It’s been almost a week since our first National Youth Camp ended, and I still am recovering from the excitement. Besides the thrill of being at the beach with forty young Christians, we were visited by three new friends from America. Here’s what happened last week in a nutshell:
... Diane Johnson, Larry Coppock, and Richard Shinhoster arrived at the Douala Airport on Monday evening, where I greeted them in my clergy collar. Diane is the one who wrote the grant that enabled this camp to happen; she works for the General Board of Global Ministries. Richard actually sits on the Board of Directors for GBGM; he also owns a successful import/export business, specializing in African art. And Larry is the National Director of Scouting Ministries for the United Methodist Church.
... On Wednesday, the first full day of youth camp, as Larry was walking across the hotel grounds, he slipped and fell, breaking his left wrist in the process. Leah and I had to drive him two hours away to Douala, to get his wrist looked at. Fortunately, his wrist was set and cast, and we were back by that late afternoon.
... The site of the youth camp was the Presbyterian Retreat Centre, located right on the beach in Kribi. For most of the youth, it was the first time they have ever seen the ocean, much less dipped a foot in it! Before the end of the week, many of them were happy to jump in and splash!
... The camp lasted from Tuesday to Friday, and featured a series of special speakers, including government ministers who spoke about AIDS prevention and education, Catherine Akale, our other GBGM missionary in Cameroon, and myself and Leah.
... Besides special speakers and worship, we played games on the beach, and had a bonfire, complete with roasted marshmallows. None of the kids had ever seen marshmallows before, so they were a little surprised by the taste.
... The kids showed a remarkable knowledge of the Bible; in our times of fellowship and conversation, they continually asked probing, difficult questions about what the Bible says.
... On Monday, Pastor Billong got a call from one of the pastors who reported that his youth were so excited about what they'd experienced that they were already asking when the next one would be!