John and I are flying to Abuja to host another conference there, then heading home the following weekend.
After the airport we took a road trip through the country side to a neighboring state. Our first stop was an orphanage, or “home for motherless children.” The staff there is caring for 18 kids from newborn to 4 years old. They are an entirely faith-based ministry, with no institutional support. Truly doing the work of “true religion” as the Bible says. It was an honor to meet the staff (all native Nigerians) and a pleasure to spend some time with the kids. All the older ones could “gimme five” and followed me around to do that. Greg was really drawn to the babies, and he was crying when we left. It really touched him. John was able to give them a large supply of vitamins, and I gave all the little girls bracelets made by my daughter Rachel just for them, of which they were very proud. We were also able to give them a much-needed financial gift thanks to our mission trip donors. The facilities are rough but definetely well kept, and the staff showed the heart of Christ in their loving care of the kids.
After that, we visited the neighboring leper colony. The contagious residents are kept well separated, so we were not in danger of infection. Leprocy has been nearly conquered as a socially stigmatized disease. It is curable, and those who are left crippled by the effects are mainly integrated these days back into their home communities. At one time this facility housed 5,000 residents, but now their down to about 60 or so. The ones who remain are simply not able to be re-integrated for one reason or another. The lepers, for the most part, are distinguishable mainly by their hands and feet. Most have no fingers or toes, some have even less than that. Most are older, who were infected before the introduction of modern treatments. One mother had no hands, but a very bright, normal son (6 years old – he liked to “gimme five” too!) and husband who lived on premises. John London had worked very hard to purchase and load a Nook (like a Kindle) with all kinds of books including a Bible — a whole library all in one — and did a fine job of presenting it to the director, and giving him the training he needs to use it. It will be a blessing to the community there. We spent a few hours fellowshipping and praying with the people. Again Greg bonded with a baby — he has a real gift there. We found the people to be especially joyful and peaceful, and left there feeling that they blessed us more than we blessed them! Again, we left some vitamins, shoes and clothes that John L. brought, and a financial gift.
Afterwards we drove back to Owerri for dinner, and then to the Praise Tabernacle Church to start saying goodbyes. Every member of our team has made friends with many of the folks here, and it’s hard to leave. I think they’re experiencing what I felt last year — that is, it’s easy to feel more at home here than we do even in America. The people are friendly, joyful, hard-working, no-nonsense, bright, articulate, faithful, passionate, generous and just plain fun to be around. I sure wish they’d send misisonaries to America! We could use what they possess here in abundance.
Tomorrow we plan a fun day. Going to the stadium, where the community gathers on Saturdays for sports, and then back to the marketplace — the boys didn’t get enough of the authentic local experience yesterday! Then it’s back to the hotel where they’ll be packing up to head home.
Thank you again to our trip donors — today, more than most, the rubber really met the road. We were able to bless all those we visited, and our team was forever changed. We couldn’t do this without you!
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