Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Sunday in Africa

It's Sunday evening here in Egbe. We've had quite a day! We started out this morning with church at 9:30. It went 3 1/2 hours! Today was a special Valentine's service so they went long. Usually, it's only 3 hours. We sat on wooden benches and it was around 99 in the shade with 47% humidity. Believe it or not, it didn't feel that long.

Nigerians speak English but we have a difficult time understanding each other. We weren't able to understand most of what was said but I found that we were still able to worship together. They had us all introduce ourselves and they said they couldn't understand our names either! I guess it goes both ways. This church has a lot of young people from an orphanage, a school and a nursing school so there are few married couples. Much of the service spoke about real love and the pastor, elders and leaders among the teens were all very open about how to stay pure in your relationships - both in dating and in marriage. At one point, I believe an elder spoke to girls about what to say to a married man who seemed to be too "friendly". Aids is a huge problem here so I was glad to hear them being so frank in their teaching.

I've been impressed that the people here dress very well. They have so little but they dress far better than we do at home. Women all wear skirts here. Many of them wear high heels and pencil skirts with blouses or they wear the traditional dress in multicolored patterns. All of the women wear a head covering in church. You'll see me with a scarf over my hair when I post pictures. Many of the men wear dress pants with crisp, colorful shirts or their traditional dress. I won't even try to describe it. I'll post pictures later.

I can't imagine how they keep their clothes so clean! Wee have running water in the compound for certain hours of the day but the people in town do not. They have to carry it! They keep themselves and their clothes very clean though. Next to them, I feel totally under-dressed!

ECWA Pastors welcoming us with gifts of live chickens, minerals (soda) and bananas
This area (Southern Nigeria) is probably about 90% Christian. As we traveled yesterday, we saw churches everywhere. ECWA is a sort of denomination here. In Egbe alone, there are 13 ECWA churches. After our service we went home to meet a delegation of pastors from the 13 ECWA churches. They came to greet us and thank us for coming. We have pictures of the gifts they brought. Bananas, plantains, fruit, Coke, and 2 live chickens!! Apparently this is common as our missionary hosts weren't surprised. The ladies who cook our meals put them in the back yard but I'm sure we'll enjoy them while we're here. The pastors were all dressed in their customary dress. We all sat down in the house and they very formally addressed us and then asked if we wanted to respond. They prayed many prayers over us for blessing and protection. It was a humbling experience. It also gave me a new appreciation for Church.

We took a closer look today at the projects we'll be working on. I'm so thankful we had today to acclimate! After seeing what had to be done, I had a nap! Hoping to have more energy tomorrow. We'll be working on one of the houses for the hospital staff or volunteers. We're also waiting for a container that's sitting in the port in Lagos. It could take weeks before it clears customs but we're hoping it will come while we're here.

Dr. Phil and Janne Andrews with Dr. Laura
We've had Dr. Phil Andrews and his wife, Janne here this weekend. They are SIM Directors in Nigeria. They live in Jos in the north but brought Dr. Laura Smelter down. She will be serving here for a few years which is a huge blessing to the hospital as they haven't had an actual doctor for quite some time!! The "doctors" they've had were all students. Dr. Laura will be teaching and seeing patients. Please pray for her as she settles in and sets priorities and pray for Phil and Jan as they leave tomorrow morning for Jos. It's a long bumpy ride.

While I napped this afternoon, John went out for a walk and met some children. They all posed for the camera and one little boy asked for sweets. John said he didn't have any so the boy said, "Tomorrow then?" He also spoke with some students and one of them gave him some cashew fruit. There are trees here on the grounds. He told them he didn't know that it came from a tree with fruit. He just goes to the store and buys them in a bottle. They all thought that was very funny! He brought them home and gave them to our cooks but they said if they had been on the ground, we couldn't eat them. Since we didn't know, they threw them away but told John that they would fry him some tomorrow. John always seems to make friends with whoever is cooking! He knows how to get the good food!

Well, it's about time to go to bed. We only have power for a couple of hours at night and it's pretty spotty at that! The only air conditioned room is the computer lab at the far end of the compound. Right now, John and I are there but with no power, we're sitting in the dark, typing with flashlights and it's sweltering!!! Time to go to bed. It's almost 9:00 and we have to be up for breakfast at 7:00.

Goodnight from Egbe!


  1. This may sound sort of dumb, but ... as you were describing the 3.5-hour church service and what people were wearing, I teared up a little! 11 years since I left home, and the most random things make me homesick!

    1. Hannah, that doesn't sound dumb at all! Glad it brings back some memories for you!