Sunday, May 31, 2015

5/31/2015 - 4 Baptisms, Parties, Closing Ceremony



This week was crazy busy.  We hosted 2 “Married or Engaged” parties and closing ceremonies for our humanitarian project.  It was fun and rewarding but we are relieved that it is over and we made it through with no catastrophes.

Bonaberi had 4 baptisms: Epoule Anita Irenee, Cleb Junior Salomon, Kollo Hiheke Bertrand Joel, and Kollo Binze Princesse Victoria.  The branch mission leader asked me to baptize the two youngest children.
Elder Coleman, Bertrand, Anita, Princess, Junior, & Benjamin

In each branch we hosted a “Party for the Married and Engaged” that exceeded our wildest expectations.  Out of a possible 40 people in the Douala Branch 25 came, which was a lot for the size of the room.  In Bonaberi we had about 20 adults and a bunch of kids who came to watch.  We played 3 games and showed the movie “Fireproof”.  Everybody was roaring with laughter by the 3rd game and loved the movie.  We served peanuts, croquettes, punch, and wedding cake.  The Douala Branch president said that it was the best activity ever!
Bonaberi Married & Engaged Party

 The Tottos and Eberes eating wedding cake at the party

Douala Branch Married & Engaged Party

At the school we didn’t know whether to expect 50 or 500 people, so we made 300 salami sandwiches and bought 300 fruit drinks.  As a backup, we bought 200 small packs of cookies and bags of water.  We rented 100 chairs, an awning, and a sound system.  Two days before the event we were instructed that we must provide better food for the nobility and dignitaries, because they never eat bread.  And we need their help to "bring the Church out of obscurity."  The Relief Society stepped in and in one day prepared a fine buffet for 50.  I think that we served about 400 people (mostly school kids) and had no leftovers.  Serving that many kids was insane.
Making 300 Sandwiches
Elder Mwehu trying to distribute sandwiches fairly
The Food for the Royalty & Dignitaries

The Church public relations representative in Cameroon arranged for a national TV camera crew and a newspaper reporter to be there, although the TV guys finished and left long before the ceremony started.  They interviewed me, some school officials, and two cute kids.  One 7-year-old girl astounded everyone with her poise and delivery of a perfect 30-second impromptu speech for the TV camera, describing the problems with the paint, water, and gate and how happy she is that we fixed them. In the video below she tells me what she said.
A Charming 7-Year-Old Girl Talking to the TV Camera
video

I prepared a 5-minute speech about the history of the Church in Cameroon and what we did for the school.  I appreciated the laughter at my jokes and was interrupted a few times for applause.  Our helpers had helped me get the French right.  Sister Coleman played the national anthem on a piano and said the closing prayer.  It was fun trying to learn the national anthem beforehand.
Presenting the Keys to the School Principal

Sister Coleman provided prelude music and the national anthem.

Group Ready to Lead Us in the National Anthem

Seats for 100 Adults

Kids Waiting for the Ceremony

Our water pressure has been getting lower and lower for days.  Then on Saturday our guard found the reason: a leaking pipe out back.  Our water meter was spinning so I shut off our water.  We’ll get it fixed on Monday.  Saturday night we also found our refrigerator not working.  So now we have to live 2 days without tap water or refrigeration.  That is longer than normal.  We took some food to put in the Elders’ refrigerator and are taking bucket showers.

We picked up the mission president at the bus station and took him to the airport.  He came from Yaoundé.  It is easier to get from the capital of Cameroon (Yaoundé) to the capital of Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) if you start with a 4-hour bus ride to Douala where there are literally dozens of flights per week.  Sometimes it seems like a plane lands every hour here.

The mission president told us that he plans to build the Church and the missionary force enough to create a Cameroon Yaoundé Mission.  He said that such a mission would fulfill a prophecy made by Ezra Taft Benson.  In any case, you can read in the Ensign, June 1992, News of the Church section that a Cameroon Yaoundé Mission was about to be created.  It was delayed to wait for official recognition of the Church, but by the time that happened in September of 1993, alas, plans had changed.

One day we stopped at a supermarket and found it dark.  The power was out but they were still open.  All of the employees had flashlights and the cash registers ran on backup batteries.  It was eerie walking through the dark aisles, using a cell phone to try to read prices.  We just bought a couple of things and got out.
Star Piano Student Vinick earned a piano


Star Piano Student Samuel also earned a piano
After church today the Douala Primary had a birthday party.  This photo shows the entire room (see the three walls?).

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