Hi, and welcome back. I’m just starting to feel human after my Africa trip. Don’t get me wrong… Africa was great, and the people there were wonderful. It’s just that I’ve been working through a post-trip depression. It’s most likely a combination of jet lag, summer’s over, adrenaline trough, and some stressors on the job. Anyhoo… I’d like to share a little about Africa, in snippets.
The two words that describe my trip are: HUMBLING and INSPIRING.
My primary mission on the trip was to encourage our missionaries in Gabon. Every year, our missionaries in the Alliance hold a regional retreat. I was the invited speaker at this year’s retreat in Gabon. Missionaries gathered from a couple of places in the nation at a hotel in Lambarene. Mornings and early afternoons were for meetings. We began with worship and teaching, followed by prayer and missionary reports.
I spoke a total of 9 times. My topic was OVERCOMING GRACE DEFICIT DISORDER, based on the Book of Ruth. We went verse by verse through the whole book. I also did one talk on COMMUNICATING TO AMERICAN YOUNG ADULTS–an eye-opener for many of our missionaries.
The hotel was nice: a tennis court and pool occupied us every afternoon. I didn’t eat any exotic food–not yet at least. The menu was French stuff. The fries were great! The room itself was standard. The weird thing was having a tub and a shower wand with no shower curtain and no place to hang the shower wand up high. But I was determined to NOT be a spoiled American.
The common language is French, leaving me to a few Merci’s here and there. Sometimes an Italian Grazie slipped out. I was lost without a translator… and Josh was great at that. He was also a total pleasure to hang out with–and a great tour guide. Josh Thompson, our pastor for the Weaverville Outpost, grew up at the Bongolo Hospital. His parents basically built that place over the last 31 years.
The missionaries I met were amazing people. Most were single women who had given their lives (20-30 years) as doctors and nurses in Gabon. There were also some couples and families. They worked in the Bongolo Hospital during the week. Then they drove over dirt roads to tiny villages on the weekend to help plant churches. Dave and Becki Thompson were the fearless leaders of the team. One woman, Pauline, is a linguist who journeys hours by car, train, and dugout canoe for all we know, into a remove village where she’s learning the language to help with Bible translation.
Every man, woman, and child was amazing. First, they were normal people who liked to joke around, play games, drink (bad) coffee, and hang out. They really liked the Oreo cookies we brought. Second, they were doing fantastic ministry. I loved they way they coupled their medical service with spiritual service. They ask to pray with every patient; they share Christ, if allowed, with every patient. No pressure, but no hiding the gospel either. I love it. Third, they serve with no apparent sense of sacrifice. I mean, they don’t walk around with bedraggled looks and miserable attitudes. They give of themselves with joy and poise and grace and peace. They’re content and happy. No, they’re not perfect, they’re just happy doing what God has called them to do, without dwelling on the fact that they could be making a whole lot of money doing the same stuff here.
They’re my new heroes, no kidding.
More to come.
Thanks for praying for me during this time.