Greetings from Cameroon in the powerful name of Jesus! Here is a brief summary by day:
Tuesday Feb. 9, a day of preparation. We sorted, repacked shoes, food & medical supplies for the Rescue Unit (RU) at Vikulas Bengee, a rural site 3 km from Benakuma. Some of team went to town (Bemenda) for supplies, others explored the TMI property, spent some time with students. Sheila chased a large black snake for a photo, but it was bashful & slid away. Papa Tom was banker, obtain Cameroon francs & exchanging money for team members at local rate (450 fr./1 USD). Students again fed us well.
Wednesday Febuary. 10, a day of travel. Following chapel, truck & van were loaded for the 4.5 hour trip, stop included, for Benakuma. By 10:30, after picking up bread & pharmacy items, we were on the way. Stopped for lunch at Menchum Falls, a spectacular, ragin waterfall several hundred feet high. Along the bumpy, seldom paved road came through a valley of rice paddies in addition to more of what we’ve seen. As bumpy as the road is, travel in the dry season is much easier than the rainy season (mid Mar. to Mid Nov.) when slippery, muddy roads are much worse. Stopped to register with police/check passports at Benakuma. As team arrived at RU, the children (about 50) greeted us with cheers. Set up our tents, Melinda played soccer with children/youth, we ate, had devotions & retired early (dark by 7:30 pm) as smoke from the many evening brush fires, lit to clear the ground for fresh grass, filled the air.
Thurs Feb. 11, National Youth Day. God blessed us with timing so we might see a wonderful annual event. Children/youth from all over the area gathered at Benakuma for marching competition, games, singing & dancing in front of town pavilion/grandstand. They honored us by giving us sun sheltered seats in grandstand which held a few hundred. The sub Division Officer, or DO, presided along with mayor, police chief and many other dignitaries. During each school’s presentation, the DO would initiate donations by walking down from grandstand to drop money on the ground. Many others would also join in, Melinda was our representative donor for one group. Back to the RU for ministry, we did 3 hours of foot washing. Team members either washed, treated wounds, obtained shoes/socks from inside unit, put on socks/shoes or led games (Sheila & Melinda) to keep the children not in line busy.
Friday Feb. 12, market day with visitation & ministry. Very hot, 105 by pm. We first visited facilitator Philemon’s parents in Benakuma. Met family, friends, neighbors, were served a wonderful lunch of rice, groundnut stew, fish, groundnuts & bananas. Philemon’s father, Godfather and area official, and Papa Tom spoke briefly. Next stop, the DO, who gave us about half hour audience. A Muslim, he was very interested in our work, asked many questions, and told us the government very much appreciates our meeting needs they cannot. Papa invited him to our ministry day at the RU, and DO said he would very much like to visit the next day. Ordinarily, groups petition–and pay–for a DO visit: this would be on his own time, an appointment which would be arranged by God, for free. Next we toured the market, then did a puppet show in the park, after which Vitalis, key staff member & along with Richard oversee the 3 RUs in Cameroon, took advantage of the crowd God had gathered & preached the Gospel with power & conviction. Many responded to the altar call. Vitalis also invited towns people to next day activities at RU. Back to RU for a few more hours of foot washing. Many of the wounds have festered for some time–one girl’s open sores on her leg/foot started 2…years ago. With Cyndi & Papa’s experience & knowledge, & basic supplies of hydrogen peroxide, Neosporin & bandages we were able to treat dozens. Many children would not leave–some had stayed too late for walk home in the dark–so Vitalis set up three tents for the night.