February 14, 2019
Thursday, February 14, 2019 9:00pm – 2:00pm CST
If you are married; it is my prayer that you believe that your husband/wife is the best in the world. If you do, you are delusional because there is only one best and that is my darling bride. Those who know me will oftentimes agree that that must be the case, you see, because they will wonder how a saint like Linda could put up with a slob like me. The last time that Linda and I were together on Valentine’s Day was 1987 as I have been in Africa each February beginning in 1988. She will receive flowers today and has already received a necklace that she likes. I also sent her an arrangement of Edibles which is some kind of fruit that is shaped into flowers or some such nonsense! At any rate; she is worth far more than I could ever give her.
I have written the following (or similar words) in past Howdys. If you have not figgered out that I am not creative in my writing; you must not be able to recognize creativity when you see it. Not only do I repeat myself from one Howdy to the next on a particular trip but I may have said the same thing 8 times in different journeys. I do not have the writing ability of Bob Deister but I can write as well as Charlie Brown (I think). Since he is only 10 years old, I am not sure that is saying much about my skills. At any rate; we had another great day which is par for the course. Don had 39 in his class; Louise had 33 and I had 75. I am happy that I have been a false prophet as the attendance has climbed each day since Tuesday. The value of a particular seminar cannot be judged when it is finished. One thing I know from looking at the first seminar in 1999 to now; growth is taking place. Now; don’t email and tell me that what I am fixin to say has been stated in previous seminar howdys because I actually know that this is repeat. In II Peter 1:3-11 the apostle will give some good and basic teachings which they had heard before. He then will speak of “reminding” them in verse 12. I say that to say this: it is my contention that numerical growth cannot take place unless it is preceded by spiritual growth. Now, this can get tricky and here is what I mean. When I was a kid, I remember the preacher standing before us in either late December or early January and saying: “well, we didn’t grow much numerically last year but we grew spiritually”. As an adult I think that was code for: we didn’t grow but we don’t want to admit it. Having said that; we can evangelize (which is good) and baptize (which is good) but if we fail to disciple and nurture the new converts; little numerical growth will take place. I believe that for much of the church in Cameroon; they are still getting their ‘sea legs’ when it comes to not only a knowledge of the Word but a daily walk with the Lord. I have stated on many occasions that I believe that what we are doing is foundation work and I can see the foundation growing stronger and stronger. It still has a long way to go but when I look at the church in America, many of our congregations are actually regressing.
Morning was normal and we arrived at the hall 20 minutes early. I was in Don’s class for the first hour and then had to take some pens to Louise for her class. To be quite candid; I look for excuses to ride a machine. Now; it is always a valid excuse! Made it back and finished listening to his class. We then came back and had our Olive Garden Spaghetti for lunch. The two stooges get theirs with carrots, onions, peppers and all kinds of bad stuff. I eat correctly by only having meat and spaghetti and then putting soy sauce and ketchup on it. Wow; is it good! Can’t touch airplane food but only hospital food has that ability. Had to leave a bit early for a short meeting with the brethren from the North. We will be working with them in May. I know I tell you this each year but I am thankful to each of you who contribute to the seminar. You see, their round-trip costs about $120 per person. We are talking about a 4-hour bus ride followed by a 14-hour train ride followed by another 4-hour bus ride. There are one or two that had another 4-6 hours of bus riding. This amount is above their ability to pay and because of gracious brethren in the States; they are able to come down. Their mission is the same as all who come; learn and take back what you have learned to share with your brethren.
- I had (and the operative word is had) to come back to the hotel to deliver said pens I mentioned above. I then had (and the operative word is had) to come to my room so that my Coke Zero would not feel as though I had abandoned it.
- I felt sorrow for my brethren in the hall as I enjoyed my A/C and Coke Zero. OK, I only felt a little bad for my brothers. Oh well, I might as well speak the truth; I was just a happy camper!
- I was smiling once more as I was privileged to ride a machine to the hotel. I know I have already posted a picture of the traffic but thought I would give you another one. What is fascinating is that it is more crowded than it looks!
- When Martin comes to pick us, we always look for the banana. You see, dangling down from his rearview mirror is a plastic banana with a zipper. I think he has the only “banana” in town!
- There is a reason for the picture of Jean Claude on the right in a sports jacket! You cannot tell from the photo but it must be 90 degrees in there and my shirt was soaking wet as well as my handkerchief from wiping my brow. Every time I see one of my brothers in a suit with no sweat, I want to give them a good slap!
I then taught my class and I think it went well. We returned and had our showers and supper. I discussed with Louise some things we hope to accomplish with the children’s classes. Once she got on the computer Don and I had a good visit regarding our classes and some other stuff. It is really nice to be able to be with him. Since he lives in Idaho, we do not see each other often. I was sad yesterday because Linda had to run some errands and I was not able to see her smiling face which put a frown on mine. Lord willing; in several hours I will get to see her and Charlie Brown. We continue to be healthy and thank you for all of your prayers.
February 13, 2019
Wednesday, February 13, 2019 9:40pm – 2:40pm CST
The Lord continues to bless us. Don had 35 in his class today; Louise had 34 and I had 67. The quality of the questions and interaction with the brothers is excellent and Louise is saying the same regarding the sisters. The benefit of the seminar goes far beyond lectures with questions and answers. During the break’s brethren will ask questions, make comments and truly show a desire to know more of both the Word of God and how to apply it. Below left is a brother named John talking with Don. On the right is a picture of Jean Claude and Louis. As I have stated earlier; they are doing a great job of translating.
Got up at 7 and did my usual routine. Left on time; traffic has been fine and we get to the hall with 15 minutes to spare. I was able, once more, to be in Don’s class all morning. The book of Philippians that he is teaching has so many lessons for us today. Of course, that is one of the beauties of the Word of God in that it is a timeless book that will last all generations on the earth and beyond. We came back at noon and the traffic was heavy. I am sure you are familiar with the concept of organized chaos; well here it is disorganized chaos! This place would be “heart attack city” for the faint of heart. The reality is that I feel as safe here as anyplace in the States. We ate lunch in my room and just after I had made my wonderful plate; somehow, I tipped it over and my lunch was on the floor. Don had some food from the States so I did not go hungry. After lunch I prepared for my afternoon class. Went back with no problems and met the brethren. I cannot adequately describe walking from the road down to the hall. It is fairly steep with dirt and concrete. One brother told me that he worries each time I go down and I said; “me, too”. Actually, I almost ‘bit the dust’ yesterday but fortunately I have great balance and agility. I was happy with my class. We spent the first hour going over some things about shepherds. I feel as though it was beneficial. After my class Martin brought us back to the hotel. We all take a shower immediately and then eat. Oh, this afternoon the power went off again but they fired up their generator so the fans began moving air. I have been working on some preacher reports and some other things as the seminar will wind down in 2 days. Many last-minute issues that need to be dealt with.
Linda was doing well yesterday and I will Skype with her and Charlie Brown in about an hour. Thanks for your continued prayers.
February 12, 2019
Tuesday, February 12, 2019 8:35pm – 1:35pm CST
I know that I always begin by saying that things are going well but there is one reason for that; things are going well. Today Louise had 33, Don 31 and I had 59. The numbers were a little lower because of the holiday yesterday. Some were able to come that will not be able to come for the balance of the week. We did have some new brethren today and I would guess that we are pretty much where we will be as far as numbers.
Began the day as usual with nothing exceptional to write about. Left for the hall on time and made it plenty early. Don did an excellent job once again. I was there for the entire class. You can see Don and Louis below. Louis does an excellent job of translating. We came back to the hotel at noon and ate at the hotel restaurant. We all had our Olive Garden Spaghetti and it was deeeeeeeeeeeeelicious! Then went back to the hall and I snapped Paul and Simon below. Paul is Jean Claude’s junior brother and preaches for the church in Bertoua. Simon preaches for the church in Nkoabang which is one of the Yaounde congregations. They are both great workers in the Kingdom. Around 4:50 the electricity went out. We have 9 fans in the hall to provide circulation but once the juice was gone, it was even hotter than usual. My class went well and we discussed a few things that are somewhat controversial in Cameroon. One of the weaknesses of the church in this country is that too many who lead the church are not good thinkers. They are great at regurgitating what they have been taught and I am trying to stretch their brains. For example, some believe that if a man only has adopted children that he cannot serve as a shepherd. I pointed out from Romans 8 and Ephesians 1 that we are adopted and to top it off; we are called co-heirs with Christ in Romans 8:17! I am not sure that I should be on the level of a co-heir with my Lord but I am not complaining. My classes are always focused on challenging their thinking. I am not interested in whether they agree with me or not since I am not God. I do want them to learn to look at a text and exegete it well.
We came back to the hotel and ate, as always, in my room. Got a shower first and then the power went off for about 5 minutes. Lost power one more time but only for less than a minute. I look back at my early years in Africa and power outages and loss of water were common. We have had nothing to complain about on this journey. Skyped with Charlie Brown and Grandma last night. She was in good spirits and had shed herself of the heart monitor. I may have told you this in the past but Charlie Brown’s real name is Jose Luis. When I tell people that they inquire as to why I call him Charlie Brown and the reason is simple; he looks like a Charlie Brown and that is good. It will still be over 2 hours before I can see TMBWITW (The Most Beautiful Woman In The World). We are all doing well and everything is going smoothly regarding the seminar. Thanks for all of your prayers.
February 11, 2019
Monday, February 11, 2019 10:40pm – 3:40pm CST
Began with a great day. Don had 32 in his class, Louise had 40 and I had 68. History says that we will move upward in numbers tomorrow. As I told you last week, I was very surprised that the numbers for the English grew daily because of the Crisis. The numbers for the French side will probably stabilize after tomorrow. I mentioned to Don that I was a false prophet last week regarding the numbers. He said that I am fortunate I do not live under the law of Moses. Aren’t we all! I am not going to get too graphic but entire villages have been leveled and so many have been killed. I spoke with the preacher for the Kumba Town Church of Christ which is the largest congregation in the country. Typically, they have 225 and yesterday the number was 25. The people are fearful of being out of their houses. It is truly a traumatic time for our brethren and those who are outside of the Kingdom. I am praying for all of them as I know you are.
Got up at 6:50 and Don and I checked on Louise before she left and everything was set in her classroom. We went down and 4 sisters were there and we greeted them. We then went down to wait for Martin (we were early) and I had Don take the picture below of me in the Chief Chair. The second picture was taken yesterday of Jean Claude and Mary. Today is Youth Day which is a public holiday. Traffic was light so we made it with no problems. I noticed yesterday on the way to the hall that a large light pole had fallen across the street. The road is divided by a median so all of the traffic had to move to one side. No problem yesterday or today and when we came home this afternoon it had been fixed. It was good to see the brothers and Louis interpreted for Don. Louis and Jean Claude are EXCELLENT. They have been around Americans long enough that we don’t throw them even when we use slang or fail to articulate a sentence well. I took a machine back to the hotel to check on Louise to make sure everything was OK with her and her class and it was. I actually did not go to my room for a Coke Zero but did go and get some cold water. I was forced to do a couple of things in my A/C room but I felt bad the entire time for my sweltering brethren. Wait, scratch that last line because of Revelation 21:8! Louise really has it easy in the mornings. She walks from her A/C room down one flight of stairs to the A/C room the sisters use for their class. She only has to deal with the heat in my class and says that she only goes because she feels compelled to and not that she wants to listen to me. Wait, scratch that last line because of Revelation 21:8! I went back to the hall to listen to Don and his class went well. Martin then brought us back and we dined in style in my room. Will give you the final recipe; take a Hormel Microwave dinner of Roast Beef and Potatoes, a can of tuna, a can of corn, some sausage from the fridge (do not heat it) and crunch your favorite flavor of Pringles on it. Remember, DO NOT heat as you will remove the most valuable entities that make the meal healthy. Don and Louise both say that they plan to go back and share these recipes with their families! Wait, scratch that last line because of Revelation 21:8! I went over my lesson for the afternoon and then Martin picked us. Everything went well and I was pleased with the class. Martin brought us back to the hotel and I had a nice shower and the two stooges (that would be Don and Louise) came down to have supper. They both said that my class today was the best class they have ever heard. Wait, scratch that last line because of Revelation 21:8! That passage is really getting in my way! I will try and Skype with Charlie Brown and Grandma in about 2 hours. She was supposed to get the heart monitor off today and Bapp is going to help her. She is the best daughter in the history of daughters and I do not have to worry about Revelation 21:8 with that statement. We are all doing well and thank you so much for your prayers and concern.
February 10, 2019
Sunday, February 10, 2019 7:30pm – 1:30pm CST
We have had a marvelous Lord’s Day! I will begin at the beginning. Got up at 7:15 as I was not going to leave for the church hall until 8:45. Don and Louise were picked by Louis at about 8:40. Martin picked me and you can see a picture of the two of us below. He is a wonderful young Christian brother. When I arrived, it was so good to see brethren that are so dear to me. I had the Bible class this morning and spoke from the Parable of the Sower and my primary emphasis was on lessons we learn from the story that impact us today. The worship was wonderful and you can see a picture of the brethren below. A brother named Franklin led our singing and this guy knows what he is doing. I always am happy when he is the song leader. A brother named Lawrence had the sermon and he did a great job. His focus was on the fact that we all deal with weaknesses in our lives. His overriding point was that God is more powerful than any weakness we may have. The entire service was a blessing to me and I am confident that the Lord was pleased. The service began at 9 and concluded at 12:15. I visited for some time and left at 12:45. We ate lunch at the hotel restaurant and it was good, as always. I then went to my room and took a nice shower and then started reading the evaluation quotes. Here are some of them:
- The seminar is useful because we are taking back to our congregations what we have learned.
- Many churches are now able to teach children because of Sister Louise and the other American sisters who have come.
- I am thankful for the in-depth study we had of the Word of God.
- I want Sister Louise to come more often.
- The seminar is useful because you teach us in ways that we can grow in our faith and go back to our congregations and help them grow.
- We have seen positive changes in our churches because of the seminars.
- This seminar is useful because I will take what I have learned to my congregation and people.
- Of course; the seminar has developed the mindset of Cameroonians to be spiritually minded.
- The seminar was a good one because it helped build my faith and correct some of the wrong things I have been doing.
- These seminars should continue because they open our understanding of the Word of God.
- I want to thank you for the great things you are doing to bring us the Word from a good dimension and to prepare us to serve.
- May the Lord God Almighty continue to bless all who contribute to this seminar.
- This seminar is useful because many Christians learn what we have been taught and we return and teach them.
- The seminar is so good because it opens our brains wide to the Word of God.
- I am so happy because this seminar has helped me to focus on Jesus Christ.
I will confess that we still have those who want the Americans to build church halls, orphanages, hospitals, support preachers and so much more that all requires money. When I read the Scriptures, I see that lifting Jesus (John 12:32) will bring people. I see in Romans 1:16 that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. I see in I Thessalonians 1:4ff that modeling Jesus brings people to Christ and I could go on and on. I am not saying that supported preachers, church halls, orphanages or hospitals are wrong; all I see from Scripture is that the church grows as we sow the seed, disciple new Christians and model Jesus. My fear (you may disagree) is that we can cause much harm and have done so by throwing money at native churches. I am not opposed to helping but that help must be aimed at dependency on God and not on Americans. Nevertheless; so many of the leaders are getting the correct message.
Louise came down at 6 to get on the computer. Then Don came down at 6:30 and we had a nice meal. Actually, our evening meal is very light but the fellowship is great. I am so thankful for Don and Louise and what they mean to this team effort. The same can be said of Richard and Lori Sutton, Chris Lowe, Richard and Teresa Blaisdell, Terry and Vonda Smith, Virgil Butler and a host of other brethren who have helped me. Then Jean Claude came with Mary and a sister by the name of Praise. He came to bring the French Books for the sisters. After they left, I got back on the computer and then went over my lesson for tomorrow. We are eagerly looking forward to starting the French section.
- As you know, in the States at a crosswalk with a light there will oftentimes be numbers to let you know how much time you have to cross. It will start at 15 and then 14 etc. They have something here that is neater; there is a picture of a little man in green walking slowly. As it gets closer to the time for the light to change, he quickens his pace and finally is hoofing it.
- I was really sweating this morning in worship. Why, I haven’t sweat that much since; oh, this past Friday!!!
- All of the sermons and Bible classes at Jean Claude’s congregation are interpreted as they have both French and English brethren.
- I made a note to myself the other day to include the following in my blog but just now looked at my note. I rode on a machine with a driver that was wearing a heavy wool cap that covered his ears. Understand that it is in the 90s here. That kind of cap should be worn in Minnesota in January!
I will try and Skype with Linda in a couple of hours. Please keep her in prayer and those who are traveling. We already know that some have arrived. Don, Louise and I are all doing well and I we thank you for your prayers.
February 9, 2019
Saturday, February 9, 2019 3:45pm – 8:45am CST
You can see that I am writing extremely early. I will tell you a few things of the day and anticipate the balance. I knew I could sleep in today and generally that means I wake up early. Well, I had gotten to bed last night at midnight and woke up at 8:12. I did not want to get up so I actually went back to sleep until 10:11! Yea! Nothing spectacular to write about this morning. Around 11am we went to a grocery store and bought a few things. I think I mentioned this yesterday. Doubt that I will need to go again unless I run low on Snickers or Mars and then we would have an emergency on our hands.
Below are the two pictures I promised from yesterday. Glenn Besong translated for both Don and myself and he always does a GREAT job. Better than that; he is a GREAT Christian brother! On the right you can see our “buffet” before we jumped in. It is clear that starvation is not in our plan. In addition to that: gourmet eating is!
Jean Claude picked us and we went and had a nice hamburger and pizza. When I look back 31 years to my first trip to Africa; to say that things have changed would be a massive understatement. I cannot say that we are suffering at all. We then went and bought some pens for the seminar next month. We have purchased from this shop before; in fact, when I went in one of the girls said to me: Jimmy. Well, actually she said Jeemy! We then bought some water for Louise and came back. I have been doing some general ‘housekeeping’. Once I finish with this; I will start to go over all of the evaluation sheets. I will then post some of the comments in days to come. Don and Louise plan to come down at 6 for supper but I don’t think I will eat as I will still be full from lunch. Tonight, I will go over my lesson for tomorrow morning. I will be at Jean Claude’s congregation but will only teach Bible class and someone else will preach. Looking forward to our worship. In an hour or two I will try to Skype with Linda as she told me yesterday that she will be busy for most of the day and not be home.
Please pray for Dale and Karen Roehrman. My mother died in 1965 when I was 15. 3 years later he married Dorotha Roehrman who daddy had known for many years. She was a godly woman and was a widow. Dale is her son and hence, my step brother. 2 days ago, he had to have his left leg amputated above the knee. I spoke with his dear wife last night and he will not be able to be fitted with a prosthesis. He will be in rehab for some time so please pray for him and Karen.
Thank you for all of your love and concern for us and the work in this country. Please continue to keep us in prayer.
February 8, 2019
February 8, 2019 9:00pm – 2:00pm CST
The English seminar has concluded. Very pleased with not only the attendance but the work that was accomplished. I will continue to praise God for His work and also His children, like you, who are so faithful. The seminar is going along well because He is blessing it and because you are imploring Him to do so. Thanks! Each time (whether a campaign or seminar) I make this statement: I know that numbers do not tell the story but they at least are some type of metric. Louise had 33 in her class today, Don had 48 and I had 78. The averages were 28 for Louise; 44 for Don and 73 for me. Obviously, my class is larger because I am teaching both the brothers and sisters. The numbers are much lower than in previous years but we knew that would be the case going in. That does not, however, remove the fact that the Kingdom has been strengthened.
Morning time, that is, before we left for the hall was normal. Martin was on time (he always is) and we made it to the hall 15 minutes early. I collected the evaluation sheets and will share some of the comments in the coming days. If you are new to these blogs, each year we ask the brethren to evaluate the seminar. They are not required to put their name on the paper as we want them to feel free to say whatever is on their mind. Around 10 I hopped a machine and came back to the hotel to snap the sisters (you can see them below), to collect their forms and to take them some pens. The reason that some, including Louise, appear so tall is that they are standing on chairs. I snapped as quickly as possible as I did not want accidents. Oh; I was coerced into going to my A/C room and having a Coke Zero. If it makes you feel any better; I felt sorry for my poor brothers who were in the heat. Went back to the hall and finished listening to Don’s class on Philippians. It has been a very practical series of lessons on how the child of God is to behave and how the leader can influence that behavior. We then came back to the hotel and ate lunch in my room. I would take a picture of the plate but that might lead you to be envious and that is a serious sin and I do not want to tempt you. Let’s just say: it was deeeeeeeeeeeeeeelicious! I did take a picture of all of the stuff before we ate and will post it tomorrow. Now you have something to look forward to with great anticipation! After Don and Louise went back to their rooms I went over my class for the afternoon. The session went well and we were sorry to have to say goodbye. Came back to the hotel and snacked in my room and relaxed. Tomorrow we need to go to a grocery store to buy a few things but we are pretty much set for next week.
- Picture on the right is of Terrance and me. He and a brother named Glen interpreted for both of us. I will give you a picture of Glen tomorrow.
- There are a number of brethren who are using the Bible on their phones. I have such an app but I still prefer the old way as I can have my fingers in different places while I am listening to the sermon. It also may because I am an old geezer but what does that make TB?
- I have a small freezer in my refrigerator so I put a bottle of water in last night. This morning it had a good amount of ice but after getting out in the weather at the hall; that ice became history very quickly.
- I got a great laugh this morning. Don had spoken of the joy that Paul had and a brother said: do you think that was because he did not have a wife and kids!!!! At the break I asked Vincent if I should say that to Linda and he said: if you do, she will report you to the elders and they will discipline you. Even if they did; I would be far more worried about the discipline she would distribute.
- The brethren from the English side cannot return until late next week because the rebels have blocked the road. They will stay at the church hall in Bonaberi. I gave them transport money to get back and food money for next week. Those of you who gave extra for this campaign are to be congratulated.
I was able to Skype with Charlie Brown and Grandma last night. It was a joy to see her last night (always is). She is the light of my life and a blessing that cannot be measured in human words. As I have stated on many occasions; she is the backbone of this ministry. Thanks for your continued prayers. Please ask the Lord to grant those who are coming from the French congregations for safety. This is strange that we are not packing tonight for a journey tomorrow.