Preaching in Rome
11.35pm. We have had an exhausting day and Freda is feeling unwell. I preached tonight at John McTernan’s assembly. It took almost two hours to reach there, as long in fact as it took us to fly from Heathrow to Flumicino yesterday. After the meeting Bro. McTernan took us for a cup of coffee, then we had to wait a few minutes for the T3 ’bus and about 40 minutes at the station for the 78 ’bus back to the hotel.
We had breakfast in bed this morning. This is the only meal the hotel does, and a notice in the lift says that they prefer to serve it in one’s room. While having our rolls and coffee I studied the instructions for the use of Susan’s cine camera, which I then loaded.
By the time we went out the morning post had been, and as there were no tickets for the Papal Audience tomorrow I decided we should call at the North American College, Via de Umilita 30, which is the Bishop’s Office for U.S. visitors to the Vatican, to see if we could obtain them. An American priest received us and asked us to call back in about 20-30 minutes’ time, as they were just in the process of allocating the tickets.
In the meantime we visited the Trevi Fountain, which I filmed in bright sunshine, then, having collected the tickets, we walked down the Via del Corso as far as the Victor Emmanuel Monument. Here we stopped at a street-corner snack bar for a toasted cheese sandwich and glass of milk, before walking on past the Forum and to the Colosseum. It seemed impossible to believe that twelve so-eventful years had passed since we last did this.
It was a beautiful day. I did more filming at both the Forum and Colosseum, then as we were crossing the road we met one of the businessmen we shared a table with at lunch yesterday, the man I had described as looking like a brother to Marty Feldman.
On the way back we stopped at a garden café for a bottle of lemonade each, then walked back to the hotel. On the way we saw an airship overhead advertising Goodyear tyres.
Two tickets had arrived for us, Nos. 32 and 33, for tomorrow’s Audience [with Pope Paul VI], which, as it is Ash Wednesday, will actually take place at St. Peter’s instead of the specially built auditorium.
After this we quickly went out again, this time to see the Via Veneto, which we missed last time we were here, and to confirm our onward flight to Dakar on Thursday at Alitalia in Via Biscolati.
When we got back there was scarcely time to rest before going out again to the service at 7.00pm. Bro. McTernan had told me to take the 73 ’bus to the terminus, and we would find the church there. I ascertained from the Reception that one had first to take the 78 ’bus to the Station. We left before 6.00pm. in good time, as I thought, but the bus crawled. The streets were jammed with traffic which apparently was worse than ever due to its being a Festival. The Via Nazionale was covered with millions of pieces of confetti, which everyone must have been throwing — we had had some thrown over us at the street-corner café this morning — and children were in fancy dress. There were lots of raucous students about, many of them dressed up in witches’ outfits etc.
The journey out from the Station to the terminus was the worst I have ever known. We stood most of the way, packed in like sardines. Then when we arrived at the terminus it was a few minutes before we found the church. By that time it was close on 8.00pm. In nearly 20 years of ministry I could not ever remember being late before.
Bro. McTernan came down off the platform and invited me to speak, and I preached on Acts 3, the man at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple, with him interpreting. A couple of souls came forward to be saved, and various others for healing and the Baptism in the Spirit. The message seemed to be appreciated even though I didn’t minister very well.
After the service we talked with several of the congregation, then Bro. McTernan showed us the main auditorium of the church, before taking us for a cup of coffee. He seemed very cold toward us though. I had mentioned our 1965 meetings in Ethiopia while preaching, and I am sure he did not believe we had been there, or else that our report was untrue. As though to prove the point he mentioned the great persecution of Full Gospel believers in Ethiopia, and the fact that he, along with others, had petitioned Emperor Haile Selassie about this. When I mentioned our discussion with the Emperor he was silent.
Freda was feeling sick and exhausted when we got back close on 11.00pm. We had had hardly anything to eat all day. However, we went out again and had a chicken and salad sandwich each, and lemon tea, at a bar just down the road from where we ate last night.
Ticket to the papal audience
An audience with Pope Paul VI
9.58pm. Today we shall always remember for the Papal Audience in St. Peter’s, in which we were privileged to participate. We were approaching the Colonnade of the Piazza San Petro just as the hour of nine o’clock was striking, and about twenty minutes later we were able to take our seats numbered 32 and 33, but almost all the remaining accommodation was benches.
The great Church of St. Peter’s was closed to the public soon after we arrived. The seats were gradually filled, the candles lighted and the lighting switched on, amid growing excitement as the hour of 11.00am approached. The Pope was fifteen minutes late in appearing. He walked up the nave of the Church from the far end where we ourselves had entered, a slight figure entirely dwarfed by the vast proportions of the Basilica. The congregation clapped and applauded and flashlights exploded from all over the congregation.
At the foot of the steps of the Bernini High Altar attendants waited on the Pope to change his vestments, then he ascended the steps to take his seat. From the position where we were seated we had a marvellous view. A simple service followed — prayer and the reading of the Epistle and Gospel, and then, as it was Ash Wednesday, ashes were blessed, and a number of people, priests and laity, came forward for the Pope to mark them with the ashes. The Pope gave a simple message after first greeting those present from different parts of the world, and explained the significance of Ash Wednesday and Lent, and what it meant to us as we approached the Easter Mystery. He then spoke in French, English, German and Spanish, and the service closed with the Papal Blessing.
But this was not the end of the Audience. The Holy Father then came down to speak to individual people and hundreds strove to touch him. We were immensely impressed by the man. We were only a very few feet away and saw and felt his compassion and identification with the people. Everything about him spoke of humility. The feeling one had was that here was a shy and unassuming man willingly giving himself to the people. Really, there are no words adequate to express what was for us an immensely moving and wonderful experience. We shall never forget it.
After we left St. Peter’s at close on 1pm we bought a couple of postcards, then caught the 81 ’bus back to the Via del Corso. The hotel receptionist had told us it was the 6[ ] ’bus we required to get us to the Vatican, but when we boarded one this morning and enquired of the conductor he told us we needed the 81. The ’bus service seems very good and they are almost always crowded. The fare is 50 lire for any distance. One boards the ’bus at the rear, paying the conductor on entering, then gradually pushes and shoves one’s way forward with the occasional “Permesso”, eventually alighting from the centre or front of the ’bus.
A long wait at the airport
9.25pm. We are at Fiumicino Airport where we have been for the last two hours awaiting the departure [at 2359, midnight] of our Flight No. AZ584 for Dakar. As the strike of Alitalia personnel is still on, only a skeleton staff is working, and as the aircraft has to come from Milan we anticipate the possibility of a long wait. About an hour ago the arrival of Flight AZ281 from London was announced. This is the 11.40am flight which was so very late on Monday.
Since writing the above Freda has returned from speaking to an Alitalia man, who says that our flight is already an hour delayed. It may well be daylight before we set off again on the second leg of our journey. The worst of being up all night is that one gets hungry and we have used up all our money. After paying the taxi fare (800 lire) to the Airport terminal, ’bus fare to the Airport (800 lire each) and the Airport Tax (2,000 lire) we had exactly 700 lire left, which we spent on cheese rolls, milk for Freda and Pepsi-cola for me, supplemented by an apple brought with us from England.
We were off early this morning in order to be at the Vatican for 9.00am and to be amongst the first to gain admittance to the Sistine Chapel. While waiting outside we bought for £1 an illustrated guide to the Vatican City, normally costing 3,100 lire, and Freda is looking at it at this moment.
I do not know how to begin to describe all that we saw. It was breath-taking, marvellous beyond all words. So many of the world’s greatest works of art, with which one was already familiar from one’s books, but suddenly springing to life, as it were, before one’s eyes, full of movement and colour, Michelangelo’s Last Judgment, the Raphaels and Caravaggios, Botticellis and Peruginos, the statues and busts and wonderfully illuminated Bibles, and the copy of Praxiteles’ Cnidian Venus, which I have so long wanted to see, and the Three Graces, the Perseus and Belvedere Apollo. In a whole lifetime one could never possibly know them all. Our only disappointment was our being unable to see Michelangelo’s La Pieta in St. Peter’s. Damaged by a madman last year it has since been restored but will not go on display again to the public until it has been put behind a special glass case. Ironically, it had already been decided to do this when a madman smashed the nose from the Madonna. Of course, we had seen the Pieta when we visited St. Peter’s in 1960, but not to appreciate it
We stayed in St. Peter’s only long enough to check that the Pieta was still boarded up as it had been yesterday, then I shot a few feet of film from the Piazza, bought today’s L’Osservatore Romano for the account of yesterday’s Audience, and then returned to the hotel for 1.00pm when we were to vacate our room.
We paid our bill, which came to 38,500 lire, with a £20 traveller’s cheque and 11,000 lire in cash, then went to have lunch at our usual restaurant in the Via Frattina. The food was excellent and reasonably priced, but, but the menu presented us with some difficulty. Today we had a plate of lettuce, a plate of beans, and charlotte (trifle). The service charge was supposed to be 10% but I noticed that the waiter added 290 lire to the bill of 2,060 lire, which was 14%, and he reduced it to 210.
After lunch we returned to the hotel to unload the cine-film we had exposed, and to work out our finances, then we went to the Post Office to post it off to the Kodak laboratory at Hemel Hempstead. The postage was 180 lire. After this we walked down to the Piazza where Freda had seen a doll for Rebecca — she collects them — in a souvenir shop, and this we bought; and also found headscarves, which were just the thing to buy, being cheap and above all light and not bulky to carry. The girl in the shop let us have these items for 3,250 lire instead of 3,500. She accepted $5 and 500 lire. We had been unable to change the $5 note earlier as the exchanges were closed. In fact, the dollar has been in such trouble lately, and European currencies in such a state of flux, that the money market was staying closed all week. The poor rate of exchange of our traveller’s cheques, only 1,350 lire to £1, contributed to our money problem. In all we spent £48 in Rome and still did not eat properly.
We had a walk round by the Forum and Victor Emmanuel Monument and saw a political demonstration as we returned to the Piazza, several hundred people with banners behind a loudspeaker van. Television cameramen temporarily deposed the traffic policeman from his rostrum.
For the second day running it was bitterly cold — such a change after the warm sunshine of Tuesday — and we were glad to step inside some of the shops, including Standa, on our way back to the hotel. When we arrived Freda obtained notepaper and an envelope from the desk, and wrote a letter to my parents in which we asked Dad to ask Janet to request Mr. Broxup to wire us £200 to Barclays Bank DCO at Lagos. The annoying thing is that while a great many stores and hotels in Rome will accept a Diners Club card, the Hotel Inghilterra did not, and I was unable to use my Barclaycard or Access card anywhere. My American Express card has not yet come through, otherwise I could easily have obtained some money, their office being next to the Spanish Steps.
After writing the letter it was close on 6.00pm and as there was no point in sitting around in the hotel, we took a taxi to the Airport terminal where we caught the ’bus here. It is now 11.11pm but our flight has arrived from Milan and we are hopeful that we may still get away on time.
11.50pm. I went off to the Alitalia desk a few minutes ago and was told there would be a delay of one hour. We were given vouchers for a drink and we have just had a Ginger ale from the bar.
I never completed yesterday’s notes. After our audience with the Pope we returned to the hotel, then went and found a couple of letters waiting for us, Jean’s letter of Monday with the accounts enclosing a photocopy of a letter from Brother Stephens and one from Freda’s mother. Brother Stephens’ letter was to thank us for our tithes, and advising us not to go to Nigeria this month or next as there is a severe drought there and a smallpox epidemic. Jean, with her usual tactlessness, had told Freda’s mother and she had written advising us also not to go.
Having been up to our room, No. 118, and read our letters we went out almost immediately for lunch at the Restaurant in the Via Frattina. We had a very tasty spaghetti dish topped with tomato juice, then chocolate cake, and vino rosso to accompany the meal. The wine went to our heads, and we returned to the hotel in a pleasurable state of inebriation and went to sleep for an hour or two. Then Freda wrote a letter to her mother and recorded a 30-minute tape [No. 319] for John and Sheila, and we went out to post them. The hotel reception had no stamps left, but we bought a couple at a tobacco shop, then posted the items at the post office before going for a walk down the Via del Corso. The sky was over cast and we felt cold.
Later on we returned to the restaurant for our evening meal, and had consommé and a ? spinach omelette. During the evening I wrote up the accounts and Freda packed, and we both had a bath.
We have had a wonderful stay in Rome, preaching on Tuesday night, seeing the Pope on Wednesday and the treasures of the Vatican today, and much else besides. “The Eternal City” it is called, and certainly we look forward to returning at some future date. “Rome will always be here,” the priest told me at the North American College on Tuesday.
There is a sad postscript to Monday’s troubles at London Airport. In recording that we flew over Belgium and Switzerland I meant to add that this was instead of flying over France where the air traffic controllers are on strike. The French Air Force had taken over air traffic control, but was still unable to prevent a mid-air collision in which a planeload of British holidaymakers flying from Palma (as we have often done) were killed en route for Heathrow. Had we not been delayed and then diverted we might easily have been in the same traffic lane.
The actual page from my diary written on 8th March 1973
The front page of that day’s newspaper
Vatican City guidebook
Our fourth time in Africa
10.43pm GMT. When we landed here in Dakar, Senegal, just over sixteen hours ago, we set foot on African soil for the fourth time. We are now in our room 2260 at the Hotel Diarama, which is part of the Hotel Meridienne complex and the most fabulous hotel we have ever stayed in so far as its amenities are concerned. I can write no more as my head is swimming.
A healing in Senegal
10.40pm. We got up at about 8.30 this morning. The Pastor we were with yesterday had arranged for transport to be available at the A.o.G. [Assemblies of God] Mission to take us to an English-speaking church if we so desired. Most probably I would have been asked to speak but I made no definite arrangement and did not feel we should go unless a definite invitation was forthcoming. As things turned out I was glad we stayed behind.
After breakfast the “boy” [young man] came to do our room and I thought to ask him about the dumb lad we had been told about. He knew about him and began asking if I was a doctor; and then, after I had explained about our ministry to the sick, the “boy” asked if I could cure him. I had not noticed that he had a limp. His hip had been broken in a car accident five years ago, and the leg had become stiff and the knee difficult to bend. After laying hands on him he was able to kneel down and to move the leg with some considerable facility, and he was so grateful. He took our address, gave me his, and seemed most anxious that all his friends should be helped too, before we left on Tuesday. What he especially wanted to know was whether his friends could still be helped even at a distance.
Yesterday I had said to Freda that I believed I could preach in French if I had to. I little dreamed I would be doing just that, after a fashion, less than twenty-four hours later. I gave my testimony of how Christ had changed my life completely, had healed my body and now sent me to minister to others. It was only as the “boy” was going — I did not want to keep him further from his work — that I thought to ask him whether he was a Christian or a Moslem. I was flabbergasted when he said he was a Moslem. The possibility had not for one moment entered my head. Here I had been talking to him about the Lord Jesus Christ and he had received every word, and I remembered what the Pastor had said to us yesterday, quoting Tommy Osborn [T.L. Osborn], that in a Moslem community “you have got to be able to produce.”
What may come of this incident I have no idea, but that the Lord was in it I have no doubt. Freda seemed to think I was hardly justified in saying it was worth coming all this way just for one “boy”, but Jesus went a long, long way just for the Syrophenician woman. Do not I often say that if there was only one lost sinner Christ would still have come from the realm of glory to save that one?
After this I tried to play the tape-recorder using the mains electricity, which is 220 volts. The plug which was fitted to the machine was unsuitable, however, so I went to Reception to see if they had one, and they sent me with a boy down to the workshop where a Frenchman found and fitted the right plug. So we were able to play the tape of last night’s African dancing [[LINK]], and part of the Pope’s address on Wednesday.
After this it was time for lunch, and we had a very nice salad in the Coffee Shop; then after lunch we put on our swimming things and went on to the beach. It was not very warm however. The sun shone only dimly all day and there was a strong wind. We did strip off though for an hour or so. Freda was reading the Queen Alexandra book I gave her for Christmas, and I began reading Did You Receive the Spirit? by Fr. Tugwell. We also both dozed off.
Later on we had a pot of tea and cakes at the open-air La Paillota where we were soon joined by two of our English friends whom we have been bumping into. They are much older than us and come from Norfolk, but seem to appreciate our company as we have theirs. The man — someone else whose name we don’t know — wanted to know about our work, so for the second time in a few hours we were speaking about what we are doing here.
The remainder of the afternoon and evening I spent writing until 9.00pm when we had dinner in the Coffee Shop, chicken and chips. Afterwards we had a walk round.
With the National Dance Troupe in Sierra Leone
9.40pm. What a wonderful day we have had for our first full day in Sierra Leone. We only returned about a couple of hours ago after spending the entire day with the Sierra Leone National Dance Troupe.
We slept not too badly. The air-conditioner is very noisy and I turned it off after Freda had gone to sleep. The humidity is not excessive but sufficient for drops of water to be forming when we have the air-conditioner on.
We had a very nice breakfast of paw-paw (which we always endeavour to have when we are in Africa}, tomato and two fried eggs, and toast and marmalade with a pot of tea.
After breakfast we went the back way out of the hotel and along Fort Street where we called at the Ministry of Social Welfare and asked if we might see the Director of the National Dance Troupe, a Mr. Salami Coker. Although engaged in an important meeting, he took time to escort us to another office, later calling in to give us some literature, and afterwards being most helpful in every way.
The office seemed as though it also had to serve as a waiting-room. We had not long entered the room before one of the Africans in a discussion with two other men, stated that Christians ought to be able to produce the same healings and miracles that Jesus did, so I introduced us and gave him a copy of Focus. Once again I could not help but wonder at the amazing way we are led.
After a while Mr. Coker led us outside where we met his Assistant Director Mr. Sheku Ye-Foday Koroma, who accompanied us in a Land Rover to Aberdeen, the permanent encampment of the Dance Troupe, about eight miles away at Lumley Beach. On the way there we called at the prison to collect bread for the Troupe: the bakers are in jail, and, like other prisoners, carry on their usual work.
Mr. Koroma was a fine man, strongly built with an engaging personality and a deep guffaw, and a fine sense of the things that really matter in life. Ten years ago, he and John J. Akar toured all the provinces and districts to recruit the nation’s finest dancers, musicians and singers in order to form a troupe which would represent Sierra Leone at the New York World Fair. They were not only voted the best ensemble at New York, but the following year, 1965, they came to Britain to perform in the Commonwealth Festival and created a tremendous sensation. I well remember seeing them on TV. Mr. Koroma was one of the dancers then, and has since accompanied the Troupe all over the world, the U.S.S.R. included.
The Troupe has thus become world-famous and has been the means of focussing much attention on Sierra Leone. The dancers receive free accommodation, meals, and medical attention, and are paid at the end of each month, and they train thrice daily from 8.00am until 12pm, and 4.00pm to 6.00pm. Their compound is primitive, a converted chicken farm, but is being improved, and a house is being built for Mr. Koroma.
On our arrival a table and chairs were brought for us, and all the dancers and musicians came to shake our hands. Coming from all different tribes, the dancers are being taught the Krio language, which sounds like pidgin-English, and Mr. Koroma used this to introduce us. First the Head-Dancer was introduced to us, then the Chief-Drummer, who was the son of the drummer for the Paramount Chief of the Kissi tribe. Then the drums welcomed us, and the whole company sang a Song of Welcome.
After this Mr. Koroma dismissed the company and continued his discussion with us until some sort of dispute arose, and he called them all together again by a signal on one of the drums. It was evidently something to do with the rations. They formed a couple of lines in the open-sided enclosure (chicken house) outside which we were sitting, and they each came out, all smiles, with a loaf of bread.
It was time for our “chop” too, and Mr. Koroma and the driver took us to the Cape Sierra Hotel not far away, leaving Freda and me to make our own way back later on. The Cape Sierra is a modern hotel standing on a promontory at the head of Lumley Beach, a better hotel than the Paramount, which was opened on 15th December 1960, but not more expensive. We had a snack in the lounge, a tomato sandwich each and chocolate gateau, Star beer for me and grapefruit juice for Freda.
Afterwards I took a few photographs of the area so that I could put a new film in the camera to photograph the dancers, then we made our way back on foot to the camp where we arrived at 2.45pm. It was well over an hour before the company began to get ready for their performance, and I spent most of the time looking round, playing with the small children, and looking at a photograph album of the Head Dancer’s, with photographs from the Troupe’s tour of South America.
Eventually the entire company was assembled in the “chicken house” where they usually practised. Freda and I, and two English photographers on a special assignment, were to be privileged with our own special performance. As the enclosure was unsuitable for photography, we all moved outside where the green palms and bright sunlight provided a natural backcloth to the dancers, and the clouds of dust thrown up by their feet added a touch of authenticity which could never be reproduced on an English stage.
It was tremendous. I cannot now recall the details of everything we saw (and I was busy photographing so was not able to give full attention to the performance), but Freda wrote notes on the various items, from which I glean the following. There was (1) the Dancers’ Welcome, (2) a Song of Welcome, (3) Doudouba Opening Dance, (4) Kondoujandou, (5) a Sampa, Timini tribe initiation, (6) Fullah acrobatic dancers (with 36 yards of material in their baggy trousers!), (7) a Timini acrobatic dancer with 22 years’ experience, (8) Kadi, whom Mr. Koroma described as a “mysterious” dancer, a girl who danced bare-foot over broken glass, (9) Sidiki Mansalay performing a Hoe dance, (10) a Lobo acrobatic dancer, (11) Hassana Turay, a 7-year-old Timini acrobatic dancer, (12) Bondo dancing girls, four of them, each wearing yellow head-dress, (13) Santige Sesay performing a Timini War Dance.
At this point we all broke off for drinks, one of the English photographers having sent for two crates of soft drinks to refresh the dancers in their strenuous performance. As I usually do, I wandered round looking for the unusual photograph, and was about to take one of a topless girl enjoying a bottle of 7-Up, when the girls saw me and all wanted me to photograph them. In fact, so as not to offend or disappoint any of them, I had to pretend to take photographs after the film had run out.
The light was now fading rapidly. I had no more film left, so I sat down to watch (14) Foreh, a cane-dancer, a routine which must have lasted 15 minutes, and would have been the finish of a stage presentation. The girls [each] carried a board containing a letter, and much to our amusement and Mr. Koromah’s consternation, when they lined up and finally displayed the letters, they read ENOEL ARREIS. They had to do it again and come on from the opposite direction!
I could fill this book writing on Dance, and what I call “Dancing in the Light of Spiritual Cognition”, but I think we learned more today than we ever have, about the soul and spirit of Africa. I have always believed that the only way one may get to the heart of a people is through its music, dance and costume. How could anyone claim to know the Welsh people who had never heard them sing?
It was a wonderful, wonderful day, and we are so grateful to the Lord for the unique privilege we had today.
Afterwards, Mr. Koroma accompanied us back to town, and we spent the rest of the evening in our room.
Dancing on broken glass!
MONDAY 25th NOVEMBER 1973
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