Saturday, October 19, 2013 8:30pm-2:30pm CST
I am dismayed because I cannot use my modem in Yokaduma as the signal is not strong enough. Lord willing you will receive this on Wednesday. The day primarily dealt with travel so that will consume much of this missive. Teresa; contact a 10 year old to get the definition of missive. Got up this morning at 5 after a good night’s rest. Was already packed and we left at 5:45. Below is a picture of the driver who carried 3 of our bags. Believe me, he could have carried more! Got at the Bus Park at 5:55 to take the 6am bus. We promptly left the station at 7:10. Oh, before I go any further (or is it farther) I have to share a trial I am going through; my fridge here is freezing my Coke Lights! OK; back to the day; the buses that travel from Bertoua to Yokaduma are not what you would call the ‘cream of the crop’. Many of them don’t have a working starter but since they are standards that pose no problem. The Bus Park here is quite different from the one in Douala in that you have fewer large buses and many smaller ones. They carry 2 or 3 up with the driver and then there is a metal barrier that separates us peons from the folks up front. The bus seats 25 and is about the size of a 7 seat mini-van in the States. They seat 5 across and 5 men cannot sit shoulder to shoulder as there is not enough room. One sits up, the next back etc. If they have a small child he or she rides on their lap. The little kid below sat in front of me. The only way I could get him to smile was by crossing my eyes. I am sure glad my darling wife taught me how! He was a cute kid! It is fascinating to watch them load the bus. They put all kinds of stuff on top and the height of the luggage will be ½ the height of the vehicle. Among other things we carried a dog in a wooden cage up top. Once they get the luggage loaded they call you by number (whoever bought the first ticket is #1, etc. and once we are loaded, the ‘Sardine Wagon’ pulls out. I am not sure how old the vehicle was but I am sure it is younger than it looks. Cramming that amount of baggage and luggage into and onto the vehicle along with these roads causes some early aging. If you like Diesel fumes then you would enjoy the journey. None of these buses could remotely pass inspection. I don’t know the precise distance from Bertoua to Yokaduma because I failed to bring my Pedometer with me. At any rate, my guess is that the entire trip on a good road would take 3 hours whereby we took 8 ½ hours. Would have been at least a ½ less if it wasn’t for all the Police stops where you have to show your ID card. For the first half of the trip I really got re-acquainted with dust! Let me tell you; I took off my glasses and they were filthy with dirt. Linda thinks my glasses are dirty with one spot but today she would have went into Cardiac Arrest. I then had to blow my nose and nothing but ‘brown gunk’ came out. Hey, ‘gunk’ is a word because my spellchecker didn’t ‘flag’ it. I wish I would have snapped a picture of my Kleenex as I know that you all are excited to hear about all of my exploits. After a number of hours it started raining which would have been OK but I couldn’t shut my window all the way and the roof leaked! People were moving about to escape the rain. Louis said he had ridden this bus before and it rained and he got soaked. I took a short video but I cannot find it to attach. We only got stuck one time and it was very brief. “Every cloud has a silver lining’ and ours was that after it started raining, the dust went away! Our bags were covered with dust when we arrived and Tuesday when we return to Batouri we are going to put our bags in trash bags I brought. We arrived at 4 and Rodrique (the preacher) was here to help us. There are no taxis and today no machines that had ‘tie-downs’ to carry our luggage. They have contraptions that they use to carry all sorts of stuff and that is how our bags got to the hotel. I have stayed at this hotel (Elephant Hotel) many times. It is very nice. Bathtub (the first place I went) along with A/C, an excellent fridge and plenty of closet space. I only pray that the electricity stays on. I spoke with Jean Claude and he had 3 studies and 1 baptism today in Bertoua. Louis and I ordered supper and we were going to have chicken. After a while the cook told us there was no chicken in Yokaduma so I asked him what he had and he said fish and meat. I asked Louis what ‘meat’ was and he said cow meat or steak. I told him I wanted steak but he said he didn’t know how to cook it so we both had fish and it was excellent. We came back from supper and had a good visit. I showed Louis some of my pictures of our family and he is finally getting things straight. Stephanie is Bapp;; Michael James is Junior; Alex is Alex Bagalex; William is Willboy; Josiah is Cyboy; Karson is KB and Jose Luis is Charlie Brown ! Everything is very reasonable.
1. I spoke the other day (I think) of how terminology is different. If I didn’t talk about it don’t write and inform me of such. At any rate, let me give a couple of things they say in a different way:
a. If you were out and I wanted you to come by my room I would say something like ‘come by my room’. Over here you say ‘knock my door’.
b. If the road was so bad that you had to spend the night between Yokaduma and Batouri you would say that you ‘slept on the road’.
Sunday, October 20, 2013 8:00pm-2:00pm CST
A good day but not fruitful in an outward sense. I spoke with Jean Claude and he had one study with no baptisms today and I had 5 studies with no baptisms. I was talking to Louis at supper about them and we agree that 2 of them are old men that are steeped in their religion while the other 3 may give their lives to the Lord. On every trip I am reminded of the hold that husbands have on their wives. We spoke with one woman who had to consult with the husband. Louis said that if she gave her life to the Lord without the consent of the husband that he would ‘put her out’. We had an excellent worship with 47 present. The hall will not hold many more than that. They meet in Rodrique’s house and use the parlor for the worship hall. I taught both the Bible class and preached. You never know, even in the States, how you are coming across. I felt good about the lessons and pray they were of benefit to the congregation. I have pictures below of Rodrique’s kids (Eunice, Chris and Danielle) along with a family picture. He is doing a good job. The education level here is very low. Louis was telling me that it is hard to translate because he has to search for the ‘lowest’ word he can find. Eunice and Danielle are cute little girls. We had a good time as they loved to watch me cross my eyes. I taught Danielle how to do it and I am sure their mother will not mind because she showed me that she can cross hers! I had a church meeting at 4 to simply discuss ways in which they could grow and then worshipped at 5. Fortunately I preached a short sermon. You see, during the closing prayer I thought I heard thunder which I did. We got machines back to the hotel and within less than 5 minutes the sky emptied! I mean we are talking serious rain. If we had been out we would have been forced to walk because the machines will not move in that kind of rain. During the rainy season the attendance is heavily influenced by the rain. This afternoon as we were headed to a Bible class on machines it was interesting for this reason; during the day it had been dry and sunny and as we were driving down the road it was totally dry and then all of a sudden we came upon some serious mud. Riding machines in Yokaduma is a real faith builder. There is nothing but dirt roads with serious rocks and ruts and the drivers do an excellent job of missing them (well, most of them). Before supper I took a shower and the bath towel of the hotel was the biggest towel I have ever seen. Would guess it was 6 feet long but the kicker was that it was about 5 feet wide! Would make a good tent. So far the electricity has stayed on. Oh, let me tell you about my fridge. Most of the fridges in this country have a dial and the setting is 1-10 or 1-5. My experience is that you put it on the highest number and things go well. When the young man was hooking the fridge up I noticed that he put it on 3 so I switched it to 5 (1-5 scale). Big mistake; this morning my Coke Lights were frozen stiff. I moved it back to 3 and took a Coke Light out and let it sit for a while and by the time we ate supper it was OK. We both had a ‘stubborn chicken’ which is Louis’ way of saying a tough chicken. This old bird must have been older than Teresa (OK, maybe not that old)! The meal was good and I always enjoy my time with Louis. Internet still does not work so you will get a bunch of fluff once it comes through. I will call Linda and then relax. This is one of the few times that I actually have some time to simply ‘kick back’. We are doing well and continue to ask for your prayers.
Monday, October 21, 2013 9:20pm-3:20pm CST
I greet you from the great metropolis of Yokaduma! It may not be a metropolis but it is great! We had a good day with one study and she was baptized. A dear sister by the name of Tatiana and you can see her below with me. You develop a ‘feel’ for a study and this one was good. It was a long study and we went into great detail regarding the level of dedication that is required to become a child of God. Lately I have been using a ‘relationship’ illustration that goes something like this: would Linda be pleased if I told her that I would spend 2 hours each Sunday with her but the rest of the time I was on my time? The answer, of course, is a resounding no because one of the major aspects of a marriage is the relationship you build with that special person. Well, when we become a Christian we ‘marry’ Jesus and begin to build a relationship that will last throughout eternity.
Here is the day: got up at 8 as we didn’t need to be at the hall until 10. The electricity went off during the night (don’t know when) but that is OK as it is not that warm. My major concern was that the power would come back on to cool down my Coke Lights! No one can accuse me of having misplaced priorities. Well, the ‘juice’ came on at 9 and stayed on until about 6:15 tonight. We left about 9:50 and took machines to the hall. Rodrique met us and we visited for a while and Tatiana came. We took machines down to the place where we baptized her. Not a long journey but an interesting one with mud and holes and dirt and stuff. After the baptism I had the discussion mentioned below with Rodrique. We then went and looked at the plot of land. Louis then went to the bus park to secure our tickets for tomorrow while I came back to the hotel and did some correspondence and packing. We will take the first bus again in the morning. We had a great worship service at 5 and then came back to the hotel. Oh, when I climbed the machine I looked up and saw the prettiest sight; stars!!!!!!!!!!!!We decided after the ‘stubborn chicken’ we would go back to the fish. You know ‘stubborn’ can apply to a lot of things like children, parents, wives (accept for my precious one). It was interesting that on Saturday night we asked for French Fries and they gave us Fried Plantain. Then last night Louis stressed and even described French Fries and we got Irish Potatoes. He tried once again tonight and they brought something out that looked like Potato Chips. They were very good! I had another good shower. I have a hot water heater which is very nice. Wish the hot water dispenser on the bathtub and sink worked! Actually, this really is a nice place and I have enjoyed my stay. Batouri is not nearly as nice but we will only be there tomorrow night and head for Ebolowa on Wednesday. Oh; when the electricity went off they put on their generator. It will carry a fan and lights but no A/C. Louis had a fan that he did not use so I have it. There is no cage around the blades so I have to be careful not to get to close or it may decapitate me. It is blowing quite well. We are getting up at 5 with a departure from the hotel at 6. Rodrique will go to the Bus Park and get 3 machines to carry us and our stuff. Hopefully we will be in Batouri by 2. I am meeting with the church tomorrow night (only a few members) to try and ascertain the future of the church in that city.
1. You need to pray for Louis and his attitude. Today he told me that everyone in my family, except for Linda, needs psychiatric help.
2. There is something about being here that puts things into a different perspective than when I am in the States. The vast majority of our brethren definitely live a hard life from a physical perspective. Everywhere you turn there are legitimate needs. That brings me to a discussion I had with Rodrique this afternoon. The church in Yokaduma meets in his parlor and they have purchased a plot of land in which to erect a building. His landlord is in Germany and has stated that she wants the house by the end of December. He does believe that she will give him an extension but at any time she can move him out as he has no contract. You see, the previous owner sold it to the current one and Rodrique is at the mercy of the new owner. The plot of land that they possess is on the main road and the building would be one of the first things you saw on entering the town. It would cost about $6,000 to build but he feels it would be of benefit. He is not one of these guys that believes buildings automatically secure members but many of his neighbors think that he ‘owns’ the church since it meets in his house. When denominations come into a town the first thing they do is erect a building. He says that oftentimes they will buy land in the bush knowing that in 20 years the town will have grown out there and they will have secured the land for practically nothing. Rodrique is really doing a great job and I feel that a building would be of benefit. The only problem is coming up with the $6,000. If you would be interested in helping please email me and give me the amount you could give. I don’t want any money now as there is no reason to send if I cannot secure the entire amount.
3. In conjunction with the above paragraph; at supper I asked Louis to give his opinion of the validity of such a building. I respect his opinion and he believes that it would be of great help to both the church and Rodrique. The plot of land is very large and could easily hold a preacher’s house. The ideal setup would be to build a house for Rodrique on that land. I struggle to some degree regarding buildings but what would your members say if you told them you were selling the building and would start renting a large place for Sunday and do house churches the rest of the time? Not saying that would be bad but my guess is you would have a revolt on your hand as we care deeply for our buildings. We will go into hundreds of thousands and sometimes millions of dollars of debt for our buildings so $6,000 sounds fairly small.
4. Don’t tell Linda about the beautiful women on either side of me below. She can be very jealous!
5. When I went to worship tonight Danielle and Eunice were waiting for me. They sat with me and went everywhere I did. Danielle showed me that she could cross her eyes by taking her index finger away from her body and moving it towards her nose. Did pretty good for an 8 year old. Eunice who is 4 tried the same thing but the eyes never crossed. I then taught them some other ‘cool noises’ that always amuse children. I am indebted to my lovely wife as she taught them to me many years ago. Linda is truly multi-talented and can make about any sound you would want to hear and a few that you don’t want to hear!
Tuesday, October 22, 2013 10:40pm-4:40pm CST
Made it to Batouri with no problems. I tried to connect to the internet but to no avail so hopefully I can send this tomorrow. Let us start at the beginning. During the night the generator ran out of petrol but it was OK as the temperature was not hot. Had to get ready in the dark, however, as I got up at 5. The picture below of the bathtub shows a light at the bottom right. This picture was taken in the dark except for the light from my small flashlight. The IPhone has a pretty good camera. The other picture below is of a kettle like the one I mentioned in Yaounde that you used to flush with. One of the workers at the hotel used this one to assist him in brushing his teeth. Rodrique went to the Park and secured 3 machines to take us and our boxes. Got there at 6 and the bus pulled out at 7:10 which is fine. We flew and made it in only 5 hours! It would have been even less but at one of the Police stops they wanted to see my Yellow Fever card. That shot is good for 10 years and the last time I had it was in 2007. The initial policeman didn’t think it was valid so he went to talk to his boss. It was valid, of course, so we were off and running. The driver did not stop for a break and that is another reason for our swift time. Oh, we had packed our carryon bags in trash sacks but there was no dust today! Jean Claude had texted Louis that there was no electricity in Batouri but when we got here it was on. 2 or 3 years ago when Jean Claude, Terry Harlow and Zack Blaisdell worked here they had no electricity until Louis and I came. I definitely have an ‘electric’ personality. I am staying in a nice room with a parlor, bedroom and bathroom. There is no toilet seat but I have not been using them for years. Linda and I prefer going ‘natural’ (I am not sure what that means)! The shower flows onto the floor right beside the toilet so there is a high level of efficiency. I have a nice fan that is mounted in the ceiling but a mosquito net under it so that no air can flow. They have removed the net so I can breathe. Oh, I am in 302 while Jean Claude is in 103 and Louis in 107 so you might think we are on separate floors. Wrong; we are all on the first floor. We ordered supper and the 3 of us wanted chicken and it was either buy one or 2 chickens so we got one which was sufficient. I am nearly packed as we will load at 6 in the morning to head to Yaounde. We will drop Jean Claude there and Louis and I will proceed to Ebolowa. We hope to be there by 6 tomorrow evening. Tomorrow will be our last long travel day.
1. I wear shorts on travel days and Louis told me that his Linda does not like him to wear shorts because he has ugly legs. She says to him: “cover those bamboos”!
2. Louis also told me that all women are crazy. Not sure if he has ever stated that to Linda! I have quite the opposite opinion as I know that women are far more intelligent than men. You do know there is an exception to every rule and that is where Ricardo and Teresa Blaisdell come in!
3. I met with the church in Batouri tonight. This church has struggled mightily since its beginning about 6 years ago. Their attendance is about 10 on a good Sunday. I am trying to determine if we need to keep the work here. They meet in the preacher’s house and I am told that that is a negative as people believe it is just a sect. The house is also in a heavy Muslim area with a mosque nearby. It would be nice if they had a building someplace else but there are no funds.
4. The electricity did go out today but fortunately they have a generator. I was putting eye drops in when the generator stopped. Knew where my flashlight was (always know) so I was OK. Within a few minutes they had ‘gassed her up’ and the lights and fan are working again.
Wednesday, October 23, 2013 10:05pm-4:05pm CST
I am rich! Repeat: I AM RICH!!!!!!!!!!!!! I already knew that but it hit me again this morning as for the second day in a row I woke up at 5 with no electricity or generator. I am rich because I live in a country where it never occurs to me to always know where my flashlight is at night. I am rich because whether it rains or not, my clothes get washed and dried. I am rich because I have a house for my cars that surpasses many houses of a great number of people in the world. I am rich because I have electricity and running water where 49% of the world does not! I don’t know why the Lord chose to have me come into the world in a first world country; I am thankful for what He has given me.
Here is the day: Mentioned getting up at 5. We had arranged to have a car take us from Batouri to Ebolowa and we are so glad that we did. Ultimately we arrived here around 3:15 whereby it would have been between 6 and 9 if we had taken public transport. The driver’s name was Zachariah and he was at the hotel at 6 to load. We stopped in Bertoua and saw Paul and gave him money to buy a Bible for the one convert in Bertoua and also bought his family some stuff. I get a real joy from buying things for my African brethren who have so little. One of the sisters from the congregation is a professional cook and unbeknownst to us; she made us 3 pizzas for the journey and they were GREAT! As good as any pizza I have ever had in the states. When a big company has a ‘shebang’ and needs good food, they call her. We left and stopped to use the restroom in a small town at a nice gas station. They actually had a real toilet and everything. The picture at the bottom is of Louis transferring pictures from his camera to his laptop because his wife needs the camera this weekend. He gave it to Jean Claude who will give it to Linda. We got to Yaounde where we dumped Jean Claude at the bus station as he was headed back to Douala. The drive from Yaounde to Ebolowa was a bit over 2 hours and it was good to get here. The hotel is one that I have stayed in before and is very nice. Fridge (which works), A/C (which works), toilet (which works) etc. The bathroom has a real shower; I mean a REAL shower. Glass enclosed and everything. There is a hot water heater in the room which may work but I was hot and didn’t want to get hotter. In the summer if I have mowed the yard and it is 100 outside I come in and take the coldest shower I can. I do have a real fear that I am going to contract Pneumonia tonight! Got unpacked and ordered supper. I only ordered rice and fries because I was still full from all the pizza. When we went to eat supper two things caught my eye: first there was a dispenser on the table of hand cleanser. Secondly, instead of toothpicks they had floss! I met with the two preachers tonight to work out the details of the campaign. We start tomorrow at 10 and have a number of prospects. I am going to have a meeting with the church tomorrow night, meetings with both preachers and meetings with their wives. I am becoming proficient at this ‘meeting thing’. I called Bob Deister tonight; he is an elder at the Lake Houston Church of Christ in Humble, Texas and has made many journeys with me. This coming Sunday I am preaching at the Biyem-Assi congregation in Yaounde and they have asked me to speak on the issue of instrumental music. I feel very well versed for this topic but when Linda and I were there 2 months ago their preacher preached the best sermon I have ever heard on the subject. I asked Bob to have the preacher email me some quotes he used in his sermon and they were all from ‘big dogs’ of prominent denominations. I assume that you are aware that virtually all churches were solidly opposed to instrumental music when they began and it has been one of the most divisive elements in Christianity. In his sermon he pointed out something that I knew but most do not know and that is the meaning of the word accapella. Most believe that it is defined as ‘singing without instruments’ but such is not the case. The word was an Italian one that meant the ‘singing of the church’. There was a time where everyone knew that the church sang without instruments. I was able to Skype Linda and see her and Charlie Brown. He wanted to show me that he has mastered the art of crossing his eyes without using his finger. He still has a ways to go but he is cute. Not as cute as Linda, however! I have some more stuff to do but should get to bed at a decent time. Oh, on the way from Yaounde to Ebolowa Louis and I discussed the place of a building within the context of a growing church. He says that the brethren are beginning to understand that a building will not produce growth but the lack of one will prohibit growth. Here is how; all of the denominations have buildings and while you and I understand that the people are the church, the world does not. When they see a church that meets in a house they call it a sect. I asked Louis what that meant and he said that they do not view that church as a church and many will never come when invited where they will come if they are invited to a church building.
We left Jean Claude in good health and Louis and I are fine. Lord willing, I should have access to the internet every day for the balance of the journey so you will be treated to my garbage. Please continue to pray for us and ask the Lord to lead us to souls in the coming days.