Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Family Home Evening with Praises

Sister Martin and Sister Krupp holding Praises Martin, born 31 December 2007!
We had a Family Home Evening at the Church last night. The purpose was to help motivate the families to have a regular family night like we are used to doing in the U.S.A. It was under the direction of Brother Cletus Martin, the High Priest group leader. Brother Martin works at the Church office next door to us, and we see him frequently. Little Praises is the third Martin child. They have a daughter, about 5 or 6 years old and another son that is 17 months old. Since Praises was born the same day as Miriam, I had to hold him. He is smaller than Miriam, and he also seems to be a very calm and happy baby like our Miriam. His mom said that he sleeps through the night, so he must be a good little guy.

Saturday's Service Project

The High Priest group in our Ikeja Ward planned for a thorough cleaning of the church on Saturday so that everything would be nice for Sunday. We were having General Conference Sunday, and members of the whole stake were invited. The clean-up started at 7 a.m., and there was a good turn out. We dusted all the wood parts of the benches and cleaned inside the hymn book holders. The upholstered benches could really use a good steam cleaning. I don't know if you can rent things like that here, but it would be useful. We also cleaned up outside. It reminded me of the last day at Girls' Camp and going all around the camp ground picking up every little candy wrapper or bit of paper. I almost filled a small grocery sack.

Things did look nice on Sunday. They played the Saturday morning session of conference at 8 a.m., the Sunday morning session started a little after 10 a.m., and the closing session started about 12:20. We were asked to not leave during the middle of a broadcast, so if people needed to leave early, they left after one of the sessions ended. But Mormons tend to be a social group, and that is especially true here in Nigeria. They skipped out of the session of conference, but then they stayed and visited in the parking lot for the longest time. It is actually wonderful to see the strong friendships that the members have.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Our Produce Stand

We made another trip to the produce stand today. We need to go about twice a week. We made a batch of fresh salsa this morning and used up all our tomatoes, I also bought several bunches of leaf lettuce, and another pineapple. The celery was pretty small. Each stalk was about the size of a pencil, and there are only about6 puny stalks per celery.

I have gotten pretty bold and just step over the big gutter to pick stuff out myself. I don't think the sales guy really appreciates it, but I like to look it over, especially the lettuce. I don't want to take bugs home with me. Kurt said that we did get home with a few ants, however. I guess I wasn't careful enough.

We had Elder and Sister Pack with us. They go home in 2 weeks, and then we will be the only senior missionary couple in either Lagos mission. Elder and Sister Pack live in Holbrook, Arizona, and both were school teachers. After the produce stand, we went to Barcello's for lunch and then made a quick stop at the Oasis market for some whole wheat bread. They were out again today. I may have to break down and make my own again.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Fans, Fans, Fans

A company called SMC, seems to have a monopoly on all of the Ceiling Fans in Africa. This picture illustrates the fans in the Cultural Hall and Chapel of the Church we attend. Click on the picture to enlarge it and count the fans. During our Clean-Up project this morning, Pres Dyreng was commenting on the amazing engineering that goes into these fans. They are self contained. To install them, all you do is hang them on a hook, connect the electrical and your are set to go. They are so perfectly balanced that they never vibrate or make noise. All you hear is the air they move. In the Chapel of this building there are 15 of the SMC fans and 4 more conventional fans, two on each side of the rostrum area. When they are all going, it makes it hard for Elder Krupp, with his hearing aids to hear, but it is the only possible way to keep semi-comfortable in the heat.

The reason I said the SMC company must have a monopoly is because we see them in every building we go into. We see them in stores, commercial buildings, banks, government buildings. They were even in the Nigerian Post Office. There was no power so none were moving, but they were there.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Emmanuel U. Okey (O.K!)

Emmanuel is the Mission Maintenance Man I work with. He loves his truck. It is a silver Toyota Hilux and is about 3 years old. He is responsible for every aspect of the Missionary Apartments. This includes keeping water available, propane gas for cooking, sprayed for bugs, fumigated for larger critters, paying the electric bills, negotiating for new apartments and moving missionaries from apartments we are vacating. Emmanuel is a man with many talents and we work well together.

To give you an idea of things he encounters, I will give you a partial list of the things he took care of over Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday the 21st through the 23rd of April 2008. Bright and early Monday AM, he left Lagos for Akure (Uh-coo-ray) some 150 to 200 Kilometers north of Lagos. Two weeks ago he had negotiated for a new apartment for 4 Missionaries who serve in Akure. He moved them from the old apartment to the new one. He assessed the work to be done to refurbish the old apartment so it could be turned back to the owner. He hooked everything up for the missionaries at the new apartment; water, propane, etc. He made sure their mosquito nets were hung and the nets (screens), doorways and window surroundings were sprayed with Permethrin, the insecticide we spray on every possible surface to keep the critters at bay. Next, he hooked up their water filter and verified it worked. Every apartment, including ours, has a water filter for drinking water, tooth brushing water and cooking water. He visited every apartment around Akure, Ife, Ondo and Ibadan. They are pronounced Ife-Ee-fay, Ondo-On-doh, and Ibadan, Ee-bah-dun. At every apartment he tended to water, propane and electric bill needs. This required three days and two nights away from his home and family. He has two boys and a wife. He signed lease documents and delivered N240,000 (just under $2200 in US dollars) in cash and checks to the apartment owner. This pays for 2 years, in advance. That's the system. You pay rent, in advance for a minimum of two years. Some leases have been in place for 20 years. The 240,000 Naira is a significant sum in Nigeria, considering many people subsist on 100-200 Naira ($1-$2) per day.
The working folks' incomes here are way different than what we would consider acceptable. Emmanuel, for instance is paid very well for Nigerian standards, at about $400\N50,000 per month. He also gets reimbursed for up to $900\N100,000 per year in medical expenses and his compensation package covers school tuition for his two sons. His comp package is very good for Nigeria, but is not much money when calculated in American dollars.

Emmanuel, repairs and replaces almost anything needing work, with the exception of electrical repairs and plumbing. There seems to be an unwritten, but strong rule, that those two trades do those types of work and Emmanuel can do everything else. He changes the filters in the water filters on a schedule like I wrote about in an earlier blog about the faithful filter. There are three filters and each gets changed at differing intervals. Every two months for filter #1, every 4 months for filter #2 and once a year for filter #3. He puts bunk beds together, fixes them, transports propane bottles to every apartment, moves literature and Books of Mormon, everywhere they are needed. Emmanuel Okeh is definitely, OK!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Cold, Hard Cash...Our Monthly Money

It takes a lot of cash to support a Senior Missionary Couple in Nigeria. It's a good thing it's their own money, administered by their trusty family in Idaho. This is a little over one month's cash. It pays for everything except our Monthly bill from the Mission for our apartment, vehicle and cell phone. The money spread out on our dining table is about $1,200-$1,300 in Nigerian Naira (ny-ra). That totals up to N135,000 to about N145,000, all in 500 Naira Notes. The black bag is the fancy, black, plastic "Bank Bag", they give you to carry your cash home in. Our Naira purchases groceries, vegetables & fruit from the little produce market we shop at, gas for the car, personal care items, medications, and anything else that arises during the month (like chocolate, for instance). It stacks up to a bundle almost 2 inches thick. Two people always go to the bank together to provide security. This is one of the more interesting issues we deal with as we serve in Nigeria. Sister Krupp has to pre-calculate what we may need for cash anytime we leave for shopping or an outing of any kind. We can't rely on credit cards, debit cards or checks. They don't exist except for the check the Mission Office writes to the Bank in Naira, in exchange for our check to the Mission in good old US Dollars. You always want enough, but not a lot of excess in case of a run in with unsavory folks.

Elder Ma'u from Tonga, is the body guard who usually walks with Elder Krupp to the Zenith Bank. Elder Ma'u is a semi-pro Rugby Player in Tonga. He also likes American Football, but says it's little wussy for Rugby Players. Too much standing around and not a lot of real work like it takes for Rugby. He takes care of Mission Office Finances half of the time and Missionaries for the other half of his time. He is going to be a lawyer at home in Tonga.

Fashionable Mission Footwear

On my first Sunday in sunny Lagos, I wore my favorite old black flats to church without any pantyhose - Yeah! Or so I thought, because by the end of church I wore the skin right off the top of one of my toes. I then could only wear my Crocs for the next couple of weeks until my toe had healed sufficiently. Sister Wadsworth came to rescue, once again, by giving me two pair of footies. These are a heavy-duty version of the things they give out in the shoe store when trying on shoes. At first I thought they were pretty lame looking, and I really didn't want to try them. However, when going into people's homes to visit, we always take our shoes off before entering. Going barefoot is not such a safe idea, so the footies come in handy. Now I actually love the little things and wish I had more. I hope to start a new "trend" in footwear when I return to Idaho Falls. I'm sure everyone will be so jealous of my new style!

Yummy Bread

I decided that I would try my hand at bread making - the hard way, with no Bosch mixer. I took my regular recipe that I use in my Bosch and cut it in half, so I would only end up with two loaves of bread. I used a little hand mixer until I had enough flour in, and the dough was getting thick. Then Kurt helped me work in some more flour with a wooden spoon, but it still looked pretty sticky. I didn't want to add too much flour for fear I would end up with "tough" bread. We covered the counter with a layer of flour, dumped out the dough, and I proceeded to knead the sticky mess. I should have had Kurt get the camera to video my kneading job. It was pretty funny, and I would never be invited to demonstrate my bread making skills on TV. I put it in a bowl to raise for a while before making it into the two loaves. After it was baked and cooled sufficiently, we tried it out. Success! It tasted pretty good. Of course warm bread with butter and honey is always good. The texture wasn't as nice as I am used to, but at least it is edible. I don't think it is any cheaper than going to Oasis to buy fresh bread, but now I know that if I can't get to the store for some reason, I can still have bread.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Where's the Beef?

We had an All-American dinner last night courtesy of the Wadsworths. We inherited the food from their freezer when they left a couple of weeks ago. They had purchased some frozen beef burgers from one of the stores in VI. They cook up very fast and were fairly tasty. They looked similar to a hockey puck when I got done frying them. Our buns were from the Oasis market where we purchase most of our food. They make very nice bread and rolls there. The buns were so much larger than the patties. I couldn't help but think of the old Wendy's commercial - "Where's the Beef?" I sliced up some small cooked potatoes that were left-over from another dinner to serve as our French Fries. Notice the Heinz ketchup that is imported from Egypt. Add to that a lovely cabbage salad, and we were stuffed! Elder K. Someone can do the conversion of grams to pounds to verify Sister Krupp's "hockey puck" comparison. Sixteen burger patties weigh 800 grams. So that is 50 grams per patty. The other side of the equation is dollars. Sixteen patties cost about $16. A buck a patty.
We made a Saturday run to the produce vendor and picked up enough tomatoes to make a new batch of salsa. In the sink is our chicken thawing. We are getting into the routine of baking one chicken a week, either on Saturday or Sunday. That seems to get us by for the week since I turn it into about 3 different meals, plus a pot of soup. I made salmon patties again the other night. They add some variety to our life. (Elder K, the Salmon Patties are wonderful) I also made another batch of banana cookies yesterday to give to a family that we went to visit and to our neighbors, the cute Elders. I'm going to make some chocolate chip cookies next week. We will buy a big bar of chocolate and chop it up. That sounds so yummy. I am going to take a bunch of cookies to a Family Home Evening that the High Priests are sponsoring next Monday evening. I know how to win friends and influence people! Elder K. Sister Krupp is always thinking of other people and how to care for them. She is so great!

Elder K. Some details on the food items above. The vegetables include tomatoes, a cucumber, the replacement cabbage for the bad one we bought on Friday, carrots, bananas and a Pineapple. That represents about $10 worth of vegies and fruits. The chicken in the sink is pricey. That little fellow cost us about $14. Protein is expensive, even in the form of a "Free-Range" Nigerian Chicken. We'll use up two or three batches of vegetables and fruits like that each week. Last week, she made us Chicken Pizzas out of two large, thin, tortillas, some chicken, spicey ketchup, BBQ sauce, some fresh salsa, and a little grated cheese on top. Just like Dominoes, Josh!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Nigerian Post Office

Today we went to the post office here in Ikeja for the first time. Sister Evans had us take her over so we would know where it is. It was another interesting "step-back in time" experience. I have never seen a traditional mail truck like we have in the U.S.A. They must make some deliveries, but I don't think residences have the usual mail boxes out front because everyone is behind a big wall. Now I see where businesses go to pick up their mail. The mailboxes are inside the postal compound.
Parking lot for extra, unused delivery vehicles. The picture on the right on top is of one of a multitude of small buildings surrounding a dirt courtyard behind the low, flat, unimpressive Post Office Building, (picture of Post Office entry on the left with Sister Krupp squinting in the sun). Each of the buildings is full of Post Office Boxes. Hundreds and then we realized, thousands of them. The second picture is a "bone-pile" of prehistoric bicycles and moped type scooters that were used at some point to deliver mail. They don't do that anymore that we can see.

The Post Office experience was two sided. Sister Krupp and Sister Evans went to one of the windows to mail their items. I stayed several feet away and observed the whole process. The whole experience was nothing short of bizarre. The postal workers were in protected work spaces behind a chest-high counter, with a heavy plexi-glass screen\window on top of the counter, reaching to about six and a half feet. There were 5-50 cent sized holes in the plexiglass that you were supposed to communicate through, and a narrow slot at the bottom of the plexiglass to slide your item through. The bizarre part was that each work cubicle proudly displayed a nice computer, keyboard and monitor. Not once did we see anyone even touch the computers. Everything was handled on handwritten forms, documents and receipts. There were no cash drawers. When the time came to make change for the two American ladies, the attendant dug in her own purse, asked the neighboring teller and a patron for the correct change.

The picture of a Post Office in New York, about 1910, came to mind as this little drama played out. The "people traffic" inside was a replay of what we experience on the roads every day. There were no lines, no one "waited" their turn. As the two sisters did their business, people came up to either side of them, several times, trying to push their business through the slot where they were already working. Next observation from behind. For some reason there were multiple people taking care of single transactions at many of the windows. One window to the left of Sister Evans and Sister Krupp had a dozen very agitated Nigerians trying to take care of one transaction at the top of their voices, and the Nigerian, behind the window, being just as vocal as those on our side of the glass. Somehow they calmed down and the transaction was being dealt with as we left.

One more observation. I saw every type of clothing imaginable as I waited for the Sisters. Tribal clothing, formal business attire, both men and women, tight pants on girls, women and men. Loose pants on girls, women and men, tight formal dresses, loose, bright colored dresses on women and bright, loose clothing on men some with African hats. It was like a Kaleidescope of color as the customers moved about inside the Post Office. All in all, a very interesting experience. Oh, the smell in there was not something to write home to mother about.

Delivery Okada Style

We got a chuckle out of this guy holding a full-sized car windshield while riding on the back of an Okada (Nigerian slang for bike) going 40 miles per hour. That's a major form of transportation here since most people can't afford to have their own car. That looks risky to me, though. I saw one loaded with big bags of oranges the other day. Often the driver has several passengers. Sister Evans said the funniest she saw was a driver hauling 2 passengers holding 3 goats. These drivers have their own set of rules. They frequently come at you "head on" and zig zag through traffic like maniacs. Kurt mentioned that it sounded like a moto-cross race because of the constant revving of engines and buzzing that they create.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Zone Conference

The whole Ikeja (Ee-Kay-zshah) Zone posed for a picture for me. Can you spot Elder Krupp? They are a fun bunch of young people, not much different than our American youth. Some are shy and some are not!

A fun thing that President Dyreng did at Zone Conference was to have the Elders and Sisters act out three different Book of Mormon stories. They were divided up into three groups and each group was given a bag of props. They then had 15 minutes to put together a mini-play that told their story. This group told the story of Lehi's family traveling in the wilderness. Nephi, the most righteous and obedient son, breaks his bow. The other brothers, whiners and complainers by the name of Laman and Lemuel, have bows that have lost their "springs" and are not usuable. Nephi, because of his great faith, goes to his father and desires to know where he should go to obtain food. He manages to make a temporary bow and single-handedly hunts the wild beast to take care of the hunger situation.

Nephi (Elder Ma'u, our adorable Tongan Elder) is finally able to bag some "meat"(another Elder over his shoulder) because of his faithfulness.

Our Nigerian missionaries love to sing. The song they chose to sing to represent their Book of Mormon story is "Faith of our Fathers". I didn't get the whole song, but I'm glad to have this record of their talent and enthusiasm.

Church Visitor

This is not a very good photo, but our visitor was too fast for me. If you enlarge the photo and look under the chair, just above the stairs, you can see one of our very common red-headed lizards. It came in through the open door, looked around for a minute or two, and scampered back outside. Church was over and not much was happening, so I guess he got bored.

Cute Little Mom

The moms with cute babies on their backs is probably my favorite sight over here. This new mother was nice enough to pose for me last Sunday. Her little girl was born last December, about 3 weeks before Miriam. The mom showed me how when the baby is first born they put them on the back with their legs down straight. She is just now starting to have her legs straddle her back. She was using a rectangular receiving blanket, but I usually see the moms use an African fabric. It looks like baby girl is going to topple out in this photo. She was relaxed and soon closed her eyes and went to sleep. Church was over and the little family could now walk home.

Tennis Courts on Victoria Island

We went to Victoria Island with 2 other couples yesterday and did some shopping. I sure thought of Adam when I went by this tennis club. I couldn't see inside to check out the courts, but it was nice to know that someone plays tennis over here.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Nigerian Rain Storm

I'm not sure if this is just a taste of what the rainy season is like, but we were entertained just listening to and watching all the water come down. Of course we were under the cover of our porch area and not getting soaked. We may not find it quite as fun if we are out on foot making a visit to someone or going to the store. But for today, it was great!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

In the Kitchen with Linda

Cooking doesn't take all my time, but it does seem to take more concentration and effort since I am trying new recipes and using different cooking methods and ingredients. Gone are the days of grilling marinated chicken breasts outside on my deck. DARN!

Homemade chicken soup seems to be a staple of our diet. I try to vary my recipe so meals don't get too boring. The other day I decided to add some rice to the soup pot. I don't usually do that because I don't want to add all those fattening "carbs". Well, I measured out 1/2 cup of regular white rice and added it. I stirred and watched for several minutes, and decided I hadn't added enough. Now remember that I am very impatient. I should know better. But I decided to just take the bag and shake in a little more. Of course I somewhat lost control of the bag and got too much rice in. I was able to scoop some out and it looked like all was well. But then the stuff cooked up and I almost ended up with chicken and rice casserole. Well, it was variety and was quite tasty!

My next rice story came two days later. I turned the rest of our baked chicken pieces into sweet and sour chicken. I wanted to serve it over rice. Cooking rice is a challenge for me. I depend on my electric rice steamer, which is sitting home in Idaho. I instead used some basmati rice that I had here that said "Easy to Cook" on the package. (both bags of rice I have were left by the previous missionaries) The ratio was 1 cup rice to 1 1/2 cup of water. I decided to use a little more water than that. The directions say to soak the rice in water for 25 minutes. I soaked a little longer since I was busy making the sweet and sour sauce. By the time I finished soaking the rice it had almost doubled in volume. Nevertheless, I drained the water off and added it to the boiling water, covered it and checked my watch so I would know when 10 minutes was up (no timer). I figured how to adjust my cooking temperature down to low and simmer. For low I hold the pot above the burner about 1 inch. For simmer, I hold the pot about 1 1/2 to 2 inches above the burner. This is a great way to multi-task for me because it also helps me strengthen my arms. It's a good thing that I am impatient because when I lifted the lid to check the rice, the water was gone. It was done just right, and we had a great dinner. Now I have left-over rice and I think I whip up some rice pudding tonight. First I better decide what to cook for dinner later! It will probably have chicken in it. Soon I will publish some of our tasty recipes.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Two Sacks and Two Jacks

The Mission Van was out of commission. Instead of instant pick-up, it produced "hiccups" when you asked it to go. A very dangerous illness in Life and Death traffic. Your car has to go in an instant and stop just as fast, or your life is seriously compromised. When the hiccups started, the mission driver was moving missionaries all over the mission on transfer day. As soon as that was done, the van was parked. Too dangerous with hiccups instead of "pick-up". President Dyreng lived in Ibaden (80-90 miles north of here for the first year he was in Nigeria.) He got to know Rassaki (Ross-ah-key) the man on the right in the picture. Rassaki has done all of the Mission's maintenance and repairs possible because he is reliable, fair with his prices and has always kept his commitments. This is the first time President has had him "Transport" down here to Lagos. That's quite a process, and according to Rassaki, takes between one and one half hours to six hours, depending on traffic, "go-slows", and accidents. Most Nigerians do not have their own car and Rassaki is no exception, so they use the Yellow Transport buses (VW Vanagon size), in town, and slightly larger transport vehicles between cities. My assignment was really a big one. I was to wait for him to come and hand him the key to the van. I got it handled! He and his assistant showed up at our compound gate at about noon on Saturday. They had two reinforced "Walmart" sized plastic shopping bags for their "shop" and their "tool box". In the sacks were two, small, screw type jacks and their tools. The upper picture shows the van on the jacks. That's all the further they jacked it up. They are so small and slim, they can fit under the space you see and work. I added one other essential ingredient to the repair. The pink bucket is our car wash bucket. We loaned it to them and that's how they got the van repaired! Yeh, Right?

With-in one hour, they had drained the fuel into containers, removed the fuel tank, the fuel pump and fuel filter assemblies. The picture to the right shows the fuel tank, empty on the ground. Behind the assistant in the blue shop coat, on the concrete ledge, are the fuel pump and fuel filter assemblies. Rassaki is the man facing the camera. The purple tub is one of the containers they put fuel in. Another tub was their cleaning bucket. They went quickly to work cleaning everything and quickly identified a bad filter and not bad fuel. By 3 PM everything was back together and "road tested". Rossaki drove hard forward and backward in our compound to verify no lag in the pick-up of the engine. He did it again and again to verify no lag on the gas pedal. Then, they checked everything for leaks, picked up their tools, cleaned up everything and handed me the key. I handled that
one alright, as well. We visited for a few minutes and they took off to reverse their transport ride home. He is a Muslim (they say Mooslem, here), has three boys and is a very proud father. One thing I did not get a picture of was his immaculate, white Muslim cap. He wore it to come and he wore it home, but it was placed, carefully in the van before he started work. That's the story of Two Sacks and Two Jacks. That's the way you repair a hiccuping Toyota van in downtown Lagos, Nigeria.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

New Mission Home and Offices

We have not walked through the new building yet, but we have been told that the first floor will house the offices of both the Lagos East and West Missions. There will also be some "hotel rooms" for visiting authorities that come for meetings. The second and third floors will be for the mission president's residences and smaller apartments for senior couples. Gone will be the days of my private laundry. There will be a shared laundry on each floor. We understand that the apartments are significantly smaller than the one we are in. That's a little depressing, but I guess brand new might be nice. If we don't get any more senior couples here, I'm hoping we can use an extra apartment for storage and exercise facility. We'll be posting more about the housing situation as the move date becomes closer.

We should get moved into the new building next door in 4 to 10 months. The official completion time is in 3 months. As you can see it is made of concrete blocks. If you zoom in and look into the window holes, you can see the blocks before finishing and with the completed, smooth finish. Evidently all the electrical wire is in as is the plumbing. These workers seem to have a good time, and enjoy hanging out the windows. This method seems so backwards from what I watch in our American society. There, first the framing goes up, then it gets all "boxed in" with exterior walls, a roof and windows. Having the inside walls all finished before the roof doesn't seem right to me. The rainy season is upon us. I sure hope that they get the roof on before they put all the tile in.

Construction Nigeria Style

It seems that all buildings here are made out of concrete blocks. Out in Lagos Bay there seem to be two fleets of boats. The smaller boats are fishing boats, and the larger flat-bottom boats haul up sand from the bottom of the bay. This sand then becomes one of the ingredients in making concrete. We see lots of buildings under construction and they all look similar. They are gray, multi-storied, no windows and rickety-looking scaffolding, often made of bamboo. How would you like to haul your materials and yourself up that bamboo ramp? I wonder how much these workers get paid to climb up on that stuff?

Friday, April 4, 2008

"Tight Traffic" and No Passports!

We geared up to do several things today, Friday the 4th of April 2008. We wanted to drive to one of our assigned Wards, without help, and make our way back. This was just to be a practice run to confirm to ourselves we could do it. We wanted to drive to a set of apartments where 3 sets of Elders live, called the Opebi Link Apartments. We are going to be going with Elders on Teaching Appointments and that is one of the locations we will pick Elders up. The traffic was "Tight". Emmanuel, the man who maintains the apartments & does several things for Pres. Dyreng, and our mission describes the traffic as "Tight" when you have to patiently, aggressively, "push" your way through to where you are going. We didn't get to the Ward we wanted to because of the Passport fiasco, I'll explain next. But, we did make it to the Vegetable Market and to the Elders apartments and back. Tight traffic equals 50 minutes to drive a total of less than 4 miles and hundreds of cars wanting to go exactly where you want to go!

We were alerted by our Professional Helpers (CPA & Lawyer) back home that we needed to get me applied for Social Security. The only place to do it is at the U S Consulate on Victoria Island. The Consulate is like a little piece of the U S of A and citizens can get in and do things they would normally do at home, if they have their passports. Our Mission President confiscated them when we came in a month ago. They evidently are then sent to Abuja, the Capital of Nigeria, with some paperwork and money so we can be here legally for the length of our mission.

Our Mission President had arranged for Emmanuel to drive us to the Consulate and back on Monday the 7th. Very thoughtful and kind of him to arrange it. President Dyreng told us we would need to get the Passports from Markus, who takes care of all travel, visas, in-country residence permits, etc. We went back and forth to his office 3 or 4 times to get the Passports with no success because he wasn't in. Finally his assistant, Christiannah gave us her cell phone number and arranged to call us when she tracked Markus, down. All of this time we can't go anywhere because it is critical to get the Passports if we are going to the Consulate on Monday. Finally, we received a call from Christiannah, telling us Markus would be back to his office by 3:00 PM. So, guess where we were at 3:00 PM? We were back at his office. No Markus! This is frustrating and unproductive. Ten or 15 minutes later, we received a call from Markus and we could finally explain what we needed. Tough beans Krupps, he says. The Passports are in Abujah, and won't be back for 2-3 more weeks. OK, we can handle this. What Sister Krupp really said was "RATS". So, no Passports, no trip to the
U S Consulate. We'll just wait until the Passports come back. Oh, one more unsuccessful. We took our mop and bucket upstairs to clean the Wadsworth's now vacant apartment. Their President, Pres. Evans made arrangements for someone else to clean it. Our mop and bucket are prisoners, stuck upstairs....locked in. I need them to clean tomorrow. Just one more thing on Nigerian Time. We'll get the mop and bucket when we get them and not before!!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Exit Stage Right

Wadsworths with their new pet, Jeffrey the Giraffe
Wadsworths and our neighbor, Gordy
President and Sister Evans with Elder and Sister Wadsworth

This evening at 5:00 PM, Elder John and Sister Judy Wadsworth drove out the gate of our compound, to the right of our front door with President & Sister Evans, their Mission President & his wife. They fly home to their home in Bountiful, tonight and tomorrow. By 10 or 11 PM Salt Lake time, they will be home on Friday the 4th of April. We will miss them! They have been our trainers & our friends for the past month. If you sense some sadness, it is real. Their assignment was in the Nigeria Lagos West Mission. The arrangement for them to be upstairs and us downstairs in the same compound is mirrored at the Church Service Center through the compound wall to the West of us a few steps. The two mission Presidents and their staffs are officed on the 2nd floor at opposite ends of a hall. The Information Technology wizards for the Church operations in Lagos, are the buffer office between them.

The Wadsworths were doing the Career and Self-Employment workshops. They have been entrepreneurs their whole life. Many businesses and many years later they ended up in Nigeria on a mission. They took what the LDS Employment people had put together and massaged it and adapted it to West Africa. We have worked side by side with them through two complete sets of workshops. For this last one, Linda and I taught the first two days and they taught the last day. We recorded it with a mini recorder our family gave us for Christmas. We took notes as fast as we could, both times. Today, we have been transcribing the recording into the typed version of our notes to fill in the holes. We did amazingly well by combining the notes we each took when we matched them up to the recording.

Now, we are on our own! The next group of departing missionaries will be our responsibility. We feel nervous about it, but are confident the Lord will magnify our puny abilities and use us to help the missionaries.

The Wadsworths had accumulated multiple things to help them and make them more productive while they were here. Linda purchased a small kitchen table and two
chairs from them. Two tall, slim sofa tables were also part of the package. I purchased an HP Printer from them so we can print pictures of the missionaries in our classes. Now I have to figure out how to run it. The total for all items, including a new black printer cartridge was N24,000. That's 24,000 Naira or $218 U S Dollars. They have been extremely generous with both time and money to help us out.

They took us out with the Elders from their Mission and Stake. They took us to a vegetable market where we purchase all of our vegies and fruit. They taught us how they make fresh salsa and home-made yogurt. They shared their exercise routine with us and showed us how to cut each others' hair. No big trick to mine, but Linda's is more carefully done. They have just absolutely seen to it that we could operate here and feel useful. We will miss them a ton!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Down is on-Up is off. 5 is low-1 is High

The British Electrical switches used in Nigeria are set up opposite of the American way of doing things. To turn a light on in the U S, one flips the switch "up". To turn it "off", one would push the switch "down". The light switches in Nigeria, work just the opposite...if the switch position is "up", the light is "off" and if the switch position is "down" the light is "on". Makes it fun to find your way around at night when it is pitch dark.

Next are the switches that run the fans. Fans are everywhere. Homes, offices, apartments, stores, churches...everywhere. At home, you would start with a low fan speed at #1, if the positions were numbered. It does not work that way here. #1 is equal to "High" speed and about twists the fans out of the ceiling. #5 is "Low" speed and is still fairly aggressive. Just another Nigerian "Interesting" we thought you would like to know.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Career and Self Employment Training

One of our major assignments during our Mission in Nigeria, is to train departing Elders and Sisters. The training is unique in Africa and most parts of the mission system of the Church. Prior to leaving the Lagos East and Lagos West Missions, the Elders and Sisters are brought in from their work areas to Lagos for Saturday through Wednesday morning. The Missions feel strongly enough about this training that they arrange for Hotel accommodations for the sisters and the Elders "bunk" up with the Zone Leaders and A.P.'s. The Mission makes sure they have food and all the things needed to come to training Sunday afternoon 1 PM to 5 PM. And then, Monday and Tuesday all day, starting at 8:30 AM. The Stake President makes the High Council Room available. It is air conditioned, has a white board, nice chairs and carpet on the floor. Totally unexpected in Nigeria, because every other floor is hard, smooth material.

We train the Career Workshop on Sunday and Monday. It teaches them how to recognize what they have learned as missionaries. They gain skills in time management, budgeting, communications, goal setting and producing positive results, grooming, training skills, negotiating skills, study skills, presentation skills and many others. Our first task is to change their Paradigm from, "Serving a Mission is a Sacrifice," to "Serving a Mission has provided me with powerful life skills that will put me 2 years in front of my competition in the work force or the University environment". We do this exercise for only about 30 minutes, but it is really powerful and builds the foundation for the next two days of work.

They learn interview skills through mock interviews and critiquing each other. They learn to prepare Resume's and other business or professional communications. They learn to network and find mentors who can help them with employment searches or gain admission to the University or Professional school they want to attend. We work them very hard for the 2 1\2 days. Short time frames for every exercise and really push them to show them how business or university life will be.

The Self Employment Workshop, held on Tuesday, teaches them the basics of Entrepreneurship. How to start a business, look for start up financing, prepare a business plan and find mentors to guide them through the start up of a new enterprise. India started through a major phase of new business formation starting 20 years ago. They have created more millionaires in that 20 year period than any other country in the world, including the U S of A. Nigeria needs to do the same.

The young people are bright and some are energetic and "get it". Some have no exposure to the labor market or entrepreneurship at all. They are kind of like some of the young people in the US who think they are entitled to everything their parents have after 30 or 40 years of marriage. The Elders and Sisters and the old Elders and Sisters are pretty wiped out at the end of the 2 1\2 days, but it is so worth the time and effort. We'll post a picture of this group. The internet is like the water and power, not reliable, and not much of it when we have it.