Visits around Man
Trip Start Jan 15, 2009
34Trip End Feb 15, 2009
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Seussié arrived as we were halfway through our coffee, so I asked if he would like one and he readily agreed. His pastry came pretty quickly, but the coffee (or more likely, the milk) for some reason took half an hour. The four coffees and four pastries cost a total of a little less than five dollars, a pitance for me, a small fortune for them.
We went back to the hotel to pick up our gear for the day, and then drove back out to Blolé. When we reached the checkpoint, as we waited to be waved through, I was looking down adjusting my camera case. A soldier appeared outside my window motioning for me to lower my window. When I did, he scolded: "you don't lower you window to greet me when I greet you! White people (les blancs) do that? That's really not good!" A few choice phrases came to mind, but I just smiled and waved at him, and the pole went up. We must remember to thank them and be polite for extorting money from us....
We arrived just after 09:00 at Mamadou's house.
Finally about 25 people, including children, were present. After a local hymn and a prayer, Seussié stood with a translator (for the few who couldn't follow French well). He welcomed everyone and gave Paul and me a very warm welcome. He actually overdid it; by the time he was finished I had become something of a world-famous theologian. Then Mamadou stood and added his welcome, he was a little over-zealous too.
Paul Tia spoke briefly about the group in La Mé and the work of the Church in Côte d'Ivoire. Then I introduced myself briefly and spoke for about half an hour on the work of the United Church of God, using Matthew 28:19-20 and Matthew 24:14 as foundations. I thanked them for their warm welcome. After few comments from the local men, I was invited to take the floor again and answer questions, which I was happy to do. Questions came about the Sabbath: how did worship get transferred to Sunday in most churches? How can certain questions be answered about why we do what we do? We went through the chronology of the crucifixion and resurrection week; they were especially excited to go through that subject systematically. There were questions about baptism and how UCG functions, and what was happening in other parts of the world. This went on for perhaps two hours without a pause.
I don't think these simple farming folks are used to concentrating for such a long period of time. Mamadou and Seussié thought by that time that they had about reached their limit for this first contact. They had brought in a photographer to memorialize this occasion, so we sat and stood for photos in all sorts of configurations.
They had prepared a lunch: Paul and I were ushered across the sandy road to a little shelter used for such functions.
After a visit of about 6 hours in Blolé, we said goodbye to everyone and drove back toward Man, stopping on the outskirts to see the house they had been renting for services. It was more centrally located for the people who came from other villages, but the rent had just gone up and the financial situation so tight for most attendees that they really had no church income anymore. It's too soon to start making investments here, but I will certainly follow this situation and we'll do our best to help them in an appropriate way as our relationship progresses.
We rested for an hour or so at the hotel. Mamadou and Seussié came around 5:30 and asked to talk with me. They explained the financial difficulties both they and the little congregation had and asked if there was any way we could give some small help. Mamadou's children had been sent home from school for not paying school fees. A member from the US had sent a small sum with me to be used to help people in need, and this seemed like a perfect time to use it. I was able to give them each $40 to clear debts and help them continue to serve the several little groups around Man. That will go a very long way here: the kids will be back in school, and the wolf won't be at the door, not that they have wolves here....
At around 6:00 we drove back to la différence for dinner. We found they don't started grilling until 6:30 so Paul and I sat outside and had a coke while waiting. Diaby drove into town to have the car washed (it did needed it by this time). Paul and I split a 4500 CFA chicken and Diaby had fish again. Over dinner I learned that Diaby's a Muslim, married, and father of 3 children. Paul talked about some of the difficulties he faces in trying to help the church members in La Mé. It was a very interesting conversation. We arrived back at the hotel finally about 9:00.
Tomorrow will be the long drive back to Abidjan, but this time via the capital city Yamousoukro.