More around Abidjan

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


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Flag of France  , Ile-de-France,
Sunday, March 17, 2013

This morning Paul and Séussié were at the hotel at 09:00, I had slept deeply and well and felt rested. We drove straight out to La Mé, picking up Houmarou near his village. We drove on to our usual spot, parked, and walked to the little shelter under construction. The members here weren't ready for us to arrive so early. The women were in their work clothes and one little guy was walking around in his birthday suit as children often do here, though not when receiving visitors.

There was a flurry of activity and in a few minutes the ladies came out in their best outfits and the little boy came out in a clean shirt and pants and precarious sandals.  While waiting I took a few "atmosphere photos" around the village. We all then sat in the shelter as the heat continued to rise. By 10:30 we were moist. The men sat and talked while the women prepared food, which was ready by 11:30. The meal was rice and fish in an onion tomato and greens sauce. Instead of rice, they served me attiéké, fermented cassava root with a texture something like couscous (if that helps any), more time-consuming to prepare than rice and much appreciated here. I ate sparingly as usual; the others really dug in. The ladies ate separately as is the custom here, and the men continued conversing and asking questions.

They asked questions about and we discussed:

         -Organizational questions about the New Testament Passover service
         -Why Islamic radicals hate Israel so much
        - Why Islamic radicals hate America so much
         -Why the West has so much materially compared to Africa
         -Why Islam picked Jerusalem as a holy city
         -Places one can visit in Israel that are linked to specific biblical events
         -Biblical geography
         -Weather in America
         -Weather in Europe
         -What snow is like
         -The blessings that come when God calls someone, as per John 6:44

It was quite a varied and animated discussion.  When the women had cleaned up, they came and joined the conversation. I asked them where they would go if they could travel to any country in the world.

One answered France because of the language and culture and that from his earliest school years he had been fascinated by the teachers he had that came from France. Another said Spain, because he had studied some Spanish. I asked him in my rudimentary Spanish: ¿Habla español? ; to which he replied in French that he didn’t remember too much but he was sure it would come back if he were in Spain. We all laughed.

Three, including two women, said they would go to the US. I asked why. They said there was money there and good-paying jobs. One said he wanted to see the big cities like New York and Washington; that there was order and good education, and that things were well organized. I considered a brief lecture about organization, in Washington DC, but decided it would be too complicated to explain, and probably depressing – for me if not for them….  I told him that things weren’t all as good as they used to be in the US and there are many places in America where life can be difficult and dangerous. But he still said, that’s the place he wanted to go.

We talked about the situation in La Mé since the recent parting of the ways. More facts have come to light since my last visit about some dishonest behavior from those that left us. This has only strengthened the determination of our little group. They laughingly told me that the others were sure that everyone would end up going with them since they had the keys to the little church hall built over the course of several years. (The second set of keys they procured by telling one of our members who usually held them that the first pair had been lost and they needed to borrow the second set. She trusted the one asking and lent them to him, but he kept the keys so they could have sole access to the building they all built together.) However, when we all treated them politely and the local members just starting building another small shelter for services, the other group was at a loss. This wasn’t what they had been told to expect. They had been told people would follow the building.

I’m really proud of our few members in La Mé, they have shown encouraging spiritual maturity and patience in the face of regrettable behavior. And it has turned to their good; spiritual growth and Christian character have certainly been evident. I told them I was proud of them, that God sees all and takes care of such things, and encouraged them to continue in that same gentle way.

Then I had a few personal counseling issues to continue going over with two people, and by then it was 4:00 pm and very hot. We shook hands all around and I encouraged them to be strong in faith, and that I hoped to be able to come back in the autumn.

Starting out, we stopped briefly a short way outside of La Mé at Houmarou’s village. I had given money for him to purchase a little gasoline powered generator on my last visit, and I wanted to see it. With this generator he is recharging cell phones and other small electrical appliances and is able generate enough income to improve his precarious financial situation. I has asked him what he thought would be a good "job" for him with his weak leg. He had already thought it through and said the generator would be a good option. He knew about generators and electrical equipment from past employment and he knew there was a need in the village, so it seemed to me like a good way to help.

We saw the little shop where the generator served and I snapped a photo of Houmarou in front of his means of livelihood. Then we said our goodbyes and the rest of us headed back to Abidjan.

We stopped briefly at the hotel so I could drop some gear I no longer needed and then we proceeded to the Treichville quarter where Séussié’s uncle had asked for a visit. We parked in front of a better-than-average-looking apartment block (for this area) and walked up a flight of stairs to a reasonably appointed apartment. We sat on the couches and he offered a glass of beer or Coke. He asked about the history of our church, what our main beliefs are, and what might make us different from others churches. I explained about the 4th commandment, and associated days, about looking forward to the return of Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom of God, the mission of the Church, and listed off a few other key doctrines as well.

He wanted to talk about the Sabbath versus Sunday question. As justification for Sunday, he brought up the Sunday morning resurrection. I asked if he had ever tried to count three days and three nights (as per Matthew 12:40) from Friday night to Sunday morning. This led to a very lively discussion. We also talked about the importance of divine inspiration in understand the Scriptures. Toward the end he admitted that he had studied the Bible a long time and had never seen this issue explained this way right from the Bible. The visit lasted about an hour and a half, enough to give some food for thought. He and his wife were very happy for our visit and invited us for dinner next time I come to Abidjan; I thanked them and said I would enjoy that very much.

We drove back through the very calm city (most stores close on Sunday), back to the hotel. I sat down with Paul and Séussié one more time and we concluded our work for this visit. Then I paid the taxi and gave the men some expense money and we parted company. I have this evening to repack and prepare for my morning flight to Lomé.
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Comments

Robert Worsham on

Mr. Meeker, I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you so very much for all of your posts keeping us abreast of your travels and visits with the brethern. They are all very interesting, enriching and inspiring to read. I must say that, along with you, I am very proud of the members in La Me' and how they handled the situation they were forced to endure. God's Spirit, His wisdom and courage truly abounds there within them. Thank you again, take care and know that you are in our prayers for safe journeys.

Ted Franek on

Mr Meeker,
Thanks for keeping us informed of your travels. God is surely working with the people in Le Me. They have shown growth emotionally as well as spiritually in how they reacted to the situation. We are all proud of them.
We pray God will grant you continued safe and successful travels.

Mary Hendren on

Hi Joel,

It is interesting to read the questions our brethren have, especially the concerns about Islamic hatred of Israel and the US. How amusing to picture the ladies hurrying about to get "dressed up" for your visit and to clothe the little boy so comfortable in his birthday suit. What a blessing for Houmarou to use the generator to supplement his income and help others. I trust the brethren will see the fruits of their patient endurance with former brethren who have treated them dishonestly. We continue to pray that your travels are safe and profitable.

Mary

Tess Washington on

Mr. Meeker, glad to read about your visit to La Me is successful! Glad to read about our brethrens who are showing the attitude that is pleasing to our Father and Jesus Christ! So good to see Houmarou and his new source of income!

Marguerite Evans on

So nice to hear about your trip in La Me. and it is inspiring to read about the good examples of our brethren there, the questions they asked, etc. We wlill continue to pray for your safety in every way.

joyce stoner on

Thank you for taking us along with you in this way. The brethren proved again that a soft answer turns away wrath.. They're kindly manner shows love in action.

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