Headed down to the computer room to check email and do a little work
After dinner I headed over to the computer lab to do a few things. Showered and read some before bed – actually dozed off while reading!
Thursday morning began around 5am with an attempt to wake up for a two-hour hike up one of the hills/mountains near the compound. I managed to pull myself out of bed by 5:15am. We had a few problems getting a guide but eventually left around 8:15am or so – yep several hours later. Spent the time eating breakfast and reading some. We opted for the hill just behind the compound since it would be a shorter hike. A few of us had a meeting with the local ECWA leaders at 10am and would need time to clean up. We made it to the meeting a bit late, but were able to get some insight into how the local ECWA setup works. Immediately following the meeting, Gregg Bryce and I hopped in the van and headed to Igbaja to visit the seminary. The road to Igbaja is the same direction as Ilorin (where we will get many of our supplies). The trip is about a 2 hour drive but the road is pretty bad for well over an hour.
The trip there was a little eventful. We had been through a few police check points and came to a really bad area in the road – there was an 18-wheeler on the right, a huge mud hole, and a fuel tanker on its side leaking fuel. There was just a gap on the left side wide enough for vehicles. We had the windows rolled up and the AC on at this point and did not see anyone official or hear anything, but evidently this was a government checkpoint – they wanted to check our papers for travel. As we passed through a guy walked in front of our van and dropped a board with nails in it which we ran over. The nails were hammered partially in and bent over – the sharp side not pointing out. The guy picked up the board, ran past our van, and dropped the board again. We again drove over it and kept going. Our driver, Azi, is from Jos and not familiar with this road, so Moses who is on the Project team and originally from Egbe went with us. Moses may have dozed off and missed the beginning but evidently he knew this was a legit stopping place and told the driver he should have stopped. The van was still okay so we drove on. At a police check point about half a mile away we were stopped and told to wait for guys from the other checkpoint – they were claiming that one of them was hurt when we drove through. They showed up and the police, our driver, and Moses all talked with them. Evidently, these “nail boys” are known and do this for money – whether they are legit or not. I learned later that they let missionary vehicles go through without question as long as the vehicle says missionary on it somewhere. Our vehicle had no such markings. Moses was able to get us on our way by “pulling rank.” We lost 15 to 20 minutes here but were on our way.
The seminary in Igbaja began as a bible college in the 1930s but became a seminary in 1941. They have a very nice campus and 400 plus students in everything from certificates, diplomas, undergrad, grad, and also a Doctor of Ministry degree. The provost has a BA degree from Boston University, a Masters from Gordon Conwell, and a PhD from Trinity. We talked a lot about programs and the school’s goals – they seem to have a clear vision and are doing many things right. We talked about my teaching there if possible and they are open, even suggesting that I could drive down and teach two classes one day a week. Each class would be two hours which should give me time to drive there and return. The road is in pretty bad shape, but this could be a possibility. The seminary in Igbaja is also connected to the World School of Missions here in Egbe. The School of Missions offers modular courses to pastors. I will meet with the director next week to find out more.
Several guys from the team left for Abuja and/or Jos on Friday. I attended a patient devotional at 8am following breakfast and then hung some security lights in various areas of the compound. Started to feel a little sick to my stomach just before lunch and have mostly rested this afternoon. I did take a walking tour of the housing options for us as well.
Abby’s family went to Ilorin to catch their flight and since there was a special service scheduled at 1st ECWA at 4pm, I opted not to make the trip this time. We started the day with devotions in the chapel with the nursing students, followed by breakfast, and then Jason and I got back to that tree that needed to be cut down. We had some issues with the hardness of the wood and perhaps the chainsaw but eventually it did come down. While Jason dealt with the chainsaw, I ended up talking to a driver named Azi. He is from Jos and somehow ended up bringing us the van that had broken down in Abuja. We talked about Jos and religious tension between Christians and Muslims as well as about American politics – would Obama get reelected? Had lunch around 12:15am and left for Oyi – ECWA Theological College Oyo River or E. T. C. O. R. Gregg and Stephen went as well since Gregg lived on the campus as a kid for about 4 years. The campus used to be a leprosarium and his Gregg’s was a nurse and dad a preacher/evangelist. The school has only been on the site since 1998. The buildings are in poor condition. Their transformer that supplies electricity for the compound blew a few years ago and they were without power for a year and a half before someone donated the funds to change the transformer. They have recently broken ground on a new library and want to increase the size from 4 to 5 thousand to 10 thousand to be accredited to grant bachelor degrees. Now their degrees are technically granted by JETS in Jos – like an extension campus.
The event at 1s ECWA was another service honoring the memory of Tommie Titcombe and the team. They went all out since Rick Bradford (SIM Regional Director and elder at Philpot Memorial Church) is here on this team. There was singing, welcomes from various individuals, a message, and a reading of a brief history of Egbe since Titcombe. They gave us our outfits for which we had been measured, ushered us out to change into them, and then we went back in as a group. Don suggested that we dance in – well, we took three slow steps and then all turned around once. It went over well! Don, Gregg, and Rick all made comments in response and then we left.
Dinner and computer lab rounded out the day!
Tuesday was supposed to be a trip to Ilorin with Abby, her parents, and sister – they were to catch a flight to Abuja and then connect with their flight back to the US. Abby’s dad Jim, though, had not been feeling well for days (malaria) and the trip ended up being postponed. During the morning I graded some papers, checked email (attempted), and checked back in often to see if we might make the trip to Ilorin. Many of our supplies will come from Ilorin, so it would be a good idea to take a look at what is available. By 11:30am the trip had been canceled, so I began looking around for something to do. Jason was attempting to take down a dead tree but was having some issues with the chainsaw. He had managed to cut off several big branches, so I stacked the wood against a nearby tree.
After lunch, we looked over the water tanks that feed the compound. Basically, they have two really large concrete tanks up the hill a bit that are filled by bore holes. These tanks then feed compound. So, each house does not have its own tank like I’ve seen in Jos. We then went out to see the three reservoirs. The first was built for the compound by SIM. There is a pumping station there that is supposed to also fill the two big concrete tanks I previously mentioned – the reservoir is about 2 kilometers away. Something is either wrong with the pump or with the pipes that feed the tanks. The second reservoir is a backup to feed the first and was a joint project with community since the third reservoir is for the city of Egbe. The second also could feed the third. It’s a very nice setup. Over the years, though, equipment has deteriorated and now these three reservoirs are just sitting there inaccessible. At one time it was easy to drive to the reservoirs, but the area is now covered with tall grass. We had difficulty located the pumping house for the second reservoir. The hope is to get the pump for reservoir one working. Water should not be a problem here but for now it is.
We returned to the hospital complex around 3pm and all went back to work. I worked with Gregg (SIM Canada Director) and Stephen Bryce (son) for the remainder of the afternoon in Dr. Shaibo’s house that is being remodeled. We tore out portions of old shelving used for dressers and closets. It was pretty dusty and dirty work, but I’m much better at destroying than building cabinets!
Dinner was at 6:15, followed by time in the computer lab posting grades for Liberty, and chatting with Maureen.
Sorry I haven’t gotten out a blog sooner! I arrived this past Friday around 5pm local time in Abuja. Immigration went smoothly but we were about the get our bags searched by Customs when a government official in immigration showed up (a good friend of one of our group) and we sailed through without being checked. We stayed the night at the Baptist Guest House and had some fried chicken from a local chicken place. We also took a ride in our van to a back alley somewhere and exchanged some dollars for Naira. The following day started with a nice breakfast prepared by Chuck and Judy Brod and a 7 hours van ride to Egbe. One of our vans broke down after arriving at the guest house, so we piled into one for the tip. Thankfully we fit perfectly in the van – although there was some danger of the luggage falling on the heads of those in the back row. The last two hours were extremely bumpy – the road is in serious need of repair. The main damage appears to be due to rain damage. We arrived in Egbe to a warm welcome. At the edge of town a group met us and we had a mini-parade all the way to the hospital compound. After greetings, singing, and prayer, we went to settle in for dinner and some rest.
Sunday was amazing – we visiting five ECWA (Evangelical Churches Winning All) in Egbe and were introduced at each. Everywhere we went the pioneer missionary Tommie Titcombe and his wife Ethel we remembered fondly. The story of their lives serving the people of Yagbaland is inspiring – Tread Upon the Lion. There was wonderful singing and just a warm welcoming spirit everywhere we went. The night before as we arrive at the hospital I could already tell that there was something special about this place and the people of Egbe – Sunday only confirmed what I saw a glimpse of on Saturday. These people love Christ, each other, and even though most of us are strangers . . . us as well! We also met the king of Egbe on Sunday afternoon and toured a new Centenary building completed recently. This building now houses a School of Missions. Basically, the people of Egbe built the building, turned it over to ECWA, who decided that it would be the School of Missions. After the tour there was a ceremony honoring all guests and a catered meal. By email I had already met the guy over the missions school – actually brought the school a suitcase full of books. He explained the purpose of the school during the program and I could not help from praise God – what he said connected with me and how I’ve come to see my role in Egbe. God is truly amazing . . . he is preparing both us and Egbe for each other!
Monday (today) has been good. We toured Titcombe College and George Campion Academy – both secondary schools. I went into town with a businessman from Canada (Jason Lee) to check out cell phones.
He ended up buying a phone and SIM cards for the two cell networks here. Very interesting to see him set things up – they not only got his name, etc. but also his finger prints (digitally) as part of the registration. After lunch we had a tour of the hospital. There is much work to be done here – we need teams to come and repair or rebuild buildings. There are also equipment issues. There is so much potential here – not just the hospital, but the people of Egbe. The future of Christianity and missions work lies in the hearts of people like the believers we’ve met here. The School of Missions is focused on sending out Nigerians to reach Africa and the Middle East. I am humbled so very much that God has called us to be a part of this work.
Yes, it is hot, the water does not always run, and NEPA (electricity) seems to almost never be on . . . but I am so glad to be here!
Well, yesterday was very momentous. I finally signed up for Facebook
I decided to go all out and also signed up for Twitter, Vimeo and a Blog through Google.
I’m feeling very connected!
Maureen and I are working to get organized and things are starting to come together. Pray that we can use our time well and allow God to work out the details. SIMCO is coming up in a few weeks – looking forward to the advice and encouragement!
We met with our realtor yesterday and signed the necessary paperwork to put our house on the market. It’s kind of nice to have such a clean house!
Tim will be attending the Acton University conference this coming week. Pray for a beneficial time—many of the sessions will cover mission-related issues. SIMCO is coming up the last half of July, and we have a tentative trip to Egbe scheduled November 3-18.
We are both feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment—so many things to do and everything seems urgent. Pray that we can prioritize!
Took the first steps today toward selling our house. We have a meeting with our realtor on Monday. It’s amazing how much stuff we’ve accumulated over the years. Anybody want to buy a treadmill, dining room set, piano, king bedroom set, old desktop computers running Win 98SE (yes, they still work), etc. Sorry, not selling any of my books . . . at least not yet!
We hope to have our house on the market by June. In the meantime we need to downsize greatly!
Maureen returned from the ECHO conference today. She had a great time learning about health, agricultural, culture, and community issues. She came back ready to plant a garden and with some insights on culture and community. We’re currently taking the Perspectives missions course at church on Monday nights. As we went through the homework for the week, it was amazing to see that the culture issues related to worldview, values, beliefs, and behavior were also covered at the ECHO conference. In other words, Maureen was ready to do her homework!