When I heard the road to Benin was really bad and what would usually take us 9 hours to do could be done in 10 to 11 hours, I didn't think that was so bad. Boy was I in for a surprise. I also thought that our shocks were already bad, but I couldn't get them looked at before we left! Another thought I had was that we needed a different spare tire, because ours was not very good. I had changed the inner tubes in all four tires so I thought we were good to go! I also had my Back Friend, a specially made seat that helps to support my back! We also had two extra people with us and they could help us with the driving--it wouldn't be just the two of us to do it all!
The trip down was a night mare! From the other side of Dosso to the border the road was almost non-existent to say the least! Huge pot holes, or the paved road completely missing! 67 km of really bad, bad roads, the worse I had seen in Niger or in Africa! 6 hours to the border! It took us 14 hours to drive to Parakou. The road in Benin was just as bad. We had about 2 hours of good road and the other 6 hours was really bad. There were port cars and big 18 wheelers driving all over the road! Flying at very high speeds over really, really bad roads.
We saw two bad accidents, a driver was killed and an innocent bystander. That was just south of Kandi. As the cars traveled to Kandi the news had traveled up and the mob of angry people killed two more drivers of the port cars. (Port cars are cars that have been shipped from Europe on containers and they are sold in Niger.) There were about 500 of these cars going north. They don't slow down in villages, and they take many risks. We were later told that they have an escort but many times they get separated from the police escort that they have. We never saw the police escort but we saw the cars. I was so scared that by the time we got to Parakou I was almost in tears. I had prayed the last two hours for the Lord's protection because we were traveling over bad roads after dark!
Once we got settled in and I had taken a shower we went over to greet our friends Isaac and Marie-Claire.
Isaac is the President of the SIM related churches in Benin but also the translator for the New Testament that was being dedicated. After a very emotional greeting we went inside to chat a bit. Marie-Claire and I had been good friends when we lived in Benin. I had not seen her in 4 years!
Out from one of the bedrooms came another friend--Delphine, the widow of a Fulani pastor. What a wonderful time I had with these two dear ladies. They have been my friends for the past 15 years. I had given Delphine some examples of bags and other things to make with foam rubber and African cloth 15 years ago and she began a project that has continued to this day. She makes lovely bags and gifts. I so wanted to show her my trashy bag--made out of little plastic water bags sewed together with an African cloth on the bottom and zippered shut! Very practical bag for the market and it doesn't look too complicated to make but we didn't have time to show her and after the dedication near her home village she stayed behind to visit.
If I had to make that trip again--if I had to relive that nightmare road--it would have been worth it to see my friends Delphine and Marie-Claire. Our hearts are bound together--we love one another and look forward to times like this to just be together!
On Sat. a.m. after repairing one flat tire we left for Gararu where the dedication was to be held.
We weren't sure of the turn but the Lord provided a couple along the way to guide us!
About 2 km. off this road snuggled in among a grove of mango trees next to the village and the church and school is where we had the ceremony. Big tents were set up to keep the sun out and they had several sections--one for all the expats and pastors, one for the traditional Fulani kings and chiefs, one for the mayor, the government officials and everyone else sat on mats, or at desks from the school.
There was also a section for the different choirs--but I think only two were there.
These were some of the kids from nearby.
These kids just walked in for the event!
Daniel is Alicia's uncle and a pastor who works in evangelism with the local churches
Elisabeth a long time friend and happy that the New Testament is in her language!
The mayor the son of a Fulani pastor
There were several speeches but none were overly long, a history of the project and honor was given to all who had been involved. An effort was made to acknowledge everyone's help. Milton had played a major role in this project as he had provide consultant help for the team to insure the accuracy and quality control of the text. They wanted to make sure that those who would be reading the text would understand it. Just before they gave out copies of the New Testament it was presented to everyone by Rene Vallette, who is affectionately known as the father of the project because he has been involved since the beginning. He, Milton, and Pierre Barassounou have been the translation consultants for the project.
Complimentary copies of the New Testament were given to each person who had been involved in the work including us! It was exciting to see that the translators' wives were given copies as well! None were overlooked.
The Church in Benin has a long history of using the Camerounian Bible in Fulfulde but understanding only about 75% of what they read. We have recently learned of the revision of this Bible--much needed as it was done before the days of all the checks that are now done to insure that no verse is left out and it is comprehensible!
The two Bible texts that were read were from Matthew and Hebrews. These were the two books that Milton had consultant checked.
Near the end of the ceremony they asked the mayor from that area to speak. He is the son of a Fulani pastor and he was so happy to see the New Testament in his language! He said that there is a low literacy rate among the Fulani but that everyone should help to teach the children to read and write so they could read the Word of God. But his words, "I am so proud today to have the New Testament in my language." was really touching!
After the ceremony the New Testaments went on sale and the 500 copies that were ready for distribution were soon sold out.
People lined up to get their New Testaments!
One of the joys of being part of this celebration was being able to visit with friends and pastors we had not seen in 4 years!
After the celebration we ate with the UEEB pastors and leadership. Pounded yams, with a delicious sauce and chicken made the day complete.
Later in the evening (after fixing two flat tires!) we ate supper at Pierre's house. Another feast of yam fries, rice, and couscous along with fresh fruit!
That topped off our very short visit to Benin and we made our way home on Sunday tired but full of joy at what the Lord had done! We will never take God's protection for granted as we travel. The road was just as bad returning to Niger, the border crossing easy, and the 70 kilometers of bad road in Niger didn't take away from the deep satisfaction we had!