Sunday, August 10, 2014

8/10 - A Tough Week of Drama & Some Success

Monday started off calm.  Then in the evening Elder Okon called.  “Elder Ndonda has been coughing for 30 minutes and can’t talk.”  I asked some details and called the missionary doctor in South Africa for advice.  Two minutes later, Elder Roth called Sister Coleman and said, “Elder Ndonda is unconscious and no longer breathing.” 

It all started Monday evening when Elder Ndonda, who finishes his mission in less than 2 weeks, had suddenly started coughing as he was walking home.  He made it home with help from his companion but then got progressively worse.

The Elder/Doctor Barton said to quickly get him to an emergency room.  But he lives 20 minutes away, there is no 911 service, and there are no addresses so an ambulance wouldn’t be able to find him even if we knew how to call one.  We drove over as fast as we dared, during which time he started breathing again.  Then we hauled his unconscious, limp body down the stairs to the truck, put him on the back seat, and drove him to the best hospital in town where they gave him oxygen, an IV, and inhaled medicine.  Elder Okon, his companion stayed awake all night with him the first night to make sure he didn’t pull out his IV in his dazed state.  The doctor said that someone needed to be there because the hospital wouldn’t check on him very often.  By morning he was fully conscious and wondering what had happened, although still weak.  Three days later he was released from the hospital with a diagnosis of acute asthma and a list of drugs to take.  Today he is feeling good and back to work.  But please, Elder Ndonda, don't ever do that again.

The hospital only accepts cash, so we had to come up with it.  Fortunately, their prices are a bit lower than in the US even though the care is similar.  The total bill for the emergency room care, three nights in the hospital, medications, IVs, oxygen, respirator, doctor consultations, meals, and everything was about $450.  What a bargain!  And this is the best hospital in town with high standards of care.
Elder Ndonda in Emergency Room

Hospital Room

Elder Ndonda in Hospital Bed

The mission president was flying from Yaoundé to Brazzaville but his flight was cancelled so he rerouted his trip to pass through Douala with a 6 hour layover.  That got him home a bit later but he was able to visit Elder Ndonda in the hospital.

We’re trying to help resolve some problems with hurt feelings in the Douala Branch to keep a family from going inactive.  This took a lot of our time and energy this week.  It seems that Africans love drama and generate lots of it whenever they get together.  There are no theaters in town so people spend their time talking to and about other people.

But I’m really encouraged by leaders taking my advice in the Douala Branch.  There was no home teaching or visiting teaching program when we arrived.  Now all of the assignments have been made and posted and are being reported.  Schedules of activities are posted on the bulletin board.  Meetings are starting and ending on time.  Leaders are reading and following the handbook.  The Church is maturing.

One of Sister Coleman's students, Messie, wanted to take a piano home to show his mother how well he could play.  So we drove him home and let him use a piano there to play a few hymns.  His mom was cooking on a wood fire on the porch when we arrived.  His family is very nice.
Gabrielle, Messie (front), André, & Gregoire

Gregoire, Gabrielle, Messie, & our truck in front of their apt.

We watched a duel between taxis in front of us in which one actually bumped the other with the side of his fender to convince him to move over.  Now I know another reason why the taxis are all so beat up.

Who says this is a third-world country?  I bought a Big Mac from a restaurant named “McBurger.”  It was huge, maybe three times the size of a Big Mac from America.  Sister Coleman just bought a regular burger and it was also huge.  She had to throw half away.  The restaurant is owned by a young French man who married a Cameroonian.
McBurger Restaurant

McBurgers are Huge

McBurger Menu

History is being made in Douala.  Street signs are appearing everywhere!  Maybe street addresses are next.  It remains to be seen whether people start using street names and addresses, but I would dearly love to be able to find places using Google maps and an address.  Unfortunately, a lot of streets (ours included) have never been named.  I don’t think people will ever get used to calling our street “1.081” like it says on the sign.
Our Street has a Sign Now!
Today is our six-month mark for our mission.  We're still seeing new things and enjoying the adventure.
This Taxi was full but still managed to cram 6 men in the trunk.

Sometimes you have to share the road with a train.

Valere, the clerk, started a tiny jewelry factory
Last Week's Debate - Can You Spot Me? (Kind of like Where's Waldo)

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