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Lessons from The Becoming Conference #1: You Are Not That Special After All

I left Becoming 2.0 thinking “Funto Ibuoye Is Amazing!!!” and I know a couple other females thought so – you had to be amazing to pull off that kind of event, the number of persons, and caliber of persons that attended too.

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Mrs Funto at Becoming 2.0

When Funto Ibuoye, the founder of The Beautified Network and convener of The Becoming Conference, was welcoming us to Becoming 2016, she said something powerful: “When I was in CU – Covenant University, I was just an ordinary girl. Nobody knew I was going to become all of these… I just had a heart of worship and knew I wanted to serve God with all my heart.”

I know a few persons who feel they were born with some mark of specialty. I used to think of myself as one of such. I met a friend who thinks same of himself. You know when they say, “The king in me recognizes and honours the king in you.” So, we thought there was a unique grace upon us – like, the kind of people that change their world. In plain English, we were the ones that had a “great” destiny.

This thought pattern affected my perception of self and how I lived my life. One time, I referred to myself as “God’s special one.”

Did you notice I described all that in past tense?

It is because I began questioning that thought pattern – not that I began to doubt that I was special, but I realized that ALL of us are special. ALL of us have the potential to be great.

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I no longer think God created any of us more special than the other. He created us all in His own image – all of us were fearfully and wonderfully made by Him. There was no preferential treatment on anyone.

This thinking or feeling of one’s specialty often dates back to early childhood, from ideas sold to children at a very young age by their parents, relatives and tutors. The same way they can sell mediocrity or inferiority complex to a child, who perhaps does not do well in the classroom or is different. Or early serial achievements, that fuels one’s idea of himself and the confidence of others around him in his ability.

The truth in this is that all of us are special. All of us are ordinary — until we do something extra, only then do we become extraordinary.

If you have a “great” destiny and are not intentional with your actions and decisions, you will remain ordinary.

What do you think? I will love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Love,

Annie.

Ps: This took a long time to post as promised here. I hope to chronicle more of my lessons, especially now that I have an online space – a blog.

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When Loving Her Becomes Difficult

In honour of Nigeria’s Independence day celebration, I will be throwing back to this poem I wrote seven years ago. Sadly, it still re-echoes the present state of our dear nation.

Recently on Twitter, someone tweeted: “So, 5 hospitals didn’t have oxygen and we lost you, Chris! 5 goddamned hospitals! Loving this country is HARD!!!” 

I didn’t know how to respond – or better put, had no response as it was touching two areas I am both passionate about: Nigeria, and her health sector. What’s worse, I could not take away the sadness from them. Could not. Even if I wanted to. With all the insecurity, strikes, poverty and hunger that threatens the intergrity and sanity of Nigeria and Nigerians, I can’t help but agree that indeed, loving Nigeria is HARD, as they put it.

NIGERIA

The land of my ancestors

A vault of many resources

The giant of Africa, they say

A name to us that seems stale

A hubbub of talented youths

Straining to unleash their gifts

But with no stage or audience

Their efforts prove futile

How corruption has eaten in deeply

Virtually all our leaders are greedy

Stealing the nation’s wealth in lump sums

For their daughters and even their son’s sons

The rarity of good paints wrong right

A nation where black is called white

It’s obvious our nation is decaying

What role are you playing?

Are you a force for correction or corruption

Nigeria, a nation that needs redemption.

I love Nigeria. I can’t help but love her. I am just wired to. And I believe in her. I believe in me, because I am Nigeria and so are you. Do you?

When I recently re-read 2nd Chronicles 7:14, I saw our problem AND solution in one verse.

2nd Chronicles 7: 14 – “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (NIV, emphasis added)

A 2015 statistics released by the Pew Research Centre data ranked Nigeria as the 9th most religious country in the world. So, it is not prayers I am talking about now. We have done too much of praying, and less of acting. Remember, faith without works is dead. So, our solution lies in turning from our wicked ways. First, as individuals and then collectively as a people. This is where the responsibility of building Nigeria into the great nation that it was and is supposed to be falls back on us.

So much degradation has happened to her in the past years. So much worth tearing her apart of recent. But somehow she still manages to stand tall.

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I’m not about to beguile you into joining the faithful that believe in all Nigeria carries, and is willing to deliver her future – even though I would enjoin you to, but I hope that before you point fingers at all her corrupt leaders and everything that’s not right about her, that you look inward and see for YOURSELF if you are truly different and any better. I do hope though that you can believe in her enough to fight for her. I do hope that you look on her inside, and see all the beauty she possesses and all she is capable of becoming, and  can point others toward that. Nigeria is ours, the land of our birth, the land of our fathers, the land of our children.

We are so much stronger, so beautiful, the pride of the African continent, when we stand together than when we fight against ourselves; when we are united and fight for her cause, than berate one another.

We can be better. We can love her even when it’s HARD to love her. Isn’t that where it all boils down to in the end? Love. The ones we love sometimes are not befitting of the love. But we hope that through love, they can begin to see themselves through the eyes of the ones who love them, and rise to become the truest versions of themselves.

Unity, Peace and Progress 🇳🇬

Someone just turned 57!

Happy Independence, Nigeria!

Annie. 💚

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Song Review: Lauren Daigle – First

I was in the middle of studying, filling the air with contemporary Christian music from my Jango music app, when the lyrics of Lauren Daigle’s First first filtered its way through my ears, then to my brain.

“Before I bring my need

I will bring my heart

Before I lift my cares

I will lift my arms”

I paused, snapped out of my world of bones, nerves and muscles, and how they work, and brought back to my environment.

“Who is singing?” I checked to see the name, Lauren Daigle. That was a new name; before then, I had neither heard her music nor seen her anywhere.

Before I bring my need

I will bring my heart

And seek You

First

Before I speak a word

Let me hear Your voice

And in the midst of pain

Let me feel Your joy

More than anything I want, I want You

First

After one or two more replays, I marked the song as a favourite, to hear it more often and find more music like it. Since finding her, she has not got off the list of my favourite artists. What’s more, I subsequently found the other songs on the album, How Can It Be, and music collaborations she has featured in with other great artists like Amanda Cook and The Hillsong.

“You are my treasure and my reward

Let nothing ever come before you

I seek You

First”

The song reminds me that above all else, I must always put God in His rightful position – FIRST. And if I do that, every other thing will be taken care of.

Matthew 6: 33 – “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.” NLT

Love,
Annie.
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Story Time… Words ALive

“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” – Proverbs 18: 21 (NIV) 

Let me share this funny, maybe not so funny, but successful experience I had. I have known the above scripture for a long time. As long as my days in Living Word Academy (Secondary), my alma mater. Our patron, who doubled as our hostel chaplain might have quoted it a lot of times. Maybe not as much as “foolishness abides in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction will drive it away” that preceded almost every lashing session. Those days.

So, this verse. Rightfully seated in the book of wisdom of the good book. Generously shared with us by the wisest man that lived on earth, King Solomon. It took on a greater meaning for me when I read it afresh in the course of my devotion recently.

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It reminded me of these experiences in medical school:

The medical exam is usually in two formats; the written part of the exam and the clinical part. The clinical part entails you interacting with a patient, like in a real case scenario. It is required of you to obtain a history from the patient. That is, inquire about the symptoms that brought them to the hospital, how they have progressed, their likely causes depending on the presentation, the care they have obtained so far, other aspects of their medical history, like if they have any chronic or familiar diseases, etcetera. You are then expected to do a complete general and systematic physical examination on them, proffer useful investigations to confirm or rule out suspicions, and plan a treatment for them. All of these in a specified time frame, usually 45 minutes thereabout. Afterwards, your examiners are invited and you are to present the above to them in the presence of your patient. This can be a daunting experience for a medical student, especially when you have a mean examiner.

During the course of our clinical posting, a friend of mine had one of those “mean” professors in the unit he was assigned. He was a pretty good lad and showed up for rounds everyday, that would include days he was the only medical student in the rounds. That did not go unnoticed. Not long, he was in everybody’s good book, including the “mean” professor. I teased him, “Shebi you know Professor X would not fail you should you meet him in any exam.” “Well,” he smiled, “but I would not like to meet him.” “That man has problems,” he communicated his fears. I did not, however, stop teasing him and telling him how he would surely pass if he met Professor X in the exam.

On the morning of the exam, I must have prophesied the same Prof. into his exams. I remember him rebuking me, “Anita, please, stop saying a bad prayer for me.” I was honestly convinced about what I thought – the professor being good prognosis for my dear friend. Well, guess who he saw when he was ready to present his patient? Professor X, in all his glory, unsmiling, and ready for some serious business. Thankfully, my friend had a good case; one he was well prepared for. His saving grace. Refusing to be frightened by the Prof.’s intimidating presence, and with confidence hoisted by good preparation and a vast knowledge of the case, my friend began his presentation. Cruising safely and almost arriving at the end of his physical examination findings, the Prof. cut in. Your guess is just as good as mine. He floored my friend. Now, here’s where my good – even though turned down – prophecy came to play: My friend admitted that had it been any other student, someone without that first impression in the course of the posting, they might have failed. Prof. did not fail him afterall. Phew.

My own case was before my project defense. So, this particular doctor kept coming to mind, that I would meet him at my defense. On the morning of the defense, I even jocularly mentioned, “What if I meet Dr. Z today?” Our project defense is not as serious as those of other’s, because they made it so. Of a total of 100 marks, it carries only 2 marks. Yes, you read right. For me, it was such a bother, a waste of energy and good clothes. Could it just be scrapped entirely? I didn’t see the justification in dedicating a day to this defense. That goes without saying that I could not bring myself to study for the defense. It was part of public health, so your knowledge of the course would also be orally tested. All inside of the 2 marks. Project defense was one mark, public health orals, the other one mark. Laugh harder. Asides this, I was on energy conservation mode, conserving my energy for a ‘bigger’ day, my surgery clinicals the next day. I was too lazy, even if only to read Dr. Z’s topics in public health since I had the intuition that I was going to meet him in the defense, and even verbally announced so.

When I walked into the defense room, the sight of Dr. Z almost stopped me in my tracks. But then, 2 marks… I had already passed before this defense (if I were serious enough). This was a mere formality, I trudged on. A weak smile in place, the defense began.

I said funny, maybe not so funny, but successful experience. Imagine if I had confessed negatively before my friend’s or my exam? It would have been deleterious.

If you have the energy to speak death, why not channel the energy into speaking forth life? Someone said, if you don’t have a positive thing to say, keep shut. I will advise that, too.

How has your words shaped your life? For the good or bad. Good news is, that words are life. So, build your life with the right words.

Muchos amor,

Annie. ❤

Ps: I was discussing with a friend and he said, “personally I don’t believe in the whole words and stuff of a thing.” I respected his belief, but made sure to add that it works and words are things. Yesterday, my mum furious that I handled my phone with less than perfect care, said she hated to but wished that my screen would break, just so that I may learn to handle my phone with better care. Same day, later on, my phone fell with such force that my screen couldn’t resist it. Coincidence or serendipity?

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Books Corner

Book Review: The One Minute Manager

Authors: Kenneth Blanchard, PhD & Spencer Johnson, M.D.

Publisher: William Marrow and Company, Inc

Year published: 1982

ISBN: 0-425-09847-8

The One Minute Manager is a ninety-page book on simple effective management skills described by the authors to “increase productivity, profits, and your own prosperity.”

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For the purpose of convenience, I divided it into three parts.

The first part talks about the story of a bright young man who wanted to be an effective manager; a manager who is able to manage himself and the people he works with so that both the organization and the people profit from his presence. His quest leads him in search of one, but he only finds managers who were skewed to either of two extremes. Either they were “tough,” and the people they worked with suffering. Or they were “nice,” and the organisation itself suffered. These kinds of managers were only partially effective. He eventually hears of a special manager somewhere, who was an effective manager and who was also willing to share with him his success secrets. He heard that people liked to work for this man and they produced great results together.

The second part talks about where he meets this manager and begins an exciting and enthralling journey towards unravelling these success secrets. There are just three of them.

The third part talks about how he becomes an effective One Minute Manager himself and commits to sharing his wisdom with others.

The term “One Minute Manager” was used to remind each of us to take one minute out of our day to look into the faces of the people we manage and realize that they are our most important resources.

“People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” – Theodore Roosevelt

It’s an easy-to-read book. One that I enjoyed reading. Its principles are profound, yet very practical. I’ve applied the principles learnt from this book and I have seen it transform my life into something healthier, happier and more productive.

When someone asks me to lend them a book, without thought, it’s the first book I usually offer them. What’s best? It a book you can finish in one day and tick off a reading challenge, should you take up one.

Have you read it? What are your thoughts?

Ti Voglio Bene,

Annie. ❤

Ps: I have the book both in hardback and pdf formats. Indicate interest in the comments section and you’d have it delivered to your e-mailbox pronto.

 

 

 

 

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What I’m Reading: Twisted

I’m currently reading a devotional on my bible app, Twisted, subtitled Most Misused Verses of The Bible.

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Le ne tordez pas!

Each day, when I open the plan and read the focus scripture for the day, I almost always start laughing. It is as though I can guess what the author has in mind, and cannot help but agree that, surely, those verses must have been misused. The author delves into the context in which those verses were written, who wrote them, and at what time, to help his readers understand the verses better and not misuse them.

“When purpose is not known, abuse is inevitable.” – (Late) Dr. Myles Munroe

I found today’s devotional content particularly illuminating, and thought to share, to cast light abroad more hearts:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 NKJV

Who hasn’t thought of Philippians 4:13 before a big test, meeting, or game? Maybe you were the athlete who quoted it after completing a nearly impossible feat. Or maybe it was quoted to you by an old acquaintance after they explained an, “amazing business opportunity.” “Sure it sounds risky,” they said, “but just like the Bible says, ‘You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.’”

Too often, Philippians 4:13 is quoted for self-motivation alone. A more secular version might sound like, “If we set our mind to it, whatever it is, we’ll accomplish it.” Sure, “through Christ” is in our Bible version, but hopefully He’s not there to just give us strength to accomplish our goals. Does Christ give us strength to do wonderful things including athletic feats? Yes. However, the original author of this coffee-mug verse wasn’t trying to win the Iron Man or triple his income in as little as three months (neither of which are necessarily bad things). Paul was writing—from jail—to the church he helped start in Philippi.

If Paul had the power to do all things, wouldn’t “get out of jail” be at the top of his to-do list? After all, if he could really do all things, he’d be all-powerful. The next three verses give additional meaning to verse 13. Paul described experiencing poverty, hunger, want, and despite it all, contentment. Then, he added verse 13 to basically say he could do all this only because of Christ. Paul’s words were less about motivating the Philippians to accomplish great things and more about inspiring them to trust God despite horrible things. In fact, the original language reads more like, “I have strength for all things. Why? Because Jesus.” (Ephesians 3:14-19)

Are you in a bad break up? Rebound to Him; He makes you whole. Bad medical news? Cling to Him; He is life. Lost your job? Submit to Him; He’s your provider. Are you “in want” like Paul? Come to Him; you can be content. Through Christ, you have strength for all these things.

Consider: What trial are you facing? How can you rely on Christ for strength?”

If I were to go first, and give answer to the question posed at the end for reflection, I will say waiting; waiting for my induction ceremony into the Medical and Dental Council Nigeria. It’s been over three months since completion of my final exams. This wait has not been very palatable. Initially, it felt like a holiday, but you know how you can grow weary when it feels like you are stuck. Through it all, I have tried to maintain a positive attitude and make the most of the time. I often say, in Medicine, you don’t get a lot of spare time. So, why don’t you utilize this: Learn something new, travel to some place new, read something different, learn a skill, a language… Add value to yourself, so you can be of more value to others. I am trying to stay productive.

How am I relying on Christ for strength?

He gives me inspiration. As I lean on Him, I learn more about Him and about myself in the process. This can also be applied to the single season. You can let yourself be miserable, wishing to move out of that phase, that you fail to maximize the season. As if to buttress this, I’m on my way to church while developing this post. In the course of the sermon titled Faith For Finances, the man of God asks a question: “What level of skill/training do you have now, while you are waiting for “the opportunity?” Then he goes further, “For some of you, the training you need now is financial literacy.” I grab that and hold onto it. The waiting time is time for preparation. “Winter is coming!!!” You prepare for war in time of peace.  Now, over to you. Your answer to the question posed for reflection. I hope you learnt a number of things. I will be happy to hear in the comments section.

So much love,

God’s love and mine,

Annie. ❤

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Culture and Travel Life in Medicine

First Outing As A Doctor x Practicing In My Village

When it was confirmed I was listed as one of the doctors and was going to travel, my excitement knew no bounds. The joy in my heart must have rung louder than a grade six murmur. The prospects of clerking in Igbo, and most importantly treating my own people was too exhilarating to keep calm.
Having trained in Rivers state, interacting with people from its various tribes, and even doing a compulsory one-month rural posting in a community in Rivers state – Kegbara-Dere, sometimes having a colleague who is a native act as an interpreter, and learning a few of their language to get by, this was much-welcomed opportunity.
As we approached the venue for the outreach, my aunt who was with me in the vehicle worried about my proficiency in Igbo; if I would be able to communicate effectively with the villagers.
I did not hesitate in letting her know how grounded I was for this. I boasted: “We have been effectively trained for this. One of the things you have to get right in medical school is the ability to communicate with your patient – whatever their level of education was. That included finding ways to surmount the barriers of language and religion also.” By the time I had gone on to lecture her on the expediency of passing the counselling station in the exam, and explaining a patient’s medical condition in the simplest of terms, she was forced to believe more in my ability.
I alighted the vehicle feeling comfortable in my ordinary attire, no white coat or stethoscope to give me away as a doctor, when to my uttermost amazement some other person alighting from a motorcycle greeted me, Doctor.
Poker-faced, looking down at my bag to crosscheck that my ward coat and stethoscope were safely tucked in, I stared back in his direction blankly, wondering what gave me away as a doctor. After he settled the bike guy, he repeated his greeting, as if to erase any doubt I had, concluding that I probably didn’t recognize him. The doctor who was to become a partner and a potential friend explained that we had the same Alma Mata and he knew me while we were in school. He was some classes ahead of me, had seen me a couple of times in the library and was currently serving in my village. Small world.
In no time, the patients were ready to start seeing the doctors, and the doctor and I were initially positioned in different consulting rooms.
“I mere añunu?” I started. The only Igbo Isuikwuato I was sure of.
The elderly woman began her compliant. At some point, I wanted to plead with her to stick to basic Igbo but decided against it.
When I had gotten all of her complaints and had an understanding of her condition, I proceeded to prescribe her medications.
One thing I didn’t do was fake knowledge where I would have used some guidance. That would be grave and foolish of me. So, I asked questions and sought clarifications when I needed one. If that made me seem “incompetent” or not schooled enough, that was your thinking.
“Better be humble and learn more, than prideful and kill innocent persons,” I admonished myself.
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Shortly afterward, we were joined by an older doctor who had been in practice for years. He was from my village and owned a hospital in a neighbouring town. I gave up my consulting room to share space with the other doctor who was serving in my village.
At intervals, my aunt came to check on me; to be sure I had no difficulty communicating with the patients and help if I had one.
I reassured her that I was doing fine, with a smile. The other doctor was from Akwa Ibom and didn’t understand a lot of Igbo. My aunt helped out when I was busy, and I took on the task of interpreting when I was less busy. I was too happy to.
He understood some words. When they said ishi/isi, he knew they were talking about their head… So, headache. When they said ukwu, they were referring to their waist. And so on.
The majority of the patients complained of headache, waist pain, leg pain, and general body pain. And of course malaria. This was to be expected considering their major source of livelihood is farming, my village is hilly, and the major age group of the presenting population elderly.
Children also came. If you have treated malaria, then the other most likely complaints were cough, ukwara and its accomplice, catarrh, mmiri ukwara.
Everyone that presented to the health center was dewormed.
Among the mpas and mmas, hypertension, as expected, was predominant and a few accompanying or isolated cases of diabetes.
There were few other random cases, and patients were referred to the General Hospital, and to be followed up when there was a need.
It was obvious some came for a refill of their medications, which was OK. That was why we were organizing the free medical outreach, everyone should make the most of the opportunity.
Of particular note was a certain old man, who looked vaguely familiar when he stepped in. On interaction with him, I asked him if he knew my grandpa and he answered in the affirmative, recounting some fun memories with him.
I was more than impressed when he took out a small note, where he had beautifully written down his complaints. I had to show my partner, he didn’t seem as impressed as I was, but I was and made sure the old man knew I was. He smiled and said he used to be a teacher. I scribbled his name on a paper and made a mental note to ask my uncle or granny when I got home.
I also met some other persons who knew me as a child or knew my family, and when they tried to place whose child in particular I was and were told “nwa Moses, Ada ya,” I could see them wearing the happiness in their hearts on their faces. Their own daughter was treating them. And I, too, found satisfaction and inexplicable delight and gave them my best.
We were joined by another doctor, who is from my village and works at the General Hospital.
His family is based in Port Harcourt, but he has a love for community medicine and enjoys working in the village to give back to his community. A lot of persons attested to his humanitarian and selfless service to the community.
The three of us soon got along and by the end of the second day, the last day of the outreach, we were heartily retelling stories of medical school. I didn’t realize how exhausted I was at the end of the day until I lay to sleep, but one thing was certain: The joy in my heart had no match, and my people were more than happy, blessed.
Tired, but surely excited, I managed to pose for photos at the end of the day:
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*I mere añunu? – How are you? (in my dialect)
*Mpas and mmas – Fathers and mothers (the elderly)
*nwa Moses, Ada ya – Moses’ child, his first daughter
Love,
Annie (or I should sign off with my Igbo name, Chioma? 😁)
Ps – This outreach was part of the infamous August Meeting, the annual meeting Igbo women attend in their village. Isn’t it cool that it has evolved to become an avenue these women seek ways to give back to the community? Shout out to the Onicha Amiyi-Uhu women of Isuikwuato local government area, Abia state. Onicha Amiyi-Uhu to the world! ❤
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Dear Younger Me

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Yesterday, I was given the honour of speaking to some teenagers and children about their health. When I was first called, I was not given a specific topic. The caller just said, “You know teenagers now… You can speak to them on anything that applies to their health.” Then she suggested topics like HIVSTDs, the regular things, and made me promise I would be able to make it. I was away at the time she called, but would be back by the time and so I assented to her request, still leaving room for a possible change of mind.

I thought about these children and what I could possibly teach them. “If it were women, then I could tell them about breast cancer, cervical cancer, and their cohorts,” I worried. At another end I thought that HIV, STDs as the caller suggested were worn-out topics; they have heard those a hundred times over. Then personal hygiene was too mundane. “What’s that?” I mocked the idea. “Bathe twice a day, brush your teeth, wash your undies… Oh, please! They don’t need me to tell them those. They should know those already,” I continued to struggle about what to teach them.

I even took up some teen devotional plans on my bible app, to find some ideas. Are you wondering why I was looking in my bible, rather than my textbooks or online to find what to teach the kids about their health? I did wonder, too. Especially as they were in a camp organized by a church, and surely would have had several persons talk to them about “their spiritual life.” Won’t they? To answer that thought, I reminded myself that: I am first a child of God, before a doctor. Then, isn’t every Word of God God-breathed and profitable for instruction, for conviction, for correction, for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately–behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage]? Wasn’t that what I desired for these children and teens, above all? If so then, it was not out of place to look there for inspiration and guide.

I, however, could not still reach a decision on what to teach the children and teens. I was almost reaching an impasse and frankly thought about calling the organizer to cancel. That was a day before the event. I had thought about it all week but had not taken the necessary steps to cancel. While having my bath the night before the D-Day, I thought about myself in my teenage years,“What did I wish I knew more about?” I also knew I could not pass over any opportunity to speak to young children. That would be doing too much harm to the younger generation; a decision I could not live with or forgive myself for taking.

“We owe it to each to tell our stories.”

Ideas started forming in my head. I knew just where to start and how to continue from there, trusting the Holy Spirit to guide me with the right words. Are you still wondering if I am talking about their health? Yes, health, their “social health.” As defined by W.H.O, health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. I was very much in tune, unconventional, maybe, if you like. I was going to talk to the teens about sex; making responsible decisions about it, having and owning their values – positive values, and of course all the in-between: menstrual cycle, contraception, unplanned pregnancy, in addition. Things I was not taught. I was going to be honest with them, open about it, and available to answer their questions, using my own story.

When I got to the venue, trepidation began to creep in. I ministered to myself: “I have the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit gives me boldness. I am bold and not timid.” It was my first time deciding to be very open with my story. I was always going to tell it, put it in a book, and tell of how God gave me grace and helped me! Oh, don’t think it is a sanctimonious story of me or one of a wanton child saved by grace. It is simply my story, of how life happened to me, and how life can happen to anyone. All the more reason I would be doing a great disservice to the younger generation, by not sharing my story with them. I may not have had someone teach me, but I can be the one to teach others.

I mounted the stage, looking into the familiar faces of some children I had always known growing up, some of whom had fast grown into teenagers and ‘young adults.’ And some not too familiar faces, too. It was my home church, which meant I grew up in their midst. Had always been among them. Still among them, even though more away than with them presently. So, they knew me. Most of them knew me.

After building on this premise, I began to teach them. And somewhere along the line, I got candid with them, about details of my story which was unknown to even some relatives. It came as a shock. My youngest brother was in their midst, I saw him look up in a mix of emotions I can’t clearly tell. I didn’t back down or flinch, I plunged ahead. It was the debut telling of my story; unplanned and unrehearsed. At some point, I was not sure if I clearly communicated it to them. I didn’t let that bother me. I would get better at this, I encouraged myself. There is still the book. I did my best to answer their questions; I made them feel comfortable to ask and pointed out that I was available to answer any questions, even beyond the meeting. I was not sure how I felt when I got back home, but I had one prayer as I left my house and all through the while I spoke to the children and teens: “God, please, use me to preserve some destinies here.” I can rest in the promise that God answers prayers.

If you could tell your younger self everything you have learned so far, so they could be one step ahead, where would you start?

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God is […]

The first time I developed an interest in the variegated names of God was when Kachee of KacheeTee.com made a post about 15 Uplifting Bible Verses on the Power & Strength of God’s Arm/Hand. A post that stemmed for the #HallelujahChallenge that took the media by storm a month ago, popularizing the Yoruba name of God, Olowogbogboro, that was hitherto unknown to many and took on a new and more powerful meaning for the few who knew it prior to the time.

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Of particular attraction to me, in the comments section of the aforementioned post, was another Yoruba name for God – Asoromaye, meaning “He who prophesizes and it comes to pass.” Maybe because I was believing God for a miracle at the time and had just (re-)read some uplifting verses, it carried great significance for me. In addition, it made me wonder just how many more beautiful names of God were out there, lying hidden from God’s people.