I Made Some Friends Today | Nigeria part 1

Our journey here began with an argument over coffee. We pulled out of our house bright and early Monday morning and within minutes we were in the stupidest of arguments over a cup of coffee. It’s not even worth recounting as it truly was stupid. But we both stubbornly held our ground and the first twenty minutes were miserable. Then we both seemed to realize the foolishness of our argument and apologized to each other and to the kids and it hit me deeply – the way we, as their parents, interact with each other within the intimacy of our family unit has a far deeper impact on my children than taking them across the world to see a third world country.

We want our children to have a love and an appreciation for people and cultures worldwide, but when we lack love and grace in our own interactions within our own small quarters of the world we jeopardize that desire.

And so we started our trip with the humbling realization that what was most important in all that we were about to embark on was that our actions, attitudes, and interactions be glorifying to the Lord Jesus and that, when we mess up (which we are often prone to do), we apologize.

The first leg of our trip took us to Pennsylvania to stay with family for two nights as we awaited our flight out of Washington DC on Wednesday. We were thankful that our car gave us zero problems – a deep concern of ours as it has caused major issues on our last two long trips.

We picked up a few last minute items for our trip and we uneventfully made our way to Dulles International airport, checking in about four hours early for our flight with all of our baggage being within ounces of the allowed weight.

We were seated the four of us across the center row, and we attempted to sleep through the night flight.

Our flight took us to Paris for a planned 24 hour layover. We were severely sleep deprived, but made our way to the hotel we had booked. The housekeeping staff were all on strike and making a ruckus outside the hotel doors. It was a bit overwhelming to walk by the loud speaker and their angry cries and beating pots. Inside the hotel the front desk staff was also overwhelmed and stressed, but very pleasant and accommodating. They put us in a handicap room as it was the only room large enough to accommodate two extra cots, which were necessary as most rooms could only accommodate two people and possibly one cot.

We unloaded all of our carry on baggage in the hotel room, taking with us only the necessary items for walking around Paris, and made our way into the wonderful and wild world that is Paris’ public transit system.

We spent about seven hours in Paris (of which I will share lots of pictures and more about shortly!) and then wearily made our way back to our hotel room. We slept soundly, awakening to our alarm. We grabbed a cab back to the airport and anxiously waited through the very long security lines. We spent well over an hour in the lines, which we had not anticipated.

My uncle John and aunt Nancy were waiting by our boarding gate – my mom and another Canadian couple were supposed to be there too, but their visas have not yet been approved and so they had to reschedule their flight.

Our flight was late boarding, but eventually we were situated on the plane – we had window seats this time, the boys side by side and Paul and I directly behind them.

We landed in Abuja on Friday afternoon and made our way through the confusion and clamor of baggage pick up and customs immigration and being asked for bribes and an array of body odors.
My uncle John, who grew up here, navigated us through everything.

We made our way out of the airport and into the heat and smells of the city. Aunt Lois and my cousin Ben and his wife Chelsea were waiting and we loaded the cars and headed to the hotel where we spent the night before heading back to their home.

The hotel was comfortable and clean and had AC. Most of the rooms had mini fridges. Ours did not, but we had nothing to refrigerate. We carried all of the suitcases into the hotel to ensure their safety. By we I mean Paul and Ben.

I went out with Ben and Chelsea while they did some errand running and saw a side of Nigeria I had not previously seen – large shops with an abundance of all your imaginable needs. All of the checkout lines had huge signs and containers that you could not miss selling condoms. I asked why and was told the government is trying to raise awareness and reduce the spread of HIV.

They picked up pizza, suya (spiced chicken and beef), and ice cream for dinner and, once back at the hotel, we squished into Aunt Lois’s room and enjoyed the feast. My boys slept soundly through it all.

Saturday morning we packed up and headed for home- it should have been a 6-7 hour drive but turned out to be about 10 due to some car issues. We were fed a constant stream of street food and were quite content bouncing around with the windows down. Boiled peanuts, bananas, more suya, meat pies – we were all happy with the food.

We made a stop at a fast food style restaurant called Treasure for food and a bathroom break. I couldn’t help but take a photo of the bathroom – sans toilet seat!

As we stopped at various places to deal with various vehicle issues the boys became quite the attraction to the local children. They whistled for them and shook their hands. I watched my shy boy extend his hand over and over again to shake someone’s hand with a cheery “My name is Wesley, what is yours?” Watching my boys be pushed out of their comfort zone and seeing that they can handle that just fine is such a precious gift.

At one point Wesley said to me; “I feel bad for counting, but so far 80 people have stared at me.”

At another stop our Nigerian driver told us that as the children were shaking the boys hands they were all commenting on how their skin felt. Each child had a different idea on what white people’s skin felt like.

At another stop I had some older girls ask me to teach them some more English, and they pulled from their head wrap a book on Health Education with details on HIV, reproductive organs, and condoms. I told them I would teach them English from a different book and asked them if they had heard of the Bible. They had not, so I told them about it and taught them John 3:16.

We arrived at the mission compound after dark and settled in to our rooms – we are staying in my Aunt and Uncle’s home. It is very comfortable and has everything we could need, plus some little ants to keep us company.

Dinner, showers and bed were about all we were good for last evening and today was mostly spent resting and unpacking. Some of the ladies who remembered me (or, at least, my mother) came up to greet me and the boys spent some time playing with the children. They taught the children tag and Sharks & Minnows. This evening Wesley confided in me; “I made some friends today. But I can’t remember their names. Nigerian names are tough to pronounce!”

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2 Replies to “I Made Some Friends Today | Nigeria part 1”

  1. aroundthetableblog says: Reply

    Laughing about your toilet picture. We had a deacon from our home church visit us in Colombia. At the end of his stay he announced, “My wife could never come here.” I knew he’d had a great visit, so I wondered why. He said, “The toilets have no seats!” (At our home they did, but in most public places they didn’t.) Hope you have a great visit. I’ll be looking forward to hearing more of your boys comments!

  2. Tami Ann Swaim says: Reply

    I’m sorry to say this but I was most blessed by the beginning of this journal entry. The rest was fun to read but I felt so blessed by your openness in what you shared at the beginning. I identified with it and agree with your conclusions!! Enjoy your time.

    In prayer Tami

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