I know I know, I am supposed to feature a “Meet A Friend.” I promise I will, sooon! I’ve decided on the person and it seems like the more I pray for her, the harder it is to make my words come together. In the meantime, I had a new Nigerian dish today! Egusi Soup.
I didn’t prepare it, so I’m confident it’s much better than my first try would have been, lol. The ladies in the dining hall on our compound cooked it and were willing to let me watch. Egusi soup seems to be the children’s favorite and honestly, may be mine, too.
The History: Initially, I wanted to know from which West African tribe did Egusi soup originate. As I read, it became quite a challenge. Some people said Igbo, some said Hausa, and others said Yoruba so I decided that I’d leave it up to my readers to tell me! What I did learn, is that egusi soup’s main ingredient is the seed of the egusi melon. These melon seeds are ground up, and used in many West African dishes, specifically soups. They look much like watermelon, but the inside is actually a soft yellow and the seeds are off-white.
The Process: I love watching the ladies use the pestle and mortar, so that obviously was my favorite part. They ground the seeds up to a pretty fine consistency. The base of the soup is red palm oil. This is the same oil based they used the first time I watched them make stew. The seeds are mixed in, and they gradually add dried fish, beef tips, and stock from those proteins. It honestly looks more like a chowder, but I’m not Nigerian, so my opinion doesn’t matter LOL. The ladies also added chopped spinach, which, if you know me, made my entire day. They cooked it down and BOOM. Now, this process sounds super short when condensed into a paragraph on my website, but it was SO. MUCH. WORK. De-boning the dried fish, DRYING the fish, cooking the beef, making the broth, preparing the base, chopping the vegetables, and doing whatever else they knew needed to be done. One of my favorite aspects of Nigerian culture is the food. This isn’t simply because I’m greedy, but because of the time and care that goes into creating each meal.
Swallows: Swallows are a pretty common Nigerian side dish. Each of them differ in flavor, but the texture seems fairly similar. They are what seem to be the “starch” of the meal. They are cooked down, pounded, mashed, or mixed, and molded into a ball shape to be eaten with various soups. With the egusi soup, the ladies prepared Tuwo Shinkafa Rice. I’m going to be honest and say that I missed watching them prepare the rice, but went to the website I’ve been using for trying different recipes at home, and found this quick video.
When I first saw the soup, I was nervous. It’s not the easiest on the eyes if it’s something you aren’t used to seeing. The texture tasted much different than it looked. I couldn’t stop eating it, y’all. It was sooooooo good. It’s like the fish and beef flavor did the gwara gwara in my mouth. It was legit.
Now, finally, the eating! Grab a spoon and go crazy, right?! WRONG. I’m intentional about asking the ladies how to eat certain foods. I’m fairly shameless in my lack of knowledge and am always eager to learn. It is to be eaten by “collecting a small amount of the rice, and using it to scoop the soup out of the bowl…” They wanted me to use a spoon, I said “NEVERRRRRR!!!” and everybody smiled and laughed. I know it may seem small, but that showed them immediately that I respected and was intrigued by the culture. They called me their sister, and I’m loving how our relationship is beginning to blossom. Here’s a SHORT clip of me eating the soup and swallow. I had to stop recording because baby I went to TOWN on this food.
I hope those of you following my website are enjoying the small pieces of Nigeria I’m able to share as I serve here in Jos. I promise to keep it up. My greatest desire has been to show my students from the states that they are, too, capable of experiencing a life outside of what society deems their standard. I hope this does just that.
Thank you for reading.
I love you.
Today marks one month of being in Nigeria. I was going to post a beautiful picture of the horizon and put my favorite Bible verse in the caption like most people in this sort of position, but quite honestly, I don’t feel like it. I know, I sound like a bratty teenager. I’m content with that. This was one of those times when I had to bury myself in order to see God lift me up.
I woke up this morning and began a long list of things to do instead of just sitting around the compound because the kids are gone. I cleaned. I read. I cooked. I painted. I wrote. I ran. I danced. I looked at the clock and it was only 1pm. I woke up at 5:30am because I’m still fighting jet lag and can’t afford to sleep in. I paced around the house for longer than I’d like to admit and eventually broke. When I say “broke” I don’t mean broke down and started crying. I just lacked functionality. I didn’t move. I didn’t talk (to myself of course). It felt like I didn’t breathe. I felt like a Nintendo 64 (when it’s time to take the game out and blow inside of it because it just froze in the middle of fighting Bowser for Princess Peach). All of these feelings were rushing through my mind and it was like I couldn’t do anything about it. Maybe that’s a bit dramatic to you, but this was my reality.
Today has been nothing short of an emotional roller coaster. At one point, I just sat on the floor and stared out the window. I think it’s tempting to have fairy-tale expectations of what it feels like to be obedient to God. The reality is, sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it’s so hard that we stop in our tracks and think of all the things we could be doing INSTEAD of what He says. Fortunately, feelings are temporary, and I’m finally at a place in my life where I don’t make decisions based explicitly off of how I feel. I’m learning the difference between temporary emotions, and truth. The truth is, I love Him and am thankful to be His broken and rebuilt cistern.
Before you say, “GO TO YOUR TEAM!” or “Why didn’t you talk to anybody or reach out to somebody??” understand that this was not a cry for companionship or community. I could have been in a room full of people, but that, too, would have been a failed attempt to be my own Savior.
Eventually, I sat down, and talked to my Daddy.
Why do we wait until we have no other fleshly option to go to God? This is not a rhetorical question. I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments. I know the typical answers “that’s what the flesh does” and “pride, Shakiyla, PRIDE” but today it felt like my heart and spirit had a disconnect. It was like I had to intentionally ask God to unite Himself with myself in order to feel purposeful again. It was nothing like I’ve ever experienced. I’d gotten so robotic in my worship that I was relying fully on feelings, emotions, and outward expression as a source of fulfillment. It was like I was in High School all over again. I was unknowingly floating at a surface-level devotion to God, and had no idea how I’d gotten there.
There is an evident difference between personal desire, and God’s command to do something. Today, it was like He stopped me in my tracks and said “Come to me…FULLY” It was an overwhelming reminder of just how much we need Him. I don’t know where I’m going with this. I think I just wanted to encourage you to Go to Him. Don’t wait until you’ve exhausted all other avenues to go to the King of Kings. I tried a million and one things, before I went to the author of my life (silly girl). We are indeed broken vessels in need of His grace, and today, I felt it pour over me.
I pray He does the same for you.
Thank you for reading.
I love you.
I’m finally sharing. Initially, I planned to post on the website the day I landed in Abuja, Nigeria, then I realized how useless that would be. I decided to give myself time to experience the city of Jos before I shared. That was the smartest move I’ve made in a while. Other than, of course, updating the website it! Make sure you click around a bit. (it looks better from a desktop) lol. If you’re new to the blog, click here to hear more about how I ended up going from Lake Charles, Louisiana to Jos, Nigeria!
Well, I landed in Abuja on my 27th birthday, and it was a beautiful way to start a new year of life. After having given Aries away, having had the surgery, and having left my family, I felt a sigh of relief at the thought of newness rather than loss. We drove through countless villages and I was able to see the variety of cultures throughout the five hour drive. I think it’s tempting for people to see Africa as just “Africa” but each country has its own culture and within each country, each state has its own culture. Each state has villages and each village has its own culture, and it’s been surreal to watch them all unfold. Here’s our village. It has many cottages, school buildings, a dining hall, central gazebos, a basketball court, and a soccer field for the kids (and myself) to play on. It’s a beautiful site to see in the morning.
I’ve decided to eat mostly Nigerian food. I say mostly because on Sundays my team and I go out to eat and it’s generally an American-ish restaurant. So far I’ve had, gari, pounded yam, stew, sweet potatoes, suya, bean cakes, buns, and of course, JOLLOF RICE. I try to make a Nigerian recipe at least once a week and ask the cottage mamas their opinion on what I should do to make it RIGHT. Today I made meat pies. These were pretty easy, primarily because we eat them in the south. The biggest difference was the seasoning. Curry is so popular here and I’m honestly not a fan, but Mama Hanatu said I can’t leave it out, so I didn’t. Here’s the final product. I’ll post the recipe link with more pictures and a series of unfortunate events later this week:
The 11th grade class invited me over one afternoon to help them bake cookies for Teacher’s Appreciation. It was there I learned what a pestle and a mortar were. I recently followed a Nigerian chef, Nma, who has captured my heart with her love for Nigerian food. Click the link for her AMAZING blog on the pestle and mortar. I’m addicted to these tools. I want to pound EVERYTHING in sight, lol. Faith and I crushed some ginger, cinnamon, and other spices for the dough. You basically just throw it in the bowl and get to work. The trick is to twist, and move with a downward inward motion. Idk if that makes sense, but that’s what she told me, and Aunty Lydia said I was doing a good job so I’m gonna keep doing it. My arms were definitely sore the next day but it was totally worth it.
I’ve also been pretty intentional about going to the market. This weekend I went to the “Main Market” and was honestly blown away by the Christmas rush of it all. Just like anywhere else, people wait until the last minute to get what they need and pile up on the streets and in the market. It was crazy. This picture does it little justice, but imagine miles of this full of people, children, stalls, and food. Once I got this picture, I ran to the side and refused to step foot on the road again. LOL. Every umbrella is a different stall (or two):
I was able to get a few groceries to last me through the holiday, and some makeup to try instead of getting it sent from home. We stopped for a bit and waited for the owner to get some of his “good stuff” so I was able to catch this lady braiding baby girl’s hair for the first time. At first, she wasn’t having it, but it was so sweet to watch the stylist not only comfort her, but encourage her to think fearlessly. The mama allowed her to do so, and for me, that was just a sweet picture of community. People don’t do that anymore. We can’t tell other people’s children how to feel, because they will either take offense or become defensive; it reminded me of Crowley. I was thankful to have seen it.
I’ve spent so much time with the kids that I can hardly stand them being away right now. They will be gone for about 3 weeks, so I have time to hopefully create some normalcy as I transition in. There are 6 girl cottages, and I think 4 boy cottages. Each has 6-12 children/young adults. In my head I was like “LAWD THAT’S A LOT OF CHILDREN” but y’all, the kids live so harmoniously. Obviously, they’re teenagers, so of course they fuss and fight, but every night ends with devotion alongside one another and a prayerful transition into the night. They are full of laughs and love, and I really am excited to get to know them even more. I’ve had a few stick like glue, and those relationships are blossoming more each day. It’s nice to be able to love on them in a different capacity. No classroom, no lesson plans, no school board, just love with God at the center. Here are a few shots from time spent together:
In creating this blog, I wasn’t sure what I would say. I didn’t sit down and outline any main ideas or write an essay like I usually would. I didn’t pin point specific encouragements or lessons learned, and I didn’t really introduce any new ideas. I did what I said I would, share. I know it’s pretty shallow compared to most of my other updates because they tend to be deep and sometimes dark with a light at the end of the tunnel, but that’s not what this blog is. This is more like a reflection of what has happened and what makes it special. This time around I was really able to feel what was around me and I felt a sense of freedom in that. I will FOR SURE give you more details and tell you the lessons I’ve learned, but today, I just want to encourage you to allow yourself to experience life. I have pictures, but it is very seldom I bring my cell phone with me anywhere. I really just grab my bag and GO. It’s refreshing to feel less attached. So I think that’s what I recommend; detachment.
Whatever you feel like you can’t be without, let it go for a minute and experience life in all its rawness.
I recommend all of my followers to follow me on Instagram! I post DAILY and go LIVE weekly so people can get a taste of what’s around me and what life looks like. My name is shakiylas click here to FOLLOW ME and join us. I hope you enjoyed this small taste of Jos, Nigeria. I can’t wait to share more.
Thank you for reading.
I love you.
Here’s a quick recipe I think is among my top 3 favorite Nigerian dishes. One of my University-level students made it for me to try, then I asked about a recipe and realized it’s not hard at all. She has consistently brought me random Nigerian dishes, and I love the time we get to spend together at the table as they giggle while curiously go forth. The students are teaching me so much more than they realize. I’m able to see them as people, and not just numbers on a role sheet, or grades in an excel file. There’s is such depth in education, but that’s another article in itself.
The dish is called Acha pudding. The main ingredient, and in most cases, one of 3 ingredients, is Acha or Fonio grains. They are pretty popular grains in West and Sub-Saharan Africa. They’re tiny, smaller than quinoa, and cook down with various liquids to create practically any dish! I’ve been on this kick with researching the health benefits of everything I eat, primarily grains. I think it started when I was first diagnosed, and it has become somewhat a habit.
Okay, so this is what they look like. Despite my elephant hands, I think you can tell how tiny these super grains are.
I’ve read a few articles on the grain itself, and the most common response is, “very little goes a long way!” Most people can feed a groupof 16-24 with only 2-3 cups. TWO TO THREE CUPS. Maybe I’m being dramatic, but that’s a lot of mouths being fed. Research shows that the average household size in Nigeria is 6 people, so imagine the naira (money) being saved if this was the starch for a meal rather than something as expensive as rice.
We walked right into the market, and grabbed a huge bag for about
₦ 1000 ($2.80).
Now, there are PLENTY of health benefits listed, but I’ll only share a few. If you want to know more, there are hundreds of articles where people talk about the amino acids, methionine, and origins of acha (fonio), we’re not doing that today, friends. I’m sorry if I let my science folks down.
Health Benefits (a few)
My favorite are the digestive benefits. I think anytime I can eat a meal that will not leave me so full I want to die, or unbearably bloated- it’s a plus. Like most healthy grains, fonio is loaded with fiber and as such, it rids your digestive tract of toxic waste. It’s also gluten free. That doesn’t mean much to me, but for some, that’s the selling point so there ya go! I’m finding that more people are developing a gluten allergy than I’ve ever seen, so anytime I can recommend, I will. I’ve heard about the challenges that come with finding delicious, affordable foods that aren’t gluten-filled.
It is also a great source of energy. Most people here (Central Nigeria) eat acha pudding for breakfast, which makes complete sense because you can literally feel the boost of energy hit you in the face. It’s like another form of Oatmeal. Obviously, it isn’t but that’s the best way I can describe it. It actually reminds me of Cream of Wheat, too. I feel like I’m just typing out loud. Is that a thing? Like, thinking out loud-but with my fingertips? This is what happens when you write without outlining, kids. OUTLINE. What in the English teacher is happening? This is a mess. LOL. MOVING ON….
I cooked it down with skim milk (because lactose intolerance), honey, and it took about 30 minutes. Yes, 30 minutes. I thought I would be able to just pop it on the stove for a bit like oatmeal, but this is a much more dense grain and apparently she needs a bit more attention. You want it to be smooth, rather than “gritty”, the consistency is much like quinoa. If you’ve never had quinoa, that’s not helpful at all…
Here’s the recipe we used:
1 c Acha (Fonio)
4 cups of milk. (Any milk is fine, but again, I'm lactose intolerant so
I've used soy, almond, and coconut and they've all worked fine)
1 dash of salt (I always lol at this measurement)
1 tbsp raw honey
& fruit of your choice. (The first time I had it, I didn't add fruit,
the second time I added bananas, and the third time I added mango.)
1. Rinse the acha (just like rice, I can't believe there are people in this world who
don't rinse their rice)
2. Add the acha and the milk in a medium/large pot and stir
continuously for 30-40 minutes.
3. Once the grains are tender, it's finished!
4. Add whatever toppings you'd like.
I know this wasn’t the most traditional recipe article, but none of my recipes ever are. I have such a strong love for “author’s voice,” that I refuse to compromise. Also, I wanted to share a bit more of my food adventures while I indulge the beauty of Nigeria and her culture.
Thanks for reading.
I love you.
Okay, so I know the last time I posted, I shared some background information on Egusi soup, possible origins, and the inspiration behind why it is often coined one of the BEST Nigerian dishes. This time, I made it myself, y’all. Like, I really made it myself. It only took me about a month to build up the courage and just go for it, so of COURSE I documented it.
Just for clarity, I promise this is NOT a food blog, lol! I just can’t stop eating everything I see, and I have to share. My next few posts will be on relationships (which I NEVER write about) family, national attire, acha, and Psalms 1 in no particular order.
Well, let’s just jump right on in. If you’re here because you just want the recipe and you’re willing to miss out on all this extra photographic magic, here’s the link to the written recipe BUT, there’s no fun in that. Right?
Let's just look at how many ingredients went into this madness of a soup...
4 cups Egusi seeds
1/4 cup Palm Oil
2 cups (or so) chopped beef
2 cups (or so) Shaki or cow hide
2 tbsp crayfish
1/2 fresh catfish chopped into bite size pieces
Smoked fish (I'm not sure how to measure this, I used 6 fish)
3 cups of spinach or bitter leaves
2 chicken stock cubes (or fresh chicken broth, it's soooooo much better)
Salt and pepper
Cayenne, because Louisiana
3 garlic cloves
1 white onion
1 green onion
3 small tomatoes
That in itself would be reason enough for me not to cook this, but I said I wanted to give it a try so a good friend took me to the market and we got EVERYTHING I needed (and of course some fabric because why not).
I recommend taking the time necessary to prep your foods before starting. Egusi cooks fast, and the last thing you want is to be chopping your life away and smell the main ingredient burn to ashes… I speak from experience…harsh, depressing experience lol.
Chop the beef and shaki (cow hide) into bite-size pieces, add a small chopped onion and begin to let that cook down on the stove. I added 2c of water, the chicken stock, and just kept an eye on it while I did these next few steps. Look how beautiful. My hands smelled like the seaside and I loved it.
Take the smoked/dry fish and soak it in a bowl of water. About 2 cups. It
doesn’t need to fill the bowl or cover the fish completely. This will get it
soft enough to break up and add to the soup. The smell was the absolute worst, and honestly, I don’t know how I took this picture.
These two steps are pretty simple and quick, remember your meat on the stove! Using a food processor or blender, go ahead and chop the egusi seeds
into a slight powder substance. Chop your onions, tomato, and peppers and blend them as well. It should be a pretty thick salsa-like consistency. Save a little onion for later. Set it aside.
Blend your crayfish into a powder- like consistency, and set it aside. Crayfish was something new to me. I honestly didn’t know what it was and when he grabbed at the market I wanted him to put it back.
Now, let’s cook!
Add the palm oil to a deep skillet. I prefer not using a really large pot, or
a shallow pan. I switched pots mid-cooking, and I’m here to
save you time and dishes. In a separate bowl, mix the Egusi seeds and the onions from earlier and stir gently with your hands. It’ll be pretty thick. That’s okay.
Firs, add the salso mix to the oil, then slowly add the Egusi mixture to the HEATED palm oil and begin frying. Check your meat from earlier, and be sure it isn’t burning…take a guess why I keep saying that… (not pictured)
Allow the Egusi to completely fry, then add the meats and stock. The first image was when I was tempted to add the meat, the second one is when I actually decided to. I’m glad I waited, because that small change in consistency made ALL the difference. In the second one, you can see where it started to burn-it cooks fast-gas stoves don’t play, but it did fine after I gave it some tender lovin’.
While this cooked a bit, I began breaking apart the dry fish and de-boning the fresh fish as fast as my fat fingers would allow.
Now, add ALL the meats, and the stock from the beef and allow that to cook down for 25-30 mins, stirring continuously. I think that’s what I’m noticing most about Nigerian meals, they take work. These women cook much larger meals for their families and it legit felt like I worked my arms out by the end of the recipe. Hats off to the Naija queens and kings putting in work in the kitchen.
During the last ten minutes, I added the chopped fresh fish and chopped
spinach, and during the last 5 minutes I added the crayfish.
Let’s have a moment of silence to acknowledge all of the dishes I’ve used thus far…
I washed them before I ate because it hurt my heart to look at this, lol
While the soup cooked down, I went ahead and began preparing the swallow to have with it. I used Poundo. Nigerians, don’t judge me. I haven’t mastered the art of actually pounding yam. Baby steps. I also danced my life away to H.E.R. because if you know me, you KNOW, I seldom cook in silence.
Scoop you up some in a bowl, and eat with any tuwo/swallow of your liking. Most people I’ve read prefer pounded yam, but I prefer tuwo rice, unfortunately, I didn’t have either… so the fake stuff it was.
This song is probably one of my favorites from this E.P. (act like you care).
Honestly, I didn’t anticipate that this blog would be this long, but I really have enjoyed writing it. It took a couple hours with links and images, but this was probably the most therapeutic quiet I’ve had since I made the soup. Loneliness sometimes creeps at the door and sneaks up on me when I least expect it, but lately, I’ve enjoyed times like this. I’ve enjoyed the times to share, cook, talk(yes, talk), read, and just write by myself.
Well, here’s the final product and a final look at the chef, lol. I love creating, especially in the kitchen. If you’ve read all the way through, thank you. If not, thank you for visiting. I love being in Nigeria. I love learning so many new things, and I just love the authenticity of this culture. I’ve heard some people say some pretty harsh things about the “people here”, but I’ve seen nothing short of magic.
Thank you, again, for reading.
I love you.
If you’ve been following my website for more than a few months, you know that nothing is what it seems. Thankfully though, when I share a recipe, it’s an actual recipe-not a rouse to get clicks. Look out, it will be full of unfortunates and silly truths, too. Today is Christmas Eve. Most years I would wake up, drive over to my Mama’s with presents to slide under their tree (because for whatever reason, that’s where they belong), “help” her cook desserts for Christmas and get on my brothers’ nerves. Not this year, though. This year I am in Nigeria. I woke up this morning and didn’t want to get out of bed. I guess I underestimated how hard this would be. A few people have said “YOU LOOK SO HAPPY!” and of course I am! I love it here. I love learning more and I love getting to know the babies, BUT my goodness do I miss my family and friends. I think that’s just a part of the process. So I got out of bed, prayed for some understanding, and ran to the kitchen.
Today I made Banana Bread Pudding, but obviously that’s not the recipe I’m sharing. I just thought I’d share the results before moving on to meat pies!
So here we go:
First, I started on the filling. The recipe called for chopped onions, potatoes, and carrots, but I decided to add bell pepper and garlic; fight me. I chopped it all up pretty small because I wasn’t sure how big I’d make the pies. Here’s a picture for your visual satisfaction. (I also preheated the oven at 350 degrees or #4 for my gas stove folks)
I went ahead and grilled the onions, garlic, and bell pepper before adding the ground meat and potatoes. I seasoned it with onion powder, black pepper, salt, CAYENNE, curry powder, and thyme. Once the meat was browned the potatoes still had a ways to go. Add 1 cup of water and about 1/4 cup of flour to create a chowder- like consistency. I’m sure you could dump it all in there, but I gradually added the flour to avoid clumping. I let that cook down while I prepared the dough.
The dough was pretty simple. 2 cups of flour, a teaspoon of baking powder, 1 cup of butter (room temp), and 1/2 cup of water. Add the water gradually because you may not need it all. It was in this moment that I realized I didn’t have enough butter. I actually had WAY less than a cup, so I dumped half of my flour into that plastic container and reconsidered life as I knew it, lol. Nevertheless, the show went on. Mix it up really well, roll it into a ball, and refrigerate while you check on that beef. I think I left it in for about 15 minutes.
I recommend doing the dough FIRST. Then you won’t have to aimlessly wait for it to sit while you have a pot of cooked filling just chillin on a low fire. I, on the other hand, did not take my own advice. Instead, I danced around the kitchen listening to Janet Jackson and eating 3 day old muffins. See below:
The dough came out, and it was time to make the pie crust. I should’ve used bigger circles, but again, I’m a stubborn cook, so I did not. I ended up flipping a small bowl and using it as my cutout for the circles. Use what ya got to get where ya goin’! Don’t forget to add flour to your roller or the dough will, in fact, stick…Disregard my last cutout. I was running out of dough, but “Ohana means family and family means no one gets left behind, or forgotten” -Stitch.
I put about 2 tablespoons on each circle and of course it spilled out once I forked them closed because they were too small. Yet and still, we pushed on. They all were stuffed, and popped in the oven for about 30 mins. They’re not as pretty as I would’ve liked, and that’s probably because they are missing 3/4 cups of butter BUT this is a place of transparency, so I figured I’d show my first failed attempt before I practiced and got it right. We shall meet again.
Cooking is always super therapeutic for me. I do it when I’m feeling down, I do it when I’m having a good day, I do it when I’m with family, or by myself. I wasn’t sure how I would fill my time while the kids were gone, but I think I’ve found it in the kitchen. I hope you enjoyed my not so traditional recipe. I’ll post a quick list at the bottom for my folks who ACTUALLY want to try them. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE let me know how they turnout and what I could do differently.
As always, thank you for reading.
I love you.
1 lb of gound beef
1 irish potato
Chicken broth cubes
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup water
1 cup of butter
Thanks to the owner of sisijemiah.com for such an easy recipe to follow and implement.
Today marks ten days. It was a bit surreal once I realized that I’m less than two weeks away from calling Nigeria home. It feels like it was only a few days ago when I made the announcement. I’d gotten so used to saying “I think I’ll head out at the end of the year.” Then that turned into “I think it’ll be closer to November.” Now, I sit at my computer, with confidence that in 10 short days, I will board a plane, another plane, and drive right into the sweetest gift from God.
This will not be a super long blog about how sad I am,because quite honestly, I’m excited. I’m excited about being obedient. I’m excited about tapping into the culture I’ve obsessed over for so long. I’m excited, and sometimes I feel like I can’t say that. I compromise self-expression for the sake of protecting the people I love. I know how most loved ones handle things like this, and I sit in my excitement alone.Fortunately, I’ve realized (and have been advised) to stop that. When God calls us to change our lives, for Him, we can’t compromise our joyful obedience for the sake of trying to play God. How is that “playing God”? My desire to manage how everybody handles this move is just another way Shakiyla is trying to control EVERYTHING around her. It’s not for me to control. It’s not for me to manage. It is for me to bring to God. I finally trust His ability to change their hearts from a spirit of neglect, fear, and sadness to one of hope, trust,and celebration. Of course we must feel. We must process the things life throws at us HOWEVER we need to, but we mustn’t forget that we serve a sovereign and powerful Father. He is more than I ever could be for any of my family, friends,or students. I finally believe that.
It’s tempting to wallow in the reality that I’m leaving everything I’ve always known. Two years doesn’t sound like a long time, but two PLUS years has a different ring to it. I’m not sure how long I’ll be gone, but I’m confident that I will never know love like my family’s and I’m forever grateful. It stings when I think about it for too long. I talked to my sister this week and she said, “We don’t think about the possibility of not being able to just invite each other over whenever” and now, that’s all we think about. It’s tough, but they are the most supportive and uplifting, it’s surreal. Anytime Elijah or Jamaal texts me, I get all giddy, and this is nothing new. They’ve always been the greatest examples of loyalty and life. I love my babies, y’all. I’m not even going to mention my Mama (lies) she is, has always, and will always be the driving force behind my love for service, people, God, and myself. I jokingly call her perfect. I’m aware of her imperfections, but the way she surrenders them to God screams perfection in my eyes and nobody can tell me differently.
I can’t wait to share this journey with you. Like most things, there will likely be hard days, but I’m learning that I didn’t commit to a life I surface level happiness, but one of soul quenching-joy, and I crave it. If you are not following me on Instagram, I recommend doing so. I will likely have more updates there, and DEFINITELY go to the sight and sign-up to receive my monthly newsletter.
I will send one soon after my arrival. I usually have a “main idea” for each of my posts, I guess this one is to remember who you are in light of who God is.
Thank you for reading.
I love you.