I had planned to travel down to Lagos from my current work station in Abuja on Wednesday night but it didn’t work out. I had some challenges at work that didn’t allow me travel that day. I was very pained because the group I was to travel with were to leave on Thursday by 6am.
In fact, I cried. Lol, Okay it wasn’t that deep. I am just quite a cry baby. I was really pained honestly and thanks to a very dear sister, Kanyin (Hi Kanyinnnnn if you’re reading this *Big hug*) – she made arrangements for me to come on my own on Thursday afternoon which encouraged me not to give up.
When I finally set out to get a flight down to Lagos on Thursday, all seats were sold out and expectedly too because it was the start of a festive period. Eventually, I got a seat and had a crazy moment trying to get to the airport and checked in. A colleague’s sister missed her fight by just a few minutes, same airline I was to use and I just wasn’t ready to go through that. So I really raced all the way. Only for me to get checked in and my flight was delayed by a whole hour! At this point, I had given up worrying and anxiety because I was plain tired. It seemed as though everything was just working against me. Now I was worried because this was a road trip to a place I hadn’t been to before. Okay, I had been to Benin Republic before but I was serving at the time and visited a village close to the border so I just crossed over like 3 hours. Still, it wasn’t the same. I think what pained me the most was the fact that these guys didn’t even communicate – they just kept us waiting till people started walking up to their counters to ask.
Anywaysssss, after all that drama, I boarded the flight and there was really cool man that sat beside me. He was kinda elderly. Not totally elderly, but 59,60 kinda elderly. He leads an office in the Federal Ministry of Mining and e told me stories of his career life right from NYSC. It was very interesting to listen to. Trust me to ask all the questions, lol. Also, I got a window seat for the very first time! Yes, I am not well traveled, yet. Soon, I’ll be a boss. But the thing about this window seat was the fact that it was the very last row like the tail of the plane so every time there was a sharp rise or descent, My head did something really crazy and I’d be very unstable for about half a minute. It happened severally when I was talking to the man by my side and I literally had to stop talking/listening and hold my head for a while…
I got to Lagos at about 2pm and made my way out to where I was to meet with the other person in the group I was to travel with. He also had work stuff to do that morning. His name is Sola aka baba ‘beji 😄😄😄
Then, Lagos traffic showed me pepper and I didn’t get to Yaba until about 4pm. Then I called and Sola told me to find my way down to Mile 2. He was going to “fly” a bike down since he was still stuck in the office at Lekki. The plan was that his bike would be able to meet up with me entering buses down to Mile 2 without anyone having to wait for the other.
And so, I began my solo journey. Oh and by the way, I had plans of vlogging through the entire trip. But at this point, I was so tired that I couldn’t even think of selfie-ing. I got a keke from Yaba to Oyingbo. From Oyingbo, I took a bike down to Costain. Halfway through, I questioned my judgement because the guy kept galloping like a horse. When I realized my pleading to him to ride carefully was falling on deaf ears, I turned to pleading for mercy from God.
After some rough minutes of riding, I took another keke to Orile. Lol. Honestly, Lagosians are dramatic. This isn’t even me being funny, they really are. This keke driver for whatever reason was just on a high – a bad kinda high. He was just
cussing cursing everyone in his way and about twice, he came down to fight physically. You can imagine my state at this point. We got to Orile and then I took a mini-van to Mile 2. On the way, I was reminded of how much of a menace agberos are in this Lagos. It’s terrible. We even saw one young boy of nothing more than 14 years old on the road too – collecting money from these drivers for doing absolutely nothing. I just wondered if this boy starts out like this, how would he survive when he grows up? Would he continue like this? What about his education? Would he have something to build on in the future?
I reminded myself to focus on the journey ahead of me and not bother about Nigeria’s problems. At least, not then. When I got to Mile 2, I was sort of disoriented. There was so many people, buses. The movement was causing my head to turn or maybe it was the fatigue. Just then Sola called and said he was close to Costain. I asked if I should wait for him and he said no. He asked me to take a bike to a place called Iyana-Oba. Hopefully, we’d meet up since he was close and on a bike. If I used a bus, traffic may have delayed me and he would get there before me and have to wait – more time wastage.
So I got on a bike that went on and on forever. Honestly, the road was such a stretch for me and full of gallops too. At this point, I was both famished and tired. It was worse for me because I knew I wasn’t going to eat anything till I arrive at Benin. Because my hands and whole body actually was dirty from all the journeying. I couldn’t bring myself to eat anything without a wash – at least, a thorough hand wash.
When we were almost at Iyana-Oba, Sola called my name from the back. His bike man was riding just behind mine. I had to ask if he was Sola before I responded. Lol. Because we had never met physically, only on the group chat. We got to Iyana-Oba some 7 minutes after and then we began our journey to Seme – The border between Nigeria and Benin Republic.
When I got down, my thigh was hurting from the long ride. We got into a rickety bus that was heading to Seme. I sat in front with a police man. The chair I sat on was backless and quite uncomfortable but my desire to go on this trip was far greater than all these discomfort and so I wiped my sweat, braced myself and the journey began at about to 6. Sola checked on his Google Maps and it was showing some one hour, thirty seven minutes to get to the border. I estimated that by 7:30, we should be there.
And so the long, very uncomfortable journey began. Then I just allowed my mind wander. Now, I am a part of a group called YP. This is a group of young professionals that was a part of a larger group – a christian mission group. So regularly, we go on these trips to mission fields to remind ourselves of how important missions and evangelism as a whole is to our faith. We also go on these trips to encourage these missionaries that have left all, literally for the gospel’s sake.
So as the bus moved, I began to converse in my heart with God on my expectations for the trip and some other things that came up. I started to pray for an encounter, I started to pray for strength, I started to build up my expectations. Here’s why I was and still am big on expectations: In life, when you do not work on expectations, it is almost as though anything can happen – anything goes. But when you have an expectation, the bible says the expectation of the righteous shall not be cut short, it just shows you are serious.
In between my meditation, I was interrupted regularly by the many police/immigration check points. It was actually quite annoying but then this post isn’t about me ranting on top Nigeria’s matter…. so, I’ll just continue.
At about 15 minutes to 8, we arrived at the border. I was slightly afraid to stretch my body when we got down because it was such a long ride and my body ached severely. I still hadn’t had anything to eat o. As we came out of the car, several young men rushed at us. In fact, one seized my bag from the boot before I even got to it. I yelled at him to hand me back my bag. Actually, I speak the best English when I was upset so I got a few stares. They were speaking a mix of pidgin-English, pidgin-French (I’m not certain there’s such thing but you get my point, yeah?), and also the native language. I couldn’t figure out anything from what they spoke. Thankfully, Sola speaks french even though he is somewhat rusty. He said it o not me… After je m’appelle and ca va bien merci, I know nothing else. Lol…
After some 15 minutes of waiting, our contact person came. It was then I got two bottles of water for myself and Sola. Our contact person was sent from the CAPRO national office, Benin (where the rest of the group was at) He helped us “cross” – dealing with all the immigration which thankfully wasn’t so dramatic for us. As we were being driven into Benin and into the town of Cotonou, I realized it wasn’t much different from a regular area in Lagos – nothing was significantly different, except of course the language. The roads were well lighted though unlike some in Lagos where I came from (Benin 1, Nigeria 1/2 😋😋😋)
Kanyin was the first person who saw us alight from the car and she rushed at us. I was so glad I was there finally! It was such a long day from not getting a flight to almost missing my flight to my flight being delayed for a hour to the long commute down to Benin Republic. I hugged her with such thankfulness in my heart, first to God and second to her for her constant encouragement through it all.
We settled in, I had a wash and was given food. First, I am not a swallow person. Before then, I hadn’t had swallow in weeks – which really would have been months if not that my mom sometimes guilt trips me into eating in. I’m not a fan at all so when I was served eba and okra soup, my heart was sad small. Small because I was thankful for the gesture and as a missionary, you have to have a missionary stomach and be able to cope anywhere so I said my prayers and began eating.
At about 10:30pm, the leader of the group, Bro. Jide and the national coordinator came to speak to us on the itinerary for the next four days. We were to be divided into two groups. Each was to go to the mission field in a certain village. After this was done, we had a group devotion, said our prayers and everyone dispersed for the night. The rooms were filled up and so I just laid by a cushion close to the window and the cold breeze blowing my skin was such a beauty. As I sat there, I jumped up remembering I needed to charge my phone as the day ahead was going to be long too. Plus I wasn’t sure if there was light in the village. Men and brethren, to my greatest surprise, I was told to calm down as light in Benin Republic, the part where we were had light 24/7. I fainted, in my mind…
How could small Benin have light 24/7 and we still battled with light in Nigeria, the “giant of Africa”. As I started to rant, I reminded myself that I wasn’t going to allow Nigeria work me up.
Then I started to converse with Ajoke… Okay okay, I jumped. I had only met about two of the people in the group. We were about 18 people all together. So that means I didn’t know the remaining 16 people, yet they were so kind and warm and welcoming. Felt like I had known them since forever even though I conversed with some on the group chat, it just seemed like I had known them forever. When I saw Ajoke, I was thrilled because I had followed her on Social Media for a while and I admire her deep fervency for God and her career journey so when it was just me and her conversing, I was sincerely happy and thankful. I asked her questions about her work journey and she asked me about mine too. She is well versed in her work role and I learned so much from that our conversation (*Big hugs Ajoke if you’re reading this*)
I like it when I can have open conversations with people regardless of their experience and all that. Ajoke was really open both to teach me some things and to learn.
Finally, we both decided to sleep. lol. It must have been some minutes past midnight. I looked out of the window and saw the street still has some life in it. Some guys were offloading bottle waters from a van just some houses away and bikes were just going to and fro.
I started to commune with God in my heart, revisiting my expectations and bracing myself for the journey ahead.
Because I am nice young woman and this post is already long enough and I have to run for work, I am taking a break here… Part two would be out tonight by God’s grace. Sincerely, the story is so long, it was giving me a headache when I thought long on how to break and summarize and then I just gave up and decided to start writing already.
Thank you for reading! Please follow this blog so you would get a notification for the next post… by clicking on the follow button, it should be dancing somewhere below. I also would love to know your thoughts on this… so please leave a comment. Have you read of how comments here actually make me do happy dances… hehehe!
See you in the evening with part two 💜💜💜