Busy Saturday around Abidjan

Trip Start Mar 14, 2013
Trip End Apr 05, 2013

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Flag of France  , Ile-de-France,
Saturday, March 16, 2013

I was still a bit tired this morning after a day and a half of travel getting here, but this was the chance to spend a Sabbath with the two small groups that meet in the Abidjan area. Paul arrived at the hotel with a car and driver at 08:30; they would have been earlier, he told me, but they'd had trouble finding this Inn which is really just a large private home that's been turned into a sort of boutique hotel.

We left immediately. I had to stop briefly and change some money so I could take care of the day’s expenses – principally the car rental. There had been no way to get local currency last night. I usually have some leftover CFA francs from previous trips but last time there hadn’t been much left. Then we put just enough gas in the car for the day (a little over $20 worth at $6.00 per gallon) and off we went to an outlying suburb (the term seems a little grandiose here) of Abidjan. About a dozen people were waiting for us. I apologize for not having taken a photo, but if interested you can find one here from my last visit, although not everyone present for my last visit was here this time.

We sang some hymns a cappella, not entirely on key and somewhat syncopated, but with sincerity, and then I gave some news and announcements about new booklets we have printed in French and the annual calendar we produce in the francophone region. They were very excited. I then spoke on Christ’s suffering and why Christians are called to follow that example and sometimes suffer for their beliefs, as well as how the Bible tells us to respond to such situations. I find that most Africans are very concerned with the question "why?" about suffering and the difficulties of life. There is, to be sure, much suffering here, and it is often difficult to understand why it is so. It seems very unfair to many people on this continent. But the Bible gives answers that are encouraging even if they don’t explain everything we’d like to know in every case.

The electricity out so the fan that could have moved the hot air around in the living room wasn’t working. We soaked through our clothes for the first time of this day.

After the service, as custom requires, visitors were offered refreshment: a soda and some rice and fish in sauce. I had a tonic water and a little rice and sauce and left the fish for the children who need it much more than I do. I distributed some of our new booklets and the calendars, which were eagerly perused. I then answered questions from new, interested people for twenty minutes or so, and then it was time to start the drive out to La Mé for the afternoon service. I took a couple of photos on the way out: the children enjoying some lunch and a neighbor’s baby boy enjoying his bath. When I stopped to take his photo, his mother watching through the open front door cackled with laughter. A white foreigner taking of photo of her boy in such a hum-drum activity as his bath, seemed uproariously funny.

Then we drove an hour or so out to La Mé stopping to pick up Houmarou at his little village. We drove on in to La Mé and went to the new “hall” which is still under construction after some regrettably-predictable cost overruns. The builders had talked the inexperienced local members overseeing the project into some additional options and now the price to finish has more than doubled. I‘ll have to give this some thought before deciding what to do. It is said that sin has an “advertised price” but the actual price is always much higher, which I believe is true. I also believe it is true of construction projects in Africa….

Enough was roofed for us to use it for our service. Again we sang some hymns and asked a blessing on the meeting and then I gave the same sermon again, although I had to shorten the ending a little. The heat had become oppressive and though the spirit was willing, the flesh was wilting. We soaked through our clothing for the second time.

After the service I brought out a box of used prescription eye-glasses, donated my members in the States, with some donated reading glasses and let those present try them on and see if any were helpful to them. They put on different pairs and tried reading with them to see if any of the pair was an improvement. This is not the best way to correct vision I’ll admit, but we can’t afford to send everyone to an optometrist and then pay for their glasses. This is the next best thing and is always much appreciated. We take vision correction for granted in the west. It’s a luxury here, and many people go through life not seeing clearly, with all the dangers and inconveniences that suggests. I also distributed the calendars and booklets which serve as a sort of lifeline here, a palpable reminder that they are connected to other believers in other parts of the world. One reason the calendars are so useful is that they are comprehensible and encouraging to our illiterate members here and elsewhere.

We were then offered refreshment again: rice and fish in an onion and greens sauce. I again ate a little rice and sauce and left the fish. We sat and talked in the heat about world conditions, the new Pope and what this change might portend, the sliding moral standards of the west and so on. One man said that he had been very happy when the current US president was elected; a man with African origins. But now he no longer feels that way since the president has come out strongly in favor of, shall we say, “non-traditional” marriage… We discussed that at some length.

Finally as the afternoon waned we gathered our affairs and started the trip back to Abidjan. We said goodbye to everyone in La Mé and said we’d be back for another visit tomorrow.  The drive back was uneventful and I was at the hotel before dark. I’ll try to get to bed early tonight and get at least partially caught up on my sleep.
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Mary Hendren on

Thanks, Joel, for the pictures and description of your busy, and wilting hot Sabbath. What a blessing you can make calendars that help connect the brethren there with others. Also the reading glasses and sunglasses find good use. As you mentioned, "why" must be a difficult question to answer with conditions so difficult. What a cute little guy enjoying a bucket bath. Thanks for keeping us all posted.


Bernard on

Glad you made it safely. Praying for you and the Brethren. Wishing you a very meaningful Spring Feast.

Beverly Lofty on

thank you so much Mr. Meeker for your blogs :-) it makes us feel connected to our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world :-) you are a good and kind man to help them and keep us posted on how they are :-) thanks for all you do :-) Beverly Lofty

Tim Foster on

Just out of curiosity, how much would it cost for them to see an eye doctor and get a real pair of glasses? If they were to receive such help, would it hurt them socially like other monetary things or would it be helpful to them?

Tess Washington on

Thank you for the photos and for this blog. Inspite of your own needs, you cared to write this blog for us!

Good to know about our brethrens' needs and some new interested people.

How much is an eye exam & prescription glasses cost in Cote d'Ivoire?

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