Rest day in Lomé

Trip Start Mar 24, 2010
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Trip End Apr 12, 2010


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Where I stayed

Flag of Togo  , Maritime,
Saturday, March 27, 2010

Another full day, as they all seem to be when traveling here. Mr. Fiaboé arrived right at 8:30 so we could start our morning seminar at 9:00. Using PowerPoint slides, I covered the importance of our role as leaders in showing a positive example of Christianity both inside and outside our fellowship. After a half hour break I gave another PowerPoint presentation: a primer on the historical geography of the lands of the Bible. These men don't have access to more Bible maps that what they might have in the backs of their Bibles, so a historical overview with maps and photos was both interesting and useful background.

The ladies arrived with lunch in a basket at 12:30: crudités and vinaigrette, braised fish (cooked yesterday and probably not refrigerated overnight) rice, a spicy sauce, and oranges for dessert. I skipped the fish again and the oranges which had been pre-pealed (best to avoid). Then the pre-service set-up began: setting the chairs, and wiping them off (fine red West-African dust gets onto everything and into everything), placing the lectern and plugging in the CD player for hymns and so on.

Around 2:00 people started arriving for services. We had visitors from Benin, so the hall was quite full, I don’t have the count yet, but I’d guess around 60. Mr. Fiaobé gave announcements, and I gave a news update before the sermon on the topic of Passover as a time of renewal, inspired by a very good sermon I heard a year or two ago given by David Register. It was very hot by this time so most of us were mopping our brows with handkerchiefs or tissues every few minutes; I went through several by the end of services. The whirling of the ceiling fans means one has to speak loudly to be heard, but the alternative is sweltering even more, so I spoke loudly.

After services there was lots of joyful conversation. The visitors from Benin hadn’t been here in months, so there was lots of catching up to do on news here and there. I had some counseling with individual members, situations where Mr. Fiaboé asked for my advice or intervention. Sometimes "a prophet is not without honor save in his own country" and a little outside support goes a long way in helping. We’re ticking items off our list day by day.

Then it was time for the wedding rehearsal. This was a new concept here. Pierre and Enyonam who are to be married, and their families, were eager to have this be a real “church wedding” so they asked how we would usually do things. I explained the way things happened in Europe and how that differed from the US, and also how other weddings I had either seen or performed in Africa had taken place. They selected out of that “menu” what they thought would work best here and we walked everyone one through the steps with the music and then rehearsed twice to make sure everyone knew his place and role. It turns out that wedding rehearsals may be a big hit here. There was lots of laughter and joking, a little blushing and nervousness and a generally happy time.

We wouldn’t normally schedule a wedding the morning before the Passover observance, but time is of the essence here, and the finances had waited patiently until I could arrive so they could have a proper church wedding. Mr. Fiaboé has never conducted a church wedding and perhaps never seen one (I didn’t ask), so he much preferred that I conduct this one so he can see how it’s done.

I had a last private counseling with the fiancés to see if they had any last questions, we made sure I had the names right in my little black book and I took the opportunity to have a final talk with them about marriage and roles and things of which to be careful. The Counseling they had with Mr. Fiaboé was guided by step-by-step counseling documents I had sent over. I reviewed a few things and was pleased and reassured with the answers they gave. I returned the documents they had filled out to them, and encouraged them to keep them. I told them they’d enjoy re-reading them in 20 years (as my wife and I have done with ours….).

We could have had one more visit, but it might be a long one, and I decided to save it for tomorrow, early afternoon. The sun was setting, and I was feeling the after-effects of the trip and full days of teaching and hours of talking. Tomorrow will be very full once again if all goes as planned: a wedding, leadership training, visits and the Passover service – the most meaningful night of the year.
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Comments

Marguerite Evans on

Hi Joel,
I'm sure the couple is delighted to have you there to marry them, and so is the rest of the cpngregation. Happy celebrations tomorrow and great continuation on your trip. Our prayers continue to be with you.
Marguerite

maryhendren
maryhendren on

Hi Joel,
What a nice big crowd you had at Sabbath services. It must have been especially joyful for everyone. I loved the photo "sermon too long." It was enjoyable to read about the wedding rehearsal and imagine it becoming quite a big part of any future weddings. You'll be in out thoughts during the Holy Days.

Regards,
Mary

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