Into rural Cameroon

Friday, April 14, 2017
Eséka, Centre, Cameroon
This morning, Armel and Dieudonné arrived at the hotel at 07:00 as requested. Jean-Jacques would again be our driver in his old Toyota Corolla. We loaded my luggage in the trunk and drove to the Akwa district where there are always money changers on high alert. The two men that stepped up tried to convince me the rate should be about 10 percent less that what it actually was. They were a bit taken aback by a manner-of-fact approach of insisting on a decent rate. They even smiled when at the time they held back giving me the last two bank notes I had coming, and I said "come on, come on, hand it over." Cameroonians are often wheeler-dealers. So they can admire a bit of audacity, even at their own expense.

Money changed, we started out on the road toward Yaoundé, stopping to fill the tank for $60 on the outskirts of Douala.

We drove 90 minutes to Édéa where we crossed a river near a spectacular waterfall, then continued another hour toward Yaoundé before turning off the main road to head south toward Éséka. The road has improved quite a bit; there are a few potholes, but there have obviously been repairs of late and they are most welcome.

Finally a little before 11:00 am we arrived in the village and drove straight to the misnamed Éséka Palace. I took an air-conditioned room for $20 and hoped there would be electricity during the night. There was no running water when I checked in. I anticipated a bucket bath in the morning. From the hotel we drove to Mélanie's home where a small group of members had gathered. Because of the heat which was about to become oppressive, we pulled chairs outdoors and sat in shade to talk.

There were some Bible questions:
  • Did Jesus give the bread and wine to Judas? No, Jesus did wash his feet, but then sent him off to do his dirty work before the bread and wine were given.
  • What is happening in Europe now that might fit with prophetic fulfillment? I explained the rise of illiberal parties and even governments in places like Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. They are moving away from the democratic traditions of Western Europe and closer to Russia with its strongman Vladimir Putin. This is shocking in the light of their recent history. Marine Le Pen will poll very well in the next French presidential election and there’s an outside chance she could win. This could be a movement toward less democratic more autocratic governments which could announce the arrival of the 10 kings that will give their power to the beast in the end time Revelation 17:13). Also clashes between Islamic refugees and the European states where they live could well set the stage for the King of the South "attacking" the King of the North (Daniel 11:40). These trends will be important to watch.
At 12:00 lunch was ready: chicken, spinach sauce, rice and tomato sauce, fried banana, plantain, and white yam. I contributed a box of matzo I had brought. Several people present had never seen commercial unleavened bread, it was a novelty to them. Everyone ate in silence as is usually the case. Concentrate on the food, you don’t know for sure when you’ll next eat! We ate inside the house, perspiring as we did so. It was in the low 90s F (low 30s C). 

After lunch we moved the chairs outside under the shade of a tree where we could catch any breeze. They put an armchair for me on a little mound and spread their chairs and benches around. It was sort of a podium on which I was seated; I felt honored

Here there were more questions:
  • What role do women have in the Church today? While the Bible says women are not to serve in the ordained ministry, there are Deaconesses that are ordained into service, and the Bible also says older women have a role teaching other women.
  • We have women writing articles in our publications, isn’t this having them take authority over men? Is that appropriate? I explained that we do have very talented female writers who are careful in how they present material. When it comes to expounding the Bible they will often interview church elders and quote their explanations, so even through the writer is feminine the Biblical exposition is coming from elders. Mélanie especially liked that arrangement.
  • Will people in the millennium live the whole time, since there will be no sickness or bad conditions, to be a thousand years old? I replied that there is no indication that people will live the entire millennium. There will be one or two hostile invasions heading toward Jerusalem, one possibly toward the beginning and one certainly at the end of the thousand years, and those armies will be destroyed, so people will die. It’s more likely during the millennium that people will live out their lives normally as we do today and die. We don’t know if at their death the righteous will be transformed immediately or at some later time. The Bible does not make this clear.
  • When should you be baptized? When you have repented and have faith in God and the gospel message. Preparing for baptism is all about understanding these concepts and making sure we have fulfilled them. Then we should be baptized.
  • Will there be an actual temple in Jerusalem during the millennium or is it just figurative? I said that based on the detailed descriptions we have in Ezekiel (43-48) about the temple, it is most likely there will be an actual temple in the city. Later when the New Jerusalem, on the New Earth arrives, there will be no temple (Revelation 21:22) because the Father and the Lamb will be the Temple. There will be no need for a temple when God is present.
These and other questions went on for several hours. The members encouraged each other to ask questions. Solomon was asked why he didn’t ask questions. He responded “I don’t have any, but I learn from listening to yours!”

At 3:00 pm we decided to take a break and reconvene about 5:00. We drove over to the Palace, and put my luggage in the room. It was very hot. I put on some shorts and sat by the window, resting but sweating profusely, to the point where there was a puddle of water at my feet. After an hour of this, the woman from the desk, knocked on the door and said the electricity had come on, I could turn on the air conditioner, which I quickly did. It was wonderful to finally dry off!

About 5:00 when I was supposed to be picked up, a terrific thunderstorm swept through with heavy rains. This lasted several hours and put an end to our plans of reconvening. In heavy rain, one can hear very little in houses with corrugated tin roofs.

About 7:00 pm three young adults came to the hotel to counsel with me individually about personal issues. They were wise to ask, and I think the time we spent was helpful in helping them see various situations more clearly and in multiple perspectives.

When they left I went to the little restaurant to see if they had a cold beer, which they did, but no food. So I dined on Triscuits (roasted garlic flavor) and a beer.

Now I will hope that the electricity stays on all night.
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Beverly Lofty

I love the way you make your travels come so alive :-) Your answering, their questions, help me with questions I wouldn't even think to ask :-) I guess sometimes I just take things for granted :-( Thank you again for your time and help to our brothers and sisters in that part of the world :-)

Lynn Marshall

Thank u for sharing ur experiences in thid part of the world. Praying that God will have His angels around u at all times to protect. The questions are always so scintillating. Thank u for sharing them along with ur answers.

Jason Hyde

Truly appreciating your narrative as you make this journey.

mary hendren

We're happy you have had a good session with everyone there. It's always interesting to hear the questions you are asked--especially timely with world events. We hope you have electricity and air conditioning to balance out the hours of heat and humidity. Nice to see photos of brethren, all smiles.