Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Cameroon - January 2017

Dear Family and Friends,

I am late again with the blog and since February is a short month, I did consider combining January and February.  However, I worried that some might be concerned about our whereabouts in the jungles of Africa, so I decided to write.

The most exciting thing that happened to me in January is that I regained my health.  The results from the tests showed that I am a healthy old woman. :)  What the doctor here in Cameroon thinks is that initially I had bronchitis.  The antibiotics I took cured the bronchitis but then I had some serious side effects from the antibiotics.  The particular antibiotic I took was very strong and the doctor said it was not usually recommended for children and for those "getting on in age".  Well, I am definitely "getting on in age"...thus the comment being "a healthy old woman". 

During the first week in January we had a visit from the President of the South East Africa Area, Elder Hamilton.  He decided to visit the French speaking countries in the area and thus Cameroon got a visit.  After some meetings with the members, we took him to the site where the church has purchased property to build a chapel.  We had visited it earlier and learned someone had begun to build something in front of the fence.
A previous visit to the property.  Note the foundations for some kind of structure on the sidewalk.

The practice of building without getting clearance is quite a common practice in Africa.  If property is vacant, someone will just start building on it, and then it becomes theirs.  The church has actually lost some property this way in the Congo, thus we were very concerned about this piece of property since it is the only piece of property the church owns in Cameroon; we are renting all our buildings.  Elder Hamilton promised that he would get the church's attorneys on the problem.  Also since then, Elder Call and I have gone to the property with a big, black, permanent magic marker and have written on the cement "stop your building, this is NOT your property."  We then wrote the phone number of the District President if they needed further information.   The District Pres. has received no phone call and the construction has stopped.

While visiting the property, I took a picture with Elder Hamilton, Elder Call and Pres. Mbengue, the District President.

On our return home, I asked Elder Hamilton why the church did not build a chapel on the property.  He said he would love to request to have a chapel built on that property; but the problem was tithing i.e. the members need to have a certain degree of tithing worthiness.  He said there were exceptions to that rule, but he hesitated to even ask for an exception since the only requirement to have a chapel built was a percentage of tithing worthiness by the members attending the building.

This knowledge saddened me.  There are branches in Douala that meet the tithing requirement, but the branch that would be attending that chapel does not.  The interesting thing is that shortly thereafter, while we were attending that branch, the branch president spoke on tithing.  Afterwards, we asked him if we could visit with his presidency about tithing and the other two issues he addressed.  He agreed and we set up a time to meet later in the month.  The Sunday we were to meet with the presidency, the branch president asked if we could address a combined meeting with the members.  We gladly agreed.  During that meeting I felt impressed to show the members the picture I had taken with Elder Hamilton standing in front of the church's property.  I asked if anyone knew what it was.  Most had no idea.  I then explained it was property the church owned to build a chapel.  I then related the conversation I had had with Elder Hamilton previously.  There were a lot of somber faces in the crowd.  I then invited them, if they were not already doing so, to begin to pay their tithing.   I tried to look in each of their eyes and I said, "Will you pay your tithing".  Most shook their heads in the affirmative. The good news is that after that meeting Elder Call saw a father, who had not previously been paying tithing, surrounded by his family and filling out a tithing receipt.

Much of our time during the month of January was spent getting new apartments for the missionaries.  Pres. Monga has felt like he would like to upgrade some of the apartments in the area and also have fewer missionaries living in one apartment.  So we have been finding smaller, but nicer apartments for the missionaries.  Pictures of apartments are not too exciting to see.  However, I would like to show a couple of pictures to help you understand the need for the upgrade.

Previous apartment

      New apartment

You may not be "crazy" with the color scheme, but one can not deny the upgrade, right?

Another picture that may not be all that pleasant is what we look like when we move the Elders...especially Elder Call.  This picture was taken at about 10:30 am.  It took us until about 5:00 pm to move the Elders and by then there was not a speck of Elder Call's clothes that was not soaked in sweat.

Though it may not always be the most pleasant duty to find apartments and move missionaries, we try not to  miss the opportunity to visit with the neighbors and share the Gospel in the process.

 We met this man while trying to locate a new apartment in the Deido area.  We were sitting in our truck when he walked by and saw Elder Call's missionary badge.  He stopped and said something like, "I was praying this morning to learn more about God, and then I saw your badge; I believe God has led me to you".  We agreed with him and gave his name and number to the missionaries.  At another apartment after moving the Elders, by the time we drove away, one of the neighbors was sitting on a chair reading the pamphlet I had given him.  Some days I wish WE could do the teaching. :)

When we went to Brazzaville, our French took a "beating".  I thought we would have more time to study.  But we learned the best way to learn a language is to speak it, and while at the office I never had one single conversation with the computer I sat in front of all English or in French.  Also while in Brazzaville, we had no French teacher.  So on our return to Cameroon, we decided to again ask someone to be our French teacher.  We approached a Young Single Adult in one of the branches named Wesley.  She has a calling in the Young Women's program, so I already knew her.

Our new French teacher, Wesley.  She is going to school to learn to be a hotel receptionist.  She is darling and we love her.

So since returning to Cameroon, our French is improving with the help of Wesley, speaking to one another during the day, and trying to speak French when we do any kind of training.  When I have had a chance to think a little beforehand about what to say, I do better.  If not, people will often look at me with a blank stare.  While living in Brazzaville I went into a hotel that had a restaurant, and with my best French, asked the receptionist when dinner was served.  She gave me one of those blank stares and replied,  "I'm sorry I don't speak English."  Even with those kind of comments, we are still trying our best to learn the language.  However, as I may have said before, we have discovered that the most powerful language is the language of love.

Well that about sums up the month.   Each day is a new adventure.  We are still loving our mission, loving the people, and learning to love each other and the Gospel of Jesus Christ more deeply and with greater commitment each day.