In October of 2017 I was able to take a trip to Back2Back’s Jos, Nigeria site. The trip was meant to love on staff, train them on how to host a mission team, build staff culture, and to help where needed.
We arrived to Nigeria after almost 3 days of travel. It was very obvious from the start what kind of people our Nigerian staff are: kind, loving, thoughtful, servant minded, honorable, and lovers of Jesus. Immediately, they genuinely made our small group of 3 people feel like the most distinguished guests they have ever had (I am sure this is done with everyone).
The first day I led a half- day retreat with the Back2Back staff. This retreat encompassed the dynamics of hosting international guests, the cultural differences/comparisons between Americans/Nigerians, and building staff unity & culture. We had so much fun playing games, talking and eating together.
Our brothers & sisters fed us well and oh how we loved all the food we ate. We went on two really cool staff hikes where we were able to connect and have some fun with the staff. We then took a walk through one of the villages B2B helps support. Through B2B, there are many residents in this village who are able to send their children to B2B’s community center. At this community center the children are fed two wholesome meals a day and tutored in their school work. It was an eye opening experience to see the drastic poverty compared to even the places we serve in Mexico. These two girls, pictured below, walked with us probably for three hours. After a little while Pablo and I finally picked them up and brought them along with us, feeding them granola bars along the way.
The girl I was carrying held her granola bar for an hour (if you look closely you can see it in her hand behind my back) while I held her until we came to a specific hut. Here she got down and walked over to two little children. She then broke the bar in pieces and shared it with them. I was in awe. Here this 6 year old girl is having to look after other children/relatives because of not only the poverty, but loss of family members. I knew she was so hungry and they told us those two little girls will walk for miles to go to the community center for food at 4 & 6 years old. Because of war, drugs, and poverty 50% of the Nigerian population are under 18 years of age. They have generations of children without parents, especially without fathers. Our hearts just broke for these kiddos and we are so proud of what B2B are doing in Jos, Nigeria. We left knowing that these sweet children are in great hands.
Our next endeavor was playing against the Hope Program boys soccer team. Man, these boys can run for days. We lost 2-1 and we were wrecked after the game. But, in the aftermath and lack of oxygen, we came together. I was able to share a little of my testimony and to encourage them that no matter what they win or strive for, none of it matters without Jesus. I told them what truly matters are the people standing behind them when they stand in front of the Son of God one day. We all came together and prayed. It was such a great experience to play, share, and pray together. Also, it was great to be able to share our Monterrey “Los Dos” green soccer jerseys with the staff men.
The next day we spent time at one of the Hope Program houses and two of the Children’s Homes B2B partners with there. It was honestly crazy when the kids came home, because there were around 50 kids and they all came running to us. They wanted help on their homework and as I sat there and spent a couple hours helping with different kids’ homework at once I was able to empathize with all the caregivers and tutors we see on a daily basis. it was hard work, but I loved it. One of the boys cuddled right up next to me as he called me “Uncle” asking me questions. I felt so blessed to pour some of my Papa God’s love into this boy. Being a kid without a dad I can empathize with what these young boys need. And for the time I had with him I wanted to make sure he knew he is one of the most important boys in the whole world.
As I close out this blog post on my unforgettable trip to Nigeria I wanted to share two final things. I loved that we were able to cook, as best we could, a Mexican style dinner for the tutors and caregivers B2B employs at one of the children’s homes. This was our way of saying thank you and loving on them. We loved this experience as we were able to go deeper in relationship with some amazing people. Lastly, at this dinner we wore our handmade and tailored Nigerian suits. At the beginning of the week we went and a man took our measurements and on the last day we received such beautiful garments.
One of the Nigerians (Plangkaat) left named me in his native tribal tongue, “Nan Fwang”. This means, “The Lord is our Savior.” Amen to that brother.