Saturday, July 8, 2017

June 2017 in Cameroon

Dear Family and Friends,

I am late again and wish I had a good excuse like "I slammed my fingers in the car door", but...since I didn't, and have no good excuse...the following is a synopsis of another adventuresome month in Cameroon.

June again testified to us of the reality of a Father in Heaven and His love for us.  Africa is not a place where one particularly wants to visit a hospital, so we try and avoid one if at all possible.  The first of June, Elder Call developed rather an annoying, large infected boil.  I do have a picture, but I will not include  it because of its location.  However as a hint...Elder Call was having difficulty sitting comfortably.  There is a doctor in South Africa that we can contact for advice, so I took a picture of the boil and sent it down to him. He wrote back and said it needed to be lanced and the pus needed to be extracted.  He gave the option of doing it myself, or taking Elder Call to a hospital.  Neither option sounded good to me.

As we pondered over our choices,  Elder Call remembered talking with one of the new missionaries, Elder Tall, who had been transferred to Cameroon.  In their conversation Elder Tall mentioned how he had spent some time working in a hospital. We thought we might give it a chance and we called to ask if by some crazy chance, he had had any experience "operating" on boils.  To our delight, he said he had assisted with many and felt comfortable helping us.  He and his companion stopped by a small shop to purchase some razor blades and were at our door in about one hour.

Elder (doctor) Tall
The boil was worse than he thought and it became necessary to make  a  couple of incisions in order to get the pus to drain.   (Something I could never have done) However, Elder Tall was amazingly competent.  If it were not for his obviously young age, we would have thought he was an experienced doctor of many years.

So again, when we needed some help,  the Lord provided a young, but qualified "doctor".  We also learned afterwards that Elder Tall was not even supposed to be here in Cameroon.  His mission began in Brazzaville and the plans were to keep him there for awhile.  However,  after two failed attempts to renew his visa to the Republic of Congo, he was transferred to Cameroon.  Oh, how the Lord moves in mysterious ways!  Elder Call took a few weeks to heal, but we are happy to say the surgery was a success and Elder Call is back to his normal energetic self.

June was another month of saying "Goodbyes".  There were some Elders who arrived in the mission field in Cameroon instead of first going to Brazzaville, which is the norm. This was due to a time when tensions were high with the United States and the Republic of Congo so they would not allow our missionaries from the States to fly directly to the Republic of Congo.  Thus, they came to Cameroon first....and thus...they were "our" missionaries.  Well, three more of them were transferred to Brazzaville, Republic of Congo.  So sad to see them go.
                         Having our last meal together at an outdoor "mall"

At the airport saying our final "goodbyes".  Elder Zobell, us, Elder Kincaid and Elder Russell

Our other "goodbyes" in June was to our mission president, President and Sister Monga.  They have served hard and tirelessly.  President Monga actually opened up this mission.  One thing he did was to split the companionships between black and white Elders.  Before President Monga, white Elders served together and black Elders served together.  There have been some "struggles" but on a whole we feel it was an inspired move.

    





The last Zone Conference at our apartment.  I made a going away cake.

                          Our last meeting with President and Sister Monga

Every month we do a lot of training, but the month of June exceeded them all. There was a new district president called in Yaounde, President Nana.  He had been the 1st counselor in the previous district presidency and will do a marvelous job.  There is some "cleaning-up" to do in Yaounde and Pres. Nana is the perfect leader for the job.  Poverty is such a issue in Africa and thus the temptation to abuse welfare money is a problem.  There was even a former branch president who promised an investigator money IF she joined the church.  As I said...he was a "former" branch president.

Anyway, the new district presidency called mostly new auxiliary presidencies.  Thus, they wanted them all to be trained, plus the "old" auxiliaries re-trained.   As a result, we spent almost 2 weeks in Yaounde.

Our training began with training the branch presidents in budgeting.  After we trained them in how, why and where their money comes from, Pres. Nana trained them in how to manage welfare issues.  It was extremely informative and we hope will be successful in eliminating so many financial abuses.

I don't always remember to take pictures at the training meetings, but there are two pictures I would like to share.  As you look at the pictures, try to determine the ages of the leaders.


This is a picture of the district Young Men's presidency.  The four young men in the front row make up the presidency.
 



This next picture is of the district Young Women's presidency.

I know it is difficult to tell the age of Africans, but the average age of both presidencies is somewhere in the 20ties.  The future of Cameroon is in these wonderful young people.  The challenge is getting them married and raising righteous families.

Speaking of marriages, we were actually privileged to share in a marriage celebration while we were in Yaounde.  On Wednesday, one of our former French teachers, Wesley, called and said she was getting married.  What a tender mercy it was for us to be in Yaounde for the marriage.  While living in Douala, Wesley had gotten engaged to this righteous young man from Yaounde, but her in-active mother was not happy.  She said she needed to finish her schooling and also that she was too young.  The young man, Oscar, would visit and bring gifts, but the mother was firm about her feelings against him.  When Wesley and Oscar went to the uncle to get the list for the bride price, they were handed 4 pages of items to buy.  With the discouragement of the list, and the constant contention at home, Wesley decided to move to Yaounde where she could finish her schooling and be close to Oscar.  Well, they decided being married was cheaper than living separately, so they got married.

Waiting for the arrival of the Mayor.  They were married in a home of one of the branch presidents
It's official, they are legally married...now to get to the temple. 
                                 
Congratulating the happy couple 
Elder Call and I were probably the closet family Wesley had at the wedding.  I felt sorry that Wesley's Mom had made it so difficult for her that she was not able to participate in the marriage ceremony of her own daughter.  

Sunday we were asked to give a Young Single Adult Fireside.  Our French, or lack of, makes it difficult to give much of a lecture, so we have to rely heavily on the principles taught in the new "Teaching In The Savior's Way" manual...which is probably a good thing. 

We choose for our theme "Your Future Is As Bright As Your Faith".  We drew a picture of the Plan of Salvation on the white board and gave them a copy also to fill in the blanks, using their scriptures if needed.  

        Filling out the Plan of Salvation in groups of 3 or 4.  

                           Using their sheets to fill in the blanks on the white board.

Elder Call then led them in a discussion using Alma 13:3 which talks about having "exceeding faith and good works" in the pre-mortal life. He related how the same is required in this life in order to reach exaltation.  In other words, their future is as bright as their faith (and good works).  They did it once pre-mortally, they can do it again.

Following the discussion there was a question and answer period which went well.




For an activity, we divided them into 5 teams and played Scripture Charades using stories from the Book of Mormon.

There were some pretty good actors.


Proof of their acting ability, can you name this story in the Book of Mormon?


I would like to end the blog with one last picture of a baptism and a inspirational Cameroonian story.  The young lady kneeling in the front was baptized about 3 years ago; her name is Marianne.  When she was taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ, she believed it with all her heart and wanted to be baptized.  At the time she was living with a man and together they had one child.  Her "boyfriend" told her that if she joined the church, he would take the child and she would never see him/her again.  (I do not know the gender of the child)  She went ahead and was baptized anyway.  Since that time she has been a faithful member and comes to church every week.  She has tried to visit her child, but to no avail...her boyfriend has kept his word.  To support herself in the future, she enrolled and graduated from a local school.  However, her dream now is to serve a mission.  When she told me her dream of serving a mission she had one concern.  She said, "Sister Call, does the church need Sister missionaries?"  My eyes filled with tears as I looked at a this faithful sister and assured her, "Yes, the church indeed needs Sister missionaries"!!  

My testimony is that the world needs missionaries.  There is so much work to be done and so many who would join, if they had the opportunity to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ.  Recently, some of our children asked if we were going to serve another mission.  Though it depends on many things, including good health, our answer has been, "Probably"....because the church also needs senior missionary couples. :)




Friday, June 2, 2017

May 2017 in Cameroon

Dear Family and Friends,

Whoa, that was fast.  I knew the time for writing another blog would come quickly, but I didn't think it would come this fast.  Thoughts of procrastination have occurred to me, but then the shaving/repentance quote keeps popping into my mind...so alas, here I am again.

The month of May began with transfers and it is certainly a time of mixed emotions.  We are happy to welcome new missionaries to Cameroon, but soooo sad to "lose" ones we have grown to love.

Left to right: Elder Gilbert, Elder Best, Us, Elder Izere, Elder Tshibanda.

The hard thing about this transfer is that these Elders went to Brazzaville, so the chances of ever seeing them again (in this life) are slim to none.


May is also the month of Mother's Day and I still remember the excitement I had as a mother with missionaries in the field anticipating their call.   With that thought in mind, Elder Call and I made careful preparations so the Elders in both Yaounde and Douala could Skype or call home.  Thus, we headed up to Yaounde the first week in May so those missionaries could call/Skype home the week before Mother's Day.  While we were in Yaounde we did many other things including arranging training meetings for the Yaounde District.  Elder Call and I are generally pretty equal in the training, but that particular time the district leaders wanted training for the Primary and Relief Society organizations.  However, I did ask Elder Call to take some time in the Relief Society training to explain the priesthood's role in Relief Society.

I try and do as much training as I can in French, but I still require a translator.  After the Relief Society training, the translator (Reuben) said to us, "I have someone I would like you to meet".  We went outside and he introduced us to his beautiful fiancee, Valvena.  We, of course, brought them to our apartment to learn more of their wedding plans.  As with most Young Single Adults here in Africa, there always seems to be an obstacle in the way to getting married, and it generally has to do with money.  Valvena's parents are members of the church, so they are not requiring much for the bride price, however, though Reuben has a job and works hard, he has not been paid for some time.  They want to get married, but are worried about setting a specific date.  We challenged them to "set a date" and then have faith that the Lord will help them "accomplish the thing that he has commanded them to do".  :)  They said they would take the challenge.

As a "special interest" story, I need to add this next picture.
Driving in Cameroon is quite "interesting".  I believe if traffic rules exist, they exist only to be broken.  As a result of the lack of traffic rules, there is often a gridlock that occurs, particularly at intersections.  We were at one of these gridlocks when Elder Call said, "Will you take the wheel, I would like to get out and take care of this mess".  So I took over the driver's seat while Elder Call got out to direct traffic.  After our truck was able to get through the intersection, I drove up to where I could pull over and wait for Elder Call to join me.  Well, I waited, and waited and waited.  After waiting for what I felt was an awfully long time, I decided to get out of the truck and find out what had happened to Elder Call.  As I approached the intersection I realized Elder Call had missed his calling in life...he makes a mighty fine traffic cop!

We returned to Douala for Mother's Day and to participate in the reorganization of two of the 5 branches in Douala.  When the Douala District was created, three branch presidents were called into the district presidency and only one was replaced.  Since the district was created in December, two of the branch presidents have continued to serve as branch presidents as well as being in the district presidency.  We are excited for the new changes and hope to see some renewed focus on district programs especially a much needed Young Single Adult program.

To emphasize the importance for a program to get YSA meeting and marrying, here is a picture of the newly called leadership in the New Bell Branch.

From left to right: the Elders Quorum president, the Relief Society president, the RS 1st counselor, the branch president, and the 1st counselor in the branch presidency. They are ALL Young Single Adults. Fortunately, the branch president got married the week after he was sustained as branch president.

After church, we had the Elders in Douala over to Skype for Mother's Day.  I also fixed them dinner and it never ceases to amaze me the amount of food they are able to consume.  The quantity of food eaten led to this picture.
After dinner there was a discussion on who had gained weight on their mission and who had lost weight.  Traditionally, white Elders lose weight and black Elders gain weight.  However, Elder Call went contrary to the "normal" tradition, thus his "reward" was to hold the scales.  

This was only 6 of the 10 missionaries that came for Mother's Day to Skype and have dinner.  Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the other 4.

It is always exciting when we notice positive results from the training we do.  I had done some training with the Young Women leaders about doing activities during the week.  They did a few at the church but then asked if they could come to our apartment to learn how to make a cake.  After checking with the branch president to get approval, and letting the YW leaders know they needed to buy the cake making supplies from their YW budget, we had a successful YW cake baking activity at our apartment.


Stirring the batter








Waiting for the cakes to cook




I felt there was another success to our training meetings that took place in May.  Primary leaders have never really seen what a Primary is supposed to look like.  Thus, they copy what they see in the schools, which are heavy into discipline, mostly lecture based, and lack tolerance for any form of "misbehavior".  Sharing Time in Primary is generally a lecture and singing time is short with no activities.  When I visit a Primary, I try to teach by word and example.   Often I worry that my teaching is futile. However, this past month I revisited a Primary which was initially one of the worst in the district.  I was pleasantly surprised to find the leaders implementing many of the things I had been trying to teach them.   I took a video of them doing actions to the song "I Love To See The Temple".  Enjoy!
video

You may recall that last month I reported on two weddings.  One of the marriages took place so the sister could be baptized.  Well, the baptism took place a couple of weeks after the marriage.  It was hard to tell from the smile on the husband's face which event was more exciting for him; the marriage or the baptism.
Three others were also baptized that day.  The woman who was married a couple of weeks earlier is in the middle with the striped shirt.  Her husband's arm is resting on her shoulder.

I mentioned beforehand that the branch president of the New Bell Branch got married the week after he was sustained.  We had the privilege of being involved in that event. First, we attended the bride's baptism, Anita, a year ago.  I took a special interest in her for a couple of reasons; she was young and had no family support.  After her baptism, she attended the New Bell Branch where she met and fell in love with Barthelemy Nyom, a handsome returned missionary.

One day towards the end of March, they came to our apartment to announce their intentions to get married but faced many challenges, the biggest being the lack of money.  We told them we would help, but they also needed to do all they could.  We actually set a date that very day for the marriage to take place on May 27, 2017.  The first obstacle was to visit the village home of Anita to announce her intention of getting married, but to also declare there would be no bride price.  That hurdle went well; the family agreed to require no bride price.  We then worked with the "old" New Bell Branch president and his wife, to get everything else arranged and planned. Barthelemy and Anita honored us by asking us to be a witness couple.  However, at the last minute Barthelemy had his brother be a witness in place of Elder Call. I still signed as a witness to the wedding.





At the courthouse on Monday morning to sign the legal documents.

Friday morning, May 27, 2017 at the courthouse where the Mayor preformed the marriage ceremony.

Two other couples were getting married the same day and the court house was "standing room only".  However, since I was a witness, we got front row seats.

Even though they were officially married, they wanted to be married again using the church's ceremony.  Thus, late Friday afternoon at the new and "almost completed" New Bell Branch building, Pres. Mbengue married them.  Afterwards he asked us to bear our testimonies about marriage.  We were given no prior notification but were grateful to take a few minutes to express our thoughts about the joys of marriage. :)



After the ceremony there was dancing and celebrating, including a dinner.  The missionaries sang, "Love At Home".






I made the cakes, Elder Call and I provided the drinks, paper products, and the money for the inexpensive African meal...which Sister Mbengue spent all afternoon cooking.  It was one of the best arrangements I have made or may ever make regarding a wedding ceremony.

                                             The newly married couple

There is nothing like a wedding date to move progress forward.  When the wedding date was decided, we all agreed the church ceremony should take place at the uncompleted New Bell building.  Days before the wedding there still remained things to be done.  However, not to be deterred, we met two days before the marriage to clean the inside and outside of the building.  The outside job was overwhelming and we barely scratched the service.  The next morning I had a great idea!  I said, "Let's call the missionaries who live close by and see if they will do a service project to help clean up the building.  The missionaries agreed.  So while I made cakes in an air conditioned kitchen,  Elder Call and the junior missionaries spent a hot, humid morning cleaning up the outside of the building. Elder Call took some before and after pictures.








            Before







                                                  After







It is hard to tell the extent of the missionaries work because the "before picture" does not show the weeds and trash that were on the ground in front of the wall.  Over twenty garbage bags of trash and weeds were hauled away that day.

The district president decided if we could hold a wedding in an uncompleted building, we could hold a church meeting.  Thus, Elder Call and I decided we best return to the building on Saturday to clean up from the wedding and prepare for church the next day.

Elder Call in front of the New Bell building showing off the lawn he had weeded and the hedges he had pruned two days before.

In April's blog I was hoping to show a completed New Bell building.  For the month of May, there still was not a totally completed building.  However, it is complete enough that members in the area are now attending.  I know it will be a blessing to them and to the growth of missionary work in the area.  The amazing thing is that without the wedding deadline, who knows when the building would have been occupied.  God truly works in mysterious ways. This IS His church and completed buildings or not, His work will roll forth.  We feel privileged to be a part of that work here in Cameroon.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

April 2017 in Cameroon

Dear Family and Friends,

I am late, late, late, but I figured I best begin or I will never get this blog done.  We had a saying in our family that went like this: "Repentance is like shaving...the longer you put it off, the harder it is to do."  That probably applies to writing blogs.  I decided I might be getting "blog fatigue".  I have now been writing a blog for 3 years.  We might serve another mission, but not sure about writing a blog.  The plus with a blog is that it can be made into a book later...so I will see. :)

I began my last blog by saying that I hoped we would be in a completed New Bell Branch building by the next blog.  Well, I put off the blog hoping to be able to say those words, but my hope was in vain. The building is completed, but we are having other problems with hooking up the electricity, getting our own water line and getting the furniture ordered and sent.  However, on the bright side, the Area Presidency granted my request to have air conditioners.  So, IF we ever move in, we will worship in comfort.

April was the month of weddings.  There were two weddings we attended in April.


The first one took place at one of the branch buildings.  The branch president married them and afterwards asked if there were any objections.  Well it is a good thing they were already married, for the mother of the groom had some pretty loud objections.  I never thought those type of things really happened.  However, it did explain the dire look on the groom's face when he entered the room; I suppose he knew what his mother was going to do.  As she finished her "speech" and sat down, the tension in the room was like a dense fog.


However, after her "ranting", a dear sister stood and gave a talk about family, children and love.  Then she asked us all to sing  Hymn #241, "Count Your Blessings".  It was like the fog lifted and sunlight filled the room. Since the bride is the Primary president, the sister then had the Primary children sing a couple of songs.  If there were any clouds remaining,  they were dissipated by the time the children finished. I have a testimony of the power of music, but have never seen such a vivid example of what it can do.

The other wedding was less dramatic but quite significant.
It took place in the court house where the Mayor of the town actually marries them. We later learned that if anyone objects to this marriage, the Mayor will stop the marriage and ask the family to come back after they have resolved the conflict.  It explained why the other marriage took place at the church. This second couple had been living together for 20 years.  He had joined the church, gone inactive, began living with her, became active again, then she began coming to church.  After a time, she received a testimony of the church and wanted to get baptized, but of course could not until they were married.  So first was the marriage and then will be the baptism.

We had the honor of driving some of the marriage guests in our truck.  So, we of course, had to decorate our truck, as is the custom. I even purchased some cloth and had a dress made for me and a tie for Elder Call. Many who come to the wedding have outfits made from the same design of material.

I want to share just a couple of random photos I took in April.  One day we went to see the new apartment of our investigator, Suzy.  As I turned the corner, there was this mother giving her son a typical "bucket bath".  (The adults bathe this way also).  He was standing in the bucket and she had lathered his dark, little body in soap until he was covered in sudsy, white bubbles.  Unfortunately, I asked to take a picture after she had begun pouring water over him to wash off the soap.


This is a photo of Elder Call and our new blender.  The Elders were requesting a blender so we went to the store to purchase one.  As Elder Call was buying it he said, "Do you also want one?"  I hadn't felt I needed one, but decided "Why not".  So in case anyone was wondering if we are without modern appliances.... wonder no more!

This next picture is a friend named Elvira.  I met her at the beginning of our mission on the train home from Yaounde.  We talked and learned we lived close to one another. We ended up taking her home and then invited her to dinner.  She said she would reciprocate, but then we left for Brazzaville.  One morning while we were walking, a car pulled up next to us and it was Elvira.  She told us she had also been gone for several months and still wanted to invite us to dinner.  So we went to her apartment and had a lovely dinner.  I think she spent all day cooking.  She wouldn't allow me in the kitchen but kept disappearing behind a door and bringing out more food.
After finishing our dessert, which was fruit that I provided, she did let me help clear the table and clean up a bit.  After seeing her kitchen I was amazed at the delicious meal she had produced.  Her kitchen  was tiny with a very old and small oven/stove. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture when we were eating the main course with the delicious food Elvira had fixed.

When we went to Elvira's apartment, Elder Call and I were hoping she might be interested in learning more about the church.  We had shared some things with her when she came to dinner. However, we learned that she had just been "called" as an "Elder" in her church and is now very involved helping the pastor each Sunday.  Maybe another time.

April was spent doing a lot of training.  We have trained in every auxiliary plus training in the new "Teaching In the Savior's Way" Sunday School program, role of the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood's, how to order supplies, how to do a budget and whatever else they need.  We have truly been prepared for all these training meetings and they would not be difficult if those who came to the training spoke English...but they do not.  I, more than Elder Call,  try to write much of my training in French.  I don't necessarily stick to what I have written, but it helps me get an idea of what to say.  At one of the trainings I did in Yaounde, I said something in French and then looked at our dear translator to see if he would add something.   He simply said, "They understand you".  I do not contribute their understanding of my French to my ability to speak French, but to their faith and ability to understand my poor French by the Spirit.

Besides training in Yaounde and other branches in Douala, we give a training each Tuesday night in the Bonaberi Branch.  The branch president, Leonel Yamefo,  is a new, young leader and desires to do everything correctly.  We were actually instrumental in his marriage because we convinced him to talk to his fiancee about not paying the bride price.  Then shortly after their marriage, he was made the branch president.  Anyway, we do many training meetings, but I never take a picture.  Well, in April, I finally did take one picture after the training was completed. Elder Call did a training on the duties of the Melchizedek Priesthood.  It was excellent as usual!

As I have mentioned before, we have a couple of young sisters who come over to try and help us with our French.  Several weeks ago we learned one of them, Wesley, had accepted a proposal of marriage.  Her fiancee lives in Yaounde and they met and "courted" on Facebook.


When we learned that he was coming to Douala, we of course had to have them to dinner and meet him so we could give our approval.  It did not take long before we realized what a fine young man he was and that we approved of his marriage to our dear Wesley.


I can not end without mentioning one of the greatest joys in our lives, the junior missionaries.  They are working hard and go out every day in the heat and humidity. They do take taxi's, but mostly they travel on foot.
Two young single adults baptized in the Douala Branch.  The taller young man was the son of the woman on the far left.  She could hardly contain herself with joy.

There are many God fearing people here in Cameroon that are willing to learn about the church, but then when it comes to committing to baptism, they are unwilling to take that step.  So the work here is not easy, but it is going forth.


There was a zone conference in April, and though I had planned on having lunch at our apartment,  Pres. Monga wanted to take the missionaries to a restaurant....so we did Chinese.


When I ordered the food, the lady told me I was ordering too much, so I cut down a little on the rice.  She told me I still had too much food and it would not all be eaten.  I replied, "Oh, I think it will be eaten".  After lunch I asked the missionaries if they were filled-up or if they could have had more rice.  They agreed there should have been more rice.  They never disappoint when it comes to eating!

I was going to also include the month of May, but then decided one month was enough.  The next blog will be quick in coming, but if I apply our family saying about shaving and repentance, it may spur me on.

I also can not end without bearing my witness of the truthfulness of this work.  We see almost daily miracles happening in our lives.  God loves us, He loves His missionaries, and He loves the people here in Cameroon.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Cameroon - March 2017

Though I will be reporting about the month of March, I am writing in April which denotes our one year mark on our mission.  Most of the time, the days, weeks and months seem to fly by.  Especially now, that we have only 6 months left, I know the time will go particularly fast.  Some days I even have thoughts of extending.  However, the pull of the grand kids keeps tugging on my heart.  We will definitely go home, but not sure for how long.

March has seen the progression of the New Bell Branch building.

           It has gone from this...

to this.    

We have been excited to watch the progress because building here in Africa is very slow.  At building sites in America, there are the busy sounds of electric tools.  Here in Africa, the only sounds are those of hand held tools and hand saws, thus the pace is much slower.  So to have such progress done in a relatively short time has been exciting to see. 

One of the most exciting things in the building was to notice electrical outlets for air conditioners in almost every room.  However, as the building neared completion, no air conditioners were installed.  When we inquired of the builders about the air conditioners, we were told they had not been told to install them, but instead had installed fans.  Fans would probably be very helpful in some climates, but here in Douala the temperature is often in the low 90's with about the same degree of humidity.  We asked the building committee in Brazzaville why no air conditioners were being installed.  We were told that in order to conserve energy, that was now the policy.  I decided to take action, and knowing a policy for one area does not always best serve another area, I wrote the president of the Africa Southeast Area, Elder Hamilton, pleading for an exception to policy.  He kindly wrote back that they would consider the request.  

My hope is that in the next blog I will be reporting that we are meeting in a new building with multiple air conditioners.  My disappointment for the lack of air conditioners went beyond Sunday meetings.  I have felt impressed to teach a class on speaking English. I asked the New Bell Branch president and he has given his approval and asked when I would like to begin.  I told him when the building was completed.  However, I knew without air conditioning, I did not know if I would be able to teach a class.  

Elder Call and I continue to train in every organization on a branch and district level. March was a particularly heavy training month.  I have not counted up the number of training meetings we have given, but it has been a lot.  Not only do we do scheduled training meetings, but we train almost every time we visit a class.  During class, we will raise our hand and say, "Can I give a suggestion?"  












Elder Call after doing some ad hoc training (and ad hoc babysitting) in an Aaronic Priesthood Quorum.






I also try and do training as I visit the Primaries. Sometimes it is after Primary with the leaders and sometimes it is during Primary.
                                                    A Primary in Bonaberi.

After listening to a member of the Primary presidency read from the manual for about 10-15 minutes, the children were asked to sing a song.  Trying to get some "excitement" in Primary, I looked through my purse for anything that might help.  I had two small notebooks, each with a different color.  I raised my hand and said our familiar "Can I give a suggestion?" :)  I then went up to the front and explained (in my very basic French) how we were going to sing the song again, but his time when I held up the green notebook, the girls would sing.  When I held up the blue notebook, the boys would sing, and when I held up both notebooks, both girls and boys would sing.  The joy on the children's faces was amazing with just that small added activity.  The good news is, the branch president asked me to come and train his branch presidency AND the Primary presidency in organizing the Primary.  After giving a short explanation, we did a mock Primary...I think they "get it".  We will return to that branch in a few weeks, and I hope to see a difference.

When we went to Yaounde, we had some scheduled training with a branch on how to do a budget.  We met with the branch council after the block schedule, but that did not stop us from doing ad hoc training as we visited the classes.

                      A Young Women's class in the Eleveur Branch in Yaounde.

The teacher in this class was having the girls read the whole chapter of Alma 40 where it speaks of what happens after death.  After several verses, I raised my hand and said, "Can I....." you know the rest.  I then went up to the chalk board and suggested the teacher make a diagram of what they were reading.  She hesitated, so I began and she added to it.  We then read some more in Alma, then I suggested we stop, and the teacher and I again went up to the board.

After class I visited with the teacher about the advantages of using the chalkboard for more than just writing down the scripture verse.  

Sometimes Elder Call and I get a bit discouraged and wonder if the training we do is helping. Then this past Sunday we went to a branch where we have given some ad hoc training in the youth classes.  To our great pleasure, we were surprised to watch them use some of the teaching techniques we had modeled.  

Besides trying to improve on the stand-and-lecture teaching technique used here, we have been encouraging the branches to have activities for their youth.  The New Bell Branch has had several activities for the young women, but no other branches were holding activities...until March.  In March, the Village Branch decided to do a combined young men/young women's activity.  Fortunately, I attended that branch for the planning meeting to give some much needed direction.  The girls learned how  to make some food dishes and set a table, while the boys were learning how to wash and iron their white shirts.  Then they came together to eat the food the girls had made.  It was a great success.



Cutting the plantain








                           Cooking the carrots





                                                       Setting the table

                                            Enjoying a meal together

March was also a month of Birthday celebrations.  Sister Mbengue had approached me about having a surprise Birthday party over at our apartment for her husband, Pres. Mbengue.  The tricky part of a surprise Birthday party is getting the person out of the house.  However, since President Mbengue is the kindest most accommodating person, Elder Call just called him and said he thought something was wrong with the new building and asked if he would come with him.  He of course agreed.  While the president was gone, the family was able to leave their home and  come to our apartment.  Additional guests had also arrived at our apartment.  I then called Elder Call and told him I really needed him to come home...which he did....and surprise. Pres. Mbengue thought everyone had forgotten his birthday.

                            We sang Happy Birthday both in English and French

The other Birthday party was for our dear friend Suzy and her son Brian.  Suzy has not been doing well physically.  Her grand-daughter called asking us to come quickly to get her grand mother.  When we arrived, Suzy was asleep on her desk.  We brought them to our apartment and Suzy asked for a "prayer".  Elder Call gave her a blessing, and with the amazing faith the African people have, she was able to feel much better and be strong for the rest of the evening.  For a birthday present, we gave her a picture of Christ in a nice frame.  She clutched it to her chest as if it were gold.  She says she still wants to get baptized...I do hope so.  

In March we decided to get more serious about our French.  We were told by a former French tutor of a senior sister in Yaounde, that he had given her 3 lessons/week.  (She also happened to be married to a French speaker).  With the hope of greater French fluency we hired an additional French teacher.  So now we have two.  Not real sure of the results, yet.  However, it must be noted, the poor results are not due to the French teachers but to the French learners.
Our additional French teacher, Seraphene Uche.  She is a 19 year old law student.

I feel like I barely scrape the surface with these blogs.  There is so much more we do, I haven't even mentioned being with the missionaries.  However, I do want to end and I will end with an experience that again confirms to me the watchful care of a loving Heavenly Father.

One Sunday we were driving home from church when we heard some noise that seemed to be coming  somewhere from the car.  We pulled over and noticed we had a totally flat tire.  Elder Call began rolling up his sleeves and looking for the jack.  I stood outside and noticed a man slowing walking by who seemed to be assessing our situation.  I said, in English, "We have a flat tire, do you know someone who could help us?"  Not only did he understand English, but he said, "Yes, wait, I will be back".  He ran down the street for a short pace and quickly returned.  He told us to put the car in reverse and follow him.  We did, and sure enough, about 50 yards down the road, was a tire shop.  As we brought the car to a stop, a young boy took the jack that Elder Call had found, and as if he had changed tires all his life, jacked up the truck and removed the tire.  The others in the shop checked the tire to discover it had a large hole in it.   One of the men got an instrument, put some filler in it, and pushed it into the hole.  They then pumped up the tire and we were on our way.  The total time spent from the time we heard the noise to the time the tire was remounted on the car was about 30 minutes.  

Now you can say it is a coincidence that a man who spoke English just happened to be passing by at that moment, and that a tire shop just happened to be on the same side of the road 50 yards down the street, and was opened on Sunday...but I don't believe in coincidences.  God does not prevent "bad" things from happening, but He sure does help resolve them.  This is His work, His hand is over His work, and He will help those who engage in His work. To this fact I testify.