Catch up and in interesting Bible Study

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

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Flag of Cote D  , Dix-Huit Montagnes,
Friday, January 25, 2013

Today was a work day in my hotel room. I finished and posted a number of travel blog entries, and wrote my weekly member letter for the French region, as well as catching up on e-mails. My stomach was upset all day, probably an accumulation of the last week's events, but thankfully it wasn't very bad. I know how bad such things can get and this was a mild case, for which I was thankful.

In the early afternoon, I made a supermarket run and put together some care packages for our members in La Mé who are a bit discouraged by the departure and subsequent behavior of those who left us. I try to be careful never to do anything that could be construed as bribing church members, offering them something to get them to do something I want. But since these have decided they will remain with us, I can offer them a little encouragement without running that risk. It doesn’t take much to make a difference. I like to buy things they would rarely if ever buy for themselves, little luxuries, so to speak. I used some money sent along by members in the States who sometimes contribute small sums for such uses.

Some of what I put together included:

-        A kg of sugar
-         A kg of salt
·         Powdered milk for the children
·         Instant coffee
·         Cans of corned beef
·         A bottle of maggi (a flavor enhancer much loved here)
·         Kitchen knives
·         A Notebook and pens
·         scissors
·         Ziplock style bags (very useful here for protecting anything from the dust)
·         Hand soap

These are just little things that we take for granted in the west, but I know they will be very much appreciate and I hope be a little encouragement. It will be a joy to be able to share this when we visit La Mé on the Sabbath.

At 4:00 Paul came to the hotel with a "taxi" from his neighborhood. It was one of the most rattle-trap vehicles I have ever encountered, but the price was good…. We shuddered off to his neighborhood, the car rattling and shaking and otherwise complaining the whole way, and drove the half an hour to his house inside a compound in the Yapougon quarter.

This compound is typical of how many houses here are organized. There is a compound wall around the outside with a gate that can allow or prevent entrance. Houses are built on the inside with their windowless back wall being the compound wall. It’s similar to the way European farms were built in the middle ages and later periods for safety from marauders. On a smaller scale it’s also the way European villages were built in the same period, for the same reasons. In such compounds the number of houses varies, from 3-4 to 8 or more. Paul has rented one of the small houses in this compound, which according to the way of life here become a mini-village. The center of the compound is the commons were women cook, children play, and men talk.

His house faces west, so the afternoon sun was making his place quite warm.

There were two baptized members present, but also interested people who are attending Sabbath services and some curious neighbors as well. I first showed the PowerPoint introduction to COGWA and then we had a Q&A Bible Study: Some of the questions included:

·         Can you observe the Sabbath on Sunday?
·         How do we know the 7th day of the week is Saturday? (in many Catholic-influenced countries, calendars show Sunday as the last day of the week….)
·         Please explain the Holy Days
·         What calendar do you use for the Holy Days?
·         Where did our usual calendar come from?
·         Where did Christmas come from?
·         What happens to the dead?
·         Why is your church so small?

Our time was well spent. One lady present was a refugee from Liberia. She wanted to talk to me in English, which was easier for her than French. She explained her hard story: she had left her country during the civil war and mindless violence there, which ended 10 years ago. Her parents had since gone back without her and she didn’t have enough money now to return. Her parents told her to work it out or to emigrate to the US if she could. She’d gone to the UN, she said, but they said she didn’t qualify for help. She was stuck and without saying so, she was asking for help. I told I would add my prayer to hers that God would guide her to see what the best solution would be and that sometimes His will was not our will.

I couldn’t help but consider her situation. Liberia is one of only two countries in Africa that was never colonized by a European nation (the other is Ethiopia). It was founded by freed slaves and free blacks from the US who returned to Africa believing they would have more freedom and equality here rather than in North America. Perhaps this woman’s ancestors had been slaves or freemen in the US and had returned here. However challenging life may be for minorities in the US, their lives are almost always much better than they would be if there back in their place of origin. The US is still the land of opportunity, though that seems to be waning now, but there is still no comparison with life in most other places in the world, certainly not here.

We finished just at sunset. They had prepared a meal for me, African hospitality again, but I decided to skip dinner to help get my stomach back to normal, so I thanked Paul and said I would leave and let them all eat. We took a group photo of all those who wanted to be in the photo (which was I believe, everyone). Then we lurched our way back to the hotel. I suggested to Paul that he get a better vehicle for the drive to La Mé.

On the way back as I was thinking about the deadly serious situations people have faced in this region over the past years, I was struck by several billboards we passed, which were no doubt designed to show that things have returned to normal in Côte d’Ivoire. Things are now peaceful enough that they can engage in mindless and degrading American entertainment. Yes, you’ll be happy to know that Kim Kardashian just made a personal appearance in Abidjan. Brought to you by the country that invented being famous for being famous, and sleazy….

What a world.

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mary hendren on

Hi Joel,

The billboard is just too much--what a contrast. Also, we appreciated the story about Liberian history. The shopping list is informative, reminds me of how much we have at hand and should not take for granted. We pray that the remaining part of your visit goes well. Thanks so much for taking the time to write helpful commentary and pictures.

Regards, Mary

Tess Washington on

Mr. Meeker, what an interesting & informative clip about houses within a compound in Abidjan. It is built for protection. I like the description of the commons...good way to meet your neighbors, share things, talk as well as watch your children play in a safe environment! That was a thoughtful way to encourage people by giving them somethings that they could use in their daily lives! We will remember them in our prayers and will include that lady from Liberia...thank you also for that tidbit about the Black Americans who migrated to Liberia. I concur your statement about the USA as being still a land of opportunities...Abraham's blessings are still here...

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