The last couple of days have been very busy, and I regret I haven’t had time to post another blog. So I apologize for the length of this one.
The Franks’, Horchak’s, Walker’s, Mr. Kilough, Cody Kitts and Osas Aghimien all arrived safely in the van from Accra Friday afternoon. The only real issues they experienced were that with their luggage they were very packed into the van – and then within the first half hour or so the a/c on the van died, which means they had a rather warm trip the rest of the way. But this is Africa, and one just comes to expect things like this!
All of the attendees for the conference arrived by evening, and we held a reception in the same room we’ll use for all the seminars. Few if any had ever been to a reception like this, and not many have ever been in a hotel like this one. As a result I think they felt intimidated and a bit uncomfortable, but this got noticeably better as the weekend went along.
Sabbath morning there was a van and a couple of personal vehicles to shuttle all of us to the Church hall for services. With others who came in to hear Mr. Franks we had a total of 289 in attendance! Mr. Franks gave a sermon about unity in the Church. Of course in Ghana every message has to be translated, so he would speak a phrase and then the man assigned to translate would convert his phrase to the local language of Twi. By the time services were ended it was getting quite warm, and our caravan of vans and personal vehicles got us all shuttled back to the hotel where lunch was available.
Everyone was seated in the meeting room and ready to go by 1:30 pm, and we got started with the seminars. Mr. Franks gave an introduction to the program, and explained what the goal of this program is, and that this weekend is not all there will be. We have several video presentations each of the men is to watch with their pastors over the next few months. And then they will receive a drive with all 24 classes that were given to the FI students on the 20 Fundamental Beliefs of the Church. This is obviously going to take some time for them to go through, but when completed their knowledge and understanding of the teaching of the Church will be much stronger.
Mr. Leon Walker had a presentation on the Basis for Doctrine. He explained who and how doctrine is developed, and then went through several examples where personal bias can override the Bible if we aren’t careful. This was followed by a joint presentation from Mr. Doug Horchak and Mr. Walker on our Church ceremonies, how they are conducted and the unity in the Church that results. And we ended the day with a few questions and answers.
Sunday morning we had intended to start off with a video class taught by Mr. Britt Taylor (because he was unable to be with us here). But we had technical difficulties: picture but no sound. So we did a quick shuffle and Mr. Clyde Kilough gave a presentation on how to build and present messages that teach, encourage and inspire an audience. With the technical issues resolved, we played Mr. Taylor’s presentation on Principles of Marriage next.
After a break for lunch we came back to hear Mr. Franks’ presentation on Truth , Teaching and Tradition. Once again the focus was on the sure biblical basis for what we teach, but also recognizing there are aspects of our worship that are based on tradition (such as the format we use for Sabbath Services). But by holding to our traditions in things that do not contradict scripture we are unified as a Body around the world.
Finally Mr. Horchak gave a presentation on Church Government and Authority. This was followed by more questions and answers and then a final wrap-up by Mr. Franks. I heard many fine comments about the presentations and all the time and effort that was invested to provide this weekend to these men and their wives. I am encouraged by what was given, and look forward to seeing the fruit that will be borne in the years to come!
In between the classes and in the evenings I’ve been able to meet with a number of members, primarily to discuss local issues and concerns, and answer some further questions that have come up. After a final dinner with all the men and wives who came from Headquarters, I went back to my room to pack up and get ready to leave for Nigeria Monday morning.
Three of us, Cody Kitts, Osas Aghimien and I, have a flight to Lagos, Nigeria leaving at 2:30 pm. All of the others are on a flight that leaves at 11:00 pm headed back to the US. There is little need for the larger group to wait at the airport for 10+ hours, and the van was very full even without me. So I arranged a car for the three of us leaving by 8 am (a bit over optimistic as it turned out) and the van would leave with the remainder early in the afternoon.
The driver was a little late, and then I had much more difficulty than normal getting the bill all lined out and paid, but with that task eventually accomplished we left nearly an hour after I’d intended. The trip back to Accra was smooth, and we still arrived about the time I’d intended.
The check in procedures at the new airport went very well, and we had just a little time in the lounge before heading to our gate. Our plane loaded and took off on time, and landed in Lagos a few minutes ahead of schedule. Passport control went quickly and our luggage arrived quickly. We changed a little money at the airport and went out to meet the driver we’d arranged to meet us. We did have to wait a little while for him – because we were ahead of schedule. But he arrived with a nice VW with good working a/c (very important as hot and muggy as it is here!)
The trip from the airport to our hotel isn’t all that far, but traffic was about the worst I’ve seen here. Even the driver – a life-long resident of Lagos – said this was particularly bad. The trip took nearly 2 ½ hours for less than 10 kilometers, most of it sitting still with every driver blowing his horn from time to time. Somehow they must believe the horns are going to blow the traffic ahead out of the way…
We finally were able to check into our hotel by about 8:30 pm. Cody and I went down to get some dinner, and now its time to head to bed. We have several people who want to come visit throughout the day tomorrow, so we look forward to a good day of visiting before we go on over to Benin City.