Monday, August 10, 2015

8/10/2015 - Baptism, Dinner with Chief, Gifts, Farewells, a Million Tasks, Final Week

There was another baptism in the New Bell Branch this week.  That makes 9 weeks in a row!
Elder Mbikayi, Frere Njampou, Marte, & Elder Mpongo

Marte's family and friends

We invited the chief, Majesty Tchatchoua, his family, and Princess Stephanie to dinner Monday to say goodbye.  He brought one of his 5 wives, 2 children, and his brother.  Good thing Sister Coleman made a lot of food, because she fed 10 after another relative dropped in and the wife took a tray out to the chauffeur.  The chief is so nice and we had a wonderful visit.  Here are the chief’s entourage:
Queen: Gertrude Ychatchoua Tchande 691 20 51 01
Daughter: Silizienne Tchatchoua Tchatchoua 690 94 08 28
Daughter: Pieny Tchatchoua Ekongo
Chief’s Brother: Nana
Princess Stephanie: 675 13 04 98
Nephew of Princess Stephanie: Stephen
Majeste Tchatchoua with wife, daughters, and brother

It started off slowly, with small talk and photos.  Then I said that it was going to be hard to leave because this is now our home; we are Cameroonais; and I launched into the Cameroon national anthem.  Suddenly everyone was trying to out-sing everyone.  I passed out flags and we had a good time with anthems, flags and photos.  The chief said that we can be part of his tribe and village, so, we are hereby Bamilike from the Banwa Village!  With pomp, drumming, and a speech he gave us some symbolic, artistic dolls, that are much nicer than what the shops typically sell to tourists.  Or maybe they just seem nicer to me because they were given with love.  They often give these dolls to couples at their weddings for good fortune.  They promised to try to visit us in California, so we are looking forward to that.

Gift of Dolls

Gift of Flowers

The next day Valery gave us both African outfits, a dress for Sister Coleman and shirt and pants for me.
Our New Clothes!

The rest of the week we rushed through a lot of last minute tasks, including:
We applied for a Carte de Sejour for Elder Sperry in record time.
We painted the Douala Elders’ apartment walls where the paint had peeled.
The paint was really bad!

We audited the Bonaberi Branch.
We spent an inordinate amount of time getting medical tests and passports and doing other missionary application tasks.
Futile attempt to apply for an ID card.  But they were out of forms.

We gave our girls some cash to buy some mission items.  They had a great time and got great deals. 
Mission suitcases and clothes!

The Dimonds arrived to take over our apartment, truck, and all of our duties.  We are so glad to have them here.

Petrus made it back safely from Central African Republic with a passport!  On our last day we will try to help him get ready with medical tests, vaccinations, photos, etc.
Davy, Purita, Fleur, Petrus, Jacques, & Valery

It was sad to say goodbye to our piano class in Bonaberi.  We made a speech and officially turned it over to Vinick.  He and Wilfrem (who was gone to his village) and Brenda will be able to continue the class.

Another internet failure started midday Thursday and lasted until we left on Monday.  I had to quickly write an official letter on Saturday but didn’t know the gender of an obscure word.  I couldn’t look it up on the internet.  An hour later I overheard some members use that word and my problem was solved.  It seemed like a tiny miracle to me.  For my final reports and this blog I am using the wifi at the church.

We picked up Elder Batoum at the airport.  He finished his mission in Lubumbashi and was heading home to Yaoundé.  We thought he arrived too late to take a bus home but a friend of his showed up to travel with him and helped him find an 8pm bus.  Blessing!

We spoke in three branches and said a lot of good-byes.  After church the Elders came over for ice cream and farewells.  We were also joined by Noah, Purita, Laurencia, Jean Marie and Sidonie Su for a nice visit, lots of photos, and sad farewells.
The District at our place to say farewell

Sisters Laurencia and Purita
Now we are about to head home and have mixed feelings.  We would like to stay and continue the things we started, but miss our family.
Here are a random few of the many things we going to miss:
Our wonderful friends
The swarms of thousands of bats returning to nest in trees in the early morning,
The warm weather year-round
The days being always the same length with no need for daylight savings time
Being treated like nobility everywhere
The ease of sharing the gospel,
Certain foods, like ratatouille in a can, French breads, ndolé, mangos, papayas, fresh bananas,
The constant outpouring of love from the church members,
The many opportunities to make a difference in peoples’ lives,
The examples of sharing and service we see in the church among the poorest people
The other couples
The piano students (“Seesta Coleman, Seesta Coleman”)
The constant string of adventures
At the hospital (Dr. Frankenstein's lab?)

Yep, Superman works here.
The will be the last blog entry.  Thanks for reading!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

8/2/2015 - Baptism, Zone Conference

Another baptism in Bonaberi!  Her name is Ebele Laurence Ntouba.  That makes 8 weeks of baptisms!  They will have to divide that branch soon.

I asked Purita to make foofoo for us and gave her the cash to buy the ingredients.  Included in her purchases was a stirring stick the size of a softball bat.  To do foofoo right takes a BIG stick to stir while you hold the pan with your feet.  I suggested we could eat it together on Monday to celebrate Jacque’s birthday.  We expected 5 guests.  But they invited a few more and we ended up with 10.  There was still leftover foofoo.  Yum!
Purita Making Foofoo
Some of the party crowd

We sent Purita, her father, and Jacques to Yaoundé to apply for their passports and get Jacques' identity card, preparing for missions.  Purita’s father had to sign for her since she is only 19.  They wouldn’t accept his expired identification so now he is trying to get his own new identity card.  The bureaucracy is out of control.

The Mongas came for a zone conference.  We held it at the church to prepare for when we are gone.  Lunch was at a restaurant.
The Douala Zone with President & Sister Monga

Elders Mbikayi & Mpongo demonstrate teaching
Lunch at 5 Forks restaurant

We sent in missionary applications for Davy and Fleur!  What a chore.  26 pages each to scan.  They took a lot of running around town, trips to Yaoundé, interviews, various police certifications, etc.  Now we will get feedback and try to fix them.

We had a fond farewell Sunday in Bonaberi today.  Every chair was filled in fast & testimony meeting.  We wish we could be there for the coming temple trips, weddings, branch division, and other events.  It is hard to just let go.  But the Lord will take care of his church.
Sister Coleman made one of these YW banners for each building

Random guy arranging his bananas

Some carved doors at the Bonaberi meetinghouse

Sunday, July 26, 2015

7/26/2015 - Baptisms, Transfers, Helping Hands

Two baptisms in Bonaberi: Kepehe Lysette (Lysette) and her daughter, Tchouayap Chinasa Okwaraji Megane (Megan).  That makes 7 weeks of baptisms!  Our missionaries are doing great.
Elder Sperry, Lysette, Megan, & Elder Mbuyi

Transfer day was well planned, well organized, and all of the missionaries cooperated.  But this being Africa, it turned into 4 trips to the airport, 3 to the bus station, 1 to the police, 2 to the hospital, 1 to a dentist, 2 to a pharmacy, 1 to Bonaberi, 2 to the Elders’ apartment, and 2 hours stuck in a major traffic jam.

We had to include a hospital visit because the doctor had given the 3 perspective missionaries (PMs) a 7:30am appointment on transfer day so we squeezed that in thinking it would be quick.  We told them to meet at our apartment at 7:00.  Two were 30 minutes late due to the rain causing traffic jams and the other was even later, so we made 2 trips.  But the doctor showed up over 2 hours late anyway.  The PMs needed x-rays, minor dental work and medication, requiring trips to the pharmacy and a distant dental office.  They finished up their medical exams and started their hepatitis shots.
The doctor gave us these bills to pay.

Coffin shops just outside the hospital (location, location, location)
The planned bus from Yaounde only had 2 seats left so the 4 Elders came in on 2 buses.  One Elder’s flight was delayed by 10 hours until 11:30pm.  Then we got word that a missionary, Elder Dina, is coming home from his mission at 5:35pm and we needed to pick him up and get him released.  We were blessed to be able to make everything happen but we are sure glad that day is over!

We were sorry to lose Elder VanAusdal but happy to gain Elder Mpongo, from the DR Congo.
Elders in transit, staying, & Elder VanAusdal, departing

Elder Mpongo just joined our team

Handsome Elders in transit

Welcome party for Elder Hermann Dina (red tie) at the airport

Elder Etherington had it the worst.  He got up at 3am to pack for a 5am, 4 hour bus ride, ate foofoo with the African missionaries in Douala because his flight was delayed, and after more delays finally arrived at his new apartment in Gabon at 3am.  24 hours to travel to a city about 300 miles away.  TIA.  At least he got to eat foofoo.  (Hey, I like foofoo!)

We worked in the Douala Branch’s Mormon Helping Hands activity.  It was sweeping and mopping in a women’s and children’s hospital.  They seemed to have emptied out the wing that we were working in so we didn’t see many patients.  Turnout of members was low due to confusion about the date.  But at the same time, across the river, Bonaberi Branch had a great turnout at their Helping Hands activity.
Mormon Helping Hands Work Party

Cleaning the hospital patio

Branch President Essomba

What is a sick Yamaha doing in the hospital?

The nurse's desk has a kerosene lamp for power failures.

The hospital is kid-friendly.

Elder Sperry

Romeo came over and offered to help with Identity Cards and Passports.  He knows how to throw his weight around and make things happen, so we have high hopes.

We tried the new restaurant called Le Moulin de France.  I had a salty crêpe with bacon, cheese, and egg.  Good but expensive.  Sister Coleman had a quiche.
Whole wheat salty crepe

We got to meet with the new temporal affairs manager, Noel, who was visiting from Brazzaville, and tell him of our experiences and concerns.  There is more accountability now and temporal affairs are working better than last year.

Sister Coleman made a set of YW values banners and delivered it to the Bali building for use by the 3 branches that meet there.  It is very cool!  I'll get a photo next week.

With 2 weeks left in our mission I should be wrapping things up and planning to leave.  But it doesn't seem possible that we could be leaving.  This is our home now.  I hope another couple is found soon to come and carry on the work in this great city.
Marché Central

Marché Central

Sheet salesman

Purita & Fleur preparing food

Sister Coleman burning sensitive documents

Packed bus with people hanging out the door in the rain