We were to be at church for around 08.00, not an easy task when you have had an enjoyable late night. We left our hotel about 08.30 in the beautiful sunshine of Abuja. This service was at another Salem church (the same group as we visited last week), this like my own church in Dartford (Dartford community church) is not housed in its own building, and it is a new church plant and has been here for around a year. The congregation was a similar size to back home roughly 100-150. The service was very good and enjoyable, I knew a couple of the worship songs and they were at a speed I was used to. I even managed to keep up with most of the preach, either it was clearer or my ear in tuning in at last.
After the service we spoke to Joyce an acquaintance of Femi’s, who is also the Archbishops daughter. We were introduced to the Archbishop Sam Amaga who was a charming man and made us feel very welcomed; he has planted several churches and was in even in Lewisham, London for a while. We then met his wife who was delightful and also very warm, the usual photo session commenced and then we made our way back to the hotel.
Both going to church and coming out it was very noticeable that there were far less people walking about than you would see in Lagos heading for church. This is probably in part because there are noticeably fewer people here anyway. There is not the crammed full on feeling here with hundreds of people going about their business. Everything is more spaced out so many people drive or get green taxis (the small buses and taxis are not yellow here).
A few hours later we were picked up by Joyce and taken to their very luxurious home a couple of miles away. As we drove up the security man opened the gates and we parked under carports to avoid the sun. A spread of food had been prepared for us by the cook and freshly squeezed juice which was delicious. The house was large and very grand but there was also a warm feeling of love and it was certainly a family home and we were made to feel welcome.
Their hospitality was so generous; Joyce and Kella her younger sister decided that we needed ice cream and a film. They took us to into the local town to an ice cream parlour and we all had proper scooped ice cream which seemed such a treat. We then went to a small shopping mall had a walk around the shops and then went to catch a movie ‘Night at the museum 2’. The cinema chairs left a little to be desired as they rocked when we sat in them (just to remind me that this is still Naija). So much talking and laughing, two lovely girls a credit to their loving family, such a blessed afternoon and such great company!
They dropped us back at the hotel and we waited for Femi’s friend to arrive. His friend had hoped to host our stay but unfortunately the weekend we were able to do this trip, she had been out of town. When she arrived, she drove us down the road as Femi wanted me to try Suya another Nigerian dish cooked at the road side on a BBQ. Beef thinly sliced and peppered, there was also Gizzard (sort of like kidney) which I also had. I took these back to my room, which stunk it out. I ended up putting the rubbish in the bin in the corridor to avoid my room smelling in the morning (not sure if you meant to do that at the Hilton? But hey paid enough for the privilege!).
My overall feeling on Abuja is I loved my weekend here (short as it was). I feel it’s the sort of place that I could bring family to without them feeling so far removed from their comforts in the UK. It’s not got the shock factor that Lagos has when first seen. I am sure the problems with NEPA is as bad here as anywhere in Nigeria, which being in the Hilton is one thing you never notice, they have that well and truly covered. The golf course I understand is one of the best in the country. I would feel comfortable driving around here, where Lagos is certainly more challenging. I like the area and would hope to one day return, but I also feel Lagos is where I’m meant to be at this point.