Thursday, May 29, 2014

Miss Mary

There is one woman I have failed to mention in my blogs, but she has been a critical instrument playing in the background of my life here at ACA.

Her name is Miss Mary. Until tonight, I didn't know much about this woman, her age or full name, whether she lives with a family, or by herself, but I see her just about every day.

Miss Mary comes every day to clean our house. Maid is not the right word, maybe housekeeper? In some ways, she's become part of our little "family" at the American House where I live.

Don't misunderstand me when I say that I have a maid. I'm not living a life of luxury while I have hired help to do the work. Hiring Mary means that she has a means to live. We are able to help her by giving her a job. (And it is nice to have someone help keep the house tidy)

Miss Mary has some kind of medical condition that makes it hard for her to work at times, and keeps her in pain most of the time, but yet, she is always one of the most cheerful  people that I have ever met. She goes about her day humming hymns or praise songs. She even makes up her own songs during the day and sings them as praises to God.

Throughout the day, when she hears good news, she often responds with a, "praise Jesus!" The more the year has progressed, the more I've seen Mary's faith that has guided her life and overflows in every aspect of her day.

Last December, just as I was about to leave for the Christmas holiday, I was anxious and nervously trying to gather everything I needed to head out. Flying into Nigeria was a completely different experience from anything I had been used to and I had no idea what to expect on the flight out. The Nigerian airport is not like any airport I've ever been in, not to mention the drive to Lagos. Before I left, she prayed with me and my anxiousness left as I was filled with such peace.

Several weeks back, we had a bad mouse problem at the house. For days, she would come in and tell us that she had been praying that the mice would be caught. "God has told me that there will be no more mice, praise Jesus! The mice shall not come and spread sickness" She would say.

Then, one day as I was sitting at the table, Mary walked into the pantry and starting singing praises to God. "Thank you Lord Jesus, you are mighty! You have kept your promises. Thank You Lord, the rat is dead!" (and so-forth)

This Monday, I walked into the kitchen after one of my classes and Mary asked how my cold was and if it was gone. I wasn't sure what she was asking at first, because she was using the Yoruba word for cold, but when I realized, then I wondered how in the world she knew, since I didn't really talk to her the past week when i had a cold. Without even asking, she said, "When I was praying for you, God told me that you had a cold, so I have been praying for it to go away!"

Tonight, I was even more in awe of Mary than ever. We invited her to dinner, as we are all leaving Nigeria soon. We intended to pray for her ask to Lord to bless her, but it ended up being the other way around. While we sat around the table, she barely touched her food as she told us about her life, and how she came to live in Ibadan. She was born in a village close to Calabar. Her father had four wives, and she was the fifth child on one of the wives. When she was just born, someone gave her a blessing and said that her life would be spent as a servant of God. As she got older, she left her village with an uncle. She's never returned to the village, saying that the people in her church are now her family.

Her life has not been easy by any means, but she is one of the most cheerful people that I've ever met. She turned to us and asked, ok are we ready to pray.
"But Mary, you've hardly eaten anything, please get some food!"
"Oh no, I never eat much before I'm about to pray!"

So we moved to our living room where she proceeded to sing songs and pray for us. She asked for requests and prayed for each of our particular needs and requests, then proceeded to go to each of our rooms to pray for us specifically.

I thank God for the faith of this woman and for her example of faith. Although she cannot read, she quotes scripture to us. Her life shines with an overflow of her love of God!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Nigeria News

In response to Nigeria being in the news so much lately, this article answers some of the questions about Nigeria, that you might not have known. It makes for an interesting read.

On another note, I want to encourage all of you to be praying for the speedy return of the girls who were kidnapped by the Boko Haram, jihad extremist group. I  know that hearing stories of close to 300 girls being kidnapped can seem so far away from the comforts of your own home. In fact, even though I live in Nigeria, it can seem so far away. That is, until I think about these girls as my own students. Things change when you think of the individual child as a person, with a name, a home, and parents that miss her, rather than as just part of a group.

The girls discipleship group that I've gotten to be a part of has been praying and fasting for each individual girl these past several weeks.

They have hung up posters with each girl's name. Teachers, parents, and students have put their own names beside the girls' names as they have been praying specifically for each child.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Back with the Babies

Back with the Babies
Today was the first time since January that I went back to visit the babies from Ibadan's Motherless Children't Home. I went a little later in the morning, so that the toddlers would be off of their potties, and I could actually play with them.

There were some new faces as well as familiar faces missing(we were told that several of the kids went home to live with their fathers or relatives).


I especially wanted to see my little friend, Obama, but I was afraid that she wouldn't  recognize me.

I had nothing to fear. As soon as I called her name and held out my arms, she came running to me and wrapped her arms around me.

This is the little baby who looked warily at me 7 months ago and wouldn't get close. The child that I never saw smile.

Today, she couldn't get close enough to me. She kept snuggling into my lap and squeezing her arms around me, and laughing as I tickled her foot. For the next hour and a half, she would not let go of me.

She's rough with the other kids, often pushing them away so that she was the only one to sit on my lap, but she's never had an example of physical affection.

She watched me as I patted the back of a little boy who was crying and a minute later, she was also patting his back and whispering soft words to him. She then turned to me and buried her head in my shoulder as she patted my back.

I love this little one and wish there was a way that I could make a difference in her life.

Friday, May 2, 2014

24 Hours Sports Marathon

Our school just hosted a 24 Hour Sports Marathon as a fundraiser to raise money to make our sports facilities better. They are hoping to put in showers for the students, as well as put in astro-turf on the soccer field.

One of the dads introduced the idea of a 24 hr. Sport Marathon because he had done something similar as a kid in a boarding school in the UK. In order to participate, students  had to sell raffle vouchers. Around 80 students from 4th-12th grade participated in the event and were broken up into 10 teams. 

The teams were able to compete in different events, either as a group or individually and it was our job as the teachers to help facilitate the event. Because many of the teachers have families, or live far away, the on-campus staff were chosen to help run the events throughout the night.

I was assigned to teach an aerobics class at 4:00 a.m. this morning. There's nothing like a good workout to wake you up in the middle of the night!

Enjoy the snapshots.

 Reine - One of my Lebanese 4th graders.

 Cheyanne- 5th grader from South Africa

 Lalolu- 5th
 Michael D.
 Anjola-4th Grade


 This kid is at least a foot taller than me, with the pink shirt and baloon I just thought it was too cute!

 The honorable commissioner from Oyo state gave the school 200,000 Naira for our school.
 Our "May Day" pole representing the different teams
Let the games begin