Nov. 30, 2007 at 11:53pm (Nigeria time 6hrs ahead) (6:53pm US)
I finally arrived in Abuja; can you believe that it took us almost 24hrs to get here? I thought that I was able to get rest during our layover in London, but when your not in a completely safe area, you aren’t really getting the full rest that you need.
We met a man by the name of James in London who was going to see his daughter in Maryland. He was unsure about his flights leaving from London to Washington, so both Bro. Steve and I took him to where he needed to go to get his ticket and he ended with having lunch with us. He called us his friends because we were kind to him. He was from West Africa and was going to be staying in the US until May 25, 2008, which is the best day in the world to me, because that day will be 17 years of marriage to my incredible husband. Brian is both running the ministry and making sure that our twin 4-year-old sons David and Jonathan are being cared for. He’s helping them with their homework, reading to them as much as he’s able to, as well as keeping them occupied until mommy comes home. My kinda Guy.
On the plane to Abuja we sat next to one of the House of Representatives Federal Republic Of Nigeria named Rt. Honorable Arole Fancy. He was very interested in our ministry and chat with us for a while as we also learned a little about each of our backgrounds of culture before we all fell asleep.
It was 20 minutes before the plane landed for Abuja and I went to freshen up. There was a woman waiting to use the restroom as well and we began to discuss the temperature in Abuja. Not long after that we went to take our seats and it was time to get off the plane and as we were leaving, Bro. Steve helped a woman move her bag that was heavy. She asked if we were Christians and we answered, “yes” and she was so excited to meet us. She said, “I am an Evangelist just coming in from London after 5 days and my husband is a Pastor who just retired from the Military.
When we got off the plane, we didn’t have to stand in line, we just went straight through customs as if we worked there. (NOW THAT WAS INCREDIBLE!) They were so kind to us, just making sure that everything was well with us before we departed with the “Nifes Convention Drivers” The Pastor’s name is Emmanuel Magga and his wife’s name is Lirai Magga. These beautiful people were the first to welcome us to Nigeria. I felt as if we had known them all our lives. It was great.
Our next stop was to the Hotel. I new that I was not in Egypt anymore as the whole land looked different. They have what you call “roadside markets” which was indeed on the side of the road. There were young children running through the high corn fields with baskets on their heads, which I thought was pretty amazing since woman in the US walk with books on their heads as a practice of etiquettes.
I began to feel a little woozy but tried to brush it off knowing that I had a full day in front of me. I was dropped off at our hotels and we were greeted by when I went inside I received a quick awakening. There are no electricity or water during the day and to get Internet service, I would have to go to the main branch of the villa to receive access.
Again, I am becoming the odd ball of food intake, as they did not have food that I would compromise to eat. Once again I am without food. I should be about 10 pounds lighter before this mission is over. I was still not feeling that well and continued to try to ignore the feeling, however; by the time we arrived at the convention, it was almost unbearable. As a matter of fact; it was unbearable to the point that my equilibrium felt off and I was very faint because of the heat and the thick air. I was told that since I was next to the equator, my body was trying to adjust. I thought to myself, “well it’s not doing a very good job adjusting.” Even though it was 85 degrees, it honestly felt like 110 degrees. Water was running down my legs and my back was soaked. Of course this means that I had to be driven back to the villa to get some rest.
Mr. Bala who is the President of administration gave me his phone for when I was feeling better as there are no phones where I am staying. We agreed for me to contact him when I felt better and was ready to be picked up. Bro. Steve suggested that they would pick me up around 4pm. Later after waking up around 3:15pm, I tried calling Bala, but where I am staying there is no service. I began to say to myself, “Brushing my teeth with a spring water bottle? No electricity? No water? No internet service?” Help! I’m stranded!
I went to get freshened up, and the bathroom was not the best. The tub had 2 buckets in it for washing but no water except what was left in the water supply tank that hung over the tub, then after that you were on your own. They only supplied you with a towel, toilet paper, and wastebasket. OK, you were on your own again. I washed with the towel, got dressed and covered my head with a wrap. It’s called “doing what you gotta do.”
Bro. Steve came to see if I was ok after they were unable to reach me. He also mentioned that I had to speak at the seminar classes today instead of tomorrow. I was awake, feeling better, refreshed and nervous all at the same time. But as I got over it we headed out to the convention. We were quite tardy when we arrived at the convention as there was a misunderstanding to when I was suppose to teach the workshop, but the people were so hungry to learn that they never left their location believing that I would still come so that they would receive a Word from God.
My topic was “Building your ministry towards the Orphans and the destitute” coming from Matthews 25, and Isaiah 58 speaking on the children of Israel in their homeless state of frustration. We didn’t go through the entire class due to time, but I opened for discussion and a lot of people were very concerned about the help that was needed in Nigeria. Many of them were concerned about the help that was needed in the East and in the North parts of Nigeria. It was so intense that I videoed their concerns. Hopefully I can download on the web.
I met a Pastor today by the name of Pastor Emmanuel who’s church is also in the East of Nigeria. He suddenly began to speak to me about how the Lord spoke to him this morning during his time of prayer and told him to help the poor. He said that his heart is very much for the poor, however; his question to the Lord was, “ How is it that I can help them with no resources. I have been trying to help the poor for 25 years of me Pasturing and yet I have not been successful or just don’t know how to go about doing so. If you want me to help them Lord, send the resources. I told him that the Lord hears his prayer. I want to be able to visit the East and North of Nigeria and my goal is to bring Brian with me the next time that I come so that we are in agreement on what we need to do to help them. Oh Yes, I’ll be back.
There’s only 2 more days of the convention before we head to Jos Nigeria, which is more of a Muslim section of Nigeria. The seminar continues on Sunday and I will be finishing up my topic and discussion at that time.
Well, I’m off to bed.
Dec. 2, 2007 at 6:59am (Nigeria time 6hrs ahead) (12:59am US) The days are so intense with the prayer services, the worship and praise services, teaching services and seminars. We were arriving to the Conference by 8:30am and getting back to our hotels by 10:00pm or sometimes later. I had to dress up each day, which was of course uncomfortable for me since I am normally in my sweats and tees back home at Chosen 300. But this was not only because of the services it was their tradition. The women here are always shriving to look their best in garments that are usually made by hand. The men are also in attire that drape with slacks underneath. I saw some really nice attire that would sale right off the racks in the US.
The location in which the conference was held was on all dirt ground. If you walked on this dirt it came alive. The air remained thick everyday. I would sometimes have to cover my nose and mouth to keep from inhaling the air and dirt. Because of the service going non-stop, we would often get up to walk the grounds. Many of the students that were from the Universities would come up to me asking about starting a ministry for the poor. Many of them explain their passion for the less fortunate and how there are no resources here in Nigeria to make their dream alive.
Many people are dieing because there is no clean water in some locations and not enough water in other locations in Nigeria. The population here in Nigeria is 140,000,000. Fifty percent Christianity and Fifty percent Muslim. A majority of Christians live in the South followed by the majority of Muslims who live in the North. Abuja falls dead in the center of the North and South of Nigeria. The capital use to be Lagos but around 1980 Abuja became the Capital.
Because of Lagos being the old capital, many people still dwell there homeless on the city streets. There are 20,000,000 people in Lagos alone and the populations continue to grow. There are more orphanage here than homeless laying on the streets, however; this means that more and more children here are being abandoned and they begin work at an early age.
I found myself giving much hope to the people and encouraging them to stay focused and not to give up on the work that you feel God has called you to do in helping out the poor. Write down a plan, it doesn’t necessarily have to be in order in the beginning, but it is important to get it down on paper. Have a story behind your vision for the poor. What motivated you, when was the first time you discovered the problem and what actions did you take to resolve it, etc. After you have written your plan of action down on paper, after you have written your story, then began to share with people your vision and motivation. Many will listen and many may not, but continue to tell your story because you may never know who is listening or who may know somebody that know somebody that know somebody. Afterwards, learn your government; find out the structure in how to establish a non-profit organization. Pick up the phone to reach out to attorneys; you will most likely connect with someone whose heart will be moved to do some pro-bono work to help you set up your by laws as well as other mentoring you may need to incorporate your ministry.
Most of all, God will make a way for you, just have the heart, the will, and the passion to keep going.
During our lunch break, Bro. Steve and I took the opportunity to run to the main hotel to finally get on the Internet as we are staying in the annex of the main hotel, which is deeper in the village. When we arrived, there was no electricity and the workers said that it would not be available until after 6pm. We were really not that inconvenience as we were happy to have gotten out of the dirt area. Later that evening we were worn out mostly from the humid whether, so we felt that we needed to head back to the hotel to get a nap. As we were pulling into the hotel, the area director and supervisor of Nifes named Mike Ajao got out of the car and I noticed his attire. I asked him about where to get attire for my husband he mentioned to me that their garments are made by tailor, it’s not too likely to find a store to go in and purchase. I would have to get the fabric and then he would have to get the tailor to make which takes 24 hours to complete. I jumped right on it. We went to the market place and I was so undecided on the fabric, so as I narrowed it down, I finally let Mike make the final selection since he was a Nigerian and seem to have good taste in his attire.
We later headed back to the hotel and Pastors Immanuel and Pastor Michael and I sat down to talk more about the poverty in the East of Nigeria. Pastor Immanuel really seems to have a passion for the poor. His church has about 500 to 700 members and they serve the poor and widowed mothers on a smaller scale. Once a year they purchase N18, 000,000 (naria currency is 120:1) 15,000 US to feed 2000 homeless and widowed. The reason being, their rice is very expensive as 80% of the rice is imported into Nigeria. They are also looking to build a well, which is very much needed due to there being a lack of water. This would cost N348000 ($2900 US). I showed him pictures of our ministry at work and he noticed the screen projector and said that would be perfect for his church to help the people get more involved in worship.
Pastor Immanuel has a very humble spirit; I strongly believe that he was linked up with our group for a reason. I mentioned to him that I would have to bring my husband over soon, so that he could show us that part of Nigeria. Pastor Immanuel was very grateful for me taking the time to speak with him. Later that evening, Bro. Steve and I went back to the main hotel to get us Internet access. We entered the lounge area and there was only one plug in and someone else was using it. The gentlemen let me use the plug since my husband was waiting for me to log on to instant messenger. I told him that I lost a lot of weight and he sent me a photo of a Chicken telling me that I need to eat one knowing that I don’t eat meat. I began to download on the computer all the pictures that I took and it was a long process that caused us to run out of time. Bro. Steve never even got the chance to use the computer. He was also not feeling that well as he has been over working himself during times he should have been getting rest. I didn’t completely take that route as I spent maybe too days out of the trip getting rest.
Dec. 4, 2007 at 8:00am (Nigeria time 6hrs ahead) (2:00am US) I was awakened by a knock on the door. It was the bus driver informing me that he was here for the guest to board the bus. I was already awakened by my alarm clock from my cell phone so I was ready to go. I ran on the bus assuming that the driver was ready to go and found myself being the only one boarded. I quickly grasp the understanding that the driver was letting us know that he was available. Pastor Immanuel informed me that my egg white omelet was ready, so I went to where the others were to have breakfast.
We traveled to the conference and when we arrived, Mike the director met me there with the tailor who would be making Brian’s Nigerian garment. I had to give them Brian’s measurements so we used a 6’3”gentlemen as a prop to measure. They really went all out to make sure I was pleased.
We went to several sessions, but the session that touched me the most this day was during the time of prayer. I have never witnessed so many University students praying the way that these students prayed. They called on the Lord from their soul and it was powerful! I could definitely feel God’s presence usher in as the praises went up. I could of stayed in that session all day, but we had more work and sessions that needed to be done.
We later went to lunch and had to make it back in time so that could teach the seminar workshop. I figured that I would be extra early this time. When I got there the University students were waiting for me in two locations. The reason being is that during our leadership lunch, we were not there to hear that the locations of our tents were being moved because of the heat. I didn’t complain.
We opened with a word of prayer and afterwards the homework that I had given each student on Friday… I would say that most of them turned it in. Some had a chance to connect with a Pastor to get their information in Nigeria, but other students were not able to. There were so many questions to answer. Many questions took some time of not just answering, but also mentoring. Their hearts had much compassion for the ministry for the poor and destitute, I wanted to be available for each and every one of them.
By the end of the day my feet were throbbing and I continued walking and talking with students, answering questions, taking pictures, receiving gifts, it was just a wonderful experience. By the time we arrived at the hotel, Bro. Steve mentioned that we were going to leave for Jos the next morning by 6:30am. I said to myself along with my body, “do you mean 6:30pm?” I was just ready to go to bed, but the woman that was so helpful to us at the hotel said that she wanted to sit down with me to talk about something very personal. I found myself talking and praying with her till about 11:30pm. What a night.
Dec. 4, 2007 at 9:39am (Nigeria time 6hrs ahead) (3:39am US) I was awakened by my cell phone again, even though I hit the snooze button around 3 to 4 times. I got dressed, grabbed my pop tarts and rice crispies for the journey to Jos and out the door I went. It was a 3 hours drive before we reached our destination. We were picked up by Bala who is the “Director of Missions in Nifes” to travel to see his coffee bean farm as well as the school that he built for the orphan children as well as children of very low income families ranging from the ages 2 to 5. He has also developed a tutoring program for children in this community who have fallen behind from not having education in that community.
Bala mentioned that he had originally purchased this land for building a home for he and his family, but when he saw the need in that community and all the children who were not cared for, he knew that he had to do something. He named the school “Global Influence Academy” hoping to make an impact in this community. We went to visit the schools and it was horrific driven into this location. I was concerned that we would get a flat tire, or a busted engine by the way the rocks were banging at the bottom of our vehicle. This school is the only school in that community and without this school there would be no education for the students.
I was amazed how the students in the classrooms from ages 2 to 4 were spelling their numbers from 1 to 10. They sang songs in English and Ebu and they were very disciplined children. I videoed the children as I asked them questions like, “Do you like this school?” “Are you getting good grades?” and “Are you happy that this school is here for you?” You could tell by their responses that they were very shy, but very appreciative.
We then traveled to Bala’s coffee bean farm. This land was purchased by Bala to harvest coffee beans plants and be able to sell coffee to support the school, as well as his family. The farm is around 10 acres of land and he has workers to keep the farm grounds watered, protected, and cared for. Bala has a desire to impact a community that doesn’t have many resources, which seem impossible for many people in Nigeria to do (without resources). The lack of water is major, because without water there can be no harvest, and there would not be many jobs, which means more poverty increase.
The life span in Nigeria is age 70, compared to the US that’s around a 40 difference.
Dec. 4, 2007 at 6:42 (London time 6hrs ahead) (12:42 US) Our next stop was to see J.P. Hirse who is the Chairman Board of Directors of the Mwaghavul Community Bank. Our reason to visit him was for him to set up a group of farmers for Bro. Steve Hackman to speak with them about his coffee business that he began, His goal is to have the farmers of Nigeria to harvest their coffee bean farm so that Steve’s company could purchase, store, package, and sell and a portion of the proceeds would go back into Nigeria. There are many coffee bean farmers, however; they do not have the resources to begin to sell, so Steve believes that this will be a good avenue to help promote agricultural in Nigeria increasing the level of productivity and their economics.
We were given the opportunity to visit the Governor Jonah David Jang who is the Governor of Jos Nigeria. We went to question him about the legal aspects of doing business in their country. We went through so many channels just to get to him. Just when I thought that we were getting ready to meet with him our final destination was in a waiting area. We were told that he knew that we were coming as he was at the Nifes convention and Bro. Steve was able to shack his hand and speak with him at that time, but when we checked again to see if he would soon speak with us, he was eating lunch. His secretary told us that we would see him after his lunch in 15 minutes.
We then waited about another 25 minutes only to find out that he had left the building. Someone forgot to tell us that he was ready so the secretary apologized over and over again to us. She said with deep sincerity, “Please, Please don’t be angry, we are so sorry.”
Just as I thought that we were leaving there was another door that we were escorted to. This office belonged to the director of protocol. He said that he had just spoke with Governor Jang and they were going to have someone escort us to meet with him at his home. (WOW!) We arrived to Governor Jang’s beautiful home. Bro Steve was able to share with him his coffee business and I was able to share with him about Chosen 300 ministries back in the US and how I was moved by the need of Nigeria to be of help. He was delighted to hear of our concern for his country. He shook my hand and ask the I return with my husband back to Nigeria. (Specifically Jos Plateau state).
Bala wanted to get us back to Abuja before dark, but it was impossible because of our late visit to Jos. It is safer to travel in the day time in Nigeria, because of all the check points and anything could happen, so Bala felt responsible in keeping us safe. We had not eaten pretty much that whole day, so I developed a headache, which meant that we needed to stop to get food. I slept a portion of the way, but was often awakened by flashlights in my eyes from the Nigerian military. We began to sing worship songs the rest of the way. Songs like; “this is the day”, “Victory is mine”, “In the name of Jesus”, “You are Great” ushering us in to prayer. Each checkpoint we prayed silently and once we got through it we continued to worship in prayer. I had never seen a military shot gun that close up in my life. All I could do was call on the Lord for safety.
Shan & Steve headed to Convention
Shan with University Students
Nigerian boy balancing bananas
Shandai and student leader
Pastor Emmanuel and Mike in the marketplace
Student leader walking to tent for lecture
People travel to receive water from barrows
Shandai and student leaders
Shandai with Student leader
Nigerian woman carrying dishes on her head
Water carried to village after filling from the water barrows