Sunday, April 29, 2012

Good People Everywhere. LDS in Nigeria, 1989-1991

After writing in the March 1989 Ensign, Ann Laemmlen wrote another article discussing her time in Nigeria in the Nov 1989 New Era -- the Church's youth magazine.
When I was first asked to go to Nigeria, I was under the impression that I would be going into the bush of Africa to save the dying children. My colleague and I arrived on the scene with our cases and boxes of supplies and comforts and equipment and stuff. And in our books and materials, we thought we had all the answers to the world’s problems. We were ready and willing to find and point out all of the problems of the Nigerian people so we could proceed to solve them.
It didn’t take us long to realize that we were the ones that needed help. We were the ones having a hard time surviving. We were the ones having a hard time coping with life in Nigeria, not the Nigerians. I began to realize that differences are relative. Slowly, as the months went by, I began to see that I was just as different from Violet as she was from me, and I discovered an equality in our differences.
She goes into modest detail about the differences between her life and the life of her friend Violet, starting from her morning's rush when her compound has electricity while Violet is out gathering water to the Saturday preparations for the Sabbath.
Heavenly Father’s creations show that he delights in variety and in differences. I want to delight in the same. As I am home now, among my own people, I try hard to appreciate differences in people and in experiences, and I try hard to learn from them. As I do this, I find my abilities are increasing, my life is becoming fuller, and I am understanding more about the one thing I hold in common with every other person on this earth: I am a child of God.
An April 1990 article on the history of the Church Institute program mentions that among the newest institute programs, two are operating at Cape Coast University in Ghana and Nsukka University in Nigeria.

In the April 1990 general conference, Elder Cuthbert (who had been overseeing the missions in Africa), related the following short story during a talk about service:
There are good people everywhere giving charitable service. Once, when we were visiting our missionaries and members in Nigeria, our vehicle broke down on a lonely road. Finally a car approached, and two young Nigerians got out. “The Lord told us to stop and help you,” they said. Help us they did, for they knew what the Lord would have them do. And so it should be with us.
A November 1991 Church News article discussed the further blessings coming from the Church's response to the 1985 Ethiopian famine. Some of the funds collected during the special fast at that time were used to dig wells in Aba, Nigeria, to spread a more productive cassava seed, and to install catchment cisterns near several meeting houses and a 10,000 gallon storage tank in Aboh Mbaise to improve water supply.

Looking through the Church's online archives, there is an interesting difference. During the 1989-1991 period, a lot of short letters and comments from Nigerian youth and missionaries were published in Church magazines. Often they thanked the other contributing members for writing articles that described their lives, or shared a brief testimony or scripture passage to help others in the Q&A sections. Before 1990, such contributions were very few.

Additional posts in the LDS in Nigeria series can be found here.