I am sending this message from Freetown, Sierra Leone, where I served today as the guest preacher for the Sierra Leone Annual Conference. Their ordination service today was an amazing four-and-a-half-hour service of praise, combined choirs (even including the Hallelujah Chorus), ordination, and communion. The offering lasted over 30 minutes so that all the 400+ worshipers could dance and sing their way forward with the joy and generosity typical of the African church.

The people were so pleased with the stoles I brought for their ordinands. The stoles were made by Joan Pattison, who makes the stoles for our Indiana Conference each year. But what really pleased them was when I shared that our Indiana Conference clergy had prayed for each of the stoles at our recent "Our Life Together" retreat. That connection of prayer and blessing is what really makes us a global church.

Yes, The United Methodist Church of Sierra Leone is grateful for all of our mission partnerships -- especially for the 25 years of Operation Classroom -- but what really matters is the sense of being partners in ministry. Being here gives me more of that sense, too.

Meanwhile, as we meet in 90-degree weather here, I pray for everyone back in Indiana to stay safe and warm during the ice and snowstorms you are having. I will try to bring some of the warmth of Africa home with me later this week.