Tag Archive | nigeria

Mr & Mrs….

Just the other day I was thinking how much I miss blogging on a regular basis.  Life got busy and I let it go.  On my last entry, someone commented on their struggles with a long distance relationship.  I know the heartbreak well!

Back in January I started doing some serious praying and even contacted a church in Hawaii which has prayer warriors in order to get back to my Ben.  By the middle of February, I had bought a ticket to Nigeria.  We quickly scheduled our wedding date and got all the preparations done.  There was a flurry of activity which ensued over the next month!

I was talking to a good friend, Kaitlyn, about  how to get to Ben.  The money was here, but I didn’t have the time off available at work.  I was terrified to ask for the time off in order to go get married.  The long months of stress had worn me down emotionally and I was cracking at the seams.  I requested a six week leave of absence from my job in order to take care of myself.  Part of my self care included going to see my love!  Getting some movement again in bringing us together again.  Kaitlyn told me, in essence, that God brings us true love rarely and that is what I have with Ben.  Do whatever I have to do to marry this man!  After that conversation, my decision was that no matter the cost,I was going to marry this man!  I put in my request the next day and got confirmation a few days later.  I have never been so willing to do whatever it takes to have what I want before.  God provided for me in the ways I needed.

I arrived in Lagos, Nigeria on March 5, 2012.  The flight was long and exhausting.  I was 2nd to the last person to pass through immigration and customs.  The wait was unreal.  I think the last hour in the airport was one of the hardest times in all my life!  When I walked out the doors, I panicked when I didn’t see him at first.  There were people trying to get me in a taxi and carry my bags.  A moment later, I heard my name.  Seeing him face-to-face was siimply amazing!  It’d been 18 months since we’d seen each other.  We picked up right where we left off last time.  No time had elapsed and there was not a moment of awkwardness or uncertainty.  We hugged so long there on the sidewalk that a guard was telling us to take it home!

I met my brother-in-law for the first time at the airport.  He was away in school when I was there the first time.  I was so happy to see him there with Ben!  Upon arrival at the house, Mom was walking through the gate just as we pulled my suitcases from the trunk.  The hugs and reunions were so special!  In those first few hours, I got to see nearly all the family.  I was astonished at my young sister-in-law.  She was only 9 the last time I saw her.  Now 11, she is a young lady and extremely beautiful!  She was so excited to see me.  She was telling me that all day at school she’d been telling her friends that her sister-in-law was arriving from America.

I stayed in Nigeria for 22 days.  The first week of my stay was not very exciting,  but extremely busy!  We only had three weeks to plan our wedding prior to my arrival, so that first week was full of wedding details.  The taylor came and fit my dress and took it for alterations and embroidery.  Ben and the taylor were negotiating price and what work was to be done.  I didn’t understand a lot of the conversation.  To me, it sounded like they were on the edge of going to blows!  I asked Amaka if they were arguing.  She laughed at me and said they were only negotiating.  When I got my dress back a few days later, I was amazed at how lovely it really is!  He had added hand embroidered purple detailing with a fringe.

Two days before the wedding we went goat shopping.  We went across town to a goat market with Ben’s brother, Placid and his wife, Coco.  What an experience that was!  There were hundreds of goats tied to traughs bleating.  I was appauled at their treatment.  What kind of life is it for a goat to be tied up with only about 18″ wiggle room waiting to be bought for slaughter?!  Placid found the perfect goat and dickered with the man on the price.  $200 for a big goat.  They hog tied the goat and put him in the trunk of the car!  I told them to turn up the radio so I couldn’t hear him kicking and crying.  The three of them laughed at me, but come on now… I’m a California city girl!  I couldn’t watch them slaughter the goat the next day.  I knew if I did, I’d never be able to eat it!

The following morning, I got up to the sounds of about 10 guys downstairs in the yard slaughtering the goat.  I stayed upstairs for a long while.  Curiosity finally got the better of me.  I’m really glad I went down!  This was one of the true African cultural things I experienced on this trip.  The goat was already dead and on a fire when I arrived on scene.  I stood with my hands on my hips looking at this not sure what to think.  I decided it wasn’t so bad and joined in on the fun and celebration of the day.  By the time they actually butchered the goat for cooking, I was pretty immune to it all.  I joked with the photographer that he should take a picture of me holding the goat’s head.  Well, the joke was on me when everyone cheered me on until I did it.  It’s one of my favorite pictures from that day!

We got married on Thursday, March 15, 2012.  My mom called us at 4:30 am to wish us well and start the day off for me with love from family.  It was really hard getting married without any of my family or friends being there.  A few days prior, we watched the “Mama Mia!” video.  I had to leave the room when Meryl Streep is holding her daughter and helping her prepare for her wedding day.  The emotions and tears overwhelmed me.  I knew it would be hard, but I had no idea it would be like that!  So, having mom call me first thing  that morning meant a lot to me…. to both of us, really.

Getting dressed was a group project.  Ben helped me put my dress on.  I did my own hair and make-up.  Placid cinched the tie on my dress.  One of the aunties straightened it all out.  Mom gave me her red royalty earrings to wear.  Coco loaned me a hairpin she wore at her wedding a few weeks earlier for the something new, something old, something borrowed, something blue tradition.  The end product was amazing!  I hadn’t planned what jewelry to wear and it just kind of fell into place that morning.

The wait at the Federal Marriage Registry at Ikoyi was long!  We arrived at 9am and weren’t married until a little before noon.  The morning looked like it might rain.  The day ended up being ungodly hot! I was getting a little cranky and ready to go home by the time they called us up for our turn.  Funny how quickly my mood and attitude changed when it was our turn!

The ceremony was very different than an American court marriage.  The vows are similar, but different in ways that are more meaningful to me.  The offciant told us how to sit, stand, hold each other.  It seemed a little riduculous when I was watching the couples ahead of us.  It did when we were doing it, too.  Afterwards, looking at the photos and the video I am glad he had us do it his way!  It added to the meaning of the ceremony.  For a court marriage, it lasted about 15 minutes and he didn’t rush us through.  We were given our special moment and allowed to honor it.  I value that a lot.  With so many civil marriages here, you have 5 minutes and it’s done.  Move it on out!

I can’t get over “washing” the official who married us.  We paid really high costs for our marriage both in fees and bribes prior to the ceremony.  He demanded bribes from each of the wedding party.  I was the first to give him Naira and he tossed it back at me telling me I had to give more!  This was not giving him an offering for his services.  This was a straight out bribe!  Ben had to give him even more that next Monday when he went to pick up our marriage certificate.  The corruption is unreal!

The interview process prior to the marriage was a little intense, too.  When Ben set the date, they told him we’d have to under go some counseling.  We had no idea what this would entail.  We got there and sat before this man who asked us all of these questions about the validity of our marriage, how we met, our courtship, where we’d live, our financial plan, what foods I would cook for my husband in the States, plan for children, am I sure I don’t have any children, and finally, how we planned on making our marriage work and being good and loving to one another.  The process was a little intimidating, though not terrible.  The worst part was when we had to do it again the day of our wedding with yet a different man!  I can’t believe they asked me if I’m positive I don’t have children from a previous relationship!  Why on earth would I lie about having children?  And I’m pretty certain that I’ve never gone through labor or pregnancy.

The party was so much fun!  All of my life, I have wanted to have a party-party.  You know the kind… dancing, music, singing, drinking.  A party which wasn’t just sitting around talking and eating with some laughs.  I finally had the party I have always wanted!  I got to be young and the center of attention.  I had a camera or video camera in my face for the entire day, but I honestly didn’t mind most of the time.  Everyone there wanted to dance with me and talk to me.  I can’t think of another time in my life where so many men wanted to dance with me… and all of them good looking!  Of course, my husband was the most dashing of them all!!!

Speaking of my dashing husband, he just woke up and it’s time for our video chat.  Tell you more later!

 

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Benneth & Jodie

Hi, my name is Jodie.  I’d like to tell you a love story… MY love story.

I’ve had some pretty seedy guys in my life over the years.  Just seems that I’ve always gone from bad to worse!  The last man I was involved with was pretty much as bad as you can get.  I won’t go into detail, but let’s just say that he can probably be catagorically classified as a sociopath.  Now, it took me way too long to end that relationship, but I tell you,it’s the best ting I’ve ever done for myself!  After ending things with Tony, I fell in love iwth a woman.  Hmmm… interesting choice, isn’t it?  Yeah, I think so, too!  Well, we were buddies, best friends, and loved each other,but there was no sex.  For the next 5 years I surrounded myself in a totally homosexual  environment.  All of my friends (save one, Annie), social activities, support people were gay.  You know, I never did find a girlfriend!  lol

I was actively looking online for a girlfriend, when along came a guy who who was so incredibly and totally inappropriate for me that I ws, of course, intruiged!  This man, who shall remain nameless gave me the opportunity to try out my ability to say “no” to a man and relationship I didn’t want to be with or in.  He also showed me some of the qualities I would like to have in a future relationship.  Hmmm… he was the first man that really made me feel feminine and pretty, and moreover, want to look even more attractive.  I found myself dressing up each day I knew I’d see him so I’d get the compliments he was so abundant with.  So, eventually this man’s path left mine and I was left in the want ofa male partner for the first time in 5 years.

A few days later, I layed in bed and had a long, hard talk with God.  I listed probably 100 charachteristics I want in a mate. We talked about his physique, temperament, religion, ambition, family values.  You know, I really thought I’d covered it all.  I left out one key component… LOCATION!!!!!

Enter March.com stage left.  I wrote a profile hoping to attract a potential mate.  The idea was daunting, selling myself on line to a man.  Now, don’t get wrong, I’d done internet dating before, back in the ’90s when it was new and exciting and a lot less common and, let’s be honest here, scary!  The lists were long of potential matches.  Oh, I spent days searching through them and sending generic little hellos.    Then, there it was… MY FIRST REQUEST TO TALK.  Now, this isn’t someon that I had initiated with.  Honestly, he was not at all what I was looking for.  He was simply outside of the age range I had set for myself… but I answered anyway.

Benneth.  My Benneth… was about to enter my life forever.  His first email was so romantic and mushy I didn’t think he was at all sincere.  There was no way a man could seriously talk like that!  Despite my better judgment, I went ahead and answered.  That was October 1, 2009..  We exchanged an email or two before we finally met online for our first chat.  Yahoo! Messenger brought us together.  I argued and disagreed with him that first night.  Perhaps that is what brought me back for more?!  lol  Over the next days my heart sang each time I opened my email to find a message from him.  Those incredibly mushy emails I had originally thought fake became a mainstay in the diet of nourishing my heart.

Now, Benneth lives in Lagos, Nigeria.  I know that many of you readers out there are very skeptical of Nigerians, and especially the well known love scams.  Believe me, this was definitely a thought in my mind.  After a couple of months of daily communication over the phone and internet, I called it quits despite the fact that my heart broke as I told him.  The distance was just too immense!  There seemed no way on Earth that we could ever make a relationship work.

Not three weeks went by before I get an email from Benneth begging me to come back to him.  There must be some way we can make our love work.  Honestly, my heart was already in Lagos with him, so it wasn’t a hard sell for him to get me back.  This was in December 2009.

Over the next 9 months we worked at finding a way to be together.  I saved every penny I could scrape up to get there to meet him.  Not one single person in my life was truly supportive or excited about me goin g to Nigeria.  The things people said to me would curl your hair!  I think the best was when my brother told me Benneth would likely sell me into sex slavery.  Now, Benneth & I talked, as you’d expect, but I also spoke to his family members on a regular basis when I’d call.  So the trust was there.  I was going to stay in the family home with Benneth, his mom, Anne, his little sister and his brothers.  A friend from church contacted Benneth a few weeks before I was to depart to check his intentions and see that I’d be safe.  This friend is also from Nigeria.

I departed for Lagos, Nigeria on September 1, 2010 all by myself.  Now this is HUGE, seeing as how I hardly will drive to San Francisco by myself, which is only an hour away.  The flight itself was OK.  The worst part of the travel was navigating the Atlanta Int’l Airport for the first time.  Good thing I caught the earlier flight!

Arriving in Nigeria was such an amazing feeling!  I’d done it!  I was there.  No turning back now!!!  I ran into a small problem gettting into the country, as I’d forgotten my yellow fever card.  The woman there asked for a bribe.  I had no idea how much to give her.  I had $5 and $100 bill… no way I was parting with $100!  She let me goafer scaring me to death with the thought I’d be trapped in this foreign country wth no way of reaching Benneth.  I had no Naira and I had no idea how to make a domestic phone call!

Once outside the doors of the airport, I looked around at this endless sea of black faces.  What if I didn’t recognize him?  What if he weren’t there?  And then I saw him.  The smile on his face was so real.  You simply cannot fake a smile like that!  He approached me and hugged me followed by an unsure kiss.  Then it was off for home.

I will tell you more about the trip itself another time.  Nigeria is an amazing place!  I loved the people.  Very different than Americans.

The next 6 days were the happiest of my life!  I was surrounded by family and friends who took me in and loved me as one of their own.   His brothers talked to me just like a big sister.  This was probably the most special part of the family relationship.  I am the youngest of my family… by far… and grew up as an only child.  So having siblings who talk to me and share with me as a peer, offer advice, and ask me for advice ws a new and truly wonderful experience.  Being with Benneth was beyongd anything I could have imagined.  The love we’d shared for nearly a year over the phone and emails and chats was dulled in comparison to what we shared face-to-face.  Getting to know his daily habits ad little quirks was great.  We fit together like puzzle pieces.  Our minds, hearts, and yes, even our bodies seemed to be made to fit together perfectly.  The perfect compliment of the other’s weak points.

The day before I was to leave Africa, Benneth kneeled down before me and took my hand in his and proposed to me with the sweetest words of love and devotion!  A promise for a lifetime together.  He slipped this beautiful ring on my finger.  To my surprise, I cried tears of joy.  I’m not usually a crier.

Here we are a year later.  Benneth and I are still happily in love and planning our future together.  The twists and turns of the immigration process have brought us both to tears more than a time or two.    The day his K-1 Visa was denied was undeniably THE most painful day of my life!  He was so upset he couldn’t call and tell me until it wsa nearly the next day and my anxiety was so bad I could hardly stand another moment.  Since it took so long, I knew something was wrong, but I  wasn’t prepared for him to speak the actual words to me.

That was June 16, 2011.  We are both working so hard to bring our lives together.  Finding the money for a second trip back and all the immigration fees is what’s standing between us and happiness now.

I just looked at the clock.  It’s 11:11pm my time.  Time to talk to my Benneth.  I’ll pick my story up again another day.