Friday, July 3, 2015

Meetings and the Installation

Happy Independence Day to all in the US!  It is not, of course, a holiday in Cameroon or CAR, but the Langdjis and I went out to eat at Café Yaoundé to celebrate today.  (We are not going tomorrow because Willie will be travelling.  We are not going this evening because Francois Holland, French President, will be in town (from 5 – 10 p.m.) and traffic will be impossible then!) 

So, you can see that I am safely back in Cameroon after about ten days in CAR.  The route, as expected, was long both ways, but uneventful.  Read the last blog entry backwards for our return 

trip…  I will add that we stopped in Berberati on the way from Bouar to Bangui.  Once again I noticed from the air that much of the ground is green, not developed with occasional small village.  The picture on the left is such a town with lots of “bush” around.  The other picture is Bangui from the air.    

So, what did we do?  Willie Langdji and I participated in meetings to assist in the transition from the out-going President and Vice-President of EELRCA to the new team.  The five members of the new team (President, VP, Secretary, Treasurer, and Financial Administrator) worked well as they considered the current state of the church.  Out-going President Goliké came for an hour to give his perspective and to highlight or provide more details for some issues identified. 

Next, the new team worked on developing their planning documents.  They were able to do most of the talking and planning with some organizational support from Willie and me.  I typed what was said into the planning form – mostly because I was the fasted typer there…  We used an LCD projector to show the work on a screen for all to see – “high tech” even! (And in a town with no public utility service; we used a generator for power.)  As the work took longer than originally planned (doesn’t it always?!?), the team agreed to add extra hours to get as much done as possible while we were together.  Through great cooperation we made lots of progress.  Toward the end of the time, we heard many expressions of thanks for facilitating this transition.  Leaders were also glad to have a plan to help them immediately start work in an organized, focused way.

Monday, June 29 we (the five EELRCA officials, Willie, and I) met with the National Church Council to help orient them, especially in relation to EELRCA’s Vision, Mission, Goal and three objectives (just clarified and strengthened the previous week).  About half the members have served before and the others were new.  They, too, appreciated the orientation. 

In and around these official meetings, Willie and I met with individuals to further plans for various projects.  Here Willie is talking with Catherine Naabeau, Director of the Health Center in Bohong and Coordinator of Health Services for EELRCA. 

During the weekend, official activities were held.  Saturday was the “Passation de Service” or official handing over of keys, stamps, books, official records, and authority from Outgoing President Goliké to Incoming President Samuel Ndanga-Toué.

I know that many of you don’t yet know Pres. Ndanga-Toué.  Here is a little background.  He is a 50-year old man who has been active in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Central African Republic for years.  He trained as a pastor and has done further studies in theology at the Master’s and Doctoral levels.  Some of his studies were completed in Geneva, Switzerland.  For the past few years he has been Director of the Theological Seminary in Baboua.  He will be moving from Baboua soon to live in the President’s house in Bouar (between the Administration Building and the ELCA guest house).  He is married and has five children. 

Sunday, during the regular liturgy, Pres. Ndanga-Toué was installed as President by Pastor Paul Denou (current pastor at St. Timothée in Bangui and former EELRCA President).  It was a four-hour service with lots of singing and sharing.  Gifts were given to the out-going and in-coming presidents.  Former-President Goliké spoke and the sermon was given by a pastor of the local Apostolic Church.  As is the tradition in CAR, several choirs sang and groups of people (for example, Ndanga-Toué’s family, people from Baboua, those from Bouar – including me, etc.) had outfit made of the same material.  After he was installed, Pres. Ndanga-Toué installed the Vice President, Pastor Rachel Doumbaye, and the National Church Council.
After the service, some women of the church prepared a meal that we shared in the large paillote (thatched hut) behind the administration building.  We ate and talked and celebrated. 

While I was in Bouar, I tried to go for a walk each day to stretch my legs and see a little more of Bouar.  This picture was taken on a misty morning, about 6:15 a.m.  Many, many people are out and
 about – already selling and buying at the market, headed to market, going to work, etc. Still, it was a calm, beautiful time.

And to end, a picture of our hotel lobby in Bangui – pretty nice huh?? Can you find my “hidden” picture??

Happy 4th of July to all.

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