Carolyn Johnson

|| March, April, May Email Notes ||

May, 1999


Michael shared his birthday party with another Michael from Germany in his class who was also born on 3/6/92. We took all 12 first grade boys to a swimming pool. The weather is now quite hot and dry. Unfortunately, Michael was not able to swim. We had a little trauma Feb 24. After school, he was playing on the playground while we waited for the high school kids to get out. He fell on a nail in a most unfortunate manner and wounded his left lower leg. Fortunately we knew some missionary doctors and drove straight to their home, which is near the hospital. Dr. Carolyn Kershner left her dinner preparations, took us straight to the operating room, and closed the wound in two layers under general anesthesia. Midway through the operation I thought to check that they were using disposable needles. Dr. Kershner was wonderful and Michael is barreling around like his usual self. It was scary but we were blessed with good contacts. We already had invited the Kershners over for dinner on the 26th before this happened. Carolyn's husband is also a doctor. Michael was a trooper about his party and we came up with some alternate plans. He could get wet but just couldn't soak in the water so there were a lot of water balloons, bucket brigades, etc... then that evening we had the neighborhood clan over for ice cream and cake. I have learned to make an interesting ice cream with our homemade yogurt. All is well.


Life continues to be very interesting here. Surprisingly the elections were quiet. We wouldn't have even known they were going on except that we have to stay home on election days -- of which there were three. I think we live in a special spot of the country. It is remarkably peaceful (except for the state worker strike that negated our water supply for three weeks - we got used to bathing with a cup of water and spending our days begging from other's wells.)

We just returned from the Youth World Cup soccer games in Bauchi. How bizarre to drive through African landscape full of Africans doing their thing and walk into an artificial stadium built to Western standards for a few hours of sport. It was delightful and incongruous. Another Western experience we had lately was Easter weekend at the Hilton in Abuja with a large group of missionaries "suffering for Jesus" by the poolside. How bizarre an automatic door seemed.

My Hausa class is over and I am not fluent. Oh, well. Na kakari (I tried.) What little I know does come in handy and the locals get a kick out of my feeble efforts.

I think I told you about Michael's leg wound. Well he threw us for another loop a couple of weeks ago with what was probably the croup. He is a little old for croup and after six hours of severe stridor and resulting exhaustion (his physically and mine emotionally) we drove to our favorite missionary doctor who confirmed the lack of pediatric ventilators in the worst possible case and we threw steroids and antibiotics at him. Within about 3 hours he was sleeping like a baby and but it took me several days to recover.

We have fallen into a great group of folks who like to hike and have had some wonderful experiences rock climbing, hiking through tin mines, village areas, and even old volcanoes. The countryside around here is beautiful. This could be a tourists paradise with a little infrastructure but as we watch village celebrations and traditional events we are reminded how different it would be if they were being "performed" for tourist.

After seven delightful months, the last three loom large for some reason. The boys and I are feeling ready to wrap it up, especially with school ending soon, but Cliff is going great guns. He is inundated with requests for consulting and training and it seems he has just had time to stir the waters. The embassy folks keep remarking that they haven't seen the paperwork for his extension yet. Fortunately, Cliff has also not wavered from limiting this experience to 10 months. He has laid seeds for a number of projects that may have him doing some short-term globe hopping next year, which is cool.


The big frog was interviewed yesterday for "Guest of the Moment", a nationally broadcast TV talk show.

The water strike is back on but Cliff's well has six feet of water. As soon as a pump is installed, there will be no more dependence on water boards. The standard peace on the plateau has been uncharacteristically disrupted by some demonstrations that have turned violent. The state workers are mad about not being paid the promised minimum wage, which is indeed very minimum. Most of the community is in sympathy with the strikers.

We were shocked along with the whole world to hear about the school shootings in Colorado. I think I would rather worry about poisonous snakes. Then the tornadoes hit. No place is safe.

On the other hand, our dog just had 10 more puppies! We now have two Senegalese parrots at liberty in our living room and the our own mango and cashew trees are heavy with fruit. The first rains have come after the longest, hottest dry season the locals remember. Life is good.

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1998 by Cliff Missen