Friday – Pastor’s Conference Day 1of 2:
After a short sleep we piled into the hotel room our hosts were staying in where they had compiled a basic breakfast for us. Their efforts in making sure we were well fed were above and beyond from day one until the day we left. I don’t think I ever felt hungry the whole trip because they never let us get to that point. We then jumped in the cars with our backpacks and took off. Along the way we made a stop in a tiny village where we visited a family’s home and took pictures of the village and the people living there. We prayed blessings over his family, his home, his finances, etc. Then we carried on to the site of the Pastor’s Conference.
Upon arrival you could here the worship music blasting out from the open air, tin-roof covered meeting space. As we entered into the area and to our seats we were immediately placed onto the stage in chairs which appears to be customary. After the time of worship we were introduced and we each greeted the people. They then presented each of us with an ornate garland or lei. This also appears to be customary because I think we were presented with three of them throughout the trip. Four different speakers spoke and in between we broke for lunch which was prepared for us by our hosts’ cook who traveled with us for that purpose. It was amazing to see the food we were presented with. I couldn’t believe he prepared that in such a short time with just an open fire. As we were preparing to leave I couldn’t believe how every person came up to us and wanted us to spend time praying for them. I sensed they were desperate for God to impart something into them. I now know more about the difficulties a Christian pastor faces in a non-Christian country. This is not a game to them and you can see the weight of that in their eyes.
After the first day of the pastor’s conference was complete we drove out further into the back country to a small and beautiful little village where there was probably a minimum of 600-800 people who just showed up all of a sudden. They were summoned by the loudest sound system my ears have ever had the privilege/pain to hear. We again introduced ourselves and were presented with a garland. We were also presented with an oversized type scarf which I utilized as a blanket on the cold airplanes while traveling home. I watched as the people received every message and then prayed at the end with so much sincerity that it brought tears to my eyes. When we finished, the children had prepared dances for us. First the small girls, then the preteens. They were completely decked out in the finest dresses they could find. It was beautiful to see. During one of the dances, the power went out. It was completely dark and suddenly the women and children started singing an uptempo worship song in their native tongue. I recorded the audio of them singing and have plans to make it my new ringtone. After the power returned and the service concluded, we shook hands with almost everyone there and they all wanted us to pray for them individually. The children were once again thrilled to see themselves in pictures and kept requesting to have their pictures made with us. If you took a picture of one you’d suddenly be surrounded by 50.
As we drove back it seemed like hours due to the gnarly road conditions and the fact that one of the guys with us had to stop about 5 times to throw up. I believe maybe it was just something he ate but I felt so bad for him. He was miserable. When we finally made it back to our lovely abode it was after 1:00 AM and we fell straight to sleep.