2 week Update!!!

[We did not have Internet access yesterday, so this is coming a day late!]

Wow- today marks 2 weeks in Nigeria for 3 of the 4 Haffs! Other than the summer I worked at camp in 2009, this is the longest I’ve ever been away from home!

It’s a very strange feeling- missing your home yet starting to become familiar with another place/culture. I can’t remember if I’ve talked about what we’ve experienced of Nigerian culture yet- so I’ll add a little right quick!

Nigerians operate on “island time.” Similar to what has been described of other people groups that AREN’T Americans! Well, except for Hawaii- I bet since they’re an island they operate on “island time,” too, ha!

The Nigerian people are very friendly! Anytime we go out (to the ministry, the market or Domino’s etc.) we are told we’re welcome. Allen always gets the most attention, too (go figure!)

We obviously stand out, and it’s a very interesting feeling as I’ve never been a minority before. But that hasn’t actually had much affect other than just realizing when you see another white person, “Hey, look! It’s a white person! That’s only the 2nd one I’ve seen in 2 weeks!” Which is pretty hilarious to think about.

Nigerians aren’t afraid to speak their mind. In America, for the most part, we’re taught to be reserved and polite. Avoid confronting at almost any cost. Arguing is rude, etc. But Nigerians tell it like it is, whether you want their opinion or not!

For example, at church this morning, Allen was playing with some rocks on the floor and a woman and man desperately came up to Shane and I and said, “Don’t let him play on the floor, it’s very dirty!” This also happened at the ministry when we visited the first time. I figured it was useless to explain that both of Allen’s grandparents live on a farm and he plays in the dirt constantly, ha ha!

Nigerians, as far as we know, don’t eat lunch. Or, at least a sit down meal at midday. They may snack or something, but no breaks to eat. This is crazy to us! But it just seems to be the norm here. I think they eat twice in the evenings, though.

We have seen a certain type of lizard, but that’s it for African wildlife here. I mean, it is the city, after all! I’ve only seen 3 stray dogs, no cats, some chickens and goats. Heard lots of birds, and wouldn’t you know it, there are huge pine trees right next to palm trees at our guest house! I thought that was hilarious.

This morning went very well- had breakfast and a little playtime before church. Ruth seems to be a little more comfortable with Shane today. She played with his beard some during church, ha ha!

Speaking of church, we went to Utibe’s (director of Morgan Hill Children’s Foundation, our adoption advocates) church this morning. It is called The Redeemed Christian Church if God (House of David). It was wonderful, but long! This morning was “thanksgiving Sunday,” which I think meant that they celebrated a few extra things that are recognized maybe the beginning of every month or so (baby dedication, birthday recognition, anniversary recognition etc.).

It was quite a long service, over 3 hours! We left at 9:20 and got home at 12:45. And the church is just a couple minutes drive from the guest house, not far at all.

At the service, they passed out snacks for the kids at the beginning and then again whenever you wanted. They also offered cokes to everyone towards the end (or, what I think was the end- we left about this time). There were probably 500 or so people there. It was an air conditioned building (woo hoo!) with nice chairs. All the families with kids sat towards the back, and all of the ushers were women!

Their service was relatively organized like most any church- they had songs in the beginning and prayer, a testimony time for anyone who felt led to share (this was my favorite!), some reading of scripture, a welcome time (we were even given welcome gifts! How do you think they knew we were visitors??) and then the pastor gave the message and an invitation.

We knew probably half of the worship songs. The ones we didn’t know were either local originals or tribal songs. It was a very free-spirited service. You’ll have to check Shane’s Facebook to get Allen’s thoughts- he had some doozy lines from this morning, hehe!

When we got home it was lunch time and then nap time. Nap time is quickly becoming Shane and I’s least favorite time of day. Ruth has started to really fight sleep and throw fits because she knows I will put her down once she’s asleep- but I lay right next to her after so I’m there when she wakes up. It’s just going to take time for her to learn that I’m not really going anywhere. There’s no way I can hold her during her nap- even if I could physically do that, she always pushes away from me eventually, anyway! And Allen is using potty-time as an excuse to delay a nap. But- that’s not really anything new. We just hate the struggle to get everyone asleep- these kids are not ready to get rid of nap time, and neither are their parents! #parentstruggles, anyone?

We are very anxious for tomorrow. Tomorrow is our last official visit to the ministry before the finalization. I love that we are starting to have things to accomplish and do during the days. Staying in the house makes the days D R A G. And going outside is nice, but Ruth refuses to be put down, so we end up sweating like crazy. And, when we just play in the compound driveway, we still sweat like crazy! It’s just ridiculous the temperature here- when we left Muskogee is was 40 degrees. Our bodies are going to be so confused..

Anyway, excited to have lots of things to do this week. Ministry visit and assessment after bonding tomorrow, then court on Wednesday. And- if we can get it worked out- meeting up with another American family on Tuesday. That would be fun!

Prayer requests:

Pray the assessment of Ruth’s bonding goes well- we aren’t too worried about this, as she is seeming to take a fancy to all of us now, but we want the social worker to see that clearly so we will get a recommendation to adopt instead of another 2 weeks bonding.

Pray that we receive Ruth’s birth certificate very quickly so we can apply for her passport. That will be the last part of Ruth’s adoption process that the Nigerian government is involved in- then we move onto visiting the U.S. Consulate to interview, get her visa, and then GO HOME! Best case scenario is we’re able to come home the end of the month. But, the realist in Shane is reminding me that it will probably still be early to mid-January. I’m just the eternal optimist and can’t help but hope for a miracle.

Pray for continued rest and bonding to happen within our family. I feel like we’ve maybe overcome a big hurdle and have a bit more momentum as we continue to develop relationships.

Ruth’s health. She is not snoring nearly as badly at night, but her breathing is still more labored than what is probably normal. I believe her breathing is as good as it’s going to get while we’re here, so I’m hoping that the steroid nose drops can maintain her current state. I am anxious to see if the doctor can tell a difference in her pneumonia next week at her follow up appointment. I believe Ruth has probably had this pneumonia for a while- it might take more than 10 days of antibiotics to get it gone. But, we will see. She is also having what I assume are night terrors. She just screams/yells for 5-10 seconds and then either never wakes up or wakes up and needs me to hold her for a while.

The other Americans (Wilks family) who are adopting are hoping that everything goes smoothly and they can all fly home on Jan 8- please pray for them, as well! They are from MO and are adopting a sibling set of 3 (one boy and two girls) and have 2 adopted boys at home!

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