their babies. One of the patients taught me how to "wrap a baby" during her appointment. She had twins so she gave me the one who wasn't on her back. The other patients got a kick out of seeing me with baby Joy on my back. I bought some fabric to wrap Corban when I got home, but for some reason he wasn't as excited about it as I was.

Nigerian Public Transportation System! You see entire families on these, traveling here and there. We saw a mom, dad, kid and a goat all on one bike during our stay. No Joke! Not very many people own their own cars so they pay these drivers to take them where they need to go. It would cost you approximately 30 cents to run your daily errands.

Here's the story behind this photo... It was not uncommon to be having a conversation with a Nigerian and right in the middle of their sentence, whoosh! their finger disappears into their nose. I guess nose-picking isn't taboo in Nigeria like it is in the US. Gotta love those cultural differences!

Starbucks Anyone?

It was amazing to be surrounded by such beauty and such poverty all in the same moment. I've heard it said, "Once you drink from the waters of Africa, you are sure to return." I believe it.