Sunday, May 4, 2014

5/4 - Funeral, Hospital, Maraine, Typhus

The president of our new mission has officially been announced in the Deseret News: Elie Kyungu Monga.  He is from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and has been serving as counselor to a mission president.  It is exciting to get an African president.  Our new mission home will still be 700 miles away, but with only about 56 missionaries in the mission I expect that we will grow quickly.

We just got back from the hospital where a branch member is being treated for sickle-cell anemia.  She walked into the hospital, but then felt too weak to walk so her brother carried her piggyback from place to place.  The Laquintinie Hospital is the largest hospital in Douala and is spread out over many acres.  If you ever think American hospitals are difficult to navigate, consider what we went through:  There are very few signs, so it was difficult to find a place that could treat her, but we finally did.  She needed blood so we left her and trooped over to the blood bank.  Blood costs $48 or $28 + 2 donations.  Two branch members volunteered and gave blood.  The branch president hiked to the cashier to pay but he had to wait about 45 minutes for someone to show up.  Then he came back, got the pouch of blood, and carried it across the dirt & weeds back to the patient.  They still didn’t have a bed for her so we gave her a blessing and waited.  Finally a bed was available so I carried her down the hall and put her in it.  It was in a very crowded room with about 20 others, mostly babies, and lots of commotion.  At this point it was dark, we were worried about mosquitoes, and there was no more that we could do so we returned home, promising to check back tomorrow.

Laquintinie Hospital
Path from Hospital Rooms to Blood Bank
Brothers Mpom & Yanou after Giving Blood
President Nkong carrying the Blood

It struck me as funny that I can donate blood here but am prohibited in the USA because I have been here.  I would have volunteered but had been fasting, so it wouldn’t have gone well.

Saturday we attended another funeral.  This one was for a cousin of Romeo Dim, whose mother was a princess, so he is a VIP in his village.  I estimated that over 400 people attended.  It was well organized with a fancy Baptist service and lots of wailing at the grave.  She was buried in a covered courtyard next to a house, rather than a regular cemetery.  We got to meet a lot of Romeo’s relatives and the church pastor invited us to have breakfast with him sometime.
Chief's Traditional Ceremonial House

Funeral Procession

Interesting Mourner Outfit

Crowd at Burial Under Patio

Pastor at Funeral

After 13 days of delay Elder Ngalamulume was finally able to fly to his new assignment.  First flight delays, then visa delays.  TIA.

Piano lessons drew 3 students in Douala, so each got a lot of attention.  That was fun.  In Bonaberi there were 14 and they are mostly doing great.

Electricity has been failing a lot more than usual lately.  It is annoying but usually is back on within an hour.

A few observations about health:
Five of our 8 Douala Elders are North American and are very healthy.  One had an ingrown toenail, but that’s about it.  We have three missionaries from African countries and among them they have had various problems: flu-like symptoms, pain in eyes, sore back, canker, ringworms.  An African here once told me that the American Elders aren’t as effective because they can’t handle the heat and primitive conditions.  But from what I’ve seen, the Americans are healthier and work at least as hard as the Africans.

I’ve had a few minor problems: cold, strained muscles.  I was amazed that my cold only lasted a couple of days.  I think it is the constant African warmth, lots of fresh African fruit, and the Lord’s blessings that promote healing.  I’ve lost about a pound a week in the past 10 weeks, probably due to a change in eating habits.  I’m trying to eat more.

We learned that Victor Mbengue was ill so we visited him.  He showed us his test results: Typhus.  He got meds and was in church a few days later.  Saturday evening we had a surprise visit from two girls and a baby.  It was fun to chat, but one of the girls has malaria and needed to lie down.  We gave them a ride home.

One of the street drugs here is Kola nuts.  I read something about them once, so when a vendor on the street offered them for 10 cents and showed me how to eat them, I tried one.  It was quite bitter, but edible.  They are only native to this region.  Later, I Googled it and found that they are loaded with caffeine and were an original ingredient of Coca Cola.  I guess I won’t make a habit of eating them.  They can be addicting.  And we are already addicted to the cacahu√©tes they sell everywhere in half-gallon bottles.  They are peanuts coated in caramelized sugar.  They are so tasty that it is very difficult to stop eating them once you start.
Kola Nut Broken in Pieces

The police here love me.  They always want me to stop and chat.  They stopped me again for no reason, picking just me out of the pack of cars.  Just a quick check of my vehicle papers and they let me go.  I think they must have been registration enforcement guys because they didn’t ask for my driver’s license and they didn’t have regular cop uniforms.

Our dryer quit working again, costing $50 to fix.

A sister in the Bonaberi Branch asked Sister Coleman to be her “maraine”, which means, loosely translated, her godmother for her upcoming marriage.  She came over last week looking for advice but we misunderstood and spent all the time talking about her wedding.  Later we figured out that the maraine is supposed to give advice on how to be a good wife and have a good marriage.  So we had the couple over for dinner and gave them a distilled version of what makes a happy marriage.  It is kind of sad that there are so few role models here.  I don’t know what the numbers are but it seems rare to find someone who grew up in an “intact home.”  Marriage is difficult and expensive because of tribal customs.  Some customs regard women as chattel, leading to unhappy marriages.  Diseases often take parents and women sometimes die in childbirth.  It really does take a village here to care for all of the orphans, though extended families or friends are very good about accepting needy children as their own.  But only a marriage built upon gospel principles can be truly fulfilling and happy, and the branch members can see that and are learning to apply that.  We’re so happy to be able to contribute in a small way.  And we’re looking forward to the wedding next month.

There is a major road that I call our "freeway" because it is the biggest road in town.  One day there was a herd of cattle traveling on it.
Cattle Drive down the Freeway

Driving while taking Photo and trying not to hit a Cow

Taxi that Carries 5, Crowded Minivan on Left
Taxis often are marked "5 places", as shown above, meaning they can legally carry 5 people.  I was shocked to see the minivan, the size of a Dodge Caravan, marked "19 places."  (Zoom in to read it.)  I know that they add extra seating and cram them full of people but I didn't know it was legal.
Minivan that Carries 19

The Road to Bonaberi Elders (their apt on left) With Deep Potholes

A Huge Bug Outside the Church

Hycenth Uche Making a Creamy Corn Beverage to Sell

1 comment:

  1. You are really having some interesting adventures. We know you will be blessed for your faithful servicre.