It is a warm early evening, Saturday 26th January, 2019. The time reads 6:23PM in Accra. A little check on my weather app tells me the temperature is 32ºC. Not surprising; it is that time of the year in Ghana; harmattan. Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider together with his District Apostles, Apostles and soon-to-be ordained Apostles are in a meeting in the Erata Hotel Conference room.
But something else is happening in front of the hotel’s reception. A mixed choir from the Madina and Central congregations have gathered and arranging themselves for a surprise mini-concert for the Chief Apostle. Sister Lily Djokpe is also there, standing at the far-left corner of the treble singers.
Just a little after 7PM, someone rushes out from the reception to signal the choir that the meeting is over. Quickly their moods change and there is some tension. It is time.
Over the next 15-20 minutes, the Chief Apostle stood on his feet enjoying a mix of choral renditions from the choir. His untiring smile and admiring look; a firm approval of his love for praising our Heavenly Father within the context of our local language. The District Apostle tries to round-up the performance of the choir. But no, they would push to give the Chief Apostle one more song. Such bliss! The choir had it, as the Chief Apostle permits the choir to go ahead. In response, an unrestrained clap and cheer of appreciation from him at the end.
It has been 1,144 days (at the time of posting this article) since that experience. Sister Lily would see the Chief Apostle on 27th March, 2022. Yet, she has still decided to travel with friends to see him on 26th March in Ho.
NAC reporter: Why Lily? Why put yourself through that stress?
Sister Lily: It was fascinating! Having Chief Apostle around does not happen on a regular basis, you know. So, I was really glad and proud I got to be part of the choir that performed for him, and being right in face back then was fun. It felt good.
Besides I like traveling too. I want to be part of both services as well. I want a double portion of the blessings.
NAC reporter: “Being in the front line of the choir, facing him directly”; Were you not tensed performing?
Sister Lily: Not at all! If anything, I had wanted all his attention on me, just so I can collect all the blessing (she says with a teasing laugh. Lily does enjoy such banters). I don't know if it's because District Apostle is born on the 17th September, and Chief Apostle and I share 18th September as our birthday, but I do not feel intimidated when they are around. I just feel connected to them in some way, and I feel very calm.
Sister Lily: Wait, is this an interview?
NAC reporter: Yes. Very much so, and I’m not editing what you are saying.
Sister Lily: Well, while you are at it, can you please add that I'm a lovely sister and an extremely passionate violinist who would like dear Chief Apostle to gift me a violin on “our birthday”?(Lily says with a tongue-in-cheek).
NAC reporter: (shaking my head in sarcastic disbelief) But you already have a violin?
Sister Lily: I know, I know. I can be ‘extra’ right. (She says laughing). That violin is a student's violin. It's literally nothing...like literally.
Sister Lily is one of the key members of the Accra Apostle area orchestra. She is a leader for the violinists. She also plays for the National Symphony Orchestra on part-time and brings to bear her experience to help the Church.
NAC reporter: What about the orchestra? I thought you would have a last minute brush-up and rehearsal with your team. Wouldn’t your travel affect you, especially the traffic on your way back?
Sister Lily: Not at all! We are all set for that day. Orchestra is very ready even though we are still not sure if we will be part of the performing groups on the day. But we have gone through our paces and we are set.
Concerning my travel, my friends and I have booked return tickets to Ho. I’m sure we will return to Accra before the Chief Apostle and his team do. Just to mitigate, we will also pack our bags to attend the service on Sunday, just in case we face bad weather late Saturday afternoon and have to fly Sunday morning or come by the very first bus. So don’t worry (she winks at me)...we’re good!
Sister Lily truly can be something else. Flowers do give us sweet fragrances, but this one, Lily, which sings and plays, made the Chief Apostle clap and cheer.
Such is the feeling evoked in us when we remember the Chief Apostle’s visit the last time. Volta-Central and Accra will play a front-line role this time around. We cannot wait.
Tick, tock, tick, tock... We have 11 days and counting down. Are you ready?