Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Heartfelt Thank You

andrews mom
By Andrew Lovedale

Home sweet home. Traveling all day yesterday to London to spend time with my family, workout, and visit with old friends I was exhausted. I know I promised to be back before the team because I had a workout scheduled with the Bobcats, but things took a new turn.

I was expecting my OPT employment authorization card, of which you are not advised to travel without upon expiration of your student visa. A little miscommunication with the American consulate, and the fact that my heart would not be at peace if I did not make the trip, sent me on the way, leaving my fate in the hands of the almighty.

Upon arrival, the American embassy said I could come back whenever my card was issued to
collect my visa and that nothing could be done without my OPT card. Hoping my card would arrive any moment from now, turned into the card being scheduled to arrive before the 1st of August.

Now, sitting in front of a computer in my brother's lounge in London with my two little nephews (Fortune and Favor) running around, I feel desperate to write because I am very accountable to those who made our trip possible and need to help you all understand why it's taken me so long to come back. I in no way regret the decision I made, because I would rather grow as a person spending time with all the volunteers blessing others, if spending a little more time outside the US was the price I had to pay.

What more can I say? I am humbled by the very kind words of Mr. King Mawhinney (a father-like figure to me), Mr. Chris Easterling (both of us became automatic body guards for Molly Duncan), Lauren Biggers (who could not stop hanging out with the little kids), Morgan Clark (who received a kazillion love letters) and Molly Duncan (who displayed such unparalleled charisma during the trip). These people and many more who made the trip were outstanding.

To be honest, I did not know how most of them would respond to my culture, but everyone adapted too fast to my surprise. We spent a couple of days in Nigeria, but we touched them forever. This trip might make all of us feel guilty for what we have or the lifestyles we live, but the ultimate is for us to understand how lucky we are and remain grateful to our creator. From an understanding of how fortunate we are and gratitude to our creator, we then develop habits that help us extend some of that luck to others who are less fortunate, thus redirecting their gratitude to our creator.

Always remember those faces that smiled and danced in the midst of affliction, because no
matter what you encounter in life, when you look back to those faces, you can always find a place in your heart to still be grateful, because somewhere out there, there is someone in worse situation still smiling. We were blessed by every one we encountered during that trip, but the truth of the matter is that they blessed us more than we blessed them.

Growing up in the midst of so little, I came to understand that the world would be a better place if we put aside our individualistic attitudes and embrace a sense of community. The bible says it all: "love thy neighbor as thyself." Putting ourselves in the shoes of others allows us to take a step back and reflect on the meaning of the trip. From slums, to awful athletic facilities, to rich suburbs to barely existing educational centers or the orphanage with very little. Yet in all this, the people were graceful and strived to be happy.

From this experience, we were blessed and even inclined to do more. Although a Nigerian who had first-hand experience with the economy and culture, I learned a lot more about where I am from during this trip than anyone could imagine. I knew people suffered but did not know it was that bad, I knew people were rich but I did not know they were that rich, I knew people could be faithful in little but I did not know they could give a lot of their little to others, and I knew God has a purpose but my faith was made bigger by seeing him manifest himself in those 10 days.

We were a group of people from varying backgrounds but sharing a similar goal and being
coach sue
passionate about it, made it such a huge success. Mr. Emmanuel Ohonme, his lovely wife Tracie and Dr. Iko Ibanga (pro-health international) were such an inspiration. These are people that have sacrificed a lot to see others happy, and I believe God is leading me to continue learning from these people because they have so much of what he has placed in my heart. Coach Sue of Florida state was amazing and loved by all because of the way she let go and embraced the culture and its people.

The list could go on and on, but the bottom line being we all came together and did so much in very little time through God's grace. On my part, I have a lot of people to thank. Davidson college students and staff, Davidson Athletics, my teammates (both current and past), my coaches, Davidson United Methodist church (thanks for helping revive our basketball court), Davidson Community school and all those who kept us in their thoughts and prayers.

frank and andrew
Not only did you make my stay at Davidson such a blessing, you welcomed Frank to Davidson and more than everything, contributed to extending that love to our hometown. I believe that I speak for Frank when I say thank you. Thanks to Samaritan's Feet for playing such a huge role in our lives and for making this a huge success. We all learned a lot and made new friends along the way. In short, we are family.

The pictures speak for themselves, the reflections dole out the individual manifestations, but in everything, I say thanks to almighty God for making this a huge success. See you all soon and stay blessed.

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