As we posted earlier, we went to Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR), for our group’s tri-annual conference and spiritual retreat. We flew out the morning of Saturday, May 22 and arrived in Bangui around lunch time. Saturday and Sunday were spent settling in at the Catholic center where the conference was held, and we had a service in English. (It was so nice to hear preaching in our own language).
On Monday, the conference started bright and early at 8AM. About half of the members of our group were there as well as the Africa Area director, the Francophone region director, and the directors of ACATBA and ACOTBA-SUBO (the national Bible translation organizations in CAR and western Democratic Republic of Congo respectively).
Each day we had some time for singing and a devotional. Then came sharing time. Each member shared what they’d been doing since the last conference and prayer requests and praises, and then someone prayed for them. Absent members sent their information electronically and we prayed for them too. Then we had a session (either a presentation or a discussion) until around 10 when it was time for coffee break. Half an hour later we’d come back for another session and then more sharing before lunch. After lunch, we had a break until 3PM. Then we had another two sessions before dinner.
The conference lasted a week. Then we had a free day on Saturday with an optional hike to the “Bangui” sign at 6:30AM and the opportunity to visit the artisan market. The US Ambassador to CAR opens his pool to Americans and some other friends most weekends between 2 and 5PM, so we were invited to swim one Saturday and both Sundays.
Our spiritual retreat started on the second Sunday morning and lasted until mid-day on Tuesday. We studied the book of 1st Peter with the invited speaker, a pastor who is also the director’s brother-in-law. Our mornings during the retreat were pretty much the same as during the conference, but we had the afternoons free.
During the evenings, we had some organized events (movies, games and a “jam session” with the musicians) and other nights we just decided to watch a movie or play games or do puzzles. It was a great way to get to know members in our group that we had never met.
Tuesday afternoon, the members that live in Congo headed back to the airport to return to Brazzaville (and then on to Point Noir for some). It was a wonderful time, but exhausting. We’ve posted a few pictures from our trip here. We’re planning on writing another post about what we learned at the conference, so stay tuned.