July 14 evening
One of the questions Christians here frequently ask me is, “How do you find Seychelles?” They are proud of this little island-nation and want us to enjoy its people and natural beauty. They also ask, “How do you find the church?”
There are some truly wonderful disciples here – some of the finest I have “found” anywhere. There are also some members struggling with sin. Moreover, we have had some conversations dealing with internal issues or tensions within the church. I am a big believer in local autonomy, and we have tried to play the role of impartial outsiders, while offering sound advice when possible. One thing that amazes me is that, in spite of cultural and linguistic differences, human nature is the same everywhere, and congregations by and large face the same problems and issues.
Today is Saturday, and Andrea got together with some of the women for a cake-baking party. Cakes are something of a novelty here, but Andrea used to have a part time “cake business” when she lived here, so this was a treat for all. I tagged along for the fun (and a free taste), but for me the 4-hour afternoon turned into one long Bible study on the patio outside on a steep hill overlooking the Indian Ocean. Three young Christians – Damien, Priscilla, and Caroline – took turns asking me thoughtful Bible questions all afternoon. The level of interest in Bible discussion has endeared the group here to me. Between you and me, I “find” the heat and humidity almost intolerable, but I absolutely love the interest in spiritual things.
July 16 morning
Yesterday Andrea taught the women, and I had a wonderful class with the teens. Two of the girls would love to go to Florida College one day, but it may only be a pipe dream for them. Going to America is a very difficult, expensive process for Seychellois. It was refreshing to me to see these bright young faces respond to the teaching. Some of the problems they face are identical to those our teens face back home, but there is only one church of Christ on this island, and their exposure to other Christians of similar age is very limited.
After the worship assembly and a sermon on heaven, we had a “potluck.” The brethren rent a community center for their assemblies, so we had the potluck in the same location. The routine was similar to our potlucks, but the food was decidedly “Creole.” The men also pulled me aside and asked me to analyze their work and advise them on how to do business as a church. I gave them some specific suggestions but told them that they would have to discuss these things among themselves and come to a consensus. For reasons that are partly cultural, there is hesitancy among the men to take decisive action in certain areas. On the other hand, they want to do right and have many honest questions about how to proceed.
The church does not have a Sunday night service, so Andrea and I headed for Beau Vallon beach yesterday afternoon and watched the sunset over the Indian Ocean. Last night Jude gave us a whole case of Seychelles tuna to take back with us. Earlier in the day, Andrea had the brethren “sign” a coconut, hoping that this “souvenir” could make it through customs. On her last trip, the U.S. customs authorities confiscated her coconut, so we’re hoping this one passes.
This is probably the last “report” I will send before we board a plane Wednesday night for a Thursday afternoon arrival in San Francisco. We have a study with Abdel (the basketball player) this morning, a midweek Bible study tomorrow night, and several private meetings with brethren scheduled. Our time at the “internet café” has always been hurried and limited, but it may be especially so between now and Wednesday. Lord willing, I will fill you in on some things better said “face to face” than in writing… next Lord’s Day.
Keep us in your prayers,
Mike and Andrea