Monday, July 28, 2014

Baptism by Fire

Our first few weeks here in Cameroon have been very full!!!

We were welcomed at the airport by Elder and Sister Gates, a wonderful couple who have been helping teach a construction class in Kinshasa.  They spent a month in Yaounde, filling in for us until we could arrive.  They spent every minute they could trying to train us--although our jet lag didn't make us the best students!
We're responsible for all the mission finances here in this city--money given to the elders and spent by us for rent, internet, utilities, mission president visits, etc.  There is a lot to learn!  They took us all through the city to the places we'll need to visit.  It was mind boggling--how do you find your way around a city where there are very few street signs--and they're on tiny little side streets?  Needless to say, we've been lost for hours.  Things are finally starting to make a bit more sense, though.  We took the Gates to the airport after a very full day.  They're off to finish their mission in Kinshasa.

We spent the next couple of days buying food, shampoo, etc. at the stores we could find.  It was an adventure trying to find one of the missionary apartments which is about 25 minutes (if traffic is light) away.  Every other Saturday we take them their "soutien", the money they'll need for the next two weeks.  We have ten elders, four in the closest apartment, and six in the other.  They're all wonderful young men!

On Sunday, we attended the two branches that meet in the building closest to us.  The saints here have a tremendous amount of faith.  It's wonderful to feel their spirit, especially as they sing!  So far, only two of the missionaries have played the piano (electronic keyboards) during sacrament meeting.  The chorister will sing the first line of the hymn, and then everyone starts singing, always in unison, always in full voice.  It's beautiful!  We were asked to bear our testimonies in each of the branches that we've attended.  In one, we were the speakers--a surprise to us both!

Top Row (L to R):  E. Brockbank, E. Wright, E. VanAusdale, E. Beutler, ESimmons, E. Ntambwe, E. Nzuma, E. Leavitt
E. Niyonkuru, E. Tucker
Front:  E. and Sister Dimond, Sis. and Pres. Monga. 
Table made out of closet doors and boxes of pamphlets!
Relaxing while waiting for interviews.

The first full week here, we were getting ready for a zone conference.  The mission president and his wife came and stayed with us.  We took part in that, then fed everyone there a wonderful taco salad, with Texas Sheet cake for dessert.  It's amazing how much elders can eat!  Anne was impressed to have everyone eating at the same table--we've heard there were some issues with people feeling they are better than others, a general lack of unity.  So, she devised a plan to build a table to feed 18.  (Our dining room table will seat six.)  Using boxes of missionary pamphlets as support, closet doors, our office desk, and several sheets, she made a table that, with a little care by those sitting where the closet doors were, worked out great!  It was quite the festive table!
The makings of a table for 18!

Leg room (sort of) along a mostly stable table.  : )

The finished product!

And a serving table (ironing board+ duct tape+ closet door)

After zone conference, Pres. Monga interviewed each of the elders.  Then, Dave, one set of elders, the mission president, and the leadership of one of the branches went to visit a less active family.  (The idea was to find someone relatively close to our apartment so we could squeeze that visit in between interviews and the dinner that night with all the branch presidents and their wives.)  After driving for about half an hour, we arrived at a house where we met a wonderful family.  The young father is a returned missionary, but they have built a home so far from the church that they can't afford to bring the family in to meetings.  We were already late for our dinner when we left their home, and then the branch president announced he had one other family to see.  We drove back toward town, down a four-wheel-drive-only dirt road for a couple of blocks, and then went in to see a family where the mother and children are all members, but the father is not.  That visit lasted half an hour, while Anne and all the branch presidents and their wives were waiting for our dinner to begin.  Another half-hour drive back home, and our five o'clock dinner began about seven.

Anne fixed a wonderful chicken dinner for everyone with panna cotta for dessert.  She had her first request to teach a relief society how to make that yummy treat!  We were both very surprised when Pres. Monga announced during the dinner that Dave was going to serve as one of his counselors in the mission presidency.  We later found out that all the senior couple elders that are serving in outlying areas are going to be counselors, too.  That will really help in being able to conduct interviews for temple and missionary recommends that in the past have taken up two months to meet with the mission president.  He also gave us our charge:  help the district here in Yaounde become a stake before we leave.  It's a bit daunting, but an exciting task!

We took the Mongas to the airport, with the help of our wonderful district president, Pres. Bala, the next morning.  Next trip to the airport, we'll do it on our own!

Our first week was very busy, but wonderful.  The spirit is so strong in the meetings we're involved with.  It's amazing to be part of this great work!

Love you all!

Elder and Sister Dimond, mom and dad, grandma and grandpa, etc....

1 comment:

  1. Ann, what an adventure you are having. I need to get to know Dave a little better, but it sounds like you are doing all those things you are so capable of...creating and cooking. How clever to make a table to seat everyone (sort of like the round table of old so that everyone is equal). Your experiences remind me of ones we similarly had (esp the 22 lb. suitcase...been there and done that). Have a wonderful mission! I'm enjoying mine but it's not nearly as exciting, I'm sure!