Visits to villages

Trip Start Jan 13, 2013
Trip End Feb 04, 2013

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Where I stayed
Hotel du Guety

Flag of Cote D  , Dix-Huit Montagnes,
Friday, January 18, 2013

Lat night I didn't sleep too well. The bed is a piece of plywood with a foam mattress about 4 inches thick on top. In the middle of the bed where one would normally sleep, the foam has been compressed by use so that it doesn't cushion as it should and I feel the wood underneath. I think this is the firmest mattress I've ever used. If I stay toward the sides of the bed it’s a little better, but I still woke up several times through the night.

I was up early and had a nice warm shower, it was good that I did because but right after my shower the water went off. The hotel manager later told me the water was off for the whole town of Man. There was a very large cockroach in the corner of the shower; I named him Franz. He didn’t scurry off just hunkered down, so I just left him there. I didn’t bother him and he didn’t bother me.

We had breakfast at 7:30 at la Brioche: Nescafé, hot milk, a pain au raisin, and a cup of mineral sealed water, this cost about 1.50 each. At 8:00 we drive to a Christian-sponsored cyber center on the outskirts of town that provides Internet access and related services. They opened a few minutes after we arrived, and apologized for the later opening. There was no use arriving earlier, said the attendant, because the DSL is out for the whole town; no Internet access. I asked them to print copies of several tri-fold booklets for Séussié to use, so we could make photocopies. They told us they had one working printer, but the photocopier was broken, so we printed the copies we needed. I also bought Séussié a USB drive with lots of memory on which he can store documents. I will fill it for him later with sermons recordings and church literature that he can access and print as needed.

The printing process was slow. To get 30 front-back copies took 90 minutes. Leaving the cyber-center we drove out of town to the east and drove to the village of Tassoazon about 5 miles out of town. We were supposed to pick up and 69 year-old man named Paul Tia (we called him Paul the elder as opposed to Paul the younger), but Séussié forgot and drove straight to Tassoazon

The village was excited about my arrival. The village chief greeted me in a formal boubou, and offered us water, which I politely declined. Village elders sat in a semi-circle in the shade of a large tree. We exchanged formalities. The Chief had a spokesman speak for him and, according to local custom Séussié did the same for me, expressing the appropriate formalities until, again according to custom, I could speak for myself.

As part of the formal welcome the chief "dressed" me, that is presented me with a formal boubou, as a sign of welcome and respect. I put it on; one size fits all. The caps are always small for me. I thanked the chief very sincerely. He has been a big support in helping the truth to be known. He left the animist beliefs that most people here still have to come to Christianity and it caused quite a stir and not a little opposition. But he’s been stalwart.

They asked if we could move up the hill to their meeting place. We then walked up a bare volcanic rock to the crest of a small hill where they have built a simple shelter of bamboo, plastic sheeting and thatch of some sort. We sat in the breeze (the reason they built the shelter here). The chief was formally introduced again and I was introduced again, and finally we get around to a sort of Q&A Bible Study. I ask how many could read. Only one hand went up; he reads for the others.

Some of their questions included:

-         Why do you choose to meet on Saturday which in our tribe is recognized as a “bad” (i.e. unlucky or inauspicious) day on which unpleasant things are done or happen?
·         What happens after death?
·         How to understand dreams we have about people who have died, or rumors that they’ve been seen in other places (apparently a periodic occurrence here).
·         Séussié suggested I explain how we can know what sin is though no one had asked the question. So I did. 
·         One lady said she would pray that we would become a big church with a big building. I asked her to please pray differently. This allowed me to discuss the topic of the nature of the Church, the calling necessary to come, and what God hopes to see in the Church, which is quality over quantity.

The Q&A went for about 2 hours, and toward the end Paul Tia the elder arrived, still quite spry. He walked several miles to be able to come and meet with us.

As we finished then we walked back down and were served lunch in the chief’s house: spaghetti with chicken, beans, rice and sauce. After lunch the chief pulled out a bottle of whiskey, a sign that this is an important occasion. I poured myself a little, about three sips, to be polite and accept his gracious, relatively expensive gift. Others were more generous with their pours; it’s a very rare treat here.

We said goodbye to everyone and I encouraged them to continue to learn what the Bible teaches, which is truly a challenge when one can’t read. We drove a few more miles down the road to visit a sick member, Alphonse, who can also read and who is one of the leaders in the little group. He lives in Fanyampleu. He had broken a molar a while back and now it is badly infected. His face was all misshapen from the swelling and he has tissues stuffed in his ears. He suffered stoically and thanked us several times for coming. We encouraged him and I said I would pray for his prompt recovery.

Back in Tassoazon, we pick up Paul the elder to take him back to his village of Glayogouin, he was thankful not to have to walk back.  Then we drove back to Man. I found a sink stopper for the sink in my room so I could do laundry - thinking optimistically that  the water would be back on soon. I also found a little steak knife for dinner – it’s hard to eat brazed chicken without a knife without also making a mess; and the maquis only ever offer spoons and forks. This would be my little luxury. I also bought some sodas and water for the next day at a mini-market and we ended up back at the motel at 4:00, after dropping Séussié near his house and we agreed to meet for dinner at 7:00. Paul left to see his family members who live in Man, and I worked on my laptop until dinner. Séussié didn’t make it for dinner. Paul came an hour later, just as the food arrived, but Kony shared half his fish with him so we were all able to eat. I cut my chicken happily with my new knife.

Back at the hotel, the water had not come back on, there was a bucket full of water sitting in the shower that I could use to wash and flush the toilet. 
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Tess Washington on

Hi Mr. Meeker, I did not see this blog until now. Now, I understand who Franz is! I think that was funny! I love the use of USB drives. It is little but very useful storage for even large data files. Good to meet all these people even only through your blog! Good to read about their interest in learning about God's truths! The world needs the truth about God and who we are as His created beings and why He created us! Thank you for showing them the way and encouraging them to continue with learning about God through the Holy Bible!

Mary Hendren on

Hi Joel,

What an interesting day, beginning with Franz! Thank you for the pictures from Tassoazon. It gives us a glimpse of visiting the group there, the chief's importance, the Q&A, and the work going forward to non-readers. It must be satisfying to answer such good questions. How nice to have a little knife to make meals enjoyable.


Marguerite Evans on

Hi Joel,
We live in such a different world that it was amazing to read about the people you serve in Cote d'Ivoire: their custom, their way of life, their thinking, their challenges, etc. Amazing that God is reaching out to them through you. I'm sure they were elated that you were there, in the midst ot them, answering their questions and all. Continuing to pray for your protection! Take care!

Emily on

When I look at the photo of the Church area labeled "After our Meeting" I try to imagine the life that these people live. It is impossible to fully understand. It's quite humbling to realize how much we have been given and how little others have. We are all truly blessed to have you journey there for God's people. Just know that we are with you in spirit and prayers.

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