Sunday, December 31, 2006

Friday and Saturday

Thursday morning we arrived in Niamey at 3:30am. David Totman met us at baggage claim, and against all hopes an expectations all of our baggage came off the conveyer belt. We were holding our breath for customs, as we had hardly been looked at thus far and felt we had it coming (especially carrying so many power tools), but they just waved us through without hardly making eye contact.
We went to the Totman's house after dropping off some team members at a mission guest house, talked for a little, and then slept for the rest of the morning. In the afternoon, David drove us around the town a bit and showed us the projects we would be working on. That night we ate at a Vietnamese place. I don't know if the food was really amazing or if we were just really hungry, but I can't remember the last time I enjoyed fried rice so much.
Friday was work day. Becca, Jared, Don Murdock, and I were assigned to building desks. There were 30 hand-welded frames and a stack of plywood varying in quality from bad to unusable. By lunchtime we had cut out all the pieces and had most of them sanded. The afternoon work went slower, since we discovered some of the pieces had to be as custom-made as the frames, and we had to glue some of the plywood back together.

The roofing and tree-trimming crew did well, too. The roofers got 22 of the 33 sheets of metal up, and the tree folks estimate they are also about 2/3 done.
We had dinner at the American Rec Center, connected to the American embassy here. They have a little hot-dog stand, a TV broadcasting college football, and a swimming pool with no water.

Tuesday, Dec. 26--Wednesday, Dec. 27

Tuesday morning eleven of us met at the church and loaded our 22 bags to check and 11 carry-ons into the church bus and drove to Orlando airport. There we stood in line for approximately forever to check our bags and were rather tight making our already-delayed flight to JFK. There we discovered our connecting flight to Casablanca was NOT late and we would have to navigate the construction quickly to get to the international terminal. Oh, and our boarding passes were no good and the counter to get new ones was closing in five minutes. We got everything we needed, went through security again, met our worried twelfth member Steve McCarthy, and walked right onto the waiting plane.
One the 6.5-hour flight (11pm Eastern to 6:30am Casablanca time) the Vegters met a young Moroccan named Omar who drove a taxi in New York. He kindly got us on a train from the airport to our stop, hailed five taxis, and told the drivers where to take us for our hotel. Moroccan is a creole of French, Spanish, and Arabic, so naturally communication was a little bit of a trick.
The hotel was... um... well, it wasn't exactly a Hilton. The paint was peeling, there were no shower curtains, no heat, and in Becca's and my room, no working toilet. There was a TV, but none of them had any knobs to turn them on. I doubt they had worked in decades. The beds were comfortable,though, and the water was hot.
Once we dropped off our bags, we went for an explore.

The third-largest mosque in the world is in Casablanca, and it was about an hour's walk from our hotel, so we headed there. It is one of the few mosques that allows non-believers inside. It was amazing. Really makes you wonder what Soloman's temple must have looked like. Inside there is room for 25,000 worshippers. The courtyard holds 80,000. Much of it is Italian white marble. It looks so out of place; it is in one of the poorer neighborhoods of a city where the donkey cart is still a common form of transportation.
That afternoon and the next day we wandered around the city. We visited Old Medina, where the street vendors' village is, and bought a few things (yes, Joanna, I have a few items to send you), and we saw the Supreme Court and Chad found a fire station where a very nice firefighter showed us all the equipment on his truck and give Chad an old uniform jacket. In the evening we took three taxis (don't ask us how we fit 12 people and 36 bags--it's not a pretty story) back to the airport to catch our 3.5-hour flight to Niamey. Thus ends the first two days of our adventure.

Quick hi till later.

In Niger. Will try to post pictures later. It's really dusty here, but we are all safe, and (amazingly) all our bags made it intact. We got a lot of work done yesterday and will probably finish early and have time to ride the camels.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Something else that is not studying

Okay, I give in. I started out expressing skepticism of the Jung Typology Test, and took it only to prove The Bard wrong. Heh. According to the test, I'm a skeptic.

But now I'm intrigued. My first thought as I was reading the description of my supposed INFJ personality (preferences 44-75-12-1) was, "Whoa, this totally explains my life experience and related frustrations with existence." My second thought was, "Huh. I wonder what my friends are, and if this thing works."

So... What are you? The test only takes a minute or two. What did it say, and do you think the result accurately describes you?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

NPR said it... It must be true!

“[Presidential candidate Mitt] Romney’s press secretary is a Southern Baptist and a graduate of Bob Jones University, and you don’t get much more ‘Kosher’ than that in the evangelical Christian world.” --on NPR All Things Considered today (on overcoming the “Mormon stigma”) [Can we mix our metaphors any more than that?]

I looked it up. The press secretary is Jared Young, who holds a B.S. in financial management from BJU. Hmm. I’m not sure if adding BJU to the mix would really allay the public’s fear of wacky fundamentalism already attributed to Romney’s campaign. Just sayin’…

I’m not sure what to think of the general perception of my alma mater. Sometimes I think the public is almost as ambivalent about it as I am. Other times I go back to thinking it's the kiss of death on any resume. Maybe it depends on the market (or constituency).

Monday, December 04, 2006

Maybe not the best day for a global warming rally...

This morning all the cars in the first four rows of student parking lot C1 were “ticketed” with yellow slips almost identical to the ones campus security use with the car description filled in and the message: “YOU ARE GUILTY of contributing to the emission of CO2 gas into the atmosphere and causing global warming.” On the back of the slip was the message: “Carpool with at least one other person tomorrow, december [sic] 5, and gain access to the first four rows of the C1 parking lot.”

I just feel sorry for the poor person who had to stand out there and write in all the car description info in the freezing cold. The high today was 24 degrees Fahrenheit.