Sunday, April 19, 2015

4/19/2015 - New Branch Presidency, Progress on School, Witch Doctor

Today was the most extraordinary Sunday I’ve ever experienced and we are thrilled.  The Douala Branch got new leadership, a new clerk, 8 new Melchizedek priesthood holders, some temple recommends, and lots of training.  Even though we had no scheduled speakers Sacrament Meeting went 30 minutes overtime with a lot of singing, counsel by the mission president, and sustainings.

The mission president, President Monga, arrived Saturday afternoon, interviewed about 20 people, and called a new presidency of the Douala Branch.  The new president is Victor Mbengue, with first counselor Dadi Sylvain, second counselor Tentchou Rodrigue, and clerk Ouanku Raoul.  We are very impressed with the new leadership and will be working closely with them to solve the numerous problems that have been holding the branch back. 

During the sustainings in Sacrament Meeting, one nay vote was cast.  President Monga asked me to take the EQ president and the brother aside and find out why.  We stepped outside where he said that he and many others felt that the entire branch presidency was corrupt and needed to be changed.  I counseled him briefly and reported back to President Monga, who then announced what he said to the congregation and spoke about it, saying that the callings come from the Lord and would stand and we all need to help out and be supportive.

President Monga also interviewed several people for temple recommends and approved 8 men for ordination to the Melchizedek priesthood.  One was Jean Marie Su, whom I had baptized and confirmed.  He asked me to ordain him.  He was subsequently called and set apart as Sunday School president.  Our leadership pool is expanding and the first order of business is applying for permission to divide the branch.  The membership clerk counted 180 people in Sacrament Meeting, although I’m sure there weren’t more than 140.  More training needed.

The school project has expanded and now includes a septic tank, toilets, a sink, faucets, 4 new doors, a covered drainage ditch, floor repairs, roof repairs, a basketball court, a wall, and paint.  The only paid labor is the well-digger who dug the septic tank 7 meters deep.  We hired him because few people are brave enough to work in a skinny hole 24 feet below ground.  The professionals here come from the north, where all wells have to be deep, so they are accustomed to it.
The well-digger working on the lid.
 You can see in the photo, the well-digger putting banana tree stalks in the hole.  After they pour the concrete the banana stalks shrink and they can pull them out.  African ingenuity.
The PTA president tamping dirt

The sink area before...

And after!

They mix concrete by hand in a hole in a pile.

Elders Larson and Van Ausdal with Romeo

Then on Friday we found that the water pressure at the school is too low for the water to climb up to the toilets, which are about 6 feet higher than the water meter.  We are looking into installing a booster pump.  I asked the plumbing store owner the name of the person who baptized him and found that he was never baptized, so he isn’t really a branch member.  But he said that he used to go to our church, so that is why he said he is a member.  I invited him to come back and he said that he would.

Wednesday Movie Night in the Douala Branch there were about 40 people and they all seemed to enjoy it.  But the second film, 17 Miracles, didn’t play smoothly on our small auxiliary computer so I had to run home and get a different laptop.  We started again about 30 minutes late.  One of the investigators is an old blind man.  Halfway through the second film he said that he needed taxi fare to get home (40 cents).  How can people travel across town without means of getting home, just relying on friends and strangers to give them cash when they need it?  We see it again and again but I still can’t imagine doing that myself.  On the other hand, nobody ever dies of being out in the cold here.

I was stopped by cops again, this time for passing a traffic jam on the left side of the road.  I thought I might have to pay, even though a lot of other drivers were doing it.  (The real infraction was “driving while white,” implying that I have money.)  But I said that I’m a missionary and don’t pay bribes so they let me go.

Our temporal affairs mechanic, Michel Olinga installed new chalkboards, fixed the hymn number displays, replaced some locks and promised everything else that I requested.  I have high hopes that he will eventually get our new building in order.

The rest of the week was crammed with working at the school, working on finances, meeting with Romeo, running errands, swapping lots of email to plan meetings, getting visas for Elders, buying plumbing and other stuff for the school, and running more errands.
Some cute neighbor kids fascinated by our piano.  The boy on the left is Debbie.

Cute hair style

The new clerk, Ouanku Raoul, and his family

This alley is across from the church.  I've got to check it out...

Who needs a jack?  Just lean the car way over and hold it up with a stick.

Here is the popcorn cart where we buy it for movie night.

Witch Doctor
 Let me explain the above photo.  We have seen this guy all over town, usually without pants, sometimes totally naked.  I asked someone why people tolerate this behavior and was told that people believe guys like him have magic power, and they are afraid of him.  So we call him our local witch doctor.  When I took this photo through our car windshield he had no pants, so I had to crop the photo.
We found an amusement park.  Bumper cars $1.

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