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An Inconspicuous Start

We have all heard of the Actress and the Bishop...well....have you heard of the Missionary and the Traveller? An Inconspicuous Start

St. Valentines Day 1973. President Richard Milhouse Nixon sat uncomfortably in the Oval Office digesting the solemn news Bob Haldeman had shared with him. Watergate was about to cascade into history. Israel was at war with Egypt and at exactly 22.15 hrs, I flew into a blackened Cairo Airport bristling with military activity.

It was my first day serving the Church of Scotland as a missionary or fraternal worker as I preferred to be known as. I was on my way to the Presbyterian Church of Ghana in West Africa. The Air Egypt flight would leave Cairo the following morning and fly south to Lagos in Nigeria before depositing me at Accra in Ghana. An overnight transit stop in Cairo seemed romantic when I booked the flight two weeks beforehand without giving any thought to the combatants in the Sinai desert.

We disembarked from the plane in darkness. A cordon of officials herded us towards the dimly lit terminal, abiding by the war blackout conditions. My name was checked and I was given a slip of paper with my room number on it,at the desk in the terminal.

The dormitory arrangements were situated along a ground floor corridor and I managed to see there were toilet facilities at each end. I approached room number six as directed by the paper in my hand. The door was slightly ajar. As I entered I was made aware of a flat double mattress on the floor with a definite movement on one side of the bed. I froze. Had I got the right room?

A black female American voice broke the silence. ?You got room six??
?Er..yes. My slip says room six too. There must be a mistake!?
?Mistake or no mistake. There?s a war on. You sleep at the door side and I sleep here at this side. You keep to your side and I keep to mine. No hanky panky, ok??
It was a command as much as a question and I could think of no response in the circumstances.
And so it came to pass that my first night as a Church Missionary was spent in the bed of a black American woman whose name I never knew and she never asked of mine.
We exchanged pleasantries on waking the following morning and I noticed she departed at Lagos when the flight resumed. I arrived two hours later in Accra to start seven years of pastoral work.
That first night I wrote to the Church of Scotland?s head office at 121 George Street, Edinburgh to advise them. I was brief. It read, "arrived safely".

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Upload Date: 31/12/1969

Downloads: 1400

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