Monday, May 12, 2014

5-12 - The Natives are Restless but Tracting Can Be Fun

This week has seen more excitement and intrigue.  Excitement in the ease of sharing the gospel.  Intrigue in the complicated problems of the branch members.  But we're enjoying the challenges and still hoping to make a positive difference among this incredible people.

Monday morning we went tracting with Romeo Dim.  We passed out brochures and gave the first lesson to a woman in a boutique, a man at a stand, about 10 men working in an outdoor shoe shop, and a man and several women on a front porch.  Then we had to take a break because we were out of brochures.  It was our first time tracting and I underestimated the level of interest we would encounter.  Every place we went Romeo would give a brief introduction and then I would preach.  NOBODY said that they weren’t interested.  EVERYONE wanted to hear our message and talk about it.  Most said that they would read and call or come to the church.  We got one appointment for Tuesday evening at our home.  WHAT A COUNTRY!
Near evening that day we went out again and a couple of the people didn’t want to talk.  But we prayed with a blind woman and taught a few people, including a group that gathered on a porch.
We felt kind of like the missionaries must have felt in the early days of the Church, walking down dusty dirt roads, preaching to individuals and groups along the way in a land in which nobody has heard of the restored gospel.
The Road Where We Went Tracting

Romeo shared another vision that he had, in which Joseph Smith appeared to him and explained some things.  Afterwards, he couldn’t remember what he had been told, but the memory of the vision was strong.  He is a visionary man.

Noah came over for another lesson and visit.  His baptismal date is May 17, this Saturday.  He would really like to study in America, and has high hopes that we can help him get a visa, despite our denials.  Visas are allotted to Africans by a lottery system.  He has a friend, Etienne, who is studying in San Diego, so we called him up and he chatted a while.  Etienne told me that he studied with the missionaries but then got too busy, but gave the ok to pass his number to the missionaries, so I sent it to the missionary couple living in our house.

We invited Noah and the Dim family over for dinner and they brought two friends so we had 12 people around our table.  It was fun and we had some interesting gospel discussions.  I found it interesting that we ran out of rice.  Given a choice of barbecue pork, fruit salad, green salad, and rice, the Africans go for the familiar, boring, white rice.  But nobody turned down ice cream.  The girls  insisted on doing all of the dishes, so Sister Coleman taught them our method of rinsing them in bleach water.  They seemed to take great joy in working together in the kitchen.
The Dim Family & Noah at Our Table

The Elders had a zone meeting in our house and enjoyed some of the leftovers from dinner.

We got stopped by cops again just to check our papers.  I grinned and said, “You stopped me about 5 days ago.  Do you remember me?”  He just glanced at the papers and let us go.

“The natives are restless,” as the saying goes.  We were invited to a home where we were treated to an hour of three members complaining about the branch leadership.  The complaints were rather vague and I don’t think that anyone will leave the church over it, but it shows some of the difficulties of a very inexperienced group of people coming together to form a church unit.  Another family (Hyppolite) invited us over and shared with us that they became inactive because of a lack of love in the branch.  The problems here seem similar to those of the early church in America.  Everyone has different ideas about how the branch should be run, while rumors and innuendo spread through the grapevine.  We’re starting to see where our biggest challenges will be. 
The Hyppolite Family & Missionaries

I had a long talk with President Nkong about some of the issues and how he might deal with them.    I also had a long talk with the Douala EQ president (President Momo) about home teaching.  We went over the handbook and some other material.  I’m hoping to boost the home teaching up from the 0% that it is now.

On Mother’s Day we attended the Bonaberi Branch, which showed General Conference.  They showed the Saturday sessions on Saturday, so on Sunday they showed the morning session, then served sandwiches and drinks, then showed the Women’s and Sunday afternoon sessions.  It was a well done and a good social event.

Then we went home and found the power off.  After 3 hours and a few on and off events, power finally came back on before the Elders arrived to video chat with their mothers.  But the internet remained off for the rest of Sunday and almost all of Monday, so they all made brief phone calls to explain and reschedule for next Sunday.  And of course, that is why this blog post is a day late.
One of the Ubiquitous Handcarts Navigating a Traffic Jam

President Nkong & Alain Dieudonne Trimming Ivy by Baptismal Font
Boniberi Primary Members on Patio Ready for Lunch at Conference

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