Friday in Lomé

Trip Start Jan 20, 2008
Trip End Feb 10, 2008

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Today was a busy day. In the morning I put the finishing touches on two Bible Studies I would be giving, one today and one tomorrow morning. The first was on the subject of setting priorities, the other on principles of wisdom and discernment. Mid-morning I took a taxi around town to buy notebooks and to make photocopies for the seminars that would start in the afternoon. I find it better to purchase such thing on arrival, and make the photocopies here too, because it saves excess baggage charges on flights, which can be quite costly. The taxi driver told me his name was Kossi, which he explained, means Sunday.  Many Togolese like the Ghanaians, give their children first names of the day of the week on which they are born. Kossi was born on a Sunday.  I knew already that Koffi Annan of Ghana was born on a Friday (Koffi). In a few more years I might know all the names of the week in Ewe and Twi.
Back at the hotel, I worked until 2:30 when Kossi Fiaboé arrived to pick me up.  We were at the Church hall by little before 3:00 and started shortly thereafter.  I was very encouraged to see the progress on the church compound which includes a spacious meeting hall and a house for a caretaker and his family. If we didn't have a caretaker on the premises, there would be break-ins and thefts in short order. We had some of that even during construction. The building is bare concrete plaster for the moment, but the wiring is in and functioning and the outside, compound wall has been painted giving it a fine, good quality appearance. What a blessing the Good Works program has been to these church members!
Felix Tia had arrived that morning from Côte d'Ivoire, but sadly Paul was too sick to make the trip or to participate this time. After distributing the seminar packets, notebooks, schedules, pens and so on, I also distributed envelopes of photographs prepared specifically for each attendee. 
Each one received about 12 prints from the last two years' leadership conferences. Photos are much appreciated gifts in Africa. People have so little materially that they have to spend what they do have on needs, not luxuries like photos. Many Africans will go through their whole lives and never have a photograph of themselves. When people can afford locally produced prints, they are often not of very good quality. Those do have photos, often won't have many. So it is a much appreciated gift to receive sharp color prints of our meetings, photos in which they each appear, and which they can show to others.  I had to pause for a few minutes after distributing the photos, because no one could wait to have a first look through, and share comments with each other as they did. The conference attendees expressed heartfelt thanks for the gifts.
I made some general comments of greeting and welcome and gave an overview of the program for this year, then plunged right in to the first session which is a detailed study and explanation of our fundamental beliefs.  There were so many questions and so much discussion that covering the first one took 45 minutes. There are nineteen more to go. At that rate it will take 14 more hours to cover them all, and we only have about half that planned for this topic. We'll either have to hurry or we won't get to them all this time.
After a brief break, I set up my laptop and used PowerPoint to give the Bible Study on Christian Priorities.  It lasted about 90 minutes, after which I took questions for a while longer.
The last official activity of the day was to assign sermonette topics for our sermonette class. I assigned a "difficult scripture" teach each man, and gave some general advice on how to handle such topics in sermonettes.  I encourage each man to study and reflect on his passage and to come prepared the next day to explain to me how he intended to approach the explanation. Each man received a passage which I felt he could handle (easy, medium or especially challenging), depending on his time and experience in the study of the Bible.
I finally arrived back at the hotel after 8:00 pm, just in time for dinner on French time. Togo was first a German colony (Togoland) up until the end of the First World War when it was taken over by the French as part of the spoils of war.  France had it until the decolonization period in the mid 20th century, and many French customs have remained.  Like in all former French colonies I've ever visited, it is still possible to get excellent baguettes in Togo (and if you hit the right supermarket you can find good camembert, Burgundy and Bordeaux.
The meetings in Togo are off to a very good start!
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Where I stayed
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