Equatorial Guinea

The following posts tell about my trip to Equatorial Guinea. Through words and photos I hope to succesfully share my experiences. I've decided to do this on a day by day basis. I hope you enjoy. If there's anything I may have missed, or something you'd like to know...please email me at michaelh@uwyo.edu. Thank you all for your unconditional support of me, both financially and spiritually. Without you, this trip wouldn't have happened. More on Africa here: http://53lat158long.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Day 3- Today we got up, had our devotional and were then told that we weren't going to the church because nobody was there yet. We were then invited to go to one of the markets on the outskirts of town. We saw the vendors selling monkey, rat, possums, and other tasty creatures...this is what I thought we would be eating. They call it "bushmeat". We saw a guy roasting a four foot lizard with a blowtorch, and Stokes asked if he could get a picture of it. The guy roasting it agreed, but the man across the isle didn't want to have anything to do with it. We kind of wondered around the market for a bit, and finally bought a pineapple...which we ate at lunch. Delicious! Stokes and Garrett made good friends with a couple of Nigerian nationals, who according to Andy will do anything to sell you something, including learning multiple languages. I have a friend who spend some time in Italy, and while he was on the beach a Nigerian national approached him and asked him if he wanted to buy any socks. Socks!? On the beach, no thanks. Just an example.

After the market we went back to Carlos' church, picked up a few guys and headed off to Antonio's church to do some followup. Once at the church, we split up into two groups. Mine was George, Bolzer, Stokes, Errelio, and one of the pastors named Jose. There wasn't anybody at the church to followup with, so we went out to the homes to find some people to talk to. The first people we came across invited us to sit down on their patio. They were a bunch of older ladies who all had Bibles. As it turns out, they all turned out to be Jehovah's Witness, and all had a bunch of pamphlets for us. They only believe in God, not the Son or the Holy Spirit. We kept trying to point out verses that say "nobody comes to the Father except through the Son", but couldn't quite get our point across. There was always something lost in translation, but I don't think it would have mattered if all of us spoke perfect English. It's generally pretty hard to change people's opinions on stuff as serious as religions by debating with them for a day. When faults in people's beliefs are pointed out, people tend to get defensive. I think the best way to spend time with "cult" believers is to just spend time with them building a relationship, and loving them. I think that George knew this, and had dealt with this many times before. He recognized that we could debate with them all day long, and not get anywhere, so he said his goodbyes and we left.

Luckily, the next group we stopped with was much more eager to listen and receive God's word. We stopped at a little shop, and immediately started talking to a guy named Lucas. He had lived in Canada for a year, working with Exxon Mobile. When he got the chance to come home and work for Marathon, he jumped all over it. As a result of his stay in Canada, his English was extremely good. He was very eager to hear the four laws, and seemed to understand them very well. We were a little hesitant when he didn't ask many questions after his acceptance prayer. Afterall, he had just made the single greatest decision in his life. I think that he immediately recognized that this was what he had been searching for, and he kind of had the attitude of "Yeah, why not accept Christ into my heart". Later, while I was back at the church getting New Testaments with Jose, he took Stokes and Bolzer to see the house he was building. Apparently, his work experience in Canada had qualified him to be some sort of supervisor at the oil rigs off the coast of the island, and he is fairly well off as far as the people here are concerned. His house was pretty massive, and he could afford to pay workers to work for him on the foundation and walls. Amazing.

The next guy we talked to was one of Lucas' friends, named Antonio Felix. He was initially upset that we talked to Lucas first, but after a little explaining that it was easier to talk to him because he spoke English he was better. Like Lucas, he also grew up in a Catholic school system, only he was rejected and ignored as a child. He had questions about that, and many others, but finally accepted Christ. Both Lucas and Antonio Felix were given New Testaments. I pray that they were able to get right into that, and realize that they should share what they learned with the other people that were at the shop that we weren't able to talk to.

That afternoon we were taken over to the port to see all the building that is being done. The port is pretty beat up, but they were bulldozing the trash off the land and really cleaning it up. I could tell a lot had been done. We went up into one of the restaurants, which was really nice, and got some water. From the balcony you could see off into the ocean, and see Cameroon. Unfortunately, you could also see the President's palace, and picture taking was especially risky. At one point, I was leaning on the balcony railing, facing the palace, watching some kids play soccer in a little plaza. Carlos came over to me and explained that just looking in the direction of the palace wasn't a good idea.

After leaving the port, we went back to Antonio's church for a service. We didn't realize it was a service, and thought that it was another attempt to followup on the people from the night before. As a result, we showed up about ten minutes late, and immediately given seats in the front of the church. After some worship, and a short talk from the pastor, they invited Andy up to preach. He was a little surprised, having no idea that he was supposed to preach, but it wasn't the first time that had happened to him. He got up there and read some scripture from what we were doing our devotionals on, John 15:1-8. Errelio was a little surprised at how short the talk was, but improvised by extending it and talking about the passage.

Later, all the people who had accepted Christ the night before came up to be prayed on. We were asked to come up and pray for them while everyone else in the congregation shouted prayers out loud to them. It was deeply spiritual, and very emotional being up there with our hands on the heads of these new Christians. I'm getting goosebumps right now just thinking about it. After we had prayed on the new Christians, we were brought up again...only this time we were the ones being prayed for. I can't even begin to explain how moving this was.

At the beginning of the service, during the worship, one of the older ladies in the congregation was praying and then suddenly began shaking violently. The pastors came up and began to pray and comfort her...it almost looked like they were performing an exorcism or something. Apparently she was possessed by some sort of demon, which was slightly unbelievable at first. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that there is no reason not to believe this sort of thing still happens. In the gospel of Luke, Jesus banished the spirits out of a man and turned them onto the pigs. If it happened then, there's no reason to believe it can't also happen today.

We were able to take a few pictures of everything, and even got some video of the offering and Antonio singing. During the offering, they all got in a line and sang and danced their way up to the offering plate. The entire church service was very emotional, and an experience I will never forget.

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