Saturday, February 22, 2014

2/22: Baptisms!

I planned to just blog once per week, but I'm so excited about all of the cool new experiences that we're having that I can't wait more than 2 days!
Yesterday we brought some beignets to the Douala missionaries' district meeting.  French pastries are so cheap here!  The rest of yesterday was spent preparing for the baptism, visiting with the Branch President, and minor tasks.

Today was really interesting.  The youth of the Douala Branch had a "fitness walk" at 8am so we joined them.  We walked through town for about a mile at a brisk pace, then did exercises in a park, led by a Branch member who is a professional soccer player.

Branch Youth

Working Out in the Park

Then we gave a ride to 5 of the youth to one of their homes to get clothes for the baptism and back to our house.  It was 8 miles from our house and our first visit to a Cameroon home.  After fighting the crazy traffic for most of the way we turned onto a barely passible dirt road and drove about a half mile.  Then we parked and walked the last half-mile, because the road was worse.
Difficult Dirt Road seen through the Windshield
It was hard to believe that these beautiful, intelligent, well-dressed, well-mannered, vivacious young women lived in a simple, cinder block house with hanging fabric for doors.  The front room has only one piece of furniture: a bench big enough for two.  The rest of the cement floor was bare except for a few possessions piled in some corners.  The walls were bare except for a worn chalkboard, used by the older sister to teach her siblings, and maybe 100 pictures cut from church magazines and taped to the walls.  They offered us the bench and we played hand-clapping games with the kids and chatted with the dad while the girls got ready.  (The mom was running errands.)  Outside their door was the village well where children were coming to lower their buckets about 10 feet to fill them.  In the neighborhood open space was a friendly young goat and several roaming chickens.  The other homes in the neighborhood appeared to be similarly simple, although some were kept better than others.
Family & Friends in Home (Dad on Left)
Front of Home, Well is Left of Bucket

Young Goat

The drive was entertaining with lots of laughter and enthusiastic singing of hymns and popular rock songs by all.  Nobody enjoys singing more than Africans  We had the air conditioning on but the kids rolled down the windows, preferring the heat.  We had to keep our home about 84 degrees for the baptismal service.  We wanted it cooler but our guests complained about being too cold.  I'm told that when it gets down to 80 people start wearing coats.
Fun Group of Youth

Four Baptizees and Baptizers and Missionaries
The baptism was in our building's swimming pool because apparently someone failed to pay the water bill at our meetinghouse so we couldn't fill the font.  We expected 25 people but 35 showed up so a few had to stand.  Three men and a woman were baptized.  The talks were long and the service took almost 2 hours, but everyone seemed to enjoy it.  It is really inspiring to see the joy of people with so little of what westerners consider important.  Today was another wonderful day in Africa!
Our Living Room

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