That, my friends, is a direct quote from none other than Jean-Romain (nickname: JR…has a need for speed, doesn’t know how to say “no”, you might know him…he’s a pretty popular guy)! Time is moving quickly. Someone told me before I left that the first couple weeks would crawl by and the rest would fly. They were right. And in those first few crawly weeks I hoped they would be right (about the flying by) but now I remember their prediction with ire. Why do good things have to come to an end?
But see, God is teaching me something through this. Weeks ago I began to realize just how hard it is going to be for me to leave here at the end of May. But the Lord placed a command on my heart: “Be content wherever you are, whoever you are with, whatever you are doing. Be content because I am with you. Abide in Me.”
Anyways, now onto all the news of goings-on in Libreville/Bongolo over the past several weeks! After our awesome team took off (we are still missing them!), Tim Brokopp hung around for another week. Towards the end of his stay he took Shannon, me, and two local pastors (Simone and Jean-Marc) back to PK-27 where we had constructed the four corner posts with the team. The corner posts are boundary markers for the plot of land that the C&MA Gabonese church has bought to build an airstrip, new Hope House, clinic…among other things. Very monumental! So the five of us trecked through jungle and country side to pull off the wooden post frames and carry them back to the cars. A mixture of stinging ants, sloshy mud, pouring sweat, beautiful trees, and good conversation made it a great morning! Even getting the big van stuck in a mud-rut added to the experience. Oh, and top all of that with a marriage proposal from an old guy with no teeth who obviously loves his beer more than he loves me.
The week before Easter we headed down to Bongolo but in two waves. Hannah, Alicia, and Shannon went down on public transportation with a visiting doctor. The next day Dan, Leanne, JR, and I took all of the Lewan’s possessions in the Land Cruiser. Our ride took a turn towards eventful when we blew out a tire (not really a big surprise). Something else that wasn’t very surprising is that the next car that drove by had passengers who know JR. So they stopped and changed the tire for us! After we thanked them and they drove off we all piled back in, turned the key, and…nothing. No lights, no battery, not engine. Twenty minutes later I literally thought we would have to get rides from missionaries in Bongolo and get a two truck. But God provided and guided JR’s hand to a loose wire, which with a little duct tape was as good as new! “On the road again…”
Highlights from the week in Bongolo were seeing TWO surgeries, teaching ultimate spoons to a group of local boys, dying eggs, and a party at Lisa’s (one of the American nurses) home with African residents, pastors, and the American missionaries.
Ok, surgery talk. Imagine being in full-body scrubs, PLUS sterile gowns, caps on your head, masks over your mouth and nose, 80 degrees (with AC), making do with the equipment and tools that you have to perform life or death, make or break surgeries. For over thirty years some of these missionaries have been doing this work for God’s glory! And I admire the African residents who dedicate so much time to taking this ministry into their hands.
I have been very blessed to become friends with a group of high school guys here–I like to call them my “Bongolo Brothers” (although in French it would be, “Freres de Bongolo”…doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as well). Along with teaching them ultimate spoons and Jenga, we had some interesting conversations. One of the conversations had to do with universities in Gabon and America. They told us that here in Gabon, when a person goes to the university they are expected to join something like a secret society. There are several of these, and they are very dark groups obviously deeply in the grasp of the Evil One. To be a member of a group you have to perform some pretty horrendous acts, but if you are in a group you will have no trouble getting a job after university. If you don’t join a group…don’t expect to be able to feed your family. Yes, I realize that a) some information is lost or not correctly communicated when these boys’ English is only a bit better than my French and b) there could possibly be exaggeration among young people here concerning these matters. But I do know that secret societies as well as tribal and political groups are common throughout Gabon and could really be controlling underlying workings of life here. Things that would be illegal or heavily frowned upon in America are part of everyday life here. These boys asked for prayer that God, their Father, would provide for them to go to university in America. Yet again do I see how much God has blessed us with yes, a flawed, but also a very rewarding and functional education system in America.
We drove back to Libreville from Bongolo on Easter Saturday. For Easter we walked down to a little local C&MA church. The service lasted about 4 hours and was full of music–some you could dance to, some that made you want to raise your arms in worship. Oh, and I think I heard my first sermon that took text from the Old Testament, not just the New Testament… “Joyeaux Paques!” and “Bon Fete” were exchanged as we walked out of the church and proceeded to shake the hands of every member of the congregation (all gathered in a large circle). That afternoon we went with the (awesome!!) Straw family to Beach Burger for a late lunch, followed by a walk on the beach. We topped off the day with Magnum bars (I feel like these deserve a separate post…to come). So you mean you can celebrate Easter without baked ham, Easter candy, and “The Passion of the Christ”? Who would’ve thunk…and it was a pretty awesome day, too.
This last week has been my therapy week…I’ve needed to go to OSPAC every day to refill my cup of love from all my Mamas and Papas and brothers! Yesterday we had our first exam for the English class starting on May 9. Oh how I remember the good old days of tests…(please don’t remind me I have four more years of them to look forward to). This morning I baked some chocolate-chip scones as we are going to celebrate (with Alace Straw) the Royal Wedding of Prince Whoever-whoever (what’s his name again??) and his bride. No, we aren’t desperate and no one here is British. We just love to hang out with Alace! Oh, and we like to party. Which, also tonight is a birthday party with OSPAC people for Hannah (aka The Laminator, my ex-roommate, fellow musical-nut).
I noticed that I promised in my last post from weeks ago to write again that week, which never happened. So no more promises from Olivia. But I DO promise to post again. 🙂
Really truly, I am excited to see all my USA family and friends again (I just also really love it here),