Travel Diary 14: Yes, This is Still Africa

Dear ITEM Friends,

I have been reminded today that as modern as Abuja is and as well cared for I am here, this is still Africa. For one big reason I had been given a false sense of security. Now, today, one day before leaving for home, reality entered the room.


Abuja is a big modern city with a warm, sometimes very warm, climate. The team that takes care of me here is from a denomination that pays their pastors a salary so I am driven around it nicer cars probably with AC. I stay at a guest house that isn’t extravagant but it has hot running water, wifi which means an internet connection, AC in each room, and a ceiling fan. But the value-added bonus is that the have a generator. Why is that important? The power goes off and on during the day without warning but the generator kicks in quickly and you never go more than a few minutes without power which translates into wifi, AC, lights, and ceiling fan. 

Because of wifi, I have been able to talk to my wife Brenda twice a day. When she gets up and when she’s readying for bed. 


The system has been working flawlessly since the time I arrived Saturday …. until today. One day before departure, the system has broken down. This morning at 5:45am the power went out. I was barely awake. But this time the generator did NOT turn on. And all the aforementioned amenities were gone. The power remained off for about four hours. It was off long enough that Brenda (my wife) did not hear from me per usual. She didn’t know why. It’s off again and I’m wondering if she will hear from me tonight?

It was back on all day. But in the past 2 hours it has gone on and off 3 times now…. Check that… it came back on and off again within a couple of minutes, so it is off a fourth time. I haven’t asked if the generator is not working. My guess is that the local power is off and they keep trying to fire up their generator and it isn’t cooperating. It is 5:15pm here. It is still light outside but if the power stays off after the sun goes down it will make for a very dark, warm night with little circulation in the rooms.

Like I said, “Oh, yeh, this is still Africa.”


Covid test

While the power was out (until 9:45am), our coordinator, Pastor Nok, brought a doctor by who administered my Covid test. It cost extra to have him come to me but that saved me from having to wait in long lines somewhere around here. The results are supposed to be back any time. I have no symptoms but in this crazy world, you never know when a false negative might show up.

Team meeting

We had an ITEM team meeting later in the morning. This is the first time I’ve been with them for three years. We got reacquainted. I reviewed our E4 Church Strategy that is designed to help pastors be effective change agents, bringing maturity to the lives of their congregants. I told them about our leadership transition that is underway and will be finalized in the next 12-18 months. I explained my focus on apologetics. And we set some ministry goals, evaluated where we are currently in relation to the goals, and discussed plans to accomplish the goals. 

One of the men gave an encouraging testimony. He said (power just now came back on…. again…) that he has been using ITEM notes to disciple his church leadership and the men he’s been discipling are now strong leaders and (power cut off again…. it must be the generator they are trying to get working) good preachers. He seemed very sincere. I was blessed to hear this.


Tomorrow (power is back on) I leave for home. My flight is not until almost 11pm so I’ll spend my day here (power went off) at the guest house and leave for the airport around 5. I am hoping I can check in that early and spend the evening in the lounge.


There were pictures taken by others the past few days. I hope to get copies soon so I can upload them tonight.


Once again, I thank you for your interest and prayers. If I am on schedule, I will touch down at my home airport, Portland, just past 4pm Thursday.

By His grace,

REPORTING FROM “AFRICA” where the power is off and the sun is going down.

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