Saturday, March 29, 2008

Home Haircut

One of my biggest fears in coming to Nigeria to serve a mission has been "WHAT TO DO WITH MY HAIR!" I just don't have the same kind of hair as the neighborhood girls, and I don't want to have to travel all the way to Victoria Island where there is a small population of Ex-Pats (whites over here working for the oil companies).

I have a big hang-up about home haircuts. That is mainly due to the fact that my father was a barber. He sometimes mentioned when he had to "straighten out" a messed up home job. He was my stylist until I was old enough to know the difference between a Barber and a Beautician. I'm not saying that I always looked adorable. I have some pictures with funny looking "do's" when I was little. I had at least one fuzzy Toni home perm.

I never cut my own sons hair. I always had it done professionally. I did cut Kurt's hair when we were first married, but that didn't last very long. I did cut the girls bangs and trimmed off the bottom of their hair when they wore it long.

I remember the 2 times that the kids cut their own hair. The first was Heidi when she was only 2 years old. She had long hair for her age. It was past her shoulders and I could fix it into pigtails or braids. One day she was wearing her hair down. She was outside playing and had some little paper scissors with the rounded ends. I don't know if I was naive enough to think she wouldn't cut her own hair or didn't know that she had the scissors. When she came in her hair was all messy looking on her right side. As I started to brush it, out came sections of hair. Being right-handed, she only cut one side. I managed to style it so that it could grow out, and she never looked too weird. The second time was when the kids were home with a babysitter. Kurt Jr. (age 3)took the sitter's scissors out of her bag and proceeded to cut his own hair clear to the scalp. He also decided to whack on Heidi's hair pretty seriously. Needless to say, the babysitter was horrified. I thought it was quite comical. I knew it would grow back so it was "no big deal". After Heidi's hair grew out a little, my beautician gave her a short haircut. She looked so cute that I never grew her hair out long again.

Today it was time for my first home haircut by a non-professional(KURT!) I knew I could trust him for several reasons:
1. He loves me
2. He is not a prankster like my next-door neighbor
3. He wouldn't want to listen to me whine and cry about my hair
4. He always tries to do his best and always seems to do a good job
5. He's stuck looking at me 24/7 since I am his companion

As you can see from the photo, it turned out OK. What a relief. I even smiled for the picture. Maybe I'll be able to stay here in Nigeria for 18 months and not look like a total freak. I sure hope so.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Faithful Filter

The 3 stage filter in our kitchen does a mighty work every day. Nigerian water comes with all sorts of impurities and problems. The Church has similar problems world wide with water. Our friends, Stanley and Nancy Williams in the Ukraine have the same or a similar filter. Every liter of water we drink, cook with, brush our teeth with or rinse our dishes with comes through the filter. The Church found this product in their search and it seems to work well. Tap water pressure, when there is water, is similar to home. When water goes through the filter, you get a very small stream and very little pressure due to the density and the three stages of the filtration system.

Each filter gets changed at different intervals because of where they sit in the filtration process. The first filter the water enters, is on the left (when we get the picture to post, you'll be able to see the 3 different filters) it gets changed every two months. The middle filter gets replaced every 4 months and the last filter to the right is changed annually. The cartridges cost different amounts. The annual filter is over $50 dollars, so the Mission doesn't keep a large back stock.

The system works very well. For drinking, we go one step further and bring each liter we are going to drink to a boil, and then it goes into the fridge for cooling. Part of every day's work, is to boil the water we will be drinking the next day or two. If we have busy days coming up, we double up and boil in the morning and at night. With the loss of water a reality, most days, we keep lots of it on hand.

Cost of Living Increase

The items pictured are (not necessarily in order) Jif Chunky Peanut Butter 18 oz and the cost is N695 or $6.31 US. Two different jams, one on each end I think. They cost N225 or $2.04 US. Honey is the big squatty bottle, 500 Grams and it's cost is N510 or $4.63 US. Tuna and Ketchup are the last two items. Tuna is in a traditional sized can and costs N245 for an American Equivalent of $2.22 US. (Oops, the Tuna got eaten and didn't make it into the picture) The Heinz Ketchup is made in Egypt and costs N675 which converts to $6.13 US for what looks to us like a quart. It is 855 Grams.

Tuna can be used with cucumber and celery chopped in it for a quick lunch sandwich. The Peanut Butter and Jam are used the same way. Sweets are not available at a price you would want to spend. Some are available, but the missionaries (Seniors and the regular Elders and Sisters) eat very little in the way of sweets. One couple who came back to visit last week, after being home for 1 year said two things made them sick when they got back to the US. First was eating beef and the second was eating sweets.

Here's the real story. Senior Missionaries have three basic places they spend their money each month. First is Rent for the Apartment, the car and the cell phone. Second major use of money is Food, and third is Fuel for the car. Because of the cost of food, it seems to be the largest block of money each month. Our source of protein is chicken and peanut butter. Lots and lots of vegetables, tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes(very small, yellow in color inside, but very good!) Celery, cabbage, some lettuce, canned green beans & corn, onion, beets. Some fruit. Mostly Pineapple. They cost about a dollar and are very good. They are not as fat and yellow as those from Hawaii, but the fruit is excellent and it is white. We eat the center of the Pineapple because they are not tough. So, way more gets spent for food than at home for lots less in quantity and very little meat. A baking or roasting chicken is about $9-$10.00.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Trusty Toilet

Our toilet is an interesting friend. At home, you flush a toilet and a minute later, it's ready to flush again. Not so in downtown Lagos, Nigeria. First, you have to master the "flush". This requires that you hold the handle down for the count of one thousand one, one thousand two, up to one thousand and ten. You bring the handle up with your hand and make sure it is in the "full up" position so it can fill. Now the fun part. Toilets fill in a minute or so, right? Not here. Minimum tank fill time is 12-15 minutes! Our neighbors' toilet, upstairs, takes all night to fill.

What are the cute pink buckets for, you ask? Makes perfect sense to me, if the tank isn't full and you need to flush, you use the bucket. The other purpose of the buckets is on the "no water" days. The tank isn't going to fill no matter how long you wait. So, you use one or both of your buckets and go out to the above ground storage tanks and fill them back up. They also provide your water for a "bucket bath" on the "no water" days. I scoop up a pan of water from one of the buckets, boil it, and shave in the pot on those same "no water" days. It's a real trip learning how to camp in Nigeria.
Linda wants everyone to notice that the throw rug coordinates with the buckets. We're still keeping some style here in Lagos.

The Foo-el Station

On the 25th of March ( 9 Months till Christmas) we encountered the Jimmy Carter era re-visited. During Jimmy Carter's Presidency, those of us alive and driving at the time remember long lines at the gas stations to get gas for our cars. Who knows what caused it, but it was inconvenient and miserable.

One of our tasks is to learn to drive in a city of 29 or 30 million people. It is challenging to put it mildly. Our Mission President arranged for our mission driver who drives the Assistants to the President, the Elders on transfers and various other duties, to drive with us to the Chapels we are assigned to visit. Elder Krupp drove and Sister Krupp recorded and wrote directions. We have found no valid maps of this great city.
We drove to the Ogba (Ohg-baa) Chapel and back to our apartment twice, writing and recording both ways. We drove to the Yaba (Yah-bah) Ward building and back, once. This involved a total of 50 Kilometers and took 3 1\2 hours to drive!

Now, for the fun part. Lagos had been shut down for 4 days for Easter. Friday and Monday were National Holidays. That means no gas stations were open. No tankers were filling the stations. On Tuesday morning, when we foolishly ventured forth to learn our way around, we observed lines of a mile long in the right hand lanes leading up to gas stations and gates closed leading in to the pumps. They call fuel, foo-ell! Our driver assistant's name is Bright Dankyi. Bright had been watching as we drove and thought he had spotted a station where we could fill up.

When we got back to where it was, it looked like we could get in. This sounds easy.
It's really fascinating. You pull as far as you can to the edge of the street, but there is not room in the station. Each pump had 4-5 cars lined up to purchase fuel. This should have been simple. Wait your turn and purchase your fuel when you get to the front of the line. Nigerians don't understand "wait your turn". Everywhere you drive, their objective is to push one car in front of you (meaning to crowd ahead). This means on round abouts where each of the cars is literally inches from the other cars front back and sides. You have to drive aggressively, yet carefully and try not to get dinged. That is the way the fuel station episode played out. We were 4th in line and while we inched our way to the pump, 3 other cars tried to push in from the left. This mean putting the nose of their car within one or two inches of our car. When you have "position", as we did, you just push forward without allowing them to get their hood or bumper in front or yours. If they get one inch in front of you, coming in at an angle, you've lost "position" to them and they get the next fill. It was our turn to approach the pump. A Nigerian man and woman moved to stand in front of our car to allow their friend to move in front of my bumper and thus, up to the pump. Bright jumped out of the back of our car and yelled at them to move away from the front of our car, as I moved forward to the pump. It was really ferocious for a few minutes. They were bound and determined to keep these White Folk from the pump. Bright is a good sized Nigerian and was having nothing to do with it. We got our foo-ell, sold in Liters for N70 (70 Naira) per Liter. The conversion is 3.2 liters to the gallon. At N70 per liter, that computes to N224 per gallon, or $2.04 per gallon. Pretty cheap! Nigeria is the largest oil-producing country in Africa.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Our Master Suite

We were expecting to have to downsize to a Queen-size bed. Instead, we were surprised to find a California King. It's so wide that I can't stick my cold feet over to get them warm on Kurt's hot body. I'm sure he's missing that! The bed is really low to the ground since the mattress is in a wooden frame, similar to our old water bed. It's hard as a rock, and I thought it would be miserable. Another big surprise or blessing - I love it! Kurt says he is dealing with. It is Nigeria - be flexible.

Our "HIS" and "HERS" closets are more than sufficient for our missionary wardrobe. For once in our married life, Kurt gets as much space as I do. Oops, I forgot that I have taken over 3 of the 4 drawers in our little dresser.

Monday, March 24, 2008

More Outdoor Neighborhood Shots

This is the rear gate to the compound directly to the West of ours. It houses the Church Service Center (the 3 story brick building)and the Stake Center for Lagos East Stake. In the Service Center second floor are the two mission offices and the IT group's office. On the first floor are a Distribution Center for clothing and printed material, including little Hymn Books. We bought two for about $14.00 each.
The Career Workshop and Employment Center are also in the first floor. The top floor has been the facilities maintenance group for all of Lagos, but that is changing and being aligned with the program we have at home. A building rep, a Stake building rep and the Area Administrator, in Ghana. The picture shows the ever present gate and the guard building is just inside to the left. The Church builds very substantial facilities and maintains them well. If reflects well on us as a people in Nigeria.

This is the big metal gate that our guard opens to let us in. Our compound is within a larger walled compound which also has a gate. When we come into the larger compound off of the large main street called Opebi (O-pebbie) during the day, that gate is open. After 7 PM, when it gets dark, that larger gate is closed and the guards verify that you belong inside before they let you through. This black gate is at the entrance to our private, little compound (5 apartments)and is manned by a guard 24 hours a day. If you look close you can see the razor wire that tops everything. The Church Security people are serious about all of these properties and the people who come and go. Even our inside gate to our individual apartment is locked with two different locks when we come in for the later than 7:30 or 8:00 PM.

A Man with Many Hats

One of Kurt's hats that he is wearing is that of chauffeur. He has gone out twice now and done a great job. He has already described the driving here. Insane is a pretty good one-word description. Other hats that he is wearing are that of plumber, exterminator, dishwasher, electrical apprentice, maid in charge of floor, sanitation engineer, student, preacher and all-around good guy. He turns 62 this next Tuesday. That would April Fools Day! Hope you all email him a birthday greeting.


Our compound is a rectangle surrounded by a wall about 7'or 8' high, topped with razor wire. This little guard building is just inside our main gate. We'll give you a picture of that later on. The little building and the gate are manned 24 hours a day. I'm sure the guard would be long gone if someone with weapons tried to get into the yard.

This view of the 2 story section of the buildings in the compound is taken from President Dyreng's porch looking toward our apartment. We are on the lower left, past the gray garage door. Wadsworths live upstairs from us and the rest of the other half is where Gordy lives. He has a dispute with the church over commission that he says he did not receive. Gordy negotiated the sale of this property and the price. The other real estate agent may have kept Gordy's fee. The amount, with interest, today is about $90,000 US Dollars. His only way to collect, is to stay in possession of his residence. The government will not allow someone with an unresolved claim to be evicted. So, here we sit. Actually, we and the Wadsworths have a cordial relationship with Gordy. He is the one who showed Elder Wadsworth and me where the real water problem was on Saturday the 22nd of March and helped us put the Duct Tape joint in place.

This view looks North from the main gate, toward President Dyreng's residence and the Elders Apartment to the left of President Dyreng.

This is our own personal gate. We have a small patio area and then a nice big sliding glass door into our apartment. I'm hoping to get some potted plants. I have seen several types of blooming plants, including hibiscus. The nurseries are along the side of the roads. I have seen several, and one of these days I will have my chauffeur pull over so I can buy some pots and plants.


I've been surprised that it hasn't been buggier here. This seems to be a common house pest. We have found about 4 of them now (all dead). I should have gotten closer to take this picture, but his legs were still kicking a little. So I played it safe. He was about 2 inches long. One way that we have brought bugs into our apartment is when we purchase those fresh, organically grown veggies and fruit. Something (a roach,I think) went skittering across the kitchen counter the other day when Kurt was washing (with JIK water) all of our produce. He grabbed the bug spray, but I'm not sure if it was too long gone behind the fridge. I'm just hoping it wasn't a pregnant female roach!

Friday, March 21, 2008

No water-too much water

Thursday morning March 20, 2008 started out not so good. Instead of water coming out when it was time to shower, water squirts and lots of air were coming out. It got worse. It went from water mixed with air, to air mixed with air. No water, whatsoever. That's not good in the US of A. It's worse in Nigeria. We had our fridge stocked with filtered and boiled water. We had the toilet tank full and two buckets full of water beside the toilet in reserve, for "flushes." In addition to this little challenge, we had only partial power part of the time all day and into the night. This was a no good, very bad day..... but comical as all get out. You couldn't do anything but roll with it. Friday morning dawns with the prospect of spit baths using the extra buckets of water, soap and a wash rag. We got through that and heated water for the good old boiling water in the sink shave for me. Got through that OK, still grinning. Not much power and no water. There are big reserve tanks on the ground inside our compound, one red, one blue. I don't know the significance of the colors, but we are glad the tanks are there. In the no power, no water situation we take our buckets out to the big tanks and fill them up.

Now comes the comedy. Friday is a National Holiday as is Monday. Easter Weekend goes for 4 days. So, no water, and not much power and it's hot in Nigeria, folks. What do you think the chances are to get a plumber and an electrician to correct the issues? Not good, we figured. Low and behold a plumber showed up about 9 AM. His tool box was impressive. It consisted of a pipe wrench and a pair of channel locks with some teflon tape in a Walmart type plastic carry out sack. About an hour later the electrical "engineer" showed up with his "tool box", another Walmart type plastic carry out sack with some pliers and two screw drivers. With some interesting work, these two "engineers" had us with water and power by 1 PM . It's now almost 9 PM and water and power are both still working. The Lord blesses his Missionaries, we can bear testimony to that.

Once the water came on, the missionary couple upstairs could not get any hot water (their hot water tank was full of air and we had to bleed it out). Elder Wadsworth of the "upper kingdom" asked me to go out back where the pump is and check all the valves.. I did and found one in the "off" position. Logic says, "no hot water...valve is off. Simple solution, turn the valve on." Well, that wasn't good. The valve was off for a good reason. It was connected to a faucet under our kitchen sink with the handle broken off in the "open, or on position". The valve I turned on did nothing to help the Wadsworths get hot water, but it sure got us a lot of water. A FLOOD ensued. Sister Krupp had me "turn something off, right now!" Out I went and turned off the valve I had so successfully turned on. Then I got a bucket and a mop and went to work. This little clean-up effort took most of 2 hours. No water. Too much water. The Lord sure blesses His missionaries and we are thankful for water, power and dry floors!

The Big Tree House

This is the start of the climb up the tree house. After we got up the ramp to the deck area, we had to climb straight up the ladder. The rungs (2 x 4's) were spaced at least 2 feet apart. I was pretty surprised the next morning to find that my left quad was so sore! Evidently I had "lead" with that leg, and it got worked in a manner that it wasn't accustomed. I was pretty disgusted to find out that it hadn't bothered Kurt at all! The next day while reading from the white Missionary Handbook, Kurt read to me that a missionary should "Avoid activities that may be restrict your physical ability the rest of the week or cause injury." Next week I think I will just stay home and do laundry!

P-Day - Play Day or Preparation Day?

Our first real P-Day, we went to a Conservation preserve in Victoria Island with some other missionary couples from the Lagos West Mission. As you can see my squinting, it was nice and sunny. The photo on the left is a pond that had some crocodile in it (notice the ripples in the pond). There were also some birds (a toucan and a black kite) that we got we got to see. The guide showed us a monkey with a gray face up in a tree. He was cute, but hard to spot with all that foliage. It's much easier to find a monkey in a cage at the zoo. He swung off when he figured there were humans looking at him. I wasn't fast enough with the camera to get his picture. They also had a number of peacocks that were walking around their offices up near the parking lot.
The cost was quite reasonable to go to this small preserve. It cost us N200 each. However, what I didn't know was that they charge you to take a camera in, and that was N1000. It was still an affordable outing. We each tipped our cute guide another N500.

This a new raised walkway. It keeps guest up high to accommodate during the rainy season. I found these holes (right) kind of interesting. They were up to about 4 inches diameter, and I wondered what kind of gross rodent or snake might live down in that tunnel. The guide told me that they are created by crabs. The dirt is sandy, and the water table very high. We were quite close to the beach. I never would have guessed!

The Bank

On Thursday 20 March 2008 President Dyreng had me walk with him to the Zenith Bank. First, we crossed Opebi, the large street in front of the Stake Building & Service Center where the Mission Offices for East & West Lagos Missions are. There is also a small Distribution Center for Church Materials, Garments & Scriptures. We purchased small Hymn Books for 1600 Naira, each. Across the street, we walked to a point directly across from the Bank. We dodged traffic to get to the center barrier, then walked on top of the barrier, then down and through the traffic to the front gate of the bank. Parking inside the gate for bank customers would fit 3 Honda Accord size cars. The guards allowed us into the yard. We walked to the front of the Bank. Facing us were 2 curved plexiglass doors. They were like transporter doors on a star ship and were dark, smoky green in color. To enter, one at a time, one pushes a button to the side of the door, like an elevator button. If the entrance is empty, the door slides around and opens. One of us entered, and the door closed behind, leaving the other outside. Once in, the inner door opened and allowed one of us into the small lobby. Then, the person on the outside could push the button and be allowed through like the first person. Inside, we approached a chest high counter, where a clerk indicated we had permission to approach. Pres. Dyreng had 2 checks, one for 100,000 Naira and one for 89,000 Naira. The bigger check was worth $839.00. The checks were presented, one at a time, upside down on the counter, so no one could see the amount. The clerk pulled them to her, one at a time, upside down and stamped them, returned them, up side down for President's second set of signatures, printed name and date written their way ddmmyr. Then the checks were cashed, and the currency counted by an amazing machine. On the top was placed a stack of N1000 bills. A button was pushed and whoosh, the machine spit out a stack of first, 100- N1000 bills and then a second stack or 89-N1000 bills. The machine has dozens of thin, flexible rubber fingers that do the manipulating of the bills. Upstairs, on the second floor, we changed 50 of the N1000 bills to 100-N500 bills for smaller change. Then up one more floor, President introduced me to the Deputy Manager of the bank, Nduku Egwuatu. We went back out and home in reverse with a stop to show me where a pharmacy was on the second floor of "Big Treats".He then took me next door to Osato's (very small) grocery to show me where to shop if we need something quick. That's the Bank.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Cute Kitchen

As I compare our apartment here in Lagos to the first place we lived in Provo, I have to admit that this place is much larger and nicer (neighborhood excepted). Just like our 1968 residence, we have no microwave or dishwasher. We're doing OK without them. Elder Krupp washes 98% of the dishes. He is the BEST COMPANION. I do 98% of the cooking. Our little stove has two heat settings for the burners - high and medium high. Our pots and fairly lightweight, therefore, I burn things just like when I was a new bride! We are not starving, though, and trying to laugh off any frustrations. Sometimes it takes me a day or two to see the humor.

Our fridge is a little on the small size. We have to be careful not to buy too much stuff when going to the store. Gone are the days of picking up 5 dozen eggs, 6 pounds of ground beef, 10 pounds of chicken breasts, 2 huge containers of cottage cheese, and a big bag of string cheese. They just wouldn't fit in this gem. I might add that they don't have cottage cheese or string cheese here and the ground beef is scary so I hear. Sam's Club lost a good customer when we moved to Lagos. I hope they are still in business when we get home because I will be doing some big-time stocking up on my favorite things!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Have you ever thought just how cool all those braids are that the African ladies have? One cute hairdo is to have the braids all come to the back to sort of make a pony tail. There are tons of neat looking ways that they wear it. Guess what I learned my first day here? All those braids are fake! They go to stylists that sew hair pieces into their hair and then braid them in. The Nigerian women have hair that breaks off by the time it grows out to their shoulders. I don't feel so inadequate in the hair department now.


One way that a policeman or a crook can get you to stop your car is to put down a nail board. That is just what it sounds like. They use a 2 x 6 board with nails sticking up and lay it out across a lane of traffic. Then they tell you how much money you need to pay before they will pick it up and let you go on your way. Pretty scary. The missionaries have successfully gotten through most of these stops by explaining who they are and what they are doing...helping the people of Nigeria, and that they are holding up this work by holding up the missionaries. Would they please allow them to pass? Then the proper procedure (we've been told)is to just tell them you have all the time in the world and sit and wait for them to pick up the board. The Church does many things helpful in Nigeria...efforts to eradicate measles for one example. Fortunately most guys out there are nice.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Nigerians speak English

Yes, the Nigerians speak English. We just can not understand them, yet. They can understand us if we speak with them one-on-one and enunciate very carefully and speak slowly. They can also understand us from the pulpit if our speech is succinct, slow and clearly spoken with no Americanisms included. Funny thing. April Fool's Day is April Fool's Day in Nigeria. They think me having 62 birthdays on April 1st, in two weeks is really funny.

The English issue is two fold. There are over 250 tribal dialects in Nigeria. Two of them are the dominant cultural languages. They are Yoruba and Enugu. They love their languages and love to speak them. English is a "school learned language" and is spoken with British pronunciation laid on top of their native tongue. They speak very, very softly with almost no effort to enunciate or speak clearly. They are a very gentle, happy people without most of the "things" we think make us happy at home. Many Nigerians live on $1.00-$2.00 per day. Think about it. In spite of what we see as "lack", they are extremely happy. Those in the Church and those who join the Church recognize the tremendous blessings in the Gospel Message...."Forever Families", is just one principle they love. Happy Sabbath.

How does the Church work in Nigeria?

Just the same way it does in the US of A. Last Sunday in Sacrament Meeting we participated in the releasing and sustaining of members from callings to new callings, exactly the way we do at home. Those released, stood, and received a vote of thanks. Those sustained, stood, sustaining and any opposed were asked to so signify and then "setting aparts" took place in the appropriate settings. Today, the High Priests sustained a new Assistant to the High Priest Group Leader in the Ojuda Ward and then, in High Priest Group, he was set apart by a member of the Lagos Nigeria East Stake Presidency and the others in the High Priest Group. Same, same. Next, we drove back from the Ojuda Ward, on what they call the Express Way for the first time, (more later) and participated in the baptisms of two new members. One is a widow with two children. She is in her 30's and was raised in the "M" faith, which is not to convert. Long story and I'll have to figure out how to store it and tell it later. The one piece I should share is that she supports herself and her children from a "shop" she owns. Shop, in this case is a wooden structure with merchandise displayed inside and from which, she does her business. Her former husband is "Late". Her mother is "Late" and her parents-in-law are both "Late", which means they have passed on, like "the late so and so". They are "Late". Her father lives in a far, far village and she has no other relatives to object to her joining the Church. The other was a father of 5 children, husband to one wife, like me, and he joined because wife and children were being "too slow". He wanted the blessings now. Baptism ceremony all same, same, like at home with one very striking difference. The men baptizing and being baptized were dressed in elegant, long, white African tunics with white pants underneath, instead of white jump-suits. Linda thought it very nice looking. Young men prepare, bless and pass the Sacrament, just like at home, all same, same. Elder Ade-Shina Olu Kanee was in attendance. He is an Area Authority whose work assignment is Public Relations Director for all of Africa. He and his wife have raised 12-14 foster children, most are adults now and one of his "grandchildren" was with him. His wife and their first natural child were also there. The wife was 46 when this little girl was born. So how do they do it in Africa....the same, same, like in America! Pretty amazing.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Dollars or Naira, which is it?

The money in Nigeria is called Naira, pronounced Ny-ra. It comes in denominations from N1000 down N5. We have seen no coins. N5, N10, N50, N100, N200, N500, N1000 and some larger ones are the bills we have seen. The exchange is 110.9 Naira to the dollar. Our first Couples Exchange (spending money for the month) was $839 for N100,009. The first trip to the "grocery store" burned up N28, 500 of the stash. Later, that evening we purchased some produce from Susie, a Nigerian, who works the neighborhood with a small burlap bag full of thin, plastic bags of vegies. For example; a bag with 6 carrots in it. A bag with 8 very small potatoes. A real dirty cauliflower...we Jik'ed it and brushed it and boiled it and ate it. It tasted very much like a cauliflower. Our upstairs neighbors, the Wadsworths took us to their produce vendor and what an amazing difference. The vegetables looked good, the prices were much lower. Wadsworths like a "deal" and they have been very diligent shoppers. They are showing us where to shop. We'll try to get a picture of their vegetable guy's place. It is a curbside area (more like an alley). All of his merchandise is laid out on the ground by category. Fairly good presentation, but no stand, no advertising, on a side street and no frontage exposure, just good stuff. He made friends with Linda by giving her some free spring onions (green onion) and cilantro, plus he knocked N50 off since he didn't have the right change. They don't charge extra for organically grown things (or for the bugs, either).
More about the money. My driver's license required no test, no exam, just N7,000 and my passport picture. It appears one can purchase almost anything one wants in Lagos. Prescription Drugs without a just need the name and the dosage. You go to the Pharmacy, ask for the item, pay the money and presto, you are in possession of the desired item. Pretty scary.
Small examples from grocery shopping: can of Tuna Fish N245, Heinz tomato ketchup (32 oz. N675), Dijon mustard N250, Olive oil (17 oz.) N1150, and a can of greens N210. We spent N1285 for powdered milk that will make 8 or 9 liters of milk. We also bought a small salt and pepper shaker set that looked like it came from the dollar store and spent N610, plus a cheapie soap dish cost N210. The reasons many items cost so much is that they are imported. Real estate is also very expensive here, so the cost of doing business would be high. We're glad that we can things to eat that we like. It's not exactly the same stuff, but we won't starve to death. It's kind of a fun challenge to put recipes together without all of the ingredients. Our chicken fajitas weren't too bad the other night. We had no cheese, sour cream, salsa, tortillas or refried beans. We did find good lettuce and used that to make a salad, so that is a relief. Now we just wish that we had our good salad dressings.

JIK - A Missionary's Best Friend

I know our scriptures should be our best friend. But here in West Africa, we depend on JIK (pronounced Jick) to kill all the bacteria that might make us sick. This is how it works. We put 3 capfuls of JIK into a sink of filtered water. We then soak all our produce, plastic or glass bottles, and canned goods in the sink. After they have soaked for about 5 minutes, we then rinse them in filtered water. We also wipe down all plastic bags or boxes of food. JIK gets added to the bucket when mopping the floor. What is this magical stuff? It is plain old bleach, like Clorox. It's hard to get into the habit of JIK-ing everything that we bring home, but we want to stay healthy. So far, so good!

Friday, March 14, 2008


As you can see, my scriptures are very useful to me now that I am a busy missionary. Our computer/study table doubles as a vanity for me in the mornings. At least I am getting them out of the case!
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President & Sister Dyreng

Our Mission president and his wife are from Woods Cross, Utah. President Dyreng has been a full-time seminary and institute teacher. They are the parents of two sons and two daughters. They will complete their mission and leave Nigeria the end of June. I know we will miss them so much when they leave. They have been extremely helpful to us by cleaning our apartment, having the bed made up, stocking it with some groceries, having us over for dinner (3 times in one week!), taking us to the market so they won't have to feed us dinner every night, showing us how to get a few places, and instruct Kurt in the art of driving in Lagos. Kurt's driver's license came today, so we will soon be off on our own. That should give me something to write about, assuming I live to write about it. Maybe we will get to reciprocate and help them clean their apartment and get them to the airport when they leave.
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Our Journey to Lagos

This is a photo of our jet that took us from Chicago to London.

A noisy drum-playing stuffed animal at a cute display in Heathrow Airport.
There were gorgeous chocolate Easter eggs from Harrods also for sale there.
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Fat Feet

I'm having a major flashback to my first pregnancy. The summer I was expecting Heidi, I would go to work in the morning with my strappy shoes buckled up tight. Then as the day wore on, I would loosen the straps until the buckle was in the last hole. My feet were so swollen that summer. I'm having the same problem now. The only shoes that my feet will fit in are my Crocs, and they are leaving little marks. I've been told that my body will acclimate to the warmer weather, and I sure hope that is true. Other than fat feet, the heat isn't bothering me too much. We are having fun learning some of our responsibilities. I will write about those things really soon, I hope.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


I'm backing up to the airport experience. Did I mention that the people all seem very nice and helpful here. Someone mentioned to me that I needed to get a trolley to hold our luggage. I quickly figured that the trolley is a wheeled cart to hold the luggage. So I went over to get one and found out that you have to pay first. They can run out of them, and we had 4 large suitcases, plus carry-ons, and did I mention that I was tired? I then hurried and got in the line to rent my trolley, and before I could get to the head of the line, a very nice gentleman dressed in a very neat looking blue print African tunic handed me a ticket for the trolley. He had paid for me! I was so appreciative that I got teary eyed. I also had a slight problem in that I only had U.S. currency. I think that is a nice welcome to Nigeria!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

"WARM" Welcome in Lagos

The airport is Lagos is a little different that at home. I suppose the fact that it is a HUGE city creates one obvious difference. The wait for our luggage was at least an hour. Before that, though, we went to a line for new incoming folk like us. They got the blue form that we filled out while on the flight. Then the customs guys got the white form. I had visions of them checking out our suitcases and thinking we were drug smugglers because of all the vitamins we brought. They didn't even open a thing. I'm not sure if it was the missionary name tags that we wear, or if they just don't care if people smuggle in drugs. All our things arrived safely. Did I mention that Kurt had to pay over $250.00 in SLC because we had two bags that were overweight. I thought it would cost us $50.00 per bag, but I was sure wrong about that! I was very relieved to see our Mission President and his wife waiting for us just outside the terminal. Our mission has a driver to drive the big white mission van around when missionaries get transferred or need to get to zone conferences, etc. There doesn't seem to be very reliable public transportation here. Driving is a pretty crazy experience, and I am going to be in the co-pilot seat only. We have a dark green VW 4 door car to drive. Kurt is being adventurous, and his license should be here in a couple of weeks. I'm sure I will have lots of posts about our future road trips.

I slept quite well my first night here. Kurt wasn't as fortunate. To be continued...

Our Plane Trip

Our long plane ride was a new experience for me. We flew from SLC to Chicago, Chicago to London during the night, and then London to Lagos, arriving at 815 p.m. Kurt actually got some sleep between Chicago and London, but I probably only slept an hour or so. I just couldn't get comfy and we were the 2 center seats in a middle of the plane row of 4. In London, I finally laid down on a hard wooden bench and put my head on my black book bag and conked right out for about an hour. We had a nicer plane for the trip to Lagos (747) and we had a side row with just our 2 seats and more leg room. Not only that, each seat had its own video screen where one could select from a menu of Movies, TV, and Music, etc. That was pretty fun, and we watched a new cute Disney movie called Enchanted. I even got a little sleep.

Here we have Idaho!

Two Idaho Couples just hanging out and having fun at the MTC. Obviously there isn't much entertainment for us when we are not in class, so we all congregate at the big map of the world. It's tradition!

With us are Elder & Sister Williams from Pingree, ID. That's near Blackfoot for all you non-Idahoans. We tried to connect with these two for our meals, devotionals. Elder Williams is a former state Senator and Elder Krupp enjoyed discussing the political scene with him. They have headed to the Ukraine, Kyiv Mission where they had to take heavy winter coats!

Another Great Couple

Elder and Sister Asplund settled in the North Ogden area after retiring from the California School System. They are serving as CES coordinators in the India, Bangalore Mission where our good friends, Ted and Shona Kasper will soon be heading. We hope these two couples will have a chance to work together some because they are both such dynamic couples.

MTC Graduates

We didn't wear a cap and gown, but our group of 8 couples that all trained to be CES Missionaries, had a pretty special testimony meeting. We had such a fun, yet spiritual, time here at the MTC with all of these talented people. I kept notes from the devotionals and firesides in my missionary journal. Last Tuesday's talk by Elder Holland was exceptional. I hope to carry the spirit of the MTC with me throughout my mission.Back row left to right: Elder & Sister Lay, OK, Tulsa; Elder & Sister Asplund, India, Bangalore
Center: Elder & Sister Tate, Canada, Halifax; Elder & Sister Crittendon, Ukraine; Elder & Sister Kimball, Samoa, Apia
Front: Elder & Sister Miller, VA, Richmond; Elder & Sister Green, West Indies; Elder & Sister Krupp, Nigeria, Lagos

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Dynamic Teacher

Our morning instructor has been Sister Emily Schroeder. She is majoring in elementary education and served in the Italy Catania Mission. She was always so fun and positive with us. They should pay these teachers big bucks to work with us "Slow Seniors". Our afternoon teacher was Brother Turner, a cute red head (married with 1st baby on the way). He was also very patient and encouraging. They both earned our love and respect.

Very Neat People

This is a photo with our zone. Our zone leader was Elder Gudgell (to your left) from Bountiful. He and his wife are heading for Hungary. They have worked very hard to try and learn the language.
In the center with us is Sister Schroeder, our teacher. The other couple in our zone is Elder and Sister Cragun from Tulsa, OK. It was great to work together learning the lessons and how best to teach. We have had fun getting to know some awesome couples that are heading all over the world to do the same thing that we are doing. There were 25 couples in our group. Some will stay over for a second week of training like we are doing. The second week is when they teach us how to run a mission office or be CES helpers.