Hey! Hey! Hey!
It’s the last day of August! September is literally a few hours away and sooner than later, we will be counting down to Christmas!
Today, I would like to take us back slightly to the month of June.
[Clicks rewind button]
June is an epic month I tell you! It’s my birthday month & the merry making usually begins with a Public Holiday on 1st June. This year, the first weekend had me commemorating my pre-Birthday with friends. Everything was going great! My bestie and I had plans of enjoying the summer holidays in Rome but….
I received a call from Fiona in the wee hours of the morning and she told me, in her words, that Norah was “no longer with us”.
The party mode came to a grinding halt.
The week of 14th June was a tough one to say the least. I was hurt, torn, devastated and everything else in between but I had to pull everything together and be there for my best friend. I had to coordinate the various groups of people that wanted to condole Fifi and the family; from former school mates to church mates to mutual friends and so forth. Additionally, I was part of a six-person international team that was coordinating the Real Action on Youth side event that was scheduled to take place at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Headquarters in Rome, Italy.
The six of us had to promote the event, conclude logistical arrangements and prepare talking points since we were doubling up as the panel speakers. That notwithstanding, I had work assignments that I had to conclude in the office prior to my travel.
Saying that I was overwhelmed (both physically and emotionally) would be an understatement. Many a times, I would leave the funeral meetings in the evening then have virtual meetings with the global team till sometime close to 1 AM then wake up by 5 AM to go to work. Whew!
There was lots to juggle and prior my flight to Rome, I remember packing my bags, heading to Fifi’s place for the funeral meeting then heading straight to the airport just in time for my check-in. I assure you that I slept from take off to touch down! During my layover in Dubai, I slept throughout and I thank God that I heard my name being called over the intercom for the final boarding call! Yikes!!
The sleep was well worth it because once I arrived in Rome, it was crunch time! As soon as I was dropped at the hotel, I changed my outfit then rushed to FAO for the event! No time to eat, no time to rest. Roller coaster ride much? Oh yes it was!
All the while, I wanted to crrrrrrryyyy (the news of Norah’s passing was still so raw) but I simply couldn’t. I was going to be on the panel in a few minutes’ time and the event was going to be broadcast to the whole world.
The event went on smoothly and the turnout was great. I was literally going through the motions by God’s grace because if you ask me how I did it, I will only point you to God. I was on auto-pilot. God kept me through it all. He says that in our weakness, He displays His strength. I testify to that.
I thank God for the opportunity that He gave me. It was a great honour and a huge responsibility to represent Africa. I was the only black person on the panel and I can only give God all the glory.
The event got such great reception that the next day, we were called upon to give our comments at the FAO Commission in the presence of all the Member States. Once more, I was deeply amazed by God’s doing.
All the while, I was still grieving. Sigh! My team mates noticed that I was not socializing much and I was often withdrawn. It was then that I opened up about Norah’s passing. The outpouring of love that I received from my team mates was immense. God says that He will never leave nor forsake us and you know what? God placed the most amazing people around me to personify His solace.
Each person was kind to me in their own special way. Cassie Hayward would always come and snuggle me in the morning as she woke me up. Little did she know that I needed those hugs so much but God knew.
Valerie would always check in on me to make sure that I was eating. Kevin and Jim, made sure that I was always distracted by one activity or the other. We would go for long walks and have lengthy chats in the evening. During the nascent stages of the event planning, we had named ourselves the United Five but our time in Rome is when the “unification” happened. We blended so well together and there was never a dull moment.
My new-found friends cushioned the effects of grief. They were understanding, comforting and generous. The night before our departure, we had dinner together, eulogized each other and wept … Yes, we all cried. It was that deep. We cried so much until someone from the neighbouring table came and told us, “Whatever you are going through, it is going to be okay.” Lol! That was funny.
The United Five was a beautiful reassurance that God has set angels charge over me according to Psalms 91.
For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
Psalms 91:11 NKJV
As Victoria Orenze says in her song, Covenant Keeping God; “He will walk beside you and that is all that matters..”
I testify of God’s love, care and protection over me. I am loved.
What’s your testimony of God’s goodness & love?