Hi, my name is Edith! I am from Aibonito, Puerto Rico, and am currently serving with MCC’s Serving And Learning Together (SALT) program in Jos, Nigeria. I started my year-long term in August, and my time with SALT has been a true blessing and a great adventure!
Since September, I've been serving through the SALT program at a hospital called Faith Alive Foundation (FAF), and from day one it’s been an amazing learning experience. I studied nursing in Puerto Rico and have five years of nursing experience, but being here at FAF is like relearning every process. It’s been good to learn how the nursing profession functions in a country different from my own.
Besides being a nurse, I have a master’s degree in hospital administration. This year, I hope to identify things I can improve in the hospital, both clinically and administratively, and create plans to improve the hospital’s service. Most importantly, I want to serve patients with love so they can see God through me.
I live with a host family here in Jos. My host mom, Nanlop, and my host dad, Samuel, have five daughters, ages 14, 11, 9, 4 and 1.5 years. Every morning and evening we gather as a family to share prayer requests and study the Bible together.
Every day I wake up at 5:00 a.m. to get ready for the day. After having prayer time with my host family, I head to work at the hospital. I work Monday to Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Every morning at the hospital, we have devotions and Bible study together with the patients. Later, the staff (nurses and doctors) gather in the ward to do rounds, where we learn about every admitted patient in the hospital. FAF receives many patients daily, especially individuals with HIV.
I spend a lot of time serving at the hospital, but I have afternoons free. On weekday afternoons, I typically go to the gym near my house for an hour. Exercise is a great way for me to relax and release stress.
On Monday afternoons, I go to Bible study at a local church called Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA). ECWA is similar to my home church in the order of the service, but they do have some rules that we don’t have at church in Puerto Rico. For example, at ECWA the women must cover their hair and they should only wear dresses or skirts.
Before beginning my year with the SALT program, one of the things that worried me was the food I’d encounter in Nigeria. Although Nigerian food is a little different than what I’m used to, I like it!
When I’m not wearing my nurse uniform, I’ve come to love wearing traditional Nigerian clothing in bright colors and fun patterns. I typically go to the market on weekends to choose fabric – without fear of vibrant colors – and then take it to a tailor to have a custom-made Nigerian outfit.
I love the process of buying fabric and taking it to a tailor because in Puerto Rico, having custom-made clothes is more exclusive and expensive than buying ready-made clothes in a store. To be honest, it’s become one of my weaknesses!
Being in the SALT program has its joys and challenges…
One of the challenges I face every day is adapting to the language. My first language is Spanish, but here in Nigeria I have to speak English all the time.
Perhaps the most challenging thing so far during my time with SALT has been coping with the news of Hurricanes Irma and Maria that devastated my island in early September of this year. When I completed my first month here in Nigeria, Puerto Rico was hit by one of the biggest hurricanes we have ever experienced. Emotionally, I felt weak.
Learning about the hurricanes from afar made the process of adapting to life abroad more difficult than what it may have been for other SALTers. But me, my family in Puerto Rico, my church and my friends all know in whom we have placed our trust. And, in the midst of it all, we knew that everything would be okay.
For anyone considering applying to the SALT program…
I 100% recommend it. We can think of all the things we have to give up – like living independently, driving your own car and staying in the comfort of your own culture and language – but it’s better to think of all the things you’ll gain by serving with SALT.
With SALT, you’ll encounter many different things. Some maybe will bother you, and others will make you happy. But in the end, you’ll see that all things work for good.
If you’re thinking about SALT, think about what God desires from us. It’s nothing extravagant or grandiose, it’s simple. To practice justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God, recognizing how small you are.
...and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? –Micah 6:8
Serving And Learning Together (SALT) is a unique year-long cross-cultural immersion experience for Christian young adults from the U.S. and Canada, ages 18-30, sponsored by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC).
During their assignments SALTers are immersed in another culture, living with host families or communal settings such as dormitories or teacher housing in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin and Central America and the Middle East.