Auntie Tricia's Guava Tree

altIt all started one day shortly after my 11th birthday. I was relaxing high in the guava tree behind our house. Have you ever climbed a guava tree, found a branch to cradle you, sat back and enjoyed the sweet taste of one guava after the other until all the ripe ones within reach are nestled securely in your tummy giving a feeling of supreme satisfaction? No? It really should be on your 'bucket list.'

But that day, my thoughts of how many guavas I might consume were interrupted by an urgent plea from below. It was the missionary neighbor lady from a nearby house, “Could I have some guavas, please?” She needed something that I had ! What a delicious thought ! Almost as sweet as the guava that was disappearing behind my lips at that very moment.

Swallowing quickly I answered, €œOf course, ma'am, I'm coming " I quickly uncurled myself from my current perch, and grabbed all the guavas I could on the way climbing down. I stuffed some into my pockets to be sure that by the time I got to the ground my offering would look impressive.

altThanking me for the guavas, she told me her name was Tricia Todd and that she and her husband Paul were missionary teachers at Hillcrest School and at Jos ECWA Theological Seminary respectively. She invited me into their house where I was introduced to yet another delight. It was not quite the exhilarating experience of fresh guavas from high in a guava tree, but the novel taste banana bread caught my attention. What other delights were waiting to be discovered inside the home of this couple from another land? I was soon to discover many treasures, not the least of which were Auntie Tricia and Uncle Paul themselves !

Over the course of the next two years, I became a regular visitor at the Todd's house. Together with my friend Emmanuel we discovered the pleasures of such culinary delights as pizza and chocolate cake. And Auntie Tricia taught us how to make them, too. And banana bread ! At a point, it seemed that almost every evening we'd end up eating supper at their house. Uncle Paul taught us to play chess. Auntie Tricia coached us in maths and English. If we were not at home, our parents always knew where we were: at the Todd's house. On Saturdays it seemed we spent all day at their house doing things like helping to wash the car and any little chores we

could find to help out. If we didn'€™t see any snacks like cookies or banana bread ready, we'€™d make something ourselves !

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On our birthdays, there was a special ritual. Emmanuel and I were taken to the near-by Challenge Bookshop and told to select our birthday present. Okay, so maybe a book was not the first thing on my mind as an 11 year old. It still wasn'€™t on my 12th birthday; but the books were special treasures. To this day I have the dictionary that came to my hand that way. And the Todds had a whole library in their house where Emmanuel and I were free browse and borrow books of our choice. Emmanuel confided in me that he never liked reading before. It was the Todd's library that piqued our interest in reading that continues to this day.

Of course, there were many times after that when I climbed our guava tree to pluck some fruit for Auntie Tricia. But the 'fruits'€™ I harvested from untold hours spent with Auntie Tricia and Uncle Paul remain a special treasure in my heart—an experience to rival the delights of eating fresh guavas high in a guava tree.

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barkin ladi 1Last Saturday, 28th July, 2014, treasurer Peter Burke and project manager Paul Dauda visited the villages of Kuzen, Kukuruk and Kurra Falls within the Barkin Ladi local government area. You might recall that in early July twelve villages in the region were attacked. The purpose of the visit was to monitor the distribution through the Stefanos Foundation in cooperation with local Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) churches of some aid from SIM's Christian Crisis Relief fund project number 96037.

Food assistance was to the most needy displaced persons previously identified by the local COCIN churches and Stefanos Foundation. It was sobering for Peter and Paul to see the needs and to meet many traumatised people.

The COCIN pastors and District Church Council executive were visibly touched by a gesture from SIM Nigeria who they normally see as only ministering through ECWA. It was a good time to remind many that SIM Nigeria, while working mainly with ECWA, also often undertakes ministry with and through other Christian Churches

Emmanuel

Emmanuel

The story that I am about to tell you is the most amazing, unbelievable narrative that I have ever written to you. I can imagine that many of you might have a hard time swallowing the details of the story of Emmanuel. Even our Nigerian co-workers have been taken aback by the history of this precious child.

Pastor Bulus, one of the City Ministries pastors, manages a care center with 10 boys. Recently, he was on an outreach in a remote village. Ambling through a field on the village outskirts, he stumbled upon what he first thought was a log. How shocked he was to find that the object at his feet was the wrecked body of a small boy! Lifting the boy into his arms, he raced into the town in search of help.

Matt WallisWe arrived at the camp to find everyone in a subdued mood. The rain had been pretty bad and some of the tents had failed and a lot of the mattresses were wet. We had to resort to plan B. All the guys were thrown out of their tents to make way for the girls and then the guys had to make do with whatever shelter they could make.  Some re-fashioned the shelters that were there while others went back and slept in the vehicles that were in the village. See the whole story on Matt's blog.

 Little Ogechi wears her new pressure garments.

Little Ogechi wears her new pressure garments.

Caught in the midst of crisis and watching people running down the street, Edwin heard a loud bang. Next thing he knew he was in the hospital with burns on one side of his face, both arms and both hands. The loud noise he remembers was a petrol bomb exploding against the building beside him. Edwin spent two months in the hospital before being discharged. He came to Healing Touch about three months later with thick scarring on both arms and hands, and limited movement in his wrists and fingers.

Four-year-old Ogechi was caught in a house fire and suffered burns to her face, her left arm and hand. She came to Healing Touch six months later with scarring and contractures of her left arm and hand.

Burns occur in devastating numbers in Nigeria. Many people, just like these two, are left with thick, ugly scars and spend the rest of their lives trying to hide their skin from staring eyes. Seeing these patients scarred and disfigured inspired me to find ways to help patients recover better and prevent the development of thick scars. I opened a burn clinic called Healing Touch that serves patients who have healed from burns within six months or less.

At the start of April a team of eight westerners, including myself, and six Nigerians headed ten hours north to the Nigeria/Niger border for a week long outreach. We spent six days in three different villages on the fringe of the Sahara desert. We shared the love of Christ and offered free medical care, played with a ton of children and showed evangelistic films. It was an unusual experience to be watched by hundreds of big, curious eyes for 24 hours. They were fighting over who had the best spot to stare through the church windows as we ate in the church. …

Read the whole story on Ruth McDowell's blog.

To show friendship or a desire to get to know somebody, we may think that we should invite people to our homes, but the opposite is true in Nigeria.
We Nigerians love visiting each other at home because it is a sign of friendship and, more importantly, a sign of acceptance. Anyone who will take the time to visit a Nigerian at home is showing that the person matters to them. Let me give you a few tips on how you can build relationships and benefit yourself and your friends through visiting.

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