By Stephen Bryce
When my father informed me of a trip he was planning to Nigeria, I jumped at the opportunity to try to tag along. After very little arm twisting, and a great deal of effort from the people coordinating it, I was on my way.
I went not knowing entirely what to expect. Both of my parents were born in Nigeria to missionaries, and to be able to relate with some of their (and my grandparents’) stories was a high priority. But I also wanted to serve where I could for the little time that I was going to be there.
On arriving in Egbe, the other team members and I were welcomed by an unexpected but extremely warm party of people singing and dancing down the road to the Egbe Hospital where we would be staying. It was then that I accepted that even the few expectations I did have would be nothing like the reality of my experiences.
I spent some of my time in Egbe seeing different locations, meeting with various community and church leaders, and doing odd jobs around the hospital compound that would be helpful. While I spent most of my time moving hospital beds or fixing door frames, there were a great number of other tasks that needed to be done. (For more on that experience see Matt Sosna’s Egbe Adventure article.) As I went from day to day, not knowing what I would do or who I would meet, I was given time to think about the importance of community in Egbe.
It is a place where life revolves around interacting with others. There are few places that are as inviting as I found the community of Egbe. They wanted to ensure that their guests were well taken care of. In the same way that we, as a team, went to Egbe to invest in a future of care and caring, the community wanted to make sure that we were cared for. The community cared for us in the ways that they knew how. Ranging from the joyful welcoming of our team to the provision of meals, we were cared for. This care is a way of life that often seems to be lacking elsewhere in the world.
It is important for me to think about my time in Egbe and to consider what this means for communities everywhere. To know, however, that there is a place where strong care within community is practiced is exciting. To hope that this care can continue and be maintained is vital. And to have been a part of that care, both in receiving and in giving, is something that I count as a blessing that I will know for the rest of my life.