Monday, 17 June 2013

surprises along the way

We know that when we travel there will be surprises. For me, some of that included what we were asked to do in Benin.

I knew from previous groups of people who have gone to Benin from our church that it's very common to be asked to preach. One man was asked to preach 8 times in a 10 day trip!

Derek preached once, so we got off easy in the preaching category. But this preaching fell in his very, very busy week of teaching 2 courses and trying to mark papers written in French.

When we were in Allada living at La Casa Grande, we went to church in town. They asked our family to come to the front to share a few words the first Sunday we were there. So we did. I read from Romans 12:1-2, one of my favourite passages this past year.

The next day, I had an invitation from the pastor's wife to speak at a gathering of women that was happening the following Saturday morning. I wondered if it would be rude to decline the offer, because I didn't really know what to talk about - they wanted input for about an hour. But after thinking about it for a day or so, I agreed to do it.

I spoke about Romans 12 and used different stories to illustrate various aspects of the passage. And I had fun! I really liked speaking in bite-sized chunks and having it translated into Fon. It gave me time to think of my next sentence. The women responded very well to the stories too, which was fun.

me with the organizing committee... one of these things is not like the others...
the women at the gathering

Romans 12:1-2 speaks of not conforming to this world, but being transformed by the renewing of our minds. I used the example of the butterfly to illustrate this - how a caterpillar grows and grows, makes a chrysalis, then emerges as a totally different creature. I talked about how my daughters and I had carefully observed each stage, and how long each stage took for a monarch butterfly in Canada.

I thought that this was an example that everyone would know about, but this wasn't the case. This was a new story! So the following week at La Casa Grande, I was asked to lead the morning devotions for 5 days. The first day I talked about this passage to them and showed pictures from my computer of the various stages of the caterpillar/chrysalis/butterfly. I also showed a short video of the butterfly emerging from its chrysalis.

Paulin asked everyone there (about 30 kids and staff) whether they had ever heard about that before. Nobody had. So it was fun to share that in this group too.

Then in Cotonou, we were asked to share the morning we went to church with Bonaventure. So once again I pulled out Romans 12:1-2 and told the story of the girls and watching a caterpillar transform.

Transform has been a good word for this trip too - it's been a good opportunity to re-orient our thinking, our prayers, ourselves. So I'm hopeful that I'll continue this transformation, just like a caterpillar/chrysalis/butterfly.


  1. I think I can speak for others at SJMC when I say "thank you" for your willingness to embrace this visit to Benin in the way you have. The sharing you have already done in your blogs (and more to come) is an encouragement to us, and invites us to enter that transformation process too.
    With gratefuless, Sue S.

    1. Thanks, Sue - it's been fun to document our travels in this way.

  2. Rebecca, Derek, Zoe & Eden,
    Thanks for all of the insightful reflections you have shared with us over these past weeks. I've enjoyed following your trip, and really look forward to seeing you soon and hearing more!

  3. "being transformed by the renewing of our minds" A wonderful snippet to ponder. And the image of the butterfly - so very timely. Thank you for sharing.

    I am so very glad that you said "yes" to speaking. You have so many wonderful words of wisdom to share and questions to spark ideas in others.



    1. Thanks Shauna - for all of your comments in the last month! Felt like you were traveling with us! :)