Tuesday, 25 December 2018

A message for Christmas


Let me share my notes from today's Christmas sermon at the Covenant Christian Centre, Lagos, Nigeria.

Preacher - Pastor Poju Oyemade.

Text: Matthew 1:18-25, Matthew 2:1-12, Micah 5:2, Gal 2:20, Psalm 40:1-3, Psalm 139:14-16

The minute you received Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Saviour, a star was born in you.

Jesus was wrapped in swaddling clothes, meant for the low class, yet the wise men worshipped him as King. They identified Him correctly.

Some of us identify ourselves by what we are wrapped in (social status).
It does not matter what you look like once you have found your star.

He that is born of the Spirit has a star.

Every one in the Spirit has a more sure Word of prophecy. The same way it was said about Jesus that it was written about him.

If the birth of Jesus could shake Herod, you have the same capacity if you properly identify what is in you.

Because some have not identified themselves, they have gone into palaces, expecting advantages.

There is a definite purpose of my existence which is written inside God's book. Outside of which the wonders of God will not be seen. 

Our assignment is to find our true identity inside God's Word and run with it. John found his purpose in the Word. (I am the voice of one crying in the desert) So he did not mind when he was decreasing and Jesus was increasing.

The only time you will find fulfillment is getting into your purpose.

Caesar Augustus called that census to fulfill what was written about Jesus
When Government issues a policy, it is that it shall be fulfilled what has been written concerning you.

The biggest blessing of this life is rejection from men. That's when doors open. (There was no room for him in the inn)

All of my members are written in your book. My assignment is to find out what is written and walk accordingly. 

The people you are trying to meet, if you grow your own house, they will be the ones trying to meet you.

The purpose of you shining bright is to lead other people to the man in swaddling clothes.


Merry Christmas 
Radiant ~ December 2018

Saturday, 22 December 2018

Christmas: Kid’s expectations vs. financial realities


My memories of Christmas period during childhood have always been of new dresses, new shoes, new movies, Christmas decor, harmattan, chin chin, rice and chicken. For many families, this is a season of much spending.

A few days ago, my husband and I had fun eavesdropping on a conversation between a mother and her 3 children at McDonald’s. Actually, we did not need to eavesdrop, the mother was loud enough for everyone close by to hear. They sat adjacent to us munching on their burgers, chips and chicken nuggets. The children were obviously delighted.

Son 1: We should do this more often.

Daughter: And cinema too.

Mom: I had to work 2 hrs for you to eat this and I will have to work a bit more than 2 hrs for y’all to go to the cinema from here.

Son 2: And we will be having popcorn.

Mom: You still want popcorn after eating all these?, she said with so much shock.

Son 1: But these are cheap.

Mom: Everything is cheap when you’re not the one paying for it

Son 2: But Daddy can afford it.

Mom: Yea daddy can ‘cause he works full time. I have to work part time to look after y’all and to pick y’all from school. Daddy will not do that.

Son 1: How many hours do I have to work to make £100?

Mom: 1 week.

After a brief silence,

Son 1: Mom what age do I have to be before I can work? 18?

Mom: I had my first job at 14.

Of course the conversation was longer than I’ve highlighted. However, the interesting thing for us about the conversation was the consciousness of the relationship between work and fun which the mom had started to imbibe in her kids, making them look forward to work when they are able. She was trying to teach them not to take things for granted but to be more considerate in demands and appreciative of the efforts parents put in to make their children happy.

And it seemed to work. Son 1 who should be about 8 to 10 yrs old was already thinking of taking responsibility. He wanted to know how soon and how much he could make. Probably so as to not have to deal with his mom’s money complaints or to help the family or even to get a long-desired toy, whichever way, he is becoming financially responsible.

That day's experience reminded me of those times when I had expected some things from my parents and got denied. Once, our dad refused to release money for any new clothes for Christmas. We were all devastated. We felt it was our right to have new clothes for Christmas and New year days and we didn’t care why we were being denied. Could it have been more bearable if he explained why there was no money for that? Would I have believed him? Are children really considerate about financial constraints? 

I think Christmas is a very special season for kids and it will be good to factor their expectations early in planning. However, there may be other inevitable financial demands that put these expectations lower on the priority list. Should parents explain these to their children?

Please share your thoughts below on how much you think parents should tell their kids about family financial situation. What can this achieve?

Merry Christmas 
Radiant ~ December 2018

Sunday, 16 December 2018

A Night at the Atican Beach Resort Hotel, Lagos, Nigeria



When thinking about where to spend the first few days after our wedding, a few factors came into play. My King and I were going to be back in Nigeria after a while away. We wanted to enjoy it's warmth as much as we could. More so, my flight back to UK was scheduled for November 16, meaning that I had only five honeymoon days before travelling. Furthermore, there were other relevant activities to accomplish, especially my legal change of surname. So we agreed to stay in Lagos. 

The day after the wedding, we searched the Internet for resorts to stay in and the Atican Beach Resort caught our fancy. The pictures we saw online were very attractive. When we called to book a room, we were informed that from 12 to 6pm, there might be no power as the generator only came on from 6pm till 12 noon the following day. We were disappointed but figured we could deal with that, so we went ahead to make our reservation.



We checked into our room at 5:45pm with a torch to light the darkness. Expecting power to come on in 15 minutes as said, we went to the restaurant to have dinner while waiting. However, it took 30 minutes for the generator to come on. All that while, we sat in darkness. The food came even later. They said the chicken was frozen, hence they couldn't warm it until power came. As we were famished from our long journey to Lekki we asked to be served the Eba and soup first and for the chicken to come later. Yet they waited till after power came on to prepare our food. I had Eba and Edikainkong. It was okay, but not fantastic as I would describe my lunch experience the next day at The Place, Lekki. The TV in the restaurant wasn't working. The tap in the sink wasn't running.

On getting back to the room after dinner, the air conditioner stopped after about five minutes. We were perspiring. Opening the door of the room did not help as it just blew in warm air from outside. On getting them to check the problem, they said it had to do with the generator. They were running helter-skelter trying to fix the problem for 10 to15 minutes until they thought to move us to another room with a better working AC. After moving our things, I got into the bathroom for a shower. I was still sponging my body, when the shower stopped running. I asked my husband to send for a bucket of warm water. By the time the water arrived, I was already out of the bathroom with the soap dried to my skin as I could wait no longer. 



I was sad. Not about the poor service we received that night but about the mediocrity we have gotten so used to in Nigeria. The attitude of "manage it like that", our lack of quality control. This adds to what keeps us poor as a country. God help us. We could not believe that a hotel with a tourist attraction could be so laid back about its services. As if they expected us to "understand" that the generator could not carry all ACs or pump water. There was no attempt by a management personnel or supervisor to apologize. There was no compensation. 

Unfortunately, that night's experience is also visible in usual working relationship with artisans or vendors - a tailor who takes your measurements ahead of time but delays delivery or still has major adjustments to make, a mechanic paid to fix a problem in your car but you're forced to return to him the following weekend with the same problem or a vendor paid to render a service who does not pay attention to detail etc. There are many other examples to relate to. In some cases they insist on full payment before service but after the flop, the best you get from them is 'sorry madam' and worst of all, 'abeg manage am like that'. It's pathetic.


Nevertheless, there were some commendable sides to the hotel. The breakfast was on point - toast and fried egg with NescafĂ© 3 in 1. Egg salad and Mayo sandwich or fried yam and eggs. The building was modern and had very nice surroundings. The beach was a good place to get away. After that first night, there was no power problem except for the expected 6-hour 'no gen' period which we spent on the beach or out in town shopping, lunching or in the cinema. 



Rating
If I had spent only the first night in Atican, I would rate it 1/5 (Would have been 0, but let's give it 1 for good looks and nice breakfast). If I had not experienced the Day 1 brouhaha, I would have rated it 3.5/5. So combining the experiences from Day 1 to 4, I would rate it 2.5/5. My husband rates it 1.5/5. He says first impression is key. Unfortunately, we don't look forward to going back.




Have you experienced poor service in Nigerian hotels or with your vendor/artisan? Or perhaps you've been to the Atican Beach Hotel, Lekki. Please tell us your experience in the comments section below. Cheers.

Radiant ~ December 2018

Monday, 3 December 2018

RadiantKing: Preparing for Marriage. Planning a Wedding




Preparing for Marriage
An engagement signifies an intention to get married. Our first project as an engaged couple was to come to an agreement on the date of the wedding. Some of the factors we put into consideration when determining the date of our wedding were:

1. Career stability. We were both in transition at the time of the proposal. My King had just begun his Masters programme, while I had just gotten a licence to work in UK as a doctor and was then job hunting. He didn't want us getting into this major milestone of a life event in our transition phases. At least one of us had to be stable career-wise before we got married.

2. Counselling. My King was very particular about us receiving proper counselling before venturing into the institution of marriage. We couldn't go in unprepared. Hence, we attended an informal and a formal marriage counselling. We got informal but structured counselling from our mentors viz. his former boss and his wife. We had several sessions with them both physically and via video calls. The formal one was organized by our local church in Nigeria and was done through 6 sessions of video conference calls. We were among the first set of diaspora couples for counselling. During these sessions, we learnt about communication, roles and responsibilities, great expectations of marriage, managing in-laws, being united, finances, sex, and so on. Our formal counselling required us to read at least 2 books on marriage. 



Other pre-marital conversations included where we would live after marriage, when we would prefer to have children and how many, our career goals and how they would fit into the family and long-term plans, expectations of each other in the marriage, etc. All these we have committed into God's hands. By His grace, we will face it all together.


Planning a Wedding
Planning the wedding did not stress us much. It feels a bit weird saying this as I have seen people under so much pressure during wedding preps. King maintained a calm demeanor even in the midst of his Masters courseworks, exams and thesis. To him, planning a wedding is not much different from organising one of his community development projects @GenLeaders. Many people get stressed during the planning process when they try to over-impress or go beyond their capability. Not to deny the fact that planning from outside Nigeria helped ease off some physical stress as we engaged a wedding planner. Moreover, we had friends and family who helped do our leg work. I had some concerns about things not going as planned, but we just had to trust God and the people to whom we had committed the work to.


The first thing we did after securing a date was to agree on our budget. I was happy to have a man very good in numbers and Excel sheets. We made a list of everything we thought would be needed or have observed at weddings we had witnessed. After that, we eliminated what we considered unnecessary and then split our budget across all remaining items; we had done a prior investigation on what each item should cost on average. This became our guide in negotiations with vendors and our event planner, most of which were done via Whatsapp. We only met most of our vendors on the wedding day, save for those who were already in our network.



We decided on the number of guests to entertain based on our budget and the quality of wedding we desired. We allotted numbers to both families and ourselves and tried to emphasize strict adherence to the numbers allotted when our families began to send out invites. Since we were not in Nigeria to give all our guests IV cards, we also made e-invites.

Thankfully, our wedding ceremonies were largely hitch-free. Pictures at Instagram #radiantking or visit our wedding website - RadiantKing

The following are some of the vendors we engaged and their Instagram handles and they all did a fantastic job.

Hall decoration - @patakievents
MC - @omootalks
DJ - @emjoelove
Cake - @kairostreats
Make up for white wedding - @lipsnlids
Make up for traditional wedding - @triadasbeautylounge
Photography & Cinematography - @josephentekumefilm


Radiant ~ December 2018
This is the final of the RadiantKing series. Thank you for following our love story. We hope you enjoyed it. Please continue to put us in your prayers. Cheers to a happy & fulfilling married life.
Click here for all episodes of the RadiantKing series and please leave comments.