Saturday, December 3, 2016

Brazzaville - November 2016

Dearest Family and Friends,

Since I was so late posting last month's blog, and included part of November, I decided this blog would be quick and short.

The biggest holiday in November is Thanksgiving, but since it is not celebrated here, I felt we would have a rather un-celebrated holiday.  However, an American couple who attend our same ward and work for the U.S. government, asked what we were doing for Thanksgiving.  We told them "Nothing".  They asked if we would like to come to the American Ambassador's home for a Thanksgiving dinner.  We told them we would love it.  They received permission, and voila, we were invited.

We arrived in the afternoon and had a delightful time.  After the Ambassador read the proclamation from Pres. Obama,  a prayer was said (yes you read correctly) and we began a sumptuous Thanksgiving feast.  Just before dinner, I asked the Ambassador if we might take a picture with her.  She seemed delighted to accommodate us.

In front of the U.S. flag with Ambassador Stephanie Sullivan

After getting a plate full of turkey (from Ghana, by-the-way) mashed potatoes, yams and all the other trimmings, we sat down next to a younger couple we had met as we mingled before dinner and another couple more our age, John and Benin Newton.  Benin (not sure that is how it is spelled) was originally from Iran; I immediately felt a connection to her.

Dinner at the Ambassador's house.

We had finished the main course and were beginning to eat some of the many plentiful and delicious  desserts.

Though John Newton was from the States, neither of them worked for the U.S. government.  He and his wife had come to the Republic of Congo to help spread and teach the Baha'i faith.  Elder Call and I have been to the Baha'i Gardens in Israel, so we had that connection, but really didn't know anything about their beliefs, so it was interesting learning from them.  The most fascinating belief was that they feel Jesus Christ has come the 2nd time in the form of a man born in Iran named Buha'u'llah, which literally means "in his glory".  Since the scriptures teach that Christ will come again "in His glory", they feel that this man was indeed Jesus Christ, of which he also proclaimed to be.  My curiosity led to asking if they had any literature we might read.  They said, "Yes", and I believe out of politeness, they asked us if WE had any literature.  We of course said that we definitely had something we could give them.  Since neither of us had the literature with us, we set up a time to meet again.

Thus, the next Tuesday evening we met at the building owned by those of the Baha'i faith, where there are also two rooms where John and Benin live.  They have a large room, which they call their "reading room" with a large table.  We sat around that table and they brought some of their literature, and we of course, brought a Book of Mormon with our picture and testimony.

                                    A picture in the "reading room".

The Newtons did most the talking and explaining about their faith...which was fine.  I learned long ago, if you show interest in others, they just might show interest in you. We came to the conclusion that we had more of the same beliefs than differences.  We kept saying, "Yes, we believe that too, with some small differences."  Though they did most of the talking, we could not leave until we showed and explained a little about the Book of Mormon.  Neither one of them knew anything of our religion.  In their reading room, there are some shelves with a few books and pamphlets.  Benin did say that sometimes people donate books to their "library" and they lend them out. So...we are hoping some day, some one will see that Book of Mormon and be curious enough to pick it up and read it. :)

In November, on our trip to Yaounde, Cameroon, I noticed some few Christmas decorations that I decided needed to be in Brazzaville.  Thus, with a little tinsel and some red paper, I put up some decorations.  It's not much,  but I figured it was something. While decorating I sang, "Yes, we need a little Christmas, right this very minute".  It truly is "a little". I hung some decorative balls on the fabric flower on the end table as a Christmas tree.  But as we learn from Charley Brown, it is not about the tree, it is about the message of the season.

The door with the small Christmas decoration, leads to President Monga's office.  Also note the cork board by my desk.  The small picture at the bottom is grand child number 20!!  Hudson Hatch Call born to Joseph and Ramie October 5, 2016; both mother and son are doing fabulously.  Just another of those mission blessings.  To add to those blessings, we have learned that number 21 and 22 will also be born while on our mission.

November ended with a Zone Conference for the 28 missionaries serving in the Brazzaville area.

Eight of our ten beautiful sisters.  The sister missionaries here have a great deal of success.  We only have sisters in Brazzaville.  The President wants to keep them close by in case of any problems.  So unfortunately, there are no sisters in Cameroon.  They are a delight to visit with when they come to the office.

Sister Monga always makes a delicious lunch.  She is being helped by one of the Assistant's, Elder Scofield.

President and Sister Monga with the missionaries in the Brazzaville area.  I don't think you will have a difficult time recognizing the senior missionary couple on the end.

As our time quickly comes to an end here in Brazzaville, I have to thank my Heavenly Father for the great gift it has been to serve here.  Though I left Cameroon with a heavy heart, I now leave the Republic of Congo with a piece of my heart in Brazzaville.  The work of the Lord is a joy no matter where we have the privilege to serve.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

October/November 2016-Brazzaville, Congo

Dearest Family and Friends,

I am sure no one has been holding their breath, but I am finally getting around to writing the October blog,  but now will also have to include some of November.

Our days in Brazzaville are quite different than those spent in Cameroon.  We get up, go walking (which is the same) but then spend the day "at the office".  I do have to make a comment about our walks.  When we began, we received some pretty "strange" looks from the local people.  I am certain they had never seen an old white couple, holding hands, walking in the morning.  Due to Elder Call's friendly nature, we began waving and calling out a hearty "Bonjour" to all we passed.  Now as we walk, we receive friendly smiles and an energetic "Bonjour" in return.  The other day, we heard some commotion coming from a local school across the street.  As we looked over, we saw school children hanging out the windows of the second story building waving and yelling to us,"Bonjour".

When we came to Brazzaville, President Monga said a couple of times, "One thing I know, things are going to change around here."  I did not understand what he meant until Sister Monga also mentioned it and said they had noticed a change in both the apartments in Cameroon after we moved in, so I guess, they expected the same to happen at the office.  Well, I had not planned on doing any changing with the office since I felt the move was so temporary.  However, after reflecting on it, I wondered if President Monga WANTED me to make some changes.  One week in October, when he was traveling  I decided to "make the move".   (I had told him beforehand that I did want to make some changes). So, to start with, one morning Elder Call and I went looking for a rug for the office.  We went to several shops, but I was unable to find the "right one".  (You shoppers out there know what I mean).  After leaving another shop empty handed, a man tapped on our window.  After a time, I realized he was trying to tell us he knew where we could find some "tapis" (rugs).  He literally ran down the street and we followed him in our truck to a rug store.  They had several at the shop, but also were bringing them from somewhere else and would roll them out for us to see.  After rejecting many, they finally came out with just the right one.   We purchased it and brought it to the office... and it was perfect.  However, it made the rest of the office "furniture" (which consisted only of 6 uncomfortable and partially broken chairs) look out of place.  One of the office workers, Santie, said, "I know of a couch, chair and table that used to be in one of the senior couple's apartment.  They took our truck, brought the furniture and "voila", things began taking shape.  With a couple of plants and a little rearranging, we have a "new" office.

I wish I had a "before and after" picture, but since I do not, you will have to settle for an "after" and use your imagination about the "before".  We have received many positive comments, especially from the missionaries who often visit.   I must agree that I am much more pleased with "my view" of the room since my desk is the one you see on the bottom of the picture. Fortunately, President Monga also likes it

Since being in Brazzaville, we decided to do a little site-seeing.  There is not much to see, but we did take a couple of pictures that I wanted to share.  The Republic of Congo and the city of Brazzaville, is separated from the Democratic Republic of Congo and it's capital city of Kinshasa by the Congo River.  Following are a couple of pictures of the Congo River and Kinshasa.

Looking east across the Congo River to see the tip of Kinshasa.

Looking slightly west across the Congo River to the other end of Kinshasa.  Kinshasa has a population of over 10 million which is considerably larger than Brazzaville with a population of 1.7 million.

We also went to the bridge that you see pictured in the first photo.  It is a bridge completely contained  in the Republic of Congo and crosses over a small part of the Congo River.  It is beautifully lit up at night with various colors of moving lights. There is no bridge built over the Congo River to Kinshasa; one crosses over by boat or ferry.

At the end of the bridge, where I took the picture, is a monument with a mosaic-type of compass showing the direction and distance to various important cities around the world.

Elder Call standing at the monument with down-town Brazzaville in the background.  Next to the tallest building you see pictured, is the most fantastic boulangerie (bakery). The desserts look fabulous (but don't  taste as good as they look). However, the bread, baguettes, and crescents are "to die" for.

In the mosaic are important and famous cities like Jerusalem, New York, etc. We were surprised to see a mosaic of our beloved city Douala.  I suppose, it is not so much the city we love, but the people we are anxious to see.

Speaking of being anxious to return to the people we love in Cameroon, we did take a quick trip back to Cameroon the end of October-beginning of November.  It is one reason for the tardy blog.  We paid bills, meet with the missionaries, looked for new apartments and generally had a world-wind eight day long trip.  After getting home, I realized most the pictures I had taken were of apartments being considered  for the missionaries, which are NOT the most exciting
things to see. Unless however, you happen to be a junior missionary....or....
this darling little boy who found an attraction
to Elder Call while we were checking out
new apartments

There are two other pictures I do want to share.  We visited after church with the new branch presidency of the Village Branch.  As we met with them, we were impressed with their dedication, humility and desire to do the right thing.  One of their greatest desires is to be trained.  We told them, "Hang in there, we will be back in December!"

As we left the meeting to go home, we noticed the first counselor was also leaving with his family consisting of his wife and three children.
I asked if I  could take their picture...they consented.

As we visited, he told us he was one of the very first persons to be baptized in Douala. He told us the ordinance was performed in a nearby river.

If you wondered, the family feel very blessed to have transportation and thus don't have to pay a taxi each week to get to church.

One last event happened in November which contributed to the lateness of the bog.  An apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ visited the Congo and is going to Cameroon!!!! His visit also coincided with new missionaries arriving from the MTC and thus also transfers, which is the busiest time for the mission. To add to the confusion, plans kept being changed.  But the time did arrive and Elder D. Todd Christofferson, along with his wife and Elder Soares and his wife, visited our mission.  What an outpouring of the Spirit it has been.  He flew in early Saturday morning (1:30am) and met with the leaders of the stakes in Kinshasa and Brazzaville Saturday morning from 9:00am until 12:00 noon.  Then he had a meeting with the missionaries (that included us) from 2:00pm until 4:00pm.  You could tell he was exhausted, but it was still powerful to hear from an apostle.

                                Waiting to hear from an apostle of the Lord.

After Elder Christofferson came into the room, he asked Pres. Monga if he could shake hands with all of the missionaries.  Pres. Monga agreed that he could and asked if we would all come up in a single file to shake hands with Elder Christofferson and the others with him.  So that is what we did.

Shaking hands with Elder Christofferson.  His wife is on his right hand and Pres. and Sister Monga are on his left.

Sunday, which is today, was a meeting for the two stakes here in Brazzaville.  What a powerful meeting.  Afterwards I said to Elder Call, "He wasn't dramatic, just humble and powerful".  Elder Call added, "Yes, and pure".  The messages he taught were simple yet profound.

After the meeting, Elder Christofferson came down from the stand and again starting shaking hands with the members of the church.  People flocked around him, but the smile on his face indicated he did not mind, in fact, he was pleased to meet them.

The messages given by the words of an apostles were powerful.  But to me, his personal example and the fact that he was even willing to come to Africa and meet with the members here was even a more powerful message.  It was a message that God loves ALL His children and that they are ALL important to Him.

The Church is true and is governed by apostles and prophets who follow the Master, Jesus Christ, who ministers to the one.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Cameroon/Republic of Congo-September 2016

Sorry the blog has been a bit late this month, we've had some internet problems in our new apartment.

Yes, we have a new apartment.  As the title of the blog suggests, we spent the month of September in Cameroon AND the Republic of  Congo.  We have had senior missionaries leave the Brazzaville Mission in the last several months, but none have replaced them.  Thus, there was not a senior couple to fill the position in the Mission office.  The mission president, Pres. Monga, tried all he could to leave us where we were, but finally had no choice but to pull us from Cameroon to be in the office.  The plan was to have us stay in Brazzaville, but return to Cameroon every 6 weeks or so, to take care of the responsibilities there.  I had been imploring the Lord to some how find someone to replace the office couple so we would not have to leave Cameroon.  We both felt strongly that we were supposed to be in Cameroon and had unsettled feelings about leaving.  However, it appeared that my pleading was of no avail for no additional couple came, and at the end of August and the lst week in September, we took a flight to Brazzaville to receive the necessary training as the mission office couple.

We found the city of Brazzaville to be quite nice.  In the Republic of Congo, traffic laws are obeyed more strictly, there are much fewer motorcycles, and no hawkers walking in the streets.  However, though I enjoyed the positives aspects of the city, my heart was still in Cameroon, but I did my best to accept the will of God and enjoy our new assignment.  We did have a delightful time with the other senior missionary couple, the Bills, who are from the Rexburg, Idaho area.  Being Rexburg what it is, we of course had close mutual friends.  In fact, Elder Bills is the brother of my dear friend, Kathleen Gordon, who was my counselor in the Relief Society Presidency in Rexburg.

The Mission doctor (Elder Jubber) and his wife were also touring the area, so Pres. Monga took us all out to dinner.  From left to right, us, Elder & Sister Bills, Pres. & Sister Monga, and Elder & Sister Jubber.

After a few days of training, we flew back to Cameroon with the Monga's and Jubber's to have Zone Conferences in Cameroon.  After the meetings Pres. Monga was looking at his computer at the dinning room table.  He made the comment, "This is interesting; there is a senior couple coming to our mission".  That statement caught Elder Call's attention and he went over to the table to have a peek. As he looked at the computer he said, "Yes, there is a couple coming and they are specifically being called as the "office couple".  Well, that definitely got my attention and I went over to see.  As I looked at the computer and read the name of the couple and their assignment, I literally jumped up and let out a shout for joy.  My pleading had not gone unheeded after all! God in His tender mercy had found a couple to work in the office so we could return to Cameroon!  My once troubled heart, suddenly became light and filled with joy.  I know God hears and answers prayers, I just was not sure that my will was the same as His will.   Apparently it is; with a small detour to Brazzaville (for reasons only God knows) we will return to Cameroon in December when the new couple arrives.

Since we had been out of town and I had been unable to prepare food for the Douala Zone Conference, we went to lunch at a Chinese restaurant after the meetings.

                                                   Eating a delicious Chinese lunch with the Elders, Monga's and Jubber's.

Pictures after lunch.  How I miss the close association with those fine young men.  We truly grew to love each one of them.

After Zone Conference on Saturday, the Monga's and Jubber's flew up to Yaounde for Zone Conference there.  We stayed in Douala and drove up after church on Sunday because we had scheduled to do a Family Home Evening training in one of the branches.  As with many things, the African saints are willing and desiring to do the church programs, they just don't know how.  So for our training we do a mock FHE using the youth in the branch as our children.  It's a little too ideal for a typical FHE, but the members are able to understand how a FHE is structured and what is supposed to take place.  We emphasize how FHE is for Gospel learning AND to have fun together as a family.  For an activity we play hide and seek with a small picture of the temple.  The whole branch gets involved as we call out "froid" (cold) or "chaud" (hot) as the child gets further away or closer to the hidden picture.

Family Home Evening with the New Bell Branch and our "adopted" children.

As mentioned before, after church we made the 4 1/2 hour drive to Yaounde to help with Zone Conference there.  Because of lack of preparation time there also,  I asked one of the dear sisters, Sister Messy, in Yaounde to help with the luncheon after Zone Conference.  She bought all the food beforehand, brought it to the apartment, and I helped her prepare and cook it while Zone Conference was taking place. Sister Messy is the wife of the 2nd Counselor in the Mission Presidency and is a wonderful person and cook.  She actually spent 4 years in Japan cooking for the Cameroonian Embassy.  What a delight it was to spend time with her.

A delicious Cameroonian luncheon.  Sister Messy is the woman standing in the back.

After returning from Yaounde, we knew we didn't have much time in Douala before going to Brazzaville, so our days were busy ones.

We like to celebrate the Elder's Birthdays, so we combined a Birthday celebration with a Baptism in Bonaberi.  I know rice krispie treats don't look like much, but both marshmallows and rice krispie's are hard to come by here in Cameroon.

Elder Olavson and Elder Ramanatsoa celebrating their Birthdays.

                     One of our favorite Saturday activities; a baptism in Bonaberi.

Since we knew by the time we returned to Douala in December, many of the Elder's would be transferred, thus we "had" to have one last Family Home Evening together.  What a special night.  The lesson began with one of Elder Call's traditional "hang men", and then ended with the Elder's sharing their feelings about the Book of Mormon.  There were some tender feelings expressed and heart felt emotions for a book that has changed the lives of a numerous amount of people...including mine.  How I love that book.

Before we knew we were returning to Douala, there was a time period when we thought we may be spending the remainder of our mission in Brazzaville and thus needed to say "Goodbye" to some dear friends.  One of those persons was Purita, our young French teacher.  I was in the kitchen alone with her one day when I knew I needed to tell her we were leaving Cameroon.  As I told her, she literally dropped to the floor, put her head in her hands, and began to cry.  I consoled her by promising her that we would not leave Cameroon until we had safely put her on the airplane for the MTC in Ghana.  We fulfilled that promise.

Purita had wanted to have a small "farewell party" and invite a few of her friends just before she was set apart as a missionary.  We told her that if that was what she wanted, we would help her.  So Purita made some African food, and Elder Call and I provided some drinks, paper products and dessert.

Purita and her Mom at the farewell get-to-getter and setting apart at the church.

Purita often went out with the missionaries in her branch, Elder Razifiarimanana from Madagascar and Elder Zobell from the States, so they also came to the "celebration". They are some of our favorite missionaries...but pretty much all the missionaries are our favorites.

To help Purita save for her mission, after we would pay her for the French lessons,  she would take a small amount of the money, and then give me the rest of the money to put away in her "mission savings account".  During part of this time her mother got sick and had to go to the hospital.  Sometimes Purita would pause and look at her money longingly and I knew she wanted to save it all...but she would say, "I need to pay for my Mom's medication".  Thus, she would only put a small amount in her "mission savings" and keep the rest for her mother's medical expenses.   At our last French lesson, we gave her all the money she had saved.  I think she was surprised at how much money she had.  (Elder Call gave generously for French lessons). She counted it and said, "Wow, I am rich!"  I believe it was probably more personal money than she had ever had in her life. However, I know she did not covet that money for her own personal desires, but was happy to give it to serve a mission.  I also know that because she did not covet that money, but used it to serve the Lord, He will bless her far beyond what any amount of money can buy.

After the party and setting apart, Purita came home with us to our apartment since her plane was leaving very early the next morning.  I had packed her suitcases and got her all ready to go.  President Messy and his wife also came and stayed with us since he had come from Yaounde to Douala to do the setting apart.  As I went over with Purita where the things were in her suitcase and she "packed" her purse, I was again able to witness and feel the excitement of a missionary about to leave home.  There is a tinge of nervousness, but a stronger desire to go and serve.  I felt I had been given a great privilege to be part of the whole process.

The next morning, after breakfast, it was off to the airport.  Pres. & Sister Mbengue also came to our apartment early in the morning to go to the airport to see Purita off to the MTC in Ghana.  For me it was a tearful parting.  

The next day we packed our suitcases, went to dinner at the Dim's home and then we were off to Brazzaville.

The Dim Family.  Before we left, they sang a marvelous song in French about "all I need is God", in beautiful harmony.
Our life in Brazzaville has been quite different from the experiences in Cameroon.  I personally am learning a whole new language that I never dreamed I would be learning on a mission i.e. the language of a computer.  I am not the most computer literate person, so it has been challenging at times.  I did warn the Mission President several times that "I am NOT a secretary".  I feel he has been very patient with me and has tried to help where he can.  I also feel the Spirit has been giving me direction and helping me along the way.  Sometimes I have gone home saying, "I don't know how to do that"....then in the morning, I will have some small bit of inspiration and "voila" I am able to do more than I thought.   

Elder Call is the financial secretary, and though he has gotten frustrated at times, I believe he has been more suited for his new assignment than I have been.  The greatest preparation for my assignment has probably been using the computers when teaching at BYU-I and also writing family histories.  Who would have thought I was preparing for my mission by learning computer skills! 

                      The new "temporary" Brazzaville Mission secretary.  

                   The new awesome Brazzaville Mission financial secretary.

Besides President and Sister Monga, there are two other brethren that work in the office.  They are wonderful and I don't know what we would do without them.  One, Fere Ghilson, works mainly with the transportation and visa issues; the other, Fere Santie, takes care of the apartments and the missionary needs.  
Frere Ghilson (the one on the left) is a bishop and he and his wife are expecting their first child, a girl, any day now.  Frere Santie is married with two young children.  He is in the process of building a home for his little family.  They are both very hard workers and will do anything for us...they are a delight and blessing for us.

The Church finds nice places for the senior missionaries and Brazzaville is no exception.  We live in a 3 bedroom home, but one bedroom we use as a den.  It is a gated home with guards who are on duty 24/7.  
                              The Living and Dining Rooms.

                                                                                          The Kitchen

Though I am not certain of all the reasons we are here in Brazzaville, one reason I do know for sure...and that is...we are here for these wonderful young men and women.

We have about 74 missionaries in the Brazzaville Mission, covering three countries i.e. the Republic of Congo, Cameroon and Gabon.  If my serving in the office keeps them serving and teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then I am happy to serve in the office!

Our dear friends and family, I want to end with an experience I had while attending the ward here in Brazzaville.  During Relief Society one sister was asking a lot of questions.  I really did not know what she was saying, but since I was sitting next to Sis. Monga, she interpreted somewhat for me.  After the meeting, I went up to the woman and sat down next to her and told her she had some good questions.  (I had met her before Relief Society and I knew she spoke English).  One thing led to another, and she confided in me some very personal and trying experiences she had had in her life.  Tearfully she wondered if God had forgiven her of past mistakes.  I hugged her and felt impressed to assure her that God had forgiven her.  She then told me that she really wanted to get baptized, but her "husband" was not really her husband and though they had a 7 year old son, he would not marry her.  And, since she was not married, she could not be baptized.  She mentioned that she had said to her husband, "If I die today and am not baptized, I will be unable to go to Heaven and have to go to Hell...but it will be your fault."  I replied, "Oh no, you will not go to Hell".  I then turned to D&C 137 and had her read, "For I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts."    I then asked her what were her desires?  She replied, "To be baptized and be a member of the Church".  I told her, "That is what you will be judged on....the desires of your will not go to hell".  I could tell the relief in her face and in her eyes.  She wrote down the scripture reference.  After a few more minutes, we both prepared to leave.  I told her I hoped to see her next week.  Then the real miracle happened.  She said, "Oh, this is not my real ward, I just came to this ward today because I felt like it".   

No, I do not know all the reasons we are here in Brazzaville, but I do know that God is in the details of our lives.  This is His Church and He loves all His children.  To this I bear witness today and always!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

August 2016 in Cameroon

Dear Family and Friends,

Amazingly enough, another month in Africa has come to a close.  The month of August was filled with a great deal of sorrow, followed by joy.  I will explain.

One of the greatest prophets to live on this earth was the prophet Abraham.  He lived such an exemplary life that the Lord promised him great blessings.  That is important to us because through our righteousness we can inherit those same blessings and be called the children of Abraham.  Probably the most remarkable example he gave to us was his total submission to God's will, even when it was very very difficult.  That submission was most exemplified in his willingness to sacrifice his favored and beloved son, Isaac.  However, we read that at the last moment, an angel came and saved Abraham from sacrificing his son and the Lord provided a ram in Isaac's place.  Because God is no respecter of persons and wants us to be tried and tested as Abraham, he provides us with similar experiences, only the degree of intensity is not as great. We call these experiences "Abrahamic Tests".  In other words, not wanting to do something, but willing to submit to God's will and then "rescued" at the last moment. :)

Well....August provided us with one of those Abrahamic tests.  As the months have flown by, we have been training and loving the people in Cameroon, particularly Douala.  things are going well and the mission president asked for our recommendation in making Douala a district.  We gave a positive response and thus the process is going forth.  We have felt one of our purposes in coming to Cameroon was to help and train this soon to be created district.

In the mean time, the time for the area office couple (the Bill's) to leave their mission has been rapidly coming to an end.  Pres. Monga did all he could to try and replace them and keep us in Cameroon.  However, as the days approached for their departure, it became evident that the only solution was to pull us from Cameroon to the mission office in the Republic of Congo in the city of Brazzaville.  I particularly, have been imploring the Lord to find someone as a replacement so we could stay in Cameroon.  But no replacement came.  As a result, the end of August and the first of September, we went to Brazzaville to receive training as the area office couple.

Before we left, we said some tearful "Goodbye's" to some pretty sad people.  One branch president even called Pres. Monga and begged him not to take us.  But there was no other option.  The night before we left, Elder Call and I had a long and serious conversation about submitting willingly and not begrudgingly to the Lord's will.  I decided I not only needed to go to Brazzaville, but my attitude must be positive.

We arrived in Brazzaville and had a lovely time with Elder and Sister Bills and the others we met.  We both came to the resolve, if we were to spend the rest of our mission in Brazzaville, so be it!

After spending a few days of training, we returned to Cameroon for Zone Conferences with the Monga's and Jubber's.  (Elder Jubber is the Area doctor and lives in Johannesburg.)  While sitting at the dinning room table with Pres. Monga, he began looking at his computer and said, "This is interesting, we have some missionaries coming to our mission".  Elder Call looked over and said, "It is a senior missionary couple!"  By this time, I had also come over to have a look...and sure enough.  A couple is coming whose speciality is as an office couple.  I literally jumped up and shouted for joy!  So now, we will be going to Brazzaville only for 3 months until the Sorenson's from Pleasant Grove, Utah arrive to "rescue" us. :)  We will return to Cameroon in December to do what we felt we came to do.  When we informed our disappointed Cameroonian friends of the news, their previously sad faces turned to smiles.

Now for the quick synopsis of the other events in August.  First, our French teacher, Purita, received her mission call.  Since many here have no way of receiving mail, the call was delivered to us and then we had the opportunity of taking it to Purita and her family.  She was called to one of the missions in the Democratic Republic of Congo and she is excited to go.

Opening the Call

                                                          Reading the Call
Mixed emotions of excitement and sadness to temporarily "lose" a daughter and sister.

Purita is certainly prepared in every way to serve a mission.  She has done the spiritual preparation on her own, but since she needed a little help with the physical preparation, Sis. Mbengue and I took her shopping.  Sister Mbengue provided the "shopping know-how" and I provided the financial assistance.

On our way to the market to get Purita ready for her mission

It was my first time driving in down town Douala, and I was hoping it would be my last; but that wish has not been granted.  I have had to drive down town again.

After the shopping, I brought the clothes home, washed and ironed them, hung them on hangers, and put them in a closet.  (We did our shopping at the open market and things are not clean.)  Anyway, when I showed Purita the closest of clothes, all she could say was, "Wow, I am so blessed!"  I explained that the apartments on her mission will have a closest (something she does not have) and washers and dryers.  She again said, "WOW!"  I said, "Yes, you will be treated like a queen."  Her reply was, "I am already a queen".  The significance of that statement is amazing when one understands what she has been through.  Before joining the church, Purita was abused physically and sexually and suffered much depredation.  However, she now knows, and more importantly understands her identity as a daughter of God.  Oh the blessings the Gospel brings!!!!  To also understand the goodness of this sweet girl, she said to us, "I can never repay you and Elder Call for what you have done to help me...but I can show my gratitude by being the very best missionary I can be."  I know she will keep her promise. :)

As with most months, August was spent with the junior missionaries.

We attended their district meeting and afterwards celebrated birthdays of two Elders turning 19 years old this month...

had them over for dinner/Family Home Evening and since the lesson was on the Book of Mormon, played scripture charades for the activity using only stories from the Book of Mormon...

visited in the home of a member (Elder Call and I provided the FHE lesson)...

and attended church meetings to meet and encourage their investigators. 
The name of the investigator pictured here is Dimitri.  He met Elder Call his first day in church.  After Elder Call told him he would attend his baptism, Dimitri announced that he wanted Elder Call to baptize him.  However, with the move to Brazzaville, Dimitri's  baptism will have to be performed by someone else.

Normally we would have also attended the baptisms, but we were traveling in August when they held them, so we were not in attendance. Working closely with the junior missionaries has been one of the sweet blessings of our mission in Cameroon.

The month of August was also spent with a trip to Yaounde to do training in the district there.  In addition, we handle the missionary's needs/concerns which also included transfers.   There were a lot of transfers in August in Yaounde, so we decided to invite the missionaries over for dinner and have a "Goodbye Celebration Party".  After dinner we gave them their transfer letters.  

Prepared to receive the missionaries.  I planned on 1/2 loaf of bread/missionary...all the bread was consumed.

A picture of 7 of the 14 missionaries holding their transfer letters.  Elder Call does a great job with transfers including the handling of the needed transportation for all the transferred missionaries.

As mentioned before, we also came to Yaounde to do training.  One of the training meetings was on how to organize a Young Single Adult program in their district.  The members of the district presidency were in attendance and also a good amount of Young Single Adults.  The training went well and we hope activities will begin occurring soon.  In the training we are clear to mention the purposes of the YSA program including the purpose to meet, marry, and raise a righteous family.  There are way too many unmarried YSA in Cameroon.  

A picture taken after the training meeting.  If you notice, there are more boys than girls. That is typical of Africa.  However, there were a few more girls at the training, they just left right after the meeting and before the picture was taken. The girls here in Africa need some lessons on flirting...

We also did a district training on budgeting.  It seemed to go well, but we never know if the people really implement what we train.  The next day, we trained a branch council (who had missed the training on Saturday), on how to budget.  After that, we saw another branch president and he invited us to his office.  We climbed the stairs to his office and as we entered we noticed on his chalkboard a budget and monies allotted to the various auxiliaries...just as we had trained the day before.  Elder Call and I were so excited to see it,  I had to take a picture. The branch president told us that before our training, they had never had a budget.

That may seem like enough things for one month, but just a quick mention of one...or two...more. 

When we returned from Yaounde, we began helping the New Bell Branch get a building to hold their church services.  Currently, they meet in a building outside their branch boundaries and it is difficult for their members to attend.  Cameroon has traditional been a bit neglected when it comes to physical facilities.  When Elder Ellis was visiting we took him to a building we were looking to rent.  The Physical Facilities Dept. acted so slowly, we "lost" the building.  After that happened, my "fight for my children" characteristic kicked in, and I decided to write an e-mail to Elder Ellis in the presidency of the Africa Southeast Area; thanking him for his visit, but also explaining our plight here in Cameroon.  Well.....that did it.  Things have now started to happen.  Another building was located and movement is going much faster and a contract has been given.  It is not as nice as the first building, but will be very adequate when it is fixed up a bit.  

The hopeful site for the New Bell Branch.

One of the other areas we have been doing training is in the YM/YW activities, so when we see results of that training, we get particularly excited.  In August, the New Bell Branch started planning activities for their Young Women.  Their first activity was having Sis. Call help them make cupcakes at our apartment.  It went well and the girls had a great time.   To give you a "flavor" of the African way, the manner I found out about the activity was typical of Africans.  The Young Women's counselor told me they were doing an activity.  I said, "Great, what are you doing".  She said, "We are making a cake".  I replied, "Good, can I come".  She then replied, "Yes, it is at your house".  The conversation all took place in French, so I was glad I knew enough French to learn I had just been put in charge of the YW activity. :)  
Making the cupcakes, all done from "scratch" and by hand, electric mixers.

                                                Frosting the cupcakes.

There is more...(including Suzy fixing a baptismal date for Dec. 24th when we return from Brazzaville) but I am getting tired of writing and I know you are getting tired of reading.  However, I am certain that our "adventures" in Brazzaville will not nearly be as exciting...and thus not as long...which is one reason we did not want to leave Cameroon. :) My thought is that we can focus our efforts in the Congo on learning French, which would be a great asset when we return.  

To end with, I again want to bear my witness of the joy we feel for the privilege of serving the Lord in Africa.  We were told by the doctor from South Africa, who visited in August, that only about 6-7% of senior couples have good enough health to serve a mission in Africa.  Elder Call and I are among the blessed few!