Warm days in Lome

Trip Start Sep 06, 2012
Trip End Oct 09, 2012

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Flag of Togo  ,
Saturday, September 22, 2012

I woke up Thursday morning covered in mosquito bites, in spite of the air conditioning. That happens sometimes. I popped a Lariam that I had picked up in Mauritius for a third the price it costs in the US. I'm over here so often that don’t usually take an anti-malarial until I know there’s a significant risk of coming down with the disease. Those bites represented such a risk, so I’ll do a course of Lariam, spray my room each night and put some mosquito repellent on before going to bed each night. Malaria isn’t the only nasty mosquito borne illness around either, so it’s worth being careful.

Thursday and Friday were spent on office work: sermon preparation, festival planning, weekly newsletter preparation and the like. On each day church members came by to ask for advice or to ask questions about the Bible or Christian living. One positive side to my being "stuck" in Lomé is having more time individually with the church members here. My trips are usually so full, with so much ground to cover in a limited time, that I can’t always spend time with brethren individually unless there’s an issue requiring urgent attention. This week, I’ve had the time to just sit and chat, and get to know several people better personally, which has been helpful and enjoyable.

Both days for lunch I went to an Indian restaurant not far from my hotel. It’s located in the Krimas Hotel located on the main ocean front boulevard that is also the road running to Ghana and to Benin. The hotel is Indian run, and there were Indian patrons and staff around both days. The curries tasted authentic and they were reasonably priced. As would be expected, the hotel, which caters to Indian expats, is run in English rather than French. The signs are in English, the menu; the staff also speaks first in English.

I had a chuckle in the restroom with a translation difficulty. Whoever put the sign up was apparently a Hindi-speaker who translated into French and English. The translation came out rather threatening as if one mustn’t loiter around the urinal after use. The French indicates the idea is to “push and hold” the button down in order to flush. The joys of language....

On my short trips around Lomé, I took in all the usual activity or the lack thereof. The streets are full of Chinese-built motorcycles, they cost half the price of a Honda or a Yamaha, and though the quality is not as good, the less expensive bikes have led to an explosion of motorcycle traffic. There are the usual makeshift market scenes along the streets. Wares are displayed on the sidewalk. Women swelter in the tropical heat ready to serve whatever kind of food they have prepared: fruit, eggs, rice and sauce, whatever. There are also makeshift gas stations here and there, middlemen who keep bottles of various capacities filled with gasoline, ready sell a liter or more whenever someone pulls over, usually rented taxis who use the “just in time” refueling system, and don’t care too much about the quality. There is always something interesting at which to look, something colorful, animated or bizarre (and quite often all three).

This morning, Pierre and family came to pick me up at 09:00 for the 10:00 service. It took twenty minutes to reach the home where we meet here, and by 09:30 everyone was seated expectantly waiting for the service to begin. Pierre said it was planned for 10:00 but everyone who was coming was present and could we start early. I agreed. I’ve seen many church services start late; I think this is the first time I’ve seen one start half an hour early!

After hymns and a prayer I passed along greetings and gave a news update of our work, and then after another hymn gave a sermon on the importance of believing God, and His word, as the central point of Christianity. After the service we took a short break to stretch and chat a little and then we reconvened for a Q&A Bible Study. Some questions were asked by adults and quite a few by children as well, which were interesting.

Here’s a sample of the adult questions:       
  • What should the think about Rahab’s lie in Joshua 2:1-6? (i.e. Is it ok to lie to save someone’s life?)
  • How many years did the Israelites actually spend in Egypt (Genesis 15:13; Exodus 12:40)?
  • How many people went with Jacob to Egypt (Genesis 46:26; Exodus 1:15)?
  • Why does the Bible say not to seethe a kid in his mother’s milk (Exodus 34:26)?
  • Why were the children of Saul killed because of the wickedness of their father (2 Samuel 21:8-9)? (That doesn’t seem fair.)
  •  Why did David tell Solomon to kill Joab and Shimei (1 Kings 2:5-9) after his death? Was it bitterness, a lack of forgiveness, vengeance? He said he wouldn’t kill them.
  • If you make an agreement based on someone else’s lie, do you still have to keep your word (Joshua 9:3-24)?  
Here are some of the children’s questions:    
  • Could the New Covenant be broken like the Old Covenant was?
  • If the Old Covenant hadn’t been broken would there still be a new one?
  • Do the tables of the 10 Commandments and the tower of Babel still exist?
  • If only Eve had eaten the forbidden fruit what would have happened?
  • If nobody had sinned would Jesus still have come?
  • If Satan has entered a different animal than the serpent in the Garden of Eden, would that other animal have been cursed?
  • If the Israelites hadn’t sinned against God, would we still have the Bible?
  • Why did God shorten the lives of people after the flood (Genesis 6:3)?
  • Why does the Bible say no one has ascended to heaven, when it also says that Elijah was taken to heaven?  
As you can imagine several of the questions led to larger discussions, and an hour passed quickly as we discussed these and other topics.

After our study, the ladies set the tables and we enjoyed a lunch together: a first course of a vegetable salad in a mayonnaise sauce, then eka fish (I haven’t been able to find a translation, rice or couscous with a vegetable stew and sauce over the top. The children were excited to have a can of soda each (the adults too for that matter). As we ate, I ask each of the adults to describe a typical work day. Anna prepared and fries French-style donuts five days a week (not iced and super-sweet like the American kind), and sells them in one of the main markets in town. Dieudonné operates a motorcycle taxi and runs fares from morning until night, usually 6 days a week. I asked if he has a starting station and he said yes; it’s not far from the market where Anna works. So if all goes as planned, Monday morning I’ll try to stop by and see both of them on the way to the airport. They’ll appreciate the visit and I think it will be interesting to see where they work.

Odette works in a government office, so she usually has regular hours, but still has children to care for when she gets home. Honorine sews clothing to order from her home while taking care of their two sons. Pierre represents a German pharmaceutical company and distributes medications to pharmacies and doctors. His most important product is an anti-malarial drug. Malaria is hug problem in West Africa and it’s hard to find someone who hasn’t had it multiple times. Pierre kindly supplies me with some free samples when I come through Togo. It was quite interesting to hear the details of their daily lives. I’m looking forward to trying to visit them on site.

Saturday late afternoon, I had a long Skype call with my wife. She’s swamped with things to do before joining me in France: her job as a French teacher, juggling cars, since we just bought a used car that requires plates and the car our younger daughter uses just went in the shop for an unknown mechanical problem, and a hundred other things that I’m not there to handle or help handle. If I didn’t have such a talented and capable wife, so devoted to this way of life, I wouldn’t be able to serve here as I do. A long conversation is a tonic for both of us.

One more day of office work and then, if all goes as planned, I’ll be on my way to Paris via Abidjan.
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Marguerite Evans on

I'll make sure I pray that all the mosquito bites you've got will not cause any illnesses. The French brethren around the world, your wife and children as well as your extended family need you. :)

Bernard on

Enjoyed your blog as usual. Amazing the Bible questions they have. They are thought provoking and come from people who think. Glad you could spend more time with the Kloutsé and the other members. God works in strange ways. Have a safe trip to Paris, and see you there. Take care.

Tess Washington on

What a delight to read this blog! It is good to read about our brethrens lives...they sure work hard...good that you were able to stay longer in Lome...love the photos...pictures do tell a lot! Good to know more about Mrs. Meeker too...we can praise her for being there with you even when you're far apart! Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Meeker for giving us an encouraging and inspiring example of a life of service to God and to His people!

Lenna Slaughter on

It is always interesting and a blessing to see God's hand in guiding our daily lives. It must have been important that you remain in Lomé. The brethren there were blessed to have the extra time with you. Thank you for your (and your family's) service.

Beverly Lofty on

It wouldn't let me hit "like" :-( So i thought i would just tell you how much i appreciate reading of your travels and our brethern in Africa :-) Please wish them all well from their brothers and sisters in Ohio :-)

Fiona Meeker on

Hey Dad,
Glad to hear you're taking your health precautions with the larium, or "malarium" as we used to call it. :) I'm glad you've had a few extra days with the brethren, I know they must really appreciate it. Please give my greetings to all.
Love you lots, stay safe!

thomas.clark on

Hi Joel,
Thank you for the updates. Those mosquitoes are nothing to trifle with, so will pray that your precautions and God's protection will keep you from harm. Funny how something so small can create such big problems...

Travel safely, my friend!

Dave I on

Hi Joel, Debbie feels your pain when it come to Mosquitos. They are extremely attracted to her, I told her it was because she was so sweet.... : )

Thanks for all your continued hard work with the Brethren and for your post concerning them... Much appreciation from the entire Indelicato Family

danielandcindy on

Oh, I'm sorry to hear about the mosquito bites. We will pray extra hard for God's healing so that you can be strong for the trip ahead and the Feast in France! Thank you for the delightful update from Lome, it's nice to hear so much about the members there and their daily lives. I can't believe the twins are already so grown up, I remember holding them when we visited. They are so beautiful!

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