Saturday, October 15, 2016

We're not giving up, because we know the Transformer

Nigeria is a place where it's tempting to give up. Frequent electric outages, unstable ecomomic situation, terrorism, and armed robbery all are devastating to any school we try to partner with there. Sometimes, it just seems impossible to get something working long-term there.

But then there's Joseph. He was a difficult and wayward son who did not complete any school his parents sent him to. He was one whom it would be tempting to give up on. But then his parents sent him to our CTO school in Kaduna, because they heard the claim that the CTO is life-changing. Joseph's father even enrolled along with him to encourage him. Joseph completed the program and indeed has been exhibiting life change. His father also testified that the program helped him. He went to heaven just last month, but Joseph is still with that school taking more courses.

There's no magic formula that makes our schools work in an unstable climate. We make it as robust as we can, and then the rest is prayer and faith. Likewise, there's no magic in our program that makes it life-changing; rather, we simply use it to show the One who is life-changing, explain how He has been working throughout history to redeem mankind, and how that redemption re-shapes the way we work with computers and live our lives. So we don't give up, but press on in faith and prayer.

Yes, I had to worry about raindrops through a leaky roof while teaching editing.

But neither rain nor melted wires to overloaded generators nor dark of night shall keep us from our mission!

Getting slammed

If ever I absolutely would not have time to blog, it would be now. But I'm doing so because at this point, taking the time to fill you in that you may pray for us is more important than struggling more to get out of this hole.

Back when TEN3 was doing team trips to Africa, we noticed that every time we were preparing for a major trip, just as we were needing to revise, upload, download, and print (or burn) our materials for the workshops we would be hosting, something major would go wrong with our server. Well, now it's just me going to Nigeria, and when I ought to be going over the material I'll be presenting, praying for the trip and the attendees, familiarizing myself with the consulting manual so I can discuss the steps with partners, doing research on a new requested primary school initiative that we dearly hope to recruit developers for while I'm there, I have hardly touched any of that the last few days, because, well:

  • The car: It started with just a few things months ago. The door came apart. The auto parts guy suggested gluing it back together. I did, coming up with a funky clamping system to set it. After the curing time, I tried it; it didn't hold. Tried whole process again. Still didn't hold. Realized it needed fasteners through the handle part. Bought some. They didn't work. Bought a different set. They didn't hold. Door handle got worse. Bought two other sets, and stuff to rig up the other part that got messed up. Still didn't hold. Asked my dad for help; he tried screws. It held for about a day. Finally called my pastor who also works at a tractor repair place to ask if he could rivet it. He was able to borrow a rivet gun and fix it. In the meantime, the door opener on the other side broke, and a windshield wiper broke off, and I have three chips in the windshield. All those still waiting to be fixed. Then last week, a fuse blew that left us in Lubbock at night without headlights. We imposed on a student of Kenneth's to take us to Walmart to get more fuses (because even though I used to carry spares in the glove compartment, they weren't there). Almost gave up because all the ones the manual said were for headlights were intact, but finally checked the fuse for the glove compartment light, because that was out, and we had headlights again.
  • The pickup: We got it without a working heater core. We had bought a replacement, but hadn't yet bothered to get it put in. Finally last Friday I think, I was frustrated with computers and so decided to do something with my hands: I would get that heater core in! Found a youtube series on how to do it for a similar model, spent about 6 hours finding hard-to-reach nuts and screws, some of which wouldn't cooperate, finally loosened everything I thought I needed, and still couldn't get the HVAC box out. Kept looking for 2 days, and finally decided I'll need help. Left the pickup kind of in pieces until someone from my church would be able to help me on Saturday (tomorrow).
  • Both vehicles: Since the pickup was in disorder, Kenneth took the car to work. It started making noise and overheating on his way home in the morning (he works 9pm-7am, though this particular morning he was over an hour late getting out of work). Turned out to be a belt that snapped and wrapped around the fan. I would have to go buy the belts and bring the tools so we could fix it. So I spent an hour or so with those hard-to-reach bolts getting the pickup driveable again while Kenneth attempted take a cold, cramped nap in the car. Finally got the pieces back together, started backing it out of the driveway, and smelled gasoline powerfully. It was streaming out of some part the name of which I don't know, but at least it looked easy to reach. I called my grandma, who agreed to give me a ride to Lubbock, while my mom, who was running errands in Lubbock, picked up Kenneth to get the belts. I then realized I needed to go to the auto store myself because we were lacking the size sockets we actually need for the job. We loosened the smog pump and alternator, but the power steering pump, even though we loosened the two obvious sliding bolts and the pivot point, wouldn't budge. After over half an hour trying, we gave up and called Daddy, who took off early from work, though after he'd gone home to get changed and get more tools we might need, it was after 5 when he arrived. Oh, and did I mention all this was in the cold rain, and involved me having to lie down in the nasty wet parking lot? Then together he and a kind random stranger who stopped to help STILL could not get it to move. We decided to call the minister at Kenneth's church in Lubbock and ask if he could get a couple hours' sleep in the church before work. My parents decided to take me home with them (because our muddy caliche road would be quite dangerous to my dad's mustang) and we'd come back to figure it out in the morning. Well, we got Kenneth to the church and there was hubbub because the toilet had flooded the sanctuary badly, and he ended up staying awake to help with that rather than going to sleep. He then worked all night, having only gotten two short uncomfortable naps all day.
  • The next day: Daddy drove me to get Kenneth from work, nauseated from exhaustion and caffene. His priest kindly offered to take him to the church again, and this time he actually did get sleep. After probably two hours looking and trying things, Daddy found another sliding bolt you can't see; it has to be felt for. We could then get all the parts to move, but learned that the one belt that Kenneth bought yesterday that he couldn't take with him to compare, was the wrong size. We went back to the auto place to get the right belt, and also the part to the pickup that was leaking fuel. We finally got all the belts fixed about noon, then got something to eat, and so I picked up Kenneth and take him home so I could tend to the dogs (who had been left alone inside for 28 hours) and the chickens (who hadn't been fed for about 44 hours). Glad to have that behind us, I started preparing a nice meal and decided I'd better change the oil in the car before something else goes wrong.
  • And then...I wake Kenneth up, still exhausted from having no sleep the day before. I offer to drive him to work, even though I have a ton of things to do, because he seems too tired to drive. We get out there, and the headlights in the car don't work, and there is no fuse blown. We fiddle and fiddle and finally Kenneth calls his boss and says he'll pay for the gas if he'll come all the way from Crosbyton, on his night off, to take him to work, and I'll get him in the morning when it's light.
  • But wait, there's more!We discover the floor is wet, where the refrigerator leaked (already to the point of damaging the floor to some extent; not visible, but you can feel it stepping on it) and Kenneth had fixed a few days ago (including taking a special trip to Lubbock to buy a new cutoff valve). The only way to stop it for now is to cut off the sink, so no washing dishes tonight. We'll probably need more plumbing pieces, and crawling underneath the house, to fix it for good this time.
  • Meanwhile... The pipe under the bathroom sink, which the bacterial cleaner just seemed to make worse, and which I'd tried to clean with vinegar and baking soda but instead stopped completely, and so which Kenneth took apart to clean out, leaked when he put it back together. We still have a pan under it catching water, which I still have to bail out until that's fixed. I still have pieces of the wallpaper project I started months ago lying around, needing to get done on a day warm enough to open the doors (which are becoming fewer). The chicken coop is still largely exposed, which needs to be remedied before freezing weather hits. Our bedroom is still bubblegum and hershey colors, which we'd promised our landlord when we moved in a year ago we'd paint over. We still need to figure out how to oil our heater before winter. I crashed (pretty much permanently) two laptops I was using to develop our material on Puppy. And our kitchen sinks still back up whenever I run the washing machine, despite dozens of treatments with bacterial cleaner.

Now don't get me wrong. I realize we still have much to be grateful for. We're not grieving the loss of a loved one like my brother-in-law, I'm fully recovered from last month's illness, our dog whose leg was amputated is doing well now and even doing great about staying home rather than running off. I got to share about my upcoming trip with my church and they took a love offering for me. And of course we have wonderful people (especially Daddy!) who are going out of their way to help us out. But whatever the devil is trying to do to us, he's at least got us exhausted and frustrated. So please pray, not just for the resolution to all these little crises that cannot seem to stay fixed, but also that God's purposes for them to sanctify us will prevail rather than the evil one's purposes to distract, discourage, demoralize, or derail us.