A new trip has begun, which we didn’t originally plan to make. This month was supposed to be spent quietly at home recuperating from our recent travels.
Then: Dr. Greg Swartz, an intrepid traveler, church elder, dentist and all-around lover of things Rwandan, ask about organizing an expedition to offer dental treatment to church members in Rwanda. That was generous of him and certainly filled a need. I approved whole-hearted, and so did FOI. Then he had the thought that we could pair the dental project with an English-teaching project. Rwanda is in the process of switching from French to English as its second language, so there is a great need for good English teaching programs. I approved of that idea for Rwanda as well.
Once things were rolling, I was approached about being the on-site director. It was logical, so I agreed. That meant a two week trip to Rwanda.
Tangentially, my wife and I have been intending to take some time off to visit India, a country where she has never been, and I once almost 15 years ago. David Baker, the regional director for Asia, had offered to let us accompany him on one of his visits, giving us the chance to meet our brethren in India and for me to speak on two Sabbaths. I’ve also been tasked with shooting video with Mr. Baker that we will be able to use in one or more editions of In Accord. So this would be a working vacation for us. It turned out that we could attach the Indian visit to the Rwandan project. And with Pentecost near our planned starting date, and since we would fly through Paris in any event, we added a few more days to the trip so we could spend the Pentecost weekend with the Paris congregation.
Thus from a quiet end-of-June at home, we’ll be working in Europe, Asia and Africa during this time. It should be very interesting.
After settling in, we walked to a little supermarket and bought water and snacks. Then we changed and took naps for a few hours to help us stay awake until a decent bedtime.
Our hotel is located at the foot of the butte of Montmartre, a short distance from the famous or infamous Moulin Rouge cabaret. This part of Paris was and is a favorite of the Bohemian crowd, the flamboyant artist types, with all that implies.
My wife had never stayed in this hotel before which has become my usual one, since it’s in walking distance to the hotel where we hold our services. The second hotel has a suitable meeting hall, but the rooms are not so great, so this arrangement works well. We had a few hours in the afternoon, so I suggested we walk through the Montmartre cemetery a stone’s throw away. Paris has three famous cemeteries, Père Lachaise (the largest of the three, with 3.5 million visitors a year!), Montparnasse, and Montmartre. Each of them contain the mortal remains of famous people, so much so that the cemeteries are tourist attractions. Plasticized maps can be borrowed at the entries to allow visitors to find the final resting places of the famous dead.
Montparnasse has the grave of Bartholdi, who sculpted the Statue of Liberty, Baudelaire, Jean-Paul Sartre et Simone de Beauvoir, Guy de Maupassant, Saint-Saëns, and many famous (in Europe) actors, Prime Ministers and so on.
Back at the hotel, I finished my weekly member letter and got it sent off, and we’ll make an early night of it and try to catch up on our sleep.