31 May 2005

First Days in RCI

It has been a couple of days since we arrived in Côte d'Ivoire. We spent our first day, after arriving a 7h00 in the morning, on the beach with the Grudda family. Before leaving for the beach we had coffee and croissants at the Patisserie Abidjannaise, one of our favorite coffee and pastry joints in Abidjan. It was nice to see that after the turmoil of November 2004 this place had not been destroyed.

We drove north to Bouaké the following day without any significant difficulties. At the entrance of Bouaké they wanted us to pay 2000 cfa each but we simply told them it was not possible and they finally let us go on through. Once we got out to the school, where we had spent our last year in Côte d'Ivoire, we were shown our digs for the next few days and we crashed.

Saturday morning we went into town and greeted Pastor Metahan, the pastor of one of the few remaining Protestant churches in Bouaké. It was good to sit with him and talk about the events of the past year. Of course he asked that I preach the following day, the sort of thing one should expect, or at least be ready for. We also stopped by an internet café and were able to send and receive messages. It looks like that will be our communication spot in the future. They have a fairly good connection which makes this possible.

Yesterday morning was of course spent at church where we were able to share greetings as well as encourage them from Jeremiah 29. The believers here have not had an easy time and although they continue to hope for a better day, they can become easily discouraged. Every time there is peace in sight something rises up to confuse the issues and frustrate the process. We reminded ourselves that our hope comes from the true word of God, not that of those who say they speak the word of God and give us false hope. In Côte d'Ivoire, since this conflict has begun, we have heard many predictions concerning the end of hostilities in the name of God. Of course true peace is only possible as God lives in the heart of his people. Anything less is only a truce, hiding animosities which may or may not re-surface at any moment.

Every noon and evening we eat with the French soldiers who are living on this campus and who have the run of the place for the most part. It is not an ideal situation but it is one of the best we could hope for given the present condition of Côte d'Ivoire. When the French military moved onto the campus shortly after the first evacuation of students from ICA in September of 2002, they setup camp and took over a fair number of homes and dorms. After several months of working with them the school director was able to consolidate the troops into a certain number of dorms and houses situated more or less in the same area. Following the second evacuation of students in November of 2004 the director gave them the use of the dinning hall and a greater number of dorms and residences. As it stands now, only the residences in the northwest corner of the campus and the classrooms are off limits for the French troops. Dan has done an excellent job of setting up a working agreement that allows the French to use this facility while it is not possible to use it for MK (missionary kids) education.

Since we have been asked to oversee this campus upon our return to Côte d'Ivoire we have come to investigate just how that could be done. We have a meeting with the rest of our colleagues in Côte d'Ivoire next Wednesday in Ferkessédougou at our mission hospital to talk about this and other issues concerning the continued ministry of World Venture (formerly CBI) in Côte d'Ivoire. If you are the sort of person who talks to God about stuff, you might take some time to mention this to Him. If you are not then you might want to check out Nehemiah chapter 1. If you don’t believe that God answers prayer then you may be fooling yourself.