In all our years on earth, there are countless times, when plans do not go your way. We have all been faced with diverse situations that have made us cringe our teeth and say, “Oh no, that did not just happen”.
Well…I had one of those moments that I cringe every time I remember but the beautiful part of this story is that it all worked out well. So, the story goes…
A few of my colleagues and I attended a training conducted by International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Maiduguri, Borno state, Nigeria.
See, you must understand that the reports we heard about BH (Boko Haram) as they referred them in Maiduguri made everyone going fearful.
We heard bodies were lying on the streets with bombs going off on a regular so there was not much excitement both from me and my family.
This training was on Mental Health and Psycho-Social Support (MHPSS) and the IOM staff stationed in Borno were responsible for training my colleagues and I.
On getting to Maiduguri, which is the capital of Borno state; we were all alarmed firstly at the calmness of the city. No noise, no riot, no bombs going off…yet, no gun shots…yet and we quickly adjusted our mindsets.
Few kilometers into the city and people already concluded what we heard was totally a lie. The media over-hyped the situation, but I think we needed to give it a few more days before concluding that there was no cause for alarm.
During one of the sessions, a facilitator of ours (not with IOM) commented on how a rocket had been fired into her compound demolishing part of her house and how her car was burnt by BH.
At this point it started to dawn on us that the media was not lying about the insurgence even though they exaggerated it at times.
“BANG!!!” was what a few people heard late in the night…there are different versions of the story and we may never know what caused the explosion but I was told it was a bomb that went off somewhere within town and some also heard gunshots that happened at the boundary of the city.
Whilst fretting about what had just happened, we heard “Bubba” was in town, the President of Nigeria had flown in that day to visit the victims of the gun shootings, so everywhere was tensed.
Most of my senior colleagues had left during the week for other engagements but myself and two others from the Federal office stayed behind with the participants from states.
I was the one that booked the tickets for the three of us and did not bother to send the online ticket to them.
The plan was to leave on Friday ahead of the other participants from states, not minding how unfair that would have been to leave them before the departure day; especially since we were the lead for the training.
Early hours of Friday morning, I woke up filled with excitement about our departure. Dashed into the shower and was about to throw the remnant of my soap when my mind says, “What if you do not leave today?”
As I packed my box and was about to put my towel in my box, same voice again, “Why not leave the towel out of the box to dry, when you are about to leave for the airport; you can then put it inside”.
Meanwhile I was yet to do our flight check-in as the network connection was very weak and it proved difficult which was why I woke up early in the first instance to quickly go outside my accommodation quarters to find a stronger network connection to check-in online for my colleagues and I.
Suddenly, restlessness overwhelmed me, and I could not explain why. I was trying to check-in, but the connection was almost worse than that of my room.
As I paced the floor around the compound of the hotel, a few people had started the early morning exercise which I never participated…lol. Finally, the connection came, and I tried to check-in.
My heart sank! “I must be dreaming” “It is not possible” “Oh my gosh”, these were all the words I was exclaiming as I discovered I booked our flight for Saturday instead of Friday. How could I? What possessed me to do such? I was angry, upset and fuming to say the least.
Mind you, the date was February 14th (Valentine Day) and I had plans to go back home and spend the day with my mum because it was a day after her birthday which I had already missed.
Also, my colleagues had made plans upon their return on Friday, so none of us could fathom leaving on Saturday.
Something interesting happened on Thursday evening, after we finished the training for the day; someone called my colleague and asked her when she was going back to Abuja and she said Saturday because she did not want the person to know the actual day.
As I broke the news to my colleagues about the mistake I made, they took it better than I thought they would.
In fact, I was the one they were telling to calm down as I was pacing the floor. I finally calmed down and slowly began to breathe.
I saw the signs; I should have known this was God’s Plan from the beginning. He did not want us leaving the participants from the state on their own for a day.
Who from the Federal office would have coordinated their food for that day and arranged their transport back to the airport on Saturday?
Friday was wrap-up of the first leg of the training and believe me it was by far the best day of the training.
All our facilitators from IOM were present as well as a survivor from an NGO who was the highlight for everyone during the entire week in Maiduguri. As she shared her story about how she overcame, tears rolled down the eyes of some as others were overwhelmed with joy at how far she had come.
The evening of that day, I sat in the room of one of my colleagues from the state as she narrated her life story and I felt so bad at how I and many others had judged her for her lifestyle. We talked for most of that night and it is a conversation I may never forget.
Saturday morning came by quicker than I thought, I slept longer that morning as I did not have any class to rush to and our flight was delayed till in the afternoon.
When it was time, we coordinated their departure from the hotel and got everyone to the airport on time. As we sat in the airport waiting to board the plane, we reminisced on the mistake I made that turned out to be a blessing.
We realized it would have been a blunder to leave the participants and hurry back to base because we did not want to stay an extra day, which turned out to be the best day we had in Borno.
You see, when plans do not go your way there are so many explanations to it but most times, we do not see the full picture and we capitalize on the side we can see and understand.
Among other experiences I have had, this is one I probably would not forget for a long while or maybe never because of how everything turned around. I felt peace, I felt calm, I felt rest in knowing God had bigger and better plans than mine.
This is the life we should live, knowing that God will give us the power of choice, but we should allow his good, acceptable, and perfect will (Romans 12:2) in our lives.