17 June 2005


13 – June 2005, Paris – Gare du Nord

I am sitting in front of Gare du Nord having a drink and just watching life happen in this rather interesting part of town. Paris is of course a big city like many others, although, it has been said that Paris is for France what LA, Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia are for the US. It is the economic, business, entertainment, and historical capital of France. If you look at a map of France you can see that even though Paris is in the north of France all roads and trains lead to this great city. Gare du Nord is just a great place to get a good beer or café, if you are so inclined, while having a plate of good North African couscous. It is also the railway station at which all trains coming from north of Paris arrive from all across Europe. It is from this gare that Angelika and I, for the first time, boarded a train to go and meet her family over 6 years ago. Even though I was not with Angelika, you can see why I needed to come to this place.

It looks like the police are about to take a couple of guys in. They must have been driving a stolen car. Interesting, a whole crowd of them showed up at the same time. Maybe it is a drug deal that they are trying to put down. The police keep verifying the car numbers and their papers. They are now taking their finger prints. They had what looks like 4 nanas (girls) with them. Maybe it is a prostitution ring. Who knows, unless they come over and tell me what is happening I will never know and what do I care anyway, this is Paris!

14 – June 2005, Paris – Charles de Gaulle Airport

So, I am standing in a very long line trying to check-in for American Airlines to Chicago. It would seem that all the Americans in Paris decided to fly home today! I arrived here at 11h30 and it is 12h00 and I am still out in the hallway. It is a real zoo.

Well I got up to check-in and someone found an unattended bag. They have had us all evacuate the area and they will blow up the bag, so it is said. I am standing in front of McDonalds and it is jam packed. I wonder if they didn't leave it?:-) We have been standing here waiting for an hour while they make announcements over the intercom for Monsieur and Madam so-and-so to come and pick up their bag. I think that Monsieur and Madam so-and-so must be flying over the ocean some where and would not be able to hear the announcements anyway.

It is now 12h30 and we are still waiting for the bomb squad. I really have no intention of ever taking American Airlines again. This might simply be Air France's attempt to show the US that they know more concerning security in France than does the US. I would guess that they do although you would have a hard time convincing any US security nut of that. This Homeland Security stuff is beginning to irk the rest of the world who has been living with these kinds of insecurities for a lot longer than the US.

Boom! So they blew up some one's bag and we are all trying to get into the same queue at once. I find myself at the back of the line once again and I figure it is no big deal as AA is going to hold the plane until we are all on anyway. Otherwise they need to put us up in the nice airport hotel! I am sure that AA is too cheap to do that.

Finally, I am sitting at the back of a Boeing 767. Everybody is talking English and we are all anxious to get on the road. It is ironic but I hear some folks asking why we are taking so long to get out of the dock here in Paris and the stewardess is saying that it is because Tony Blair flew through a while ago. Of course she does not know that there was a bomb scare in the Paris Airport and she is speaking with that false kind of authority that one can see right through. America Airlines has probably taught her to say such thing when they are late. Never mention the “B” word! In some ways returning to the US turns ones stomach.

Finally, about an hour late, we are backing out of our parking spot and we have been given clearance to get on our way. Of course I am writing this after the fact because we were told to put away all electronic devices for takeoff.

So, our next stop will be Chicago, or at least that is our hope!

13 June 2005 – Reflections over the Sahara Desert

This morning after catching a taxi to the Patisserie Abidjannaise, a coffee and a croissant, I caught another taxi to the Airport where I checked in and found my way to the waiting area for Air France flight 703 to Paris. My flight to the US is not until tomorrow afternoon. Thinking about getting a room in a hotel not far from the airport.

Unlike our flight out of Oregon three weeks ago, the spectacular view that we see on the in-flight bird's-eye-view screen (one of the interesting features of the 300 series Airbus aircraft) is the vast Sahara Desert. It is impressive to fly mile after mile at 550 miles per hour, 37.000 feet above the earth and to see little or no change. We are in a 330 A Airbus which has 7 seats across in the economy section of the plane and 6 across up in the front of the aircraft where folks like us only pass by as we board or de-board the plane.

As I fly north to Paris and on to the US I cannot help but reflect on what has transpired over the past few days and weeks. We have been asked to oversee the good management of the former International Christian Academy for the next two years in the hopes that some group will manifest a desire to use the station for MK education in the future.

At this point World Venture (formerly known as CBI) has only 12 fulltime missionaries engaged in CI. This request must be seriously considered as we look to our future in CI. The situation in the country is still considerably tense, with no one really being sure that any real peace is in sight. It would seem that the current president is loosing favor with the international community although we have said so before.

After speaking with the different church leaders with whom we partner in CI, as well as our mission colleagues, we have decided to take on the challenge with specific conditions. First, we will be answerable to a 3 member oversight committee (OC). This will be far better than having to answer to a whole field. It may also help us to see other possibilities and avoid certain pitfalls that come with such an affair.

The former School Board of ICA had asked that World Venture keep the school in such condition that a school of up to 50 students could be started there within the next 5 years. We have agreed to a one year trial period open to review and evaluation by the OC. The OC is composed of one member from each of the three teams now working in CI (Medical, Special Focus and Church Development).

We are excited about the possibilities for ministry in the Bouaké churches as well as the possibilities we may have with 250 French peacekeepers living on site. Of course we are in need of great wisdom as we go into this new phase of ministry. We will continue to focus on Dioula outreach in conjunction with the churches in Bouaké.

Being in Bouaké again is a dream-come-true in some ways for me. Having worked in Bouaké before getting married, I have always thought that it would be good to return. At this point to live in a Dioula courtyard in Bouaké as I did when I was single is no longer possible. Security is a very real concern just now, not just for us but an entire courtyard, which is why we just cannot live in the city proper. I guess that everyone must make concessions during times like these.

So that is what I am thinking of as we cruise along at 550 mph over the sand and rock below. As for posting these thoughts, I guess it will have to wait a few days until I get back to where I can get online again. Until then, Tiao!