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 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 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.