By Carl Hill
Traveling back and forth between Nigeria and the United States is one of the great joys my wife and I share in our role as co-directors of the Nigeria Crisis Response. It has been truly amazing to witness the sacrificial giving of our denomination toward the recovery of the church in Nigeria, and assisting the thousands of people who have been displaced by the senseless violence perpetrated by the radical insurgent group, Boko Haram.
As we prepare to go overseas again we will be taking some extra baggage filled with gifts for some of these wonderful brothers and sisters of all ages. Whenever a person comes from or goes to Nigeria they are asked to carry a little something extra with them. This is done because it is easier to have a traveler carry something of value than to pay the shipping and take the chance that the prized item might get lost.
This time as my wife and I go we will be carrying multiple items to be delivered to folks in Nigeria. The wife of one of our volunteers gave us a shoebox full of unknown delights for her husband to enjoy. A ladies group from Iowa brought us a pallet full of children’s books. We’ll stuff our bags with as many of these books as we can to deliver them to the school we’re sponsoring in Jos. After the women’s choir toured the country this summer one of the ladies asked my wife if we could bring her bakery items for her business in Abuja. We’ll be carrying several hundred dollars worth of cake flavorings in small plastic bottles.
We’ve got miscellaneous items too, such as a pair of shoe insoles for Dr. Rebecca Dali, two books for Dr. Samuel Dali, a children’s disaster kit from Children’s Disaster Services, a camera for the EYN Disaster Management Team, and salvaged computer data off a computer that was damaged when a young Kulp Bible College student fled from the Boko Haram. And there are probably more things but those are just the ones I can recall right now.
Naturally, when we come back to the US there will be things we will transport well. Already we are looking to bring back a few bolts of EYN Women’s Fellowship cloth. We have been working on opportunities for continuing education in the US for select Nigerians, and we’ll carry some of the completed applications back with us. The greatest thing about what we will bring back is we won’t really know until the requests are made for us to carry…who knows what?
I was introduced to these Nigerian expectations of “helping out” in an amusing way, when we were teachers at Kulp Bible College a few years ago. We were planning a trip to see Garkida, home of the first Brethren missionaries dating back to the 1920s. As we prepared to load up the SUV for our trip, all of a sudden there were three extra people standing around. When I asked them what they wanted, they informed me that since we were traveling to Garkida they would like to go along so they could visit their families in the area.
At first, I found this to be very forward. We Americans aren’t used to people just inviting themselves along with no prior warning. But, as I learned, this is standard operating procedure for Nigerians. As I traveled throughout Nigeria it wasn’t strange to see small pickup trucks with about 15-18 people jammed into every available space. Looking back, having only three extra riders on our trip to Garkida was a luxury. Nigeria is truly a land of many possibilities.
— Carl and Roxane Hill are co-directors of the Nigeria Crisis Response, a cooperative effort of the Church of the Brethren and Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), with other partners. For more information go to www.brethren.org/nigeriacrisis .