Day 14

Day 14 (Wednesday) October 27th

Well, some difficult news today concerning Lucy’s visa.  She could not get one for Sweden.  So she changed her ticket and is going straight back to the USA.  So we will split up in Paris.

We had a chance to visit her sister’s home for lunch.  I found out that her nephew has a degree in audio engineering.  We had quite a conversation and found out that we shared a lot.  He was excited when I told him of my idea to produce a CD of the music in the churches and sell it in the USA to help fund our partnership efforts.

When we arrived at the church, the CWF was overflowing their fellowship hall.  What an amazing amount of energy these women produced!  We sang with them and then addressed them to encourage them.  What a joy it was to see Magdalene, who is in worship with us not long ago at Saint Paul.  It is such a small world.  Everywhere we go there seem to be connections.

After attending Bible Study, we finished the evening with a dinner back at the White House with the chairman, Mr. Fon and his beautiful wife, who is a doctor.  They told me of their efforts to form a course on relationships for couples.  For one last time we went to sleep in Cameroon.  I can’t believe that tomorrow night we will board a plane and leave.

Day 13

Day 13 (Tuesday) October 26th

Today we were taken to Buea to meet the moderator of the PCC and were given a tour of the synod offices.  What a great honor it was to be welcomed by the Rt. Rev. Dr. Festus Asanus.  I found him to be an extremely intelligent and sincere man, a true servant of God.  He also sent his greetings back to everyone at Saint Paul.  I was recognized by his assistant who told me she had worshiped at Saint Paul.

We then went for a late lunch at the home of Mrs. Tanyi (Didi’s sister).  Her family home was one of the most beautiful in the entire country.  She is such a gracious person and put on a true feast for us.  We were also privileged to meet their parents.  What a wonderful family.

Then we took the trip back to Douala and checked into the St James Inn, where we stayed the first night in the country.  We were welcomed by the chairman and the associate pastor of the Bonamousadi congregation.  And then the first…..hot….shower….since we left here!

We have one last full day with Lucy needing to get her visa work done, then a meeting with the CWF in the evening from Bonamousadi.

Day 12

Day 12 (Monday) October 25th

At breakfast today the church at Limbe Beach presented us with a tremendous gift, two offering bowls of Bubinga wood.  Then we loaded up and drove about 2 hours to the town of Kumba.  The session met us as did two of the choirs.  I am so amazed at the singing I have heard here.  They, too, dressed us in African clothes and cheered when they saw us, singing praise and dancing.  These are a beautiful people.  After a tour we sat down to a big lunch where I met pastors from all around the area.  After lunch we made a call on the home of Paddy Ndole’s sister, who is quite well known, and is the local magistrate.

We then spent the afternoon at the theological seminary which trains all of the pastors from thee PCC.  I saw the work they were doing and am amazed that the still consider it a bachelor of divinity.  This is a very close community.  They live in close proximity, eat together, and are never idle.  They are so in need of resources, especially text books.  Even so, they have laid the foundation of a new building, which will eventually host offices and a new library.  It reminds me of how much we take for granted here in the USA.

We ended up the day back at the magistrate’s house, who was our hostess for the night.  Lucy was right at home helping care for her twins, a boy and a girl.  (Yes, Paddy, I took some pictures for you!)

Tomorrow we begin heading back towards Douala with one important stop.

Day 11

Day 11 (Sunday) October 24th

What a beautiful day! The Limbe Beach congregation is wonderful family of faith. They showed us their first church which was on the small side, then they showed us where they currently worship. It is filled to overflowing for two services. Then I got to see the new church building which will house somewhere in the neighborhood of 5,000! And the church, like most of the others here, the church a full range of schools and and a health clinic and retreat house.

I preached at two services, one beginning at 7:00 am, and the other which begins at 9:30. The worship here in the southwest is a bit different. They have less traditional African things and more western style things. For instance, there is an organ for the hymns, where Nkambe was totally a capella. Their liturgy is quite “high church” as well. But even so, they were able to stop in the middle with a praise team leading the music, accompanied not by hand drums, but by a trap set. And the spirit was wonderful.

Lucy and I brought greeting from our church and I spoke from Romans 15, about our common ministry across different lands. It seems to be very well received.

After worship we were dressed (again) in traditional African garb, but this time from the southwest. As we came out, some of the members did traditional tribal dances for us. It was quite amazing!

After worship we were treated to a drive up the coast. Jimmy Buffett would be at home here. It is such a contrast in so many ways. In Nkambe, thee lucky ones drove Toyotas. We were suddenly surrounded by Lexus, Mercedes, and lots of high end autos. The city was very clean in comparison, and thee coastal drive was beautiful. We were shown many plantations, with rubber trees, plantains, and palms. Then we were given the VIP tour to the plant with extracts oil from palm nuts, producing palm oil. We also got to see a volcano, and see how its lava flowed about 19 years ago.  A coule of times were were able to glimpse the peak of Mount Cameroon, the highest point in western Africa.  We finished the excursion at a small fishing village where they fixed us a light lunch of fresh caught grilled fish. It was exquisite!

On our way back we received quite a treat!  Mrs. Tanyi gave us a tour of the beautiful school she is building.  It is in the site of a former hotel, and it is simply beautiful inside.  It is called ALCEF, which stands for Aunt Lizzie’s Educational Foundation.  She hosted our group for refreshments and then ew prayed for God to bless the school.  We left very very impressed.

The evening saw us once again gathered for dinner and a working meeting. These people just know how to enjoy life, or so it seems to this outsider. The pastor’s three kids loved to get into my box of hand sanitizing wipes. We have felt so honored, so at home here.

Day 10

Day 10 (Saturday) October 23rd
What a day! The beginning of the day was marked with mass confusion. We finally got our luggage transported to the bus stop. The taxis are small so we had to do it in two trips. We were told that the bus left promptly at 9:00 so we got there in time to check our luggage, which consisted of shouting to the guys working there until they had loaded our suitcases on top on an aged bus ans tied them down. We had been invited to have breakfast with the family of the man who traveled with us. But by the time we got everything settled for the bus we did not have time. I will always feel bad about standing them up. Phone service went out and we were unable to call them until later in the day.

I have learned that “promptly at 9:00″ does not necessarily mean that. We waited, and waited and waited. Finally, at 10:45 the bus left and we bade goodbye to our friend Rev. Christian Ngange, who had been with us the whole time.

The bus was packed! The driver continued to pick up people until we were crammed in like sardines. We made slow progress, finally stopping about 4 hours later for a five minute break. Lucy and I went and got some snacks, including pork from a man roasting a freshly killed pig at a local restaurant, roasted corn, and peanuts. Our “4 hour journey” finally arrived at 7:00 and we staggered off in Limbe.

I do not think we ever had such a worm greeting as we did there. The entire session turned out for a tradition African feast. We were split up and I stayed at the manse while Lucy went to stay with Mrs. Lilian Quan, the chairperson of the congregation.

The wonderful pastor of Limbe Beach Congregation and his wife made me feel so at home. God bless them!

The pastor’s three sons climbed all over me, so very curious about everything I had brought with me. We had a wonderful time.

Day 9

Day 9 (Friday) October 22nd

This has been a fascinating day. The Baptist guest center notified us that we could not stay the second night, so we gave up our rooms at their beautiful facility. The Presbyterian Center, as it turns out, could still not accommodate us. Finally, the Baptists said they had another facility in town where they could let us stay. So after a frustrating morning we arrived at our new place. I am very impressed. We have a common living room with a TV, a kitchen (mostly non-functioning) and three bedrooms. (My much-anticipated shower last night did not happen. The shower was broken.) This shower works great! Hallelujah!

With that settled we hired a driver and took off to spend a good part of the day in nearby Bafut at the Sisterhood of Emmanuel, which is a protestant monastic order within the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon (PCC). I have to admit, I had no idea that there were Presbyterian nuns, but I was so impressed with these women. They live in community. Their life is spent in service. They make paper from local plants and sugar cane, they produce dairy products, they bake communion wafers for all of the PCC churches, they care for orphans, they sing, they pray, they worship, they host retreats, and they sew. Did I mention that they sew? When a Cameroonian pastor is ordained, they make all of his vestments. And their quality is comparable to anything I have seen. The stoles are absolutely gorgeous. Lucy tried to buy a whole set on the spot, but they are all custom made to order. They also have a partnership with another order in Switzerland and one in France, and we met two sisters visiting from there. Sister Marie Joel gave us the whole tour, including showing us the small hut where the original four sisters lived and worked, two sleeping in a loft and two on the floor. I was impressed with the cheese they were making. After noon prayers we got a chance to sit and visit with Sister Judith, a firecracker of a woman in a wheelchair, who is the Prioress. She was asking if, the next time she came to the USA we might be able to get her some speaking engagements. I think this could be done. I also asked her about the possibility of doing more sewing and selling stoles. She said they could make all we needed for sale. Of course the problem is that they are used to getting paid for the order in advance. We would need to work out shipping as well, but with some planning, this could be done. At long last we said goodbye to our new friends whom Pastor Christian had introduced us to.

My special gift from the Lord today was sitting in their chapel, and looking up to see the wall. On it was the precise text I had preached from last Sunday. Coincidence? I think not.

We also visited the Presbyterian Center here in Baminda. We were able to get the study materials for the CWF and saw the source of all of the movement.

Speaking of gifts, Lucy’s family made a meal for us again this evening. What a wonderful crew they are.

Tomorrow we begin the journey south to Limbe. The one who was supposed to arrange for our transportation there did not. So we will have to take public transportation. I must confess I am more than a little apprehensive about that. We will also say goodbye to Pastor Christian Ngange, who has been with us from the start of the trip. That will be a sad farewell.

Day 8

Day 8 (Thursday) October 21st
We left this morning before 5:00.  This time, instead of a large van, we got into a Toyota Corolla.  Yes, this is not a misprint.  I think the motto of Cameroon must be “Oh What A Feeling!”  Yet, we have a very skillful driver.  He carefully navigated the treacherous road, shaving quite a lot of time off of our last trip.  Even with a stop at a church for breakfast, we arrived in Baminda just after noon.  We had planned to stay at the Presbyterian Center guest house, but it was occupied.  So instead we were housed at the nearby Baptist Center.  It is a very nice center with individual rooms with showers!  Yay!

We were able to get some money exchanged and went to purchase a wireless modem with the first month of service included.  So I am finally online.  It works, but it soooooooo slow!  I have literally hundreds of emails to catch up on as well.  We arrived back at our rooms in the mid afternoons and all very much enjoyed a real shower.

I was privileged to meet Lucy’s son who lives here in Baminda.  Their family was kind enough to bring supper over to us at our guest house.  That was such a kind thing of them to do.

Tomorrow we have some visits to do and hope to find some instruments to bring back for Calabash.