The adventure continued this week with a packed schedule and more new experiences. Every day that we get time to share the Gospel or spend time with branch members is an uplifting day. And the missionaries are so inspirational that it is great to work with them. We preached, taught, and welcomed new missionaries. It has been a great week.
We looked at 2 houses as possible temporary chapels with the Hyppolites. Since we will probably have to leave our building before we can build a chapel we are looking for a suitable site. Unfortunately, those we saw don’t have room to seat 150 people.
We met with the Dims and got some issues resolved. There will always be problems in a branch as young as ours, but increasing charity in the branch will resolve all.
Sister Coleman gave some more marriage counseling to Soeur Alvine. She specifically wanted to know why she told her that men don’t change after marriage but women do.
Our Wednesday schedule was packed. I picked up 4 new Elders (Bybee, Waite, Simmons, & Tucker) fresh from the Ghana MTC on Wednesday. Their plane was late, although an hour after it was supposed to arrive the monitor said it was “on time.” Then the display switched to “landing.” Maybe an hour late is considered “on time” here. But I had a good discussion with a man in the airport (Jacques) about religion, the BoM, tribes, villages, and traditions. We swapped phone numbers and he promised to call.
|New Elders Bybee & Waite|
I took the Elders to the police station and we got delayed there so while we waited I preached to a tribal princess for a while, and then an English-speaking family. Since none of the new Elders could converse in French very well, I called them over and introduced them and we had a great visit in English. It was interrupted when the deputy police chief called us all into his office. There was no problem; he just wanted to find out why all these Americans are here. Then he shared with us for a few minutes his feelings on brotherly love and sent us on our way. Those new Elders got a quick lesson on how easy it is to share the gospel here. We sent 2 on the bus to Yaounde and got the other 2 settled in the Bonaberi apartment.
|Coucou Checking Elder Bybee's Camera|
|Gabriella, Sister Coleman, and Laura|
Later that day the princess (Princess Stephanie of Bamileke Bafong Fombele, a BakothDji woman if I copied it right) called me to arrange a meeting. We arranged it for the next day. The next day we met her at the cathedral, but she seemed mostly interested in bringing our business to her travel agency. She invited us to mass so on Sunday we attended the 6:30am Catholic mass with her. Afterward, we took her to our church but she said that she couldn’t stay and will come next week.
|Princess Stephanie (left) at her House|
The mass was interesting. The cathedral is very nice and would fit well anywhere, as cathedrals go. The mass seemed fairly standard, with priests, nuns, altar boys & girls, incense, reciting, communion, etc. But the songs were totally African in style. The pipe organ was unused. There were 3 marimbas, 2 bongo drums, some rattles and a cowbell. The singing was mostly in some dialect that I don’t know with a lot of clapping and swaying in the choir. Afterwards I bought the CD. Princess Stephanie introduced us to her tribal chief, who invited us to his home. He lives near us and we made an appointment for Wednesday morning.
Thursday was even busier than Wednesday. We left early and met with a souvenir salesman near our home and taught most of the first discussion. 2 other men joined in and probably got more out of it than he did although they are just visiting Cameroon. Then we had our meeting with the princess. After visiting 3 places about shipments and running other errands we made it to a meeting with the Elders and a less-active family (Frere Eboa) and had a good visit. We failed at paying the water bills because the water company electricity was out.
|Elder Ndonda, Frere Eboa, Sister Coleman with girl, Elder Okon|
Then we taught piano lessons and headed back out with the Elders to an investigator family. It had rained and we had to drive through a lot of mud and water. The house appeared to be in a swamp but the water was only a few inches deep, so I just drove up to it. We had another great visit with them. And after scraping a fender on a wall I learned that in Nigerian English “OK” means “STOP!”
|Path to House Surrounded by Water|
|We all had to get out on this side.|
It is such a good feeling to share the gospel. People here like to talk and aren’t afraid of discussing religion, as are most people in more developed countries.
Friday we went looking for some items at some marches. We mainly wanted a used piano keyboard (for a student) and some large water storage jugs. How do you find a piano for sale in a city of 2 million with no yellow pages, nothing on the internet, no classified ads, and no street names? You ask people. Africa is like a giant swap meet. In Marché Deido someone told us to try Marché Central. In Marché Central we were told to try Marché Congo. In Marché Congo we were told to look in Bonaberi. We didn’t find a piano but we bought some water jugs, some malaria meds (for our guard), and some produce.
|Marché Deido, aka Where's Waldo|
|A Muddy Lane in Marché Central|
As we were giving up and heading out someone tried to pick my pocket, I think. Two men sandwiched me on the crowded sidewalk and squeezed me more than necessary. I started yelling, “Monsieur, qu’est ce vous faites! (Sir, what are you doing!)” while covering my pockets and they walked away. Nothing was missing from my pockets so I just let it go. I’m sure that they didn’t want to be caught and risk swift tribal justice, which can be harsh I’m told.
On Friday we got a strange delivery at DHL. It was a Children’s Friend in English and nothing else. We were puzzled and set it aside. Then we got a phone call asking us to pick up a large check at DHL to pay a year’s rent on the Bonaberi chapel. As we were about to go to DHL I had a sudden thought. I flipped through the Children’s Friend and found the check. Clever packaging, but I would prefer that they tell me these things.
Saturday I did some more clerk training but the internet was still out at the chapel so we were very limited in what we could do.
Later that day, Noah came over followed by the missionaries for a lesson. It was his birthday so we had ice cream and little cakes. His baptism had to be postponed for two weeks, but he asked me to baptize him.
|Elder Ntambwe, Noah, & Elder Baker|
Sunday I taught a mini-lesson in Priesthood Meeting on how to home teach, and gave a talk in Sacrament Meeting on loving and not judging. I volunteered for both to try to help with some problems that we perceive in the branch.
The Bonaberi Branch asked me to speak in their Sacrament Meeting next week but the topic is different.
Sunday afternoon was Mother’s Day Skype time since the internet went down on the real Mother’s Day. President Cook was scheduled to arrive at 5pm for a zone conference tomorrow but his flight was cancelled (common here) so we had to rearrange all of his appointments.
|Elder Brockbank Skyping with Mom|
|Bonaberi Kids Sweeping Church Steps|
|Motorcycle with Umbrella (they're everywhere)|