I think this will be the last blog written from Cameroon. (There are definitely mixed feelings about that statement). During these months living here, we have grown to love Cameroon and the people here. This past month we were also reminded how much God loves Cameroon. As far as we know, there has been a senior missionary couple assigned to Cameroon since missionary work opened here. Sometimes there have been two missionary couples, one in Douala and one in Yaounde. However, there have also been months when only one couple has been here, which has been the case with us for the last 16 months. Even while we were living in Brazzaville, we came to Cameroon to take care of the needs here. However, as our mission was quickly coming to a close, no new missionary couple was being announced to take our place. We waited and hoped and prayed that some how God would find someone to fill the need here in Cameroon. We were particularly concerned about the junior missionaries serving here. There have been several emergencies involving the junior missionaries serving in Cameroon, which needed immediate attention. We know how long the process takes for a couple to come to Africa and the longer no announcement was made, the more anxious we became.
Pause on that subject for a moment...I would like to relate another experience taking place here in Cameroon. Several months ago we got an e-mail from a wonderful couple living in Provo, Utah who had applied to work on the Mercy Ship.
Wynette and Dennis Greer
Dennis had been watching a documentary about the Mercy Ship and felt drawn to what he saw. The Mercy Ship is basically a hospital ship, which visits under-developed countries doing free surgeries for the people living there. The ship has been to several African countries but for the first time was coming to Cameroon. Because of a specific statement in Dennis' patriarchal blessing, he felt compelled to apply to help on the Mercy Ship. Thus, he and Wynette applied and were accepted to serve for 6 months; he in finances and she in food services.
When the Ship docked in Cameroon, we met the Greers. They invited us on board the Ship for dinner and a tour.
One of the hospital rooms. The man giving the tour is a nurse who helps with cataract surgeries. He said they do hundreds of cataract surgeries in each country they visit.
We took the Greers to church with us, had a delightful time with them, and were looking forward to having more associations with them for our last several weeks.
Then...Monday they called us. They told us there had been a turn of events and they were wondering if they could meet with our mission president, who happened to be in town, to see if they could serve a mission in Cameroon!!! It seems the Mercy Ship felt they needed someone with greater financial training than Dennis had, so they wanted to replace him. Dennis and Wynette talked it over and knew we were leaving the middle of October and that just happened to be the time the Mercy Ship felt they could find a replacement for Dennis, so they decided to see if they could take our place as the senior missionary couple in Cameroon. The first thing that came to my mind was...."Why do I ever worry!?" God had things in control, all this time He was preparing a couple, we just didn't know it! Thus, the reason for the title of the blog...God does love Cameroon...and the missionaries and the people living here. Again I am reminded of that wonderful hymn:
God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform.
He plants His footsteps on the sea,
And rides upon the storm.
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread.
Are thick with mercy and shall break,
With blessings on your head.
So, we will be spending more time with the Greers than we had initially thought. They will be moving in with us October 7th and we will be training them to replace us until we leave October 15th.
On a light side....
For those who may not know, Elder Call quite likes grilled hotdogs, which we have not had since moving to Africa. One day we went to this grocery store in Yaounde and outside the store they had one of those roller-type grills with hotdogs on it. Elder call could not resist and I guess neither could I. So we had a hotdog Cameroonian-style i.e. a hotdog on a baguette. However, we did ask for two "dogs" in one bun since the bun was so big.
September found us again on a trip to Yaounde. We were quite excited for not only were we going to be doing our regular training, we were going to be able to participate in another wedding. In fact, when the couple learned we could not attend the wedding at the schedule time, they rescheduled the wedding at a time we could be there. (Mostly since we have a car and provided the much needed transportation for the bride and groom.)
The day after we arrived in Yaounde, we received a phone call from Sister Thompson, our mission president's wife. It seems one of the Elders was having problems with one of his eyes. He had been to an eye doctor and had received some medications but the problem seemed to be getting worse, so she wanted us to check it out. We agreed and learned the Elder had another appointment to see an eye doctor so we went to pick him up. When we got there and I looked into his eye, I tried not to gasp but to remain calm. After taking some pictures of the eye on my i-Pad, we took the Elder to the doctor who recommended we take him to the hospital for some injections. We e-mailed the pictures I had taken of the eye to a doctor in the States that we were working with. We did go to the hospital here, but after consulting with the doctor in the States, it was decided to send him immediately to South Africa. Plane tickets were arranged and we took the Elder to the airport the next morning.
That afternoon we were almost an hour late to the excellent training Elder Call did on the different roles of the Branch Presidents and the Elder's Quorum Presidents. Fortunately, most of them are usually late, so no one left before we got there. Yaounde District has truly tried to capitalize on the church experiences we have had and used us heavily to help in training. Unfortunately, since the Douala District was created, their attitude has not been the same. However, we do continue to train the branch presidencies in Douala.
The next day was the wedding of Oliver and Carol. It was typical, yet a simple and beautiful wedding.
It began at the mayor's home where the official wedding took place.
We then drove the happy couple to one of the branch buildings that had been simply yet tastefully decorated. There they met family and most of those who would attend the wedding celebration. What I appreciated about Oliver and Carol is that they did not require those in the wedding company to purchase the same material to make "wedding outfits" as most weddings do here in Douala.
Cutting of the cake, then dancing, and picture taking. Pretty much the same sort of ceremony we would find in the States. :) But now we have another righteous couple, who are much needed, to help grow the church here in Cameroon. Oliver and Carol are saving and planning to attend the temple in Aba, Nigeria as soon as possible. Another huge sacrifice on their part and what we often take for granted.
Elder Call's Birthday this year fell on a Sunday so we ended up eating roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy with the Bro. and Sis. Greer. However, this year no cherry pie, but I did make an oreo cookie/cream cake that Dad loves.
This is a picture of the Romeo and Irene Dim with their 3 daughters and 1 son. Romeo has an amazing conversion story that, as per usual for Africa, involves a dream. Initially he was instrumental in bringing many others to the church. The Dim's have wanted to attend the temple and did all they could to do so, but seemed to be blocked in their attempts. When we learned of their desire, we told them we would do all we could to help them get to the temple, but then we were assigned to Brazzaville. When we returned to Douala we heard of a accusation against the Dim family. Since it involved families in two different branches, Elder Call counseled the district leaders how to handle the situation. Unfortunately, his counsel was not followed, pride entered in, and the Dim family was badly treated. Then, because of their poor treatment, they stopped going to church. We invited them over for dinner and almost begged them to return to church. Though their testimonies were strong, we were all too aware of the story of the charcoal which is taken from the fire. It soon grows cold. The members of the family that were living elsewhere for school, continued attending church, but those living in Douala would not return.
Then we received a new mission president and with Pres. Thompson's encouragement, I wrote an e-mail which he sent to the Area Presidency asking for permission for Cameroonian's to use the Temple Patron Assistance Fund to attend the Aba, Nigeria Temple. After we received clearance, and the Bonaberi Branch was willing to attempt a trip to Aba, we called the Dim Family. We told them how they could now go to Nigeria and because of other things put into place, nothing could stop them from going to the temple. To our delight, it was the promise of those temple blessings that made the Dim family lay aside the hurt they had experienced and return to church. They are now back in full fellowship and are making plans to attend the Aba, Nigeria Temple as a family to be sealed for all eternity.
My heart is so full of gratitude to the Lord for the blessings He has to offer us. There is no other church on the face of the earth that even comes close to the blessings the Lord has to offer those who will repent, be baptized, and come into the fold of His church. To this I bear my solemn witness.