Tuesday, November 1, 2016 7:40pm-1:40pm CST
I am sooooooooo excited. Let me explain: First; it has been nearly 2 million seconds since I last saw The Most Beautiful Woman In The World, that is, my lovely wife. Hereafter she will go by the moniker of TMBWITW. However, within approximately 200,000 seconds I will get to see her! I am so happy! Secondly, I have been bumped to Business Class and I will explain more fully in a few minutes. First, let me explain the departure from the hotel and what has transpired since. Jean Claude and Mary came at about 5:10 and we Skyped with Linda. They were so happy to see each other. Unfortunately, if I tell Jean Claude that Linda is mistreating me he simply says: Linda, I don’t believe a word he says. What kind of friend is that? Well, the traffic from the hotel was horrendous. I thought about suggesting that Jean Claude, Mary, me and all my luggage climb one machine but decided against it. Not because he couldn’t do it but because I let Jean Claude call the shots. Our driver was wise and took a long way around but it was much faster and we arrived at the airport by 6. I got inside the area where you get your boarding pass within 1 minute. Did not have to show a passport or anything. Had to wait about 40 minutes and then a little longer. You see, the lady in front of me had 6 suitcases and was obviously trying to check in for some others. I assume that because the ticket agent pointed at his eye as if to say: I have to see them. Well, she walked off to collect her friends but before she came back another agent called me. I had pre-checked last night and had an exit row. I do everything in my power on all flights to get exit rows because of the excess legroom. Well, the guy told me that I was in Business Class!!! I walked down to Customs and they are much more thorough than in the past. They had me remove my hat and glasses and snapped my picture. Then they fingerprinted all 8 fingers and 2 thumbs. Then I went down to the gate and told the man that I could not go through the X-ray machine because I have a pacemaker. In the past, they just took my word for it and did a “pat down”. Well, he asked if I had documentation. I always carry it with me and he compared the name on the Pacemaker ID with my passport and allowed me to go in. First, however, he took me in a booth and had me unbutton my shirt to show him the scar and allow him to feel. No big deal and I went to the table where they go through your stuff. I gave them my boarding pass and just as the girl had put on her plastic gloves they noticed that I was in Business Class. They told me to go to the Business Lounge but I really wanted to stay there. I am so thankful they “forced” me to the Business Lounge. I asked where it was and they gave me some vague description and a very nice young woman took pity on the old man and walked me down here. Listen, I wish the flight was another 10 hours from now! I came in and the girl wrote my name down. I am sitting next to a very cold A/C and have an electrical outlet that works! I noticed a fridge with cold drinks and there was a Coke Zero. I went to collect it and asked how much and it is free! There is also free food but I ain’t eating any for this reason. Let me explain something: I NEVER get hungry and that is the truth. That is why I drive some campaigners crazy because I can get up in the morning, eat no breakfast and work all day with no food entering my body and I am still having no sense of hunger. Now, for those of you who have seen me eat; you know I can put it away. Another reality is that once I get full I stay full for a long time. If, for example, Linda and I are going to eat out some night I won’t eat lunch. I last ate over 6 hours ago but still feel just as full as 1 hour after I ate. Well, I am expecting some really good food on the plane so I don’t want to spoil my appetite. The flight is 6 hours and 35 minutes but I wish I was flying to Australia or China where it would be a 14-hour flight. I had planned to try to sleep but I am not sure I will do that now. After the experience, I will let you know if it lived up to my expectations. I have been after my Mission Committee to fly the campaign director (that would be me) Business or First class all the time and they say no! How preposterous. I am very old and need all of the ease I can have! Oh, they have free Wi-Fi here but I tried to log on and was not sure by the warning they had that it was a secure network and did not want to take a chance.
The pictures below are: Jean Claude in the hospital room with the nurse. I was allowed in there and they do the same stuff nurses do in the States. Take BP and temperature and then ship you off to the doctor. I was also able to go in with Jean Claude to see the doctor. They were speaking French so I have no idea what was going on. I do know that Jean Claude gave him the churches address and his phone number. I also gave him one of my WBS Business Cards. I was not able to go in with him to get the X-ray but that was fine with me. On the right below is Martin, my driver. This kid is a really good guy. He and his family (wife and 3 kids) are members at Jean Claude’s congregation. He drives a machine for a living and Monday through Friday he wears a helmet. On Saturday and Sunday, he does not and he has no good explanation for that. Also, on Saturday he drives Jean Claude anywhere he needs to go regarding visitation or evangelism for free. He says that is one way that he can contribute to the cause of Christ.
We are still over 4 hours from leaving but I am so happy I was early. Since I have electricity there are some things I can do regarding sermons and other upcoming events that I will work on. I also plan to write my final report of the trip and hope to have it to you by next week. If you are on my email list you will hopefully have it by Tuesday and if by snail mail, it could be the end of next week.
Wednesday, November 2, 2016 2:30am-Tuesday, November 1, 2016 8:30pm CST
First things first: I recommend that someone out there begin a petition to have the Campaign Director (that would be me) fly First or Business Class at all times. The Petition is to be sent to the Mission Committee of the Buckingham Road Church of Christ and I will be the first to sign! This is the first time I have ever flown in which I don’t want the flight to end. We only have 4 ½ hours to Paris; why can’t it be more?! While I was enjoying the lounge an American saw my Texas Ranger’s hat with a “T” on it. He asked me if it was Twins or Texas. You see, he is from Minnesota and grew up a Twins fan. I asked him where he lived and he said in Washington State. I asked where and he said Moses Lake. Talk about a small world. They are one of my supporting congregations and I have been there several times. He is a doctor and I gave him my WBS card. I then went to the restroom and it was REALLY nice. When I came out a young lady was sitting there and we began to talk. She grew up in Belgium but works in Douala. Her name is Coline (English would be spelled Colleen) and we had a good visit. I also gave her one of my cards and told her that if she or anyone she knew would like to study the Bible via the internet to contact me. They finally told us to go down to the gate and when we got there the plane, for the most part, had boarded. We did not need to wade through a bunch of people. Got on immediately and this is REALLY nice! I have an electrical outlet plus a USB charger that I am using now to charge my MP3 player. They gave me a little bag with a bunch of “goodies” in it. My seat will fully recline if I want to sleep. I have a place to put my shoes and still put my feet up! Man, if you think “Coach Food is Great” (and it is); you ought to eat this food. It is nearly as good as some of my collaborations. In Coach your choice of entrée is usually chicken, fish or pasta. I had a REALLY nice steak! Started out with an appetizer that was deeeeeeeeeeeelicious and then the rest. The only negative in flying here is that the last two legs of the trip will seem poor. Oh well, that is OK.
Let me get serious: it is fascinating how excited we can get about blessings such as Business Class and sometimes fail to see the far greater blessings of being in the family of God. We are aware that Heaven is not prepared for the physically rich but the spiritually poor. That is, those who understand that without Jesus they are nothing. Jesus said: Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 5:3). In James 1 he speaks of the rich fading away. In chapter 2 he says that God has chosen the poor of the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the Kingdom. In chapter 5 he speaks of the rich who will reap misery. Now, there is nothing wrong in money; it is the love of money that is the root of all evil. The reality is, however, that if you are faithfully following Jesus you are wealthy. The ministries that we are involved in are rooted in the desire to see people reap eternal life. It is fine to fly Business Class or to have a nice car or house but Jesus says that if we gain the whole world and lose our soul; where is the profit. The answer, of course, is there is none. Cameroon is like every other country that I have personal knowledge of or understanding from others who have lived in other countries. The church in Cameroon is small and weak but I would argue that could be said of the church in America. We have a population of well over 300 million and the last “bean count” I read was that the church numbers less than 2 million. Of that number, only the Lord knows how many are backsliders or lukewarm. My guess (and I pray I am woefully wrong) is that the number of dedicated disciples is far under 1 million. You have two distinct cultures in Cameroon. The English and French reception of the gospel is quite different. As stated in earlier missives; the soil on the French side is quite hard. That is not going to deter my efforts nor the work put forth by many faithful saints on the French side. As I think over the past few weeks I have a smile on my face. Yes, the Lord granted health and good lodging and wonderful food. He kept us safe in every way and in so many ways blessed us physically. The smile, however, is for 12 new brothers and sisters. Now with that smile comes the stark reality that the churches where they attend have a huge job on their hands. If you are a parent you know how difficult one new baby can be. How time consuming and how draining of energy (especially for the mothers). Imagine twins or triplets and the job simply gets more difficult. Yes, I implore you to pray for the new Christians but equally for the brethren who have the task of maturing them. When I look at retention rates in the church they are not good. Now this is only my opinion but in the States, I would be shocked if even 25% of those we baptize grow into strong, mature brethren. Look at your congregation and remove the teens who were baptized whose parents worship with you. In the past 10 years, how many Christians in your congregation are core members who were brought to the Lord via evangelism? Many years ago, I was given an assignment to find 10 congregations that had had a 25% or more growth spurt in the previous 5 years and discover what they were doing. Not one of them had grown through evangelism. Primarily it was “swelling” where a town grows like crazy overnight and many members of the church move to the area. I pray this is not sounding negative because that is not my aim. I am confident that the church in Cameroon is headed in the right direction. I believe that many things have been put in place that will produce lasting fruit. I think God for allowing me to have worked in this country for the past 20 years and by His grace, many more in the future. My plea to you is not for money. I need to put this in: I am not opposed to receiving money for the work in Cameroon but I need you to join me in prayer. Yes, if you can help financially or by making a trip; by all means do so. When I told you of the train wreck there was nothing you could do but pray. I cannot contribute to every mission effort; I cannot travel on every campaign and truth be told; I cannot specifically pray for every mission because I am not aware of them all. I am asking you to continue to work with me in whatever way you can to strengthen the existing members in Cameroon and to lead others to hear and accept the saving word of the Lord.
Wednesday, November 2, 2016 8:45am-2:45am CST
I will see TMBWITW in about 144,000 seconds! Well, I’ve had my Banana Split (Business Seat) for the journey! I’ve got news for you; if your seat on the plane fully reclines it is much easier to sleep than in a sitting position. Flight was great and on time. Deplaning was fine and had a long walk to Customs. The line was so long that it took 25 minutes before I got to the man who quickly stamped my passport. My thought at the time was that at least I wouldn’t have to wait for my luggage but I was wrong. It did come within 10 minutes or so and my bag was there. I always take a big bag and a small bag where the smaller one fits in the larger one for the trip home and I only have to check one bag. Going over I take many things that I ultimately leave or use in Cameroon. Once I got my bag I had to walk a fur piece to a lifter that took me to the place where I catch the bus to the hotel. Waited about 15 minutes. I noticed that the drivers in Paris are so orderly and stay in their lanes and do not zigzag. I need to take them to Cameroon and teach them how to drive in the most efficient way. Got to the hotel and cannot check in yet because there are no rooms. I am typing at a nice little desk and they have Wi-Fi so I will be able to send this. I will then start the FINAL HOWDY later today or tomorrow. Flight leaves at 10:25 in the morning and goes to Minneapolis and then on to Dallas. Will not get to DFW until 8:41 tomorrow night. I am feeling fine and look forward to a restful day. I am not going to leave the hotel but once I get my room will sleep for a few hours and then get a good night’s rest tonight. Thanks for your continued prayers!