In north Baltimore County on Monday evening there was a powerful thunderstorm. There was an enormous sound light show courtesy of Mother Nature. It was an awesome display of the power and beauty of God’s creation. Just as the show was about to end (@8:30) the electric power in our house went out. We assumed that this would be a short outage and disruption to the family’s lazy summer night routine. But as the minutes and then hours passed the realization set in that this was going to possibly go well into the next day and we were in for a tough night. I must admit that for a long time (longer than I care to admit) we were downright miserable because all of our comforts and conveniences were gone. We were feeling so sorry for ourselves. Then all of a sudden I got a flashback to my trips to Jos in 2008 and 2009. On each trip I spent approximately 17 days in Nigeria. In Nigeria the lack of electricity is the norm rather than the exception. Many Nigerians are impoverished to the point where they cannot even pay for electricity. And even the few who do have the ability to pay, do without because the electricity service delivery system (owned and run by the national government) is extremely dysfunctional. Electricity is available on an irregular and unpredictable basis. Remembering this made the wait for the return of our electricity, even if it was for more than 24 hours, so much more bearable.
I will never forget what it was like not having electricity in Nigeria. Both times my trips were in August. Most of my time was spent at Faith Alive Hospital which is located in Jos which is on a plateau so it gets slightly cooler weather-high 80's,low 90's. I also visited The Anawim Home in Abuja which is hotter-high 90's. At both places our team spent much of our time sweating. Of course no air conditioning or fans. Windows are kept open and often there are no screens or the screens are broken. There is a mosquito problem and many people suffer from Malaria. Two Faith Alive staff people had Malaria while we were there in 2009. It is common there so even though they were sick they kept working. Having your windows open all the time can lead to another problem we never thought of for people living in the city or village. There was lots of loud sound coming in those windows! And the sound did not stop at night! There was a restaurant across the street from Faith Alive Hospital that played loud music. I guess they had a generator! Anyway, with no electricity darkness comes when it comes. We would sit around our sitting room quarters at night with our flashlight and take flashlights with us when we needed to go from room to room. Faith Alive does have generators for the hospital and the guest house so they can help the visitors and serve us meals. But as you travel around Jos you will see many of the people cooking their meals by fire. There is a lot of air pollution due to all the fires.
Nigerians deal with misfortune or adversity so much better than we do. It is what they are used to. We are used to being pampered. One thing I learned there is how to have better quality time with people. While my team member's and I sat around in the dark with our flashlights we had some great times--great stories and laughs shared. Monday night when the power outage happened my kids went for their games. Games and flashlights! What's this I thought? Wasn't this nice? We need to stop all this technology stuff and go back to quality family time and play games like we used to. I have 13 yr. old girl and a 14 yr. old boy. I suggested to them that we have a family game night 3 times a week. They said in unison,"3 times a week! MOM REALLY!" We settled on one. It is still progress.
Thank you to the Nigerian people for the time spent with you and for all that you taught me and for your never ending courage.