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Sunday, January 17, 2016

#3 Nigeria: First Sunday at Church

We were so glad to see this sign as we drove down the road! 
I'll get better pictures of the church in the future. This one is obviously not great. :)

We were really lucky to not only find a ward here in Lagos, it's really close to us. It took us a few days to get ahold of someone to confirm the church times and address because the address on lds.org says something like: 22 Alpha Beach road, next to such and such bus stop on the right, off of Lekke Expressway, and Google Maps had trouble finding that. :) Another obstacle is that we have to hire a driver here, and most don't work on Sundays. We still haven't figured out exactly what we'll do about that. The options are to pay a driver extra every Sunday just for church, hire a Muslim driver (but I can't seem to track down the list of drivers to call one), or look into seeing if we can get a bus to take us. The last option sounds the easiest, and that's what all the other churchgoers on camp do, but we're not sure if they'd give us a bus just for our family. :) Hopefully we can get that figured out this week.

Today we paid someone else's driver to take us, and he even stayed for the meetings! haha I saw him sitting with the missionaries, and he even came home with a Book of Mormon. The church is in an old, run-down building, but everyone there was very nicely dressed (most men even in white shirts and ties) and very happy. I will try to take pictures of the meetinghouse in the future, but it definitely made me appreciate US church buildings. The chapel was a room with about 50-60 chairs set up, a podium, and a small sacrament table. There was no air conditioning, and Russ was literally dripping sweat before the meeting even started. They also didn't have a piano, so the hymns were sung a cappella. On the one hand, it was very inspiring to hear 50 Saints singing "How Firm a Foundation", and on the other hand, I desperately wanted to buy them a keyboard or a CD player or something so they could have music at church! All the speakers and teachers seemed very well-versed in their scriptures, and their testimonies were all simple but took hold of the true foundations of the Gospel. It was neat. I'll be honest, though. The room was super hot, there was a very loud generator outside (probably powering the lights and few ceiling fans), and in addition to hardly being able to hear them, we could hardly understand their accents. Maybe if we could have heard them better, we would've gotten 75% of what they said. As it was, I'd say I got less than half. 

Lots of people were friendly and introduced themselves to us. Everyone also liked interacting with the girls. We met with the Bishop to transfer our records and asked him if there was anyone in the ward we might be able to employ as our driver and/or stewardess (maid). He said he'd get back to us, but there are actually 4 people in the ward (that we know of) who work at Chevron already! It's too bad we can't snatch up one of them, but I asked one to come over tomorrow and help me decide on a stewardess since I have about 12 resumes and would love some insight! I thought maybe there would be other expats in the ward, but since we are the only ones, we are really hoping our tithing and fast offerings are going to help the ward! I guess I don't know what the other people's financial situations are, so I shouldn't assume anything, but there were only about 5 cars at church, and one of them was ours. Plus, when the expats pay a driver $200-250 per month and that's considered good, and the average salary in Nigeria is $3,500 PER YEAR....just yeah. I hope we will help those faithful ward members!

Primary and nursery were combined in a small room with about a dozen kids. Every time we checked on Sophia, she seemed to be having a good time (even though she said she didn't...). The kids stayed in the same room the whole time, but when I walked by at different times, it looked like they were having a lesson, a little activity, snack, and I heard one or two Primary songs. Since it wasn't really a nursery, Grace only lasted about 5 minutes before we heard her crying and she hung out with us the rest of the time. 

I also want it to be known that even though Relief Society was held in an old, dirty kitchen, there was a table cloth on the table!! 

Even though it was very different and we were the only white people in the congregation, it was one of the most comfortable things we've done here - because the church is the same everywhere! We were learning from the same manuals, same Hymn books, same sacrament, and even the announcements were exactly the same. One brother in the ward introduced himself and asked if the church was the same in America. We told him it was and he said, "See. Even with different color skin, we are one." :)

1 comment:

Carson said...

That's a great comment from the man you met at church who said, "we are one". So glad you were able to go to church and have the experience of gathering with the Saints in another culture. That's one thing we didn't do when we lived overseas since we always went to the military wards.