The following are some of the other adjustments we are making to life here.
Bathrooms – in Kenya and with my parents we only had one bathroom for our family to share. Here we have two bathrooms!!!! This morning I actually took a bath and shaved my legs before church WITHOUT having to move the boys bath toys!!!!!
Neighbors – In Kenya we lived on a compound (small neighborhood with a wall around it) with 2 other American families and 2 single guys. We often traveled together so except for Laura coming over every once in a while we often went our different ways when we were in town. One family had grown kids and the other had 3 kids from 12 on up. We rarely crossed paths. In America we had neighbors living in our home, but we lived on a mile-long dead-end street with only 9 houses. There were 2 kids at the very other end of the road whom they never even met. The area was safe so they could go out to play, but unless their cousins came over there was no one to play with. Now here we live on a compound with 12 families and one single. Plus one of the families are dorm parents for about 6 kids that go to the nearby international school. Our 8 houses (several duplexes) are formed in a big circle with a basketball court/play area in the middle. There is lots of activities here, people to go ask questions of, regular basketball games to watch, and kids’ soccer going often too. Folks sit out on their porch swings and just talk. It is really nice. I can walk around the circle 7 times to make a mile in the morning or if I wanted to I could join 3 ladies from our compound at 6:00 and drive to the nearby school and walk the track. It’s a very small town feel in a city of 800,000 SMILE. Playmates – even now (at 9:00 on a Sunday morning) the boys are outside playing with their friends. There are two Nigerian families on the compound with kids the boys ages and so there are ever present friends. Samuel (pronounced Samwell) is almost 12 and a good leader. He has a friend named David who comes over a lot too. Then his younger sister, Claudia, is 9 and their younger brother Ima (Short for Imanuel) is 2. There is also Comfort who will turn 11 next week and her little sister Gift who is just 4. Most of the American/Canadian/New Zealander families have older kids (Middle school and up) even they are helpful and playful. The other night the boys stayed outside till after 7:00 playing soccer with 2 middle school girls and 2 high school girls. They were being so helpful to the boys – kicking it softly when David was goalie and letting Brian get a goal when he kicked it. It is so good for the boys – since they never had regular playmates at their doorstep.
Bible Study – The women of City Ministries get together every Thursday for a Bible Study. I have only been a part of one Bible Study in the last 8 or 9 years!!!! And we just started studying the book – Having a Mary Heart, In a Martha World. Wow – I feel like that was set up just for me. I am soaking it up. And I think if I wanted too (though right now I do not) I have at least 2 and probably 3 other Bible Studies I could also choose from. There are about 12 women in the study – Single, married with young kids, and married with kids out of the house. They are Irish, British, Danish, Canadian, American and Texan (SMILE).
Many Cultures – we came here to minister to and with Nigerians but are finding a joy in working with people from many cultures. So far I believe we have met people in the missionary community – many of whom we will work directly with – from Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Britain, Korea, Canada, America, South Africa, and Denmark. (There was one girl here for a short term even who is a black American whose parents are Nigerian born from the Ibo tribe). We are all over the map. It’s so fun and cool to remember the missions responsibility is not an American calling, but a world wide venture – and God is in charge of it all – calling us from all over the world to serve all over the world.
Church – While we want to eventually go to Nigerian churches and see the culture and worship in new ways. For now it has been very good to land in the church that meets at Hillcrest International School for now. It is made up of mostly expatriate missionaries – though there are several Nigerians that come as well. There are about 100 that come and the worship alternates between contemporary and traditional. God shows up – and I often find myself crying as I hear the truths in the hymns we sing. (Of course one of those Sundays was Easter so just the truth of the resurrection brought me to tears again.) It is informal and felt familiar very quickly. It is great for the boys because it has a Sunday School just for them with many of their missionary friends. The Adult class is doing a series on respect in marriage which is wonderful. The kids stay in the whole service (only 1 hour 15 minutes as compared to Nigerian 2 to 3 hour services) including a children’s sermon so they get to learn how to worship the Lord with us. I do hope that as the boys get older we can try some other churches but for now Hillcrest Chapel has made our landing in Nigeria less bumpy. SMILE and praise God.