Update #1: An Adventure Begins in Africa

Prayer Warriors,

As you know we have been dedicated to an effort to train & equip workers to aid the church in East Asia and bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the unreached. We support a collaboration of local churches that have committed to this endeavor to make disciples of all nations. Over the past few years we have learned that one of the best ways to reach the nations is to train & equip local believers and pastors to plant healthy churches and reach out to the community. One of our collaborative partners has been given an opportunity to travel to Cameroon to train & teach local church pastors. This is such a great opportunity and we wanted to ask you to help us continue the effort of lifting up our workers, that they may be strengthened in the Lord and that God would bear fruit from the trip.

Here is the first update from Pastor Bill:

It’s Tuesday night here in Cameroon, and I thought that I’d share the adventure of the past couple of days.  (It was a little over 26 hours of travel time to get here.)

The trip to Cameroon started out great.  Duane, the other guy who’s on the trip called to let me know that he was at the airport in San Jose waiting to go to SeaTac for his connection into Paris.  I got to the airport in plenty of time; only took about 5 minutes to check in once they found a scanner that would read a passport.  Then I had TSA precheck so that took another 5 minutes.  My flight to Atlanta took off on time.  Got there and made it to the international terminal, fired up the iPhone, and saw that I had a voicemail.  That’s when the fun started.  Duane’s flight to SeaTac got cancelled because of mechanical problems.  So they set him up on a series of flights that wouldn’t get into Cameroon until Thursday!  That meant that I was going to have to teach all day Wednesday and Thursday, as well as teach part of his class on Systematic Theology.  So I called him to figure out how we were going to pull that off.  When I got hold of him, he had managed to get different flight arrangements that would get him in at 11:00 am on Wednesday. So I’ll teach the morning session, and he should be there for the afternoon session. (I can hardly wait to see what kind of shape he’s in tomorrow!)

I didn’t have any other issues on the way to Cameroon, but at one point I had the police, the border patrol, and a whole bunch of other people combing the airport grounds and the city streets looking for me!  (The airport is about 30 km from town.)

I guess I’d better explain.  I was supposed to meet a man named Ernest from World Hope the airport.  He was supposed to have a sign with my name on it.  Well, when I got through customs, I didn’t see a sign, but there was a guy who called me over (he knew my name.)  I’d never met Ernest before so I figured that that was him.  We took my bags out to the car and headed for the city.  He wasn’t real talkative which I thought was strange, but maybe he was just having a bad day.  Five minutes into the trip into town, the car we were in broke down on the side of the road.  The driver took off to get some oil, and we sat there half off and half on the road in the car. (BTW, the driving rules here pretty much mimic China.)  He still wasn’t very talkative, but I figured that something had happened with the car on the way to the airport, and he was just ticked off at the guy who was driving.  But something just wasn’t feeling right.  Anyway 15 minutes or so later, the driver gets back and puts oil in the car.  He gets it started back up, and we go another 5-10 minutes and the car dies again.  Off goes the driver again.  Apparently, we’d run out of gas.  15 minutes later, he comes back with gas.  This time we make it into town. (I thought several times that we were going to die because of the driving.)

Anyway, “Ernest” then asks me what hotel I’m staying at.  (Uh Oh.)  I tell him the Prestige Hotel (trust me it’s not that prestigious!)  They take me there.  The driver needs some money (an amount that I thought was outrageous considering where we were).  “Ernest” and I go in, and there’s no reservation.  The clerk said that it must be the other Prestige Hotel.  I’m really starting to get worried now.

On the way to the other Prestige, I decided that I should text Vicki (the logistics coordinator at World Hope) to at least get a description of Ernest.  While I’m getting her number, I get texts and a phone call from World Hope.  They’re looking for me.  Ernest has been at the airport and can’t find me.  They’ve got the border patrol and police looking for me.  They’re frantic.  I’m giving them a description of the car.  I’m okay, but who knows.  While I’m talking to them, we get to the other Prestige Hotel.  I tell the “Ernest” guy that I’m going to go make sure that I’ve got a reservation at this one.  I grab my bags and tell them that I’ll be right back out to pay them the rest of what they want.  God bless Stuart (the director of World Hope), he stayed on the phone with me until I was sure that it was the right hotel.  Apparently, he had told them that the police were searching for me as well.  When I went in to the hotel, the real Ernest’s wife was there waiting for me.  Needless to say, they were gone when I went back out (to get their license plate, etc.)

Ernest came to the hotel a couple of minutes later. The whole office at World Hope was looking for me and coordinating with the different authorities and Ernest.

It all turned out okay.  I’m fine.  I never really felt like I was in any danger.  When I’d started getting that weird feeling, I just turned it over to God.  I never felt like I was in any physical danger.  My gut feeling was that the worst thing that would happen would be that I might lose some money.  I’ll let them take it up with God.

So anyway, I’m in Cameroon.  The internet’s not working at the hotel.  I can’t get my phone to call out (but amazingly enough, it worked in the car when I turned it on, and it continued to work the whole time until I was safe in the hotel.)  But that’s probably just a coincidence, not everyone’s prayers.

Keep praying!  Duane isn’t here yet, so we need travel mercies for him.  We start teaching tomorrow.  I have 217 students that are waiting to learn about the New Testament here in Cameroon.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot.  The showers will be very quick and very invigorating this week.  There’s no hot water.  Ah, the joys of travelling to spread God’s word!

God bless,

Pastor Bill

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