Girl Going Home
By Gita Richardson Larson
from presentation given at the Nigeria Reunion in Shocco Springs, Alabama, in 2005
My Yoruba is rusty, but “inu me dun lati re yin” translates to something like “it makes my deep insides feel sweet to see you.” I spoke this greeting to people during my visit to Nigeria this summer. Needless to say, they reacted with thrilled applause, knowing what I meant.
My trip to Nigeria was that of a girl going home. Sixty years ago my parents took me to Nigeria as a one-year-old toddler. When we arrived in Saki, it became our home for more than a decade. It remains the home of my heart. Thirty years ago we took our children to visit my parents in Ogbomoso. My twins were three years old then.
This summer my daughter Jennie and I went back to visit. We were hosted at the Baptist Medical Centre in Ogbomoso (BMC-O) by Buster Iyere, administrator, and Dr. Samson Adeleke, medical director, and staff; and at the Baptist Medical Centre in Saki (BMC-S) by Dr. Theo Ojebode and his staff. We also visited Okuta and Oyo.
Our home base in Nigeria was the current guest house on the BMC-O compound where my parents lived for their last twelve years in Nigeria before they retired in 1980. In 1975, we stayed there when we visited them. Our every need was anticipated by the administrator and staff, from food, shelter, laundry, transportation, safety, and much more. Every day we received visitors eager to talk about past and present issues.
I had never seriously considered returning to Nigeria in the past thirty years, because I did not know anyone who could help facilitate a trip. It was through relationships forged by Elaine Neil Orr with leaders at the hospital and seminary in Ogbomoso that I even began to think about it. The work through NFW on the wells at the hospital strengthened these relationships.
We were more warmly welcomed than you can imagine by new friends and old, because we cared enough to come home. I met so many people who had worked with my parents and other missionaries, as well as people who knew me as a small girl! We were thrilled to see one another.
A constant theme wherever we went was “where is this missionary?” They asked and asked about many of you by name. They treasure you, miss you, and strive valiantly to carry on the work you poured your lives into. They are faithful. They remember you, and all the efforts you made to give to them and to Nigeria. They would love to have word of your lives now. They remember your love for them.
You missionaries took us MKs to Nigeria. We had no choice, you know! The gift you gave us was a country to love, people to know and care about, and a culture to enjoy. We thank you for that. You left your mark. Your work is valued. Your lives are emulated. What you gave is still treasured. NFW works to be sure our Nigerian brothers and sisters do not feel forgotten. Our encouragement is so important to them.