(Since we just started school here, we were wondering what school was like in Cameroon?) So the first thing you notice here when school is back in, are the kids yelling "le blanc!" or "hee-haw!" from the third story of a school building. I remember last year in Douala that kind of bugged me, but I don't really care anymore.
So first I'm looking through Mom's questions... Ah, once again, Dad, we have not yet gone down to Douala, (for a mission conference) that will happen tomorrow morning, and we'll come back on Monday morning. (How will you get to Douala for the conference?) The Thompsons just have a truck that can fit normally 3 in the front and 3 in the back. So since there are 12 elders here in Yaoundé, tomorrow morning around 7 AM we will take a bus down to Douala. Its about a 4 hour trip, so we should arrive a little bit before noon.
So Elder Acorda and I have some amis coming along, but we are still struggling getting people to church. Last week we had a record high since I've been in Yaoundé, and it was not a big number. Coming from Pointe-Noire where for some reason people just progress easier and more often, its kind of frustrating. But I'll be looking for some good counsel from the mission conference this weekend. But Sunday evening Elder Acorda and I plus Elder Kesler and Elder Lamb had a nice visit with President Gwet. (Branch President) One thing Preach My Gospel tells us to do is learn the conversion stories of those members we meet, and President Gwet has a pretty cool one. He has been a member now for 14 years, he said when he joined the church there we only about 15 members in all of Yaoundé. And in the house where he currently lives, where we visited with him, at one time housed all 15 of those members. In the neighborhood where he lives, it used to be packed with houses, but for some reason that no one really understands, the government decided to get rid of those houses, pretty much all of them, except for the Gwets'. And almost all of the church members lived in that neighborhood, and after their homes were destroyed they stayed in Gwet's house. So I thought it was kind of cool; I visited probably a very important piece of church history in Cameroon. But now President Gwet has his family, has been to the temple and everything. Currently there are 8 church members under his roof, and he has one daughter who has served a mission in Kinshasa.
Last night we had another good visit with a member named Etienne. He has been a member since June 2009, and last Sunday got called as Sunday School President. But to get from our apartement to his house, is probably about a 35 to 40 minute taxi ride due to some traffic or construction, where you take 2 taxis, and pay 350 CFA total (about 70 cents). But I really like his neighborhood, because it is pretty much the village, but he still has electricity and things. If I lived in Cameroon, that's the kind of place I would like to live in. But Frère Etienne was invited to church by his cousin, who was a member, and the first time he came it was a baptismal service and the thing that touched him the most was when they watched The Restoration video. So ever since that day he has been at the church, but of his immediate family he is the only member. He has 2 daughters, Laura of age 6 and Fabiola of age 13. They come to church pretty often, but right now his wife is not really interested. But I think that that would be one very strong family if everyone came to accept the restored gospel, so even though they are out there, I expect to be back there often.
Funny side note about the taxi ride out there, this is the 2nd time I've seen this on my mission. The first was in Pointe-Noire when Elder Bally and I were out at KM 8, (See pictures from Sept 3,2010) which is also pretty much the village, where the are no police. So imagine the scooter, (the nickname for our 3rd car) just the Toyota Corolla that we have. That is pretty much the size of taxis. Normally, 3 in the back, and 2 in the front. Here, in normal taxis, they get 3 in the back and squish 2 in the front seat. But if there aren't any police to stop them, they get the driver, then 2 in the passenger seat, and 4 in the back. But last night I saw this event for the second time: 4 in the back, 2 in the passenger seat, and the driver + 1 other person in the drivers seat. They get 8 people in that car. So the driver squishes someone in next to him, and is also driving stick. So yeah, its kind of ridiculous.
Anyways, one other member we saw this week is Souer Charlotte. Charlotte has been a member for about 3 years now, I believe. She used to work a callbox (a little stand on the side of the road that sells phone credit and little biscuits and such), and she was not far from the church, so she would see the missionaries walk by often, but just assumed they were Jehovah's Witnesses. But usually she would bring here Bible up to read during the day, and one of her friends, who happened to be a recent convert, presented her to the missionaries. She accepted, and began taking the lessons. She said she would have a rendezvous nearly every day of the week, and before her baptism she read the entire Book of Mormon. But after studying with the missionaries for a bit, she finally accepted to come to church in the afternoon, after her other church she used to attend finished. And the Sunday she finally did that, she never went back. And about 3 months after studying nearly daily with the missionaries, she was baptized. Now she is a seminary teacher, and this year should finish institute to get her diploma thing. But she said the thing that got her the most was the Book of Mormon.
We also had a nice lesson with Maman Natalie yesterday. I think I've already talked a little about her. She is the Relief Society President, and she is an amazing member. She is an older lady, but even on the days when she doesn't even have 100 francs to get a taxi, she walks to church. The taxis ride takes 15 to 20 minutes. But she also fed us manioc and kwem. She gave me so much that I didn't eat diner last night, and for breakfast this morning only had a roman noodle packet. It was really good, but she gave us so much, I barely finished it, and Elder Acorda only ate about half his manioc.
So yeah, there are 4 people that we have seen so far. Its still early so we haven't really gotten many coordonnées (referrals) yet, but those will come with time.
Alright, now Dad's "quick" questions.
So Monday of this week was "le rentrée scolaire" (going back to school). Since they don't got Labor Day here, they didn't get an extra day, so be grateful. But I don't know a whole lot about the school system, but its the same as the system in France. High school is called lycée. I know some kids finish before noon and others just get a break to go get something to eat. I think every school has uniforms. And like I told Scott, there are usually at least a couple classrooms where kids are either on break or the teacher is out or the teacher just doesn't care, were kids are sticking their heads out the window talking smack to people that walk by. Tha'ts all I really know about school here, but I'll get some pictures for you.
So yeah, Dad, maybe its my horrible English or you had another "senior moment",(Mark thought the missino conference was last weekend, but it is this weekend) but the voyage to Bonaberi is tomorrow until Monday. From what I know, is that 8 Yaoundé missionaries will stay in Bonaberi, and 4 in Bonapriso, because the building Elder Lee and I found was so awesome and huge. But we arrive around noon tomorrow. Apparently the Douala elders already planned to play some kind of football. Saturday will be the mission conference with Elder Watson. Sunday church and a fireside with all the members, and Monday morning we head back home. I'll tell you next week.
Yeah, the financial boost I just used American dollars. I don't know why, but here it was much easier to just exchange money, even though I didn't get a super good change.
(Is Elder Acorda better?) Yes, Elder Acorda did completely recover from his cold, but Tuesday night he did have an allergic reaction to one ami's chickens who live under their living room table. The chickens kept flapping their wings and Elder Acorda had to sit by the door so he wouldn't die. I ended up teaching the whole lesson. But for me, besides 2 days where I stayed in due to gastro-intestine whatever word Dad used problem, I have been fine. No malaria. Yes, I take my anti-malaria meds (nearly) every day.
Alright, I hope I hit all the questions. And I also hope school is going good for everyone, its weird to hear there is a new middle school and a new high school. And no, you are not going to receive any pity from me about waking up early, sorry. But make sure you do your scripture study in the morning, I know that will bless you. Do everything possible to stay awake during it!
Je vous aime,