Monday, 12 March 2012

Africa - Day Thirteen Monday

We must be becoming a familiar sight around the place.  This morning I got a smile from the security guard, who sits in his goon box with his high calibre rifle just outside Reception.   Mind you we’d been pacing around in there for over two hours, waiting for the ‘early’ (8.00am) lift to Abundant Blessings.   Let me go back a few hours.  Some time in the night the electricity blacked out.  The hotel generator clanked in to action, but the room air-con died again.  Then heavy rain started.  The sky remained overcast until well past 10am.  The temperature was a subdued 24 degrees, the lowest we’d experienced.  But I wasn’t going to be deceived.

“I think they’ve got nobody coming, and daren’t face us,” Wakey gloomily conjectured.  “Or worse, they’ve run off with the $600.”  I told him to suspect cock-up before conspiracy.  Actually, floods had cut off several roads, and Abundant Blessings was also without power.  By 10.45, when we arrived, not many more than a dozen pastors were seated around the hall.  The sheet that super-deac had hung, with great precision, at the back of the platform was five feet wide and 12 feet tall.  I obviously hadn’t made my requirements unambiguously clear.  'Improvisation’ doesn’t quite carry the measure of what was required now.  Just as Ps Luvanda handed over to me, a microphone popped and we realised that power was back on.  The numbers had swelled to about 40.  The temperature was tracking up too, and now both my trousers and my tee-shirt felt like I’d left them on in the shower.

 Skipping over the slide that showed a 10.00am to 4.00pm programme, I did the Multiply introduction and asked for questions.  Now we were up to 100, and the session was getting healthily interactive.  Even Jacob, translating, was looking relaxed.  Wakey talked about fathering and again hit the right note.  The lunch arrived late, and I could see the afternoon session was going to suffer.  I was dragged away from copying stuff onto USB sticks to join the bishop pastor of the Church.  We had a lot to thank him for – he’d even got a generator brought in.  

Rukundo was supposed to start the afternoon, and I take the second half.   He warmed up in Swahili, cracking jokes and speaking vulnerably about Rwanda’s recent episodes, then drew a comparison with Tanzania's history of stability.  Then he switched to English and shared, part by testimony and part by scripture, his passion for the new man (Ephesians 2).  He told us he'd asked the Lord to live to be 120 so he could see new humanity in pratice.  He skipped, twirled and hallelujahed.  The delegates loved it, and cheered him on.  At 4.15, I rather more soberly summed up. I handed over to Jacob to see that any local announcements got a look-in.

Pastor A thanked Bishop B.  Bishop B praised senior Bishop C, who then introduced ‘big’ Bishop D.  He commended Bishop E, who thanked Pastor A.  When Bishop B got up for a second round, I remembered the sound recording, and switched it off, making a mental note to delete the last 45 torturing minutes.  

Back in the office, all was smiles.  It seems everyone will apply to come to MILC!  Jacob confessed that the last conference they’d held had been a disaster.  People had walked out almost from the start.  Ps Luvanda is a deeply respected man, and we’d not let him down.  Also, I could see how Stephen had come to the conclusion that we could take three days.  Rather than going home, people were milling about outside, petitioning for us to reappear and give them more teaching.  Wakey rang the guys in Kimilili, and we established that Gregory’s target was to get them back to Nairobi by 12 o’clock.

We waited around the permanent outdoor pulpit the church has built to preach to the local neighbourhood.  Two taxi drivers appeared, then went off in a huff when the brothers wouldn’t let them charge the white men twice the going rate.  “It’s the first time I’ve experienced racial discrimination,” Wakey stated.

Back at the hotel, Wakey and Rukundo dived into their showers while I ordered dinner with the three brothers who’d joined us.   I rehydrated with several cups of chai, the fortunate result of the waiter thinking that four people had ordered some.  We’ve now spent a whole week with Rukundo, and operate as a brilliant team.  We carefully checked with Ps Luvanda that we'd covered all the expenses.  Jacob’s aiming to come and see us tomorrow morning before we leave for the airport.  His wife and family of four are all in Kitwe because of schooling, and I think he likes hanging out with us.

After the air-con had run for five hours, Wakey complained that the bedroom was still too hot to sleep in.

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