February 21, 2018
Wednesday, February 21, 2018 5:10pm-10:10am CST
This is HOWDY #22 not including the Pre-Howdy and this will be the next to last for this journey. On the final HOWDY I will go into some detail regarding the trip and the future of the church in this country. Good and hectic day as I am trying to get everything done before I leave. I am so glad I spent a couple of extra days. On the travel day back to the States you would like to be able to sleep until noon because it will be a long time before I land in Dallas. I woke up at 1:15am your time so I have about 40 or so hours from that time before I hit DFW. With my sleeping ability on a plane, I will be fairly tuckered out when I arrive. My packing was mostly done from last night but I did do some light packing and will finalize my packing shortly after I send this. Jean Claude took Linda to the eye doctor and it appears that she will be OK. She was given some tablets and eye drops so please keep her in prayer. You can see her in both of the pictures below. She is named after my lovely wife. Linda’s first trip to Cameroon was in June of 2001 and Linda was born the following month. Linda, of course, made such a huge impact that they named this bright girl after her. She does exceptionally well in school and more importantly, loves the Lord. You can see her with her parents on the left below. Mary came over this morning and we discussed the schedule for the sisters who are involved in leading seminars for the women. These sisters are doing a fantastic job! Louise Clement deserves so much credit because she is the one who trained them and Louise has such a love for the church in this country. When Linda and Jean Claude came back we went to lunch. It was a treat for her because in addition to her meal, she got ice cream! Thought I would treat her like a grandkid which means you do whatever they like. I tell people that the job description of a grandparent is three-fold; 1) fill them full of chocolate 2) let them do whatever they like and 3) hand them back to their parents. You see; it is PAY BACK!!! I am mournful as I have taken my last ride on a machine until June, Lord willing. I rode with Linda both ways and Jean Claude and Mary rode on one machine. We had an enjoyable lunch and came back to finalize stuff. I had a number of things to discuss with Jean Claude and think that everything has been covered. I can’t think of anything I have forgotten. Of course, if I forgot it I won’t know. Have you ever said about something: I will never forget that! Do you realize if you forget it you won’t know? It is quite possible that in the course of your lifetime you have said I will never forget that a dozen times and forgot them all! Scheduled to leave the hotel in about 1 ½ hours. I will send this and as I said yesterday; will begin working on my final howdy and send it on either Thursday night but more likely Friday. I will try and Skype Linda one last time before I leave for the airport. Will not get to see Charlie Brown because he is in school.
Thanks for your constant prayers.
February 20, 2018
Tuesday, February 20, 2018 11:15pm-4:15pm CST
I am getting a late start because I got so wound up about some other stuff. Lord willing, I will be able to Skype with Charlie Brown and Grandma after I send this. I wanted to sleep later but woke up at 8 so I got up. After a few things, I was able to get on the internet and got caught up with email. Richard and Lori are probably asleep in Paris as I write and they will get to Boise on Friday. I did not get any pictures today so the ones below are of: 1) Jean Claude’s congregation. You will notice 2 pulpits as it is a bi-lingual church with all classes and sermons in both French and English. 2) The picture on the right was taken at least a week ago and possibly longer. I have a tinge of sadness because I will be able to ride a machine only one or two more times. I was able to ride twice today as I went to a market to get a Coke Zero and later went to get something to eat and brought it back to my hotel room. I told Jean Claude that he did not need to worry about me today and could rest. I still think he did a lot of work but not with me. I was able to write the first draft of my trip report and assembled all of my pictures for my PPT on March 11 when I will make my report at Buckingham Road. I did a lot of packing and am in good shape for tomorrow. Jean Claude is supposed to come over around 10 and we have a number of things to talk about. Oh, please put his daughter Linda on your prayer list. She was accidentally hit in the eye yesterday at school and will go to an eye doctor tomorrow. Hopefully it is nothing serious. I am definitely glad that I have stayed over 2 days as I have been able to accomplish a lot today. Another short HOWDY and I plan to write my next to last one before I leave for the airport tomorrow night. I will then pen the last one in installments and send from home, Lord willing, on Friday. I feel great and thank you for your prayers.
February 19, 2018
Monday, February 19, 2018 8:30pm-1:30pm CST
It has been a good day. I will get right to it: had my alarm set for 9am but woke up at 8 which was OK since I got to bed at midnight last night. I hopped on the computer and got caught up with email. Jean Claude came at 10 and we went to the Wood Market because Lori had not bought enough stuff on Saturday! We also went to a Bible bookshop and a store to get a map of Cameroon. We went to lunch and enjoyed our meal and then came back to the hotel. Today is a holiday in the States and Charlie Brown was only going to be at our house in the morning so I Skyped with them so I could see him. I will Skype with Grandma in an hour or so. The picture on the right below is of us in front of the hotel. The statute is that of a chief. The picture on the right is of Salome and Natalie who are sisters from the North. As you can see, they are tall girls. Spent the afternoon working on a sermon and doing a few things on the computer. We took Richard and Lori to the airport at 7 and they are to fly out at 11:40pm. They are spending 3 days in Paris and that is why they left early. I will leave on Wednesday night. Tomorrow I plan to begin working on my trip report and my PPT presentation for Sunday, March 11. I need to get as much typing out of the way before my surgery on March 1. Linda has been feeling better and for that I am thankful. Please pray that Richard and Lori have both safety and a good time in Paris. Oh, Lori was feeling much better today. This is probably the shortest HOWDY of the trip but I plan to relax a bit tonight.
February 18, 2018
Sunday, February 18, 2018 9:50pm-2:50pm CST
First of all; Lori did not worship today because she was sick. She believes it was a reaction to the medicine she took yesterday. As I write, she is better but please continue to pray for her. Richard seems to be better and he had a good morning teaching and preaching in Bonaberi. I had another good night’s rest and left the hotel at 8:35. Got a machine quickly and was there in no time. It was good to visit with brethren before Bible class and I then taught the class. I took some of my material on forgiveness and shrunk it down. I had spent roughly 5 hours on the subject and had 40 minutes of class time. The class went well and then we began singing. The sermon was given by a young man who is fairly new to the congregation. He is a brother from Nigeria and he did an excellent job. Before, during and after the service I took a number of pictures. I will share two of them today and more in the days to come. Below on the left is Gisele and she is flanked on her left (as you look at the picture) by her daughter Joella and on the right, Vonda. Vonda is named after Vonda Smith who worked tirelessly for many years in teaching the sisters. Vonda is one of the strongest Christians I have ever known. The picture on the right is of Junior (Jean Claude’s son and Nathaniel, his nephew). They are mesmerized by my ability to whistle through my hands and have been trying to emulate me for 2 years. They still have a long way to go as only air is coming out! I then took a machine back and went to Richard and Lori’s room. She greeted me and was feeling better. I took a shower and then went down and enjoyed lunch with them. We visited for a long time and I came back and did email, worked on a sermon and read evaluation sheets. Here are some of the comments:
- Sister Lori has helped me understand my worth in the church.
- Thanks very much because the seminar has helped me so much.
- The seminar has been helpful because each year new things are brought to our minds that we could not imagine.
- The seminar has helped so many of us grow closer to God and one another.
- Wow!!!! This was my first seminar and it was very helpful to me as a Christian.
- I love Brother Sutton, Sister Lori and Brother Jim for their wonderful works and efforts to strengthen the church in this country.
- Brother Richard truly helped us to focus on Jesus.
- The seminar helps the leaders to see their failings and the way they can make a positive difference.
- I will give Brother Richard 100% for his class.
- The seminar has helped us learn how to look at context and see what a particular text is saying.
- This seminar has been an inspiration to me and has developed my understanding.
- I have learned to be patient with my brethren, even when I do not want to.
- The seminar has helped to increase my faith in the Lord.
- Sunday traffic in Douala is like the States. That is, not much and the downside is that it removes all of the adventure in riding a machine. I rode a machine to and from the hall this morning but did not even come close to striking another machine, taxi, truck or pedestrian. What a bummer!
- Lori was excited yesterday (it may have been Friday) because she rode with Martin against the traffic. She had never had that exhilarating experience before and she was pumped.
- Bible class begins at 9:00am but we did not start until around 9:15. In Cameroon you have a large number of late comers but in most cases, they are justified. They do not have the ease of cars as we do. In the States, if you are late for church, it was your fault and you have no good reason. I realize there are some exceptions but very few.
- Franklin led the song leading this morning and he is really good! I know that in a “howdy” you cannot begin to understand the emotions of the song service.
Later Richard came down and wanted to know if I would like to watch Support Your Local Sheriff which is one of Bryan Rendon’s favorite all-time movies. We had a good time eating chocolate, cashews, almonds, sausage and Oreos. I built one of my colossal Oreos where you take the lid off of one of them, scrape the icing off and put on another. You do this at least 4 times and you no longer have Double Stuff but Octuple Stuff! Then I came back down and was able to Skype with TMBWITWW (The Most Beautiful Woman In The Whole World)! Still have some stuff to do but can sleep until 9 in the morning. I continue to give thanks for your prayers as do Richard and Lori.
February 17, 2018
Saturday, February 17, 2018 9:05pm-2:05pm CST
This was a slow day regarding pictures. The only one I took today is on the left below. That is at the hamburger place we eat at. The one on the right is from Thursday and is the Women’s class that Lori taught so well. At lunch today, Jean Claude told Lori that the sisters were so happy with her. That is also true when Louise teaches as she is also an accomplished teacher. What both have in common that is greater than their teaching ability is their love for the Lord. His is what transpired today:
I had my alarm set for 9:15 and woke up at 7. Fortunately, I was able to go back to sleep until the alarm sounded. Jean Claude was late but with good reason; first the traffic on the bridge from Bonaberi was fierce and secondly, he had to speak to Fred Mboka who is a medical doctor. Richard and Lori both have sinus infections and he told them what kind of medicine to buy. In the States it would require a prescription but not here. We went to the Wood Market to buy souvenirs. If you are ever feeling down; come over here to the Wood Market and you will find out that you have so many friends. The market is kiosk after kiosk selling some really nice stuff. As soon as you enter you are greeted with: my friend, my friend, come into my shop. They may never have seen you in their life but you are their friend! I had a Texas Ranger hat on and one of the guys said; I love the Rangers. I should have asked him what sport they play and I am fairly sure he would not have known. You do not pay a set price but rather bargain. My sister-in-law Ellen would love it but they would be sorry they ever met her as she would bring the price down and down. We then went to a grocery store for 2 reasons: 1) Richard wanted Lori to see it as it is new since she was last here and 2) we needed to buy a few things for lunch tomorrow as we will eat in our room. We then came back and dumped our stuff and the 5 of us headed to the restaurant. It is always a joy to be with Jean Claude and Mary. We came back and I walked across the street to get some water. Oh, on the way back we stopped at a store with Coke Zero and the other day they had a bunch but today we took their last 5 bottles. I then took a nice shower and started working on my Bible class for tomorrow. I will be at Jean Claude’s congregation whereas Richard and Lori will be at Bonaberi. I worked on 2 reports from a couple of the village preachers we help. Then did email and Richard and Lori came down and we had a nice visit. I called Linda but she is out shopping so I will not be able to Skype with her. Please keep Richard and Lori in prayer that this infection will be short-lived. I am doing well. Thanks for your continued prayers.
February 16, 2018
Friday, February 16, 2018 10:20pm-3:20pm CST
I am struggling to know how to begin. It is somewhat incredible to me that we began these seminars 20 years ago. The Lord has blessed us and we are seeing fruit from the way the brethren are grappling with the Scriptures. In the past we found a majority of the leaders who were simply robots and could spit out what they had been programmed to believe. We understand that sound doctrine must be followed and that we are not free to believe whatever we choose. I also know that because we are fallible human beings; we do not always teach and/or live as we should. The mission of the seminar is several fold: 1) To share some teachings of the Bible so that they can go back and first model and then teach what they have learned. 2) To grow in their personal faith so that others can see Jesus living in them. 3) To assist them in learning how to think for themselves. We are aware that many good people will never enjoy Heaven because they blindly followed a man. He may have been a good and sincere man but Jesus must be our focus. Now, as long as the man is following the Lord it is good and fine to mimic his example (I Corinthians 11:1). I would argue that the most challenging part of the seminar is the 3rd point mentioned. Not on this trip but on previous ones I have stated that the church in Cameroon (I am overstating the case) resembles the church in America in the 50’s and 60’s. You may or may not agree with what I am fixin to say and certainly, we all have different experiences as it pertains to the church. What I remember was a group of people who were dogmatic and who believed that whatever came from the mouth of the preacher was correct. I am not impugning the integrity of any preacher but I believe that there were things sincerely taught that were wrong. We want to train leaders in Cameroon to be good Bible students and to preach sound doctrine that they have studied instead of parroting someone else.
Here is how the final day of teaching unfolded: nothing exceptional about the morning except to say once again that I slept well and I am thankful to the Lord for that GREAT blessing. Richard and I never have a problem getting two machines and we arrived 15 minutes early. As I write this I am sad because I will not be able to see these great brethren tomorrow. During Richard’s class I had to run some more errands so enjoyed some more exposure on a machine. Also, that gremlin that cannot be named forced me once more to drink a Coke Zero as I had to come to the hotel to give some things to Lori and collect the evaluation forms. It may be a day or two before I read all of them and when I do; I will give you some excerpts. We took two machines back to the hotel and ate lunch in the restaurant. It was delicious and as I have stated many times; it is just a joy to be with Richard and Lori and witness their faith. I did a few things to prepare for my afternoon class and then the 3 Amigos picked us to the hall. I was happy with my class and tonight at supper (a snack in Richard and Lori’s room) we all agreed that in both Kumba and Douala the seminar went well. At the end of the seminar the sisters presented each of us with a gift. You can see me receiving mine below and it was a very nice shirt. Their love for us is overwhelming. Afterwards, people were snapping pictures with us right and left. We had an adventurous ride back with the 3 Amigos. Actually, every time you climb a machine it is a wonderful adventure. Headed for the shower immediately and then went down to Richard’s and Lori’s room as mentioned above. Came back and got on the computer and then Richard came down and we visited for a bit. Lord willing, I will be able to Skype with Charlie Brown and Grandma soon. I will then be able to do some email.
- When I am teaching in the seminar I take a handkerchief to wipe my brow. I determine the heat index by how wet my handkerchief is at the end of the session. Well, today I think I could have rung a bucket of water out of mine!
- In the two seminars we had leaders from 70 congregations. If you examine the population of the church in this country, that represents those who lead roughly 75% of the Christians in this country.
- A true blessing of mine is learning from my brethren. I may be the one in front but through their comments and questions; I too am growing in my knowledge of the Word. Also, I enjoy being challenged by certain things I say because it causes me to think and sometimes rethink a belief I have held.
- I want to challenge each of you to come to Cameroon with me in the future. You can spend only a day or two but I want you to ride a machine in Douala. Richard and I were speaking of the fact that the atmosphere cannot be described. I am not a particularly good wordsmith but even if I was the best; I could not paint a clear picture of the traffic and how they maneuver.
- We had 46 men in Richard’s class; 50 sisters in Lori’s and 80 in mine. Their classes were the highest attended of the week and mine was the second highest.
- In the past, the trials (and I use that word loosely) of Cameroon made America seem so great. The reality is that on this journey we have been spoiled by the safe travel, great hotels and marvelous food. Every howdy has successfully been sent and our internet has been great.
- Below is a photo of the group in Douala.
The journey has been great in every conceivable way and we thank you for your part through prayer and to each who contributed financially. I could not have asked for a better trip.
February 15, 2018
Thursday, February 15, 2018 9:50pm-2:50pm CST
The attendance on the French side has been remarkably consistent. Today we had 41 in Richard’s class; 45 in Lori’s and 83 in mine. I know I am repeating myself but we all feel as though the seminar is going well. Let me go back to the beginning of the day:
Nothing unusual about the early part of the morning. Slept well again and I do not take that blessing lightly. If you have trouble sleeping you know that it will not only disturb you at night but will rob you of some level of energy during the day. I realize that at any time my energy level will reduce but at this point in time; I am as perky as 40 years ago. Today was a hot day as I left the comfort of my A/C room at 8:30 and had meetings at the break. I went from 8:30am to roughly 6:15pm in a significant amount of heat. The only reason I write this is because I enjoy sympathy and surely you are feeling sorry for me! Richard and I crossed the road and collected our machines easily and arrived at the hall around 8:45. I have a tinge of sorrow as tomorrow will be the last day. As with every seminar (or anything you enjoy) the time has flown by. I had to run a few errands today so was forced to ride another machine. Oh, I need to repent regarding something I said yesterday about not smiling as much. Today I caught myself on numerous occasions with a big grin. I will say that the driver I rode with this morning may not be a Cameroonian because he stopped at a stop light and waited for it to turn green. All of us Cameroonians know that machine drivers do not behave in such a way. During the course of the day on breaks; brethren will come up with various Biblical questions. It is quite encouraging to watch them wrestle with the Word to know what it says. After Richard’s class I met with the sisters below. They go out and conduct workshops on how sisters can teach children. From left to right are Mary, Gladis, Pauline, Glory, Nadedge and Gisele. These sisters are a delight and their love for the Kingdom is so encouraging to me. I then met with two preachers separately to see how things are going in their congregations. The church here is no different than in any other place I have been; some strong, some weak, some backsliders and some struggling with their faith. After the last meeting I had another discussion with a brother who was concerned about his congregation and how they could grow. I then snapped the picture on the left below. It brings a smile to my face and you might think about putting up such a sign in your church hall. My class went well. I mentioned above that churches, for the most part, are very much alike. There are some here with heads tough enough to demolish a building but I know that their beliefs are rooted in the desire to do and teach what they believe to be the will of God. When I was a young preacher I tended to be hard on the old people but possibly because I are one; I am a bit more patient. The 3 Amigos brought us back and the cool shower really felt well after a hot day. I then went down to Richard and Lori’s and enjoyed supper. Visited for a bit and have been in my room doing various things since. I am fixin to check my emails and in about 80 minutes I will Skype, Lord willing, with Charlie Brown and Grandma. We continue to be blessed in every conceivable way and we know that your prayers are a big contribution.