I’m back! Back in Canada and back with you, dear reader. Sayo and I are in a long-distance marriage (hopefully not for too long!) and I’m still getting used to wearing my wedding ring on a daily basis, particularly on days that I don’t leave the house!
2017 has been unforgettable and a testament to what God can do for anyone. My dad always says you don’t have to be a prayer warrior or a perfect human in order for God to answer your prayers and I’m definitely proof of that! I’m so thankful that God’s goodness isn’t dependent on who we are but on who He is.
I’ll be sharing more details about our relationship and wedding in 2018 (by God’s grace) but on this last Thursday of 2017, allow me to catch up on my thankful posts.
Too long ago; I’ve forgotten most things!
- I had a good experience at the Nigerian High Commission when I went to get my Nigerian passport renewed. They’ve streamlined the online process and it works well, and the in-person part of the process was quick too. My advice for anyone who needs to get a Nigerian passport is to follow the instructions on the website, bring all the documents you need, and get permission to come in on a Monday (a day they technically don’t do passports—if you ever need that hookup, let me know!). It makes sense that you’d follow the instructions and bring all the necessary document but I witnessed people who didn’t do this.
- I’m going to write about this in-depth, but I was an overthinking, stressed bride who didn’t spend much time in each moment. Now that I can look back I’m even more thankful for my parents’ support and the efforts they made to help me be a calm bride and to celebrate my wedding. At the end of September, we went to a nice steak restaurant to celebrate my upcoming nuptials.
(I drafted the following before the wedding.)
What a month October has been, for so many good reasons!
- For one, it’s the month before my wedding. On September 10 (a month before I’d be leaving for Nigeria), I woke up with a wish in my heart; I wished that I was having a bridal shower. The problem was that my sister had asked me months earlier if I wanted a bridal shower and I had said no. To change my mind this late in the game would put stress on her and my mom and I really didn’t want to do that so I kept it to myself. However, the nagging desire didn’t go away so in order to free my mind I finally told my mom and sister about it two weeks later. It felt good to get it out. Flash forward to a week after my confession and I walked right into my surprise wedding shower at my parents’ house! To say I was shocked would be an understatement: I had been summoned to my parents’ house under false pretenses so before I could enjoy the shower I had to take a minute to thank God and calm down that the emergency at home had been a lie. I later found out that the shower had been in the works before I confessed even to my mom and sister that I wanted one!
The shower was lovely; so much thought and effort by my mom and sister went into it, they did a great job with the guest list, and I was impressed and grateful (and shout out to my brother-in-law who added some touches to the event too). After that shower, I was blessed with two more surprise showers, one with my connect group (church) and one with my colleagues. Seeing how willing people were to celebrate with me despite not receiving much notice about my wedding humbled me and their generosity truly made me thankful.
- I thank God for bringing my family safely to Nigeria (my parents and I left first, followed by my sister and her family), for protecting us all during our journeys. God gave us favour with small and big things. With my tendency to pack too much, I was thankful that my sister and brother-in-law absorbed a whole extra piece of my luggage! Our wonderful hosts who need no introduction on this blog showed up for us as usual and made our time in Lagos pleasant.
- I’m so thankful for our aunt and her family who are hosting my parents and I in Nigeria. They have really been an incredible support to us. My cousins—this particular aunt’s daughters—have been unbelievably helpful with the wedding plans.
- My niece turned a year old this month! What a ray of sunshine she has been in our family. Like her big brother before her, our littlest love celebrated her first birthday in Nigeria–it’s a cool tradition her parents have started without planning to!
- The elder of my two younger brothers also celebrated his birthday this month and I’m thankful for all that God is doing in his life. He’s finding his way to where he wants to be and I’m so happy for him that things are moving in the right direction!
- As you may know, I’m in Nigeria for my wedding and I thank God for allowing things to fall into place with minimal stress. This would probably horrify some people but we came to Nigeria without having booked a cake maker, caterer, or decorator, but in Nigeria, these things come together quickly, especially if you’re working with a budget (which helps to prioritize wants and needs!). I’m thankful for how things are falling into place.
- November started on a really high note with our engagement ceremony and church wedding! I’m so thankful that everything went well, even if it didn’t all go exactly as planned. I’m thankful that our family members and all our guests made it to the venues safely and also back to their homes. When I think back on all the moving parts related to our wedding and all the coordination required I almost can’t believe that it all came together so well—only God!
- I’m thankful to my parents for the contributions they made to make this wedding happen the way I wanted it to. All through the process, even before we left Canada, my dad kept saying that as far as it depended on him and my mom and what they have the capacity to do, the end goal was for me to have the wedding that I wanted. My parents gave their time and money and full-out support. There were emotional and frustrating moments (family drama, disappointments, mishaps) but knowing that my parents had my back and wanted the best for me has been so comforting to me as I reflect on the wedding. My parents have different strengths which they demonstrated: my inexhaustible mom did much running around and I thank God for giving her the energy and shrewdness in her transactions, while my dad was the logistics guy, asking questions that we hadn’t considered and keeping us on task.
- I’m also thankful that my brother-in-law and sister (and their children) made the trip to Nigeria. In addition to the cost of the travel, they also gave me a very generous gift. I was so happy to have my sister stand beside me on my special day, something we were denied when she got married.
- God had compassion on ailing family members: during our stay in Nigeria, my nephew, grandmother, and cousin had to go to the hospital, and my dad had to seek medical attention as well. God saw each of them through—I’m so thankful and I don’t take it for granted! Even if I wanted to take life for granted, when I’m in Nigeria I’m constantly reminded how fortunate I am to be alive: at least a couple of times a week a family member or my inlaws would mention someone who had passed away. And when I would go out I’d see people who were dealing with all sorts of things, from physical disability to poverty; it reinforced my thankfulness.
- I thank God for my mother-in-law who really took care of me during my stay: she was accommodating to a fault, always feeding me (or wondering when and what I would eat), making sure I had everything I needed, and she barely allowed me to help around the house! If she noticed that I liked something she’d make sure I had it. Her faith in God is immense and she’s become a role model for me in that regard. While visiting friends of her family I got to see how well-regarded she is by all who know her; there’s no doubt that she’s a Proverbs 31 woman. I look forward to spending more time with her in the future.
- Other members of Sayo’s family and their closest family friends also welcomed me so graciously into the family and into their homes: they were warm, hospitable, and caring, and even though I don’t yet have the family tree straight in my head I’m thankful for my expanded family.
- I thank God for bringing my family back to Canada safely. Sayo and I travelled with my dad and my sister’s family to Lagos to see them off and we had a safe and even enjoyable journey (okay, getting lost on our way to our hosts’ home wasn’t fun but we made it in the end). Speaking of, we have the best hosts ever: they graciously accommodated seven people in their full house and made us feel so welcome. They even arranged to have a doctor come and give my nephew a checkup during our stay.
- While Sayo and I were in Lagos he had to get some paperwork done and we heard horror stories about the process—basically, it could be a colossal waste of time and cost us many times more than it should. On the day that Sayo went to get the paperwork done, he returned to our hosts’ home in record time and I figured that he wasn’t able to get it done, but praise God that I was wrong and he did! Funny enough, it was his tendency to dress smartly that helped him: when he arrived, he was initially asked if he was an officer and even when he said he wasn’t they treated well, as if afraid that he was working undercover. When he was leaving someone asked him what the secret was as she had been waiting for a long time. Also on the bright side: he didn’t have to spend extra money.
- Thanks to Sayo’s uncle, we were able to have access to a vehicle for the time that I was in Nigeria and this was so helpful. We were able to do way more than we would have been able to do had we had to depend on our two feet and on taxis. I’m also thankful to God that we were able to help others by having access to a vehicle.
- The main reason that my mom and I stayed in Nigeria longer than the rest of the family was to allow my mom to attend the one-year remembrance of her aunt’s passing. This event was a huge deal logistically for all who were involved and I thank God that all went well for my mom’s cousins who were behind the event. The leadup to the event was more stressful for those involved than my wedding was for me so I’m thankful that all went well.
- Finally, I’m thankful that my mom and I made it home safely. We ended up missing our last flight—twice—and having to wait for a couple of hours before getting on that final one-hour flight but we made it home. It’s frustrating when you’re so close yet so far from your destination, and when you specifically planned your trip a certain way because you have to work the next morning, but the bright side is we made it home, as did our luggage (last year one of my mom’s luggage went missing for a while at the same airport so she was very wary!). That being said, we will probably not be taking this route again—the wahala (trouble) is too much.
If you’re still reading, you’re amazing!
- Our final mastermind meeting of 2017 was so inspiring and I left with more clarity than I’d had in a while. I have a lot to do to implement the suggestions that were made to me but I’m feeling good about the direction I’m being challenged to take.
- I missed Black Friday and its deals, but I got one of the best deals ever this month, and it wasn’t even on Boxing Day! Anyone who lives in Canada knows that we pay way too much for cell phone services. A few years ago a new kid came to challenge the big networks and I wanted to switch but unfortunately, they don’t provide good service to my area of the city, so I grudgingly continued to overpay and not-so-silently tweeted my frustration. To add insult to injury, my two-gigabyte monthly allotment started to feel like it was running out too quickly (I know: poor me right?); I even asked my cell phone provider if they’d changed the way they measured usage because it really annoyed me to pay those overage fees.
What was a girl to do? I refused to pay more for more data, but I needed more data.
I didn’t have to do anything it turned out because God did it: I think what happened is the newer cell phone provider was causing its larger competitors to lose customers so the older providers decided to give us a deal too. For less than I used to pay I now get ten glorious gigabytes of data each month. I’m overjoyed! I was not overjoyed to have spent probably what amounted to 24 entire hours trying to get this deal: it was a limited-time offering and I visited four stores (waited in line each time), spent hours on hold on the phone, only to be hung up on, and used online support a dozen times without any progress due to all the people trying to get the deal; meanwhile, my parents and my brother were able to get it done before I did, even though they learned about the deal from me—imagine!
- I had a lovely Christmas with my entire family (except Sayo!). As we get older, the focus is slowly moving off of gifts and onto time together (still a work in progress; we need to get some traditions going!). We hosted a family for dinner and it was touching to see how happy they were to be there.
- Ok, let me share a quick story about the power of trying. Lose it Nigerian, an initiative of Ronke Edoho of 9jafoodie, was holding a contest on Instagram where the five contestants with the most ‘hearts’ would win a prize, and a sixth random winner would be selected. I rallied family members and some friends and then I checked out the ‘competition’: I had five hearts while one person had 56 hearts, several other people had over 20 hearts each and a whole bunch of people had more hearts than I had. It wasn’t looking good for me but I made a last-ditch effort to get some votes by posting about it on my Instagram page—I was hoping to win the random prize. I noticed that my brother-in-law hadn’t voted for me yet so I explained what he had to do and even though my sister was like “Why are we wasting time on this; your odds are as slim as the jeans you’d be able to fit into after doing the three-day cleanse (one of the prizes)” (ok, she would never say that but it would have been funny, right?), I told her it was worth a try and this is when the magic happened.
My kind Instagram followers got me to over 20 votes. I didn’t win one of the six available prizes but guess what? A kind friend offered me one of the prizes and another sweet friend offered to get me the prize if I didn’t win. In the end, I got the prize through another amazingly kind act: I was so touched and thankful—God keeps blessing me even when I don’t deserve it!
- I’m thankful for Fidelity Bank’s customer service (not an ad; I wish!): even though it’s frustrating that things don’t work as smoothly for me because I don’t have an ATM card (I don’t go to Nigeria often enough to keep the card active so it would expire), their customer service (aka Trueserve) does a good of job of sorting me out. They also finally sorted out a credit that had been owing me since October so I’m happy about that.
- I live in Canada’s capital city and we’re currently (as of this writing) the coldest capital city. I’m thankful that we have gear that allows us to brave this weather and survive it, year after year.