In December of 1978 we went to Nairobi, Kenya, for vacation. My parents and a brother and sister were there. We had a great time together. Cyndi was pregnant with Ben.
Sometime between Christmas and New Year we got a phone call at 1 o’clock in the morning from Grand Rapids, Michigan. A colleague informed me that our house in Serti had caught fire due to an electrical problem and had burned “to the ground”. Nothing was left. He was calling us in Nairobi so that we could buy new supplies there.
I remained fairly calm. I really couldn’t imagine that this had happened. It seemed unreal and far away.
The next day I called back to G.R. to confirm that I had heard the message correctly. I had.
We didn’t buy hardly anything in Nairobi. I don’t know why.
I’ll never forget what it was like to see our house when we landed in Serti again. It was really gone, except for the walls, some cracked but all still standing.
We had taken what we thought we needed for more than two years with us from the U.S.: clothing, shoes, supplies, cassette tapes, etc. It was all gone.
The church people in Serti had cleaned up the house for us. And from all over Nigeria people sent clothing, furniture, kitchen supplies – whatever we needed. Very touching and impressive.
We camped out in the small guesthouse. A colleague with a team of Nigerians began to rebuild our house.
That took a few months, and during that time our son Ben was born (another story).
We were young and flexible enough to be able to swing with this punch.
We didn’t lose our vision for the work.
We just kept going and did what needed to be done.
No one asked us – and we didn’t ask ourselves – anything about our own feelings. How does this make you feel? What can you learn from this? Are you processing this in a good way? Are you doing it together?
Those were the good old days.
(Note: this is the tenth in a series of blogs celebrating the 30-year anniversary of our departure for Nigeria. The blogs can be found under the label "Anniversary". Click here for the first one.)