Traffic was thick, so it took us 90 minutes to drive the 20 or 25 miles to La Mé. We parked in our usual spot and walked by the church hall used by members of our previous association. Felix stopped short when he saw us walking by, especially two
white dudes whom he knew. Then he repossessed himself and carried on with his sermon. I felt sorry for the lot of them, as I’m convinced their story won’t end very happily at least not in the short run. But we shall see.
We arrived at the little split bamboo structure used by our few brethren in La Mé. One little child, who was too young to remember us visiting before, began crying in alarm when we arrived. Seeing Caucasians was a shock to her and it scared her. I tried to stay out of her way. We greeted everyone with joy and ask news of each other and our families. When the time came for services, Paul led hymns and Michel Tia asked the opening prayer. I made a few introductory comments and passed along many greetings, then introduced Daniel for the first split sermon, which was similar to the one he had given in Kinshasa.
I then spoke about the seven days of Unleavened Bread, and the symbolism of the number seven in the Bible. It represents, completion and perfection, and that is meaningful in the light of the meaning of the spring festivals.
After the service I gave the members in La Mé a print copy of our French Internet magazine Discerner
(To discern). It was quite captivating; it really is a very high quality publication. Soon the ladies brought out food for us: rice, couscous, carp, an onion and tomato sauce, and several other dishes. I chose to eat just some rice and the tomato and onion sauce. Daniel did the same with a little fish as well. He and I were served a cold orange Fanta.
Paul’s daughter had gone to buy them and she tried to keep the little change that was left rather than give it back to her father, as a young person might easily do (or even an older person). They teased her about it and she was a little embarrassed. I asked how much the Fanta cost and gave her some money to buy one for everyone. When I gave her the bill I teased her "please bring back 8 Fantas, and please bring back my change!" Everyone roared with laughter and she looked a little sheepish….
We enjoyed the meal and talked of many things as we ate. After the meal, we had a first baptismal counseling with two young women attending this group. We talked about the meaning and importance of baptism, and how we would go about helping them to prepare. It is good they can both speak and read French, so we won’t need to work through a translator. After the introductory explanations and time for questions, I gave them a list of church literature and Bible passages to read and told them I would come back and talk with them again on Thursday after we get back from our trip up-country. They seemed happy and excited.
A request was made for some materials to improve the little hall a bit more. There are some holes I the roof that need attention, and they would like to cement the dirt floor, neither of which will be expensive or difficult to accomplish.
We took photos and I shot a bit of video, and we continued laughing and talking together. Finally after 3:00 pm we said goodbye, Daniel for some months or more and me until Thursday and drove back into Abidjan, taking the route through Deux Plateaux to avoid the traffic jams in Abobo.
We said goodbye to Paul and Michel for the evening and Daniel and I entered the air conditioning of the hotel to shower and relax before dinner. Now as I write this, out the window of this 7th
floor room, I can see the sun setting over the plateau in the city center (called appropriately enough “plateau”) and the lagoon and palm trees beyond.
Daniel and I had dinner at 7:00 pm, enjoying a salad of raw vegetables as a first course. We won’t be eating many if any vegetables for the next three days. After the meal we headed up to our rooms, but my door wouldn’t open. The doors have vertical card-swipe locks and mine showed only red. I went down to the reception to ask them to recode the key. It still didn’t work. I went back down again and got a new key. Still no go. Finally a technician came with an elaborate unlocking machine that unlocked the door. He did some sort of maintenance on it and got it working again.
Tonight we will prepare for our trip up-country to the region of Man where we have quite a number of church members. We’ll have one day to visit as many as we can before coming back to Abidjan so Daniel can catch his flight home.
I will not be able to post travel blog entries or use the Internet while in the region of Man, so my next blog post will probably be Wednesday at the earliest. More soon….
This morning we were to start out at 09:00 but Paul and Michel didn't arrive until nearly 10:00, unexpected delays and late starts had held them back. We headed out to La Mé in a diesel vehicle. As usual the driver stopped to buy fuel, and asked how much to put in. We discussed various amounts CFA 10000? 5000? Finally we chose 5000, since we could always put more in, But the driver conveniently misunderstood, and had 10000 put in (a little over $20), which I had to pay. Of course he gets to keep any leftover….