Sunday, July 15, 2012

Some More Differences

In America, if I notice a movement of something scampering up a tree, I assume it was a squirrel.  Here, the thing scampering up a tree trunk would be a lizard. I have referred to them as geckos, but I am not sure that is accurate. I think of geckos as not only climbing up the wall but also as scampering across the ceiling. These critters do not do the ceiling walking Checking that source of all wisdom, Wikipedia, I learned that there are over 1500 species of geckos and probably many yet to be identified. There are two main types I have noticed around my part of the country, brown ones with stripes to give a bit of camouflage, and black and yellow ones.   They have yellow heads and a yellow band where the tail joins the body. I wish I could capture one on video because when they stop to look around they look like they are doing push-ups. Here is one of the brown ones Jessie photographed at Christmas.
When these lizards are small it is just about impossible to keep them out of your house.  In fact, I am happy to have a couple of them living in my house with me because they eat insects. I do have to sweep up their droppings, but they are dry and don't smell. Here is a long shot of one of them on the wall of my living room, up near the ceiling.
  Here is a close-up, so you can see what that brown spot on the wall really looks like.
 I think they live up inside of the hollow doors, most of which have lost their bottom edge for some reason.  Last year, when I heard scratching coming from inside a door, I thought it might be a mouse, but I couldn't imagine how a mouse would be able to live there. Now I know it is just a friendly lizard.  The lizards I see come in various sizes. Usually the ones in the house range from the size of your little finger up to six inches or so long. One you see outside tend to be larger, with some being 9 inches to a foot or so long. I found this little one inside the case holding bicycle tools that is meant to be carried on the back of the bicycle.  He was not very big.

Bicycles in Burkina Faso

In America many boys and men wouldn't be caught dead on a pink woman's bicycle.  Here, the colors have no gender implications and people ride whatever bicycle is available.  In fact, women's bicycles allow people to carry a jerry can of water or a sack of grain on the bicycle between their legs as well as on the rack in the back, making them a bit more useful.

Bike Repairs

Here is the "workshop" of the guy I go to when I have a problem with my bicycle.  It is just a space between the main road and some shops, with an old tire to sit on while he is working and logs for customers to sit on while they wait for repairs.

The first thing he did for me was to put a basket on my bike.  Other people I had asked said they could not do it because the frame was too thick, but he got a blacksmith to enlarge the ring that goes on the front post and put it on with little trouble. Here you can see the basket he put on for me.
"Why is your bicycle in your living room?" you ask.  It is the custom to put all bikes and motorcycles in the house at night to protect them from thieves. At first I thought I could keep it in a storage shed with a padlock, but I was informed by several people that would just be asking to have it stolen, so it lives in my house.  Fortunately I have plenty of room.  I feel sorry for volunteers and Burkinab√® who live in more normal sized places.

Reconditioning Bicycles

In addition to making repairs, my bike mechanic reconditions bicycles. He gets frames from old bicycles somewhere.  He sands off the old paint, repaints them, puts on new handle bars, peddles, brakes, and wheels and sells them from his "workshop'. It is in the center of town so there are lots of people passing by all the time. Here you see a selection of bikes he has for sale, a table with spare parts and tools, and some tires and inner tubes hanging up.

More About Church Here

I have been attending an Assembly of God church here because they have a service in French at 7:30 on Sunday, before the 9:30 Moore service.  When I arrive at 7:25, often there are only a couple of motorcycles under the tree that serves as the parking lot. When I walk in the door, one of the two or three men present goes up to the platform where there are several chairs lined up for the minister and any visiting preachers participating in the service and gets one for me.  He puts it on the side of the hall where the men sit.  Rather like a Quaker Meeting in the US, the men sit on one side of the church and the women in the center and on the other side. I appreciate having a chair with a back to lean against rather than spending an hour and a half or more on a bench. I also appreciate that one of the men who site in the front row locates the hymns they sing for me and hands me his song book so I can join in.

The church has added a sound system, with two speakers and microphones at the speaker's podium and on stands for the choir.  There are now two electric guitars that get plugged into the sound board, too.  It is good to be able to hear the speaker better, but the guitars drive me crazy.  The music leader is used to picking his own key and does not work with the guitarists to let them know what songs he is going to pick and what key we will be singing in.  He starts the song and the guitarists try to figure out chords that might work with the key and song he has picked. Unfortunately most of the time they are in a completely different key than he and the congregation are singing in. Ouch!  It is painful to listen to and I don't know how the song leader can stay in his key when the guitars are blasting away in a different one.

When the service begins, one of the laymen takes the podium and leads a Bible study by reading, or asking someone else to read from a booklet that is published by the church in Burkina Faso. Each lesson is divided into sections and after reading what was written by the church leaders in Ouaga, he comments on what was just read.  Some of the leaders make it more interesting than others who essentially repeat what was written in the booklet. There are four or five men who are in this group of lay leaders, one of whom I understand almost perfectly, one of whom I can't understand at all, and the others who are in between on the clarity of their speech.  When the lesson starts it is often just me, the leader and one or two other people, always men.  As the first half hour passes, others, including the pastor, arrive.  By the time the lesson is ended there may be 30 or 40 people there.  The choir members also come strolling in at random times.

After the lesson the choir director/song leader takes the podium and, after calling on one or two people to say a prayer, he leads the singing.  He may sing a verse of a song which the congregation then repeats, or he may identify one of the hymns in a small book some people have bought. There are no hymnals in the pews. These songs are not like American spirituals but more like old time gospel music, all with French words, of course. Some of the tunes you might recognize, such as "Just as I Am" and "The Old Rugged Cross."

I have also figured out what is going on when they say "unison" prayers.  It is not like other churches I have attended where there is a prayer everybody knows or one that is written in the bulletin and people read or recite it together. In the church, the leader indicates a topic and each person says aloud whatever they want to say about that subject.  It sounds like the tower of babble, but it makes people quite comfortable praying aloud.

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