Saturday morning four of us got up at 7 ( or at least three of us did… one person got up at 8:10) to meet outside the port gates at 0830 , with Thomas, our Togolese translator. Thomas took us to his home and then we went to his son’s private school. (Yes, I do mean Saturday.) We all walked from his house, down the muddy, rain beaten street, past the cactus, the hen and her chicks scratching out something to eat in the trash piles, past the goat bleating for its mother in the middle of the road, past all the neighbors who stared at the strangers. We arrived at the gate of the school which stood open onto the road. As we entered, I could not help but notice the huge lizards on the walls of the compound. Oh well, they don’t eat much. And they have such beautiful colors.
The children were so excited to see us and classes were dismissed. The teachers lined up the students, about 60 or more, under the pom trees where they then began to see songs that give glory to God and thank Him for their blessings. They sang at the top of their lungs, clapping and stomping, a few of them dancing.
Now just so you don’t get the wrong idea, these children were dressed in clothes that were too big or too small for them, some had traditional African clothing styles on, some in western style. The flip flop is the national shoe for Africa. We were in a cement walled compound and the school rooms were built into the rooms. The children sit at wooden benches with the table top attached – no comfort there. There is no electricity so the classrooms were darkened but on the chalkboards you could see that they were studying geography and French among their other subjects.
Some of the little faces were smiling, some were shy, some were ornery you could just tell. But all were well behaved and excited to see the ‘white people.’ Thomas told us beforehand that the children would want to touch the white people. I felt like one of the animals at a petting zoo, but nonetheless, we had a wonderful time with the children. We spoke through Thomas as translator about what Mercy Ship does and how it offers sight to the blind, hope for women after stillborn childbirth and children with orthopaedic issues. We taught the children the old song,”Hallelu, hallelu, hallelu, hallelujah, Praise Ye the |Lord.” The children were divided up into two groups and they sang with gusto. Harmony and tune were not important to them, only that they sang with exuberance louder than the other group. The children then introduced themselves one by one and we lined up so that they could all come through and shake each one’s hand. We all gathered for group photos which we plan to print out and give to the school. While we were singing several other children not in the school showed up at the gate and wandered in as well as a few parents.
All thogether when we left there after three hours, we were exhausted but blessed. The children had been well behaved, and listened to all that we had to say with respect if not complete attention. Their ages ranged from 6 to 16 years old. It is amazing that we think we come here to bless the African people, but they bless us so much more!
Thomas took us back to his house, and it was strange to see the Mercedes driving carefully down the road, avoiding the huge pot holes and trash piles. Life in Africa I am finding is full of contrasts. How we traveled back to the Mercy Ship is a whole n’other story for a different discussion post.
“His grace is sufficient unto our needs!”