Sunday, February 23, 2014

Jesus Kids

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself polluted by the world. "
     -James 1:27

Since coming back to for this semester, my roommates and I have been visiting Jesus Kids, a home for disabled children. The woman who started the home saw a need, and acted on it. She is the kind of woman who exudes warmth and compassion. She seems to be always smiling, even with dirty diapers, drool and and other messes. She radiates the love that comes from God and had become a mother to the motherless. 

Her "children" range from several months to probably close in age to herself. Those who can talk endearingly call her, "mamma." I've gotten to know the kids a little better each time I go and also learn more about their stories. There's the adorable 2 year old, Abigail, who doesn't have any physical needs, but was sent to the home as a starving infant because her family couldn't take care of here. 

Some of the kids have families and others are completely orphaned. In a place where physical disabilities are a hindrance and looked down on, this woman has opened her home and heart to so many children. In fact, she doesn't view them as her own, but JESUS KIDS. 

This morning she was telling me that she's been trying to raise enough money to be able to rent the small building accross the street so that she can Lord willing, take in more children, but also have a place for the kids the do physical therapy. As it is, she takes around 6 of the kids several times a week for physical therapy, and it's quite expensive. I asked where most of we funding comes from and she sort gave a little laugh, and told me that it comes mostly from individuals, and some churches. 

How can I even explain the joy that this one hour with them brings. It's so little time, I wish I had more, but when we sing praise songs and hear their squeals of joy. Or watch them listening to the bible lesson, I just get teary eyed. They have so little, but I have never seen anyone complain. When we bring toys, their faces light up with the excitement of something new. 

I ask of your prayers for these children. I ask that if possible you prayerfully consider helping to support them. I would love to raise some money to help them out. I'll be heading back to the states in April for one of my best friend's wedding, so if you have anything to share please let me know. 



"Whoever gives to the poor will lack nothing. But a curse will come upon those who close their eyes to poverty. "
      -Prov. 28:27

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

One of those days

Today I had "one of those days." You know the kind because everyone gets them every now and then. The kind of day that, if it was a kid's book would be titled "Liz and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day."

Ok, maybe I'm going a bit overboard here, there were some good, redeemable parts of the day. As my college roomate, Kate would always say when we did our "highs and lows" for the day, you have to at least pick out something good. 

My day was going pretty well in fact. I had some pretty fun lessons that got the kids up and out of the classroom. 

I was also asked to join the birthday party of one of my, hmm how do I say it, more difficult students. After debating whether to go or not, I did show up and received a giant hug and "where have you been?!"  

It wasn't until after school and I realized I needed to pick up some groceries from the store for my dinner tonight, when things didn't go so well. I just had to pop into the store, 5 minutes away, to grab a few things. Well, right before the store, I found out the road was closed due to construction work. After turning around and finding an alternate route, I then got stuck in Nigerian traffic for 45 minutes. Traffic in general frustrates me. There's something about Nigerian traffic that REALLY frustrates me. I have decided that around 90% of the traffic here could actually be avoided if there were any traffic rules. The fact that there are no rules just makes thing so much worse. For instance, I was sitting in traffic, when I noticed several cars decided to bypass the traffic by driving on the wrong side of the street. Before you knew it there were 2 lanes of traffic going the wrong way, in addition to the 2 lanes of traffic that were on the correct side of the street. The entire traffic hold up was happening at one point, where all four lanes had to merge into one and no one wanted to give the right away. It was like one giant game of bumper cars, but in real vehicles(and a whole lot less fun when cards are constantly honking and trying to shove into the 2 inches of space you have between your car and the one in front). Oh, and that's not even to mention all of the okada(small motorcycle) drivers who foolishly try to weave in and out of the traffic, even when it's obvious that there's no space for them. 

Anyway, back to my day. During this time in traffic, I realized that my tank was on empty.  After being in traffic for forty five minutes I finally reached the grocery store, grabbed my groceries and was out the door in minutes. Then my search began for a petrol station. I knew if I tried to brave the traffic to go home, my car would die, so I had to find gas somewhere. After going to four filling stations, I finally found one that had petrol, miles away from any part of town that I was familiar with. 

 There must me some gas shortage going on right now. I ended up waiting for another 45 minutes to finally put some gas in my. car! Again, if there were any actual procedures, it wouldn't have taken so long. There was a crowd gathered around the one tank that was in use. People would get out of their cars and fill up a container with a gallon of gas. Every okada was able to fill up, and every now and then, they'd remember that there was a line of cars waiting to be fueled. 45 minutes if sitting. I hadn't even remembered a book or iPod. I could have graded a stack of papers, if only I had them with me!

After another grueling 45 minutes and more bumper cars with angry horns, I finally arrived back home and had to start my dinner for my hungry roomates, two and a half hours after I left for a fifteen minute trip. 

Even though we didn't get to eat until closer to 8:00, it was delicious, so at least things ended on a good note. I made several different kinds of artisan pizzas using an amazing crust recipe from one of the best bakers, Peter Reinhart. Mmmm mm, they were good. Barbecue chicken(just like Brixx), pepperoni, white pizza with caramelized onions and chicken, and several others. All I needed was a brick oven to make them crispier on the bottom. And I digress. 

As it is late, I am heading to bed. 



Friday, February 7, 2014

Near the Village...

(A-wimoweh, a-wimoweh, a-wimoweh, a-wimoweh)
(A-wimoweh, a-wimoweh, a-wimoweh, a-wimoweh)

Near the Village, the peaceful village...

The women are making palm oil,
The children go to school,
and the men farm and make potterey


Today I got to go on an awesome field trip to a village where they specialize in making pottery. I mean, how many people can say they've taken their students to an AFRICAN village for a field trip!?!

Despite several, very vocal, reservations from some students, I was beyond excited to go. I mean, it was my first visit to a village, so overall I was very excited. On the permission slip I asked the kids for donations of old clothing, toys, or any foodstuff that they might have and was completely surprised by the mountain that I had in my classroom this morning.

The fifth and sixth grade classes set off in two buses for the hour ride to Atamora Village in Osun State, Nigeria. When we got there, we were ushered to the pottery shop, where we were introduced to our guide, and master potter who introduced himself as IBK (I think it's short for Ibukunoluwa).  After telling the kids about the pottery and asking for any questions, we were allowed to look around and purchase the pottery that we wanted.

Afterwards, we were taken several miles away down a dusty dirt road to the village. IBK introduced us to the village chief. Our guide was wonderful as engaged all of the kids and taught them how to give the proper Yoruba greeting to the chief. Afterwards, we gathered all of the food and other things that we had brought and presented them before the chief. Everything we did was very formal and one of our students who spoke Yoruba was chosen to be the spokesperson for our group.

 Prostrating for the chief of the village. The boys bow forward, and women go to their knees.
 The chief then welcomed us to the village.

 Later we brought our gifts forward for him.
 The chief in the white lace and the other elders of the village.
 Our 5th and 6th grade classes with the chief and elders.

Afterwards, we were lead through the village to take a look at the village school. Those who were around the village were all working on making palm oil out of the fruit from the palm trees.
The palm berries are crushed and used in a lot of Nigerian cooking.

 The oils are separated from the berries in these large barrels that are heated over the fire.

 Every bit of the palm tree can be used for some purpose. After the outsides have been used for oil, the seeds are dried and be ground up for making other things.

 This machine grinds the seeds.
 The ground up seeds can be made into a mash that both provides insulation for the houses, and when they are properly dried, they are great kindling for their fires.

Me and IBK

The village "schoolhouse" was nothing more than a crude structure made out of sheets of tin and tree branches for support. All of the smallest children in the village attend this school while the older children walk over an hour each way to get to their school.

 The teacher gets the one chair, as the students gather around to learn.

After our short tour of the village, we hopped back in the buses and traveled to the pottery workshop. We were shown how the dirt is soaked in water to make mud, then strained to get rid of any rocks or other impurities. After the silt is purified, the water has to evaporate to leave the clay which can be used to make the pots.
 The first step to making the pottery, is getting the clay.

 IBK's daughter is absolutely adorable and a hit with my girls!

 My students gathered around, "Ooohing and ahhhing" with rapt attention as IBK demonstrated throwing a vase on the push-petaled pottery wheel. When he was finished, the room exploded with applause. Unfortunately we didn't get the chance to try our hand at making anything, as it was already time to head back.
It was really neat to see their kiln and the way they heat it up with a fire at the bottom.
On our way out, we were shown the kilns and then the formalities at to be made as we said goodbye to the village chief.

Overall, it was quite a success. The students loved it, even the ones who were hesitant to go at first. I enjoyed it so much, that I'd like to take them back again sometime to work with the clay.