Sabbath in Benin City

Saturday, August 26, 2023
Benin City, Edo, Nigeria
I was able to do a little more “sleep catch-up” this morning. Sabbath services aren’t until 11:30 am, and the hall is rather close by.
Not being terribly hungry this morning, and aware of the fact I don’t need to be eating anything extra at this point in my life, I opted to skip breakfast, and have a leisurely morning getting around and preparing to go over to the hall.
I told Osas last night that I knew he had much to do to get ready for services, so I would make my own way over. He objected, but I insisted. So about 10:30 I called up an Uber. A driver named Wisdom answered my request, but it took him a bit longer to get here because of traffic. Today was a celebration of the Edo history (Benin is in the Edo state), and we got stopped by a parade including stilt walkers, a band and a long line of people chanting and marching down the street. But Wisdom knew how to cut through neighborhoods once the parade finally passed and we were able to go. Wish I’d grabbed a photo of the stilt walkers, but didn’t think of it in time…
Our lease for this building ends December 31st, and it is pretty clear we need a larger hall! We had 36 today, and the room was full, with people sitting on the porch and almost out from under the roof. That would have been bad because it started lightly raining partway through services!
Osas announced that we will not be able to hold services next Sabbath. That is the date of some local elections, and all travel is forbidden on election days. I asked why, and Osas explained that if people could travel, it would be possible for people to vote multiple times in different locations. Also, it would facilitate protests and even rioting between rival political factions if large groups were able to gather together. So, it is forbidden by law, and that means the members will be unable to travel from different parts of Benin City for services. Sad, but a fact of life here.
Because of past problems with the electrical power and paying the bill, we opted some time ago to disconnect from the power grid and run services entirely off our small generator. The resident in the next door unit was squabbling with us about his portion of the power bill, and caused the power to get turned off a time or two. Since we only use in on Sabbaths, and with the frequent power outages we often didn’t have power at the time we met, it just didn’t make sense to keep it on. We can buy petrol (gasoline) for the generator for about the same thing we were paying (or less), and we know we’ll have power when we crank the thing up.
But the generator does create another problem – the noise. Anyone sitting toward the back of the room or outside on the little porch would have a very hard time hearing the speaker. But with no other options, I tried to speak as loudly as I could to make myself heard, with probably rather limited success…
I gave a version of a sermon I’ve given at home on Happiness, and what happiness really is. I know not everyone was able to hear, but the message did generate several comments. Several said it seemed to hit home with them because of the challenges of life in Nigeria right now. Reports I’ve found online show the level of happiness in Nigeria is very low. Of the 147 countries listed on one study, Nigeria ranks 118th. It is one of the lowest on the African continent. So perhaps this was a valid topic for me to speak about.
Following services there was a lot of fellowship, and we passed out the suitcase full of camp shirts I brought over as well as some hand-made bracelets a lady in California had made and shipped to me. Ladies and children were coming up to proudly show me their new bracelets!
By then people began drifting back home. It was quite hot at that point, and with the humidity very high everyone was sweating through their shirts or dresses. I was going to grab another Uber, but Osas insisted on driving me back to the hotel.
Tomorrow before the study I have a family coming over to visit, and then I’ll go to the hall to conduct the Bible Study. Then I’ll have a visit or two following the study as well.

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