Wednesday, June 10, 2009

a day in the life of andrew lovedale

By Lauren Biggers

today was our first full day in nigeria, and sitting on one of our four blue, velvet chairs in the living room of our suite, i have a little more clarity about what the rest of the week will look like. for sure, ill be tired and without question, dirty.

the day began with a 6 a.m. wake up call on the travel alarm clock i remembered to pack, thankfully, as the usually more responsible morgan did not (to her credit we have needed three of the things on the list that i deemed not worthy). but actually, the day began much earlier than that when morgan shook me awake with a whisper of "someone is in our room." after an hour of us sitting alert and prepared to strike (whom or with what i'm still not sure), we pegged our intruder as our roommate sue and her blackberry. um, sigh.

team breakfast is at the hotel, after a quick meeting about the day's activities. the room is tiny. and when i say tiny, i mean, there is zero space between my dress and the table and the wall. lets call in quaint. for breakfast, we are each served four pieces of bread (its really sweet and really good. and andrew has stocked our room with a loaf. score.) and really good butter. there is also a vegetable omelet and coffee (double score!).

after breakfast we pile in our team bus, which is always one of my favorites parts of traveling on these types of trips (big windows maximize viewing pleasure), and head to andrew's church as directed by the man himself, navigating the bus from the front. we are a little bit late, because of breakfast, but we arrive in the middle of sunday school, which is a quickly paced, call-and-answer type service. she doesn't call on me.

afterwards, there is a service in the same room, and one of our team members, derek, is called upon to share a little about his faith. at some point during the four-hour service (four hours just flies by, doesn't it, lauren? andrew asks afterwards. ha.), our team is also called to the front to dance (it really happened) and pray for those who come forward. i think about kidnapping a few of the children (kidding. i think.), and morgan and i continue to pass back and forth andrew's eight-month old nephew. (so cute!)

once church is over, we pose for plenty o'pictures with the children and finally board the bus for lunch. morgan and i order meat pies, after a successful experience yesterday, and some rice (everything comes with rice). she gets coconut rice, mine is an orange variety. "what's it taste like?," i say. "it's spicy," comes the standard reply. everything is spicy.

after lunch we come back to the hotel where we relax a little before dinner at andrew's house. molly and sue duck into their room for a nap, but we are treated to andrew's friends' presence once again in the common room. andrew eventually leaves to take pictures of the basketball facility we will be renovating tomorrow.

when he returns, the team boards the bus for his mother's house, where there are probably 30 of his friends and family waiting to serve us a dinner of traditional nigerian foods. andrew has told me of the customary practice of eating with your hands, and morgan and i are completely game for giving this a whirl on pounded yam (sort of a wad of mashed potatoes) and spinach-type casserole dish. there is also a bean dish, fresh pineapple, pepper soup and a beef dish. the food, and the company, is wonderful, and as we head to board the bus, we have become mini celebrities, our bus surrounded by neighborhood children, who want nothing more than smiles and hugs. and pictures with the white people.

about 30 minutes later, we are on our way back to the hotel, where we change and gather for the final meeting of the day. after a devotion by chris eastlering, we head over to the hotel's "big room," a wedding hall type establishment, to meet the pro-health international team with whom we will be partnering for the week. tomorrow's logistics, which include a basketball clinic and shoe delivery and a health clinic are discussed, and we spend some time getting to know the other team members.

during this time, morgan is asked a question by one of the pro-health volunteers which she believes to be "whats in an apple?". which she naturally believes the answer to be "seeds." after much laughter, it is told the question was "whats up," in pigeon, the nigerian version of english that just drops words without much reason and mixes others together. eariler, after the congregation widely reacts to something at church, franks asks me 'what did she say?' i look blankly at him with "i have no idea," to which he reminds me, "it was in english." um, right.

it's 11:30 p.m. here and im fighting sleep, but i wanted to write nonetheless. andrew's best friend in benin, moses, was kind enough to leave me with a laptop, which means i don't have to make the death journey back to the internet cafe (good idea: i'd like a diet coke. bad idea: crossing a nigerian street at night, even with a nigerian). even so, despite his insistence that "the internet is everywhere," the internet connection is not great (holy third world country, batman).

tomorrow begins at 5:30 a.m. (yes, you read that right), so in case morgan decides to wake me for another night watch shift, i'd better call it an evening. i'm hoping to write daily, and hoping to pull in some more voices to give you a broader glimpse of the journey as the week goes on. i cant offer too many personal insights, yet, but i can tell you that however impressed i thought i was at the person that is andrew lovedale, i cannot fathom how i could be more impressed with the person that he has now become. until probably tomorrow.

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