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)
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!