Many things in Jos and Nigeria are similar to Kenya which helps with our adjustment, but there are some definite challenges. Some of these include:
- Electricity (or lack thereof) – We have not yet had a full day of electricity and do not ever expect to have one. There have been days when we only have it for about 4 hours (out of 24), but it is usually on for 12 hours during the course of the day going on and off at will. Sometimes we imagine someone at the power company sitting around flipping switches at will just to frustrate us. When we do have power the voltage is usually erratic so we have to have voltage stabilizers to protect our equipment (not just computers, but refrigerators and freezers too). We also have a standby generator for our house that we use mostly to keep the refrigerator and freezer cold. We are told that Nigeria is the second largest user of generators (behind India) in the world. We are not sure if that is true, but it is easy to believe. We are also told that the current electricity problem is the worse it has been in years, so hopefully things will improve.
- Climate – We have come during the hot season and it is hot, especially after coming from Maine where there was two feet of snow on the ground. It is also much more humid than we are accustomed to. Hot and humid are all relative, but for us it is hot and humid and we are looking forward to cooler weather in the coming months.
- Driving – Driving in Jos is kind of like playing dodge ball, but instead of balls coming at you it is motorcycles. There is no public transportation in the city (who knows why not), so there are literally thousands of motorcycles darting in and out of traffic. Traffic is kind of like an ant farm with the ants scurrying around in all directions as fast as they can. So, the biggest part of driving is dodging all of the motorcycles. Fortunately the motorcycles seem to be underpowered and do not go real fast, they do not however follow any rules so you have to expect them at any place any time. It is only by the grace of God that there are not thousands of deaths a day from riding these things. The good news is that the roads are better than Kenya so we are happy about that.
While there is no public transportation system, people do hire these motorcycles to transport them and their belongings. One day we saw a rider on the back of a motorcycle with a two seat couch upside down on the top of his head. Yes he was riding on the back of a motorcycle holding a loveseat on his head! A side note; even though Nigeria is one of the top ten oil exporting countries there are chronic shortages of gasoline which means long lines and hours of waiting at most gas stations.
· Shopping – This is not America or even Nairobi. Shopping consists of going to small “supermarkets” where you might find what you want for more than you want to pay or to open vegetable markets crowded with people. The challenge of driving only adds to the excitement of shopping. The basic stuff is available but not much more and most things are expensive. We have bought 50 kg (110 lb) bags of flour, sugar and rice which reduces the cost and number of trips to the market.
· Shopping continued – We put in an order for a car (96-97 Nissan station wagon) to the local Nigerian who travels to Benin to buy used cars at the port. This seems to be the preferred method to buy a car other than from another missionary. We are told that buying a car from the local used car dealer is a risky proposition. We also put a deposit on some furniture – beds and dining room table. The deposit was so that the furniture maker could go buy the wood (mahogany is the cheapest) and allow it to dry before making our furniture. We still have to order living room furniture, dressers, coffee table, etc. all of which will be made to order. It will take at least 6 months to have all of this made. The good news is we can have all of this made for much less than in the US.
While there are many adjustments to be made and many inconveniences we really do have a good living situation and feel well supported by the missionary community here, so we need to count our blessings be grateful for what we have. God is good. Pray that we will keep a good attitude as we adjust to the “challenges” here. Our focus needs to be on God and the people we have come to work with and serve.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. (Phil. 4:4 ESV)