Saturday, March 21, 2009

Long live the Mountain Troubadours!

I just wanted to give a shout out to all my friends in the St. Mary's Youth Group, especially the Mountain Troubadours. You guys are awesome.

To answer your questions, Nigeria is a deeply religious place. About half of Nigeria is Muslim and half is Christian, with a smattering of traditional religious practitioners. Generally, the south is Christian and the north is Muslim. Even though I live in the south, I can usually hear the iman calling Muslims to prayer throughout the day. However, more often than not when I hear someone on a loud speaker it is usually a Christian. My neighborhood has churches everywhere and they like to make a lot of noise. It is not unusual for them to have loud all night vigils, which can be annoying when I have to get up for school the next morning.

The church I usually belong to is called St. Theresa's. I usually go to the 8 am service because that is the mass for children (they walk to church and attend mass without adult supervision). I like the children's mass for two reasons: one it is nice to see my students at church and I feel bad saying this but it is shorter, only an hour. Mass at St. Theresa's is in Igbo and I only understand a handful of Igbo phrases. The other services can last up to three hours and that is a really long time when you don't understand what is being said. Still I find it interesting going to church. Nigerians have different customs, for instance all the women cover their heads in church, people bring yams or toilet paper for the offering, and there is a second collection for community development where the altar servers squirt people with water. What I really appreciate is the things that are the same. I like the fact that half way around the world, I am reading the same bible verses and saying the same prayers as you are at St. Mary's. Just like you, we are celebrating lent. Although we don't worry about eating meat on Fridays because we only eat chicken or goat once or maybe twice a week. I am looking forward to Palm Sunday because the Sisters tell me that people cut down their own palm leaves from the trees.

If you are interested in sending something here are some things we could use:
Colored chalk
Educational posters (the walls of the school are depressing)
Flash cards (for either math or reading)
Colored pencils
Masking tape

Please address it to:
Sisters of Notre Dame
CO: Katie O'Dea
14 John Nwodo Close
PO Box 3777, Enugu
Enugu State, Nigeria
Please don't send anything breakable, valuable, or perishable (although I would kill for a cheeseburger). On the customs form you might want to list it as used school supplies without any value, so corrupt postal officials won't be tempted. My mom sent be a package and it took several weeks to arrive but it made it in one piece.

So thank you for everything. Everyone at St. Mary's has been very good to me, especially the Youth Group. I appreciate all your prayers and support. I would not be here without you. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Love from Africa,

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