Friday, January 20, 2012

The Reports of My Death Are Assuredly False

Well, it's been a sight longer than I expected, folks. I've so many stories to tell that it would take ages to recite them: so I'll settle for a few scattered tales to update my dear blog readers. Pre-written blog posts are great, eh?

First of all, I am alive.

Second, I'm in the midst of my final revision of the War Horn. Be prepared for a post about pre-readers soon!

Third, I'm doing One Year Adventure Novel again, with my sister. This time, it's a fantasy. I've got some epic ideas for it. Here's the preliminary synopsis:

"Elijah Finarod. Once, he was the pride of his people. Now he's imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit and haunted by the one he did. A bloody war is raging across his world, and Elijah is unexpectedly freed to seek a way to end an ancient curse, the only hope they have of stopping the war. But he's being pursued by unknown assassins and he's being hunted by his own people. Nevertheless, Elijah is determined to stop the war at any cost. For Elijah Finarod started the war, and now he was going to end it."

Fourth, I've never been so grateful for chicken and beef. For the first two weeks we were in this house, we ate fish and nothing but fish. (The fish was in the sauce over rice, of course...not fish plain. That would be a nightmare.) And did I mention that I abhor fish?

Fifth, I wrote out a genealogy of the House of Finwë from Tolkien's "The Silmarillion". Go figure. (Finwë fathered Fingolfin, who fathered Turgon, who had a daughter who was named Idril who married a mortal named Tuor, and they had a son called Eärendil and he married the half-mortal-quarter-elf-quarter-Maia Elwing and they had two sons, Elrond and Elros...) And yes, "Finarod" in the synopsis above is a nod to Tolkien's characters "Finarfin" and "Finrod".

And last, I miss all you crazy and wonderful writers. ^_^ You're all awesome.

That is all.

*ahem* Kidding! Considering the time I have with no internet to waste my time on (actually, between revisions and school being renewed once more, it's not that much), I ought to write something a bit longer, eh?

Here are a few notes that I've composed concerning life in Liberia. However, I'm not even sure what you all want to shoot me a few questions in the comment section, and I'll write another blog post in response. Fair?

Concerning FOOD:

The fundamental elements of food are thus: rice, sauce, meat. The meat is in the sauce (or soup, sometimes), and it is poured over rice. That's Liberian food in essence. The sauce may include something like palm nuts, potato greens, cassava, etc. The meats include goat, beef, chicken, and fish. And maybe lamb, but I have yet to eat lamb here. And the food always has peppers in it.

My favorite is "pepper soup", followed closely by cassava. Pepper soup is, essentially, a soup with some sort of tomato sauce base, with a meat and lots of peppers in a broth; sometimes over twenty peppers in that soup alone. As I said on Facebook the other day, "IT BURNS US!" (To give you an idea of the heat of the little Liberian pepper, it is ranked the same on the "heat" scale as the habenaro pepper.)


The place where we live, as I have described elsewhere, is a concrete building with tile floors, and you can only reach it by crossing a wooden monkey bridge across a freshwater lagoon. It's a moment's walk from the beach: you can look out the window and see the sea along the horizon. This means that we get a sea breeze during the day and night, which is phenomenal. The windows are always open to let in the breeze, and in the shade, it's not actually that hot. Sitting in the sun is another matter.

Right now, we're in the dry season. It hasn't really rained for weeks, and the weather is steadily, degree by degree, climbing upward. I have no idea what the temperature really is, however, save that it's somewhere over ninety every day; that was the temperature three weeks ago.


This is a fairly big category. Below, I shall list the changes that have taken place in general life.

Firstly, we don't have running water. We have to go out and manually pump all the water we use. So that means I use a dipper, half a bucket of water, and some shampoo when I get grimy enough to take a shower. We have plans to dig a well, however, and use an electric pump to pump water to a mini water tower, which provides the pressure we need for running water.

Second, our meals have decreased. We now dine in what we think is a typical Liberian manner: one meal a day, commonly in the afternoon. If we get hungry later on in the evening, we eat a small plate of leftovers from dinner. In the mornings, we eat fruit, and, some days, popcorn.

We've also learned to conserve electricity and computer charge. Because we need our computers for school, we turn on the gas-run generator most nights, which gives us electricity to charge electronics and run certain things. We do, however, have some solar power. We recently received a fridge/freezer that runs on solar power, and half the lights in the house - one in each room - run on solar power.

Most Sundays, we've had house church instead of going to church. We dig out a few hymnbooks we brought with us from America and sing hymns, afterward praying and then studying some Scripture.

Concerning PETS:

Inevitably, we've gotten pets. You've probably already heard of our mongoose, Mae. Or Minkey, as my sister calls her. She's extremely accident-prone, so much so that she seems to be disabled. Three of her four legs don't support her very well, and we're not entirely sure why. However, she did hit her head some days earlier and it swelled up; afterwards going down again. We think this might be the issue, some sort of damage to the brain. Right now, though, she's still eating and drinking and going to the bathroom on our beds, so that's a good sign, and her legs still retain movement.

So far, we've had four dogs. The first one (whom we named "Jax mi Dog" after the "Jax mi Katt" character in Jill Williamson's epic trilogy) died after a week, contracting some sort of illness. We buried him beneath a palm tree. Several days later, we got another puppy, whom we called Pippin. He's a typical Liberian mutt. We made sure he got shots, and right now he's a troublemaker in good health.

We also got two German pointer mix puppies from an American family. Their mother is huge and scary, so we're hoping that these two puppies - "Stan" and "Valli" after two West African missionaries we knew in Kansas - will grow up likewise.

You see, dogs in Liberia are not only pets (and to Liberians, they aren't really pets at all), they're guards. They're as good or better than a security guard, especially the big dogs. I've witnessed it myself: the mother of our German pointer puppies scared the pants off of one of our Liberian friends.

And lastly, we got a grey kitten who enjoys exploring my bed and playing with my shirt while I'm trying to sleep. We mostly got her to make sure the mouse/rat population stays down. At least, that's why Mom and Dad got her.

Concerning LIFE:

Get up. Do school. Eat dinner. Revise/do OYAN. Go to bed.

That's life right now. Pretty interesting, eh?

So, how are you all doing? How's the writing? How's life in general?

And if you have any questions, ask away. I'd be happy to answer them...but don't expect to get an answer right away. I have over four hundred unread emails, and the only internet I get is from a USB internet stick that's slow as molasses. And I rarely use it, anyhow.

Farewell, write well, and stay out of the heat!


Never mind.


Eldra said...

Hail and well-met, Sir Jake!!

Wow, that's a lot of information to absorb. *focuses on absorbing information*

Your new OYAN story sounds awesome! I look forward to reading it.

I like fish... Actually, it sounds like Liberian food in general is something I'd love. *snickers* Pepper soup? We're obviously not talking about red/green/yellow/orange bell peppers, are we? Would you mind sending over a sample of the soup? :P

Jax mi Dog? *collapses with laughter* Genius!

Your mongoose sounds like... fun. And a kitten? Awwww...

Trade you: warmth for cold. My fingers are so cold, I can barely type this.

Mikaela said...

When are you coming back to North America?! I can't remember why you went there in the first place...was it for missions? I really can't remember. At least you have time to write. With my school its: Get up, do school, have dinner, go to bed. :P

Fish is're lucky. :)

Jane said...

hi! I'm jane, I came here on a friend's recommendation post (
and it is so neat!!
a friend and I are trying to write stories and exchange them, and, oh man, you never think how much effort you have to put into writing!
so I love your blog, and the assassins prologue is amazing!
keep up the awesome writing!

Christopher said...

Welcome back!

A meal a day!? Wow, how do you survive?

Jake said...

So my "don't expect to get an answer" prediction wasn't entirely true. ;)

Aye, the Liberian pepper (I forget the "official" name for it) is smaller than a jalapeno. It's maybe half the size of your index finger. But it has a kick.

I'd send a sample, but I doubt it'd last that long. It might get moldy. And besides, shipping costs are outrageous.

Psh, I'd trade cold fingers in for heat anyday. Cold fingers means that you can crawl into bed and huddle 'neath the covers until you finally get warm and fall asleep.

Well, I'm hoping to come back to America for the One Year Adventure Novel Summer Workshop in late June. We've no other plans to return as of right now, though.

We came for the glory of God. Does that answer your question? No, it's not traditionally missions, but what I fondly call "BAM" - Business As Missions. My dad is running a business to fund our work in Liberia while reaching out to people and discipling the workers. 'Cause discipleship is what Liberia needs, not more street preachers.

Welcome to Teenage Writer, Jane! I hope you get a lot out of my posts; right now, they're rather centered on my move to Liberia and my own writing projects (such as The War Horn), but I hope to write more posts on writing tips soon.

Thank you, and the same to you! May the King guide your quill as you go through this crazy venture known as writing.

Jake said...

Christopher: it's not that hard, really. I almost shudder at trying to eat three meals a day now. Once you get accustomed to it, you aren't really hungry until late afternoon.

Squeaks said...

Jake! You ARE alive after all :P

Your new home sounds absolutely epic! In fact, it sounds so cool, I think it would make a fantabulous story :D Very fantabulous.

You are correct about the weather. It's been -35 Celsius with wind-chill here, which is (I believe) -31 Fahrenheit. Although it's gone down to -13C now, which is like 8F. We have LOTS and LOTS of snow ^.^ It's fun and cold :D

I'd love to hear about some of your adventures in Liberia. Have you had any life-or-death situations yet? Any belly-laugh moments? Something that normally wouldn't happen at home? (are there elephants there?)

God bless!


Hannah Joy said...

Wow! Your new OYAN sounds absolutely EPIC! No kidding there. And I love his name...speaking of Tolkien, I have been devouring "The Children of Hurin" (one of his not completely finished works). I love him....

Life in Liberia sounds interesting to put it mildly. For one thing, when you were describing that food, I was drooling. You have no idea how much I adore spicy peppers/food.

Anyway, so glad you posted!

Clair~ said...

Sounds familar, even though I'm on the opposite side of the continent. We are blessed with running water, however...

It's so cool that you live near the beach! And your pets all sound like a lot of fun! We actually have five dogs who sound a lot like Pippin.

Best of luck with your writing. (by the way, I like the new layout)

God bless!

Elizabeth Eiowing said...

First of all, that story plot line sounds epic and I would LOVE to read it!!!!:D:D

Second, I love cassava. :) Especially in cake. You should try it in that form. :)

Wow about the lifestyle! I've always wondered what it would be like to live without running water and what not. That must be pretty interesting!

And very interesting about the pets. :):)

Really cool post Jake!

Leilani Sunblade said...

1. I'm very glad you're still alive.
2. Your OYAN novel sounds cool!
3. Nothing. But. Fish. FOR TWO WEEKS? Wow. I can't blame you for being sick of it . . . I like fish, but not that much!
4. I don't think I'd like Liberian food if the peppers are that spicy and that plentiful.
5. One meal a day. And you don't get hungry. I didn't think such a thing was possible. Thanks for the information to the contrary!
6. I heard about what's going on with your pets through Vren and the UG. I'm praying!

It was nice to hear from you again!

Anonymous said...

So good to hear from you again and I'm glad all those rumors I heard weren't true. (lol)

Ooh, your OYAN novel sounds great!! Which sister are you writing it with? (If I may ask...)

No water?! That stinks. Now I'll be happy for my hot water and not wish we had an electric heater. : )

Your house sounds pretty amazing! : D

Writing is going good. I'm working on my OYAN novel, and it's coming along, but I have to figure out a way to get my villain in the storyline sooner. (He wasn't supposed to pop in until the middle of Act II... :P) Oh, well. I'll figure it out.

Keep the posts coming whenever you get the chance!!