Saturday, May 7, 2016

Cameroon - April 2016

As promised, the next blog is being written from Douala, Cameroon.  Douala is a port city, thus it is by the Atlantic Ocean and is the biggest city in Cameroon with a population of about 3 million people.  It is by the equator so the weather and vegetation is much like Ghana, which is just fine with us.  We will take "heat" over "cold" any day.

We left Boise, Idaho on Monday, April 11 and arrived in Cameroon late Tuesday afternoon.  We were met at the airport by the other senior couple in Cameroon, Elder and Sister Dimond.  The Dimond's are nearing the end of their mission and will go home the end of May 2016.  They are serving in Yaounde which is the capital city of Cameroon and is about a 4 hour drive inland from Douala.  Before we came, the Dimond's took care of "things" in both cities; after they leave, we will be responsible for both cities. (Anyone out there feeling some longings to serve in Africa?! If so, we can help with those desires.)

We had three days of training with the Dimond's and then they left early Saturday morning for Yaounde.

Elder Call with Elder and Sister Dimond

Our responsibilities began almost immediately, for we needed to pick up the mission president, Pres. Monga, and his wife, at the airport on that same Saturday at 1:30 in the afternoon.  President Monga had scheduled interviews with the missionaries, leadership meetings, and releasing of missionaries that would all be taking place at our apartment.  Having the meetings at the apartment was not a problem, but when I learned I would also be feeding them, my stress level rose.  Fixing meals is not a problem, but shopping in Africa is.  I still am not exactly certain how it all worked out, but we did it.  Miracles began early.

President and Sister Monga at our apartment.  The Monga's live in Brazzaville, in the Republic of Congo which is about 600 miles south of Douala.  They were delightful to be with and so kind and appreciative. 

One of the meetings President Monga entitled "The Souvenir Meeting".  It was a meeting for the Elders who were going home.  For those who don't know, the word "souvenir" is French in origin and means "to remember".  He had the missionaries reflect about the things they had learned on their mission and then gave them some advice for returning home.  After he and Sister Monga spoke, he was so kind to invite Elder Call and I to also share a few words of advice.  

After "The Souvenir Meeting" with the departing missionaries.  The one in the middle is from Ghana and actually remembered us when we did some YSA training while we were in Ghana.  

Elder Call took the Monga's to the airport on Thursday morning, I was still in bed, and we spent the rest of the week doing some much needed cleaning and organizing.  In fact, we spent much of the next two weeks cleaning and organizing.  There have been no missionary couple living here for many months, so there was much to be done.  Fortunately, some women and men from the branches did a lot of the "big" cleaning.  The sisters washed all the dishes and cleaned the mold off the furniture, etc.  The men painted.  We were so grateful for their help.  

Besides taking care of the mission president, another of our responsibilities is to take care of the junior missionaries serving here.  We have 10 Elders in our area, 4 in the near by city of Bonaberi and 6 in Douala.  Since no senior couple has been here for eight months, and the mission president is such a long distance away, there were many things that needed our attention.  Some of those needs included broken appliances, old and sagging mattresses, and electricity that needed to be reinstalled after not being paid for.  

I bought a picture frame,  took the pictures of all "our" Elders and have it hanging in our "office".  There are five Elders from the States, two Elders from Madagascar, one Elder from Burundi, and one Elder from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  We love them all!

Last Monday night we had a FHE with the Elders from Bonaberi and have scheduled a FHE with the Douala Elders this Monday.  

Having root beer floats with the Elders from Bonaberi.  Drinking root beer floats was reminiscent for the American Elders, since root beer is a rare commodity in Cameroon, and a new experience for the African Elders. 

After dinner and getting acquainted,  we watched "The Other Side of Heaven" and were again reminded of that great story of Brigham and Heber C. leaving on their mission to England..."Hurrah for Israel".  

For this first blog, I thought I would show a few pictures of our apartment.  It is actually quite spacious and more than adequate for our needs...and now also clean. :) 

Dinning Room and Living Room

In our "travels" I spotted the table cloth seen in the photo.  It was hand painted by a local artist.  I felt it was perfect for our table.  

The "office"  

The kitchen

The grey canisters are how we filter our water.  The stove and oven use propane gas, which I don't mind, but I am still trying to get used to the oven temperatures.

 The other side of the kitchen and my "gift from God" refrigerator.

Elder and Sister Dimond mentioned that the previous refrigerator was having some problems. The day before we arrived, it completely "gave up the ghost".  Thus, one of the activities we needed to do with the Dimond's was to buy a new refrigerator.  We went to the store and when I saw this one, I said, "This is the one I want".  I know it was a little larger than the ones they were looking at, but Elder Dimond said I could get it.  Had the previous refrigerator broken sooner, they would have replaced it with a smaller one.  If it had broken later, my food would have spoiled and we also would not have known where to go to replace it.  Thus, I call it "my gift from God", refrigerator.

A photo taken from the Living Room, looking into our office.

This is also a picture of my African purse.  I had wanted to buy one, but wasn't able to find something I liked.  One day we stopped at this little shop with the most darling shop owner named Suzy.  She speaks little English and I speak little French.  However, with the little knowledge we possessed, I learned that she sewed the purses in her shop.  I asked if she could make me one like the one I had, except using African fabric.  She agreed.  In the course of the "conversation" I learned she was Christian and I told her I was a missionary for my church.  We arranged for the day the purse would be finished.  When that day arrived,  I decided to take her a Book of Mormon with my testimony written in French. When we returned to her shop, she was not there, but I gave the Book of Mormon to her sister.  One day soon, we will return because I want to tell her how much I enjoy my purse, take a photo of her, and see if she has done any reading in the Book of Mormon. 

That sums up some of our doings here in Cameroon.  However, the many miracles we have seen just in this short period of time, can not all be related. We are grateful to be here and our testimonies of the Gospel of Jesus Christ keep growing stronger.