Projects

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Currently there are several projects that are going on for the Cameroon United Methodist Church. One of the main projects that I am trying to work on is raising money to build a church for Yaoundé. Yaoundé has two congregations but the buildings that they use are rented out. The church I attend, Jordan UMC is located at a very bad place right now and they are in the process of trying to move to a new location. The other church in Yaoundé is really nice and actually looks like a church but it is rented out. For this project I am trying to raise $100,000.00 to buy the land and then build the church. The land is the most expensive part. It costs about $60,000.00 US dollars. A part of building the church is that the Mission does not have an office space of their own. It would be great if so much money was raised that an office building could be built as well. The total project would cost somewhere around $200,000.00. With both projects it would be great to have mission teams come and help out. It would be a great experience for the teams and would really be helpful to the mission.

 

The next project is finishing a church that was started in Buea. This church is very close to being done. In order to finish it completely it will take about $20,000.00 and several work teams. The people at the Hope UMC in Buea are truly great people and would love to have mission teams come and help out. The people at the church worship in the church even though it is not complete and it does not bother them because they know that God is going to help them get it finished!

 

Another project that I am trying to work on is getting scholarship money so that seminary students can go to school. About $5,000.00 is needed to try and get these students through school. It is very exciting that we have students that want to become pastors and so many of them. We just need help getting them money so we can help get them through the rest of their schooling.

 

If a donor is thinking of something smaller to give to there is always the possibility of sponsoring a child to go to school. It costs about $300.00 a year for a child to go to school here, and most families can barely put food on the table let alone pay that much for school. I know at least 4 students that would need this kind of help. I know that there are more out there depending on the response I get. If someone would like to sponsor a child then we can set up some kind of profile for the donor to see who they are giving their money to, as well as possible correspondents.

 

Momma Lily has been such a great help to me since I have arrived here. She has a micro loan program through the Mission. The mission was given the money by a church and there are several rules that Lily has to follow helping her figure out who to give the loans to. The amount that the church gave her was a very small amount and she could really use some more money to give to families that need a boost up in life.

 

Mamma Mbwizu has also welcomed me into her home and taken me in as a daughter. She has been very prevalent in getting the UMW started here in Cameroon. The woman do not have very much money and want to try and raise the money. In order to do this they are knitting. The woman need yarn badly. In order to get the yarn here it needs to be sent through UPS or DHL and that can be VERY expensive. So not only would yarn need to be collected then money would need to be raised in order to send it over here. Regular mail does not work because of the corruption in the regular post office here. Another way to get the yarn here would be to send it with anyone who is coming over. It would be great if he woman could get several of the same color so that they can knit large sweaters. The finished products that I have seen so far have been AMAZING, really quality work.

 

The final project that I know about is one that deals with eyeglasses. There is a huge need for glasses here in Cameroon. It would be great to have a team come over and bring at least 1000 prescription eyeglasses (used or new) and 500 reading glasses (which can be found in any dollar store). We could have several teams actually do this project. We always need help with this one. I believe that there are actually a lot of glasses already collected they just need to be picked up. If anyone is interested just let us know and we can set something up. 

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Trip to Kumba and Buea

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Saturday September 22nd, 2012

We left at 7 am because we had a 6 hour trip to Buea and then another hour onto Kumba. Kumba and Buea are located Northwest of Yaoundé. In order to get to these places we had to go through Douala. I was very excited to go to Douala because it is the biggest city in Cameroon and I really wanted to be able to see it. The drive to Douala was very interesting. The roadside was full of lush forests. There were also lots of mountains. Every once in a while we would have to stop at a toll, and at the toll there were kids selling goods usually food, they would just walk up to the window and try and get you to buy things. 

Sometimes we would come across a car that had broken down or had been wrecked and every time we would see one of those, they would always be really picked over. We also passed a ton of bus/vans that we packed full of people and things. There were also a lot of hitch hikers and people would just pull over if they had room. There were also lots of people just on the side of the road selling goods.

In Cameroon I have noticed that cars emit a TON of black smoke. It is really gross especially when you always have the windows rolled down. So if we got behind a vehicle when we were going uphill it really was terrible because that is when the cars are the worst.

We made it to Douala and the first thing that we came to was a HUGE open market. It was really cool but there was SOOOO much traffic. I could not believe the traffic, there were also a TON of motorcycles. We stopped in Douala to get some lunch and then we headed on to Buea.

One the way to Buea there was a lot more farming land. We saw a lot of Rubber trees and Banana trees. It was pretty cool to see all of those.

We made it to Buea and we checked into a hotel. It was really nice. We were only there to drop our things off because we need to get on to Kumba where we had a meeting with the church there.

When we got to Kumba we went straight to the church. The church was just a room off of one of the member’s house. It was pretty small but I think it was all they could afford. In both Kumba and Buea the main language is English. It was great for me because it meant that I was able to understand everything. The people still have a different accent because English is not their first language. Cameroon actually has something like 200 different languages. A person’s first language just depends on what village they are from.

Kumba UMC has had several problems lately. The superintendent and I were informed of some of the problems even though it was not really the time or place. The church was originally 2 different churches but because of lack of funds the two churches had to combine. The congregation is running into a problem because no one is tithing. 

The superintendent and I had to get back to Buea because he had a meeting with one of the members there so we had to leave a little early. I think that was good because then it gave the church time to disscuss the different issues they had… most of them involving money…. Go figure… I think I might have heard about that in the US too….. weird….

We got back to the hotel and I was ready to go to bed. Traveling really takes it out of a person… I guess. I was able to watch some tv, the only channel that was good and in English was E!… haha I think all of the shows had been from the beginning of the summer but I had not seen them so it was ok. It was good to have a little bit of an escape for a while.

The next day was Sunday. Rev. Ndjungu and I got up early and went to breakfast. It was really great to talk to him one on one. He is such an interesting man and has a lot of knowledge to share. He was able to tell me more about Cameroon and about the mission.

We headed to the church. Turns out this was the first Sunday for the church to be whole. It used to be three different congregations that have been combined into one. There were a lot of people there and they were all full of life and love for God. It was so refreshing to worship there. I think it really helped that the pastor there Rev. Dr. Ekoka Molindo is such a cool man. He is so very humble and so full of life. I am going to say this now and hope is comes true. I think he would make an AMAZING bishop. I know this is selfish but I wish he could be a bishop in the US because he would really do some amazing things. I did not hear him preach so this is all on first impression. He is just that cool. I am told that he is an AMAZING pastor and he always has amazing things to say. I hope that I will be able to listen to him preach some time.

I got to talk to him after worship and turns out he went to school in Nebraska he did his undergrad there and also is doctoral work there too. He then became a pastor in the Iowa conference. I got to meet his wife also and she is gorgeous, and she was wearing tie die traditional Cameroon clothing. Awesome! Ok now that I have gone on about how great this guy is I want to say a little about his church.

The Kumba UMC now known as Hope UMC was built by missionaries but it is not finished. It is kind of a hazardous area. There are huge rocks in the front of the church, right in front of the altar. To go to the front of the church you have jump across the rocks. The building really needs some help it has been estimated that it will cost about $20,000 dollars and several work teams to complete it. Since Rev. Dr. Ekoka has been a preacher in the Iowa conference and has done a lot of work in Nebraska, I would love to see Work teams from those areas go and help out. I think that would be a really great connection.

We left the church and headed home. I was very excited about all of the things that I saw and heard. On the way back I thought about all of it. I talked to Rev. Ndjungu and we discussed maybe trying to get a conference of sorts organized to happen in the Kansas City area so we could invite Kansas east and west, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, and whoever else might want to attend. I think it could be a great way to get the word out about Cameroon and the work that is going on here. 

Peace Concert

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On Friday September 21st, 2012 I was invited to go to a Peace concert. I really did not know what that meant but I thought “hey it sounds like a great cultural experience so why not!” The event was put on by CEPA. I have no clue what that means but I know that the organization tries to connect the different churches. They also do a lot of peace work. I think they have recently started a new radio station all about peace. It all is pretty cool and it all works very closely with youth and young adults. I went with Collins who is a man who works for the mission. He is primarily in charge of the youth and young adult groups.

The start of the Concert was actually looking at art work that youth and young adults created about peace. Most of the works were paintings but there were also poems and some sculptures. We went around to all the different pieces of art and the different artists who created them would talk about each piece. There were some really cool pieces of work. After we looked at the art it was time for the actual concert to start.

The concert was in a HUGE church. It is a protestant church. I could not believe how big it was. There are pictures of it on Facebook. The concert started by people coming up and talking about peace. I found out that the person who put this whole thing on is actually a German….. That was interesting to me that it was about peace and being green and all of those kinds of things but it was all put on by a German. Also I noticed there were a TON of people who were not Cameroonian there. In fact most likely at least 40% of the people were not Cameroonian. I found that to be very interesting too. An American representative from the Embassy was there and gave a speech. He was then presented with one of the pieces of Art work, which was actually my favorite of them all.

 The Concert began and it was different. The instrumentals were very loud so it was very hard to hear the actual voices. At least it was a good cultural experience. The concert started late and so Collins and I left early because because neither of us wanted to be out too late.

On the way home we got a taxi ride….. Taxi rides here in Cameroon are NOTHING like you will ever find anywhere else. Our taxi had 6 people smashed into it and it was probably the size of my car which is a hatchback. To get a taxi you tell the driver where you want to go and then they decided if they want to take you or not. If they do then you get in if not you keep looking for a taxi. Then the taxi will try and pick up others who are going in the same direction. It was so crazy. If you want to ride a taxi then really you cannot have any personal space. I think the most I have seen in a taxi so far is 8 but I am sure they have tried to stuff more people in. 

CAMEROON MISSION INITIATIVE

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There are only 13 United Methodist Missions in the world and Cameroon is home to one over the 13. It has taken me awhile to actually get the whole story behind the mission. The mission was originally started in 1986. It was started by a man who was from Cameroon but going to school in the United States. He was in school when his father passed away which meant so did all of the money. A United Methodist Church in either Michigan or Wisconsin helped him out and paid for the rest of his schooling. He was so thankful for this generosity that he decided that he was going to take Methodism to Cameroon. When he got back to Cameroon he tried to get people to join the church by promising them that if they joined then the children would be able to go to the United States, and would be able to get passports and go to school for free. This really started to cause problems when these things did not happen. I am not sure how but the movement stopped until General Board of Global Ministries (Global Ministries) brought in a missionary. This missionary offered the same kind of deal. In fact the next several missionaries offered similar things, saying that if you join the UMC (Unite Methodist Church) then you will get money. It’s unfortunate that this happened because it gave the people a false since of what the church really is.

The Last missionary family dealt with similar issues. I am told that it got to a point that the family was threatened because people were not getting the money they had once been promised. That family left and for a while there were no missionaries in Cameroon, not until the Ndjungus came. The Ndjungus were asked to come here or else Global Ministries was going to have to shut down the mission in Cameroon. Rev. Ndjungu was going to Boston University to get his PhD. He had just started when they asked him. He and his wife decided to go for it which meant that Rev. Ndjungu had to take 4 years of schooling in one year. I was told it was a very hard year for both of them.

When they arrived in Cameroon they really did not have a very warm welcoming. Not very many people were happy about the United Methodist Church anymore. The Ndjungus were threatened many times but they stuck through it. They knew that God was on their side and they prayed all the time to have God help them get a handle on things. Sure enough after a while the trouble makers left and stopped causing problems and the Ndjungus were left to try and pick up the pieces of the United Methodist Mission.

It has taken 4 years, slowly but surely they are getting the church started here. Global Ministries has been funding the mission this whole time but the money was not being used wisely. The people here will do anything to try and get money, the people are just trying to feed their families and survive. Several times that money has given yo the UMC over here it has been given to someone thinking it would go to the church in some way, but most of the time the church never sees the money.

Also several churches were started because Global Ministries would pay the pastors a stipend. The “Minister” would sometimes be the father and the congregation would be his family. On paper it looks like there is a church with a minister and at least 6 members. Even though they would only be kids or other family members. In the beginning this is what happened. Thankfully that has all been turned around. Now Rev. Ndjungu, also known as the Superintendent, goes and sees all the churches and has actually combined many of the smaller churches.

In Kumba there were two churches and now there is only one. It is a small church but it has two pastors. This is similar to the Buea’s Hope UMC. It is actually a larger congregation and it has three pastors that were from three different churches that have now all been combined. The same thing happened in Yaoundé.

Something that I have noticed is that there are a TON of pastors and people wanting to be pastors here. It’s weird because they do not have that many people who are actually in the church but they have a ton of pastors. I feel like it is almost the opposite of the UMC in the states. I think the people who want to be pastors are dwindling in the US, but here it is booming. 

With all of that said the UMC in Cameroon has really only been really going for about 10 years. They only actually own 2 buildings in Cameroon the rest they rent. One of the churches is the Buea and it’s not even finished. There are other churches in Cameroon that have actually been around a lot longer and have huge congregations. The Catholic Church is one of the churches. From what I understand Catholicism is the biggest religion here. There are a lot of catholic buildings including several cathedrals as well as schools, clinics, and orphanages. Since the UMC is so new here all of the more wealth people have already picked a church. And no one takes a church seriously if they do not have their own building. It’s very hard to tell people where to go if the churches always have to move to different locations due to renting issues. So basically Cameroon UMC needs Buildings! It would be great if so much money was raised that we could get at least 10 churches built. I know that it is pretty expensive in the city but I think it would be cheaper in the smaller towns.

Off to the Market we go! 9/20/2012

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Today was a fun day! Momma Lily,  Momma Mbwizo, and I have spent the whole day shopping. I did not realize how much work it would be to go shopping. It was a ton of work. We had to buy a fridge and a stove for my apartment. I had no way of cooking food and no way of storing food.

The first stop of the day was the UPS store. We found out that we can receive packages through UPS there just needs to be a phone number on the package. Unfortunately it is fairly strike that REALLY expensive to send things via UPS, but it is the safest way to do so. A part of some of the missions projects involve being sent things from the US, now that we know we can receive things from UPS we will be able to get more things sent to us like yarn and glasses.

We got to the market and found the stores that we wanted to go to. The market is full of people. There are people and cars everywhere. The stores are overcrowded just like the streets. We found a good place to buy appliances but they would not budge on the prices. So we went to another place next door. They were a little more willing to work on the price. It is so nice to have someone buying these things for me or else I would be in trouble.

We went next door and we bought a fan. I did not know the salesman but Momma Mbwizo did and so she got us a really good deal, but she had to work for it. The sales man asked if I was Momma Mbwizo’s daughter and she said yes. He relied that I was a rose and that he liked her rose. Hahaha… Momma then told him I was engaged. It was so funny. Then when we were loading up everything in the car, another sales man came and gave me his phone number. It was really funny.

The next place we went was stop and shop. It is an American store with American things in it. I was able to buy some food and some other things that I needed, like envelopes. Those cannot be found anywhere. I really wanted some food from home, so I was going to buy some jiff peanut butter however turns out it was going to be $15.00. I decided to skip on that but instead I bought really expensive Mac and Cheese. I did this because I have not been able to find chees ANYWHERE…. I really just want some cheese! 

Georgette

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Georgette 
There is a woman who works for the Mission. She has been so kind to me, she is also very excited that I am here. She told me that she has been praying for me for a very long time. She has a very important role in the UMW. I am not really for sure what her role is, I know she told me but I have been told a lot of information lately! I have heard bits and parts of her story and I heard a very sad part today. She works for the mission and is therefore paid a salary for working at the mission. The salary that she receives is very very little. I am pretty sure it is less than $1,000 dollars a year. I know that she does work because she is at the mission house every day. If you ever need something she is the first one to stand up to help you or get you whatever you need. She has such a kind spirit.
Georgette is not very old and has 2 children. I am pretty sure that she is no older than I am. Her children are the ages of 12 and 9. Today I was talking with Georgette and we were talking about how expensive things are. Everything is so expensive here. Gorgetta is trying to go to college to further her education but she is barley being able to survive. So much so that only one of her children will be able to go to school and automatically it will be the boy. Also she told me that last night she was not able to feed her children dinner because she had no food and no money for food. Also Georgette lives in a one room apartment with her two children because she cannot afford anything else.
Since gorgetta works for the mission she went to annual conference. She did not have anywhere to leave her children so she left them with her mother. Her mother does not really like her or the children at all. When Georgette was at annual conference she got a call from her mother’s neighbor telling her that her daughter was kicked out of the house and she was having to sleep in a bush outside in the yard. Turns out the mother was abusing the children just because she does not like Georgette. Georgette had to beg her mother to just leave the children alone so that Georgette could finish the conference.
Georgetta has told me that she is going to come and visit me on the weekend because her kids really want to meet me! I am very excited! She is trying to learn English to try and get ahead and so I am going to help her with her English and she will help me with my French!

If anyone would be willing to adopt her family and help pay for school for her kids that would be amazing. Maybe a family per child. Also if anyone would like to help out with any of her school fees that would be great as well. She is such an amazing women and really deserves any help she can get. If you are willing and able to help please contact me and I can help get things worked out. Thanks so much!