Saturday, February 16, 2013 8:15pm-1:15pm CST
We are in Kumba! Got up this morning at 6:30 with a scheduled departure of 8. We made it and actually left around 7:45. It is quite a production given our luggage as well as all of the material we take for the seminar. We went to Bonaberi on the way out of town and Linda Bassay brought some of our laundry she had washed as well as a dozen eggs she had boiled for us. I had put an Orange drink in my freezer and it was like a rock which was what I wanted. Last night Louise and I were talking about how little blessings over here seem to be so much greater. Something as simple as a cold Coke or as she said, electricity that stays on all day is a real blessing. No problems on the way and we arrived around 11:30. We went to a grocery store first to buy water for the week and a bunch of stuff for the Orphanage. We bought laundry soap, bar soap, cheese, crackers, a 110 pound bag of rice and of course, candy. We got to the hotel and unloaded. We have definitely left the Hilton for the Motel 6. Not complaining, just reporting. Terry and Louise have air conditioners that are going to freeze them out. There is no thermostat and in Kumba you take your life in your hands if you turn the A/C off because you never know when the electricity will go off. I will be frozen solid before I will turn off my A/C. You also know where your flashlight is at all times once it gets dark. Terry, Louise and Jean Claude are all on the same floor. They only had 3 available so I took the floor above. There is no elevator and by the time I get to my floor my thighs have a slight burn. My fridge works well as does Jean Claude’s. Terry and Louise have nice looking fridges but they don’t work so they are keeping their stuff in his fridge. Louise does not have hot water so she is borrowing Terry’s shower while he is up with me. I may or may not have shown a picture like the first one below but I simply want to show you that a toilet seat is of no value. It is a luxury, plain and simple. After Linda’s first trip to Cameroon she removed both of our toilet seats! We went to the Orphanage around 3:15. We first of all needed to buy a few pens for the seminar on Monday but Jean Claude checked them and 3 of 4 had no ink! The Orphanage is run by a dear sister named Diana. She is about 57 years old and a widow with no children of her own. She now cares for 30 children. She has one or two others who assist but primarily the older children are her aids. The picture below is missing many of the older children as they were at a church function. Oh, that is Terry’s normal pose! You will see the 110 pound sack of rice that Diana is wheeling around. The kids are so cute and I got some good pictures and video. They really enjoyed seeing themselves on the screen. We then came back to the hotel and I started putting stuff up and then we went down and had a nice supper. Terry, Louise and Jean Claude all had fish and they were big fish with the heads still intact. Jean Claude ate the head of Terry’s fish first and then Louise’s. He did not eat his because he said it was too sweet which none of us understood.
Tomorrow I will preach in Matoh which is a village but has the 2nd or 3rd largest congregation in the entire country. Their preacher is named Denis Asikpo and while he is a full-time farmer, he is also a full-time Christian. Terry and Louise will be at Kake II with Toko William and his congregation. Here are some miscellaneous things:
1. I learned a lot more about the bride price today. As you know (or maybe not), Jean Claude is going to get married next month. Tonight he was going to the family of the girl he will marry to work on the negotiations of the bride price. Some of the things he will provide are a large pig, a large goat, 60 liters of palm oil, a walking stick and much more. That does not include the nearly $900 he will have to pay. The girl has no say in the matter and does not even know what is going on unless the man tells her. He has shown Mary (his fiancé) the price they are asking and she was unhappy. She said they are treating her like a cow. I asked Jean Claude if she could go to her family and ask for a reduction. He said that if she tried that they would physically slap her and call her a fool. The women, even of the family that is receiving the bounty, have no say in the negotiations. It is strictly between the men. He is hoping tonight to receive some relief.
2. We spoke today of the way the government pays its employees. Mary is a teacher of teachers and has been working for over a year with not one franc of salary. One day they may pay her including back pay or they may not include back pay. They may simply let her go and she will have worked for all of that time at no salary. Sometimes people work 5 years before they are paid. The way they manage is through family members supporting them. Jean Claude has a sister who is a nurse and she has not been paid for over a year and his family provides her food and rent.
3. Terry chipped a big part of a tooth last night. I have some ‘stuff’ that is made to be a temporary filling. He says it feels a bit funny but there is no pain. He is going to have to see a dentist as soon as he gets home.
4. I mentioned the other night that Cameroon is not all that different from America. For example, at the store today I bought Ketchup and Maggi Sauce (like Soy Sauce) because I was not sure if the hotel restaurant had it or not. Sure enough, they did not. I remember, however, that the last time Linda and I went to Texas Roadhouse we had to bring our own steak sauce and salad dressings!
5. The A/C in Kumba runs ‘hot and cold’; what I mean is that the electricity is not constant so for a short time it will become cold as it blows well and then it will calm down.
6. Oh, another similar occurrance between the two countries; in my bathroom I have a bucket of water in case the regular water does off. I remember when Linda and I came back after our trip in 2001 that she turned off all the water in the house. I had to ‘pull rank’ to get it turned back on!
7. The modem and signal are very weak here. I have already seen that I will not be able to Skype Linda unless it grows stronger. I also do not know if this will go or if you will read it next Saturday from Douala.
We all continue to do well. Thanks for your continued concern and prayers.