The plan was to travel to the nearby city of Ibadan and spend the Shabbat before Passover with the five Jewish families who have lived there together for many years. While their children were fluent in Hebrew, they knew absolutely nothing about Judaism. We spent hours Friday night regaling the open-mouthed children with stories about Passover and their Jewish heritage.

Imagine our surprise on Shabbat morning when we discovered that one of the children, Ron, was turning thirteen today! His parents knew that his Bar Mitzvah was on the Jewish date of 12 Nissan, but did not know when that would be. We explained to them that on this day Jewish boys begin to put on tefillin, black leather boxes containing parchment scrolls inscribed with biblical passages, worn during weekday morning prayers. When we informed them that we had an extra pair of tefillin with us, they asked to purchase them for Ron.

Saturday night we went over to Ron’s house and taught him how to put on the tefillin, what to say when wearing them and how to wrap them up when he was done.

That night, Ron innocently turned to his father and asked him if he would join him every morning in putting on tefillin. His father, who had not put on tefillin since his own bar mitzvah, not only agreed, but taught his son the proper way to wash his hands before putting them on. As the prophecy states regarding the coming of the redemption, “the hearts of fathers will be returned by their sons.” We saw this happen before our eyes.

On Sunday we returned to Lagos, thinking that our encounter with Ron and his family was over. Lo and behold, we soon received a phone call from Ron, inquiring if he is allowed to share his tefillin with the other people in the complex. This child, who knew virtually nothing about Judaism, was so thrilled with his newfound Jewish observance that he couldn’t wait to share it with others.

The story’s not over . . .

While calling different Jews in the region, making sure that their Seder plans were settled, we got in touch with a Jew who lived in another part of Ibadan. We arranged for him to go to Ron’s father to pick up matzah. As we were concluding our conversation, he asked if it’s possible for us to teach him the proper way to wrap up his tefillin. He said not knowing how to pack them up made him reluctant to put them on every day. We were happy to inform him that when he picks up his matzah, he can get a hands-on tutorial from Ron, who had learned the correct way just the previous night.

We think we are going to remote destinations around the world to inspire others. Yet somehow, we are the ones who return most inspired of all.