When a temple for Nigeria was announced more than five years ago, many shook their heads in bewilderment about how such a thing could possibly be accomplished. Nigeria has been rocked with civil strife, most buildings are ramshackle, little skilled labor or equipment is available and security is fragile. Even now, the U.S. State Department has a travelers warning issued for travelers to Nigeria due to the presence of terrorist groups and the lack of law and order that prevails throughout the country.
So, how does the Church build a beautiful, majestic, ivory temple, built to withstand any earthquake, in a place like this? This is an island of peace and order in the midst of the hubbub of Nigeria. It didn’t take a miracle. It took many of them, as well as the faith of members whose commitment is remarkable.
Alexander B. Morrison described Nigeria in his book The Dawning of a Brighter Day, The Church in Black Africa like this, “Each time I thread my way through the chaos, inefficiency, heat, and bedlam of the airport at Lagos, Nigeria, I find myself wondering if I’ll ever make it in one piece and asking myself why I ever left home.
“Nonetheless, after each visit to Nigeria I feel a warm glow of satisfaction and intense exhilaration. I realize I’ve been in the most exciting country in Black Africa — a country that pulsates with a beat louder and faster than that of any other on the continent, populated by a people who are exuberant, boisterous, argumentative, and in a hurry.
“They push, shove, and bicker on the streets, refusing to queue up quietly as do their less combative neighbors in other African countries. Line-ups of motorists at a gasoline station in Lagos not uncommonly degenerate into fisticuffs, as some impatient soul tries to push to the head of the line and is immediately challenged by those already there.
“Perhaps one reason why Nigerians are so self-assertive and boisterous is that the country has a long and distinguished history and culture and much to be proud of …
“By all counts, Nigeria is the most important country in Black Africa. Probably one-quarter of all Africans are Nigerian … Nor is Nigeria an economic pygmy.
“Lagos, the capital, is a sprawling, lusty giant of a place. Its streets are dirty, though less so than a decade ago when they were just plain filthy. In those days uncollected and rotting garbage lay in heaps on every street, and the air from the airport to the city was filled with the acrid smoke from burning tires and smoldering heaps of rancid refuse.
“To be caught in a traffic jam in Lagos, called a “go-slow” by the locals, is still an exercise in patience and forbearance that at times can be well nigh intolerable. Traveling the thirteen miles from the Lagos airport to the city can take as long as several hours. What redeems the place, in spite of the open sewers, congestion, and squalid slums, is the feeling of excitement in the air —the sense that what happens there really matters, not only in Nigeria, but far beyond its borders; a realization that this is a country that sets the pace for the rest of Black Africa.
The roads are rough and broken up. Travel is grueling. Elder Morrison noted, “Another of the frustrations endemic to life in Nigeria is frequent interruptions in electric power, which have led to the Nigerian Electric Power Authority (NEPA) acquiring for its acronym the novel translation of Never Expect Power Always. Cynics proclaim that NEPA treats both high and low equally, supplying all with darkness more than light.
When they find that every simple chore takes hours to do, when the air conditioner breaks and no task can be completed without a hundred hitches, the senior missionaries say it is WAWA. West Africa Wins Again.
Consider then, a Church that builds a temple in these conditions, however difficult. And to construct that temple required also building a bridge, a road, and several other buildings on the temple lot.
So, without leaving your chair, come on this photographic journey to Nigeria and meet a faithful people who could not be denied the temple blessings. These pictures give a glimpse of Church members helping clean up the area and assisting at the temple open house.
This is Okpu-Umuoba Road at the time the temple site was selected.
The Church received government permission to build a new road and bridge, all at Church expense. Locals now call this “Temple Road.”
All materials to construct a Temple had to cross a small river at the base of the hill. This was the old bridge.
Construction was directed by a missionary who is a retired engineer.
The new bridge is still used for laundry, but it holds more now.
Sisters, brothers and youth swept and scraped the street and sidewalks.
Piles of dirt and trash were left along the road.
Brothers with shovels, wheelbarrows and dump trucks removed the piles.
Some trash was too big for manual loading, so dismantling was needed.
This derelict van was on its side …
And had to be rolled off the sidewalk and removed.