Greetings from Cameroon once again!
Since itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been quite a while since my last update, this message is rather long, but well worth reading. Thank you so much for your continued prayers! Internet access is not that widely available here (especially outside of Yaounde), and I probably will not be able to check my personal e-mail accounts until I return home since we must travel several blocks to the SIL compound for limited-time access. So, feel free to respond to this address before Tuesday, July 19th if you would like to send a message to me while IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m still in Cameroon.
Over the past couple of weeks, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve had some very memorable experiences around the country. About two weeks ago, the four eldest Dallmann guys (John, Jonathan, Luke, and Josiah) and I traveled 8 hours by motor (SUV) to the town of Banyo, where the Dallmanns spent most of their time here. John has completed the majority of his well and water projects in this part of the country, too.
The conference for the well technicians took place Thursday night through Saturday morning in Allat, a town southwest of Banyo. I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t understand much of the training sessions that I sat in on, but I praise God for the opportunity to see the men learn and understand more about the mechanical well pumps and their need for Christ in their lives. We showed the Jesus film in Fulfulde the first night, and there were several Bible/gospel presentations during tea breaks. I also was able to chop (eat) some Ã¢â‚¬Å“country chop,Ã¢â‚¬? known as fufu and jama-jama (basically a ball of corn starch with spinach-type greens and sometimes beef meat). This is the countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s favorite meal, and it was served for every meal at the conference except Friday night when they had rice and beans, the other popular meal here. Continue to pray for the men who attended the conference: that the Holy Spirit would remind them of what they saw and heard about Christ, as well as that they would take responsibility and have the desire to take care of the wells and pumps they have been given.
On Sunday evening, July 3, we celebrated the Ã¢â‚¬Å“1st & 4th [of July] on the 3rdÃ¢â‚¬? with several other missionary families from the area. Our Canadian/USA festivities included a softball game, duck supper, and homemade hydrogen balloons at which we tried to shoot flaming arrows and make small explosions.
Early Monday morning, the Dallmann guys, Bob and Brian Lokker (father and son who are a part of the family now living in the DallmannsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ old house in Banyo), and I embarked on an exciting raft trip down the Mayo Banyo and Mbamti Rivers. Bob built our raft, consisting of a 2×4 frame, big metal jet fuel drums (for flotation), a bamboo deck, bamboo seats, and luggage storage areas, and an ill-fated bamboo frame for a roof tarp. Some highlights of the trip include: snapping the frame for a tarp roof on low-hanging guava trees, Luke falling off the raft several times, Brian and Luke dropping their poles in the water, losing my Nalgene water bottle in the unexpected rapids of the Mayo Banyo River, JohnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s leg almost getting crushed between the raft and a rock, beaching the raft just before a small (4Ã¢â‚¬â„¢-6Ã¢â‚¬â„¢) waterfall, carrying our cargo and walking around the waterfall while we let our raft go through as Bob, John, and Jonathan held the rope, going through some big rapids with only John and I on board as the others walked around, banging against lots of rocks in the Mayo Banyo rapids, almost losing Bob and Brian after they jumped out to help guide us through some rocks, showing the Jesus film on Monday night to about 15 people with a small television powered by a car battery, eating canned ravioli, sleeping in the furrows of an old field (inside tents), seeing lots of monitor lizards jump off trees and splash into the water, getting stuck and pushing the raft out of sandbars in the middle of the Mayo Banyo River, getting hit in the head with the long poles as others poled, poling the raft back and forth across the Mayo Banyo River at every bend to stay in faster and deeper water (the outside of corners), pushing the raft away from trees and other hazards, eating Mambo bars (Cameroon chocolate) and canned hot dogs on bread while poling, getting stuck in an eddy and a tree right next to a black cobra (that was stuck in the eddy), making it to the confluence of the Mayo Banyo and Mbamti Rivers faster than anticipated, not being able to stop the raft in the Mbamti River due to the fast and deep water, finally stopping on a sandbar (after several failed attempts) and clearing an area for camp, being watched for hours by locals from the opposite bank of the wide river, eating chicken soup (from packets) and Ã¢â‚¬Å“chicken lipsÃ¢â‚¬? (BobÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s term for chicken spam), watching Ã¢â‚¬Å“Ghosts in the DarknessÃ¢â‚¬? in the middle of the bush at night (since everyone was on the opposite side of the river), sleeping at the edge of the tent on a root and getting wet from the early-morning rain, trying to dry our wet clothing on suspended poles between two cargo barrels, eating more Ã¢â‚¬Å“chicken lipsÃ¢â‚¬? with scrambled eggs, unsuccessfully trying to keep a fire burning with green wood, waking up to find that the river had risen 3 feet and that the sand bar we landed on no longer existed (the raft was tied to a tree so we didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t lose it), discovering that our poles worked for rowing in deep water, loading and unloading our cargo (often up and down slippery banks), greeting people we saw along the river, throwing sugar and a gospel tape and tract to a couple on the river bank, stopping the raft at a tree on the corner immediately before the bridge (to plan our final landing and get people to the shore to catch and tie the rope), no heavy rain until we had landed at Mbamti Catarco, the crowd we attracted at both Mayo Banyo Catarco and Mbamti Catarco, and BobÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s daughter JesseÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s homemade brownies on the truck ride back to Banyo.
After our raft trip, John took me around to see several of the wells he has put in for the Wawa villages northwest of Banyo. There is only one known Christian among this Muslim people group. Please pray for this man and his family to be strong in the Lord and have the courage to reach out to and share Christ with others. Praise God that we were able to take a water sample for testing from one of the villages, take a Wawa cattle herder who was stabbed in the foot by one of his steers to the Banyo CBC (Cameroon Baptist Convention) clinic, and help a Wawa mother get her sick baby to the CBC clinic.
On Saturday, July 9 (the rainiest day of the year to date in Banyo), several of us climbed up the Banyo mountain to see the spring water catchment, sand filter, and storage tank for the Banyo water system which John has helped develop. This system is made up of several kilometers of delivery pipe and more than 30 taps around the town. Several of us climbed to the very top of the mountain to see the old German machine gun nest and forts, and we were drenched in a major deluge as we scrambled back down.
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been a tremendous blessing to spend the past three weeks in Cameroon! The country is beautiful (especially outside of the rainforest in the Yaounde area), and I especially enjoyed the people and topography around Banyo. Even the rainy season up there doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t seem too badÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s definitely not as humid as it is here in Yaounde most of the time. Worship at the Banyo church on the CBC compound where we stayed was great, and IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve learned so much more than I expected about missionary life, Cameroon, the African way of life, rafting, small engine repair, and animals.
Since our return to Yaounde, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve had the opportunity to go running, help with games for a camp-type program at an orphanage (which will continue for the next two weeks on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays), repair the DallmannsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ lawn mower, play with the Dallmann kids, play the guitar, and read.
Over my remaining days here, I hope to complete the design and construction of a new projection screen frame (for the Jesus film showings), shop for a few more souvenirs, go to the zoo, and prepare for my return to American culture.
Thank you again for your prayers! ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s so hard to believe that my time here is nearing the end.
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve included a picture from the raft trip. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be posting more on my web site upon my return home.
For ChristÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s glory and in His name,