This morning, I allowed myself the luxury of sleeping in, which means, of course, about 20 mins more sleep than normal.
I was eating breakfast in the hotel when the deskman handed me a note. It was from Flory, informing me that the taxi outside was to take me back to the church for some unfinished business. I couldn't imagine what that could be, but I pushed myself away from the table (always a good idea), and got ready. I pulled off the Chicago Bears tee-shirt and replaced it with a polo shirt, but stayed in the jeans. People would just have to understand I wasn't prepared to go out.
As the taxi pulled away from the hotel, I noticed that the route seemed unfamiliar. At first I didn't think anything of it because I'm not the most observant person you've ever met. Still, when we passed the high stone walls with the concertina wire on top, I knew this was a different way. I would have remembered the prison-looking thing (turned out to be the UN compound). But just when paranoia was beginning to set in, I saw the roadblocks and remembered the inauguration security arrangements. All traffic was being re-routed so it took three times as long to get anywhere.
When I arrived at the church, the pastors all gathered around. Flory suggested that I hand my video camera to someone else to capture the moment. I wanted to give a crash course on how it worked, but the moment it left my hand, one of the pastors began talking. I'd show you the video of what happened next, but I can't. Oh, there's video on the camera but it's so terribly awful you wouldn't be able to watch it without motion-sickness medicine. Seriously, it's that bad.
The audio is also sub-standard, but you can make out what they're saying…if you try really hard and were there to know what's going on. So instead of subjecting you to "that which will cause you to never read my blog again," I'll just transcribe it. I was going to clean it up a bit, but Bonnie forbade me. "It's African," she said, "leave it as it is."
The pastors gathered round and presented me a "certificate of honor" with these words:
We thank God for your dedication to come and teach us. God bless his servants.
Now we thank you again because you left your country and came here where it's sometimes not very secure to come and serve God with your teaching. God bless you.
We thank you again for the teaching that was really biblical. You have enlightened us. You have opened our minds and our hearts. We thank you.
We also thank you for helping us with the money to go back home. God bless you.
We also thank you for wife giving you time to come and teach us. God bless you.
We are giving you this certificate of honor to be a remembrance. Whenever you read it you will remember us so that you will come again and teach us. We are asking you, the church of REMAC, we are giving it to you so that you can lead us as God leads you.
Maybe I will just add something. We took this idea because we think that there is a value in you that many people didn't value. Right now I think you are crossing a very difficult moment because people didn't recognize what God put in you. But we want to tell you that we recognize that that's of value. Many, many people didn't see it but we have seen it.
This is giving you the encouragement for you to continue in your ministry. God still believes in you, put your trust in him.
Needless to say, there were tears in my eyes when he finished.