". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Update on the Cantor

Il est arrivé!

Phillip arrived in Brazzaville Monday night at around 6:00 p.m. Congo time. We are six hours earlier here, so that amounted to almost 24 hours of travel from the time I dropped him at the airport. He was greeted by President Mavoungou, the head of the Congolese Lutheran Church. The day after his arrival Pastor James May of Lutherans in Africa joined him and from what I understand they are now off and running, working daily with the local pastors and musicians. I have received several emails from Phillip, but in order for him to use President Mavoungou's computer the generator must be turned on, so emails are short. He is also typing on a French keyboard, which makes it hard to type very quickly. The first time he emailed he took time to try to make it accurate, but the last few have looked kind of like this:

OK internet is sloz qnd iùve got to run: ils ,ùqttendent1

zill prqy for q good qnd sqfe move!

are you getting ,y phone ,essqges


The "good and safe move" part is a reference to the fact that we are in a few days moving my mom to our home. As you can see, the z on the French keyboard is where our w is, and the q is where our a is and the comma is where our m is! After a few rounds of this I think I'm starting to get the hang of it. By the time he comes home I will no doubt be fluent in French keyboard!
I couldn't help noticing that he did make sure those last two words were spelled right.☺

In addition to several emails, we have received several voicemails as well. He cannot be reached on his cell phone but did purchase an international calling card and has found a phone there to use. Unfortunately we have missed both of his calls. But it was wonderful to hear his voice, and from the messages it sounds like he is staying healthy so far, which is great news. One of my biggest concerns was that he would experience gastrointestinal distress, but that hasn't happened. He was well instructed in all the things that he needed to avoid, and he also took along a Steripen for water sterilization. He is, however, experiencing some vocal distress, which is not good considering that he is spending his days leading people in song, so if you think about it please pray not only for his general well-being and his and Pastor May's work but also for Phillip's vocal condition. We don't need him getting laryngitis while he is there.

One of the challenges he faced immediately upon arriving was his cash situation. He took plenty of cash along to pay for things like his own room and board and the feeding of the pastors and musicians that are coming to learn, but when he went to exchange U.S. dollars for local currency he was told that they wouldn't exchange any pre-2001 bills, period. Not only that, but the bills marked 2001-2003 are exchanged at a lower rate. What's up with that? If anything, considering the U.S. economy these days, I would have expected the opposite!

One interesting thing is that he found out that the local musicians are in possession of an electric guitar and a piano. This is a surprise! We anticipated percussion only. He has not reported back yet on the condition of those instruments. My guess is that he will only utilize the piano if it is in decent condition. A bad piano is more of a hindrance than a help. Phillip does not play guitar (not much, anyway) so if they want guitar music one of them will have to provide it!

Thank you for your continued prayers. Seven days to go!


Susan said...

With regard to the US currency -- Could it be that the pre-2001 money is our old design? (I can't remember what year the govt started changing the pictures and other anti-counterfeiting strategies.) When you consider how we know what is real money and what is fake, you realize that people in other countries could be easily scammed by counterfeiters taking advantage of all the different designs we have of American money. Highly inconvenient for us, but this might be their safeguard.

Cheryl said...

Hmmm, maybe you're on to something, Susan. I remember vaguely when the new bills came out but can't remember the date. I do remember Phillip complaining about President Jackson's stylish new hairdo.

And I just realized I had a typo in my post, which is now fixed. I referred to Pastor May as Pastor "Tim" May. He is a James, not a Tim. ::sigh:: It's been a typo-ridden week.