How does a four-month-long summer vacation sound in a foreign country? Not too bad, right? Well for one of our own LCA students this scenario became a reality last summer, only it wasn’t much of a vacation at all.
DeJay Mamman-Lester is soon to be adopted by the Lester family. He no longer lives with his biological parents. In fact, he will not see his parents anytime soon. The last time he saw his dad was this past summer, the last time he saw his mom was over five years ago.
Last June, DeJay flew out to New Jersey to spend a portion of his summer with his dad, who lives and works in New Jersey. After spending several weeks with his dad, DeJay was informed they would be flying to Nigeria (Africa) to see his mom who was living there. DeJay’s mom, and her family, are from Nigeria. DeJay lived there for a short time when he was younger. DeJay was excited, to say the least, to see his mother who he had not seen in many years yet alone has had any communication with her.
Upon their arrival in Abuja, Nigeria, DeJay was immediately taken to the town of Wukari where his mother’s family is from. Meanwhile, his father stayed in Abuja. Once DeJay got to his grandparents’ house he learned of the tragic news that his mother had passed away several years previous. His father had never told him. DeJay states that this was one of the lowest points of his life, learning of his mother’s death. He then stayed in Wukari for the next couple of months hanging out with friends and family.
He enjoyed this time, however he became concerned towards the end of August about when and how he was getting back to the States because he knew school would be starting up soon. No one had heard from his dad since they first arrived in Nigeria. Upon further investigation it was learned that DeJay’s dad had flown back to the States taking DeJay’s passport (which would later prove essential for his return home). Not knowing what to do, DeJay made a trip to the American Embassy in Lagos.
Once at the Embassy, DeJay had to wait two more weeks to receive a new passport. Meanwhile he called his family, the Lester’s, and explained the situation. He learned they had grown worried because they had not heard from him all summer. Police were searching for him and his father back in New Jersey. With passport now in hand, it took another four weeks to purchase a plane ticket back to the States. Once the ticket was purchased, DeJay had to wait two more weeks for the plane’s departure.
After a 30+ hour plane ride back, DeJay finally made it to Utah. When he stepped off the plane, he was enthusiastically greeted by his friends and family who had been fervently praying for him and his safety while he had been abandoned in Nigeria by his father. His story is an incredible testament to what persistence, patience and faith can accomplish.