Tuesday, June 16, 2009

in the heart of my mother land

By Frank Ben-Eze '12 (AKA papareze)

DAY 1. Back in Benin city... Wow... a city I once had a trade mark, a good one! (I think)...

Hot as ever, maybe even hotter than it was five years ago or maybe it’s just my perception because I have been out for a while. Home was bliss, with a reunion filled with dramatic moments, one that mere words couldn’t describe.

Driving to the airport to welcome our guests from the US was so much fun as I and Drew reminisce over special moments and events (good and bad) we have had here in Nigeria and how our dreams connected.

Waiting at the arrival area of the local Benin City airport not knowing if to start crying tears of joy seeing dreams becoming reality. This was a moment not everyone is opportune to have in their lifetime, and here we are at 23 and 19 and it’s happening.

As our visitors arrived, I was out of my mind excited because I couldn’t wait to ask questions. (1) about the hot weather? What they could say about the over-populated Lagos city where the team transited before flying to Benin.

I can see Lauren! I said to Drew, and she waved at us running out to meet us outside. Oh yeah... You should see how my fellow Nigerian brothers and sisters were staring at her… It was “oyinbo”- a word used to describe white people. I guess they thought she was jlo or better some American pop star.

Awesome day 2!... I called it meeting the Lovedale’s. The day started with worshiping at Drew’s home church. I couldn’t wait for this moment because as a Nigerian, I always knew that one place to really enjoy the diverse culture of any African community was the church. And yea! Our team experienced that.

Molly got the claps for the worship and praise songs perfect… Oh God bless her because as such at young age she discovered her true heritage..lol. Morgan, although “enjoying church,” couldn’t stop looking around her as it seems like she has just been ejected from her seat in baker sport complex into a strange jungle in Africa.

oh ...i love coach sue, not just because I love basketball,l but because she never had a second thought about any event. She danced as if she had received tons of Nigerian dance classes before embarking on this trip.

And lest I forget, not only was I an observer, I also became a “ teacher” giving some free clap classes to Lauren as she struggled with this strange combination of singing and clapping together…. to her it just wasn’t working.

Day 3 gets better... Not only did it come with joy but also one that was very emotional. Although the mission of the team was to reach out to these kids with sneakers and the gospel, it appeared to be more than that to me.

Growing up in this city, playing on that same court where the event was talking place, looking at the faces of friends, old and young. Seeing the tears on the eyes of people I knew so well as their feet were washed and new sneakers placed on them brought tears to my own eyes.

I was raised in different cultures in Nigeria and have had certain events in my life that were memorable, but this trip I call my best thus far and has placed a memory that would be with me for the rest of my life.

Giving is bliss!!

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