After watching 17 Miracles and Ephraim’s Rescue with the branches a few people asked to borrow them to watch at home. I explained copyright law and that we only have one copy and don’t want to loan it but we can come and watch it with them. Then I emailed the writer/producer/director, T.C. Christensen, and explained that the members here love his films but can’t get copies because they are not sold here. Also, the prices are out of reach of almost everyone, even if there were a way to order them. T.C. Christensen wrote back and said he would discuss it with his distributer. Then a few days ago he wrote and gave us special permission to make up to 5 copies to keep in the church library and lend free of charge! I feel honored that such a distinguished filmmaker would take the time to write to me, and even more so that he solved this problem to bless the saints here. If you haven’t seen those films, I highly recommend them.
This transfer brought our workforce down to 6 Elders. Elder West went to Brazzaville to be AP, Elder Kabasele went to Pointe Noire, and Elder Mwehu went to Yaoundé. We received Elder Mbikayi, a DRC native. We were especially sad to lose Elder West, who came here from the MTC and has been "ours" for over a year, almost our entire mission.
Transfer day, Monday, started off smoothly. Then one of the Elders from Yaoundé didn’t have a needed exit visa so we prepared to rush him to immigration. Fortunately, a kind police official asked what the problem was and arranged things.
Then the flight bringing Elders from the Congo was delayed, causing hours of frustration. Nobody wants to give bad news to the customers so they just clam up. The monitor in the airport was giving no information on why the flight hadn’t arrived so we went to the airline office. They didn’t know when it would come but they promised to call us when they found out, and gave us a phone number - which nobody ever answered. The internet has a Trans Air Congo web site but no flight status and obsolete phone numbers. We called the couple in Pointe Noire and finally got some info. It was delayed indefinitely due to a lack of fuel, so when the flight finally arrived over 8 hours late the missionaries were tired and famished but never complained. We had to keep 4 extra Elders in Douala overnight and send them to Yaoundé on an early morning bus.
|Elders from Yaoundé passing from the bus to the airport|
|The Douala Airport|
|Douala District Elders and 4 others heading to Yaoundé|
The mission president called a couples conference by Skype to plan for our and another couple’s departures. There are no replacements for us in the pipeline. It was agreed that the Dimonds will cover both Yaoundé and Douala and make regular trips. So now we are beginning to set things up for that. It is probably a good thing, to teach the branches to be more independent, but the Dimonds will be very busy. We need more senior couples.
The president also mentioned that in July the mission will be down to 41 missionaries. Our next big influx is in November. It seems like we are still adjusting to being a new mission, even though it has been almost a year since it was created.
On the blog of 17 May I wrote about a man that asked me to buy him a cookie. His name is Moïse and his story continues. He wanted us to meet his pastor. Today we finally did. We learned that Moïse, his wife, and his pastor live about 100 km away in a small village. But the pastor’s daughter lives near us. We met Moïse’s wife, the pastor and his wife, and the pastor’s daughter at her home and taught them the restoration with Frere Su. They were hoping that we could come to his church and take over the preaching. He is too old and infirm to continue. Tempting, but not possible. Maybe in a few years the Church can reach that village but for now we have to work on growing the Church here. And since the daughter lives about 2 blocks from our meetinghouse, she is likely to continue studying with us.
A funny thing happened on the way to the appointment. We went to the wrong apartment and said that we came to see the pastor. They said that he wasn’t there but invited us in. As we sat on the sofa and I started to phone the pastor someone figured out that we wanted the apartment 2 doors down. But before we left we had a brief chat, invited the two ladies to church, and gave them brochures. Missionary work is so easy here.
We held a piano recital in Bonaberi. 10 students performed. Three were very impressive for the short time they have had lessons. Two accompany hymns in Sacrament Meeting now.
|Piano Recital Students + 2 little photo bombers|
Sister Coleman trained the Douala RS presidency and did an awesome job.
Sister Coleman organized a 2-Branch Primary training in Bonaberi. The leaders of Douala Branch Primary attended the Bonaberi meetings to see how their Primary functioned. Then everyone stayed an extra hour for training. It went very well.
The primary ended 15 minutes late because the lesson wasn’t over on time. But then all 27 children sat patiently for another 15 minutes while the leaders prepared refreshments. I offered to help and was given the task of twisting the sandwich cookies apart to make 2 cookies. The Primary president pulled apart all of the 2-ply napkins and then tore them in half to make 4 napkins out of 1. Each child got 2 cookies and a few croquettes wrapped in a napkin. And they were so cute and reverent.
We both spoke in Sacrament Meeting on families. Two people asked for printed copies afterwards, and it wasn’t because they couldn’t understand our French.
Our power voltage started fluctuating one evening and blew out three fluorescent light fixtures and two of the fluorescent tubes. We plug most of our appliances into voltage regulators to protect them from that, but not our ceiling lights. I did the repairs on them, rather than call an electrician and trust him to do them right. It looked like the last time they were wired by an amateur using an old toaster cord and dangerous splices.
It took two trips and about an hour of waiting and running for copies before we could pick up a registered letter at the post office. It was addressed to the Church and they wanted proof that we represent the Church. After lots of arguing they accepted my minister certificate. If they hadn’t I was ready to pull out our calling letters, our official rubber stamps, and finally call the regional post office director who gave me his card once and said to call if we have any problems. The bureaucracy is out of control.
The registered letter was from the bank that the Church uses, increasing our required checking account minimum to $100,000 (which we don’t have) or pay $150/month, and adding other exorbitant fees, such as $20 to withdraw cash. They seem to hate customers. I offered to help the Church find a new bank.
|Cute neighbor kids sitting outside the meetinghouse|