Almost seven years ago I got on a plane, and 18 sleepless hours later disembarked with my babies on the other side of the world – Abuja, Nigeria.
In the five weeks we were in Nigeria they were the dirtiest, happiest, and wore the least amount of clothing in public in their lives. (I’ve not included those photographs here.)
Now, we have the opportunity to return there again this Fall – this time with Paul (YAY!) and more clothing. Sometimes as they look through the photographs of them running around West Africa in their cartoon undies they ask me why I made them do it … as if they weren’t gleeful participants in executing their own idea of propriety at ages two and three in 100F weather.
There is a (long) family history of missions in Nigeria – my great grandfather first went over with his wife. My grandfather was born and raised there, along with his siblings. He then married in the US and took his bride and my mother and aunt over as young children. My uncles were born there, and all four of those siblings were raised there.
My great grandparents and grandparents died over there. My aunt and uncle are missionaries there right now, as well as their youngest son (my cousin) and his bride.
Follow all that? It’s a lot of details. I feel like I should draw a picture to chart it all out.
When I finished highschool I lived in Nigeria for a year with my grandparents.
They were both still living when I took my boys over in 2010 – that was one of the most precious gifts to have had my boys meet them. Our Judah is named for my grandfather (his middle name is Spencer James, which was grandpa’s full name).
Months and months ago my uncle started talking about going back to Nigeria this Fall with all of his siblings. In January I joked to Paul that we should go … his normal response to my big ideas is a resounding no. (I deserve it …. I have a lot of big ideas.) But this time was different – there was no “no.” This time he told me, “If you make the money to pay for it all, we can go.”
We are going!
I bought four tickets to Nigeria a week ago.
The Lord provided through Ebay sales, some classes I taught, house cleaning opportunities, and a few other odd job opportunities all of the money needed for the flights, visa, and incidentals. (You can see my post on How to Make Extra Money as a Homeschool Mom)
The story of the tickets is one worth telling, too. I had been tracking flights to Nigeria for a couple months. They were hovering around the same price range but there were well over a dozen different options within that price range of outgoing and incoming flights between two different airports and I could not make up my mind which ones I should book.
It was a couple weeks of me deliberating and telling people I was going to purchase the tickets the very next day, and then freezing because I just couldn’t pick. I don’t know what made me so indecisive, I’m not normally a flake.
But that’s how it was and I told Paul on a Sunday evening that I didn’t know why I couldn’t buy the tickets, but I just didn’t feel a peace about it.
He stopped everything right then and prayed – he prayed that God would shut doors that should be shut and show us what we should do, even if it meant not going. He specifically was praying that God would show us on Monday so we could buy the tickets on Tuesday.
As I mentioned, I had been tracking prices for months and the prices hadn’t changed – the very next morning the flights jumped up by $400 a ticket! I called Paul, a little distraught because that meant we could not go. Then called him back ten minutes later to tell him I had found ONE flight there and ONE flight back that was the original price …. and asked him if I could book it before that price changed too.
But he said no, we had prayed for direction for buying it for Tuesday morning and we should wait.
It’s hard waiting.
I feel like the Lord puts me through season after season of learning to wait on Him. I am not very good at it. But I do know He is faithful and good.
Tuesday morning I got up and checked the flights and there was still just that one flight there and one flight back. No choices to be made – we knew which flight we were to book on.
So our four tickets were purchased and now the countdown is on.
We have vaccines to get. Supplies to gather. Visas have been applied for but we are waiting on them to be returned.
While we are there we will be doing whatever it is that will be useful to the work there. We have a couple ideas of areas to focus on. There is medical work. A Bible school. General maintenance. And I might just try to smuggle all the children home with me because they are THE CUTEST.
Though they weren’t always the fondest of me. Case in point:
There was one day in 2010 at a conference when the Nigerian mothers thought it was hysterical to put their children in front of a white lady with a camera. The children had either never or rarely seen a white person. It’s one of those special moments that makes my heart smile when I think back on it.
We don’t leave until October. But I feel like I might talk about this an awful lot between now and then because I am basically giddy with excitement and Paul is coming with us!
When I was there for that year after highschool it was kind of the beginning of us – he was in boot camp, and then his job training, and we would write letters back and forth. Six weeks one way. I don’t think we talked on the phone ever. And there were a handful of emails. If that. But those letters went back and forth and my grandparents saw it all and noticed the devotion of a boy and the happiness of a girl and they started praying for him, and eventually for us, in their daily prayers.
And while they never met Paul, I am convinced their faithful prayers over our marriage have held some of the deepest weight.
Seven years ago when the boys and I were in Nigeria Silly Bandz were just ending their craze over here. We took hundreds of them over with us and the boys loved handing them out everywhere we went. I want to take something similar on this trip – something inexpensive and easy to take in bulk in pockets and give out. Would love some ideas if anyone has some suggestions!
We will be rearranging our school schedule around the trip so we won’t be doing any over there during our three weeks – their time will be deeply and richly invested in another culture, which will be it’s own education.
We will also have a 24 hour layover in Paris, which I am looking to maximize our time and memories there so any tips on Paris would also be appreciated!
We are praying our Visas are approved and returned in the next week or so, and then we have a handful of vaccines and anti malaria meds to get, and then the countdown is on until October!
That one flight that ended up being available was booked out of Washington DC, so we will have all the fun of figuring out where to park our car (or if we will rent and drop off the rental at the airport) and all those fun details associated with an eight hour drive before an international flight! (Again – any tips? I would love to hear them!)