Cameroon 2017

I’ve never tried anything like this before, but there was such an amazing response and so many questions about our trip to Africa that I decided to share  my journal entries and correlating pictures from our trip in May 2017. Our presentation at first Baptist Redwater was  limited by time, so this is for all of you who wanted more details. I have deleted some of the more personal  details, but what remains is enough for you to get a picture of our experience.

May 6, 2017

Once again, Father, today I give you my mind, and I ask you to… Hi-jack me! Cause me to think what I need to think. I pray this for the whole team, That you will cause us to think on the things you want us to think on, and as we commit our way to you, You will lead us by your spirit into everything you intend, for the sake of your name in the days ahead. Instruct us, teach us in the way that we should go, and guide us with your eye. Psalm 32:8

We are currently sitting on the Brussels Airlines plane crossing the Sahara desert about 2 1/2 flight hours north of Douala Cameroon. Kollin Markham and Corey Calicott are both asleep in the seat beside me.

 Johnny and Daneen Robbins are seated in a different section of the plane. The Lord’s provision for this trip has been amazing. As we prepared to leave, just after the morning service at FBC RW on April 30, I was approached by a newcomer to our fellowship. She apologetically handed me seven dollars saying it was all the cash she had but she wanted me to take it to use on the trip and stated that God would show me what to use it for specifically. Considering the cost of this trip, seven dollars didn’t seem so significant. But, the day before we left Ernest called me and asked if I could possibly stop somewhere and get some watermelon seeds to bring. I had a little time so I ran in to the Kmart and got all the  seed packets they had, which was only six or seven. They were marked at $1.59 each and as I stood in line I remembered the seven dollars and thought I would add some to that and use the money to buy the seed which would multiply in value. Somehow when the cashier rang it up, it came to seven dollars exactly. When I told her that did not make sense, the packages were $1.59 a piece, she said sir all I can tell you is my register says you owe me seven dollars even. I can’t wait to tell this lady about that!

I’ve had some concerns about this trip for quite some time, dealing with my own experience in Brazil with an anxiety/claustrophobia, but stated plainly, just forms of fear. So, I woke up Thursday morning May 4, 2017 the day before we were to leave, at 4 AM with a pretty good case of anxiety, worse than I have had in years, but it was short lived.  As my wife Debbie and I prayed together over it, Something powerful happened, something more than I knew at that time.  As we prayed, I ignored my ringing phone, and later when I listened to the voicemail, Brad Sullivan had been prompted to call and simply sing “great is our God.”  So refreshing, along with all the other calls, messages, etc. that began to flood my phone. It was as if suddenly You, Lord, chose to speak through 100 different familiar faces and voices to amplify your presence. Even now after over 24 hours of constant travel, and as the in-flight monitor in front of me says we are flying over Niger, the peace I have has done nothing but increase with each leg of this journey, as well as our ability to sense the power of anointing that is settling on us all.

 Our team met at our house yesterday on May 5, 2017 at 6:30 to drive to DFW for our first flight to Dulles in Washington DC. That flight departed around noon. Our second flight left Dulles at 4:50 for Brussels Belgium.

  It was very much daylight when we left Dulles international and we literally flew through the darkness, and into the light. We flew all the way through the night at about 550 mph, causing it to fast forward. When we arrived at Brussels it was a little after midnight back home but Brussels time was seven hours into the next day. On that flight I sat next to a guy from Florida named Mikey who is 27 years old and works at a craft brewery. He’s meeting a friend in Brussels for a little vacation time and some drinking he said. Super nice guy. Just before the flight was over he asked me what the nature of our trip was. When I told him we had one team going to share Christ with the Baka Pygmy tribe and one was working with autistic Cameroonians, he was a little overwhelmed. LOL. He said, “wow, you guys are really doing something!” Wasn’t trying to make him feel bad, but I think some conviction got on him! Praying now that he hears that over and over on his trip.

IT IS ON! And I’m feeling ready! Give it the gas Jehovah Shalom. Psalm 36:7-9.

After arriving safely in Yaoundé, we bunked up in the “guest house” of Bread for Life. We had a great meal and met several pastors; Pastor Anthony, and his wife, Pastor Alvin and wife Agnes, Pastor Godswill and wife Barry. As well as our helpers/drivers Fon and Polycarpe, Jochebed and others.


 Lord, give me annointing and words to say tomorrow. And thank you, thank you for relationships.

April 7, 2017 thank you Jehovah Shammah,  for such a wonderful day. It is been a full day but fairly relaxed. We went to sleep around one this morning and got up at seven. After breakfast of eggs, beignets, bread with chocolate spread, instant coffee, and fresh pineapples,

 we “showered” in the bathroom which has a floor drain. Using a bucket of cold water, I wrapped a bar of soap with a body towelette, dipped it in a coffee cup filled with cold water and lathered up. Then rinsed the soap off with coffee cups of water. It was quite refreshing. We wouldn’t see running water for another week.

 Next, it was off to Grace Baptist Church in Yaoundé. We arrived a little late so as soon as we got there they took me to the stage to sit with the pastor and his men. Within a few minutes they called me up to preach. The young man they chose to interpret for me was not prepared for my Texas English and my speed. So, he bowed out at the first sentence, to the tune of much laughter, and passed the baton to Pastor Edjanga Jean Jacques (John James) who had a little fun with me as well.  The text I used was first John 1:1-5 and Revelation 14:6, every nation tribe and tongue.

Just before I stepped up to the pulpit one of the pastors told me that there were 5 language groups present that day.  As I stepped down I found myself so thankful that the One who speaks the language of the heart speaks that language fluently.  It was a good experience and we found the people to be extremely warm and friendly. There were less than 200 in attendance among whom were visitors from Canada, and several neighboring cities, as well as missionaries from Illinois, and Virginia, And one who lived in Texas.

 One of those was a couple named Matthew and Theresa Lee who were Wycliffe translators missionaries. Matthew informed us that there were 280 languages in Cameroon and 80 of them still do not have complete Bibles in their language, but over 70 of those are being worked on presently. After the service we were privileged to observe the Lord supper with them and enjoy their festive music and dancing right up in the church house!

  
(This was a picture taken right behind the church house, just after the service)

We came back to the guesthouse, changed, then went to the only pizza place in the city of almost 5,000,000 people. Then we drove around and took in some sites.

Somewhere along the way our vehicles got separated so when Kollin, Ernest and I arrived back at the locked guest house early, we visited next-door in the home of Dr. Daniel and Elizabeth Shu where we shared an entire bottle of nonalcoholic celebration wine! (Dr. Shu said that most christians from America freak out when he pops that cork!)The rest of them missed out! The Shu’s were a lot like Ernest personality-wise and were extremely hospitable. It was a joy to visit with them. Dr. Daniel helped to pioneer Bread for Life in Cameroon to develop it into what it is today. Ernest considers him to be one of his closest personal colleagues.

  
(this was Dr Shu’s front door, I just thought it was cool looking! )

Corey and I found a well in the backyard and I drew up a bucket of muddy water. We also found an empty wine bottle and snuck it into the sleeping Ernest Ehabe’s bed for some blackmail photography! He woke up just in time but we still got a great picture.

Corey and I also visited about the potential vision for the future of our relationship at FBC RW with Bread For Life. Master, I am trusting that you will show us all that we need to know about that in Your time and some of it in the rest of this trip.

Probably the coolest thing today though was being able to facetime and talk with Debbie, Johnathan, and James via the portable wireless router Ernest brought. Andrew also got in on the action and sent me several messages on messenger. I was also excited to hear that Jonathan and James were working on building homemade fidgets without me! Only wish I could’ve talked to Peter today to make the circle complete.

May 8, 2017 each morning Ernest wakes us up singing “arise shine for thy light is come”. Sitting around this morning he started singing old hymns and choruses. “I stand, I stand in awe of you!” Reminding me of you Ephesians 5:19 “singing to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. ”

“You must inspect what you expect and expect what you inspect.”  EE

On Monday day we left Yaoundé before lunch and traveled four or five hours down some pretty impressive highway.

 We stopped along the way and bought some pastries and bananas for lunch. We went first to the farm, “Beulah land Farms” where it was our joy to have perfect timing as the “bore hole” project Ernest had dreamed of for four years finally found fruition.

 They had just cranked up the generator and begun to pump water from the submergible pump. The family living nearest the farm had already discovered it when Ernest arrived so that his excitement about seeing clean cold water flowing on the farm was eclipsed only by the sight of the woman at the well filling her waterpots.

Corey was blown away. He said it’s like being in the Bible and living out that story all over again. As a matter of fact most of the people around us had biblical names.

 

We then put on the green rubber boots that Ernest bought for us and headed down to Loussou for the first time.

 We all climbed in the truck (Toyota Tacoma donated by a farmer from Oklahoma) for the rough 4 km ride to the village. We packed in there each time. On many occasions through the week we have more than 12 people in that thing, and on the last day we had 15 people, firewood, a big basket full of produce and one chicken in it!

 When we arrived at the village that evening we were greeted with chants from the children crying “LeBlanc LeBlanc” (the white or white man). They were very welcoming and most were excited. The men, or at least most of them, seemed to keep their distance though. They took us to their newly constructed pole-framed tabernacle with bamboo across the top of it.  On the way we passed the only old-style traditional hut made of sticks and leaves and whatever they could use.

 It was just outside the “church” area.

 

   That night introductions were made, and the ladies began to sing to us. It was beautiful.

 The excitement was started for us all and as darkness set in and we left the village the possibilities of the next few days stirred us all.

We then went back to the farm, changed shoes, and headed back to Dimako, about 7 km where we stayed at the Adam hotel. We actually each had our own room. Electricity by the generator in the evenings and three rooms had fans in them but not mine! At the last minute they said that they would have power for a little while that night and two rooms actually had “air-conditioners” LOL. They were in my room and Cory’s room. They actually work a little bit.

 (The blue thing hanging from the ceiling is a mosquito net)

Actually, three out of the four nights we had real electricity starting out at about 10 PM. You could only use the AC when the power was on. We were so spoiled. LOL. What was crazy was, each morning the Cameroonians on our team were wearing long sleeve’s, sweaters, scarves, jackets! They’re crazy! Temps in the mornings were upper 60s.

Before we went to bed Monday night, after a late dinner on the front porch we each shared what the day meant to us.  We did that each day in the spirit of Psalm 92:2 “to declare your loving kindness in the morning, and your faithfulness every night.

“May 9, 2017 “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love him” 1 Corinthians 2:9
“If you want to go fast – go alone. If you want to go far, go with others. God has called us to go far” Ernest Ehabe
“The trip is as important as the destination.” Ernest Ehabe

On Tuesday after breakfast on the porch Kollin brought a great devotion from Joshua 1:8, first Corinthians 16:13-14, and another passage. When he was finished I was very impressed with the content of his devotion. But we were all very moved by the words of Pastor Silas as he spoke/ministered encouragement to Kollin about the power at work in his life. One of the things he said to Kollin, “you came to Africa as a white man, but you will go home as a green man. You will never be the same.” Silas told about the son of a famous American surgeon named Steve West. He compared the difference between Kollin and Mr. West son. It was quite encouraging. He told Kollin “God has used you today to lift me up, because he’s lifting you up. And as he raises one of us, he raises all of us” it was such a powerful moment and something in my spirit just knew that Kollin would never be the same, or at least said he would never forget it.IMG_2263(Pastor Silas acting goofy!)

 

 

“He who is of a merry heart has a continual feast.” Proverbs 15:15   Surely this passage is fitting for Jochebed.

After loading up we headed once again toward Loussou.  Upon arriving we went first to the “church” and then we split up and Collin, Jochebed and I walked through the village just saying bonjour to everyone we could.

   We ended up at the house of the chief, Basile, who is also brother to the pastor Joichim. I’m not sure how to spell his name but it sounds like Brazil without the R. Basile was drunk. We had already heard that he was an alcoholic.

  Looking at the ground all through the villages started noticing little plastic packets/wrappers that look like popsicle wrappers.

 I picked one up to notice that it was a small packet of vodka. It was everywhere they doing the village. I picked up a packet and asked Basile if it was good. Jochebed interpreted. He said no. The homemade stuff is the good stuff. We told him God had something better, don’t be drunk with wine but be filled with the spirit. Alcohol is a counterfeit for the holy spirit. But he said that alcohol was his friend, they have been friends for too long, and he can’t get away. It was heartbreakingly sad. So I told Jochabed not to interpret my prayer, Then I prayed for him, went to war against the demonic control and addiction. Even now Lord, we war with those spirits and with his flesh in Jesus mighty name and pray that you will call his words dead and create a life in Basile’s heart whatever it takes! That was the first time I got to see Jochabed in action. As soon as she saw the chance, she took it. She knew she could use me to get something started, So she asked if I wanted to try to witness to him. In reality she used me for an excuse to lay into him with the Gospel. She said way more than I did! It was Beautiful to behold. Continue now, Lord, to use those moments, those words, whoever and whatever to lay hold on Basile and set him free. And thank you father, that even though I mentioned going to war, and even though I think of that whole Cameroonian team You surrounded us with as warriors, it is You who wars over us. It is you who fights our battles. It is You to whom all the glory, all the honor, and all the credit goes. You are the one who keeps us and protects us, who guides us and delivers us. It is you, Father, and you do all things well. Thank you!

After leaving the Chiefs house we went to the school, met the teachers and students, then gave away all the animal graham crackers I had brought from the kitchen crew at Redwater.  There were close to 100 students probably but whatever the number was, it was the exact same number as the number of bags of cookies we had! Once again, just like the seven dollars for watermelon seeds. That afternoon it rained for a little bit and we sheltered under the cover of the bamboo “church” along with the pastors wife Jeanette and her children, Silvanu (Silvanus) as well as Natasha and Grace. Silvanu demonstrated his skill with a slingshot, and also made and shot a homemade mini-bow and arrow.  He said that his dad is a hunter, and he wants to be a hunter too!

We had our first service in the village that evening.

  I shared with them some very basic stuff, that God has revealed who He is to us, that the Bible is the written record of that. They however do not yet have the Bible translated into their language, but Wycliffe is working on it! Most of him however can understand French and one of them, Pierre, has his own French Bible. There was an older woman who came to the service drunk that night and she either passed out or just fell asleep and fell onto the muddy ground where she laid until we picked her up after the service.

That night when we get back to the Adam hotel, during or evening debriefing a bug fell from the light above the door as Ernest was walking under it. It landed on the back of his neck and he said something stung him and it burned very bad. We thought he was exaggerating (city slicker) but within the next few days a doctor in Douala confirmed that it was a bug that is apparently rare but defends itself by urinating an extremely acidic urine on it’s assailant. The skin eventually peeled off of Ernest’s neck kind of like a sunburn.

Wednesday morning started with the devotional by Corey on the porch. He brought a great word from Psalm 92. When he got to verse 12 I just had to take a picture of him.  “The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.” He had no idea that just behind him was a magnificent fan palm tree fanning out over him.  From my angle it almost looked like it was coming out of his head.

 LeRoussel Tomboko is the name of one of the young man at the “motel” Who helps to serve us. I believe his dad owns this motel. This morning he joined us for our devotional and traded bracelets with me. Actually he just gave me his as a gift so I made it a trade and told him about Shelli and gave him my blue “team Shelli” bracelet. I committed to remember and pray for him, he committed to remember and pray for Shelli.

When we arrived in Loussou that day Cory teamed up with a young man Ernest hired to make cinderblocks from sand and cement. His name was Mbelle, nicknamed Sako but we called him Billy and he was a machine!

 Together they made over 160 cinderblocks in just a few hours.

 At the same time Kollin, Charles Goris, Ebenezar, Jochebed and I delivered five soccer balls and jerseys, shorts, and socks, to all the students at the school, and to a large portion of the village.

 They were thrilled. Once again Jochebed took the opportunity to share the gospel with them as the formal presentation concluded.

  Also she enlisted Kollin to give a five minute speech to the students and villagers about the importance of education.

 After taking a break and going back to the farm to eat lunch, A pig which the pastor and his wife had graciously and sacrificially given to us as a gift the day before.

 We returned for the worship service in the evening.  Again Corey assisted Charles Goris (fu-fu. Man!) in leading the music, which was festive and lively.

 Those joyous sounds rang throughout the entire village and surrounding jungle which (they called forest) and truly served as a “call to worship” as more of the curious community came to join in, or at least observe. That night I preached from  2Kings 6 about the floating axe head. The axe head is man, weighted down in his sin.  The water is the wrath of God, and we were all sinking, going down.  The only hope we could have of coming back up is a miracle from God.  The stick, the piece of wood represents Jesus, our miracle from God.  He came to take away the weight of our sin and pick us up so that we would be delivered from the wrath of God. They clearly had not heard that story and shouted in victory and great excitement when the axe head floated to the top. They understood the desperation of not being able to replace a borrowed axe. It was quite moving.  Because of the spiritual activity and claims of many false gods in their culture, they are excited by a God who really has power.IMG_2713

Thursday and Friday were my two favorite days of the trip. On Thursday morning it was my turn to do the devotion. After sharing from 1Corinthians 15:59, we headed for Loussou.  When we arrived in the village that day Pastor Charles stayed with us but Ebenezer and Jochebed had to go into the city to get water and supplies. They were somehow detained and did not make it back to us with lunch and water until 4 PM. They were overly apologetic and had us eat in Pastor Joichim’s house so we would not be eating in front of the villagers.

  We ate very well the whole trip and enjoyed lots of cabbage-based foods as well as some kind of roast and potatoes, served on a bed of spicy rice. Three times we ate Fried chicken (along with the head and feet fried too!)  The chicken was very tough but that didn’t stop most of us. Foo-foo was the nastiest thing we were served and it was eaten by grabbing a handful then dipping it into slimy boiled okra before shoving it in your mouth and all over your hands and face!  I can still see it dripping off of the chin of the smiling Pastor Charles Gorse who loved it and could eat it all three meals a day. I will not soon forget the face of Kollin as Charles sat beside him eating foo-foo while Kollin looked away and did his best not to gag!

  The day before we actually ate a pig that Pastor Joichim and his wife killed and dressed and presented to us as a gift which, was a very meaningful sacrifice by them.

During the day on Thursday we chose our own projects to work on and I ended up “helping” the amazing chainsaw wielding pygme Gaston.  His helper’s name was also Gaston.

 He was the proud owner of the biggest chainsaw I had ever seen, an 80s model stihl that must’ve had a 30 inch bar on it. IMG_2233 The size of one of the trees he had already cut before we came was simply amazing. But on Thursday he cut a tree down in the jungle that was probably well over 80 feet tall if not 100 feet. It was extremely straight and was really only about 30 inches in diameter. But Gaston displayed his skills that day as he free handedly made stacks of two by tens and 2 x 12’s out of that tree within a couple of hours, IMG_2397IMG_2399IMG_2421which we then carried to the bamboo church arbor and used for pews after fastening them to the tops of short pieces of log. We could not speak each other’s language verbally, but that day we earned each others admiration. I will forever have a place in my heart for Gaston. That evening he brought his sick infant daughter to me. She looked to be maybe a year old and was very sick with fever. He asked us to put our hands on her and pray for her which we gladly did then he smiled peacefully and thankfully and took her back home. In my estimation Gaston was the manliest guy in the village.

Sometime that afternoon while taking a break and waiting for the team to bring us water, we looked up and noticed Jochebed at it again!  She was clearly sharing the Gospel with Gaston #2 and withing a few minutes we were all gathered around witnessing Gaston crying out to God for forgiveness and giving his life to Jesus.  Glorious moments.IMG_2443

In the service that evening Gaston sat right next to Pierre, and older Baka who wore glasses and proudly carried his French Bible which was the only Bible I ever saw in Loussou. Each night I found the passage from which I would preach for him and he gladly followed along. That night I preached from John 11, the resurrection of Lazarus. When I finished preaching I turned it over to Pastor Charles and I’m not sure what all he said, and to this day I’m not exactly sure what happened, but as he wound up his impassioned plea they began one by one to come to the front area of the tabernacle and drop to their knees until almost everyone there was wadded up together on their knees with some of them raising their hands up in the air.IMG_2721 I’m not sure what, but they were asking God for something and Pastor Charles had us lay hands on each of them and pray for them. So Corey, Festus, Joichim, and I made our way around and through the crowd laying hands on everyone there as  we prayed over them.

It was a moving moment and there is no telling what God was doing in some of them and us as they just believed for a touch from God.

After the service was over I pulled out some glow-in-the-dark whistles and bracelets I had bought at the just-a-dollar store before leaving on the trip, and distributed them to some amazed and excited kids. The glow-in-the-dark snap sticks only lasted for that night but the whistles became a part of their worship band the next day as the kids began to blow them along with each song on the march to the baptisms. When we arrived back at Adam hotel we had an encouraging evening of debriefing on what The Lord had done that day.

May 12, 2017 “the great commission is his last command, and our first concern.” Jochabed Ambe. 2 Cor 5:18-20   On Friday morning before heading to the village Jochebed brought a devotion from second Corinthians 5:18–20. Her main point was that we are not only authorized but mandated and empowered to share the gospel. “Go – we are backed by heaven”!

On that morning we met up with the church at the bamboo arbor to get ready to baptize 12 believers who had come to Christ prior to our arrival. What followed was the most amazing picture of what baptism is supposed to look like. It was a procession much like a parade that began at the little bamboo “church” with festive joy and singing which is obviously the only kind of singing the Baka pygmies know!

IMG_2808We passed through the village with the pastors out front followed about 100 yards behind by the group of those being baptized, and again about 20 yards behind them was the rest of the young church at Loussou. The singing and celebrating continued through the village to the road, turning right on a road that went into the Forest/jungle. Not sure how far we went but it seemed like maybe a kilometer or so.  The forest was filled with the sounds of singing. Festus translated one of the songs for me and the words said “Holy Ghost, do it again. Do it again in my life. Open my eyes, to see Jesus seated upon the throne.” They sang it’s over and over arousing the curiosity of the villagers. We arrived at a small pool of water in a stream where a woman was washing her clothes. Pastor Charles Goriss asked her to move aside while we baptized. We baptized at 12 Bakas,IMG_2889 the first of which was Gaston, the chainsaw man. What a thrill it was. I remember thinking I wish my wife could be here and see this. So many times, especially during the Music and worship I wished for the whole family to be with us. As we left the baptism the singing and celebrating only got louder as the church, now in one group, made their way back to the bamboo Harbor. There many of the people, including some of the men of the village who had not joined us in worship before, finally joined the meeting mainly from curiosity of what was going on and Charles took the opportunity to preach to them.IMG_2883 Before leaving the pool of water earlier, the woman who was washing clothes asked Charles all kinds of questions which he was all too happy to answer. After about an hour of singing and celebrating at the bamboo church, we took a picture with the church and said our goodbyes to the Baka people. IMG_2885I left both of my knives with the two chainsaw operating Gaston’s and left a “be the church” T-shirt and flashlights with Pastor Joichim and Jeanette. I also left two pairs of shoes at the guesthouse back in Yaoundé in hopes that one of the guys at the village could wear them. That day on the way out of Loussou we carried three Bakas, four Americans, eight Cameroonians, some firewood, a chainsaw, a large basket filled with produce and a chicken all in that little white Toyota Tacoma!

 

When we got to where we had Wi-Fi I sent a Facebook message to the man from Oklahoma Who donated the truck and got quite a few replies from around the country.

We packed up, loaded up and drove from Dimako back to Yaounde. It Took about 5 1/2 to 6 hours for us but we got separated from the BFL team in the Toyota pickup which Charles Goris was driving. He had Jochebed, Gideon, Ebenezer and someone else with him. Polycarpe drove our car. Somewhere along the way not only did the brakes go out on the white truck but they also had a “tire puncture” and one of the headlights was already out! They intended to make Yaounde before dark but made it at midnight, had to park the truck at the BFL office and sent for a driver to come get them and bring them to the guesthouse.

May 13, 2017 oh thank you father, Jehovah Shama the Lord is there.  You have prepared a table before me in the presence of my enemies, and you have given your beloved rest! Thank you that you have shown me again what you can do! I am so full.

Saturday morning at breakfast the whole team gathered around including Ernest who was waiting on us at the guest house when we arrived Friday night.IMG_2501 We had the most amazing discussion and once again I was blown away by all these amazing people until I realized that, as much as I was receiving from them, admire them, had begun to look up to them, suddenly God showed me that it really wasn’t them. It was him! He had hi-jacked their bodies, their minds, their tongues,… And ours! Father, you are amazing. In that moment, as though it were brand new, I realized that we had all been feasting at your table. You have been living, giving yourself away through each of us, to each of us all along the way. It is simply amazing. We have seen Jesus. And you, oh Lord, have 1000 faces, and as many voices that you choose to live in, to speak through, to reveal yourself through, in spite of their humanness and weaknesses. John 14:12 and 16:7 happening all around us over and over and over. You are amazing and your plans are perfect. We certainly are “backed by heaven”.  And not just backed but pushed, empowered, used,…hi-jacked! Thank you Jesus.

“We are not here to compete with the church but to complement the church” EE

That morning we also gathered round Corey at Jochebed’s request and prayed for Shelli (Corey’s wife, at home undergoing cancer treatments)  IMG_2504Johnny Robbins brought a devotion from Matthew 13:37-43 but mainly 1Corinthians 3:6–9 “I have planted, Apollo’s watered, but God gave the increase.” It was a great word that took me back 10 years to that street in front of the motel in Anima, Amazonus, Brazil with Eli Mafra, And Pastor Josius. It truly is God who gives the increase. Thank you Father for the increase.

That evening after a 5 hour drive we arrived at Douala where Ernest actually lives and where Daneen had been since Wednesday working with the special needs students and their teachers and families at the Ray of Hope school. Ray of Hope is the only school in the entire country for autistic children, ans was started last year by BFL. That night we stayed in the apartment rented by BFL to reduce motel expenses for mission teams. Sleeping arrangements were a little warm but I slept on the couch and, for the first time since our arrival in Africa I had a fan blowing directly on me and slept quite well!  On Sunday morning we got up early to leave for a service in the far western portion of the country. We drove 2–3 hours, part of the way passing through a huge Del Monte banana plantation, as well as a pretty large rubber farm with row after row of rubber trees.IMG_2572 We drove through one of the most beautiful areas we had seen around an area called Lembe, near Mount Cameroon, where a volcano erupted 20 years ago sending a massive blob of lava flying 40 km through the air to land on the highway not far from Edenau. The road we traveled detoured around the now lava  rock.

IMG_2598(It’s hard to tell but this was the highway until the lava landed here and blocked it.  We were told that it was so hot even after the surface cooled and hardened, that the locals cooked on it for a year!) IMG_2590

As we entered the fishing village of Edenau, we crossed the bridge and due to bad road conditions were forced to leave the Toyota Camry and two of us climbed on motorcycles to make to trip into Rechtfluss and Benda Baptist Church.

 

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(The motorcycle approaching us was carrying a huge trunk!  It is amazing what these guys can carry on a bike!)

This was the last Sunday we were there, and it happened to be Mother’s Day.  This far western region of Cameroon was settled by the English so this was the only service we were in the entire trip where everyone spoke English.  They were excited, prayerful, passionate, and ENERGETIC!  They nearly wore us out dancing and they were serious about it.  Corey preached that morning from 2Tim 1 and God poured him out.  It was powerful.

After the service the Pastor Roger Njiti Ngwa and his wife Marquise and family hosted us for a meal in their home, complete with real Sprite and “American Cola”.  When Ernest learned that they were insisting on feeding us he knew that they would spend their entire month’s salary ($50) to do so.  So, Bread for life sent money ahead for them to purchase enough food to cook for us and for the whole church.

While in their home we had some great conversation concerning their needs and the potential for a future relationship between their church and ours. Everyone wanted a picture before we left.

A couple of us rode back to Edenau on motorcycles while the rest rode in Ernest’s car.  The road was so rough that the strut and shock broke THROUGH THE FLOOR OF THE CAR!  They act like this is an everyday thing.  After some roadside modifications we began the journey back to Douala stopping briefly by the beautiful “black beaches” near Lembe.

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Due to the crazy traffic in the big city it took the majority of the rest of the day to get back to Douala.  we got in late that evening.

IMG_2648The next morning began the last day there for Kollin, Corey, and I.  John and Daneen would spend an additional five days there finishing their work at Ray of Hope school, and Johnny helping with vehicle repairs and maintenance.  We started the day by eating out at the local equivalent of McDonalds.  Breakfast was puff puffs, spicy beans, and a bowl of “pap” which is like a semi-sweet thin vanilla pudding.

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After breakfast we split up and Ernest, Corey, and I hopped on some “motorcycle taxis” and met the rest of the crew at a flea market to pick up some souvenirs before heading back to load up our stuff for the flight home.  In this pic Corey and I got on the back of this guys bike while Ernest rode another.  He dropped his phone while laughing at us and trying to take a picture while we were driving down the road!

We made it back to Ernest’s, packed our things, and began saying our goodbyes to;

IMG_2681Polycarpe

IMG_2684Pastor Charles Goris

IMG_2686And Ernest and his kids.  Then Ernest took us to the airport and snuck in again to help us get to where we needed to be to start our 35&1/2hr trip back home.

There is so so much more we could say, so many stories to tell, more than I can begin to relate in a blog post.  But this story is not over, in some ways it has really just begun.  The spiritual takeaways from our time with the Bread for Life team, the Baka people, the Ray of Hope family, and the churches in Western and Eastern regions of Cameroon are too numerous to count because they are still unfolding, and they area affecting our vision for how God wants us to live and lead here at home.  Everywhere we went we saw Him.  We saw His compassion through a people who serve and sacrifice until it costs them, just for a chance to share the gospel with their own countrymen.  We saw His faithfulness in the lives of believers we met everywhere we were, pouring their lives out for the sake of his name in their own backyards.  He showed us that as impressive and passionate as the people we met are, it really isn’t them, it’s Him giving Himself away through people who live to be hi-jacked by their Savior.  If you have read this post from beginning to end, let me say to you that as good as it is to be encouraged by stories of people around you, God intends much more for you than to live vicariously through someone else’s experience.  The Acts 1:8 promise is intended for every believer.  “And you shall receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be my witnesses……..to the uttermost parts of the earth.”  You don’t have fly hours away from home to get in on what God is doing, but you do have to go.  I pray He inspires you to do just that!  Carry the torch!

“Success without succession is no success at all.”  EE

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About brotodd

Pastor, First Baptist Church Redwwater, TX. Married to Debbie Edwards, 4 sons, 1 daughter, 1 Savior.
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