Dear Family and Friends,
Cool (but warm!) greetings to you all from Nigeria where the temperature in the MCC house where we live was 16°C this morning . We’ve passed through a “calm” Christmas and New Year’s holidays in Jos but are aware of the suffering of a million plus displaced people from the northeast of the country and the ongoing violence inflicted by the Boko Haram. We continue to have fascinating conversations with many people from different parts of the country on the upcoming federal elections.
And we continue to see signs of new life and hope especially as Nigerians look forward to “God’s richest blessings” in 2015 as they have texted us Christmas and New Years greetings (amazing faith and hope)!
This past year has been a challenging one to be part of life (and death) in the lives of Nigerian people. What does it mean to lose everything (family members, friends, houses, businesses, personal possessions, community) when insurgents attack your community on a Sunday morning and you are forced to run with the shirt on your back? How do you come to terms with a faith that calls you to “turn the other cheek” in the face of senseless violence? How do you live each day not knowing whether you will be caught at the “wrong place at the wrong time”? These are some of the questions we live with as we engage with partners and friends in this country.
As leaders of the MCC team here we are also forced to ask ourselves how we know when our “compassion fatigue” meters have run into the red and we need something to be re-set in order to go on? How do we respond when the needs are massive, when “responding” is what we do, but resource capacity (human and monetary) are limited?
These are all real and relevant questions, no doubt, but in spite of the challenges, we are surrounded by people who are living generosity, love and hope. We believe that God continues to see us as worthy of being molded into the kind of people She wants us to be, by placing us in Nigeria for such a time as this.
When we began “Chapter 2 Nigeria” with MCC in 2012, we expected to be here until Feb 2015 with a possible extension to Feb 2017. Our children helped us figure out that we needed to be back in Ontario so we anticipated that our time in Nigeria would come to an end five weeks from now. MCC has not been successful in finding replacement Representative(s) so we’ve agreed to extend until June 2015. We will be back in Ontario for a month (arriving 07 Feb 2015) over the Nigeria federal election period which is expected to be violent.
- Visit of the team of MCC Canada/USA based staff to see what “Conflict Prevention” looks like;
- Two impactful relief distributions — people from the northeast displaced to Jos; and people displaced by violence from Wase, Plateau State;
- For Mary Lou: hearing students open their understanding of how peace is possible in their complicated and conflicted environment;
- Ability to Skype with family and friends to keep up with their lives.
- Fun Christmas celebrations with old friends from Maiduguri days: the Oblas at Christmas and the Ihuwe’s on a (safe) trip after Christmas to Makurdi.
On New Year’s Eve, the devotional we sometimes listen to reflected on Aaron’s blessing from Numbers 6:24-26. It was a powerful reminder of God’s care – even in the midst of challenging circumstances.
The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
…Dave & Mary Lou