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In the first part of the month of June we said goodbye to friends and family. Our Canadian home church, Mission Baptist of Hamilton, Ontario, sent us forth at their annual Sunday church picnic with the whole congregation coming around us to lay on hands and pray for us. Saying “goodbye” to loved ones, when it is unlikely you will see them for a long time, is bittersweet.
After almost a year of home assignment in North America, we boarded a plane in Toronto, Ontario, on June 20 and travelled back to Cameroon, arriving at our mission home in Bamenda on June 22. Believing we are returning to where God wants us to be, we entered the North West (Anglophone) Region. We could see how the political unrest had depressed the economy and sadly how infrastructure had been neglected and is rapidly deteriorating. Despite returning to a politically unsettled situation, it is good to be back!
Thus far we are safe and sound. Every Monday is a general strike day here where no vehicles travel on the road and no businesses are open. They are referred to as Ghost Town days. Some weeks have additional Ghost Town days, further slowing the economy. On regular days, Florence is able to go to her dental clinic across town, but because of the depressed economy, business is slower than it was in the pre-crisis days. Florence has also resumed her role of directing the English choir at church.
My accounting work is right here on the compound and there is no shortage of work. I am under orders to not go off the compound unless absolutely necessary. Since reaching here on June 22, I have only been off the compound 4 times. Sometimes I feel like a budgie in a bird cage, wishing I could be a soaring eagle. But then again we have to thank God for the safety we have enjoyed.
The unrest and killings in our region continue. Continue to pray for a better peace to come to Cameroon.
On July 28, our home church here (on the compound where we live), Nkwen Baptist Church, had 31 people baptized – 18 females and 13 males. One was a hearing impaired man, who had given his confession of faith by sign language, and another was a francophone, from the small francophone congregation that is attached to the church. The service started at 7:00 am with a brief devotional from a student pastor, doing a holiday internship at our church, then came the baptism. The candidates wear very casual street clothes to enter the baptismal tank and thereafter change and are dressed to the nines for the rest of the service, which includes a Lord’s Supper. Two of the young men made me smile extra hard when they entered the baptismal tank. One had a t-shirt on that said “SPA;” the other had t-shirt with the words, “Let this party begin.”
The service lasted 4 1/2 hours. But God is good. Apart from the baptisms, we are hearing of many successful church planting efforts going on in the Bamenda area. When one considers that resources are tight and people do not feel secure to be out at night or travel to certain parts of town, this church growth is quite remarkable.
So, while we cannot recommend this part of Cameroon as a safe and stable place to be, we are glad to be back. We are doing the work we are called to do and seeing God move in His church. We are thankful for those involved in sending us, supporting me, and praying for us. It is an honour and a privilege. Thank you. God bless.
Walter & Florence Grob