We left Egbe around 10am on Thursday. I truly had no idea, though, that I would feel as sad as I did. Even though I had only been in Egbe for eleven full days, I felt a true connection. I thank God for giving me this assurance of his calling for my family. The drive to Abuja was long but normal . . . as normal as any drive in Nigeria. I suppose I had gotten used to the dodging of potholes! On the way to the Baptist Guest House we stopped by a Catholic Guest House to checkout the accommodations. The Catholic Guest House is closer to the airport and would mean a slightly shorter drive to Egbe for future teams. I used the evening to relax a bit, read, and begin the process of digesting all that I had experienced in the past two weeks.
Friday was spent shopping! We visited a few grocery, appliance, and furniture stores. I took some pictures in the grocery stores so that Maureen would have an idea of the items available in Abuja. Our last stop was the Hilton Hotel – evidently they have a nice shopping area in the back for Nigerian items. The prices are a bit high but the quality is good and you can still bargain. Back at the Baptist Guest House we met up with a few other members of our team who had gone to Jos a week or so earlier. We all sat around and rested a bit before heading to the airport. Some checked email and others talked . . . catching up on the prior week’s events. On our way to the airport we stopped by Mr. Biggs – a Nigerian fast food restaurant – for dinner. We arrived at the airport early to allow for any delay that we might encounter during check in. There was a security screening to get to the ticket counter area, followed by a baggage check, checked bag weighing, and then the actual ticket counter for our boarding passes. I ran into a small issue at this point. The ticket agent asked me for the last four digits of the credit card I used to purchase the flight – evidently some sort of security protocol. Seems like I experienced this also in the Philippines. I informed her that I did not have that card with me and could not remember the last four digits. At first she told me that I would have to speak with someone at Lufthansa but then just kept asking for the number. I kept explaining that I did not have the card with me and eventually she just checked me in. There was one immigration form to complete and get cleared before we made it to the first waiting area. We were eventually allowed to go through another security check point before entering the second waiting area. Our flight departed around 11:15pm and I hoped to get some sleep on the way to Frankfurt.
Even though I was tired, I really didn’t sleep on the red-eye flight. I talked with the guy next to me a while. He was a Nigerian (Ebo) and a Christian but had lived in Germany for over fifteen years. We talked for a bit about the lack of “progress” in Nigeria. He seemed upset that nothing ever seemed to change and had not had a good trip visiting family. I offered some words of encouragement but I don’t think he was swayed. We arrived in Frankfurt around 5:30am and made our way to the McDonalds to hang out – all of us had at least a five-hour layover. After breakfast and two cups of coffee I was feeling a bit better. We took the opportunity to share some parting thoughts about our time in Nigeria but eventually had to say our good-byes. I boarded my flight for Houston and began the longest leg of my journey home. I got some rest but as I write this on Sunday evening, the jet lag is very apparent. Immigration and Customs in Houston was relatively quick, which was good given my short layover. I arrived at DFW just before 5pm – roughly twenty four hours after departing Abuja. Maureen and Luke were there to meet me. I missed them so much and have so much to share with them about my trip. As I reflect in the coming days and weeks, I trust that God will help me process all that I saw and learned. One thing is for certain – God is at work in Egbe! I look forward with great anticipation to being a part of that work.