John Vogt in Nigeria. Week 3

Following is John Vogt’s diary on his trip to Nigeria. He is now OK and back to California. Posted at his permission.

Nigeria – Week three

Saturday – We made an afternoon trip into Abak to get to an internet.   Unfortunately it was not as fast as a week earlier.  I was able to get out my week two diary, but had difficulty accessing my contacts.  (If you were omitted, please forgive me.)

We had another visit by the Nigerian S.W.A.T. team — eight men this time, in black uniforms with helmets, bullet-proof vests, and automatic weapons at the ready.  The leader walked up to our house and asked: “Is everything calm?”  When I replied “Yes,” they got back into their truck and drove off.

I finished the book, Things Fall Apart, which Ken had given me.  It is a novel about a Nigerian village before and then after Christian missionaries arrive.  I’d recommend it to you to give you an idea of what Nigeria is like even today.

My weekly phone call with Sandy ended the day.  It’s amazing how modern communications can reach even into a remote village in Africa which has no electricity.

Sunday – Travelled to Manta for service today.  A smaller group (ca. 45), but its three drummers and a cassinet-player helped keep things loud and enthusiastic like the previous two congregations had been.  There were lots of what Professor Cherney called “7-11 songs” – seven words repeated eleven times.  There was a new twist to fund-raising.  First there were two line dances, each with two passes by the offering bowls.  Then at the end of the service the elder called each member by name to make their donation for the pastor’s stipend, and he recorded the amount of each person’s offering in a ledger book.

Nigerian autobahn – road in front of the seminary

Nigerian autobahn – road in front of the seminary

The big event of the day was the consecration of the congregation’s new borehole (i.e. well).  Money from WELS had financed an 1800 meter well to supply water free of charge to the people of the village.  The well is on the church grounds, so all can see that this is a gift to the community from the Lutheran Church.  Professor Cherney was asked to speak the words of consecration.  He did an admirable job, especially since this honor was sprung on him without notice.  He and then I were given the first two drinks.  We figured we were the guinea pigs to see if it was safe.  A side-benefit is that a pipe will be run to the parsonage, so the pastor and his family of seven kids will have running water for the first time.

Monday – Soft mattress and soft chairs have resulted in a sore, stiff back.  I’m still up and able to take nourishment, but for now the spring is out of my step.  Class and the afternoon “stump the professor” hour went well.  Students are nearing completion of their revised Apostles’ Creed.

36 laps in the afternoon heat, which was a bit more tolerable because heavy clouds covered the sun most of the time.  It looked as if someone got some rain, but not a drop here.

Tuesday – We had a 30-minute rain shower at night.  It woke me up, but was pleasant to listen to.

After classes today we were invited to the village chief’s house for dinner.  The chief is a member of our congregation.  He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the U.S.  Menu was coconut rice spiked with plenty of pepper, chicken, coleslaw (seemed to be an American recipe), and beer.  The chief’s wife scooped the food on our plate in a quantity about double what I would have chosen to eat.  To be polite we ate the whole thing.  A couple hours of visiting with the chief and his wife followed the meal.  Their home was roomy, but not fancy.  In fact the floors were unpainted cement, and several panes of glass were missing from the windows.  Outside was a memorial for the chief’s father who had been chief before.  The memorial said he had lived 108 years (although we found that a bit hard to believe).

Village chief and his wife with Professor Cherney

Village chief and his wife with Professor Cherney

A heavy rain came in the afternoon, interrupting our walk after 20 laps.  Once it stopped we went out for another 8 before it was time for us to be locked in our cage (6:00 P.M.) so the guards could go home.  A student stopped by in the evening to show us a 5-foot poisonous python he had caught.  It was still somewhat alive.  The student’s efforts to uncoil it drew a lot of excited chatter from the small group of students and village children who are gathered around.  (In class on Wednesday the student said he had been bitten by snakes about 10 times in his life.  I suggested it might be time for him to leave the snakes along and reminded him that Jesus said: “Don’t tempt the Lord your God.”)

Student with python he caught and killed

Student with python he caught and killed

Wednesday – The highlight of the day was a meeting with the seminary Board of Directors.  Issue #1 was the great latrine controversy.  Right now the seminary students must use an outhouse in the back which is also used by the 150 or so primary school children.  Several plans to build an inside toilet area have been proposed – all quite costly.  The bid on the latest plan was ca. $2,500.  I suggested a way to build what they want at half the cost.  My idea did not meet with an immediate enthusiastic response, but, if the present request for funding is declined, they may look again at my suggestion.  There was talk about how to get the seminary affiliated with or at least recognized by someone, so the students could be given a degree that had some standing in people’s eyes.  Professor Cherney suggested working with our seminary in Zambia, an idea that seemed to offer promise.  A request was made to set up a student medical fund, administrated by the seminary director.  It was decided that the student who had missed 9 days of our 15-day course would be given an incomplete and a “first and final warning” that this dare not happen again.

Our afternoon walk was cut off at 23 laps because it was time to return to our cage.  Toward the end of our walk one of the guards walked along with us for several laps – a first.

Thursday – It’s Mohammad’s birthday – a national holiday.  We held classes anyway.  It was my last teaching class – tomorrow is the final exam.  Perhaps the best class I’ve had.  Lots of lively, to-the-point discussion.  I came with 15 minutes of completing the materials for the course and will do that first tomorrow before handing out the exam.

We walked 41 laps today – reached our goal of 40, plus one victory lap.  A gentle rain fell in the evening.

Friday – Last Day.  Nigeria Electric decided to grace our day with electricity, the first time since we’ve been here that we had power for any length of time.  But everything crashed again in two hours.

I gave the final exam.  All the students passed.  All have satisfactorily completed the course work except that I had given the assignment that each student say Luther’s Explanation to the Second Article.  They could say it in their own dialect, but that I don’t see how someone can be a Lutheran pastor and not know at least that much of the Catechism.  So far only one student has said it.  I will turn my report over to the seminary director, saying that all have incomplete until that final task is done.

I gave each student one of my clinging crosses.  This caused quite a stir as the students concluded that they would be especially useful in driving away the evil spirits which they feel abound around them.  We learned yesterday that some of the students believe that they have seen various spirits prowling around the seminary grounds.

The afternoon was given over to a farewell party. The festivities began with the students slaughtering three handsome, plumb chickens.  I have lots of gory pictures if you’re interested.  The banquet consisted of chicken (we knew it was fresh), a pastry (a tasty crust with a hard-boiled egg inside), and beer.  Afterwards came a speech, a prayer, and some pictures.  The whole event lasted about an hour.

We walked one last time – 40 laps plus a victory lap.  I figure that 6 or 7 laps equal a mile.

Saturday – Off to the airport at 11:00 to begin the trip home.  We leave with the feeling that it was a memorable and worthwhile experience, but that three weeks is a long enough stay.

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John Vogt in Nigeria. Week 2

Following is John Vogt’s diary on his trip to Nigeria. He is now OK and back to California. Posted at his permission.

On the downhill slide toward home

Dear Family and Friends,

My general health remains good, and my allergies have settled down.  Classes are going well.  See the attached file for some idea of our life at Nigeria Lutheran Seminary.  I guarantee that this is a teaching spot I will never forget.

Thanks for your interest and prayers, Dad/John

P.S.  I’m attaching some pictures.

Nigeria Diary, Week two –

The week in brief – no electricity, no rain, no cooling, but also no mosquitoes, no flies, and no health problems.  Praise the Lord!

Saturday == The trip to Abak took us to Johnny’s son’s Internet “café.”  (Johnny is the seminary’s cook and caretaker who takes good care of us.)  Surprisingly it had about a dozen good computers and a very fast Internet connection.  I mailed the first week’s report to family, some friends, and a few mission officials.  We were charged what we suspect was a “white man’s” price, $7 each for 40 minutes.

We stopped at the Christ the King congregation in Abak.  It was also a nice building which held about 150 people.  The pastor said that it was full each Sunday.  We met the pastor and his family.

Last stop was to one of Johnny’s daughters who has a small beauty shop from which she also sells her homemade hats, necklaces, and purses.  The hats were brightly colored with lots of flowers and ribbons.  The necklaces and bags were made of bright plastic beads.  I think she was disappointed that neither Ken nor I bought anything.  I had thought I might buy Sandy a present, but I didn’t see anything that I thought would fit her tastes.

One thing you notice is the great number of small churches, many of them just in people’s home.  We counted 26 along the ca. 5 mile road from the seminary to Abak.

The day ended with a social call from the chief.  He came in and visited for about 20 minutes.  He said he was extremely happy that the charismatic turmoil which threatened to split the church a couple years ago has now been resolved and without the loss of any pastors or congregations.  I gave him one of my clinging crosses.

Sunday – we were taken to the congregation in Uyo, the state capital.  Because of some detours we arrived 30 minutes late at 10:30, which turned out okay since there still were two hours of service left.  On the way we passed several burned out cars and trucks.  We were told they are the remains of the political violence during the recent election.  This congregation also had a nice building.  There were about 55 in the service.  Many things were the same as last week – loud, enthusiastic music; line dances (five times) up to the offering box with the music and drummer getting louder and faster as the procession continued.  Some things were pleasantly different.  There was a confession of sins, the Apostles Creed, three Scripture readings (from the KJV) and a 20-minute sermon.  The pastor, who turned out to be a preaching elder (not a full pastor), had a free delivery and kept everyone’s interest.  Oh, I forgot to say that we understood this week because nearly everything was done in English.  The sermon had the theme “Time for Change” and clearly pointed out ways that each of us can change to be more God-pleasing in the coming year.  Unfortunately Jesus Christ was never mentioned nor was there any perceivable Gospel motivation.  Ken tried to correct that a bit in his greetings to the congregation afterward. I had a few uneasy moments when the leader announced that it was now time for “tongues-speaking,” and then repeated the announcement twice more.  It wasn’t until the fourth time that I realized he was saying that it was time for “thanksgiving,” i.e. another offering.  The congregation received a special gift from its youth – a large speaker to further blast out the music.  We wondered if it were really necessary.  We were given the royal treatment.  A special “New Year’s cake” had been baked and decorated with our names.  We were asked to sit in the front before the cake and have our pictures taken with the deaconesses, then the elders, then the preacher and his wife, then the congregation, then the choir, then the children, then the cake designer.  After the service we were invited for beer, cake and conversation at the preacher’s house which was on the grounds behind the church.

Honored guests with pastor and his wife and cake

Honored guests with pastor and his wife and cake

Deaconess in typical Sunday dress

Deaconess in typical Sunday dress

On the ride back we learned that Christ the King church has 52 congregations, but only 12 pastors.  So most congregations are served by an elder, most of whom have almost no theological training.

27 laps in the warm afternoon sun – about 90 minutes.  Each time around we eavesdropped on a conversation 4 or 5 of our students were having with a visitation team of Pentecostals who had stopped by for a doctrinal discussion.  I was surprised that the Pentecostals denied the Trinity.  Ken told me that about 25% of Pentecostals are modal monarchianists (i.e. Unitarians) who deny that the Son and the Holy Spirit are individual persons within the godhead.

One of the students stopped by in the late afternoon to bring a request from the students that afternoon discussion times with the professors be arranged, which we said we were happy to do starting tomorrow.  He also told us his personal schedule.  He goes to bed at 7:45 and sleeps until about 11:00.  Then he gets up and studies from 11:00 until 4:00 A.M.

Monday – one of my best night’s sleep so far.  Class went well.  The students reported that they ended the previous day’s discussion with the Pentecostals saying:  “You say you believe in Jesus, then do what he says and baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

In the afternoon came the first open meeting with those students who were interested to discuss anything they wanted to talk about.  I had the first one.  Six students came, and we had a pleasant 75 minute conversation.  Afterwards Ken and I took a 30 lap constitutional.  During the walk a former pastor stopped by to tell us that all the pastors were dishonest crooks.

nigeria-2jpg

Seminary classroom – 12 student desks plus one for professor

Tuesday – I was awakened twice during the night by load chewing or scraping sounds which seemed as if they were in my bedroom.  We concluded that it was probably rats in the attic over my bed.  “They won’t hurt you” was the caretaker’s reassuring words.  I can’t complain, however, especially after I stopped by the students’ bedroom.  Eleven students sleep in a small room which is wall to wall beds.  In fact, there are only ten beds, so one student sleeps on the floor.  I didn’t ask if the same guy always got the floor or if they pass the honor around.  The students’ toilet facility is an outhouse which they share with the 150 or so children in the primary school.

Student sleeping area – 11 students use it with 10 beds and one sleeping on floor

Student sleeping area – 11 students use it with 10 beds and one sleeping on floor

A few of the ca. 150 children in the church’s school who share the building with the seminary

A few of the ca. 150 children in the church’s school who share the building with the seminary

I gave the mid-term test today.  All the students did okay and passed.  The Nigerian seminary regards 50% or above as passing, but all but one student would have passed even under the stricter U.S. system (70%).

It’s an extremely hot day with no air movement, but we walked our 30 laps.  It took about two hours.  The cold water shower felt great after that.

Wednesday – No rat activity to disturb this night’s sleep.  We woke to a thick haze over the landscape.  It developed from there into the hottest day so far.  The thermometer we have said it was 90 inside the house.  Outside the sun was beating down from a cloudless sky.  The students and guards also commented on how hot it was.  We walked 31 laps, then. after a quick change of clothing, went to the weekly seminary worship service.  Sweat poured from me, soaking my clothes, and leaving a small pool of water under my seat.  Our cold water shower doesn’t seem so bad anymore.

Classes are livening up now that we have moved on to studying the life history of Jesus.  I covered only half of what was blocked out for today.

One of the students stopped by to show us a falcon-like bird he had trapped.  He called it a kite.  He said he would kill it for a meal.  Later in the day we learned, however, that instead he had set the bird free.

Student Sylvester with the kite he trapped and later released.  He               looks young, but he’s 28 and quite a hunter.

Student Sylvester with the kite he trapped and later released. He looks young, but he’s 28 and quite a hunter.

We’re being fed plenty although there’s not a lot of variety.  For breakfast it’s oatmeal or French toast or crepes or a plate with eggs, baked beans and slices of a fried fruit which is something like banana.  For the main, noon meal it’s chicken and noodles, or chicken and rice, or a ground meal pie, or fish and yams.  There’s usually chopped cabbage for lunch and fresh fruit, either sliced pineapple or an orange. The evening meal is light – either a buttery spaghetti or popcorn.

Thursday – The days are becoming routine.  Lots of dialogue with students has resulted in my being a day behind the plan I’d blocked out.  Six of the students also came in for the hour and a quarter of open discussion in the afternoon.

It’s another hot day.  We got in 32 laps.  I’ve now gone to two showers a day and stay under the cool water a much longer time.

I have a new theory on the loud chewing sounds which awoke me a couple nights ago.  Termites.  I found a fresh pile of sawdust by the bookcase near my bed.

Friday – Two weeks down; one to go.

The student had an intriguing theme for his chapel devotion today:  “Do not eat religiously.”  It was a pretty good sermon, but we never did find out what eating religiously Is or why we shouldn’t do it.

There are virtually no cars in this village or area.  The car we are driven in has been rented by the seminary for our stay.  The pastors, students and nearly everyone else get around on motorcycles.  It’s not uncommon to see three or even four people maneuvering around the potholes on the dirt road in front of the seminary.  Even the taxis in the state capital are three-wheeled scooters with a seat for two or three people behind the driver.

There was no government electricity all week.  The seminary caretaker turns on the generator about 7:00 P.M. and leaves it on until a few minutes after 10:00.  Ken usually heads to bed about 9:45 in hopes of falling asleep under the ceiling fan before it is shut down.  I stay up to read by a battery-powered light until 10:30.  The problem is that, since it’s the only light in the house, the gnats swarm to me and the light.  (That would make a good sermon illustration of Jesus as the only light for the world.)

33 laps today, cheered on by the guards and a collection students who sat in the shade.

John

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John Vogt in Nigeria. Week 1

Following is John Vogt’s diary on his trip to Nigeria. He is now OK and back to California. Posted at his permission.

1 down; 2 to go

Things have gone well on my Nigerian adventure so far, but this has been the most rugged and remote place I have ever taught.  Please read the attached file for an account of the trip so far.  Although this is not a safe country, we feel safe.  See the attached picture of the two police officers with machine guns who sit outside our classroom and house all day long and who accompany us wherever we go on those rare occasions when we are allowed to leave the school grounds.  They even come, guns in hand and full police uniforms, to church with us.

IMG_2687

Thanks for your interest and prayers, John/Dad

Nigeria Trip – January 4-27, 2013

The trip over the ocean was uneventful and on time although it took more than an hour to pass through passport control and customs after we arrived.  Both went smoothly with no questions asked.  We got a foretaste of what was to come from the Nigerian lady who sat between Prof. Cherney and me on the plane.  She spent much of the trip singing praise songs quietly to herself.

We stayed overnight in Lagos before the plane ride to Uyo the next afternoon.  The Ibis Hotel was near the airport and well secured with a high wall around it and uniformed guards at the gate.  Even the bottom of the hotel’s pick-up car was checked with mirrors before the gate was opened.   We discovered that the $205 reserved room had only one double bed.  We were told that there were no rooms with two beds and no way to get a cot in a room.  Ken went ahead and purchased a second room – offered to us at a special rate of $125.  I was disappointed when I saw the large swimming pool because I hadn’t brought a swimsuit.  We spend the afternoon and evening in the hotel since there was nowhere to go.

At the airport the next day four men insisted on helping us get check in – which did expedite things for us.  We didn’t stand in the long line; one of the men jumped ahead with our passport and luggage, returned with a bill for $120 for overweight luggage, then brought our passports, boarding passes and baggage check. The four then told Ken that he needed to “make them happy.”  A $3 tip for each seemed to do the job.

We arrived at the seminary and found it about like my stereotyped expectation.  It’s up a series of dusty dirt roads with huge speed-bumps.  It’s hot – in the 90s with little shade.  The buildings sit in an open area with an orange dirt yard.  Ken and I have a house to ourselves, each with his own bedroom and mosquito net over the bed.  There’s no electricity except for three hours of generator power in the evening and no hot water ever.  An iron fence secures our porch and front door.  We are assured that all is safe because two police officers armed with automatic weapons will guard us by day, and a group of teenaged vigilantes also with guns will stand outside all day.  “Don’t be alarmed if you hear gunshots during the night,” we’re told; “that’s your guards warning would-be intruders to stay away.”

Ken and I walked down the road 3 or 4 blocks to the small village, but were told later that’s a no-no and don’t do it again.  We weren’t even allowed to walk the 100 yards to church.  The two police men in full uniform even rode with us in a car to church and sat guard outside during the nearly three-hour service.

The service was like nothing I’ve ever experienced.  The pastor said it started already at 6:00 A.M. although we didn’t come until about 9:45.  We arrived for the last 15 minutes of the prayer hour.  Each of the approximately 150 people were standing and saying their personal prayers out loud, creating a loud chaotic noise.  The service followed with about 90 minutes dedicated to taking the offering. About a dozen chances were given for the people to dance up to the front accompanied by loud music of keyboard and drums and place money in the bowl.  It looked about like the chain dance at a wedding reception.  Toward the end came a special offering for windows in the pastor’s home.  One by one, givers came forward, made a little speech and announced their gift.  That was reminiscent of the wedding-gift scene in Fiddler on the Roof.  Most of the remaining time was spent in singing by groups and soloists and announcements by various members – with lots of handclapping, Praise the Lord’s and amens.  We were there for about 3 hours of service during which we heard no Scripture readings, sermon, confession of sins, creed, Lord’s Prayer nor sacraments.  The people seemed to enjoy the service, and to my surprise no one skipped out early.

During the day the students returned, and we met them one by one as they arrived.  Also the seminary’s board of directors held a meeting and called us in to be welcomed.  Dinner was chicken, yams and papaya.  Supper was a bowl of popcorn.

Monday – The first day of classes went well.  My challenge is to understand the African English; my age-appropriate hearing is probably part of the problem.  Twelve students and instructor are crammed into a small room with no lights or air circulation.  It’s warm, but students were attentive and involved.  I’m using “the Weiser method” — let the students give a list of questions of things they don’t understand or want to discuss about the day’s reading assignment.  There are lots of questions.  The teaching challenge is to put some organization into the answering and to make sure all the important truths are covered.

In the afternoon Ken and I walked around the compound 20 times while the two security guards sat under the shade tree and counted our laps.  20 laps take about an hour.  My goal is to add a lap a day.  By the end of the walk we’re sweating profusely.  My first stop on return to the house is to wash out the sweaty shirt in the bathtub.  Today’s walk was different – it rained.  They say this is the first time in months and likely to be the last time we will see rain.

Evening was special.  The government electricity came on the first time.  I’m told that it’s a true blessing from God if the electricity stays on all night, so we can run the ceiling fans over our beds.  No luck; we were plunged into darkness at 8:30.

Tuesday – Falling comfortably into the routine.  I had the best night’s sleep so far.  Still no health issues and no mosquitoes.  Although there are no mosquitoes so far, I wear long pants and sleep with pajamas to expose as little skin as possible since avoiding bites by malaria-carrying mosquitoes seems to be worth the discomfort.  The lizard in my bedroom and mice in other rooms leave us alone.   I had chapel.  Since it was Second Christmas Day on the Eastern (Ukrainian) calendar, we sang “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem” and had a devotion based on Micah 4:1-7 and 5:2.  Class went well.

The afternoon walk – 21 laps around the football (i.e. soccer) field.  I finished Augustine’s City of God – ca. 1000 pages – in three days.  Surviving well, but have LOTS of time on our hands with nothing to do except prepare for class, take our walk and read for about 8 hours.  There’s no radio, tv, Internet and almost no contact with anyone apart from class.  Ken who is handling the money has regular visitors, but they stay only as long as it takes to count out the cash.  So far the only thing I’ve been asked for is an NIV Bible – by one of the students and one of the guards.  I regret I didn’t bring some along from the ready supply of free Bibles in the U.S.

Wednesday – It cooled off to a pleasant 80’s or so last evening.  For the first time I pulled a sheet over me during the night.  The students closed the classroom windows and wore jackets or sweaters.  They complained about how uncomfortably cold it was.  By noon it was above 90 again.

The afternoon walk – 22 laps.  One of the students climbed a tree by our house and harvested a couple figs the size of large coconuts.  He opened one and shared some pieces with us.  It tasted and had the texture of pineapple.  Very tasty.  A police truck with 5 fully armed police men, one wearing his SWAT team helmet arrived while we were walking.  They joined our guards under the fig tree for a two hour break.

By the way, the names here are special.  The female police officer’s name was Glory; one of the men was Israel.  Among the student’s we have Saviour and Happiness.  We’ve met Pastor Sunday and Elder Monday.

Wednesday is the weekly seminary service when a student delivers a sermon.  It was a pleasant service about 45 minutes long.  I’m not sure where they find the melodies to the very familiar English hymns they sang, but they certainly didn’t lack volume or enthusiasm.

Thursday – Good day of classes.  Chicken pie with a cross on the crust for lunch.  23 lap walk.  We asked to go into the market since this was market-day.  Interesting stop – four rows of about 20 stalls each with lots of dried fish, large yams, periwinkles and colorful fabrics.  I was told the palm oil soap was great for the skin, but didn’t buy any (yet).  People were friendly, smiley, and didn’t object to getting their picture taken.  I bought a dozen bananas for 30 cents.  They were small but very sweet.

After the market our driver took us to his home.  It was new, large and modern on a walled private compound with two houses.  He had a TV with satellite dish, his own well, windows with screens, a door with bullet-proof glass, and said he was wired for air conditioning.  Our driver said that that he sleeps outside at night to provide security for his grounds.  It turns out that he is the son of the clan chief who died a couple years ago.  An attractive ”memorial hall” (mausoleum) which holds the late chief stands just outside the front door, and a new one was being built on the grounds for the chief’s wife who died recently. We learned a bit about how things work in the village.  There’s a clan chief who is head of the large extended family which makes up a large percentage of the inhabitants.  There’s a “coocoo” who handles the traditional religion and medicine, and a village chief who serves like a mayor.  The village chief in this community is a member of our Lutheran church.  Families are to handle matters, if possible, through their clan chief, and only involve the government if it cannot be settled there.

The evening ended with the usual cold-water shower, which feels pretty good after a day of sweating.

Friday – a rough ; the allergies have kicked in.  Perhaps the short rain we had a few days ago has caused some plants or flowers to wake up.  Classes went well; one week down; two to go.  Students asked if I would please give them some sort of written study guides (since “the Weiser method,” as I understand and am trying to use it, jumps all over the place with no clear indication of what’s important).  Preparing such guides will give me something to fill all the free time Ken and I have each day.  I worked on those guides until after 11:00 Friday night.  In fact, the whole day passed without my needing to resort to Augustine to burn some time.

25 laps around the football field today.  While we were walking, the elderly chief of the village stopped by to say “Hi.”  Afterwards we sat under the fig tree and shared one of the giant figs with the two guards and a student.  We learned that, as far as those men are concerned, Nigeria is already two countries – a harsh Moslem country in the north and a Christian country in the south.  They think the country is just waiting for someone to figure out how to complete the division.  They also told tales of violence against Christians in the north and even the assassination of its Christian governor.  If I understood correctly, the Christians were told to pack up and move out and that most of them wisely did.   We also learned that most of the students live 14 or 15 hours from the seminary.

Cultural notes:  No one can give me a distance in miles or kilometers to his home; distance is measured in how long the travel takes.

“Good morning, Sir,” “How are you, Sir,” “May I ask a question, Sir,” “Let me carry your books, Sir,” “Thank you, Sir.”  It’s a throwback to the old South which I grew up in (Florida in the 50s and 60s).  By the way, we have not seen a white face since we left the airport in Lagos a week ago.  The students have even offered to do our laundry, but we have politely declined their offer.  I try hard to carry my own books to and from class, but don’t reject an earnest offer to help.

Saturday – no classes.  We took a morning walk (26 laps) on a cool (upper 70s) and breezy day.  This is winter in Nigeria – which really means that it’s the dry season.  The temperatures don’t vary much throughout the year.  One of the students commented on how cold it is today.  We saw a man ride by wearing a winter coat like you’d see in Michigan this time of year.

The village chief, a dignified man who must be in his 80s, stopped by to say “Good Morning.”  His outfit was a matching set of bright orange shirt and pants (about like a set of pajamas) and a red Santa Claus cap.  An amusing combination.

We’re being taken to a nearby town today which is supposed to have an Internet “café.”  If you have received this, it is evidence that we succeeded in getting on line.

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SBL Annual Meeting

З ласки Божої у листопаді цього року (з 17 по 19) разом з пастирем Андрієм Гончаруком відвідав щорічне засідання Товариства біблійної літератури (Society of Biblical Literature) в м. Чікаго, штат Ілінойс, США. Це – величезна конференція. Загалом було присутньо близько 15 000 (!) учасників. Ми, як представники Семінарії, уперше відвідали це засідання. Разом із нами у конференції брав участь проф. Кенет Черні з Вісконсинської Лютеранської Семінарії, що у м. Меквон, штат Вісконсин. Кожен з учасників особисто обирає, котрі лекції відвідати. За порадою проф. Черні посеред інших я відвідав такі:

  1. Прикладна лінгвістика у біблійних мовах: педагогічні перспективи щодо читання (Applied Linguistics for Biblical Languages: PedagogicalPerspectives on Reading)
  2. Прикладна лінгвістика у біблійних мовах: майбутні напрямки мовної педагогіки й програм (Applied Linguistics for Biblical Languages: Future Directions for Language Pedagogy and Programs)
  3. Переклад Біблії: Іншість перекладу (Bible Translation: Translating Alterity)
  4. Переклад Біблії: Спадщина Юджина Найди – погляд у майбутнє перекладу Біблії (Bible Translation: The Legacy of Eugene Nida: Looking towards the Future of Bible Translation)
  5. Викладання івриту засобами Інтернет (Teaching Hebrew online).

Хочу особливо відзначити 2 і 4 пункти в списку. На цих лекціях обговорювалися сучасний стан і майбутнє викладання біблійного івриту в навчальних закладах. Зокрема було задане питання, чому рівень викладання біблійних мов, навіть в університетах, набагато нижче, ніж рівень викладання сучасних мов.

Конференція проходила у величезному комплексі McCormick Place, що на підвдні Чікаго. На фото внизу лиш маленька його частинка.
Пастор Андрій Гончарук і я перед однією з лекцій
Пастор Андрій Гончарук і я перед однією з лекцій
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Книжковий ярмарок
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McCormick Place inside
Image McCormick Place, a part of the outside

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Eric E. Schmidt: 2012 Boston University Commencement Speaker

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Пастирське наставництво 24

Курс лекцій «Пастирське наставництво», прочитаний ректором Семінарії Св. Софії Джоном Вогтом у 2011 році.

Лекція 24

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Пастирське наставництво 23

Курс лекцій «Пастирське наставництво», прочитаний ректором Семінарії Св. Софії Джоном Вогтом у 2011 році.

Лекція 23

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