Living in generosity, love and hope…

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.  20141225-{NigFriends}-20

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)!

_W4A3041This 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.

_W4A3556As 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?

_W4A9516These 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.

_W4A0867When 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.

Gratefulness for:

  • _W4A8465Visit of the team of MCC Canada/USA based staff to see what “Conflict Prevention” looks like;
  • _W4A3165Two impactful relief distributions — people from the northeast displaced to Jos; and people displaced by violence from Wase, Plateau State;
  • _W4A5209For 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.
  • 20141230-{NigFriends}-8Fun 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

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Hope for Nigeria

“Nigeria’s youth,” was the reply of Ahmed Hassan when asked where he saw hope in Nigeria. The context of this question is one of bomb blasts, daily Boko Haram killings, two presidential candidates – a Muslim and a Christian – vying for control of the pie in the upcoming federal elections, religious tension, poverty and unemployment.20141214-{Ahmed_Hassan}-28 (11)

13 years ago Hassan’s family suffered the loss of a son and much property during the 2001 uprising that happened 5 days after 9/11. The world’s attention was focused elsewhere, but the attention of Hassan’s eldest daughter, Amina, was focused on what she saw as the Christian plan for the destruction of Muslims in Nigeria. She joined a group that was bent on revenge.20141214-{Ahmed_Hassan}-28 (8)

Hassan watched these developments and though educated in Arabic and the Qu’ran had an interest in his children taking what they could from western ideas and education. He wisely encouraged Amina to learn about the other side and join a peace conversation instigated by MCC. As resistant to the idea as Amina was, she attended the 3-day conversation and learned that these Christians were not what she thought them to be. Amina was transformed into one of the strongest peace advocates Jos has ever seen.20141214-{Ahmed_Hassan}-28 (10)

I was fascinated by Amina’s story of her father who had this kind of influence on his 16 children and asked her if I could meet him. Today was the day when Hassan welcomed me to his house. After 90 minutes of introductions and story-telling, I noted to Hassan that I felt a sense of shalom just being in his presence.20141214-{Ahmed_Hassan}-28 (7)

Despite the hopelessness of broken, corrupt governing systems leading to rampant and increasing violence in the country, Hassan feels that investing in youth, as he did with Amina, is the way towards life in a future for Nigeria.

I don’t completely share his hope, but I’m working on it!

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Needs don’t know…displacement!

“Needs don’t know that you are displaced,” was the response given by Margaret Ahmed, Executive Director of Home Makers in response to the question, “why do you care about the displaced women of north-east Nigeria?”_W4A9300

On 24 October MCC and EYN (Church of the Brethren) staff carried out a small relief distribution to just under 500 men, women and children who had fled the Boko Haram instigated violence of northeast Nigeria.  Dave Klassen, MCC Representative for Nigeria, invited Margaret to engage with these displaced women with her way of “doing relief”.

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Margaret responded by organizing a 3-day skills and business training workshop for 72
women at her office in Jos.  9 women came from EYN, but the rest came from other _W4A4406church communities in the northeast along with a number of Muslim women who were also homeless.  Margaret taught them how to make bread, doughnuts and pomade.
She talked to them about the business skills needed to operate a successful small.

43 women slept over the two nights at Home Makers.  Margaret rented mattresses and arranged for breakfast, lunch and dinner for her guests.  Margaret kept apologizing for the poor sleeping quarters, but the women said “no, that this is the best that we’ve been sleeping in for many months.”

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Ramasu Amos expressed her gratefulness for the outpouring of generosity and care given to her by Home Makers: “we had a mattress to sleep on at night; we were given warm water to bathe; tea was shared with us in the morning to accompany the doughnuts; and we ate good food three times every day.  How can we not be grateful?!”  Ramasu is the first wife in a household of three wives and 20 children who fled Gwoza when the Boko Haram invaded.  Living as a large displaced family in Jos is no small feat so for these women sleeping on the floor in a room full of 25 other women was like a holiday at the Hilton.

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Margaret organized a very loose program trying to create a safe and trusting environment that allowed the women to tell their stories.  Some talked about running through the bush with their children for six days without eating.  They told stories of meeting snakes along the paths.  One woman described how she and her family spent two weeks lost in the bush and how it was only “…God who helped us find our way.”  They found that many of their stories were the same.

One woman shared how her daughter was abducted by the Boko Haram and was “married” to one of the fighters.  After being with them for three months she came up with a plan that would allow her to escape.  She went on a “hunger strike” for three days and became sick and weak.  Feeling some level of compassion, her “husband” sent her to a hospital with his own mother.  While in the hospital, she engaged some Nigerian soldiers, telling the mother that she was not going back.  The mother insisted that she come to which the girl responded, “if you open your mouth I will report you to the Nigerian soldiers”.  The mother then left and the girl ran to her family home.  Her family, not knowing what had happened, welcomed her with joyous arms but then sent her off to Jos for her own protection.

Four of the women decided to start a group together and have begun making pomade for sale.  They have called their business name, “Displaced” in their own language.

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Margaret began Home Makers 20 years ago in response to a handful of poor women who came to her expressing their needs as very poor women.  She taught them basic skills and has continued working with women from the grassroots such that today 2,300 women can now meet their daily needs and live with hope for the future.

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When asked why she cares for these women Margaret does not have a complicated or philosophical response:  “Needs don’t know that you are displaced.  The needs of these women will only keep increasing.  So you need something to help you make an income so that you can meet those needs.  They need help!  I feel I should help.  If I’m able to give them the skills that I have, it will help them.  They are not talking about school fees for their children. They are thinking about shelter and food.  I told them that I know what they are passing through.  I know their hearts are heavy as many don’t know where other family members are.  Today you are here, but tomorrow there may be something worse.  You need something to do to give hope.  By carrying something or doing something it will help them to forget what they went through.”

— Dave Klassen, Nov 2014

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Displaced by religions of peace…

“Instead of me providing it is me receiving,” observed Samson Adamu when he finished passing through the line to receive his sleeping mats, bucket and soap. Adamu is from one of the 995 families who received assistance from MCC through partner, EPRT (Emergency Preparedness Response Teams) because of the conflict that has engulfed Wase LGA._W4A3267 (Large)

Many of the beneficiaries were confused by the question, “why are you here?” Their forefathers have lived in peaceful coexistence with their neighbors for generations. The different ethnic groups accepted their differences and lived with them. Faith was not an issue to kill for.

Samson describes how just months earlier he had hosted those who came to attack his community, giving them places to sleep and food to eat. The best he could discern why they came back to attack in April 2013 was “religion”. Samson is a faithful Muslim and his attackers, he knew, were Christian.  In other parts of Plateau State Muslims have attacked Christian communities._W4A3263 (Large)

Sakinatu Hassan, a mother of four, describes how she and her family have been surviving since they ran from their community, fearing for their lives. “Part of our Muslim faith is that we are to care for people who are 70 homes behind us, 70 homes ahead of us, 70 homes to the right and 70 homes to the left. The people of Wase have been faithful and have sacrificed for us.”_W4A3100 (Large)

The husband of Saadatu Zakare (20) was not present at the distribution. He was working on a farm where he was paid a small amount of money that he would use to care for his wife and the imminent arrival of their first child. As Saadatu looked at the items that were given to her because she was among the fifty pregnant women, she remarked, “for me these items have come at the right time. The only things that are missing are clothing for the baby.”_W4A3090 (Large)

EPRT has been working throughout Plateau State for more than a decade. They have developed a strong volunteer base made up of more than 270 educated, skilled and experienced volunteers who are able to detect and respond to early warning signs of disaster and conflict. Many of these volunteers are called in to mediate differences. Much credit is being attributed to EPRT volunteers for mitigating violence as a response to conflict._W4A3247 (Large)

Unfortunately, disaster happens and violence does break out periodically, so EPRT volunteers are some of the first responders. Military and police commanders, government officials and traditional rulers, frequently consult with EPRT volunteers when there are tough decisions to make or when mediation needs to happen._W4A3140 (Large)

Muhammad Lawal is a 10-year veteran of EPRT volunteers from Wase. He led the EPRT team in carrying out the needs assessment among the displaced and helped to facilitate the distribution.  Together with MCC Peace Coordinator, Mugu Zaka Bakko, before starting the distribution Lawal reminded the people of the peace that used to be part of their communities: “Religion, whether Islam or Christianity, should be a source of peace not violence.”_W4A3009 (Large)

“Politicians should be serving you, the people!” said Mugu. He advised the youth especially not to allow themselves to be used by these political leaders to kill and destroy as part of the upcoming elections. “They will be close to you before the elections, but when they get into power they will no longer remember who you are.”_W4A3195 (Large)

Samson noted how the leading political figure of Wase, the Emir, had designated land for displaced people to farm, which has been very helpful. That was one of the ways how he, his four wives and 14 children were surviving._W4A3239 (Large)

Samson was full of gratitude for the assistance given by MCC (through EPRT) but was looking forward to the time when peace could be rebuilt in Wase and he would be on the giving end again.

– Dave Klassen, Oct 2014_W4A3493 (Large)

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Abducted Girls – Declining Hope for Father of Two

This week Matthew and I made a powerful 1,400 km journey to the NE part of Nigeria close to where the Boko Haram has been active in recent years and months, to engage with the EYN Church in a possible response.  We heard gut wrenching stories of suffering, neglect, death, hunger and declining hope.  MCC is working on a response.  

Though we got 1/3 of the way to Chibok (where the girls were abducted), the military refused that I as a white man could go in without protection.  However, I was able to meet and hear the pathetic story of a father of two of the girls who were abducted six weeks previous.  What follows is my rendition of his story.  More to come….

— Dave

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Abga Mallum Chiroma is a peasant farmer who can’t read or write.  He works hard on his subsistence farm which includes a few cattle, goats, sheep, a handful of chickens and some land.  He has a plow which he pulls with a team of oxen. 

Chiroma has one wife and seven children – 4 boys and three girls.  He has struggled hard to provide for his family and has sacrificed so that his children would receive an education which he does not have or hardly understands. 

His older two daughters, Awa (18) and Lugwa (19), are two of his children who have benefited from his sacrifice and were writing their final exams at Chibok Secondary School on 14 April.  Their father saw that their future looked hopeful.

That night Boko Haram fighters broke into the school and in a matter of minutes, captured over 250 of the girls who had gathered to write their exams, including Awa and Luga.  They were forced onto the backs of trucks and driven away by the fighters who were yelling “Allah Akbar!”Image

Immediately Chiroma heard the news, he rushed to the school and met up with more than 200 other parents of these girls.  They demanded answers where none were found so they decided to take the matter into their own hands and traveled as a group to the Sambisa Forest looking to rescue their daughters. 

As they moved into the Forest, they were confronted by local residents who knew the Boko Haram well and were implored that they return home.  They were advised that the Boko Haram fighters were unreasonable and that there were high risks even they would be killed.  Still having some faith in the Nigerian military they turned around and went home.

Six weeks on, Chroma has not seen any progress and his hopes are declining daily.  He has seen and identified both of his daughters among the 100+ girls who were photographed and made public by the Boko Haram.  He has an idea of what they have been going through bringing up feelings of grief mixed with rage.Image

When asked what he would say to the Boko Haram representatives if he met them, Chroma says, “only God would be able to separate them….either he would kill them or they would kill me!”

With despair written all over his face, Chiroma says that the Nigerian government and military “…has cheated us for not taking early action.  All levels of the military, police and even the governor of the state were warned that this attack was coming yet they were nowhere to be seen and our daughters were stolen from us!”

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Thoughts after Black Tuesday in Jos

by Dave and Mary Lou

We have been quiet for several months partly because we haven’t known what to say. Nigeria has received a great deal of international attention and response – particularly around the abductions of the schoolgirls from Chibok in northeastern Nigeria last month.

Yesterday, May 20, as is well known now, two bombs went off in Jos – the city where we live.  Everyone in our personal network is safe, but now we are receiving reports of people who knew people who were killed.  We hear that the majority of those killed were women.  One friend visited multiple hospitals in town looking through the charred remains of bodies for a missing person, only to find him this morning in an ICU, living, but only just.

What is deeply ironic (and hopeful!) in this situation is that while horrible, the blasts have not set off inter-communal violence as has been the pattern in past conflicts.

We have shared the following reflection written on Tuesday night through parts of our network and wish to also share it with those of you who are connected to this blog who may not have seen it elsewhere. We pray for continued stability and for the will for peace to remain strong.

On the 15th of May, the International Day of the Family, 400 women held a rally in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria calling out, “Stop the Violence” and “Bring Back our Girls.” Over the years since 2001, Plateau State has experienced several waves of inter-communal violence of its own, but that did not stop this group from standing in solidarity with the suffering families of Chibok — a community almost 600 kms to the east. A passionate speech was given by a woman from Chibok, bringing tears to many. The rally and march was organized by women leaders, several of whom are friends of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), including Justina Ngwobia of Justice, Peace, and Reconciliation Movement (JPRM) and Amina Ahmed of Women’s Initiative for Sustainable Community Development (WISCOD) part of the new organization, Women Peace Builders Network in Nigeria (WOPEN).RallyMarchStoptheViolence

This afternoon, 5 days later, two bomb blasts killed and injured dozens of people in Jos’ downtown market, destroying property and threatening the peace that Jos residents have been nurturing for at least two years since the last major incident.
People are tired of the violence. Over the past month there have been demonstrations, prayers, and rallies around Nigeria, asking for the return of the Chibok schoolgirls, many led by women. The International Day of the Family rally focused on the wider problems of violence that still plague the rural areas around Jos. It was like the community of Jos was making
bold the line in the sand against violence.RallyBanner

John Paul Lederach, in his book The Moral Imagination, uses the image of a spider’s web to describe the ways that people in conflicted communities connect to each other. Violence can break connections among people. Like the spider who must re-spin her web when a stray stick or leaf penetrates, so too peacebuilders help to re-string relationships that are broken by crises. In our 18 months here, we have been privileged to observe dozens of people who work daily to re-build these intricate webs of relationship that have been broken over the years in Jos. We know that connections have been healed and that new webs have been spun.

The challenge facing the community in Plateau State over the next few days is to stand with the women of last Thursday and insist that the violence must stop and trust that the re-spun webs, though fragile, can withstand even this terrible shock.

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the 365 days past…

by Dave and Mary Lou

Greetings to you all!  As we anticipate 2014 we thought we would give you a brief review of our lives over the past 365 days.  2013 was packed full of change for us:

  • January – Mary Lou ended eight years of work with Peace and Conflict Studies Program at Conrad Grebel University College. Gracious send-off by colleagues made the departure tough but possible.
  • January – Dave completed one more round of travel to and from Nigeria as an interim country representative for Mennonite Central Committee. He was glad to see the four months of back and forth between Ontario and Plateau State coming to an end.
  • Grandpa FawJanuary – Mary Lou’s maternal grandfather passed away after a full life of 103 years! It was wonderful to be able to celebrate his long life with many aunts, uncles, and cousins who came for the funeral, some of whom we had not seen for a while. Grandpa Faw was a prolific writer and poet, capturing family experiences and mid-20th century rural life south-western Ontario for posterity.
  • February. A few weeks of packing up at 118 Strange Street and saying good-bye including making sure we were around to celebrate the February birthdays in our family. Kara ably continues on in the house, arranging things to make it her own space.
  • February – On our way to Nigeria we spent a quiet week+ in England as a way of marking the change as a couple from Kitchener-Waterloo to Jos. Renting a car we traveled to Canterbury in the east and then to Gloucester in the west. Our purpose was to explore cathedrals that offered daily worship and evening vespers. We were not disappointed and Mary Lou particularly found this a time of meaningful reflection as transition.Cathedral
  • March – Dave continues on as representative for MCC, developing relationships with old and new partners, learning about their work, figuring out MCC’s reporting systems (Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation), making plans for an intern to arrive in May and doing the 101 things one does as an administrator!
  • March – Mary Lou begins teaching at Lawna Apostolic Theological Seminary with a course entitled, The Art and Soul of Peacebuilding (Moral Imagination.) There were five students in this class, part of the small but unique Conflict Management and Peace Studies Program at this small Pentecostal seminary. It was easy to find the text for the course since John Paul Lederach wrote the book.
  • UyoMay – Dave and Matthew (Business Mgr for MCC Nigeria) traveled to meet the Mennonite Church Nigeria leadership in southern Nigeria (Uyo).
  • May – MCC Representatives gather bi-annually to discuss program and meet with the Area Director for Central and West Africa. We traveled to Togo – a central point for the West Africa contingent of leadership from Burkina Faso, Chad, and Nigeria. Prior to the meetings, we decided to “see” Lagos – an important experience but one we probably won’t repeat.
  • TogoFollowing the meetings, we were able to spend a couple of days on the beach in Lome, Togo.
  • June – Mary Lou taught two – two-week intensive peace studies courses to the Lawna summer session. One course was entitled, “Women, Traumatized Societies and Peacebuilding” a bit of a mouthful content-wise. A powerful experience of those weeks included the opportunity to have the whole student body at the school meet two amazing women peacebuilders from Jos who are also the leaders in partner organizations of MCC – Amina and Margaret. It is not often that Muslim and Christian people are welcomed to present together in a Christian seminary.Mugu
  • June – After a rigourous selection process, we were able to hire Mugu as MCC Nigeria’s Peace Coordinator. Mugu recently graduated with a Masters degree in Conflict Management and Peace Studies from the University of Jos. His personal experiences of the region’s conflicts and his education make him a valuable contributor to our team.
  • July – We returned to Ontario for the beginning of six weeks of travel. Our first trip was to Akron, PA MCC’s headquarters where we spent 10 days orienting ourselves to the current inner workings of MCC. It was great to meet others who were heading out into leadership assignments. Considering developments, we especially think of those who run programs in the Middle East – Jordan and Iraq, and Lebanon and Syria.
  • July-August – In between our travels, we made sure that we spent time with each of our three daughters in their various contexts. Interestingly, the day we had planned for our whole family outing, ended up being a work day — a storm knocked down several branches of a big tree in Aleda and Ryan’s front yard and a couple trees in the back. So, family bonding occurred over chain saws, food preps and hauling away the brush. We were grateful to be around to participate. Our choice to work abroad, means that these spontaneous occasions for mutual aid cannot happen often.
  • August – A quick trip west to Colorado gave us an opportunity to enjoy the Rocky Mountains but more importantly the fellowship of our second family.  These were folks who served during the Don and Naomi Unger era with MCC in Nigeria 20+ years ago most of whom came to our daughters’ weddings in 2011. Gathering with us were manyMCC Nigeria Reunion 2012 from the Paul and Susie Ford era. Prior to the reunion, Dave traveled around Plateau State with Gopar Tapkida a Nigerian friend and MCC colleague (who was completing his work as MCC’s Peace Coordinator for CWARM and heading off with Monica his wife to be the MCC Representatives in Zimbabwe) to visit several of the places where MCC workers lived and worked. Surprisingly they were able to meet up with several people who remembered workers from more than 20 years ago. The resulting hour-plus-long video represents a retrospective of the impact of MCC service that is compelling.
  • August – Returning to Nigeria in mid-August left us with barely a week for Dave and our Nigerian team to make the final preparations for our first group of service workers – 2 SALT’ers (Canadian and American) and 1 YAMEN!er (Chinese.) Monika, Tessa, and Gina (Li Ying) have proven to be resilient members of our team. Monika and Tessa are nurses working at Faith Alive Hospital and Gina works with the women’s organization, Home Makers.Athanasius
  • August – Long-time MCC Nigeria worker, Athanasius, retired after 30 years and we celebrated his contributions!
  • September – Mary Lou returned to teaching at Lawna – this time two foundational courses, “Fundamentals of Peacebuilding” and “Analysis and Understanding Conflict” this time to four full-time students in each class. The group was small, but there are some remarkable young people in these groups that make teaching meaningful.
  • October – …was one of the busiest months yet. The month began with an MCC sponsored workshop, “Reflecting on Peace Practice,” with 25 peace practitioners. Gopar GoparTapkida one of, if not the, key initiators of peacebuilding work in Plateau State since the crisis in 2001 was the facilitator. It was an opportunity for deeper community building among folks trained over the years through MCC support by the African Peacebuilding Institute in southern Africa or by the West Africa Peacebuilding Institute in Accra, Ghana. Mary Lou helped with the facilitation as well.
  • October – Immediately following the workshop, MCC Nigeria hosted a crew of people from MCC headquarters in Akron, PA and Winnipeg, MB as well as two leaders from the Mennonite Churches in southern Nigeria. A busy and full time, but the opportunity to connect with MCC’s amazing partners was welcomed by everyone.
  • October – Mary Lou began a new teaching assignment – this time at St. Augustine’s Major Seminary (Catholic). 43 priests-in-training and four women novices fill the class and make the teaching dynamic quite different from the lower key approach at the Pentecostal seminary. The course is a basic exposure course in peace and conflict studies required of all university students.Rwanda_2013-12 (Large)
  • October – Travel again for CWARM meetings – this time held in Kigali, Rwanda. Kigali provides a stark contrast to much of the rest of Africa. However, the history of the genocide, tidied up off the streets, still seems to buzz beneath the surface. A visit to two of the genocide memorials brought home the long-term work that peacebuilding is, especially after the loss of about 10% of the population in 1994.
  • November – The cycle of program planning and reporting began for Dave with partners. He is excited about several of the proposed projects partners have drafted. We are also looking forward to another team of SALT’ers/YAMEN!ers (we call them YALT’ers) in 2014 as well as some short-term workers.
  • December – The end of the teaching term at Lawna and the Christmas break at St. Augustine’s provided us with a space of time to go for an 8-day vacation on the beaches of Ghana. A friend had recommended a great place where we were able to enjoy the sun and waves, to read and reflect and take photos.
  • December – Mid-December provided us a chance to go on a retreat with our full contingent of MCC Service Workers, National Staff and their families – 24 in all! It was_W4A3446 (Large) a great time of community building at Saminaka Resort – about an hour north-west of Jos.
  • December – The Christmas season is much more of a religious and family/friends holiday. It is a time to worship, and then visit family and friends, to share food with visitors and neighbours. So far, it has passed peacefully – something not to be taken for granted.
  • While we do not know for sure what 2014 will hold, we anticipate:
    • the arrival of a retired university professor and his wife who is a writer.  Ian will teach at the COCIN Gindiri Theological College and we look forward to Debra’s help with writing workshops with partners.
    • the arrival of a young man, Mark, to volunteer for a few months further developing an electronic tracking system with our main peacebuilding partner.
    • Local Government Elections to be held at the end of January. We are praying for map-plateaupeace as elections always provide opportunities for the simmering conflicts to erupt into violence.
    • Continued consultations with Dr. Reina Neufeldt of Conrad Grebel University College on a project to deepen the practice of peacebuilders in Plateau State
    • An MCC Nigeria Program Review
    • Farewell in July to our current team of one-year volunteers followed in August by the arrival of a new group

We look forward to catching up with many of you when we return for a quick visit to Ontario in July/August.

May your year be filled with shalom…

….Mary Lou & Dave

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