Saturday, February 26, 2005

A Visit from America

It’s been two weeks since I’ve properly blogged (I owe a big thanks to Maman Leah, who has kept our current Lent series of blogs updated). Over the last two weeks, I’ve been playing host to a group of nine Americans who came on a Volunteers in Mission trip.

First, let me say that is was great to see my friends, Rev. Milton Gutierrez, Rev. Bart Smith, and Rev. Joe Zinser, all of the North Texas Conference. And I made some great new friends – Wanda Holcome, Kathie Mann, Ginger Cooper, Marcus Freeman, Sue Murray, and Bill McCown. They were a breath of fresh air! Plus, they brought lots of American-style goodies, including jars of salsa and Country Time Lemonade!

They came with a very specific goal, however. The team split and went two different directions – half accompanied me to Kumba, in the heart of the Southwest Province, and the other half followed Pastor Billong to Yaounde. Each team sponsored a two-day conference with pastors and laypeople.

The conferences were designed to help the leaders of the UMC in Cameroon to help assess their situation, set goals for the future, anticipate obstacles, and finally create a plan of action. Afterwards, the VIM team members met back together for a few days of planning in the seaside town of Kribi, to decide what partner churches in America can do to help the emerging church in Cameroon.

By the time they got on the plane late Wednesday night, everyone was exhausted, but with a sense of anticipation and expectation.

More importantly, I think the pastors and leaders of the United Methodist Church in Cameroon have hope that good things are going to happen. And the team’s intention was to help empower the church here to take hold of their God-inspired future, and move forward.

As Pastor Billong told the team as they left, “You have brought us hope.”