Travel to Lagos

Monday, January 15, 2018
Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria
I slept well, and the airport shuttle was ready to take me over on time. Normally I’m flying out of Accra on my way back to the US, which is virtually always a night flight, leaving between 10 and 11 pm. They are large planes, so there are always a lot of passengers in the departure area, and sometimes long lines. I didn’t know if a noon flight would be the same, so I left plenty of time.
There didn’t seem to be very many flights taking off at this time, and some, like mine, were not full. So the check-in procedure went very quickly, and within perhaps 10 minutes I had my boarding pass, and was through security with nearly two hours to spare. But I’d much rather be early than have to rush through and possibly miss a flight!
I was able to get some work done over the internet in the lounge, and when it was time I went down to my gate. But we didn’t start to board when expected. Even by the scheduled flight time we hadn’t started to board. A lady with two small children was sitting next to me, and the boy, about 2 years old, seemed somewhat fascinated by me. Before we boarded he called me “uncle”, which I suspect was a term of respect for him.
When we boarded they apologized for the delay and explained there was a mechanical issue they had to fix before we could fly. I’m just fine with that – because if they don’t fix it on the ground and something decides to break down at 29,000 feet, it can make for a REALLY bad day…!
Since we took off 40 minutes late, we also landed late. In this short flight the pilot really couldn’t make up very much time. But we landed safely at the Murtala Muhammed International airport in Lagos, and the customs and immigration process went very smoothly. I’ve been told that in the past it has been a rather confusing mess, but it seems the authorities have worked to streamline the process, and I had no problems.
My suitcase came out fairly quickly, and I was out into the arrivals area. There are several forex bureaus in this area, and since they are the most convenient, I decided to change some money here before heading out. Based on my last trip I got a good exchange rate.
When I walked out onto the sidewalk I heard someone calling my name, and looked around to see Cody Kitts standing with our driver from the hotel. A short walk to the carpark and we were on our way to the Protea Hotel Ikeja (Ikeja is the part of Lagos the hotel is in). It isn’t far from the airport, so quite convenient. And it is a nice, comfortable hotel.
We had a scheduled meeting with a new man this evening, so I got checked into my room and Cody and I talked a bit waiting for him to come. He had given me his phone number, so I finally called him, and he said he was waiting in reception. We quickly went out there, but couldn’t find him, so I called him again.
Unfortunately there are two Protea hotels in Lagos, and perhaps I hadn’t been clear enough about which one we were using, and he was at the reception desk of the other one! It would take him a little while to make it over to this one, so Cody and I went through the buffet dinner line while we waited.
Over an hour later I tried to call him again, but the connection was so poor I couldn’t really understand him, and I don’t think he could understand me either. So we sat in the lobby area and waited. I tried to call him again and this time the call wouldn’t even go through. There are many things that could have delayed him or even prevented him from making it to the hotel. Since I couldn’t reach him by phone, and we’d waited a bit over two hours (including the time we spent eating), I left word with the desk that a man may still be coming to meet me, and if he came please call me in my room. So Cody and I went back to our rooms to work and wait.
Less than 20 minutes later the front desk called to say a man was there looking for me. I called Cody’s room and we went out and met our visitor. He’d had quite an adventure getting to us: first going to the wrong hotel, then misunderstanding me and thinking this hotel was at the airport. There is no Protea hotel at the airport, but he finally found someone who told him where the hotel is, and he made his way over. The additional stops plus making his way through Lagos traffic was the reason for the long delay. I felt badly for all the extra time and effort on his part, and will strive to be more clear on where I am in the future.
Meeting this gentleman was a real pleasure. I knew a little bit about him because after discovering the Life, Hope and Truth website he had written in a question or two some months back. Since I’m on the PCD answering team, these questions happened to be directed to me, so we began corresponding. Eventually it became clear that I needed to let him know I also work with Nigeria, and we made plans to meet on my next trip. So this meeting was the culmination of a number of emails over a period of months.
We asked about his background, and he shared many things about his life. Unfortunately, we were sitting in the open lobby, and with so many people laughing and talking I was finding it extremely difficult to understand him. I looked for a quieter place, but couldn’t find one. A manager saw me looking, and a few minutes later offered to allow us to sit in an unused conference room to talk. FINALLY, a quiet place where we could talk and I could hear him better!
As he described how he began to question what he’d grown up believing, and when he discovered Life, Hope and Truth he began devouring all he could, it became apparent that God is opening his mind to understand the Truth of the scripture. While our circumstances are very different, many of the feelings and the excitement he related paralleled my own excitement as God began to call me and open my eyes over 40 years ago! It is always so encouraging to see God continuing to work and call people when and where He sees fit!
The conversation went on until nearly 10 pm! I explained that our Church is small in Nigeria, but slowly growing. There is another family in the general Lagos area that we plan to meet with tomorrow. We will explore the possibility of this man getting together with the other family on the Sabbath, or at least on some Sabbaths. I don’t yet know how far apart they live from each other, and hope to find that out tomorrow.
Lagos is a huge sprawling metropolis, as clearly seen by air as we were coming in. The latest figures I could find place the population of the greater Lagos metropolitan area at 21 million. According to Wikipedia (and if its there it HAS to be correct, right?) Lagos is the 12th largest metro area in the world! So although these two families live in the same city, it might not be so easy for them to meet up. But even if they could meet only every other Sabbath I think it would be encouraging and helpful for both. So we will explore that tomorrow.
I returned to my room very tired from the travel of the day, but very encouraged by the outcome of the meeting. Even this gentleman’s persistence in finding us revealed something about his desire to meet us and build a deeper connection with the Church. I pray this will continue!
Tomorrow we have one more day in Lagos before we travel out to Benin City, the area where most of our members are currently located.

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Jason Hyde

Exciting news! Glad you were able to finally connect with this individual in person.

Tess Washington

God is working out His purposes on whomever He looks upon with mercy and grace! Thank you Mr. Clark! Your day ended very well!

Alicia Fultz

I find it totally incredible - really a miracle - to hear about an individual like this. There's no explanation for it except that God is working. What else would drive someone like this when they are so alone?