Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Africa (03/05/09)
TITLE: The Tribute
By Mary McLeary
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The Ivory Coast of Africa was more fantastic than Matt Moore had ever imagined. He was a seasoned traveler at twenty-four having served for several years in the Peace Corp, but this country with its vast plateau, major rivers and bustling cities far exceeded his expectations. He dropped his back pack and turned to his twin brother Mark.
“Well, what do you think?”
“I think we picked the right spot to rendezvous “.
While Matt had been helping the hungry learn to grow their own food, Mark had been serving his country in Iraq. They kept in close contact through e-mails and when they realized they both had leaves coming at the same time they had made plans to meet in Yamoussoukro, the capital city of Cote d’Ivoire. While in high school, Matt and Mark had become enthralled by stories told by a friend of their mom’s and dad’s who had been a missionary in Africa. After making the Ivory Coast a topic for a high school research project, they had decided that one day they would visit.
Some might think it strange that high school students would seriously make plans to visit a land so far away from rural Tennessee, but not if they knew the Moore twins who had always done what ever they set their minds to. Just ask their proud but weary parents.
Every fact Matt read about the country fascinated him, from the dwindling elephant herds that had given the country its name to the Fanico laundrymen who washed clothes for the locals on the river bank. Mark wanted to spot a diamond at one of the diamond mines, and visit the d’Abokouamekro Game Reserve to see the white hippos and camels. They had agreed to what they wanted to see first on this long awaited trip - though for different reasons.
“Rise and shine little brother! It’s time to see the biggest church in the world.” Matt threw a pillow at the tousled blond head of his twin who was only two minutes younger.
Mark’s blue eyes focused on Matt and he grinned. “Yep, big brother, today we see how to waste 300 million dollars.” Twenty minutes later they were on their way to Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro which is the biggest church in the world.
On the way, Matt reopened the topic he and Mark had debated since they had learned about Felix Houphouet-Boigny the president of Cote d’Ivoire who had built the basilica that was almost identical to St. Peter’s in Rome.
“This guy must have loved the Lord, Mark. Why else would he spend that much time and money? Just look at this place!” The bus had stopped and they could see the awesome building with its imported marble and stained glass windows.
“Matt, I never said he didn’t love Him. I said more good could have been done for the people if he had used that money for hospitals and schools. I doubt the population appreciated having their national debt doubled for this.”
Suddenly, while they were admiring the French imported stained glass windows, the sunlight illuminated one and the young men were amazed to see the image of Felix Houphouet-Boigny as one of the three Biblical Magi kneeling as he offers a gift to Jesus.
“Wow!” both men exclaimed simultaneously.
Mark looked over at Matt and quietly spoke, “Man, I still think there were other ways to show his love for Christ, but this is quite a tribute.”
Matt replied in the same quiet voice, “Yes, but to whom?”
The rest of their trip was fantastic. Everyone they met and every experience they had was a reaffirmation that the destination they had chosen years ago was the right one. As they waited at the airport for their separate planes, they watched the video that Matt had downloaded onto his computer. At the beginning was their tour of the basilica, and the debate began again.
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