It’s still one of the most amazing things that has happened in my life; the time my parents uprooted me and my five siblings from our home in Minnesota and headed off to be missionaries in Nigeria. That’s eight plane tickets, eight sets of luggage, six children ages six to fourteen and four flights to get us from the Upper Midwest to Western Africa.
In preparation for this adventure we had an auction to sell all of our furniture and large items. We were allowed to load up thirteen 55 gallon drums with belongings that would be shipped to us. Since we would probably not be able to buy “American” clothes in Africa my parents were instructed to buy enough clothes for all of us to last for three years until we could return to the US for furlough. Imagine trying to buy the right sized clothes for six growing children for three years!
My parents went to St. Louis for missionary orientation. Apparently back then they didn’t think it was important to give the children of the missionaries an orientation so my missionary orientation consisted of a high school friend of ours telling me that lurking behind every tree in Africa would be head hunters and cannibals.
We flew from St. Louis to New York, New York to Cologne, Germany, Cologne to Kano, Nigeria and finally from Kano to Jos, Nigeria, our final destination. About six months after we arrived in Nigeria the drums we had loaded arrived. On our first trip back to the US three and a half yeas later my parents took the eight of us on a three-week trip through Egypt, Israel, and Europe, another amazing feat of logistics that they accomplished.
And now, it’s all happening again. According to an article I read recently in The Lutheran Witness magazine another family of eight is getting ready to leave this country and head out on the mission field. The missionary’s name is Rev. David Preus and he is taking his wife and six children from Montana to the Dominican Republic.
Reading about this new family of eight leaving to do the Lord’s work in a foreign land brought back all kinds of memories for me. No doubt the process of relocating a family of eight today is much more complicated than it was when we went 49 years ago.
Still, I wish them all the best and a fruitful time of mission work in the Dominican Republic. During our time in Nigeria our family faced many challenges but I think every one of us would say that overall it was a good experience.
Here are some pictures of our clan from back in the day.
This is me with my parents. I believe it is on my Confirmation Day in 1972. Shortly after I was confirmed we left Nigeria for the last time and came back to the US.