He did a temporary fix then followed us to Guy’s house where we unloaded my bags. The mechanic took the car, and we made final preparations. I printed some notes, and had a plate of beans and lentils. Guy finished packing and then had a bite as well. We didn’t end up leaving until about 2:30, rather behind schedule. As we drove north we saw many of the usual roadside sites, open air markets, farmers working, people walking who knows where.
The drive to Kpalimé took about 90 minutes, so we arrived around 4:00 at a recently-opened hotel which had offered us an excellent price in order to begin generating business. I doubt if we’ll be able to come back here again, but it’s a very nice place by local standards. It has air con in the rooms, although not all units work (already) hot water, etc. and Kpalimé is a very nice region with some mountains visible and a slightly higher altitude which makes for less warm temperatures. Guy and Pierre had ordered a banner announcing the festival, and it was displayed prominently on the front of the hotel as we drove up.
We settled in and prepared for our opening night service, scheduled for 7:00 pm. Of course things took longer than planned and we didn’t start until 7:30 but that wasn’t too bad. The air conditioning wasn’t working well enough and the room was very hot. I came dressed in a necktie, but quickly realized I would have ruined the shirt by the end of the service (I’ve learned about that the hard way), so I took the tie off.
They had arranged for a large flat screen monitor so I was able to show the welcome address by our Church president Jim Franks. Seeing the different festival sites on the a world map was fascinating and our group was excited and proud to see Kpalimé shown prominently in the company of others. After the video, I gave my opening comments about the meaning of temporary dwellings (tabernacles) in the context of the New Testament observance of this festival.
The service lasted a little less than an hour, after which, we moved to an outbuilding where a table was set on the rooftop terrace. It was a fairly dark night in spite of the beautiful full moon, because it there was a heavy ground fog. We had sea bream for dinner with potatoes, cassava, carrots, and green beans. It was a very nice meal. To keep expenses down, our members have negotiated to provide the food which will be prepared by the restaurant staff. It’s a good solution.
We enjoyed talking over the meal, in the pleasantly cool night air. The children are obviously very excited to be here and have this time to play with each other, eat good things, and enjoy the activities that are planned.
This will be a wonderful eight days for our members here.
This morning I was ready to go as agreed at 10:00, checked out, paid up and sitting on the terrace. Actually I was there about 10:30 since that was as close as I imagined we'd come to target time. It was actually closer to 12:00 when Guy arrived with his mother. She was hit by a moto-taxi a few days back and has a dressing on her leg which must be changed every day, thus the delay. We loaded my bags in the back of the car and started out through the chaotic traffic, though clouds of dust and exhaust, motorcycles whizzing within inches of cars on both sides and they weave precariously through the rush. We had not even arrived at Guy’s house when the car began making a scraping sound. It sounded like the metal plate under the motor and as it turned out that’s what it was. Guy had had the oil changed in preparation for the trip and the plate had not been tightened back as it should have been, so one side fell off and was scraping the pavement. We pulled over and Guy called the mechanic who drove over within about 20 minutes.