When I moved to Abidjan in 1985 with my family, there were very few Australians in Côte d’Ivoire. But Australians Ian and Ruth Crowe lived in Abidjan as missionaries with WEC for fifteen years, and today Ruth stopped by to visit Mum and catch up on all the news of common Abidjan friends.

The Bissett girls in Abidjan days, circa 1986
We lived in this apartment in Cocody at the time we knew the Crowes in Abidjan. These were the kids that lived in the apartments around us. All three of us were called "Carla" because that must have been the easiest name to remember and it was difficult to tell us apart.

My memories of the Crowes include being in their apartment and watching television during Pope Jean-Paul II’s visit to Abidjan in August 1985 when he blessed the St Paul Cathedral in the business district of Plateau.

I also remember that the American kids used to call Ruth Crowe “Mrs Right-Oh” because of her Australian mannerism of agreeing with “Right-oh”. (I was delighted to note today that she hasn’t lost that habit.)

Ruth Crowe and Stephanie Bissett, September 2010
We sat around and chatted over a simple lunch of freshly-baked bread, nuts and fruit.

Manou + Aisha, 5yo, September 2010
Manou put on her Ivoirien t-shirt to show Ruth, and Aisha disappeared into her room to dress in clothes that matched Manou.

Ruth Crowe and Stephanie Bissett + Aisha, 5yo, September 2010
It's been about four years since these ladies saw each other, and there was a lot to catch up on!

The Crowes are now based in Brisbane and are working with OM, the organisation that — among other mission work — runs the Mercy Ships.