Unlike Americans, when Ivorians say “microbes” in French, they are not usually thinking of microorganisms that cause disease. In this country, the word microbes refers to gangs of young men on foot (ages 8 to 20, or so) who terrorize pedestrians with knives, machetes, and scissors that they are not afraid to use. Abidjan has dealt with this problem since around 2014, but it was just this week that we were told how it affects Bondoukou. Our local thugs love to prey on solitary people by stealing cash and electronics, especially as individuals get in and out of taxis or walk alone. This week, the teenage son of one of our ministry co-laborers was held up. A young man approached him at dark to ask for directions, claiming that he was new in town and needed help to get somewhere. As the teen gave the stranger instructions, the rest of the gang with knives approached and stole his cell phone. Ivorians are frustrated to see this kind of crime rising. They know that much of the problem is linked to a generation who do not have occupations or family supervision.
The biological kind of microbe got hold of Verlin’s respiratory system this week and has given him a miserable cough. Of course, three full days of working in the field on the CHE agricultural projects probably contributed to weakening his immune system to some lifelong allergies. It was worth it, though, as they have almost finished delineating which land portions will be attributed to various projects. This will let our local partners in the Gospel advance the work as we leave home for slightly over a month. The team is also pleased that regular spiritual conversations are happening as locals come to observe the preparation of the fields, or work themselves. The realization that God cares about crops and has given principles in His Word to accurately address topics like farming and work ethics is an eye-opening and new concept to many.