Friday, November 7, 2014


Today would have been my father's 87th birthday.  

I am thinking a lot about him today – and my family.  Missing him.

Recently, I have been helping to plan for the EEL-RCA/Partners’ Consultation which will be held in Garoua Boulai Nov. 20-24.  If we could have it in Bouar as we did during my first year in this job, the church administration could do much of this.  But, insecurity still has a strangle hold on the Central African Republic.  It is true that many towns and many people have begun to rebuild their lives.  A major problem continues to be bandits (let’s not even call them rebels to be honest) who stop cars on the road and demand money.  They have occasionally taken people hostage and burned cars.  I read an article on the internet yesterday that talked about a meeting of some ex-Seleka rebels in Kaga Bandoro in which they named (among other leaders) who will collect taxes (  Wait!  Governments collect taxes, right?  It seems those at the meeting were taking about the “taxes” collected at the barriers that they establish and tax money they can get from those extracting natural resources. Other ex-Selekas (not at the meeting) disagree with actions taken.  It seems the ex-Seleka are now divided into three groups.  Then, you have the anti-Balaka, the Miskines, and those just out to get what they can.  No wonder we are not meeting in Bouar this month! 
I do not want to minimize the risk that the Central African church leaders will take as they come to Garoua Boulai.  The bandits on the road between Baboua and Garoua Boulai stop cars about every 10-14 days.  Unfortunately, we can’t know which days that will be.  We are grateful to the church leaders for taking the risk and enabling them to meet with the partners (from the USA and Europe).  Pray for their safe travel.

There will be about 30 participants – arriving from different places on different days at a variety of times.  GB does not have hotels as we do in the US.  Participants can’t just make reservations on the internet and pay individually with a credit card.  Remember this is a cash society.  EVERYTHING happens with cash – just to add another challenge to planning logistics. 

The primary planners for this meeting are President Golike and the EEL-RCA administration; Anne and Willie Langdji, ELCA Regional Representatives, David Gbabiri and Marthe Yapana, ELCA workers at the GB station; Dr. Solofo, doctor at the Protestant Hospital in GB; and me.  You might realize that we are located in at least three locations (sometimes more as people travel for work!)  I am grateful for phones and internet connections.  What a huge difference they make.

We do not have 30 beds in the guest houses here on the station.  Filling to the max we can handle about 15 people.  There is a Centre Social, run by the Cameroonian Evangelical Lutheran Church – but they don’t run a schedule as we would expect a hotel or guest house to do in the US.  They will reserve us some rooms, though.  And, we have heard of a new “auberge” not far from the station.  (That’s somewhere between a hostel and a hotel.)  With a help of a couple of people who will host people at their houses, right now it looks like we can provide beds for everyone! 

I am also working on collecting schedule requests.  Partners, of course, want to meet with leaders of programs they sponsor.  Some leaders will be included in the general meeting, but others will not so we have to see if when they can come (and where they will stay if they come for more than the day).  Partners also want to meet with people in Yaoundé, Bertoua, Garoua Boulai, and N’gaoundéré.  I don’t have to organize all the visits.  (Thankfully!)  But who goes where when will impact who stays in GB when – and who eats. 

Next, we need to consider food.  Again, there aren't restaurants we can use.  Yes, there are some in town, but we are not sure about sanitation and don’t want to take a chance with so many munjus (Sango for white people) arriving.  We will hire someone to cook and do dishes, etc.  Next week we’ll meet with Angeline, the caterer – once I have a better handle of who will be in GB when. 

Yes, my head is swimming with details and the desire to create a schedule that can be easily read and followed.  Well, and an accurate budget proposal, too…  Closer to the day, we’ll worry about making sure the station is presentable and rooms prepared. 

Fortunately, EEL-RCA is establishing the agenda and taking care of the main meetings. 

Building a Roof, Part 3

I took a break this morning and drove to Garaousayee Church (several kilometers from my house).  This is the place where the South Dakotan team came to help build the roof, but the walls collapsed.  Several weeks ago I visited to see the new reinforced, strong walls.  Yesterday, workers began work on the roof again.  They are able to use the wooden supports from before, but some need to be repaired and all are being reinforced before they are installed.  Next week, these will be in place and the corrugated metal pieces will be installed.  Optimistic workers hope to be done in a week.  Maybe I’ll have time for a photo of the finished building before I write my next blog entry.  

No comments:

Post a Comment