Mr. Prodigue was at the hotel at 10:00 this morning, we were a few minutes late. We drove the short distance to their home, and greeted Mrs. Prodigue warmly as well. It was so good to see them again. We sat in their living room and caught up on some family news. Their son would come by later for lunch with his two children.
I didn't take photos today because of the serious nature of the discussions we would have. To paraphrase Solomon "there is a time to take photos, and a time to refrain from taking photos". This felt like a time to refrain. The Prodigues read this blog, so they are aware of what I share.
About 10:45 I started the Bible Study, just the four of us. About 11:30 Thierry arrived with his children. We stopped to greet them all and say hello, and then they sat quietly while I wrapped up the Bible Study.
Afterwards we caught up on Thierry’s news. He travels for his work, and is often in Mayotte, a French territory island that used to be part of the Comoros islands, a former colony of France that has gained its independence. It has the reputation of being a rough and rather, wild nation, poor and almost entirely Muslim. There have been a number of coups there since independence, some rather transparently organized with French complicity, always with plausible deniability, through the intervention of French mercenaries.
Since France kept Mayotte when it gave the Comoros their independence, that territory receives much material support, and has the rule of law, very attractive to people from neighboring islands that have neither. So there has been much illegal immigration, and Mayotte has become more and more unstable and subject to societal agitation due to the numbers of these undocumented people without jobs. France is now trying to round them up and send them home, but the Comoros doesn’t want them back. There is a huge debate and not a little violence now in Mayotte because of this situation. The people of Reunion, some of whom may work in Mayotte or have relatives there, are very concerned about the situation. We had heard passionate discussions about this on the radio already.
We talked with Thierry’s children, both of them beautiful and sharp. I had the priviledge of asking a blessing on his son after his birth.
We moved to the lunch table for a fine Reunion meal: vegetable salads and an au gratin of a vegetable I think of as christophine (that’s the name in Martinique) but that they call chou-chou.
The main course was chicken with rice and beans spiced with hot pepper sauce on the side. It was hot! They spoiled us with a bottle of Côtes de Provence, our favorite French rosé. It was lovely meal and we enjoyed the conversation about world events and shared memories and the children’s progress.
After lunch we climbed up into the tree house that Mr. Prodigue has built for his grand-children. It’s very large, enough for light living room furniture, and a playhouse for the kids. There was a welcome breeze up in the tree so we sat there to talk as the children played.
After a time, Thierry said it was time for them to go, so we said goodbye to them and the three left for home. At that point we discussed what had happened to the Prodigues over the last five years. To make a long story short, they thought they would find peace by moving to another association, but it was a frying-pan-into-the-fire outcome. They felt they were very badly treated by elders in the other association and also felt they were on the receiving end of abuse of authority and blatantly self-serving behavior.
Some of the family situations resolved on their own, and they reached the point where they could no longer stay where they were. They remembered I had written them that if we could be of service to them in the future we would do our best. They called on us for help.
After their explanation, I explained how things had looked from my end of things. In the end, I was happy to be able to welcome them back to our fellowship. They were relieved and happy. I was also.
We talked about a great many more things through the afternoon, until around 5:30. They would have kept us for dinner, though we had eaten so well at lunch, I didn’t think I could have managed another meal, but Marjolaine was tired by this point and we didn’t want to press her health, so we asked to be taken back to the hotel. We agreed to meet tomorrow morning for a trip up to see the Peak of the Furnace, the top tip of the volcano. Eruptions no longer happen there, they sort of spill out the side of the volcano, but it is still recognized as an impressive sight. There have been warnings in the news that an eruption may be imminent, this volcano is always bubbling. It would be fascinating to see an eruption, though it almost certainly wouldn’t come at the top. We shall see.