Douala is starting to look like Christmas, with lights and decorations popping up here and there. Artificial Christmas trees are available in some stores and shelf space has been cleared to display more toys. In EcoMarché grocery store you can load up your cart with Christmas decorations and chocolate Easter bunnies. (They have been selling Easter candy for a long time but it is still really expensive.)
|Display in EcoMarché Grocery Store|
We went with Emmanuel Mbayo, from the Church real estate rental department in Kinshasa, to look at potential meetinghouses. He came to Douala for a week to pick a building and get a contract approved and signed. Real estate is a messy business here. Everything is by word of mouth. Nobody knows how big a house is, you just have to look at every house and take measurements. We looked at 9 buildings found by 4 different people. Some were obviously inadequate but we found 4 that might be large enough. One seems to be the clear winner in a comparison of features, so now we have to wait for the church approval process.
|The top New Meetinghouse contender. (That's the guard on the porch.)|
Now I’m not much of a worrier, but in 16 days the branch has to be moved into a new location! The new building will take a lot of work to install air conditioners, a pulpit, a sound system, probably install some new walls, repair, clean and paint. I just keep telling myself that there is nothing I can do. Don't worry. Let the Africans do it their way. Breathe in… Breathe out.
The Bonaberi Branch has no plans for a Christmas party but the Douala Branch does, sort of. They scheduled a talent night for this Saturday, but since nobody planned it they postponed it for a week to Dec 27th. Today they picked a time and formed a committee. I suggested putting up a poster with information and accepting any willing participants instead of just picking the good ones, like they were considering. How did they not start planning this months ago? Breathe in… Breathe out.
We lost water pressure for a day and had to take bucket showers, which reminded us how good we have had it. We haven’t had to take bucket showers for months. Electricity and the internet have had no major outages for over 100 days now. Life is good.
I had a minor auto accident while driving home from branch presidency meeting. There was a major traffic jam and while I was stopped, a van came from the side and got a little too close. When traffic finally started to move I moved forward a few feet and heard my rear bumper tearing off the van’s front grill. It was obviously their fault and there was no damage to my truck, but when they saw that I was white they pled poverty and asked me to give them money to fix their van. I was tempted to just pay them and go, but I’m afraid that that would make missionaries a target. I chose instead to wait for the police, which they said they were calling. The police never arrived, because they didn’t really call them. I called home where there was an attorney (Jean Marie Su) waiting to have dinner with us. He offered to help so I waited for him. The van guys pestered me to give them $10, then said they would be okay with $6. Finally they just decided to give up and go. But then my attorney arrived and put things into perspective for them, with me being a missionary and all. He started preaching the gospel, inviting them to church, and swapping phone numbers. He’s great. I was afraid that they might blame their misfortune on the Church, so I didn’t give them brochures, but by the end we all smiled and shook hands.
|The van behind my truck with its grill on the grass.|
We had the Su’s over to dinner, with the missionaries, to celebrate Sister Su’s baptism. She had been in France for 2 months. While there, she took all of the lessons, gained a testimony and was baptized, surprising her husband. I had baptized her husband in August. She is French, although born in Cameroon. They have the cutest 2-year-old boy, Noah.
|The Su Family|
|Noah with Sister Su & Sister Coleman|
We couldn’t teach Edimo and Odile this week because Edimo is afraid Odile will leave him to live the law of chastity. But we had a good lesson with Nicole, the librarian at City Hall. And we taught Bolivier who has had lessons for years and wants to be baptized soon. He got mad at one of the Elders so we offered to help smooth thing over. The Elders chose instead to just give him to us to teach. He speaks English quite well, so Sister Coleman enjoys doing more of the teaching.
The Young Men challenged the Elders Quorum to a soccer rematch. I played the first half but then more people arrived and there were too many so I sat out. There were no significant injuries and everyone had fun. It overlapped piano class time but there was no power at the church so the pianos couldn't work anyway.
|Ready for the Douala Branch soccer game|
I substituted as choir director for the rehearsal because Claudelia was ill. I tried to imitate my favorite choir director (Vanesa), but required a lot of help from my favorite pianist (Sweetie-Pie.)
Sister Coleman taught the Sunday School lesson in Gospel Principles class and did it all in French, except for a little bit that I translated. It went well, in spite of a lizard that wandered in to investigate.
|Woman carrying a wheel rim full of charcoal on her head|
|School boy walking home with machete|
|We pass this family of well-dressed beggars every day.|
|A taxi crammed full of suitcases|