ABEOKUTA, Nigeria We went out to the Kugba unit of the Church from the Abeokuta District, in Abeokuta, Nigeria, which is within the Nigeria Lagos Mission. We took the office couple, Elder Nile E. Peterson and Sister Julie S. Peterson, to have a "village experience" for the first time away from the city life and the inside of buildings. This is a choice place because it is about an hour away from the center of strength in Abeokuta and even without frequent visits from the Church officers or missionaries, the members continue to attend their meetings, being faithful and true.
Combined priesthood/Relief Society meeting was held first, then Sunday School, which was taught out of the Gospel Principles manual, and then sacrament meeting was held. One of the oldest members of the Church in Abeokuta was in attendance.
When we entered the area, we first came upon a gentle rain that washed everything brilliant, in all the colors of the rainbow. Then the hour's drive it took to arrive at the village was just spectacular because the rains recently turned it into what looked like a thick verdant rainforest. Not a car was on the road with the gravel/tar path winding and curving further and further into the loveliest scenery you ever can imagine. Finally, the little homes hidden in the middle of all with their rust roofs and the adobe looking the same color and the bell ringer seeing us and ringing the bell to let everyone know we were coming and all the people waving all along the way with big smiles, especially the adorable children. You'd think you were in Mountain Green, a little town near our home town in Utah where everyone waves. You'd think they knew us and were just waiting for us to arrive. Then we caught first sight of the little bamboo meetinghouse.
We were early but the members were already arriving with the chairs, hymn books, Gospel Principles lesson manual and dust cloths. The little sacrament table was already up. We had a wonderful lesson. During sacrament meeting, the opening hymn was announced and Sister Parkin gave the opening prayer. After the announcements, the sacrament was administered to and passed to the congregation. The pieces of bread were a small meal, but, by that time, we were just basking in the spirit of it all. Then we hear, "Our speakers will be first, Sister Parkin, followed by Sister Peterson, followed by Elder Peterson, and Elder Parkin."
We all talked with an interpreter, the unit leader, Linus. They smiled and listened intently, the whole time looking at us. They laughed at the right places and nodded at the right places so the interpreter did a great job. It felt good. The Spirit was there in abundance. We were all emotional and commented on the way home that if we had come here first, it would be hard not to attend the little branch every week.
We heard wonderful talks and prayers given but when the Spirit is truly there, it is something to savor. After the meeting, we shook hands and tried to communicate, hugged the people and the children. Then they picked up the chairs and books on their heads and waved to us as we left. I just think of the very first missionaries in West Africa. What a time they must of have had and when we get home and can read the book Brother to Brother again it will have a whole new meaning for us.
Elder and Sister Parkin returned home to Layton, Utah, last month. They are members of the Emerald Ward, Layton Utah East Stake.