Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Big Shake-Up (No, not an earthquake...Transfers!)

November 11 was a very bitter-sweet day for us.  We knew we were going to have some transfers, but we had no idea just how many companionships would be affected!

The elders get together every other week on P-day to play some basketball or soccer.  They play at the exercise park up the street from our apartment.  (That's about the only place we take people--on our way to the dedication site.)  We met together for breakfast, and to open transfer letters.  It's so wonderful just to be with them--they have such a spirit about them, even on P-day!

Elder Leavitt has served his entire mission in Cameroon.  He was getting a bit disappointed that he wouldn't get to see any other countries.  (He's definitely an adventurous type!  He loves to tease Sister Monga that he wants to be sure to eat some monkey--something strictly forbidden, while he's in Africa.  He knows how to push her button!)  We were very sad to see him be transferred to Brazzaville, but excited that he'll be an assistant to the president!  He's an exemplary elder, and will do great there!  (We're sure he'll be dying when he can't be out working with people, but it will be good for all of us to have him there.)

Elder Niyonkuru was also transferred to Brazzaville.  He's a quiet elder, the only member of his family, but one we'll miss terribly.  He has a smile and a twinkle in his eye that can't help but make you feel you're in the presence of someone very special.

All of the other elders remained in Yaounde (thankfully!)  The only companionship that wasn't changed was Elder Wright and Elder Bacera.  Elder Bacera came from Douala not long ago, so that wasn't a huge surprise.  Elder VanAusdal took Elder Leavitt's place as district leader in Ekounou.
L-R Elders Leavitt, Wright, Waite, Bacera, Brockbank, Beutler  
L-R E. Wright, Waite, Niyonkuru, Nzema, Leavitt, VanAusdal, Beutler, Bacera

L-R E. VanAusdal, Beutler, Brockbank, Leavitt, Sis. Dimond

E. Wright, Bacera, Waite, Niyonkuru, Nzema

E. Leavitt, Bacera, Niyonkuru

E. Brockbank and Waite

E. Niyonkuru, Sis. Clayton, Sis. Dimond

E. Tucker, E. VanAusdal

E. Beutler

E. Wright and E. Bacera (Only unchanged secteur)

E. Kabenga arrived to be E. Beutler's new companion
E. Tshibanda arrived as E. Nzema's new companion
We love all these elders, those who have moved on, and those we have just received!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Our favorite place to walk....not run--the exercise park!

In less than ten minutes from our apartment, we can be at a park the government has constructed and maintains for exercise for its citizens.  There is a 2 kilometer paved walking path, with twenty or so stations along the course where you're encouraged to do sit-ups, pull-ups, stairs, jumping, stretching, etc.  We're feeling very accomplished when we take a nice leisurely walk around the beautiful path.  It's all fenced, with a guard at the gate and occasionally one in a look-out tower.  It's quiet, peaceful, and as you'll see, full of beautiful creations.  Wish you were here--we'd definitely take you here!
Banana and mango trees are all along the route.

Anyone seeing this think of Tarzan?

Almost all of the water you see here is brown.  It's still pretty, just different than a crystal clear mountain lake.

Anne and the Colemans--the other senior couple in Cameroon (They're in Douala, a four hour bus ride away.)

These ferns are incredible--you touch them and they fold up like a Venus fly-trap.

Traffic in Yaounde (Or, a daily exercise in patience, quick reflexes, and a dose of humor)

The biggest challenge, by far, here in Yaounde has been adjusting to traffic.  Very few people own cars.  There is no real "Public Transit" system here.  People get around town by walking, riding in taxis, or on "motos", the motorcycle version of a taxi.

We have three rules we adhere to when driving:
  1)NEVER look a police officer in the eye.
  2)If there's a space ahead of you or to the side of you, take it.  (If you don't, five other cars will.)
  3)If there isn't a space, make it.
They seem to work, although we still think we need to put a bumper sticker on the van:  "Honk if you love Jesus."  Many people would show their appreciation for the Savior every day when we're on the road!!

Motos zip in and out of traffic and get people where they're going a lot faster than do taxis, but they're extremely dangerous.  (Elders are not allowed to ride on them.)  We were at one of the chapels (which is on a road with a fairly steep grade) when a moto skidded down the street, scraping the leg, hands, arms, and hip of a very pregnant woman.  Anne helped clean her up the best she could.  There were a lot of people very angry at the moto driver!
Traffic squeezes down from three or four lanes to two just ahead--there's a continual traffic jam here.  Notice the pedestrians taking their lives in their hands with motos zipping between cars.

Most of the cars are traveling on the "right" side of the white line here--a light day of traffic!

This is the street that passes through a huge bus complex.  The traffic is absolutely insane--no one moving and buses trying to park in very small spaces with little maneuvering room.  (The buses go between cities, not around town.)

Two-lane roads are often carrying four or five lanes of traffic.  The white line separating the two lanes really doesn't even keep cars on "their side" of the road.  There have been occasions where we have had to pull in our mirrors to get past some very big trucks.  So far, one long black streak from a taxi rear view mirror is all the really noticeable damage we've encountered on the roads.  (The back end is an inch shorter on both sides, thanks to dark nights and black gates when we've tried to back out of driveways.)

One of the biggest nightmares was getting used to the "rond points"--round-abouts.  Here, there aren't just two roads that intersect, there might be six or seven that come together.  Some have no traffic lights--just fend for yourself.  Others have lights stuck way out on the side of the road.  We have been pulled over twice at rond points.  The first time, we were trying to follow the GPS and went through a road designated for the president only.  (That's when we changed to Anne's phone and Google maps!)  Thankfully, an inspired phone call from our mission president while we were trying to figure out what we had done got us on our way.  The second time, we must have missed a light.  The officer understood our "newness" in the country.  He drew a sketch of when you can continue driving without stopping at lights (on the inside lane of the circle), and what you have to do the rest of the time  $20 later, we were on our way.  He was a happy man, and we were glad we weren't having to pay a huge fine.

We're getting more and more comfortable with the rules of the road--if only more people would obey them!  : )

Find the lizard.....(this one's for the grandkids)

This one's for the grandkids!  Can you find the lizards in these pictures?  Some have bright orange heads.  Others' heads are almost fluorescent green.  Most are gray.

Here's Waldo.  We find him every once in awhile around the house.  This was our first sighting--on our cooler on the screened-in porch where we have the washer and dryer.  We've found him under a couch, in our bedroom, and in the bathroom.