This morning we awoke having slept pretty well, and longer than usual. I had a good breakfast, since we wouldn’t be having lunch. At 1:00 Marjolaine and I left the hotel and started the pleasant 20 minute stroll to the hotel where the meeting hall is located. The sky was sunny and blue, the temperatures pleasantly cool.
Arriving at the hotel, we descended to the basement meeting hall and reset the chairs and tables according to our needs. Just before 2:00 pm, the little group started arriving. We were eight finally for the service.
It was a little like my father described his early years in the ministry, when most members were very new. I led hymns (accompanies by recorded music) gave the opening prayer, the announcements, the sermon, led the final hymn and gave the closing prayer.
We walked back to our hotel, and changed clothes. Then we headed back out for dinner. Today is our 33rd wedding anniversary, so I invited my lovely wife to a little bistro I know well near the entrance to the cemetery, just around the corner from the Moulin Rouge. It’s on a lovely tree-lined cul-de-sac, the food is excellent, the staff very friendly and the prices reasonable. Marjolaine ordered sole, while I ordered breast of duck, a favorite French dish of mine.
We remembered one morning, before our daughters were born, watching the sunrise over Cairo as we sat completely alone on the great pyramid of Giza (don’t ask how that was arranged…). And returning to the pyramids years later with our young daughters, using free air tickets we were awarded for giving up our seats on an overbooked flight back from the Feast of Tabernacles in France.
We remembered lying soaked in sweat in an un-air-conditioned bedroom in Ghana as we wondered if the ceiling fan would burst the lightbulb that wobbled dangerously close over it, giving us what we still laughingly remember as our Ghanaian disco lighting.
We remembered a pastoral trip in Cameroon when Marjolaine woke with a gravelly eye swollen shut from infection, and me going out to buy an eye salve she was thankful I knew, because I had previously used it myself.
We remembered a large rat in an outhouse in West Africa, but I won’t go into details.
We remembered the amazement, as a family, when we dove the USS President Coolidge in Vanuatu, swimming through the wreck of a luxury liner turned troop ship during WW2. Our elder daughter ran out of air and had to buddy breathe on another tank on the ascent – which she did without incident. It was a bit tense….
But we didn’t suffer tonight. It was all joy and thankfulness. And tomorrow will be another good day.