Seby (SAY-be) was about fourteen years old when we first met him. It shortly after we went to live in the village of Gogo in the summer of 1987. He was the only Loron boy in the region to have spent more than a couple of years at school. In fact he had finished primary/elementary school and was planning to go return to secondary school at the end of the summer.
As Seby was the only Loron person in the village who could speak French as well as his native language, I asked him if he would help me as I made a start on learning the Loron language. He eagerly agreed and over the next few weeks he was a great help as we worked together on a grammar survey of his language. He was very intelligent and quickly grasped what I was looking for.
At the end of September he left the village and went back to school, sixty five miles away, but every summer he would come home and spend his school break in Gogo helping the missionaries with language study and, as we progressed, with Bible translation and developing Bible lessons and literacy materials. We taught him how to work on a computer. During one of his summer breaks, Seby became a Christian.
When he finished his education, he returned to live in the village with his new wife, Eri, a Loron believer. He built a mud house with a straw roof, just like all the other Loron folks. He planted a field, helped with Bible teaching at the church in Gogo and, when he had time, he worked with me on Bible translation.
In 2000, while we were on furlough in Northern Ireland, he was offered a job as a trainee nurse at a small Baptist clinic in Doropo, about 15 miles from Gogo. At first he was reluctant to take the job because he said that he could not stand the sight of blood, but he gave it a go anyway, and after a while began to really enjoy the work. There was no formal instruction with the job and so, in 2006, he decided that he would trust the Lord to help him take a three-year nurse’s training course at the University Teaching Hospitals in Abidjan in southern Ivory Coast, over 400 miles from where he and his family were living.
During the next three years he faced numerous trials and disappointments, including teacher strikes, sickness in his family and long spells of separation from his wife and children. But he persevered. Together with members of his own family and a Christian couple in Holland, Marina and I assisted Seby to pursue his studies. We were thrilled, in August, to learn that he had passed his final exams and was returning to northern Ivory Coast to resume working at the Baptist hospital, this time with a nursing diploma under his belt!
We heard this week that Seby came first in a class of over five hundred students. As I'm sure you can imagine, we are really chuffed about that!