What was it like going to Nigeria? (Part 1)

I have been asked this question many times, so I thought I would dive into the details as a 3 part blog series that makes up the answer as a whole!

Part 1 – Closing Loose Ends in the USA

When the my wife, Jennifer, and I decided to accept the call of the Lord to move to Nigeria, the first question on our minds was “What are we going to do with our house?”. We played with the idea of renting the house, but ultimately we did not want to have any loose ends of the hassle of property management (let alone property management while abroad) tying us up or holding us back in any way. We believed that the Lord told us He would provide either way, but we just weren’t sure what to do for a while.

In addition to the task of deciding what to do with our home, we knew that it would be near impossible to bring all of our belongings with us to Nigeria on a single flight that allows only 2 checked bags per person. We had to downsize ourselves. The team of us who were moving to Nigeria came together and setup a weekend long Yard Sale at our house (we had a big yard, perfect to host such an event). We consolidated all of our belongings to hopefully form a very successful Yard Sale with lots of items to draw customers. We even put an Ad out in the local newspaper to help attract attention from all of the professional “Yard Salers” to help boost interest and awareness.

The event was a great success and we were able to raise quite a bit of money to help fund the cost of the trip to Nigeria! And you know what else? We also found out what we were supposed to do with our house! During the Yard Sale, one of our neighbors came over to check out the sale and began to inquire why we were selling all of our belongings. When we explained that we were going to be moving abroad, she immediately began to ask if we would be selling the house explaining that she had been interested in the house for quite some time and was extremely interested in buying it (Can you say “Sign from God”?). My wife and I then knew then that we would be selling our home.

As you can probably imagine, the choice to sell all of your belongings and move to a foreign country can come as a bit of a shock to some of your closest family and friends. When I broke the news to my family, they had a mixture of emotions in response. First, they were very excited about the new adventure that it would be, and coming from a Christian family, they were excited about me following the Lord’s call. Second, after the excitement of the breaking news quieted down, there was sadness in the realization that I would likely not be with them for major holidays as per usual as well as the fact that I would not be a simple domestic flight or road trip away for a visit. Lastly, there was concern. Concern about my safety, finances, and general health care outside the USA. Though there were many emotions, I am so glad to have the support of my family, friends, and church community behind me in this endeavor.

Now that we had our belongings beginning to shrink and our families and friends on board, we needed to make it official with legal paperwork! Passports, VISAs, and Vaccinations was the road ahead, and what a long, paperwork filled road it was! The application for my passport was 4-5 pages long with questions on it about myself that even I had to look up to find the answer to! (You would think that you would be able to answer any question about yourself on command, since it’s you right?). Once the application was complete, I had to have a face to face meeting at the Post Office (you can tell this was done before COVID-19 social distancing — haha!) to complete the application and have them mail it in.

Once I received my new Passport, I then needed to fill out an even longer application for a VISA to enter into Nigeria! I think this application was somewhere around 8-9 pages long. Again, I had to go down to Washington, D.C. to process the application in person where they took my photo for the VISA as well as fingerprinted me for their records. I had to leave my passport with them in order to have the VISA applied to it once approved.

After receiving my passport back again with the new Nigerian VISA in it, I was officially, legally allowed to travel to Nigeria! Well…except for the vaccinations. At the time, there were 2 vaccinations required to enter Nigeria and 1 that was highly recommended. Typhoid and Yellow Fever vaccinations were required, so I booked an appointment with my local doctors office and explained my travel arrangements and vaccination requirements. They were able to administer the Typhoid vaccination, however, I was then told that the Yellow Fever vaccination was on back-order from the manufacturer and that there were very few available within the United States! The doctor called around as I began to wonder if I would even be able to go, seeing that it may not be possible to get the vaccine. After several phone calls, he was able to locate a dose of the vaccination for me and I booked the appointment immediately. As for the highly recommended vaccine, it was for Malaria. Although, vaccine wouldn’t properly describe the drug administered for it. It was more of a preventative drug, rather than full on vaccine because you have to take the drug weekly in order for it to work effectively.

Finally, after minimizing my belongings, putting my house on the market, discussing this decision with family and friends, and getting my Passport, VISA, and vaccinations completed, it was time to depart! Our team of 7 missionaries was accompanied by many people from our church for the departing trip. We had a total of 17 people on the trip which made for an interesting experience traveling internationally!

To Be Continued…

On the next blog post, I will dive into the experience of arriving into Abuja International Airport in Nigeria and all the interesting things that I encountered. How are you expected to act? Do they speak english or was there a language barrier? What was it like to drive there? What kinds of food or restaurants are available to eat? All these questions will be answered next time!

2 thoughts on “What was it like going to Nigeria? (Part 1)

  1. As your mom, I can’t begin to describe adequately how I feel about your heartfelt writing and details describing the call God has placed on your life to minister in Nigeria! You and Alley shared this mission so well to our school and I am so thankful for your Willingness to serve and your deep love God gave you for these people! You’ve been through a great number of changes and challenges yet continue to remain passionate for the spiritual lives of the Nigerian people – and their physical lives as well! I am just as passionate about praying for you and Alley and how God will continue to direct you!! Love you so much, Michael-Stephen!

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