Sabbath in Lomé

Trip Start Feb 13, 2011
Trip End Mar 14, 2011

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Flag of Togo  ,
Saturday, February 19, 2011

Today was as expected a full day. Mr. Fiaboé picked me up at my hotel at 09:00. I had found to my dismay that I had forgotten to bring a necktie to go with my suit, so as I entered his 4WD pickup truck I asked if he could lend me one. He said it was no problem so we stopped by his house on the way to services and he gave me my choice of several. Then we drove on to services at the church hall nearby.  We arrived shortly after 09:30 which was when services were to start.

Friday, I had asked Mr. Fiaboé how he envisioned the organization of the day. He said they expected me to give the sermon and then, there would be a Q&A session for the members. He laughed when I said I was happy to give the sermon, but hadn't wanted to t presume. "We have a proverb in Togo" he said “when the head is there, one doesn’t put one’s hat on his knee.” That seemed to explain it….

He had also said, I was happy to hear, that in the present situation they were trying to apply what I had taught them based on 1 Thes. 5:21 which states “Prove all things, hold fast that which is good.” They wanted to do their best to get all the information, which was somewhat difficult due to language barriers, and asking God’s guidance, make the right decision about where they should be.

As we arrived at the church compound, I could see some work was being done on the wall and inside the compound. This congregation had very nearly lost their building due to an urban planning change about a year ago that would have put a new boulevard right through it. They were quite discouraged when I came for a visit, but I encouraged them not to give up; to fast and pray about it as a congregation and to entreat God to intervene for them and save their hall. They did so, and we also sent a prayer request to members in other parts of the world as well. When the urban planners finally came to talk to them in person, they said the plans had changed once again and the building would not need to be torn down, they would simply have to redo one stairway that would have infringed on the sidewalk. Mr. Fiaboé confirmed that this had been finalized, so their hall is safe and they’ll be able to continue meeting here. We are all thrilled that our prayers have been answered.

After the opening hymns and prayer, Mr. Fiaboé made some announcements. He thanked me in the name of the congregation for coming to answer their questions. Then I was invited to give my announcements. I transmitted greetings from various people who had asked me to do so, explained my trip and its purpose and gave news of people they knew back in the States or in Europe. After another hymn I gave the sermon, encouraging them all not to become discouraged by the turmoil through which we were passing and not to forget what the Bible says about who is the Head of the Church. I then reviewed a number of blessings that come to us from God, through our participation in the Church. They listened carefully and seemed encouraged as I had hoped.

We finished a little after 11:00, and after a short break, reorganized the room slightly for a Q&A session. I took questions for about an hour explaining my perspective on what the issues were that lead to our recent parting of the ways from our former association. Koffi, a young man I had baptized several years ago, translated for me from French to Ewe, since there are a few members here who either don’t speak French or prefer to hear things repeated in their first language.

We continued to 12:30 when it was time to break for lunch. The ladies in the congregation had prepared a very nice lunch for us all: beef, green bean and onion salad for the first course, then fish in a spicy sauce served on either rice or couscous. It was all very tasty. As usual in this culture, most of the ladies ate together outside where they had prepared the food. A member named Homer, who is a wine and spirits salesman, contributed to the meal a bottle of red wine per table of adults. This was a special treat.

After lunch, around 14:00, the hall was rearranged once again and we began taking questions. We continued until after 16:00, at which time there were no more questions being asked. They again thanked me for coming and Mr. Fiaboé stated that no matter what decision they ended up making, we would remain friends and I would always be welcome. I asked permission to use the photos I had taken of the in my travel blog, and they smiled enthusiastically. Several asked where they could find my travel blog, they wanted to see the photos!

I was a bit tired by this time, having spoken for around 5 hours during the day. The church leaders asked to meet with me one more time before I left, so we could round things up. I suggested 9:00 in the morning at my hotel, and they agreed that would be good. I said goodbye to Paul Tia who I might not see tomorrow as he’ll be heading back to Abidjan. I gave him a little traveling money to make sure he could eat on his way home, and asked him to convey my love and greetings to the members in Côte d’Ivoire and to assure them that we weren’t forgetting them and would continue praying for them and for the peace of their country.

Mr. Fiaboé drove me back to my hotel for the night. I was able to talk to my wife over the Internet which is always refreshing. When I first began traveling over here, the only contact possible was by telephone which was very expensive. This limited the amount of communication we could have and made the trips rather lonely for both of us. Now we can talk almost every day, often for free, which really lightens the load.
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jpvernaud on

Bonjour Monsieur Meeker,
Nous constatons que vous avez été bien reçu pour un "persona non grata", nous sommes sûrs que vous serez aussi bien reçu pour la suite de votre voyage., vous êtes au contraire un "persona super grata", bonne suite pour votre voyage, nous pensons bien à vous.
Famille Vernaud

David Smith on

Hello Joel,

It's great to be able to be with you via your blogs as you make this sojourn through Africa. I printed all your blogs so far for one of our members. Thank you for your love for the brethren there and your willingness to serve them. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

David Smith and the small COGWA congregation in St. John's, NL, Canada

Karen Meeker on

Good morning Joel.

I always check the computer first thing in the morning to see where you might be and how things are going. In spite of very stressful conditions, it looks like God's spirit is prevailing as brethren carefully go about the task of making difficult decisions. The picture of Innocence is so profound. We are praying that your efforts will bear much fruit.
Love from Dad and me, and be.....:)

Loma & Roma Millee on

Thanks for all you are doing. There was a lady named Mary u heard about that walks 5 miles each way on her Sabbath Crutches. IF you know of whom we speak please give her our love. She in particular are in our prayers. Such dedication to God & His way. Love & Prayers to you & Mr. Clark.

Jim & Barbara Chapman on

Hello Joel,
Thank you for including all of us as you travel and serve our brethren. We know it isn't easy but it gives all of us an insight we could not have any other way. You are serving us as well with your blog and rest assured that those of us in Northern California will be praying for you and those you serve in Africa.

Shannon Allwine on

Thank you for all your work and for being there for our brethren in Africa. I love the pictures especially the ones of children. Our thoughts and prayers to you and all our brethren in Africa. My children Natasha, TJ and Petra would like to send out a Big Hello and hug to all the children too. Thank you again for all you are doing.I look forward to reading more about your travels, people and experiences. Take care, Shannon, Tim and family

par2lalemonde on

Bonjour Joël,

Content de pouvoir enfin lire votre blog. Comme c'est encourageant. Emouvant aussi de revoir ces visages que je connais. Comme d'abitude, nos prières vous accompagnent.



Bea Childs on

I took a dish of Jollof, which you mentioned in one of your earlier blogs, to the potluck at church yesterday. It was a BIG hit with the brethren. Very little was left to bring home, but we will have dinner PLANOVERS tonight. Just thought you like to know this. God Bless Your Effort, Mr. Meeker. Love from the brethren in South Carolina.

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