Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Tuesday: Taking in the New Office Smell

Tuesday was my first full day in the new office! That’s always a great feeling. I can still smell the freshly-stained wood paneling … and the walls are clean.

Our offices are now located on the top floor of the two-story Fobang Foundation building in Simbok, a suburb to the south of Yaounde. Dr. Wilfred Mbacham is the head of the foundation, and has yet to move all of his offices to the new location, so the halls are very quiet, making it a perfect work environment! Plus, it’s only a couple of kilometers from the house.

I started my first day in a meeting with Dr. Mbacham, and we talked about plans for the grand opening of the Center, which will attract leading health and medical figures in Cameroon, as well as the U.S. Ambassador.

After he left the office, I got back to work on the Annual Meeting. At this stage, it’s still details, details, details.

I spent much time planning the worship services which will open and close the meeting. In the absence of the Bishop, I will be preaching at the opening Communion service. I have asked Rev. Isaac Agre, chair of the Board of Ordained Ministry and member of Cote d’Ivoire Annual Conference, to preach the closing service. I’m also hoping to have guest choir performances from our two Yaounde churches.

I’ve also put together a preliminary agenda for the Annual Meeting, and Board of Ordained Ministry meetings. Both are subject to review and revision by the Bishop and General Board of Global Ministries. But it’s a start.

And I had Pastor Simeon come by the office in the afternoon to help me with one my most pressing challenges – making telephone calls to all the French-speaking pastors to confirm that they have all the information they need for Annual Meeting. I can manage myself in short conversations in French. But it’s important to get these details right. So I rely on Francophones to speak to Francophones to communicate the essentials.

Not only that, but telephone is practically the only reliable form of communication we have, short of sending someone in person. The mail system is spotty, and sending things by bus or other public transport is complicated. Of course, very few people use email.

So Simeon sat in the office and called them one by one: “Don’t forget to arrive on Thursday, April 26 by 5 pm … Bring two delegates from your church … Bring toiletries and bedding … Head straight to the Centre Jean Paul in Mvolye … Worship begins at 6 pm … Start praying now …”