Hello everybody, so I'm gonna start by answering Mom's questions, then I'll go get Dad's darn questions.
(I reminded Eric that he opened his mission call a year ago on April 16th and asked if it seemed like a long time ago.) So I got my mission call a year ago Friday, dang. That does not feel like a long time ago at all, to me at least. Weird, I guess that means I am becoming an old geezer.
(I asked him how his clothing was holding up.) So my shoes are still comfy and fine, especially the brown ones. The only thing is that, on the brown shoes, the sole started to come off, but I bought some super super glue stuff and managed to close it back up for now. If not, there are people all over who fix shoes for cheap. Last week Elder Lee got the whole bottom of his basketball shoes put back on for less than 500 CFA. And I wear my sandals not a whole lot, but often on pdays and such. Maybe I will start to wear them more often when it rains, though. As for shirts, um, maybe I might need some more. For some reason, today I found that I only have 6 white short sleeves shirts. (He went with 7.) I was finishing my packing, and I couldn't find any other one. The supplies that are in the worst condition though, I think, are my ties. Holy cow, I have a couple of ties that are filthy. They get kind of dirty on the big end, and some are disgusting looking where the knot is. And it is worst on the lighter colored ones, like the one I got from Bro. Edmunds. So ties are the only thing in not good condition.
So yeah, the Willis (Senior couple who take care of the Elders in Bonaberi) residence is comparable to an American one, and is much much better than any other house I've been in in Cameroon. Never met anyone else with a pool. So that picture of me and 3 others by the pool, if I can remember correctly it goes like this: very left is Fred, then me, then Ebanezar, then Emmanuel, who are all studs.
Ok, I think I got all Mom's questions, now I got to go to Dad's email. Tout à l'heure. (Later)
Ok Dad, here I go.
So the Willis' finish their mission at the end of May, which will make 18 months for them. They are from Montana, and Sister Willis lived in Wyoming when she was younger, if I remember correctly. But now they live in Provo. But mainly, they are from Billings, Montana.
(Are you flying to Pointe-Noire?) Yeah, I'm flying from Douala to Pointe-Noire, and I have no idea what airlines. All I know is that I will sleep at the Willis' tonight, and that we need to get to the airport before 11 to get me all checked in. And then my flight is supposed to be leaving at 12:30 or 1:00, but, the Willis' said that ever since they have come, this Douala-Pointe-Noire flight has never been on time. And today, our friend Robert, who works at the airport, says that's because every African airline except Air Gabon doesn't get it or care about being on time. Its called African time. Ca veut dire, people are late in Africa. When people say "j'arrive", they could arrive between 10 minutes and 3 hours. So yeah, just a little side note there. And if you want my airplane tickets just tell me, and go take another vacation with them.
Alright, so now I'll answer Dad's next 2 questions, and it will probably be the biggest chunk of my email, cuz I've got to think about it. And Dad would ask these questions. So anyways, some of my 3 most meaningful or striking experiences in Bonabéri (not necessarily in order):
1) One I just thought of is about Stanley. Stanley has been a member for over a year now, and he was great and everything, but he had one issue (which is somewhat common I've found), which is tithing. We would explain the law of tithing and such, but he would never really commit. He would say, he isn't financially stable, and so doesn't know if you would pay it always. We would even explain the financial blessings and such, but its wasn't getting to him. Then, with Elder Lee, about a month ago, we taught tithing again, same result. Then the next week, we talked about the Melchizedek Priesthood, and at the end, he asked if he needs to pay tithing to get the Melchizedek Priesthood. Then the next lesson we talked about temples, which Stanley really liked. And he asked again, if he needs to pay tithing to go to the temple. So we were feeling good about that, and then a couple days later, just in passing by, he told us he wants to start paying his tithing. So I chose this because I saw how Stanley was hard to get to for so long, and we never knew if he would ever pay his tithing, but he saw the blessings, especially the temple, that pushed him to act and live the principles of the Gospel, specifically tithing.
2) The baptismal service at the beginning of this month. I loved that, because I got to see all 3 of those people, Fred & Emmanuel & Eb, all progress from the beginning to baptism & receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and further. And at the beginning, they were are just simply there, not anything extraordinary happening, and then gradually they got testimonies, came to church despite some difficulties, and preparing themselves now to get the Aaronic Priesthood soon.
3) The day we had the "Bonabéri Olympics" activity. Again, it was just great to simply have fun with some of the members, and a whole bunch of the cartier (neighborhood) kids. It was cool to see Mam Laura coach people and tell them how to play football. It was fun teaching people how to play frisbee. Missionary discussions are important and good and all, but to show them an activity where you do not just sit in a chair and listen to people was something great I think.
Ok, now the 3 most memorable people from Bonabéri (also, not necessarily in order):
1) Emmanuel. When I got here, Emmanuel was just someone we saw once or twice a week and invited to church. He works at his soya stand down by where Tumasang, another member works. And he would always say its toooooooo hot, toooooooo much rain, tooooooooo much tired and such things. But then one Sunday he came, said he actually liked it, and then the next Sunday bore his testimony. And we had never taught him yet! And so it took a little bit longer to get him at church consistently and to read the Book of Mormon, but now he does that and many other great things. I saw him yesterday, and we talked about the Priesthood, and he promised to do all the work necessary to get the Priesthood. So for him, basically it shows how the Gospel can change someone and motivate them to do good, who didn't really care much at first. And he is also the best testimony bearer, according to me. I think I've described it already, but he does it simply on what he knows is true, but I believe him when he says it, and feel the Holy Ghost.
2) Grant, the branch missionary. Grant became a member before I got here, but what I love about him is he is willing to share the Gospel with anyone, and help us out whenever we need it. Also, when people call us "les blancs!", Grant calls them "les noirs!", which keeps me from gettin annoyed by that. He also taught me a lot of Douala. Tuesday evening we walked with him for about an hour, and we got 4 cordonées, which I think are called referrals in English. Also he is a cartier chief, which basically means he knows everywhere and everyone in Bonabéri. He is also preparing for a mission, and wants to leave by the end of this year. When he finally embraced the Gospel, he changed and is actually happy to keep the commandments now.
3) Andrew & Phillip. 2 hilarious studs. Andrew has been a member nearly a year, and Phillip got baptized in January. Even though they can say some weird things at times that anglophones say, they are awesome, and have some of the strongest testimonies. Sometimes they get a little over excited when talking about the church, and they are learning and learning, but they are 2 people who will do whatever you ask them to serve in the church. Andrew's wife also moved in with him recently. Last night they fed me and the the 3 other missionaries, with food prepared by Andrew's wife, Germen. Phillip taught me how to open a bottle of soda with my teeth. (So why did I pay for braces?) They have also known the church just since it got to Bonabéri, and would barely have 10 people at church, and now they've seen it grow, get a new building, and they might be 2 of the most excited people for Elder Runland, the member of the 70, to come. (To dedicate the new building.)
And so I don't have nearly enough time to write about everyone, but there is also Fred & Robert & Omega, Mama Laura, Eb, Passie, Tumasang, Stanley, Florent, Jules, Totto, Léonel (aka Mr. Perfect), Danielle, Valére, Nelson (Emmanuel's son), the Motto family, Lawson, President Njampou and his family, Felix, and lots of other people as well.
Au Cameroon et à Point-Noire, il y a huit missionaires à Yaoundé, huit missionaries à Douala, et six missionaries à Pointe-Noire. Il y a vingt deux missionaries, alors. Mais, en toute la mission entiere, il y a plus que cent missionaries. J'ai vu une fiche avec tous les missionaries la semaine passée, et beaucoup des missionaires servent au Congo. (In Cameroon and Pointe-Noire, there are eight missionaries in Yaounde, eight missionaries in Douala, and six missionaries in Pointe-Noire. Therefore, there are twenty-two missionaries. But, in the entire mission, there are over one hundred missionaries. I saw a picture with all the missionaries last week, and many missionaries serve in Democratic Republic of Congo.)
Sorry, I thought I would write one paragraph in French. Dad and Scott or whoever can critique me. (No critique from either.) So that's about all the time, thanks for the thought provoking questions Dad. Andrea & Jacob, kick behind in soccer. Scott, don't die. (from studying so hard) Mom, make sure Dad & Scott don't go too crazy during the playoffs. (NBA)
Je vous aime bien,