Travel Diary 1: Blame It On Babel

Dear ITEM Friends,

In Genesis 10-11 we read about Nimrods kingdom named Babel. The people didn’t want to “fill the earth,” as God commended Adam and Eve, they wanted to build their own kingdom locally. So, God confused their languages so they would scatter and fill the earth. Often times when traveling, I am reminded of those chapters in God’s story.,

Another mostly true joke I think of when traveling is this. “Do you know what you call a person who speaks three languages? Trilingual. What about two languages? Bilingual. What about just one language? American. That’s me.

THE JOURNEY BEGINS

I departed Portland, on Sunday, at 1:40pm or 11:40pm in Cameroon, my eventual destination. There was a layover in LA and when I boarded the next flight, Babel boarded with me. It was a Air France flight. The flight crew were all bilingual with a French twist when speaking my one and only language.

BABEL INTENSIFIED

The second stop was Paris and Babel, level-two boarded with me. Now most of the passengers were French speakers so there was very little English heard for seven hours and it was a day flight so the plane was consumed by loud conversations in French. To add to the adventure, a passenger who had checked luggage didn’t show up for the flight so we sat on the plane an extra hour waiting for his/her bag to be located and removed.

BABEL FULL BLAST

When I arrived in Cameroon at 10pm Monday, about 20 hours after leaving Portland, all passengers were escorted into a waiting room and handed a number, mine was 231. But there was no explanation. From one corner in the front of the room was a man with a covid mask on shouting names in French and as their names were called, the stood and left the room. 

In the other corner up front was another man with a covid mask on shouting (at the same time, mind you) something in French. I asked a lady who had insisted, earlier, that I sit down, what was going on  and she told me he was calling numbers and mine was 231. That means there were 230 ahead of me. My number was eventually called and I was invited to enter another room. Now I saw….. we were all being tested for Covid with a rapid test (even though none of us could have gotten on the plane in France without proof of being covid negative.

After that, I exited and waited until my name was called (Ah, that is what the name calling was all about I heard earlier!) then I was allowed to leave this quarantine and head to immigration, then get my luggage.

One more bit of confusion that has nothing to do with Babel or not as much, anyway. I entered the baggage claim hall and people with carts were standing, all bunched around the luggage “belt” that had luggage sitting on the it with no one grabbing anything…. the belt wasn’t moving. After I stood doing nothing while watching everyone else do nothing, I decided to walk the perimeter to get a close look as a box that looked like on of my pieces of luggage. It was mine and right next to it was my other checked bag. 

By the time I exited, found my driver, got to the guest house, and hit the sack, it was 1:30am Tuesday, 26 hours after leaving Portland. 

TUESDAY, ANOTHER TEST

As I am writing it is 1:45pm Tuesday. My morning was dedicated to being tested for Covid once again in preparation for my departure on Friday. This, too, was a two-hour adventure. 

ITEM’s area coordinator took me to a sports stadium where a testing center was set up on the grounds and there was a massive number of people in various locations. I sat while the coordinator walked around collecting information. There were four stations where people were in groups and as I learned, the groups were moved as one. Station one: fill out the paperwork with the help of an official paperwork filler-outer. Babel showed up again. Station two: Paperwork entered into a computer by another person. Station three: Sit in a chair and wait until a Covid tester-person comes and sticks that long q-tip thingy up your nose. Station four: wait until your name is called and you are told when and how to find your results.   

WEDNESDAY PREVIEW

I am meeting with your local team tomorrow, Wed. It will be the first time I’ve met these men. My previous engagement here was when they were part of a seminar. We’ll get acquainted, go over our strategy and philosophy of ministry. And finish with some planning.

I’ll have more to say about all of this tomorrow. 

PRAYER: 

  • Pray that the team will comprehend the strategy and understand that we are committed to believers and churches being transformed by the expository preaching on the Scriptures. It’s not about numbers. It’s about transformation. 
  • Pray that I will be able to sleep.
  • Pray that along the way I don’t test positive for Covid whether false or real positive. I’ve had Covid, I’ve been vaccinated. I think I’m good but …… 

I’ll put pictures into the photo album today. Click here to open the album

Thanks for your prayers and your interest.

By His grace,

Steve

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