Monday, November 4, 2013

New Weather, Harest Offerings, and other News

The dry season has come.  It has not rained for 4-5 days, but even more, the sun feels hotter; the humidity is down; temperatures have gone up (but it still cools off nicely at night); and the breezes have picked up.  It is amazing to me that this can happen from one day to the next.  This afternoon it was 75 degrees in my bedroom with 46% humidity; 104° in the sun (22% humidity) and 84° in the shade (36% humidity).  So, OK, I was playing for part of this afternoon instead of doing some other things on my list!  It feels pleasant to me – but no wonder I feel hot when I walk to the market in the sun! 
a few days ago

a few days ago

this afternoon

this afternoon
The “lake” of a road behind the guest house has dried up, although the torn up grass where motorcycles, trucks, and people went around the huge puddle are still visible. 

There are morning glories growing up the banana plants (also behind my house). 

Tuesday, October 29, the Lutheran School for Biblical and Theological Studies in Garoua Boulai (which I usually call by the shorter title, Bible School), hosted a Round Table for Protestantism Week in Cameroon.  Various churches got together and picked the theme of “Walking Together” (from Philippians 3:16).  This round table had a panel of 3 local pastors with the Bible School Director as moderator.  Speakers gave a brief history of Protestantism, the basics of what it means to be Lutheran, and the status of protestant groups in Garoua Boulai.  Panelists read their remarks.  (Presenters in the US do that, too, but I find it
harder to follow than someone who speaks from notes…)  The moderator then summed up each person’s speech as he finished.  After 45-minutes, the audience (mostly Bible School students with some other local pastors/catechists – all Lutherans), asked questions.  The moderator accepted two rounds of three questions each.  It was interesting to me that he noted the three questions and then had the panelists answer them.  I think it is more common in the US that each question is answered after it is asked.  (Just noticing a difference.) 

Thursday, October 31 all the local churches had a special service for Reformation Day (the day that Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the door of the cathedral in Wittenberg, Germany, and inadvertently started Protestantism).   My church at home included the 95 theses in this month’s newsletter.  I was pleased to see a modern translation of them.  I don’t know if I had ever read them all before.  Luther, a monk who spent a lot of time studying the Bible, wanted to correct excesses within the Catholic Church.  He said that indulgences could not be sold to people to lessen their time in purgatory or to buy them forgiveness for their sins.  The pope and some bishops sold these certificates to get money for cathedral-building.  I found a copy of the theses in French and posted them on the bulletin board at the Bible School.  One student joked we should post them on the door of the local Catholic Church.  I answered it was not necessary because they no longer accept the sale of certificates of forgiveness!  I encourage you to look for and read them.  Everyone could benefit from this bit of history with a reminder that we are saved by the grace of God.

November 1 was All Saints’ Day and November 2 was All Souls’ Day.  While these were mentioned and EEL-RCA recognizes Nov. 1 as a holiday, there was less mention of these days than of the reformation. 

In churches here all through October and early November, people give their harvest offerings.  So, each group (such as Women for Christ, the Bible School, each choir, youth, Sunday School, the hospital…) ask its members to make a special donation which is recorded in a notebook.  Then, each Sunday during this period several of the groups meet at the back of the church and process in dancing to present their offerings.  They carry a plate with the envelopes, often with flowers.  A special committee sits at a table in the front to receive and count the offerings.  It is a joyful time.  Yesterday, during the liturgy, various groups brought their offerings which took about 45 minutes.

Regular offerings are still given each week and sometimes special ones, too.
  (Yesterday, they also collected money for the regional synodical retreat.)  Still, these harvest offerings bring in a huge portion of the church’s budget.  Churches in the US also use special times to collect special offerings.  I am thinking of my home church, East Liberty Lutheran that celebrated its 59th anniversary yesterday.  Congregants are encouraged to give an extra anniversary gift.  And, we in the US, often give extra offerings at Christmas and Easter.  Here the tradition is to give a large harvest offering.  No church I have been a member of has been able to raise as much as the French congregation has this year (and past years, I am told) in Garoua Boulai.  An inspiration for us??? 

Did you know that pigs running around loose in the yard will dig up holes as they look for whatever it is that they eat?  I guess that would be like the pigs that people use to find truffles!  Except here, there is no one to stop them from making a mess of the yard.  Fortunately, I haven’t seen any the pigs around my house for a few days and the dug-up patches are settling back into place. 

I am convinced that every government and country has a bureaucracy – but the level may vary.  I have noticed here that usually when you go to an office for any reason, the person will inevitably say that you must go back tomorrow (or the next day, or next week) because whatever it is can’t be done that day.  S/he says s/he will have it ready by Tuesday (or tomorrow or they’ll call when it’s ready).  Then, when you go back to the office, s/he completes the task while you sit and wait – even if s/he called to say it was ready!  Why not just make you wait the first day you go?  What kind of sense does that make?  I know, I know, bureaucracies don’t make sense and are fueled by people in low-level positions who use waiting to have “power” over others.  Sigh. 

May your contacts with bureaucracy be minimal this week!  And may you enjoy sunny weather even if it is much cooler there than here. 

Continue to pray for peace and security in the Central African Republic.  

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