Sabbath in Lomé
Trip Start Jan 20, 2008
25Trip End Feb 10, 2008
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At 9:00 we started the Bible Study, which lasted a little more than an hour. We took a break until 10:30 when we our Sabbath service began. I estimate about 60 people were present for services. After Mr. Fiaboé made some announcements, I came forward to read through some pertinent scriptures prior to a very joyful event. It was time to ordain Mr. Fiaboé as church elder and Mr. Pierre Kloutsé as deacon. Both have been almost entirely fulfilling these responsibilities in all but name for quite a number of years (almost entirely because some functions of an elder one can't do until he is an elder). I asked Mr. Mundeli, our elder from Rwanda to come up and join me in laying hands on Mr. Fiaboé, and then invited both of them to join me in laying hands on Mr. Kloutsé. It was a very joyous occasion for everyone involved.
The service ended at 12:30 at which time we broke for lunch. The ladies had prepared a very fine lunch of mixed salad, fried rice with beef and very spicy green chili sauce. After that the three men from Cameroon brought out a specialty prepared by the ladies in Douala, which the men had brought with them from their country. It was a festival bread, made with pistachios, cucumber, beef and fish.
I'm not a big fan of manioc and passed on that, but the special bread was quite tasty.
After lunch, when the ladies had finished clearing everything away, I showed, and gave commentary on, two videos of trips I had made through the French-African region. One was an overview update of French-speaking areas from 2007, and one was of the extended trip I was able to make with my wife and daughters (the ever first such trip for them through French Africa) in 2006. Because of flight cancellations last year, I haven't been here in Togo since June 2006. A visit was definitely overdue!
During the break I met with a relatively new man (to UCG) names Maurice, from the town of Kpalimé up north, who has just come to UCG. He has been a part of the Church of God for 20 years, and was with a small independent congregation for the last ten years or so. The respected leader of the little group died last year, and they were wondering what to do, since there was no continuity possible for their group. We are happy to welcome Maurice and his family to our church "home."
After the break to reorganize the chairs we had updates from a delegate from each country represented: Côte d'Ivoire, Togo, Benin, Cameroon and Rwanda. They gave updates on the legal status of the association, any organizational changes, outreach efforts, efforts to share the gospel, special blessing and special challenges during the past year. We were all sad to be reminded about the death of Mr. Fiaboé's eldest son Edem, a newly graduated engineer who was killed in a head-on car collision in the north of Togo late in the summer. But we rejoiced to hear about progress in church buildings and various church programs.
The last group activity of the day was an individual meeting with each man to ask him to explain how he proposed to explain the scriptural passage assigned. I made suggestions as needed, so that everyone would be on the right track, and encouraged them to spend more time tonight preparing so they could ask questions tomorrow if anything came up.
I had several individual meeting with men about situations in their areas of service. There will be more of those during our breaks over the next two days. It is so helpful to be able to spend this time together.
God willing we start tomorrow once again at 9:00 am.