Thursday, November 01, 2012 8:45pm-2:45pm CST
I do not know how many years I have been doing my ‘Howdys’ but it has been plenty. As stated earlier, I will write more about the trip and probably get serious over the Atlantic on route to Dallas. Oh, I will see Linda in about 93,600 seconds! I just spoke with her and will not be able to talk to her before we land. Today I was able to ‘Skype’ with Linda for the first time. It was neat to SEE and talk with her. I brought Jean Claude along and he had a good time talking with her as well. We left the hotel at about 5:45 and made it to the airport without incident. Waited inside for about 45 minutes or so before we got our boarding passes. Then went through a number of normal hoops and got to the gate. Before we got there I had to go through a metal detector but cannot because of my Pacemaker. I have a card that tells them such in French so not only did they let me go but I did not have to remove my computer or anything else. Tom and Ashley had to remove theirs but it may be because they look a bit shady. At the gate they told Ashley and Gabby that they had to go back down and open their bags for them. I have never had this happen to anyone but when they came back they just were inquiring about wood artifacts they had purchased as some types of wood are illegal. I have been doing emails and a number of other things for the past 2 hours while the ‘4 Stooges’ have been playing cards and making all sorts of noise. I went over and asked them if money was being won or lost on the game as you would have thought that millions were involved. There is only one power outlet in this room and it is the one that Air France uses but no one is here yet so it is free. It is still nearly 3 hours before we take off. The room has nice A/C so everything is hunky dunky. My spelt checker says that ‘hunky’ is a word but ‘dunky’ is not. Glad that I can tell the difference.
Last night at the combined service I gave the report of the trip but first of all told them that I was discouraged that I had not been programmed to lead a song. I then led the one French song that I can lead and today Louis said I did a really good job. Then he popped the balloon by saying he would grade me 3 over 10. At the combined service we sang some songs from Songs of the Church and the copy I had was donated by the Lake Houston Church of Christ in Humble, Texas. One of their elders, the notorious Bob Deister, has made many trips with me. At the end of the service a representative of the 4 congregations gets up and gives a farewell address. They have it printed in English and give each of us a copy. Here are a few excerpts: It has been a pleasure and it will always be a great pleasure for us to encourage you for your mission here in our country. We will always pray for God to continue to give you the courage and strength to continue in this mission. Tom is the Youth Minister of the Buckingham Road Church of Christ and we will be very happy if he could make time in the days to come to share via modern means of communication some of his experiences and job description with our youth ministers. Now is the time for you to go home and we know that you are eager to go and meet your loved ones. Go well for God is with you! Thank you for being a source of inspiration for many. I have felt for a long time that we receive more encouragement than we give. Oh, Jean Claude told Don that the brethren were so encouraged by his message last night. They hope that one day I can preach as well as he does. I will confess (gladly) that he did a GREAT job.
I have posted a couple of more pictures from today. We had a really good final hour or two with our brethren. Jean Claude, Lucy, Louis and Linda were such a blessing to the team.
I forgot to tell you that the other day Louis and a few others (can’t remember who) of us were riding in a taxi. The traffic was slow so the driver went around and was headed down the wrong side of the road. I committed that I really liked the driver and Louis said something to the effect: ‘Jim, you are too African’. I took it as a compliment.
Will start writing my report and have it finished by the time I land in Dallas. Will write more later.
Friday, November 02, 2012 2:30pm – 11:30am CST
Well, I will see Linda in 16,200 seconds if it is the will of God! Was able to get a bunch of work done at the airport last night as I had access to electricity as I stated above. There are many nice electrical outlets at the gate and even though they do not work, they look nice! Boarded on schedule and took off when we were supposed to. I did not mess with the computer on the flight from Douala to Paris but read and tried to sleep. Of course I was able to eat that fine, wonderful and marvelous food they serve on airplanes. The only comparable food can be found at a hospital! Landed 30 minutes ahead of schedule which only added to our 5 hour layover. We had to quickly leave Don, Ashley and Gabby as they are staying in Paris for a couple of days. I can’t remember all of the ‘hoops’ we had to go through to get to our gate but we made it. Because we love our wives so much Tom and I spent thousands on them (of course that is thousands of Cameroonian francs but if you don’t tell them we won’t)! We had to go to the gate to get our boarding passes and got them with no problems. Took off a little behind schedule but not bad. I have noticed one deficiency in Tom: he likes airplane food, too! All I could scrounge from him today were two measly crackers. I really like flying with Linda because she doesn’t know good food when she sees it! We are still about 4 ½ hours from landing in Dallas. I have put together the rough draft of my part of the report. Jennifer, my darling daughter-in-law will tweak it ‘big time’ once she sees it. She is not impressed with my PowerPoint skills; in fact, she says that the words PowerPoint and skills can never be used in the same sentence when applied to me unless you add the word not such as: Jim does not have PowerPoint skills. Oh, well! I am fixin to watch a movie to help pass some time. Will write more later. We are doing well and have not had to resort to the ‘air sickness’ bag. Thought you would want to know! Oh, the kid below is our grandson KB. That is about the best picture I have of him and truly captures his personality.
Saturday, November 03, 2012 12:30am-12:30 CST
Well, we made it home safely. Landed 30 minutes ahead of schedule so when we came out to be met by our loved ones, they were not there! Was able to get 12 hours of sleep last night so I am fully recovered.
Let me say a few things about the work in Cameroon and much of this will be’re-hash’ from prior trips. I just got off the phone with a brother named Bob Dixon who lived in Cameroon in the 70’s for 2 years. We have the same philosophy regarding financial support; it is a case by case proposition. The extremes regarding support are (1) you give every time there is a need (2) you never give to a native. I totally reject both views. I could spend many words in demonstrating that American finances are needed on some level but I will only provide a few: first, the radio program I mentioned in an earlier blog. The church in Dschang absolutely does not have the financial power to fund that. Second, the printing operation that we want to establish cannot be funded by the local church in Cameroon. Third, the preachers that we support are in congregations that cannot fully support them at this time. Fourth, the orphan home that is supported in Kumba cannot be supported by the natives. I could multiply the illustrations. Having said that; our goal is not to perpetually give every dollar that is spent in Cameroon. Our goal is that over time we can move the church from their current level of dependency to complete independency. That cannot be done, however, over a short period of time. We are talking about changing a cultural mindset that looks to the American for everything. Any time you are dealing with culture you realize that it will take a long, long time for change to take place. Think about this from American culture today; we have a country in which many openly say that marriage between a man and a man or between a woman and a woman is OK. How are you going to change that? Well, if it is to be changed it will take a long, long time. The church in Cameroon, like your congregation and mine, has many problems. These problems will not be changed quickly and certainly not in my lifetime. The question is this: are we making progress in the right direction and my answer is most assuredly yes! Is it as quick as I would like? NO! Is it as complete as I would like? NO!
In closing, the Lord once again blessed us with a fruitful and problem free trip. Your part in this trip cannot be overlooked nor overemphasized. If you helped financially, thanks so much! For every prayer you lifted up we are indebted. For those of you who ministered to Wendy and Linda, we are deeply thankful. Our prayer is that the work in Cameroon will continue to move in the correct direction. THANKS FOR YOUR EFFORTS!