Sunday 1, March...
There’s power this morning….something to be grateful for. There’s not a lot one can do with one’s hair in this humidity. I got a curly perm before leaving…doesn’t fit the trends in West Michigan but sure works for here. The heat, humidity and sweat activates the curls so I only need to work with the front. Some days when there’s power I can use my curling iron to do some straightening in front….on other days, it doesn’t really matter. If I am going out, I try to at least ‘feel’ pretty and a little primping helps me out. Since Sunday is a ‘work’ day for me and I am never knowing what I’ll be doing, I try to put myself together the best I can.
They’ve decided to take us to a fellowship of a few hundred where we’ve not been before. We arrived during praise and worship which has been going on for an hour or two already. We are placed on the platform next to the minister’s wife. After offering time and tithing time (two separate events), we are announced by the pastor. The pastor’s words were: “ With a black in the White House and the whites worshipping in Nigeria, certainly the days of reconciliation have come.” The Obama election has had deep-reaching effects here. They feel it is a sign that equality is finally on the way. I am sure the time will come when we will be allowed to speak our opinion on the election but that time has not yet come. God’s grace will need to be upon the timing as our words will not be what they will want to hear. Jon is asked to come forward and greet the people. The Nigerians love Jon. He is such a big man in their eyes and he always makes them laugh.
Eli was also introduced and asked to come forward. The pastor gave him the microphone. As I sat behind him on the platform, I was amazed at what a wonderful young man was standing before me. He was so relaxed and such a good sport. When he finished and turned his back to the congregation to come back to his seat, the crowd instantly reacted with whispers and conversation as they saw the long blonde ponytail down his back. They were instantly taken with him.
The pastor had taken Rev Mrs Ogbuji aside during the second offering and said he felt I was to ‘take the service.’ Goodness came to me and said, “The service is yours. Take your liberty.” I was introduced and given the mic. God took it from there. It was wonderful to be ‘back in the saddle.’ The message was timely and God’s grace carried me through. When it was time to leave, they blessed us with an offering. God is indeed faithful.
Following the service we needed to stop and make a hospital visit. A young woman who had been married for 5 years had surgery for what they called a fibroid. I’ve been on many hospital visits and the initial shock is somewhat over for me. This was the first such visit for Jon and Eli. We went into the room which was shared by another woman recovering from surgery. You can’t imagine but I can try to give a description. Each one has their own bed. There are not bathrooms but bedpans under the beds. They have a sheet to cover up with. There is a type of IV but nothing I’ve seen before. There was not any A/C while we were there. The ventilation ….I was going to say was poor but the truth is that there isn’t any. No sinks or water in the rooms. The heat and smell is a bad combination. The nurse came in while we were there and asked us to come with her. She wanted to show us something. While I stayed in the room and prayed privately with the woman, Jon went with the nurse and she picked up a bowl that contained a tumor the size of a full term baby that had been removed from the woman the previous day. No refrigeration or anything to preserve or cover the tumor….it was enough for Jon to see. These fibroids are common among the women. It prevents pregnancy and very often left unattended is fatal as it takes over and causes many other health problems to get out of control. Eli’s eyes continue to be open…he spoke of how our hospitals were and how these people survive more than he imagined and still have joy. We all humbly thanked God for our health.
The rest of the day was peaceful. The heat and humidity is so oppressive that your strength is spent easily. Laying around is about all you can do at times. There’s no power for television and nothing really to do….Jon and Eli have watched movies on the laptops….keeping everything charged up and ready is important since you never know when the power will be back on. Once we are started on the rural projects, there will be much more to keep them busy but we will not be going out to the villages until later in the week. We are waiting for Rev Ogbuji to return – we’ve not seen him since our coming into Calabar.