Today has been another very enjoyable day. Woke in time for both of us to have a shave and boil the kettles for a cup of tea before the power went off (they turn the generators of at about 7am and they are then off until about 7pm unless there are tutorials or the treatment rooms are being used, dental and medical). We made it just – it is always a relief to be able to see what’s being cut!
After [the irony is that at this point the internet signal died! I’m now writing this on Monday evening, although the date will show this as having been written on the Sunday] that we grabbed breakfast, joined as always by our two friendly preying mantis.
It being Sunday we walked to church at Roger Grundy, Jui. A half hour stroll in the gentler morning sun. In fact there was a definite misty haze hanging in the air, with the mountains invisible behind it. As before we felt perfectly safe, although wearing African tops as a gesture towards our hosts, we again felt very conspicuous. We arrived early, having set out with a greater sense of purpose than our previous meander this way. We thought we might find the place deserted, but there were a handful of people present already, and before we knew it a young man hand started Sunday School. Sunday School here is not for the children, rather it is a Bible study for all comers. I wonder what the leader thought at having two English pastors in attendence… He did a wonderful job, more a preach than a conversation, but challenging and engaging.
No sooner had this finished, than the service proper started. The start, Rev. Bernadette Massaquoi explained, was flexible here because of the water supply. The children have to go and collect water before the service starts, and consequently they could be held up. While we waited, the youth led us in some lively African choruses. While I am here I can remember a few of them now, and even get their distinctive clapping pattern right. I know, however, that when I return to the UK this will disintegrate, especially if I try it in a service amongst those who aren’t used to it! The service that followed was highly enjoyable, a mix of traditional English hymns, African choruses, stuttering PA system turned up well beyond 10, three collections (including one to raise money for a new keyboard where the members came forward one month at a time according to their birth dates to see which would out pay the others!), liturgy and informality. We contributed a sketch about the Lord’s Prayer, and Gordon preached from Romans Chapter 1, keeping the attention of all present. Gabriel from the Shepherd’s Hospice was there, and it was good to update him on the success of our discussions with the Connexional Officers. At the end of the service the weeks notices were read out, with a report for the congregation on Conference and a highly amusing spot where any guests were asked to stand up and introduce themselves. This we naturally did, only to then be asked who had invited us – I looked and Gordon and Gordon looked at me. ‘We have no idea came back the reply!’ Even after asking Bernadette we are still none the wiser. We must ask Sylvanus how the decision is made as to which church we will attend on Sunday visits and how they are informed of this.
Daniel Koroma turned up after the service with the football strip that we had been given through a contact of Jan Shepherd in the WRU. It was good to be able to photograph the local youth in them and to be able to send Jan an email of them that night (and get a reply the next day). They were highly appreciated.
After the service and a lovely meal of fish, chips and some vegetables, we were taken to the nearby house of the secondary school head teacher who was at the service to pray for her sick husband. We were told that he is serious ill and may very well need to leave the country for an operation. He is a preacher in an Assemblies of God church, and it was a privilege to spend some time with him.
We then had a very pleasant stroll back to the Hope Centre accompanied by a number of the congregation, including Bernadette and her husband Mohammed. One by one they turned off to their houses, expect for one gentleman who is staying at the Bible College (TECT) just across the road from us where he is studying African Development. Bernadette was showing us buildings that had encroached on our land as we went, because it had been left vacant, and telling us of the wicked people across the river who had been known to row over, break into the church, and steal their possessions.
Back at the Hope Centre, Gordon spent a pleasant afternoon on the pagoda at the rear of the grounds, whilst I stayed in the sweltering heat inside to follow Liverpool take on a beat Chelsea despite the switch of Torres to the team in blue earlier in our stay. Very satisfying! Also managed to get most of my sermon for the Sunday after we get back complete too. Also satisfying!
We ended the day with light refreshment accompanied by Ron (there had been confusion as to whether or not we were to be served as usual or we should enter the kitchen to help ourselves. He kindly sorted it out for us.) Some lovely banana muffin/cake had been left for us. Lovely! I spent the rest of the evening working through the photos I had taken on the computer, naming them and preparing them to upload onto the website. Everytime I near finishing, I go and take some more! They may have to wait until our return to be uploaded as the signal here is rarely consistent enough.