Back home at the end of a long day.
Much to our surprise we were offered the morning off again today, as it was the day of the late night service. We were happy to accept this offer as many of the reports were not relevant to us and we wanted a chance to talk through some of our own business. We also took another chance to stretch our legs and go on an early morning walk. This time we headed down the track towards the main peninsula road. This was a different type of walk to yesterday, the further we went, the busier and more chaotic it got. Passing the police security check I gained a new friend, one of the gun wielding ‘guards’ who wanted to shake my hand, asking for my name with a winning smile and then remind me not to forget his fee! It was tricky knowing where to walk. There is no pavement and the road is so pitted that the bikes and cars simply go where it will be smoothest for them. Having reached the junction we turned onto the main peninsula road (this is well tarmacked) and walked over to the bridge that crosses the Rokel River. Having driven over this many times it was nice to be able to stop and look around at our leisure. Below a number of boys were stripping off and going for a swim. Looking carefully there were many kinds of birds around which we would have missed usually; kingfisher type birds, parakeets, ibis, swallows and the like. Walking down to the banks we saw lizards bobbing up and down in the sunshine, but thankfully no snakes.
In the afternoon we rejoined Conference. We had one final meeting that we were directly involved in, this time with the agents, Connexional Officers and a few others. This was always going to be the more challenging of the three meetings, but thankfully on the whole it passed peacefully. I am glad that we have made the effort to come over for these meetings. It is very difficult to communicate clearly by letter or email, much better to do it face to face so that you can make sure that what you have said has been heard and the cultural differences are noticed. Communication is something we have to continue to strive to work on.
During this meeting Augustine announced that he was going to stand down as our agent. It has been a hard year for him and as he is no longer involved in our schools or as a pastor in the Connexion, we were not surprised. He has been a good agent for us and I will miss his help and friendship – I hope we can stay in touch.
After the meeting we had a break before the late night service with all its pomp and ceremony. This gave us a chance to finally catch up properly with Sylvanus, and also to witness our first rain shower in Sierra Leone; a small sprinkling that was gone as soon as it started! Nothing like the rains of the rainy season.
The service was very different to the services of our Connexion in the UK, with processions, robes and liturgy. A grand affair. The preacher was Magnus Bendu, who many of you know from his visit a few years back. He gave a wonderful message on God’s protection and a call to unity. Prophetic words I felt. During the service the generator went out a number of times plunging the church into darkness. We were concerned that it might end up being held with no light, but somehow they always came back on.
We made it home by 10pm I guess, time to catch up with emails, talk through how we were getting on and attempt (not so succesfully) to talk with family. Another good day – God has been with us.