This week has had no major events, but we have kept busy visiting members and with lots of mission business. Little events happened all week, so here is a synopsis of the more interesting of them.
Sister Coleman cried "Look out!" and I stopped just as a heavy electric cable touched our windshield. It was hanging low between poles and partially laying in the road. We drove under it, then turned the corner and drove over it. It was gone when we came back. That kind of thing doesn't happen in America but is common here.
We came across an ice cream parlor, N’Ice Cream, that looks totally American and serves about 50 flavors. One of their flavors is named “Obama” in honor of our president. It is chocolate with cookie bits and really good.
|N'Ice Cream Parlor|
|The cheerful dining area|
We went to the Akwa Palace Hotel where our mission president asked us to get reservations for him and the Area president. We sat down with the marketing manager and negotiated a 22% discount. Hotels here normally charge everyone the posted rate and don’t generally offer discounts, so we were happy with 22%. The posted rate is about $300 per night, so we were surprised when the manager looked us in the eye and said, “I think that’s a pretty low price, don’t you?” African hotels that meet western standards tend to be very expensive. But it has a backup generator and a reserve water supply, both of which are very important for business customers.
The missionaries arranged to play basketball in the gym at the “American School.” So we finally met some Americans who live in Douala. Two of them. They said that there aren’t many here.
|At the American School gym|
The priesthood manuals for the branches are way overdue, so I requested info. We found out that they had arrived 7 weeks ago but DHL never informed us. They promised to pull the pallet out of storage and deliver it to us within 5 days. They didn’t, but asked for 2 more days. We’re hoping.
We had an interesting visit from Eric of Buea who was in Douala to buy chicken feed for his 100 chickens. Details of his life came out. 12 years ago he left his “traditional” wife and children behind to work in Russia. There he married a Russian woman to gain the right to stay. They had kids, then his Russian wife divorced him, he joined the Church, and he was eventually deported. Now he is back with his Cameroonian “wife.” We encouraged him to legalize their marriage.
|Eric from Buea|
Eric described how some couples get the legal marriage without their parents’ approval. This requires a “small bribe” and can cause big problems in the family. But nobody seems to care if they skip the legal marriage. Traditional marriage is much more important here.
Our recently returned missionary, Yannick Njampou, just completed his traditional marriage and has finally told the branch. He had been keeping his engagement a secret to avoid getting unsolicited advice. They won’t consider themselves married, though, until they are sealed in the Washington D.C. Temple, probably in April. Until then, she will wait in America where her family lives. After that they will live in Cameroon.
We were perplexed by the problems between a branch member and some leaders. Everyone involved seemed to be saintly. Then someone explained the love triangle and it all made perfect sense. That seems to be a frequent problem.
Our little lending library is almost out of books. We started with about 20 English and 50 French children’s books and have been lending one per child for a two-week loan. Next week they should start coming back in. Our goal is to increase literacy and a love of books.
The assistants to the mission president came from Brazzaville for a two-day teaching visit. They worked with the Elders in the field and then had a training meeting at our apartment. That was fun.
|Assistants to the President training the zone|
|APs training the zone|
|The Zone and APs, Elders Bybee & Rakotonindriana|
The Douala Branch had to meet again in a building without electricity due to mistakes on the part of Church officials. It was our week to meet with the other branch so we didn’t have to suffer from the lack of fans. It is so hard to watch while the officials struggle to learn, but we have been told not to interfere. The Africans have to learn to manage their own affairs.
We now have photos of nearly all of the active members of the Bonaberi Branch. We will post them on the wall at the branch so everyone can get to know everyone else.
|The Bonaberi EQ President, Nnane Stephen & his kids|
The best part of the week was visiting members. People are so nice and very spiritual. They are always very happy to see us and treat us like VIPs. Now we know 2 chicken farmers and 3 more people considering it. At least 4 Douala Branch members are opticians, all because a senior couple trained one of them and left some equipment behind.
|Fix the roads? No, banana research is what we need!|