Every Valentine's Day has to have heart shaped cookies with names on them--at least in the Baker household so we continued the tradition here with our friends. Our weekly Friday cookie day brought great joy--here are the AP's showing off their personalized cookies. I must say, my hand was a little tired after writing so many names on the cookies. But it was fun to see the faces of all our friends!
The week after Valentine's Day was the Lagos Stake Conference. This building is in the complex where we live. Since it is not big enough to hold everyone this is how they hold stake conference in Africa--bring in the tents!
What a great experience stake conference was for me. I joined the stake choir a couple of weeks before conference and what fun I had. It is amazing to me how they can come together and produce such beautiful sounds. Most of the rehearsals I attended were at least 2 hours long as people had so far to travel that they would have longer, less often practices. Many of them were held in a room with no piano so the accompanist would sing his introduction, the director would give everyone their notes and away we would go! Can you imagine ever trying that at home? I don't think we could end up with anything worth presenting. But this choir was amazing--if I do say so myself!
And--in case you didn't notice--we were all dressed the same. That is a tradition here so, of course, I had to be part of the group. We were matching--right down to the necklace, earrings and hair bows!
Do any of you remember the song from Sesame Street--"One of these things is not like the other, one of these things isn't quite the same......."? Can you find the difference? Yup, it's me! The token white person!
A group shot after conference
The young woman who made all the dresses--my friend Margaret.
They know how to do it right here--lunch of chicken and rice :) was supplied to all the choir after the meeting.
More shots of the day:
Our friend, Blessing Igolo, who has made my African dresses--and her 4 beautiful daughters--but--that is not her husband! People here just love to jump into the picture when you are taking a "snap"!
Our very favorite office elders--Elder Engmann and Elder Brown--both great musical talents!
President Cletus Martin's wife and family. He is a counselor in the stake presidency and works in the office next door to us.
During this month we also got to travel back to one of our favorite places here in Nigeria--Abuja, the capital city. Security is a little tight here because of recent problems at government buildings but we get to stay in a great place--the Abuja Hilton!
Here's the chapel in Abuja--very nice building and grounds.
Elder Baker finds friends wherever he goes--and Abuja was no exception. Here he is with a few brethren waiting for our training meeting to begin.
And this is what we do--train many leaders about the PEF program and try to get them excited about the possibilities that exist for members of their wards/branches/stakes. We usually have from 25-50 in attendance--many that travel from far areas to attend our training in a place that is safe for us to travel to. Some of these brethren are from a city called Jos which is about a 4 hour drive from Abuja and where, also, there is a lot of unrest right now. Christian churches have seen violence in Jos but so far there hasn't been any harm done to any of our members. What faithful, trusting saints!
And then, after a long day of training (usually one 2 hour session in the morning and one in the afternoon) we get the reward--at least in Abuja! A leisurely steak barbecue dinner by the pool......
......after a lovely swim and a little relaxing nap by the pool.....the closest thing to heaven we have found here!
This is Sister Grace, a wonderful woman with an amazing story we met in Abuja this trip. She has served as the Minister of Education here in Nigeria and has an intriguing conversion story. What a faithful woman with a huge personality! We taught her how to play a mean game of quarters---and she could even out-cheat Elder Baker!
Just an idea of what it is like heading back to the airport in Abuja--even after all this time and all our travels I am not sure if these make me feel safer or more nervous!
Sadly for us, but so happy for him, we had to say goodbye to one of our very favorite elders--Elder Oboh. He has been in the office as an AP for quite a few months--almost as long as we have been here and we have certainly learned to love and appreciate him. He has a smile to die for and a testimony larger than himself. After serving so faithfully for 2 years he was on his way home. We will miss you Elder Oboh!
Go home dinner for some great elders--including Elder Oboh!
A final song from the departing elders.
Sharing their celebration cake
Another month come and gone......and all is well with the Bakers in Nigeria!