Monday, January 27, 2014

pounded ground nuts

I once had a shirt that said, "make your own everything" and I feel like that is just what I have been doing.

Some of the ingredients that I cook with at home can't be found here; however, sometimes I can find what I'm looking for, but its just really expensive.

Last week I wanted to make a recipe that called for cottage cheese, so I attempted my own at home. The consistency was more like ricotta cheese, without the big chunks, but I feel that with time, I can perfect it some. Maybe if I used milk with a higher fat content, I would get bigger curds.

Last year I made my own hummus(which by the way is SO much better than anything found on the shelves of a grocery store).

And yesterday I made my own peanut butter. It would have been much easier if our blender was working, but it broke down, so I made it the old fashioned way, with a mortar and pestle. By the way, just a little side note, Nigerians call peanuts, "ground nuts" because of the way that they grow on a ground. So I guess if you wanted to go all Nigerian, you would say that peanut butter "pounded ground nuts."

Growing up, I never really liked peanut butter very much. Unlike several of my brothers, I wasn't a fan of PB&J sandwiches, and I never really snacked on peanuts. Although I do like peanuts more now, I still think get a little queasy with peanut breath(Thanks to dad, who snacks on the nuts, then loves to blow it in my face when he gets home from work). I began to like peanut butter after I discovered the "all natural" stuff in the stores. Instead of a long list of ingredients, there were 2, peanuts and salt.

You can buy jarred peanut butter here, but I've only seen the Skippy brand. For a small jar of peanut butter, it is around 690 naira, when a large jar of peanuts is only 250, so I thought I'd try my own.
I did have to add a little bit of oil, since the peanuts were roasted. 
The final test, does it taste good on bananas? Yep!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Something Beautiful

In the words of Coldplay:
"Your skin,
Oh yeah your skin and bones,
Turn into 
Something beautiful,
You know,
You know I love you so."

This was the song going through my head today as I drove home from Ibadan's Motherless Children's Home. This was the first time in over a month that we had gone to visit our babies. There were new faces, and some faces missing. One of the older ones that we loved so much, Ireti, was sent to a home for older children. One of the sweet toddlers(or potty scooters, as I always call them), Keyende, went back to live with her father.

Some are orphaned, some have fathers that cannot take care of them at home, but all are in need of love.

After my initial welcoming to each of the kids in the room, my attention was diverted to the mattress where the youngest infants are placed. Where were Tywo and Keyende, the twins? After getting scared that something had happened to them, I realized that the healthy little infants smiling up at us were the same babies that we first saw as tiny premature infants 3 months ago, when we first visited the place. They had grown so much!

We also found some unfamiliar faces with around 5 new infants. The youngest two were some of the tiniest babies that I'd ever seen. In the states, these babies would have still been in the NICU, but not here. I was told that one was 2 weeks old and the other 3 1/2 weeks old. There was no baby fat on either of them. They were so tiny and you could feel every bone beneath the tissue thin skin. Almost at once, but woke up and were hungry. The one nursery worker who was in the room with us was preoccupied with her telenova to even hear their faint whimpers, which were the only sounds they could seem to get out.

My roommate, Sam, brought one of them to the woman and asked how often they get fed and whether we could give them something to eat. Thankfully, she went to get to food.

Feedings go like this, there is a bottle, and the cap for the bottle, but no nipple. The formula is poured into the cap, and then poured down the babies throats. There is no sucking, but at this point, we didn't mind. Sam and I fed them until they were full and sleepy.

Going home we talked about how they represented such a picture of Christ for our lives. God looked down on us in our infant state. We were starving and helpless, like an infant, but He came and saw us as something that was precious and beautiful. Just as I looked at these babies, with so much love, Jesus looked at each one of us, with so much more that my finite love. Spiritually, I was like these babies.  Nothing but a little skin covering my bones, I was hungry and He fed me. In His unfathomable love, He took my from my helpless state and whispered in my ear, "You know, I love you so!"

Friday, January 24, 2014


“I have learned to kiss the wave that drives me against the Rock of Ages.”

                                 -Charles Spurgeon

Sunday, January 19, 2014


One of the things I love about being here is getting immersed in so many different cultures. Sure America is called a melting pot of cultures, but that's just the problem, they've blended together to create one giant pot of American cultural stew. Here, the cultures have remained unique and fairly separated. 

In this past week alone, we got to experience several different cultures, most by expats like ourselves.

Last weekend, we had dinner with some Indian friends and afterwards watched Bollywood soap operas while our friend Henna painted henna tattoos on our arms. (how appropriate that her name is Henna!)

On Tuesday we had the day off for Mohamed's birthday (Sadly, Nigeria does not also celebrate MLK day, but at least we got a day of for someone's birthday). One of our South African friends invited us over for a swim and a braai (as they call a barbecue).

We celebrated a Lebanese friend's birthday last night with delicious kebabs, hummus, and baba ganoosh. I am in love with Lebanese food! While we were there, we learned to greet Lebanese style. They greet one another with three kisses, which they do when they enter and leave a place.

Sunday afternoon, we were invited to lunch with a family from our school. The husband is Lebanese and the wife is Filipino, so we had a mix of both cultures.

And finally, we experience the Nigerian culture yesterday when we visited a children's home.

On Sunday morning we visited to a different orphanage called Jesus Kids. We are at a crossroads whether to go back to the motherless children's home, or go to this new place. We love the kids at both places, but our reception at Jesus Kids was completely different. The matron welcomed us with open arms and hugs for all. The children here have special needs and they are lovingly looked after. We had joyous a time of worship, bible reading and playing with the kids. Everyone thanked us profusely for coming and you could see the joy emanating  from the matron as she took care of the kids. 

We had such a wonderful time and hope to return soon. 

You have said, "Seek my face."
My heart says to You,
Your face Lord, do I seek!
-Ps. 27:8

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

"da car"

Today it became evident to me that I need to brush up on my geography. I may know where the 50 states are, and be able to place most of South America and Europe, but I don't know too much about Africa.

One of my students arrived today, for the first time since Christmas break. When I asked him where he'd been, he promptly replied "da car," or at least that's what I thought he said. I struggle to understand this particular student's accent to begin with, but I repeated my question, just to make sure I hear him correctly.

Me: "Where have you been?"

Student: I've been in "da car."

After asking in several different ways, and beginning to get frustrated, I again repeated, "Yes, I understand that you have been in the car,"  I tried to say as clearly as possible, "but where  in the car have you been?"

Student, "I don't know, just in "da car."

At this point, I have to admit, I was getting rather exasperated with him. "Do you mean to tell me, for the past 4 weeks since I've seen you last, that you have been traveling this whole time in your car!!!"

At this point the class erupted in laughter and informed me that Dakar was actually a place in Africa.

 If you are like me, and don't know the first thing about Dakar (I had to look in up on Wikipedia) it happens to be the capitol of Senegal and is the westernmost point in Africa.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Chapter 26

I've already gotten several, "I've been checking your blog, but you haven't posted anything new in a while."

So here it is!

I have officially been back in Nigeria for a week now. I had several wonderful post ideas to write, and several I started, but for the past few weeks that I was with my family and friends, I wanted to spend every waking moment with them, and not it writing.

As the year comes to an end, it is always a great time to reflect on the blessing that God has given over the past year, and with the new year to set goals for the upcoming year. Since my birthday also happens to come at the beginning of the year, for me its a new start. A new beginning and chapter of my life. This year, we're on Chapter 26.

Before moving on to the next chapter, let's do a recap on the previous one. Chapter 25 was filled with many adventures. There were new countries and states to be discovered, new babies, concerts, weddings,  people to meet and several big life changes. One of the major changes of chapter 25 included moving halfway across the globe, away from family and friends and everything familiar. I didn't go on a whim, but truly felt called to leave the job I was in to teach overseas.

Enjoy the kaleidoscope from the past year.

Please don't think that my whole life is one grand adventure, where everything goes well and all turns out wonderfully in the end. With all of the exciting things that 2013 brought, it also has brought some of the hardest times yet. I was able to experience the amazing joy of holding my hours old niece for the first time, but at the same time, I was mourning the loss of another niece just a week earlier. Besides losing my niece, the hardest thing I've ever had to see was my brother carrying the tiny, beautifully carved box that held his daughter. Although I never knew her, I miss her.

Anderson University put this painting up in their nursing building in honor of my niece.

While everything else pales in comparison to the grief that my family and I have gone through this past year, missing Ellie, since moving to Nigeria, I've also experienced loneliness like never before. Coming from a fairly large, close-knit family, its hard to be half a world away. I miss them terribly.

More than ever now, I have known God as my Comforter. He has been my Refuge and Strength. I have drawn closer to the folds of my Heavenly Father this past year.

What will this new chapter bring? So far, I'm only on the first page, so I can't tell you everything. After a wonderful time at home with my family, I'm back to teaching at ACA in Nigeria. I've started to implement some new teaching strategies in the classroom, as well as new goals in my life.

I wanted to share this poem that my aunt sent to me at the start of the new year:

"I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.
Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're Doing Something.

So that's my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.
Whatever it is you're scared of doing, Do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever." 

- Neil Gaiman