We are on the flight to Chicago from Omaha and feeling very surreal about being at the Orphanage sometime in the next 24 hours or so. When I walked into the airport this morning it was about 7 below zero. When we arrive in Jalingo it will be 95+. I'll admit, I'm looking forward to wearing sandals.
More importantly my traveling friends, Nigeria Partnership Chair Dottie Halvorsen and Lincoln Christ UMC Pastor Jim Miller and me are eager to see our friends and colleagues at the orphanage. We will see their damages from the boys dormitory fire, we will see the progress in the students' education and so much more. We plan to meet with teachers and the board of director of the orphanage.
Simon Benjamin (Benji) and I have discussed a review of their strategic plan while we are there as well as other administrative training items such as project accounting, etc.
This is Dottie's fifth trip, my third and Jim's second. We all have talked about having more angst this time. I think it comes from knowing how long the trip is and the luggage, and knowing that you wished you could have brought more items that would help our friends in Nigeria.
This morning we were stuffing 144 toothbrushes (thank you Ameritas Dental) into various places in our luggage. We took turns weighing our bags. Mine came in at exactly 50.0 pounds. We all laughed at that. We had another large suitcase of school kits. We expected to pay significantly to check it. They took the bag without charge.
I'm planning to take new photos of the students while we are there along with interviews to update their biographies. We plan to interview and take photos of the teachers as well this time. Benji is always a gracious host, so we look forward to many familiarization sessions briefing us on everything from the state of the solar powered water system, to the prospects for rebuilding the boys dorm (the dorm burned down around Christmas time).
We will check in on our students who have graduated to the junior seminary school and with those attending the government school. Twelve days seems like a long time, but it will fly by.
Jim says he's interested in looking at all the aspects of the orphanage to help improve our fundraising to support the orphanage and more scholarships.
Dottie says she's excited to reconnect with the kids and the teachers, and of course do our work.
With great anticipation,