Markets and Looking Forward to new Visitors!!
Written by: The Bridge on Saturday, April 14th, 2018
Market is something I really enjoy here in Africa, Nigeria. It is mind-boggling and intimidating to a newcomer, for sure, to put it mildly!
It took me months to relax enough to enjoy them when I was here for the first time in 2008. The people here can be quite loud, calling from every angle for ‘mbakara’: to come buy my tomatoes, buy my fish! The set up of stalls and tiny shops seems to be a maze, all dull colored and rusted from constant rains in the rainy season.
Two days ago i went shopping for some tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage and other things such as spices and oil, and we got caught in the rain. Was it ever a downpour! The thunder here seems to be 3X as loud as at home, seems right overhead! Not sure why that would be. Anyhow, I sat and watched the rain and waited for it to let up. Then my eye fell on the paths winding thru the various stalls….the water was rising perceptibly! When the rain finally let up there was a good foot and a half of water where none had been before. The lady in whose stall we were sitting shook her head saying, “See, this is what we have to put up with in Africa. It’s not easy.” The rains are a month early this year, they say, anyhow. So, in the end I had to wade out with the rest of the shopping crowd. People were calling from every side, ”Do you want a wheelbarrow for Mbakara,” or, “Carry her out!” I had to laugh when Emase told me later, he was the one who took me to market, one of Kypo and Veronica’s sons. Their family owns a scooter which I sometimes use to go shopping; of course someone else drives; usually I get Emase too. We can take a car or other Palmgrove vehicle, instead of a scooter but I find it too much hassle. First I need to find a driver, of which there are few because not all have the experience to drive cars and other vehicles, but everyone can and does drive the scooters and motorbikes. Some of the older guys like Udo, Emman or Sunday have to drive, in which case they are then not at home to do the work that needs doing. All in all, it’s much easier to hop on a scooter and drive to the junction to pick up fried chicken for supper, or scoot to Abak market for onions and pumpkin leaf and such and be back in a jiffy. Beats sitting in a sauna-like vehicle which, IF it has AC, it finally decides to cool off remotely only once you reach your destination….
Clara Basel and I do our own cooking as well. Rice, beans, eggs, yam are staples which you work around. Can get repetitive, unless you are willing to shop in market for things to be a bit adventurous with. There are always people who would willingly help you cook their dishes in your kitchen. Plantain, bananas, ground nuts, coconuts, onions, ginger, hot peppers, garlic, and of course rice and beans are something we are familiar with at home and are readily available here. Having to cook your meal 3X a day makes you really think about and appreciate your rotating cook weeks at home! Palmgrove doesn’t have dining now for lack of steady income. Because of that, it’s harder than it needs to be to organize the boys to do work that needs doing, as they can and do use the excuse like “I haven’t eaten,” and say they need to go eat. The women with families are always willing to share with those that are hungry.
The house we live in is Inno’s house which the government built for him, and it is very large as it’s meant to accommodate a lot of visitors. There are large rooms for meetings and various guest rooms, each with their own bathroom, 2 of which we occupy. Chris and my room is upstairs, closer to the sun, and it stays warm 95% of the time….which you can get used to. Have no choice anyhow! Air conditioners are a dream world away. Our kitchen we share with some young boys who do the house cooking and what a nightmare for Hutterite ladies….we like clean, clean, clean! especially in our kitchens! We just have to shut our eyes and quickly go out of that room sometimes. Rugs are essential; we need them at every entrance if not at every door in the house. Still sand does get upstairs into our room….grrrrr…..
Laundry is done by hand, from water which is pumped from the Palmgrove bore hole and plumbed to every house. It’s hard at first, but I’ve gotten used to it as well. If you want to try it at home, my best advice to you would be to do a bit every day, or at least every other day, so it doesn’t pile up. Then it’s hard work, especially the guy’s pants. Jean is very unforgiving and hard to scrub. The towels are prone to smelling bad cuz they usually hang in our room between showers, of which we take a few a day. Today the sun is out in full force and man is it cooking! Perfect for hanging towels out. The sun is your best bet to getting your clothes to smell nice and remove stains.
Palmgrove has been humming with activity since we came.. Houses are being renovated, barns are being re-roofed, the Mill roof has been fixed, lawn mowers and weed eaters have been droning in the background, all thanks to the “help” we brought from various colonies at home. It’s beautiful to see the work force out and building for their future. They like having something to do, as it gives purpose and meaning to life. The young carpenter we have, for example, Naomi Brown’s youngest son, Oto, has been working hard every day, all day, working to remodel one of our houses that collapsed because of sand erosion. Once we’ll see him painting roof wood with anti-termite varnish, next he’s up on the roof hammering. The next day he’s pushing a wheelbarrow with washed sand used for making bricks, the next he’s covering the walls with the final coat of cement. So, the assumption some of our people back home have that the black people are all lazy and don’t want to work just shows ignorance on our part. It helps the morale here in Palmgrove immensely if there are white people from home living here assisting and living with our black brothers and sisters. We give them the extra pushes they need to get things done. Nigerians don’t have a rush to do anything, partly, in the line of work, because they have no winter to prepare for. There is food available at any time of the year. They don’t stock their pantries like we do, but buy food strictly when they want to eat. They will always share whatever they are eating with anyone walking by, indeed and even encourage passerbys to do so. When I decline their invitation they can’t understand it. We eat on a schedule; they eat when hungry.
It’s an experience of a lifetime for me and my husband to be here, and it helps to broaden our vision to see more than our own lives in our individual colonies. Of course we miss our three small children back home, but we willingly give a month or two to serve. Thanks to our colony life, we can rely on a huge support system of family and friends to take the time to care for and love them as if they were their own. God’s world is huge and so varied!! It is so hard for a lot of Hutterites who have lived all their life in the colony to see and grasp a tiny hold of. The people here need our assistance. Having said that, is there no one in all our Manitoba colonies who could come live here for a few months? Let us remember:
“if there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs. Beware lest there be a wicked thought in your heart, saying, “the seventh year, the year of release, is at hand,’ and your eye be evil against your poor brother and you give him nothing, and he cry out to the Lord against you, and it become sin among you. You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the Lord your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand. For the poor will never cease from the land; therefor I command you, saying, “your shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.” Deuteronomy 15: 7-11
These bible verses are very fitting for us Hutterites because I know there are not a few back home who would willingly “shut their hand” to their brothers in need. I challenge with this question each and every one of those who think it unnecessary to give to the poor: what is $500 a month to a community?
I don’t believe there is one colony who would notice $500 Canadian dollars a month missing from their bank account. But that is just my thinking; nobody has to justify themselves to that. All will be accountable to the One we all claim to serve. One thing I can say with absolute conviction: the black people here are just like the white people at home. Both here and at home we have our lazy people and our people who work hard day and night, our selfish ones and our open-hearted ones who would give you the coat off their back. We could learn a lot from the black people here: they give even when they themselves have nothing. They are always friendly, which is something less often found in our colonies. They live side by side with each other without malice and in harmony; they pop in and out of each others’ houses. They love small children and play and tease them all day. They are equally friendly and willing to share with a person they know or with a complete stranger. We are only fooling ourselves if we consider ourselves ‘better’ human beings.
So, we seriously ask, “is there anybody willing to come live in Palmgrove?” In all our Manitoba communities, can there be no one found to come serve the poor and needy? Chris and I would love to have maybe a ‘younger’ couple like ourselves, or some young people….? You would never regret it. Paul Vetter and Clara Basel will be leaving us in less than a week, and we are staying on for another month, untill end of May. We will be here by ourselves once Paul and Clara are gone. It would help us immensely mentally and uplift us to know that some kind souls are coming to assist when we go home. It would be something we would look forward to so much. It doesn’t have to be for a year, maybe 3-4 months to start with. Please, do think about it and search your hearts. Thank you.
A final note before our leaving Palmgrove (April 17) and all its friendly faces. Although I am not quite sure what brought on this big difference, but in experiencing this last week here in Palmgrove and all its surroundings, the people, the weather, the food, the ‘cool’ nights….it somehow gave us a sense of wanting to be able to stay on for another 3 months. Honestly! It is amazing what accepting and placing your complete trust in our Savior and Provider can bring about in fulfilling the command of helping those in need. Therefore, if anyone from our Church is reading this and you feel a tug at your heart and feel an interest to experience it for yourself, please don’t let others do what you yourself are capable of doing for God and for your fellow man. Get up out of your easy chair, come, see, and live, Africa. So, take it from us, that it us possible to serve where support is required. We keep singing this song: “Anywhere with Jesus, over land and sea, / Telling souls in darkness of salvation free, / Ready as he summons us, to go or stay, /Anywhere with Jesus when he points the way….”
Reluctant to leave the brothers and sisters,
Paul and Clara.