I ride my bike probably three-five times a week. The twenty minute bike ride from my house to church used to be a time of solitude and just thinking about things. Now I probably get stopped at least 10 times by friends that see me passing by. I don’t know if you realize the joy in that! After months of just trying to greet and be friendly to people it has paid off, they know my name and are excited to chat! Hopefully, God can use these relationships to share about Him.
Within the span of two weeks I attended two all night funerals. One might ask why the funerals last all night. Well according to my brother it is because people come from far away and there aren’t enough places to house everyone so why not just stay up dancing and singing all night. The first funeral took place in my host-dad’s village of Kombolokoura (not to be confused with Kombolokouro). It was an animist funeral, so there were traditional masques (spiritual leaders dressed in costumes) and the traditional instruments (balofon and drums). They sing and dance all night and a good part of the next day too. I made it until about 10pm before I fell asleep on a cot outside.
The second funeral was for a well known Christian woman in a village just up the street from my house. My brother and I arrived at around 9pm and there were sooo many people there. There were at least a thousand. They came from as far as Abidjan just for the funeral. It was such a different feeling to be surrounded by Christians from all of our churches around the country. They started singing at about 11pm in Senoufo (the local language, well languages but Tyembara is the name of this particular Senoufo). After each song they would give an explanation of what the song was talking about. My brother translated a few of them for me. One was about how we get sad when people die but if a family member was going on a trip to somewhere where we know that they will be happy we are happy for them too. The song talks about how if they are going to heaven we have no reason to be sad but we should celebrate because they are going on the best trip possible. Then they also gave a Gospel message but I was asleep at that point.
So as you can see, I am not much for all night things. I actually made it till 2:00am at the second one. The immense difference I felt between the funerals was crazy. Knowing Jesus makes the difference. It just sharpened my vision for the church to grow in number and in depth, knowing Jesus and living for him.
This is a hot topic right now as the year in Cote d’Ivoire will be complete this October. As hard as that is to believe that is just three months away! My preference would be to not think about the future but details like flights and money force me to do otherwise. I am still praying and trying to wait on the Lord to see what He has next for me. As of right now I am planning on coming home in October. I think I am leaning towards getting my masters at a Christian University or Seminary fall 2012. Please continue to pray with me in this. I feel like my time here in Cote d’Ivoire has solidified my passion for missions but I am still seeking God on when, where and with whom.
Love you so much and thinking of you this 4th of July. Light some fireworks for me!