Stories of My Mother- Saint Benedette…

Left behind?! Oh no!

My Mum had kept to her word and actually drove off to Church without us. Lol.

Mum & my brother Ifeanyi at Church

I can’t count the number of times this happened but as we got older, she stopped allowing us delay her and would drive off on Sunday mornings if we weren’t ready, leaving us to find our way to Church.

We grew up seeing our mother participate actively in Church.

Cleaning the Church was something the women did and it was allocated according to groups, my Mum rarely missed hers, except she was maybe under the weather.

She was an active part of the dance group and also sang in the choir for a long while before she finally stopped. She led in different capacities and mentored several younger Christian women.

She solemnly observed all the “no work” days and would make sure that we don’t cook with meat on the days the Church forbade eating of meat, telling us “Uka mabii anu taa”.

Like most Catholic Mothers, she ensured we were up to date on our sacraments and that we regularly attended the block rosary crusades. We never quite got around to attending the early morning masses but that was something she tried not to miss.

The Catholic Church was a big deal to her, she loved the ceremonial way the Mass was performed and actively contributed to Church administration as a lay member and they formed part of her community. After Mass, she would take time to greet her friends, exchanging short stories with some while smiling and waving at others, “ka anyi na nu”, she would say again and again, a kind of parting greeting indicating that she was heading home.

She couldn’t understand why we would leave the Catholic Church for “Uka warehouse” and “Uka Okpulu decking” (an unpopular way of referring to the Pentecostal Churches back in the 90s, when they didn’t have fancy Cathedrals or Church Venues like the Orthodox Churches).

She would lead us in praying the Rosary, something she did religiously, and also in reciting the prayers relevant for the time period. She had some songs that she would sing during such prayers;

Chukwu oma ka I bu,

Ife oma ka e ji malu gi.

Chukwu oma ka I bu,

Ife oma ka e ji malu gi, Chukwu o!

And we would sing after her, extolling the goodness of God and declaring that he was known for good things. Another one was like a chant;

Omelu ife nyilu mmadu omume,

Omelu ife nyilu mmadu omume…

Declaring that God did that which was impossible for man to do. I think it’s a song from the adoration ground in our village Uke, run by the popular Holy Ghost Priest; Ebube Muo Nso.

I remember it was during one of such prayer sessions that she found out I wasn’t a Catholic anymore. Her brilliant mind put two and two together when I didn’t say the “Hail Mary” after her or the other Catholic prayers.

I had just come back from University the previous day and she called for prayers that morning. She simply asked me after the prayers if I still attended the Catholic Church and I said “no”, not knowing what to expect. She was really disappointed as I had been a very devout Catholic and she blamed my elder sisters who had left before me.

I remember when she joined the Faith Alive prayer group, a group of women intercessors at the Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity. It was something she was excited about and we would often chorus their greetings; Faith Alive, I’m alive in the Lord! They referred to her as Sis. Bene.

My Mum is a huge reason my siblings and I are committed to the body of Christ, her unwavering devotion, which mirrored that of her father, was an outstanding example we just had to follow.

I remember coming back home on a Sunday morning and seeing her seated in her nightie, I immediately figured something was wrong because she always went to Church. When I asked her how come she didn’t go that morning, she waved aside my question, smiling and saying she would attend evening Mass. I would find out some moments later that her Mum, my grandma had gone to be with the Lord in the early hours of that Sunday morning.

It was a beauty to behold how the Church honored her after she passed. Her burial was beautiful with the array of Priests that celebrated the burial mass. Her beloved nephew, also a Revered Father, was one of them. We all talked about how happy she would have been and I could imagine her smiling and looking on proudly.

Cross section of Catholic Priests at my Mum’s burial

In Ever Loving Memory of my Mother,
Lady Benedette Ugwunwa Ezeanya
April 4,1959 – June 29,2019

The Storytela

My Encounter with an Armed Robber!

I remember that night like it was last night. I was walking towards my hostel, Manuwa hall when it happened. I had noticed that someone was trailing me all the way from the front of Mariere Hall but I had thought it was one of them ‘chykers‘ so I didn’t even bother to look back.

The front of Manuwa Hall was pretty much the same every night. Boys and girls mingled outside, with a few cars parked. Some walked into the hostel in pairs while some other female students just went about their normal business. I was on my way back from the first segment of our prayer meeting when the ‘armed’ robber attacked me.

I was a leader in the Nigeria Fellowship of Evangelical Students, University of Nigeria Enugu Chapter and every Tuesday we had prayer meetings. That particular month, the leaders had decided to meet and pray for about 30 minutes before the general house would come. Anyway, after our thirty minutes segment, I decided to get to the hostel. The prayer meetings usually held at the field and I didn’t really want to hang around in the open air.

‘Hello excuse me’ he said

I ignored him and kept walking towards the door of the hall. He walked up to me and blocked my path, forcing me to look at him.

‘How may I help you?’ I asked, looking him the face.

He asked if I knew him and I replied in the negative. He said that he knew me and that I really had to be careful that I was always moving around with Cult boys. I was shocked. He asked that we step aside and talk and I followed him to under a tree a little distance from the entrance of the hostel.

‘You don’t even have an idea of who you are talking to’. I answered ‘Me ke? Cult guys?’

I then went ahead and gave him a very brief summary of my ‘religious status’ LOL. Anyways, the guy kept ranting and I decided that I had had enough and started to walk away but he stopped me again and told me to handover my handset. I stared at him, how did he know I had a phone? My phone was that small silver Motorola Talkabout T191 that one could hide in their palms. Then it dawned on me, I had made a very brief call while walking past Mariere hall, that must have made me a target. Hmn! I definitely was not about to give away my precious Motorola handset just like that, what would I tell my Dad? This was year 2003 and GSM phones were scarce and quite expensive.

Well, I refused to give him the phone and made to walk away but he told me that he had a gun and pulled something black out of his pocket. Then he grabbed my hand and tried to take the phone from my hand. At this time, the headlights of a car driving towards the hostel shone in our direction and I saw his gun clearly, however, I wasn’t about to let go so easily or rather, I didn’t think I should.

‘Thief!!! Leave my phone!!!!’ I heard myself screaming while holding on to my phone at the same time. I half expected him to shoot me!

‘Ole! Ole! Thief!’ Several male voices screamed from Mariere Hall and from around Manuwa Hall and next thing I knew, the dude was running. Wow! Was I shaken?! I really didn’t believe I got away that easy.

Well, I was really grateful to God that I didn’t loose my phone just like that. The boldness to stand my ground must have come from the HolyGhost. The people around me asked what happened and I narrated the story to them, they were all happy for me.

I finally made it to my room in one piece and handed over the phone to my friend and roommate and then went back for the concluding part of the prayer meeting.

Feeling Unappreciated?

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Have you ever come to that point in your life when you’ve given so much of everything you’ve got, sacrificed so much and yet it seems no one really appreciates?

It’s possible they actually thanked you and maybe someone sang your praise, but that was all. You were left feeling so spent and maybe drained.

So what do you do at this point? Get angry? Feel bitter? Wish you had not done so much? Decide to be a bit more self centered next time?

Well, the truth is, if no one seems to appreciate what you’ve done, God does.

Yes he does.

The bible says that whatsoever you do, do it as unto the Lord and not unto men.

Did you see that? WHATSOEVER, in other words, anything at all.

The bible also says that God is not unfaithful as to forget your labour of love.

You see, God really does appreciate all that you do especially when you give so much to bless the lives of others.

And He would reward you! That’s the truth, whether you want the reward or not, God is a just God, he does not forget.

Also, you need to start appreciating yourself. Yes…

Praise yourself for being able to give so much and bless the lives of others even if they are your family members.

Joseph recognised that God sent him ahead to Egypt to be a saviour for Israel at the time of famine. His means of getting there was by no means funny.

Same with you. God has empowered to you to be a source of succor and strength to the people in your sphere of contact. Thank him for counting you worthy of such a task and trust in him for the ability to do it and do it well.

And though people may not go overboard to show they appreciate you, the truth is they do! They are glad you are a part of their lives and they would not want to do without you.

So when next you are feeling unappreciated, take a moment to think about the love of God, be grateful for the opportunity to be a blessing and also know that people are grateful for your contributions to their lives.

God bless you.

Image- Courtesy: http://www.wei-yin.com