First full day in Lomé

Trip Start Sep 15, 2011
Trip End Oct 21, 2011

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Where I stayed
Hotel Restaurant Coté Sud Lome
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of Togo  ,
Monday, September 26, 2011

Today I was awakened by the morning noise of sunrise (around 05:30): the Muslim call to prayer from a mosque not far off, children crying, roosters crowing, adults talking loudly, the clanking of pots being filled to warm water; motorbikes starting and puttering off. I registered all that and then blissfully went back to sleep for another 90 minutes.

As I was having breakfast, a little after 08:00 the sky began to darken. Employees and the hotel and people in the street began scurrying around to prepare for a rainstorm. We are in the beginning of one of the rainy seasons here, and weather was obviously coming. When it came it truly poured. I went up on the terrace to watch. People ran for cover. Visibility dropped noticeably of course. The woman deep frying something in the street, a ways over, had a serious fire with which to deal. I assume the rain got under the lighter boiling oil, bringing it all to the surface, and splashing it out of the wok-like pan onto the ground as well. It looked quite alarming from where I was standing, but she kept her calm and tried to manage the fire. A co-worker ran out of the restaurant with a huge parasol which he held up high over the fire to keep the rain from worsening the situation. After a few minutes they had the fire under control.

The rain continued off and all on morning. The depressions in the sandy street filled up with water making very large and fairly deep puddles; forcing cycles and even cars to go from edge to edge, one side of the car over and sometimes in the water and the other side out. It makes for slow going.

It was good to have a whole morning to get caught up on various ongoing projects: sermons for the Feast of Tabernacles, organizational questions about the French site, an American university student studying in France needed an excused absence form in French, translation review and so on.

I had a very light lunch since I haven't been getting any exercise to speak of, and continued virtual office work. A little after 14:00 I started walking over to a mini-market about half a mile from the hotel. The streets were full of motorcycles and vehicles of various descriptions all belching streams of exhaust. The streets were sandy and in places full of refuse. There was quite a variety of commerce going on: the ubiquitous African bar – always brightly painted, a laundry/dry cleaners (I’ll take some laundry there tomorrow), a motorcycle shop, a flour merchant with huge sacks in reserve, a makeshift gas station stand with liter bottles on display, street "restaurants" some with tables and chairs, some on the sidewalks consisting merely of a lady with baskets and pots of already-cooked food and a stool you can sit on while you eat. I don’t recommend the latter variety.

When I arrived at the mini-market a few minutes later 14:30 but it was still closed, either for lunch, or it has gone out of business since the last time I was here. A fellow who looked like a security guard was hanging around outside. I asked him when they would reopen. 15:00 or 15:30 or 16:00 he said. He might just as well of said he didn’t know….

I flagged down a taxi and negotiated a price for him to take me to the Champion supermarket a mile or so away. When we arrived, it was closed for lunch too. They obviously take French-scale lunch breaks.  I didn’t want to stand there for half an hour paying the taxi driver for nothing, so I had him take me back. I’ll try again tomorrow.

Guy came by at 16:30 and I asked him to accompany me to change some money.  We drove down to the bustling central market area, and found a place to park, then walked on foot down pedestrian streets and a side alleyway to the stall of a Nigerian fellow with whom he has done business, and with whom I changed money last time I was here.  B.Y. as he is known recognized us and welcomed us. We negotiated a price and discretely exchanged bills so we could each count and be satisfied. He had a special light to look for the watermarks in US bills that indicate they are authentic. A calculator was made available to double check figures. All was concluded efficiently and quickly. We shook hands and headed back out into the market, back to the car and back to the hotel to pick up my computer for the Bible Study that evening.

We drove half an hour to Guy’s home, through the chaotic streets of Lomé. Stretches of road were good, others were atrocious. Traffic was unpredictable, requiring strict attention. We finally arrived at the comfortable, clean compound were where the study would be held for a dozen people including children. I set up my laptop and we used Guy’s large computer screen to make the PowerPoint presentation I would give more visible.  Then as we waited for everyone to arrive, Guy and Pierre and I had a discussion about how things were operating locally, organization, special concerns and needs, plans for the Feast, and the continuing discussion on how to go about sharing the good news of the Kingdom of God with the public here. As in Congo, they feel the Internet will not be available to most people and suggested we supplement that effort with radio and perhaps TV spot ads and brief broadcasts on targeted subjects. I believe this will be workable since the media situation in Togo is quite open.

When everyone arrived, we began the study. We sang a hymn as they love to do here and I asked an opening prayer, and then started a PowerPoint study on a chronological geographical history of the story of the Bible. I used maps and satellite photos and photos that I had taken myself during my trips to Israel and Jordan to give a general overview of the geographical thread of the Bible, staring with the Garden of Eden, then Abraham, and the story of the nation of Israel, and ending in Jerusalem with some prophetic passages about future events. It was interactive; I asked them questions as we went along and was happy to see that the children were able to answer some of the them and were eager to participate. They could also ask me questions as we went along, which was helpful. I finished about 20:00, and then had a discussion with a member I baptized 7 or 8 years ago and who wanted some counsel on a personal matter. Guy drove me back to the hotel where we arrived at 21:15, a quarter of an hour after the restaurant closed. Everything is under lock and key for the night, and those with the keys have gone home. I’m not hungry anyway just tired, so I think this will be a restful night once again.
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