Last Friday we went on a driving tour through town during the Muslim’s time of prayer. Within the town of Bouake’ we drove past about five different mosques and the sides of the road were filled with people walking, usually carrying a mat under their arm. We stopped for a bit to watch them as they prayed, but what stood out to me were all the children among the crowds of people also participating. Some were more interested in us as we drove by, but some carried themselves with a sureness and devotedness that saddened my heart.
After driving around, we went to visit a Doula (one of the ethnic tribes in Cote d’Ivoire) courtyard of a man who was a sort of Islamic teacher. He had ten to fifteen disciple-like students who were sent to him to learn. Our leader, Rod, knew the man from childhood and had a close relationship with him evidence by the fact that one of his sons was named after Rod. As the flies buzzed about my head and barely dressed children ran around in the courtyard I felt out of place. The jolly old Islamic teacher, the young men fiddling with their prayer beads, and the young boys dressed in their white robes and head coverings all fit the environment and here was five white Christians sitting in their courtyard. I was in awe at Rod’s relationship with them, yet how would I handle such relationships that I build. Whether the people I meet are Muslim, animist, or both I want to walk with them, eat with them, and love them as Jesus would and regardless of whether I get the opportunity to talk about faith or not.
Later that day the guys went on a little excursion into the bush. I really did not know what to expect when Rod threw a couple shotguns into the back of the Landcruiser. Not even when I was sitting on top with a loaded shotgun did my mind fully grasp that we were hunting. I never imagined jumping in a truck with five missionaries and a couple guns. Nevertheless, we kicked up a few grouse-like birds but did not get anything. The reason for tramping off into the bush with guns was to have some guy time, since the ladies were concurrently spending time together.
This Sunday I went with a small group to visit the orphanage 10 minutes from the campus. We brought along a guitar and began singing songs. Soon many children began to crowd around. One little girl squeezed through the array of chairs in my direction. I picked her up and sat her on my lap, but tried to leave the option for her to leave if she wanted. What surprised me was as I pulled my hands back; she reached back and pulled my hands back around her waist. She did not leave my arms until I left a couple hours later. We sang songs with the kids, played musical chairs, rump rope, and etc. During that time I was struck by the uncertainty of love in this little girls life; random people come and volunteer, some work and live there, but I do not know when she will hear that she loved next. On the wall of the orphanage was written “Dieu est amour” (God is love) and my prayer was that she would learn or and rely on that love.
On a different note. It is Thanksgiving this week and many missionaries from Cote d’Ivoire are coming to our campus for their annual meeting. It will be a fun time of fellowship and learning. There is much to learn and be encouraged from listening to missionaries and hearing their stories. In light of that added complexity, please pray for the leaders here. The head missionary, Rod, and one of the Ivoirian leaders, Bakary, fell ill this week so much of the responsibility is falling on Rod’s wife, Angelika. The missionaries are arriving tonight and Rod was unable to return from a trip to northern Cote d’Ivoire due to his illness.
In addition, there is great desire among the group for further growth in communion with each other. Please pray for peace in Cote d’Ivoire with the upcoming elections this Sunday and the presentation of the results next week.