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Journal

Day One in Port Harcourt, Nigeria

Mark Junkans

Today has been a whirlwind day. It's already 6 p.m. We arrived in Port Harcourt airport this morning around 6:30 a.m. from London. I didn't get any sleep that night or the night before because we had overnight flights in cramped seats. We arrived at the small airport and headed straight for the way out. We passed through the customs area and then had to pay a man to help us clear our bags past the guards without question. We paid him his tip along with a small "tip" for the official who allowed our bags through with no search.
We were introduced to Pastor Tete, his wife and some others from the church. We then waited around at the airport until 10 a.m. because the sanitation department of the city doesn't allow road traffic on the first Saturday of every month from 7-10 a.m. Everyone is supposed to pick up trash along the road during that time. Apparently not many people participated in the clean up, because as we drove through town to Onne, we saw piles of trash and debris all over the city.
Port Harcourt is an endless system of mainly dirt roads with no traffic signals or lanes. it seems there are more motorcycles than cars and no-one seems to care about anyone else's safety. I was so completely overwhelmed by the number of people on the streets sharing space with the cars and motorcycles. Our driver, Michael, is amazing. Coming within an inch of other cars, motorcycles and pedestrians happened about every 30 seconds during every drive.
We were welcomed at the Lutheran Church in Onne by Chief White and other leaders of the congregation. As we came into the church, it was so beautiful I almost started to cry. The beauty was in the type of warm welcome we received from the people. There is much for me to learn about hospitality.
We ate meat pies for lunch and drove another 1 1/2 hours through the city to the Lutheran Church on Dim Street. This neighborhood was obviously more rough than in Onne. It was more crowded and the conditions were even worse. The members were gone to a funeral when we arrived, so I can't wait to meet them tomorrow for church.
I don't have a clue where to start with helping them expand their ministry. I need more time to build relationships with people, process the information and work with them to come up with a plan.
I'm tired now, even after my 3 hour nap.
For dinner I had goat meat in tomato and pepper sauce with rice, along with a Guinness Stout.