The past month or so, Sonya and I have been living in a little hamlet/village on the Plateau in Nigeria. Life in the village changes every day of the week, and many things tend to pop out of nowhere, but there is a certain rhythm to living there, and I will try to give the barebones structure of a typical morning.
First thing I would listen for my friend Aminu (he and his family were our hosts) to get up and open the gate outside; this would happen around 4:30 a.m. Then he would come back inside to get ready for morning devotions. I would get up a few minutes before 5, get dressed in the dark, and wait outside for him. Then we would walk together up the road to the Suudu Do’aare (House of Prayer). This is done by the moon or starlight, since the sun is not up until about 6.
We are usually among the first ones there; before we arrive, the doors are unlocked and the caretaker wipes down all the chairs inside. There are 40 chairs (donated by one of our NAB churches 10 years ago) around the outside of the round room; if they need more seating they will lay down mats. There is a small “torch” (i.e. light) in one of the windows, but it only allows light to see where you are walking. Everything in Suudu Do’aare in the morning in the done in the semi-darkness.
When we get there they (usually just two or three people ahead of us) are singing already, and as each individual comes in they join in the singing. They have some powerful women song leaders, and when they are in full throat it is marvelous to hear. Singing and corporate prayers go until about 5:40 a.m., when I begin teaching. I usually teach for about 20-30 minutes, after which someone will either emphasize what I had been talking about, or they will talk about upcoming events the people need to be ready for. We are done by about 6:15 or so, and home again by 6:30, after greeting everyone.
Back at the guesthouse where we stay (the nicest building in the village, btw) Aminu’s wife is already busy cleaning, while breakfast is on the fire, so we chat and watch the kids, or I might lie down again, while we wait. Sonya would make breakfast for us (Semolina – like Cream of Wheat) while the family would eat rice or nyeeri (corn fu-fu), which they like better.
After breakfast (c. 7:30) things happen depending on the day, but if we stayed home, and it was sunny, I would get out my books and a chair and take them out by the road, and sit by the bench there. I would read my Bible, study my language stuff, read, and greet whoever might come along. This would serve as my main devotional time, though I would go find somewhere more private to pray. I wrote a journal while I was there, and have about 30 pages of notes from that.
The Primary school children would traipse by for school from 8-8:30 or so (late little ones scurrying down the path on flip-flops), and that was always fun. I am beginning to know names, and of course everyone knows my name (“JEEEFF!!” my little friend Jibrilla, likes to call out). Some mornings Sonya would go to the school to help teach; other days we might head to the library, which has a decent table to use for a desk (one of two in the whole place), if we had lots of writing to do.
Visitation would often take a good portion of our time. Sonya and I would go together to one side of the community and simply go to each compound, calling out “Salaam aleykum” and wait for the response, and then go in to greet people. This much we can do pretty well in Fulfulde; for the rest we struggle, but are making progress. If I think about something I’d like to share, I can get people to understand me in what I am sure is “Pidgin” Fulfulde. I would also take my Fulfulde Bible and read a portion of it before we prayed together to round out the visit.
We also travelled to smaller communities around, and on Wednesdays would have our formal worship time (Sunday being market day). Or we would schedule times to meet with different leaders and talk about specific issues. This happened a lot as the community is planning to launch a Medical Mission Team in the new year, so there were a lot of preparations to be made for that.
Then lunch would roll around, c. 12:30 – 1:30 or so, but that is another blog.