Today, I am grateful that I am never without help, never stranded, never alone. God always comes through for me.
I am also grateful for relationships.
A new month began a day after we left the orientation camp.
Together with other corps members, I was warmly received into the NCCF family house.
I was put in the same room with Goodness who I knew from camp, Christiana, and Merit, amongst others.
I got acquainted with the excos in the house: Papa, Mama, Uncle, Antai(who later became my bully, LOL), DD, MD, Tresh, Fine Publo, Rugged Prayo, and BSS… These are NCCF family names; it’s okay if you don’t understand
I got accepted at my Primary Place of Assignment (PPA). It was in the process of documentation that I first met Collins, Williams, Bimbo and Zainab. We were all posted to the same school.
I wanted to live alone, so I almost paid for an apartment I got, but Antai advised me to hold on. The principal of my school also said there was going to be accommodation for us, so I withdrew from paying for the house.
I felt a pressing need to learn the Yoruba language, not for the fun of it anymore but to help me communicate with the people around.
Before leaving for Zaria, I had to help someone get something from her parents in Ibadan, so I left Oyo for Ibadan and passed the night there.
The only options to get to Zaria the next day by road, were either to take a direct night bus to Zaria or first go to Abuja, then proceed to Zaria.
My siblings didn’t want me to travel at night, so going to Abuja was my pick.
My host in Ibadan drove me to the motor park where I made my booking. I thought I was going to arrive at Abuja early enough to continue my journey, but at around 8pm, we were still in Abuja. If you’re familiar with the north, you’d know how dangerous Kaduna-Abuja expressway could be at that time.
I didn’t have prior arrangements for any sleepover, so I began to make calls. I called everyone in my family except my mum because I didn’t want her to be worried. I needed a host in Abuja, but all my family members and acquaintances were far from where I would be alighting. The bus was dark inside, so I had a good cry – I thought I was helpless.
Before that time, I had been chatting with Uncle Abel. I let him in on my plight, and he immediately arranged with his friend to pick me up
So I passed the night in Abuja and continued the journey the next afternoon after spending some time with the family.
I was happy to be back home in Zaria. I showed my family the pictures I took in camp, and gave them some gist.
I spent the next few days practicing the makeup I learnt in camp. There were two upcoming weddings I was going to attend, and I wanted to do the makeup myself. I also got a Yoruba YouTube teacher and began my Yoruba lessons.
I helped with harvesting crops from the farm.
I spent most of my time doing mind preparations, and setting goals for the year 2021. I missed MD a lot, so I listened to his audios severally. I think here is a good time to tell you more about him: I believe I met MD Mike at just the right time of my life. It was a time when I had so many questions and thoughts that I could’nt share with anyone- I was afraid of being judged. For example, MD was the first person I ever told about my disappointment with God. Most people will think that’s something we shouldn’t think of, let alone say.
He understood me so well, it felt like I was talking to an already improved version of me- that’s how understood I felt. He made me understand that having such thoughts neither made me less Christian than I was, nor temper with God’s love for me. There was just this special way he helped me see God’s overwhelming love! The assurance I got about still being loved regardless of my questions and confusions was as warm as life. I felt heard, and my questions were regarded as valid- not as foolish or childish.
He taught me the gospel. It was then, that I learnt that there was more to just saying yes to Jesus. He helped me understand in depth, my identity in Christ. He encouraged me to tell other people about God’s love, part of why this blog was born. He proofread almost of my blog posts while he was alive. My conversations with him are among the best I’ve ever had. He inspired me to study my Bible the more, and know God for myself.
MD always listened to me in a loving and nonjudgmental manner, and I won’t forget to add that he had a beautiful sense of humour.
Back to our story…
My family and I were to travel to our village on Boxing Day for my cousin’s wedding.
The devil almost killed me that December!
Few days before we travelled, I was gripped with unexplainable fear and doubts. I imagined dying in an accident on my way to the village, or being attacked on the way. I imagined falling victim of ‘village people’, and different horrible things.
It was a kind of fear I’ve never experienced in my life. The devil even tried to make it look as if it was God warning me not to go. Up until the day we were to travel, I was confused, “Who is speaking? God or the devil?”
I was already dressed for the journey but still deeply eaten by fear.
Now, this is where I am most grateful for all the things I learnt about the gospel (from MD and from the Bible).
I wrote this in my journal that day, (26th December, 2021) and I’m lifting this part of the story from it.
“God does not warn by putting fear in our hearts. He will use that still small voice, gentle nudges. Fear is never His method; it’s the devil’s tool.”
I opened my Bible App that day, and the verse of the day, Joshua 1:9, encouraged me not to be terrified, dismayed (intimidated) for the Lord my God is with me wherever I go.
The devil even wanted to intimidate me with thoughts of MD’s death and how he died despite God’s love for him. The devil tried for more than an hour that day, and each time I countered him with scripture and God’s promises to me. Amanda Cook’s song, Tremble, was also instrumental in silencing the fear.
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
Revelation 12:11 KJV
“God is a good father; He is faithful and will do what is right- take care of His children.”
So, my journey to the village was smooth. I honestly feel that I would have died or been attacked if I had kept quiet and accepted the thoughts in my head, or didn’t have this understanding of the gospel. The devil takes advantage of our ignorance, you know?
At the village, I was glad to see my long-time-no-see relatives. I made my hair for the wedding and made another one after the wedding, in preparation for my journey back to Oyo.
Before we left the village, we spent some time with our relatives. That was the last time I saw my maternal grandmother (who later passed away in April, 2021), brother, eldest sister, cousins and other relatives.
I returned to Zaria with my mum. We were the only ones at home so we went to a studio for a photoshoot.
Then preparations for my journey back to Oyo continued in earnest.
It was in January that I accepted MD’s demise; until then, it was like a dream to me. It wasn’t really funny for me celebrating my birthday, moving to a new place and starting the service year proper without MD. I suffered PTSD, asked so many questions, that I thought I was going insane…. Read the rest of the gist tomorrow.
Love always, Gem💞