Mongode Allah (“We thank God”)

Back in the ‘burgh! And missing Jos 😦

Sorry it has taken me so long to write; I have been so busy seeing friends and family since I got back! But here I am, safe and sound.

Reflecting back on my time in Nigeria, I am so incredibly thankful to God. He did so much more than I asked for or imagined. My health, my safety, the friendships I made, provision, the things I learned, the memories I have, the prayers I saw answered… honestly the list goes on of things I thank Him for!

Thank you all also for your prayers and support; I know the trip wouldn’t have been possible without them.

I’ve had such an amazing time away and I would love to go back 🙂

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The final chapter…

Just over a week left! That is so horrible to say, I really don’t want to leave. I never thought I’d feel this strongly about the people and places here but I really really do! I am looking forward to seeing people again when I come home, and also enjoying some UK luxuries but.. yeh, it’s hard saying goodbyes.

We’ve been spending as much time as we can with the GB boys – more films, games and we took them back to Rayfield reservoir. They loved it just as much this time! We played a lot of football and the boys enjoyed being out of the centre.

The mini-library shelving unit is made. We’ve spent quite a bit of time hunting around for books to fill it. It’s looking pretty good now – we’ve got a dictionary, atlas, first words and first reading books, bible stories, books on space and animals and the body, story books at different levels etc etc. I think the boys will appreciate it.

We went to Kaguro for the day again. It was really nice to see the boys, village kids and other friends we know there. A couple of summer teams have spent time at the centre in Kaguro recently, doing programmes with the boys. They were telling us all about it; the boys are so thankful for even a little bit of time you can spend with them.

I got my hair braided again! I thought it would be easier for camp. I got it braided with wool this time, it was shorter than last time and really full.

Camp was very busy and tiring; Abi and I slept for over 12 hours the night we got back! It was so different from a UK camp – truly African. Abi and I were hut leaders for a room of 11 girls aged 7-14. Devotions at 6am, exercise at 6.30… you get the idea; it was pretty full on! We did different games and activities as well as bible studies and worship times. It was very muddy the whole week because it rained so much. I’ll have to tell you some stories about the camp when I get back! It was a very memorable time.

This next week will be very busy I think; there’s so much I want to do before I go. My sendforth, seeing people, taking the GB boys out once more, going to the widows and Open Doors… a whole heap of things.

There has been some trouble in Jos recently but nothing really major. Please pray for continuing peace for this beautiful state and in Nigeria as a whole. It’s Ramadan at the moment so please also pray for peaceful and good relationships between the Muslims and Christians at this time.

Please pray for me in this last week; that God would continue to use me.

Pray for me and the other girls as we have to say goodbyes and leave this place we feel is home!

Thankyou so much for all your prayers and support.

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A little update

Neil has left! He had two sendforths; one at Gidan Bege and also one at Gyero. We went to them both and they were fairly amusing! I had never been to one before so didn’t know what to expect. The kids did several songs (so cute!) and different people prayed and gave speeches. It was sad realising that it will be my sendforth soon! We went to Abuja to drop Neil off. It was a long journey (we only stayed the one night) but it was a nice wee change.

School has finished for the summer now. Abi and I had to assess Hosea and Victor and write up reports of their learning. Compared to what they should know their levels are poor, but considering where they were when we first started teaching them, they have made considerable progress. Now school has ended we have more time to do fun stuff with the boys. We’ve been showing a lot of movies to them which they love! Also a lot of games and just time chatting and sitting with the boys. One of the summer teams left a parachute for us to use, and the boys have been loving the games we play with it. We were hoping to go to Nasco’s (a big factory that makes cheap soap, biscuits and cereal products) but their stock levels are low at the important so it has had to be postponed.

We did another coffee morning with the widows on Friday which went well. We had a time of singing/dancing and then coffee and chat. After, some of the widows shared their testimonies and told us about their pasts and backgrounds. It was really interesting but sad; these women have had such hard lives. We had a really nice time of prayer together and then more chat as we cleared up and the ladies went back to work.

Next week will be camp for all the centres within City Ministries; TH, GB and Gyero. It will be 3 days junior and 3 days senior. I have been asked to be a room leader! It should be a good week but I’m sure very busy and tiring.

I’m dreading saying goodbyes and leaving! It’s come around so soon.

Thank God for the rain recently. Up north haven’t had much rain yet so they’re loving it. Also for good relationships with the widows and GB boys. Please pray for camp and that it will be a safe, fun and successful week. But mainly that the children will either come to know Jesus as their personal Saviour, or that they will grow in their relationship with Him.

Thankyou for all your support and prayers.

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27/07/11

Work at Gidan Bege is continuing to go well. Victor and Hosea are becoming more confident and although progress is slow they are learning. Hosea now recognises numbers 1-15 and can do basic adding and subtracting sums. He is good at drawing the numbers too. His vocabulary is still fairly limited and he struggles with remembering words. Still, he is learning and has come a long way from when I first started teaching him.

The three new boys are settling in well. Abednego told me the other day that he loved Gidan Bege! Jesse is becoming more lively and talkative now and I can see Blessed is enjoying interaction with other boys his age.

The other day one of triple-decker bunk beds collapsed and a few of the boys were injured. It’s no wonder with so many boys all sharing beds. It’s sad to see how cramped and basic their living conditions are.

We organised a set of races to do with the boys – egg and spoon, wheelbarrow, skipping, hopping, three-legged etc. They loved it!

We also took them to the zoo which they enjoyed. Dazang, one of the uncles who came with us, was making the chimps do press-ups and dances which the boys, and us, found hilarious. We bought biscuits and each of the boys got to feed the camel. It’s so nice for the boys to get away from the centre for a bit and they really appreciate it. For many it was their first time to the zoo and the boys faces just lit up when they saw the animals. I taught them ‘poo sticks’ on the bridge using leaves, but it didn’t really work because there wasn’t much water and there was loads of garbage in the river. We gave them popcorn and fanta and drove them back to the centre where they told Uncle Joseph what a good time they had had!

We also showed the boys another movie, ‘Ice Age’. We packed up sweets for them in cups to eat while they watched the film. It was a bit surreal sitting on old, worn mats watching this film in a small cramped bedroom with 19 boys in the middle of Nigeria. The boys faces whilst they watched the movie were beautiful! Some of the older boys would babble in Hausa to explain certain parts and they would all scream or laugh at the appropriate bits. The three new boys had never seen a film before so it was nice for them to get this opportunity.

Abi and I are planning a mini library for GB. We’re getting a wee set of bookshelves made with doors that lock. We’re trying to get funds together at the moment to buy books to fill it. We’re wanting to get picture dictionaries and books with basic words in it for those learning to read. Also basic stories for those who can. And other books with pictures in them because the boys love tracing any image they can get their hands on. So yeh, different books for different levels. I think the boys would really benefit from it, at the moment they don’t have any books.

We’ve started going to Open Doors which is great. We’re wanting to start doing craft with some of the older ones but so far we’ve just done a variety of things; circle times with the younger classes, making a noticeboard for a classroom and painting the schools devotion room (the kids all meet there twice a day and it used to be pretty dull looking). I really enjoy going there and spending time with the kids. Painting was fun and messy too, very different from the UK where you have taps and cloths easily available to clean up with, and where Homebase is near if you run out of paint.

One of the summer teams is here! We went to visit them in Kaguro for a day and they came back to Jos so we’ve seen them quite a bit which has been nice. It was good to see the boys and village kids in Kaguro again. It was funny being back in rainy season; everything was a lot greener and the bushes and plants were tall. The boys were so happy to see us, it was beautiful. We briefly popped to Kafanchan market and it was so sad seeing the places we had been to all burned down.

I can’t remember if I said that the widows ministry are setting up a bridal shop under an American missionary. Well anyway, a fashion show was organised to give people an idea of the type of gowns and accessories they will sell. It was run at this ‘shopping complex’ (nothing like the plazas in the UK, only about 6 shops over two layers in a ‘U’ shape). I was asked to model in it along with the widows! It felt like a wedding; there were decorated chairs on the ground level with arches covered in ribbons. Red carpet was put out and there was music and entertainment. Most of the widows modelled the western wedding dresses but some, and myself, modelled native cloth. I looked so hideous! I had all this make up on, bridal jewellery (including tiara!) and had to strut down the cat walk! It was so much fun, I did a very over the top impression of a real models walk and the people found it hilarious! I was the only white model as well which was fairly amusing.

I had a cold for a few weeks but am feeling a lot better now.

The house felt a bit lonely without Ruth the chicken so we bought a duck! Arthur, who was actually a girl, was lovely but we soon realised that ducks are more difficult to look after than chickens. Arthur was a picky eater and very smelly and wet and we ended up giving him away 4 days later. We did enjoy her short stay though. Oh and then the day after, this tiny, beautiful bird turned up in the cage. It was bright bright blue and so pretty but looked obviously wild. Sadly, that too is not with us anymore. I don’t think we will have any more pets…

I can’t believe I only have 5 weeks left! It has honestly gone so fast. I really don’t want to leave but I know it will be nice to see everyone again.

Anyway, I’ll try and write again sooner than the time it has taken from my last post.

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27/07/11

Work at Gidan Bege is continuing to go well. Victor and Hosea are becoming more confident and although progress is slow they are learning. Hosea now recognises numbers 1-15 and can do basic adding and subtracting sums. He is good at drawing the numbers too. His vocabulary is still fairly limited and he struggles with remembering words. Still, he is learning and has come a long way from when I first started teaching him.

The three new boys are settling in well. Abednego told me the other day that he loved Gidan Bege! Jesse is becoming more lively and talkative now and I can see Blessed is enjoying interaction with other boys his age.

The other day one of triple-decker bunk beds collapsed and a few of the boys were injured. It’s no wonder with so many boys all sharing beds. It’s sad to see how cramped and basic their living conditions are.

We organised a set of races to do with the boys – egg and spoon, wheelbarrow, skipping, hopping, three-legged etc. They loved it!

We also took them to the zoo which they enjoyed. Dazang, one of the uncles who came with us, was making the chimps do press-ups and dances which the boys, and us, found hilarious. We bought biscuits and each of the boys got to feed the camel. It’s so nice for the boys to get away from the centre for a bit and they really appreciate it. For many it was their first time to the zoo and the boys faces just lit up when they saw the animals. I taught them ‘poo sticks’ on the bridge using leaves, but it didn’t really work because there wasn’t much water and there was loads of garbage in the river. We gave them popcorn and fanta and drove them back to the centre where they told Uncle Joseph what a good time they had had!

We also showed the boys another movie, ‘Ice Age’. We packed up sweets for them in cups to eat while they watched the film. It was a bit surreal sitting on old, worn mats watching this film in a small cramped bedroom with 19 boys in the middle of Nigeria. The boys faces whilst they watched the movie were beautiful! Some of the older boys would babble in Hausa to explain certain parts and they would all scream or laugh at the appropriate bits. The three new boys had never seen a film before so it was nice for them to get this opportunity.

Abi and I are planning a mini library for GB. We’re getting a wee set of bookshelves made with doors that lock. We’re trying to get funds together at the moment to buy books to fill it. We’re wanting to get picture dictionaries and books with basic words in it for those learning to read. Also basic stories for those who can. And other books with pictures in them because the boys love tracing any image they can get their hands on. So yeh, different books for different levels. I think the boys would really benefit from it, at the moment they don’t have any books.

We’ve started going to Open Doors which is great. We’re wanting to start doing craft with some of the older ones but so far we’ve just done a variety of things; circle times with the younger classes, making a noticeboard for a classroom and painting the schools devotion room (the kids all meet there twice a day and it used to be pretty dull looking). I really enjoy going there and spending time with the kids. Painting was fun and messy too, very different from the UK where you have taps and cloths easily available to clean up with, and where Homebase is near if you run out of paint.

One of the summer teams is here! We went to visit them in Kaguro for a day and they came back to Jos so we’ve seen them quite a bit which has been nice. It was good to see the boys and village kids in Kaguro again. It was funny being back in rainy season; everything was a lot greener and the bushes and plants were tall. The boys were so happy to see us, it was beautiful. We briefly popped to Kafanchan market and it was so sad seeing the places we had been to all burned down.

I can’t remember if I said that the widows ministry are setting up a bridal shop under an American missionary. Well anyway, a fashion show was organised to give people an idea of the type of gowns and accessories they will sell. It was run at this ‘shopping complex’ (nothing like the plazas in the UK, only about 6 shops over two layers in a ‘U’ shape). I was asked to model in it along with the widows! It felt like a wedding; there were decorated chairs on the ground level with arches covered in ribbons. Red carpet was put out and there was music and entertainment. Most of the widows modelled the western wedding dresses but some, and myself, modelled native cloth. I looked so hideous! I had all this make up on, bridal jewellery (including tiara!) and had to strut down the cat walk! It was so much fun, I did a very over the top impression of a real models walk and the people found it hilarious! I was the only white model as well which was fairly amusing.

I had a cold for a few weeks but am feeling a lot better now.

The house felt a bit lonely without Ruth the chicken so we bought a duck! Arthur, who was actually a girl, was lovely but we soon realised that ducks are more difficult to look after than chickens. Arthur was a picky eater and very smelly and wet and we ended up giving him away 4 days later. We did enjoy her short stay though. Oh and then the day after, this tiny, beautiful bird turned up in the cage. It was bright bright blue and so pretty but looked obviously wild. Sadly, that too is not with us anymore. I don’t think we will have any more pets…

I can’t believe I only have 5 weeks left! It has honestly gone so fast. I really don’t want to leave but I know it will be nice to see everyone again.

Anyway, I’ll try and write again sooner than the time it has taken from my last post.

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JULY already!

So we’ve had several really nice times with the GB boys since I last wrote. One morning the staff were all at some training thing so Abi and I went to look after the boys. We brought Abi’s laptop and played ‘Madagascar2’ for them – they loved it! I think for some it was the first time they had seen a movie :O They were so excited – it was beautiful. The night before we had popped popcorn and made up wee goody bags with lollipops too; the boys really appreciated them.

Tuesday we took the boys to Shere Hills for the day, it was amazing. The boys loved travelling in the van, all squished together and singing songs. The roads to Shere Hills are very ‘African’ and bumpy so it was a bit of a mission just getting there. Once there, the boys were able to run and explore and just be out in the open. We did a few games with them but they were mainly happy just to be there. The boys are so great; they’re really well behaved and appreciative of everything we do. I wish I could upload a photo of them all but you’ll just have to wait another couple of months.

Hosea is improving teaching wise. He is getting good with maths although he often draws numbers backwards. I don’t know if it’s just mistakes as he learns or if he might be dyslexic. Victor still struggles with numbers higher than 4 but his addition with maggi cubes (similar to oxo cubes) is okay. Both their memories are fairly good and they’re building up a better vocabulary. It’s so encouraging to hear them speak sentences, especially Victor.Their concentration is still poor which is hard because we can’t spend too long in one sitting with them. It doesn’t help that often they don’t get food until late on.

The three news boys, Blessed, Abednego and Jesse have arrived at GB. Blessed is the oldest, maybe around 13? and is really sweet in the way he looks after his brothers and other boys at the centre. Abednego must be around 10 ish and is bubbly and full of life. Jesse is apparently 8 but looks closer to 4, he is adorable. They all are, it’s hard to imagine people accusing these boys as demon possessed.

With 19 boys the centre is pretty full and it’s harder to take them on trips. Still, they are all amazingly well-behaved and they don’t mind the squish in the van!

I’m enjoying my Friday mornings at the widows more now. They all look forward to our times together and their excitement is contagious! We normally do some worship, prayer and a short devotion before a game or activity. It’s hard leading devotions because of their English levels, although we are getting better at working with a translator. I don’t know how much they understand or take away from what we say but some of them seem to be really alert which is encouraging. We’ve done various games with them and this last Friday we did an interactive ‘Indomie Quiz’ which they loved. We had different questions and tasks they had to complete, and for each right answer a strand of string was pulled from a saucepan with a lid on it. The ‘Indomie’ pieces were all different lengths and we would tie them together to form one giant piece. At the end they were stretched out to see which team had won with the longest strand. Not that i’m competitive or anything, but the team I was tying indomie pieces together for won 🙂

This Friday was also more fun because three huge crates of wedding dresses had been given to the ministry (they’re wanting to open up a bridal shop). There must have been about 30 dresses and we had great fun helping the widows try them all on so they could be adjusted to African body shapes. It was very crowded and hot but we all had a lot of laughs.

We found sweet potatoes in the Baturi market! A very exciting discovery although they look completely different from UK ones – they are the colour of normal potatoes but huge and shaped like pumpkins. They were incredibly difficult to chop too, I sliced my finger in the process.

We visited a friend in town who owns a shoe shop. He had told us in the past he could sing but as most Nigerians say they can we didn’t think much of it. Anyway he sang for us on Saturday and wow what a voice! It was like something of X Factor or Britains Got Talent, it was beautiful. We spent ages listening to him and doing special numbers with him; it was a bit surreal sitting in this tiny shoe shack in the middle of the market singing and dancing away!

The storms here are way more frequent and heavy than they used to be. Pretty much every day recently it has chucked down with rain in the afternoon. The thunder is crazy loud and the sky lights up purple with the huge cracks of lightning. I love it 🙂 Most people here are happy too because the rain is late this year for their crops.

Last Sunday morning we got up at 6.30 to go to a friends church for a change. We arrived in time for an hour of adult sunday school and then three hours of church. It was in the bottom of what looked like a multi-storey carpark! It was a very African service; lots of singing and dancing. We got moved to the front and had welcome songs sang to us and lots of people came to greet us after. In the afternoon we went to a worship event a friend was playing in which was fantastic. One of those moments where you are so glad you are where you are. It was a long day but good.

Angie and Noah are gone 😦 It was sad saying bye to them, their house is weird now with just Ricky (he’ll join them in a few weeks). Much quieter!

Various new people are coming out for work over the summer which is nice because there’s also a lot of people leaving. The summer teams start soon too which should be good.

We’re hoping soon to go out and do craft at the Gyero school as well as at Open Doors. Jewellery/time with the women at GB still isn’t happening. This is mainly because since the crisis the women just haven’t been coming to the centre which is frustrating. Still, we seem to be quite busy at the moment so maybe it’s good that we focus on what we are doing at the moment without trying to start up more programmes.

Ruth, Abi’s chicken, is no longer. We ran out of food for her and Faniel, our gardener who looks after her and talks to her sometimes (it’s very cute) told us she was ready to eat. So we gave her and her 9 eggs to him, he was delighted and so thankful. Hopefully the house will now be a bit quieter and not so smelly!

There was a huge lizard on the wall in our living room the other day, just another reminder I’m in Africa! As is the fact we’ve had washing in the washing machine for ages because we’ve not had electricity. But at least we have a washing machine.

Prayer points? Mainly the boys at GB, in particular Victor and Hosea and their concentration. And just my last 2 months in general, that I would continue to grow in my relationship with God and make the most of my remaining time here.

Cheers my dears 🙂

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Ama Zing

Lynsey Bell, the mission africa short-term co-ordinator, came back from a small visit for her sisters wedding in Ireland. She brought me back a potato! You can buy ‘irish’ here but they are really tiny, like boiled potatoes, and expensive so I’ve only had them a couple of times. It was a bit sad though because we were really looking forward to eating it so we wanted to wait until we could buy cheese (again expensive) and beans. Abi said you could freeze potatoes (don’t try it) and it went all white and crinkly and then when we tried to defrost it it shrivelled up and leaked black oily stuff. Sick. So we never ate it 😦 But the idea of a baked potato was exciting anyway.

Angie (mission africa long-termer and lives on our compound) and Noah (her two-year old son) came round the other day. Noah was playing with the chicken door (the door to the outer bit where Abis pet chicken lives) and he bolted the door without us realising it. When we all left using the other door, it automatically locked and we were locked outside with no keys. A couple of hours later we realised no one had spare keys for the door and Ricky (Angies husband and does construction) had to saw a wee hole through the door to lift the latch! It was funny having a hole in our door for a while but now its all fixed.

Abis pet chicken, Ruth, has finally started laying eggs! So far she has laid 4. She stinks and is noisy but also is quite cute.

I don’t know if you remember me talking about a woman called Abigail who has a child with CP, two-year old twins and was pregnant? Well she’s had her baby and to help her we took the twins home with us for the night. It was a crazy 24hours but really fun, the house was a tip the next day and we were knackered but they had really enjoyed their stay and they wouldn’t stop crying when we left!

We went to Abuja for a couple of days which was good. It was so hot and we were glad to get back to Jos (really feels like home now) but it was a nice wee break. We went to the craft market there which was amazing, the stuff they make is beautiful! We got public transport back to Jos which I was dreading but thankfully it was okay. A lady on the bus started singing and praying as we left Abuja which was a bit surreal although I am getting used to things like that. The people on the bus with us were lovely and we had some good chats with them. Ha we all made up names for our tickets and I said my name was Ama Zing! It was funny when they read our names out. Don’t know if it was in the news about the bomb in Abuja but we left the day before so praise God for his timing and our safety.

Abi and I helped Ricky dismantle the double bed and put up two singles in her room. The room feels a lot bigger now and I was able to move my stuff which was good.

It was nice to get back into work. The widows are so appreciative of our Friday morning devotions and they loved the game we played with them.

The GB boys too were delighted to see us. We had a really good afternoon the other day with them where we played games and because it was raining and storming so much, were trapped in their bedroom with them and just chatted and spent time with them for ages. Teaching continues to be hard and there is meant to be 3 new boys coming to the centre soon too so we might have to work with them as well if their english levels are very poor. Progress is still slow but Victor in particular is losing his shyness and is becoming more open with us which is good. Both him and Hosea love playing snakes and ladders. Some of the GB boys’ stories are so sad, it’s nice to see them having fun, laughing and playing games though.

The other morning we went to the mens prison with a group of missionaries. It was a bit of a crazy experience but we had a really nice meeting with them and were able to pray for them. I’m hoping to get more involved with the prison ministry, probably more with the women prisoners, soon which I’m excited about.

I am still loving my time here, the novelty of everything has not worn off and I still get excited at the colour in the markets, the beautiful lizards, the random moments that occur so regularly and African life in general.

Thankyou so much for your prayers and support, this past week in particular I have been so encouraged by peoples emails.

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