Must have been a blond moment... that is why I agreed to go with Franck, my boss to help him with the Leadership Conference in a place far-far away...
This is the official report I wrote while taking pictures, while listening to the translation, while printing the certificates, while bringing more chairs to the room, while turning down marriage proposals, while trying not to think about my own wedding in a few days...
So, read the report, check out the pictures and don't forget to read the short comment AFTER the story. Trust me, it's worth it! :)
"The location is Kara, a city 7 hours drive away from the capital, where the percentage of Muslims and Animists is considerably higher than Christians. This is the place where Mercy Ships organized a Leadership Conference with the objective of impacting the local community.
Over 300 invitations were sent out ahead of time and 350 notebooks were printed for the future participants. On Monday morning (March 5) we started to set up one of the main auditoriums in the Palace of Congress building. Soon participants started to arrive and the slow, but steady flow of people didn’t stop until 10 am. Soon the conference hall was filled with people eager to hear what Dr. Chris Ampadu, a Ghanaian Director of Samaritan Strategy in West Africa had to say. He has been a main speaker since 2007 in conferences organized by Mercy Ships.
|Dr. Chris Ampadu teaching|
Franck Gouhizoun, Off Ship Projects Manager, a native Benoise spoke briefly about Mercy Ships. The medical aspect of our work is well known to the Togolese people, however they applauded loudly to the non-medical work that Franck was speaking of – this conference being one of the many ways Mercy Ships seeks to assist the nation’s capacity building efforts. Dr Ampadu started his presentation with a question: Is Africa cursed? That got everybody’s attention since this is a common misconception among West African people regardless of their country, tribal background or even religion.
|from left: Chris, Happy, me, Franck, Atavi|
|Imam reading our Christian materials :)|
|One of the materials we used|
|People sitting on stage behind Chris|
After a traditional African lunch the conference continued with Pastor Happy Aziadekey’s presentation, who is a senior pastor at M.E.S.A. in Lomé. He spoke about God and the four areas of development according to Luke 2:52 (wisdom, physical, spiritual and social). When his session was over, to our delight, one of the imams, who was eagerly taking notes in the first row, encouraged Pastor Happy firmly to continue speaking. Although the Head Imam didn’t come but he sent many imams to attend the conference.
At the end of the first day we registered exactly 350 participants.
|Happy and I working hard behind the scenes :)|
|Room temp: 30. A/C set for 16 Celsius. You think it was HOT???|
|People eating lunch on the floor|
|Full House - full of colours|
|from left: Imam, head of Muslim Ladies Association, Chris, another Imam, Happy and me|
|While the parents learn new things inside...|
|Leadership Conference - Happening NOW|
As an official end to this 3 days conference all 367 participants joyfully received their certificates."
This was published on our website. What didn't make it to the report is the fact, that we left Sunday morning with the intention of coming back to the ship on Thursday evening. Friday was supposed to be a last minute preparation for me before the WEDDING on the next day.
My dear husband-to-be-back-then kindly told Franck a day before we left that unless he brings me back safe and sound and in time, he should not bother to come back at all, actually Darren's words were: "leave the planet" :) You can imagine, the dear Bossman didn't let me have any fun. Every time I wanted to try something he got scared and told me NO :(
I spent about 8 hours (with stops) in the car with 4 West African men who entertained me all day long. At a particular road Franck was telling me that long time ago there were monkey and elephants roaming the forests. How about now? - I asked. No more. Why? What happened? "DEMOCRACY HAPPENED!" - was Atavi's answer and we were laughing for 10 minutes. :)
In a future post I will show you some of the pictures I took from the car. The landscape was truly amazing as we were heading up north towards the Burkina Faso border.
This post is getting too long, but here is the punch line: While we were there I managed to pick up a new pet. Yup - you heard it well. I have now a new pet in my... well... stomach. :( A cute little parasite that made sure I was throwing up everything and a bit more...
I was pretty ok on the way home, but by Thursday night I developed quite severe pain as well. By Friday morning I could hardly walk, I was week beyond measure. Darren took me down to the crew doctor who ran some tests. He said that IV would be the last resort, but since we are kind of pressured by time, let's do that.
20 min later I was down in the ICU with an IV hooked up onto my right hand and I was about to take a good handful of painkillers, antibiotics and anti-nausea pills. On an empty stomach...
20 hours before the wedding:
|Me: hooked up to IV, fully drugged and cheerful|
Husband-to-be: on the verge of sanity trying to look strong for me
Me on the other hand really didn't look too good. Friends started to come down to pray for me and offer help. Some even suggested that we should postpone the wedding. The wife of the Managing Director was visiting me, holding my hand and praying for healing, but as soon as she mentioned the word "throwing up" I had to run to the bathroom again. :(((((
Will I get married tomorrow???
To Be Continued