Sunday, April 01, 2007

The 52nd good thing about Lagos: Bonus Sunday -- Fast and Testimony Meeting in the morning and General Conference on the computer in the evening!

I'm listening to Elder Oaks speaking in the morning session of Sunday General Conference as I write this. It's 5:45 PM here. It's pretty neat to be able to watch a conference session live while so far away. I'm sure glad I can catch conference this way and don't have to watch it the Nigerian way. They announced in church today that the Stake will watch conference at the Stake Center on the last Sunday in April (from DVD). They will start showing the sessions at 8:30 AM and continue with all 5 sessions straight through till 6:30 PM! Not only are there the difficulties for us in getting to the Stake Center, but I'm sure my attention span and bottom are not up to that marathon viewing! But I'm heading out of here tonight -- my bags are packed, I'm ready to Boston, hoping to beat the arrival of my new grandson to the world. I'm excited!

We had Fast and Testimony meeting at church today. It was, as usual, a spiritual feast. These Nigerian members are so earnest and humble and believing and they express themselves so beautifully. I will really miss hearing their testimonies. We heard a fun testimony from a new missionary in the ward. His name is Elder Mau and he's in the center in this picture (the other guys really wanted to be in the picture with him). He's the first young full-time missionary I've met here that is not from Africa. He's from Tonga. Though he is not much lighter skinned than the Nigerians, he is still called a "oyibo," which means "peeled one" -- the local slang for white person. He's 19 years old and has been in Nigeria for just over a week. He had 16 days of training at the mission training center in Ghana before he got here. He told of getting his mission call in the mail in Tonga. He said it's a big celebration time, the family gathers for the opening of the envelope to see where the missionary will be going. He said that he read the words "Lagos Nigeria mission" and everybody clapped and cheered and was so excited for him. But then someone asked "where is Nigeria?" And no one knew! He said it was a few days before he learned that he would be going to Africa. He said he was very nervous to go here -- worried about the heat and the food and the personal risks. I talked with him afterwards and asked why, when he was so worried about the heat, he was wearing this hot fleece over his shirt. It was a HOT day and the power was out for much of church, so without the ceiling fans moving air, everybody was fanning and sweating. He said that his shirt wasn't ironed this morning -- he said with a grin that his mom always ironed his shirts for him. I laughed with him at that. But he really paid the price by wearing that hot fleece jacket! He said it's a hard adjustment being here and I really felt sorry that I won't be here to befriend him. I'm so grateful for those local members that are kind and friendly to my son on his mission in Portugal. I hope Elder Mau adjusts to life here and also that he learns how to iron his shirts!
Our discussion in Relief Society (our women's meeting) was on honesty. It was very reassuring to see that, in this country where lying and corruption are endemic, there are people who value honesty and are committed to being honest. The women acknowledged that it is a very difficult thing here, but their friends and coworkers see the difference in their values and they are trusted and respected.
For my last Sunday here, I didn't get to play the keyboard at all. Either the power was off, or the keyboard wasn't working. So we sang the hymns without accompaniment and it was so wonderful to hear them sing the closing song, "The Spirit of God." I could tell it was a favorite hymn here. They were singing at the top of their lungs. Some of the young children were even almost shouting "we'll sing and we'll shout with the armies of heaven...." Oh, I will miss their singing the most!
Well, I've got to finish getting ready. My machine gun-toting escorts and the bullet proof SUV will soon be awaiting me! But, never fear, I've got lots of blog posts ripe for the writing -- so I'll keep up the good things even though I won't be back here for a while.

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