10 September 2008

Guests and Elections

It has been said that having guests in one's home is better than accumulating riches. If that is the case then we have become extremely wealthy in the last three months. As I sit here at the end of a very long and full summer of ministry and fellowship, I am beginning to believe this saying. During this summer we have hosted no less than 50 people, all but 4 spending at least one night and many of them several. Of these guests we hosted 24 Americans, 26 Ivorians and one guy from France... that is not counting the 200 plus French troops that live on this campus with us. Overall most of our guests were a joy to have and we are richer for their visits. After nearly 3 years on this campus with few visitors, this summer seems like its the turn about on that score. Most of our guests were young the youngest being nearly a year old and the oldest… let's say he was older than me!

Some of these arrived and left on public transport and some arrived in private cars. Some we had to pickup either in Abidjan or in Bamako, Mali. During their different stays they all had to eat and some of them even took baths! Some came to work with orphans in a local orphanage and some were here for a break. Some came for work related issues and some just for kicks. Perhaps the greatest thing about hosting all of these people was the pleasure of getting to see them connect with each other. Some of our guests came knowing better French than we do and others without any other language than English to get them through the day. As a result we had many interesting and at times confusing conversations around the table as we tried to integrate everyone.

It was a challenge to deal with young American kids who have, as we can testify, very different values from their Ivorian counterparts. It was a challenge to integrate young Ivorians with young Americans and to have them work together. At times it was too much for us as we will admit but then again to be challenged is a great thing. Life without challenges is like a plant growing without a dry spell. It would never learn to sink its roots deep to find good sources without the challenge of the dry season. So it is we have come through a challenging summer with a ton of guests, the last two of which we just put on their flight back to Oregon last night. Did we have fun? You bet! Did it tire us out? Sure! Will we do it again? Absolutely! “Bring- em-on!” is what I say.

At the same time we have been approached by several different groups who have expressed an interest in renting part or all of the ICA campus in Bouaké. It is good news as we are hearing more and more of troop withdrawal from the French command in Abidjan. Officially they have said that following the November 30th elections that they will begin withdrawal. Of course we all wonder about these elections. Will they happen or not? It would seem that the official word is “Yes!” Of course much of that is political rhetoric with which we are quite familiar. So goes that saga of the now 6 year war in Côte d'Ivoire which has really been a relatively peaceful war if such is possible. The latest street talk is that elections will probably not happen until February 2009, which is still a crap shoot if you ask me. National elections seem to be the new “fix everybody's problem” solution that the International Community is trying to sell in a world where we know that elections will fix nothing. How do you go through life knowing that?