I wrote this over the past few days, but we havent had internet for the past few days, so here is the long awaited blog post update with the team and I. Thanks for praying for us everyone!
I wrote day one, but in reality it has been like two days…I think. Between all the time changes, days, nights, plane rides, and drives, at this point we all are mixed up. We’ve had multiple lengthy conversations about when to take our next Malaria pills since all these days have simultaneously slid into the next. Some of us dozed off for a few minutes on the plane. As for me, I flat out slept on the second flight. I sat between Cathy and Julie the first flight from Chicago to Germany talking and joking around, but one the second flight I sat between Madison and Julie. Madison and I were OUT the whole time, except when the food came.
The good part about the long flights is they have some good movies to watch. Ended up watching the movie “Dog” and it made me miss Hunbun (Huntlie my dog) so much since it features a German shepherd. A lot of us on the plane rides watched that movie. They also had the movie “Ambulance” which is a really good movie that I suggested for Julie to watch. I seen it in theatres and it was good!
O’hare airport wasnt too bad, we didn’t run into that many issues exept taking the wrong shuttle at first, but we found our way! Cathy must have looked suspicious though since she was the only one they searched from our group lol. We all grabbed a snack and some coffee while we waited. It was pretty packed at our gate so I grabbed a place on the floor and stretched my back. One of the guys there looked down at his luggage and looked surprised when he saw a face looking up at him lol. We were chatting and joking around until we boarded the metal bird that would take us to Germany for our 5 hour lay over lol
On the plane, we were having fun playing with the barf bags and the TV screens. We were watching the sun rise out the window, which was pretty. After awhile, we started feeling our tiredness set in. We caused a little trouble then by pressing the call light to get some coffee. The flight attendant came after a few minutes thinking something was wrong, but we asked for coffee so she came back with 3 coffees for our row. Pastor Marc also wanted a coffee so we actually claimed him saying he was with us and also wanted coffee. She was a little agrivated she had to go back for another coffee, but it really hit the spot! It was enough to keep us going, which the rest of the plane probably wasn’t too keen about lol
We made it to Germany without having to go through security, which was nice, so we killed some time walking past the fancy shops selling purses, perfumes, and watches, you know, all the important things you need to buy at an airport lol. Surprisingly, there were no McDonald’s or Starbucks present, just fancy cafes. They did have nice chairs while we waited for the next flight. Julie and I were lounging back when we saw Cathy walking around searching for something. We called her over. The something she was looking for was us. They changed our gate at the last minute so we hurried over. After they scanned our ticket, there was another waiting room. At this point, we were sleep deprived and the most random things were coming out of our mouths! When I say we, it was mainly me, but you all probably have guessed that by now lol.
We boarded our second flight to Abuja and that’s when I crashed. Slept the majority of the flight! All 5 hours basically. They did serve us pasta, salad, and dessert, which I slept ate. Then gave us a sandwich that had cheese and orange paste that was probably engineered squirrel meat. It was actually pretty good, the ingredients were in German though so we had to guess what was in it.
When we got off at Abuja, there was the vaccination line to go through. This time I was the suspicious one. The rest of the team went right through but when it got to me, they had accidentally said I was fully vaccinated, when I presented them my test that said I passed the swab. That’s when they escorted me into another area and had to fill out more paperwork. That’s when they called over Marc to inform him he needed to pay ahead of time for our other testings needed throughout our stay. Soldiers took our passports and we went to this window with a couple guys behind it with big stacks of money. It was a God thing Pastor Marc decided to bring extra money because it costed $130. The rest of the group was working on getting their visas while we were handling the mishap.
We were hoping our passports would still be there when we made it back to the group and they were, good thing. They scanned our fingerprints and took our pictures. We got those all taken care of, then for the next endeavor. Julie got a text saying a bag was lost. It was Marc’s bag with his clothes. His other bag that contained the coffee and the bug spray made it though, so the important stuff. He gave them his info so then the luggage could be delivered the next day. That’s when everything was put through the scanner. We were the only ones in the airport by this point. Then the soldiers were wanting bribes so some of us gave them Bibles as we wheeled our luggage out to Amos, our driver. He was waiting awhile for us, but his smile told us it didn’t bother him.
He drove us to the bunkhouse, which wasn’t too far away, and we were shown our rooms. It was getting dark and we were sitting in the meeting area discussing our food order. We decided on omelets since they didn’t take as long to make. We wanted to get to bed sooner. Pastor Marc was trying to figure out what was in his missing suitcase. Angie invited me to stay in her room since I didn’t really want to stay by myself so me, Madison, and Becca all went to my room to move my stuff. That’s when we discovered a secret door. We thought it might lead to another room, so I opened it a bit and that’s when Madison’s eyes got huge! We were like, is someone there? I shut the door quickly and that’s when she said she thought she saw a shadow and a very creepy sound started outside. We reopened the door and it led to a balcony and the creepy sound was from a flute of some sort. It was very random and it just so happened to start as soon as I opened the door lol. We were laughing and I grabbed my stuff.
We sat around the table chatting and Cathy got a couple extra snoozes in nodding off. Our omelettes weren’t what we were expecting, but they were good! The put flat fried egg whites over a pile of ramen noodles. We were starving and Julie must have ate the noodles too fast with the spices and started to cough, but we all thought it was tasty. Pastor Marc was worried he would reek since his clothes were lost so Julie gave him a pair of her underwear! They were her pink pair too! Never saw Marc so excited for that fresh pair…at least I think they were fresh lol. Hopefully they were because he set them in the middle of the dinner table as a display! The kitchen server lady was probably confused lol.
All of us went to our rooms and finally were able to have some actual sleep after what seemed like 3 days lol.
Angie and I roomed together and I threw some water on my face, put on a pair of shorts, and laid down. I told Angie if I stopped responding, I was out, because it didn’t take long for me to fall asleep when I’m tired lol. I didnt wake up till the next morning when Marc knocked on all our doors for breakfast. Angie said someone was trying to break in our door last night and people were singing/shouting. I didn’t hear a thing. Marc said he heard gun shots followed by singing. so we are thinking they had a funeral on the spot during the night.
I packed up and was unlocking our door and when I swung open the door, I seen something scary, Pastor Marc’s face lol. He was worried about Cathy because he kept knocking on her door and there was no response. We had a mini search party and even asked the front desk guy if that was the correct room she was in. That’s when we went to Julie’s room and found them hanging out in there. Marc was happy in his pink underwear.
We all sat around the table with our instant coffee and egg sandwiches talking about how if we look for God, we will find Him. The instant coffee was some of the best we’ve had in Africa so we found God in that!
Amos came in with his giant smile and we loaded up in the van to head off to Jos, Nigeria, our destination where we will be staying for the week. They actually had paved roads now! They were busy improving the roads since the last time were here in 2019. We noticed the markets weren’t selling as many coffins this time, so maybe having nice roads helped diminish the casualties.
We rolled into the Baptist Bunckhouse and Pastor Marc turned around and looked at Julie and Cathy in the front seat to say “I’ll help the big bags up the stairs”. I was like what did you call them? We all busted out laughing! At least he didnt say old bags LOL. Not soon after we unloaded ourselves from the van, we heard the happy yells coming from the Bunkhouse. There was Martha, Sarah, James, and Tabitha giving hugs and all excited to see us again! Julie talks with Martha at least a couple times a week, so they were looking forward to this day for 3 years, ever since they met!
We met Amos’ son, Sam, who is driving us this week, then shown our rooms, after being greeted and hugged with joyous laughter. We didn’t have much time to adjust because lunch was ready. We all ate fried rice, chicken, and coleslaw, which normally I dont really like, but they made it really good! Mid bite, Peter (who runs the City Ministries we are partnering with) and his wife, Mariam, joined us at the table. They went over the rules, regulations, and suggestions on how to reach people in the Nigerian culture to prepare us.
Peter said he had us going right away so we wouldn’t be tempted to take a nap. We needed to adjust to the 5 hours time difference. We didn’t waste any time. We put on our dresses and skirts and drove off to Peter’s for a second so Pastor Marc could pick up a few clothes until his suitcase arrived. That’s when we saw Victor!!! He was our driver last year and took us to play volleyball when we came the last time. He was all excited to see us! We’ve messaged over Facebook here and there over the years.
Anyway, we headed off to the women’s shelter called Hope and Freedom Center. Our guide on the trip, Patience, directed us to pray and we piled out of the van and heard some back story about the ministry they were doing with the girls there. As we walked in, they showed us 2 houses. One was for the girls who are recovering from abuse, and the other was called the life house where women would be cared for as they would choose life for their babies instead of aborting them. The shelter would support them when their families don’t or can’t afford to care for them and the babies.
That’s when I saw their dog! His name was Diamond. At first he was skittish but then I was able to pet him and make his back leg move. There women said he didn’t usually do that and said he liked me. After that, he sniffed my feet and didn’t want me to leave lol.
They showed us their sowing room and the area where they were taught how to do makeup and hair. They would teach the girls how to do a trade so they could earn money and get on their feet again. Another group that came a couple weeks ago taught the girls how to knit and they all ready made scarves and shawls! They are fast learners!
We filed into a room with all the girls and sat down. All the girls were looking at us with anticipation and excitment. They prepared a few songs for us and sung with such heart and passion that was evidently contagious. We couldn’t help but move to the beat of the drum and the sounds of their voices! We couldn’t understand what they were saying, but you could just feel that they truly believed they had freedom through Jesus.
Cathy was the “guest speaker” they called her. She didn’t prepare anything but spoke with such a perfect message. She shared so many relatable stories and some of the girls shed a tear. You could tell in their eyes that they had Jesus and hope. Angie and Julie also shared encouraging messages with them. One of the girls shared her story with us. She only finished “primary 1 and 2” in school but then snuck out her window, slide down a mango tree, and left to get involved in drugs, pills, etc. which led her to quit school. She ended up getting pregnant and when she was 5 months pregnant, her brother helped her abort her baby so her parents wouldn’t find out. He kept her secret, but then she found the shelter and found Jesus. She spoke with such hope and you could tell she had come a long way.
The organization wrote a book called Leah’s Story about the Boka Huran coming to a Christian school in the area and kidnapping 110 girls. Some were rescued and were present at the shelter that they introduced, but Leah was still missing. Pray that Leah will be rescued and also brought to the shelter. The girls there knew her and are recovering from the trauma they experienced.
Afterward, the girls had tables set up with jewelry, wrap skirts, and more for us to buy and support them. They are running low on funds so buying their creations helped them. Seeing their faces light up as we tried on the skirts they learned how to make was priceless! They even sang and danced for AND WITH us! It was neat seeing Madison dancing with the ladies leaving her comfort zone in the dust and having fun! We all decided to dance and really get on their level with them.
Dinner was calling our name so we loaded back up into the van for the bunkhouse. Mashed potatoes, gravy, meatballs, and veggies were soon delivered as we gathered around the table.
Josh, the leader who started the drug jungle ministry, ate with us and shared how he started the ministry. How he grew up with a dad who was an apologetic. How the head knowledge didn’t translate to his heart. How he used to be an active atheist persecuting Christians with his words and getting into drugs. Then his eyes were opened when he felt the presence of God and then everything clicked. The head knowledge made sense. He worked on his masters degree constantly debating christianity in a hostile environment with his professors. God then called him to Nigeria where he is now starting drug jungle ministry. He started out developing relationships with 15-30 people and now its grown to 300. He really is teaching and discipling those there. Josh’s passion was also contagious as he shared.
That’s is there biggest take away I want to hold on to for today. Everyone’s passion for Jesus. Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’m just surviving hanging on Jesus, but I don’t want circumstances to influence my passion for Jesus. I want my passion to be contagious so others come alive for Jesus too. I don’t stop Snooki ski dip Snookiwant the story of Jesus to be boring or stale to others.
There team really shared and grew closer as we met for a reflection time. I won’t share every detail, but it was a good night of encouragement!