Saturday, March 29, 2008


The last week of February, Cameroon had some major civil unrest. The present president, who has been in power for many years, would like to change the constitution so he can continue to seek additional terms. Additionally the cost of important essentials like gas and food had increased sufficiently that it was difficult for the common people to afford them. The result were four days of protests and civil disturbance in Douala, where we have 4 missionaries and a senior couple, and some lesser tensions in the capital city of Yaounde, where there are 6 missionaries and another wonderful senior couple. Heavenly Father was very gracious and protective of all our missionaries during this time, and we are so very grateful.

We were scheduled to fly to Douala on Monday, Feb. 25th, but our flight arrives right around midnight. Usually the Coles come and pick up us, but for their safety, it wouldn't have been wise for them to be out on the streets at that hour in a time of tension. The airport is only about 5 kilometers from their apartment, but it had been cut off during the day and there was no knowing what the situation would have been. We could have stayed at the airport and slept on a bench overnight, and hoped for better conditions on Tuesday so someone could come pick us up, but the Spirit guided us not to go. As it turned out that was the inspired decision, as there were several days of significant unrest before things settled down.

Thanks to the Coles and their great relationship with the American consular general in Douala, the embassy sent an armored Suburban to pick up the missionaries on Tuesday morning. They had ventured out on Monday morning but immediately sensed the difficulties, and had been hunkered down in their apartment for the rest of Monday, listening to some small arms fire on their street. Sister Coles was magnificent to take in the 4 elders, feed them, etc. until things settled down and they went back to their apartment on Friday. The Hanks did a wonderfully similar job up in Yaounde, where although there wasn't as much physical damage, the concerns over the missionaries was the same. We counseled daily with Church Security in Salt Lake, the two couples in Cameroon, and the Area Presidency in Johannesburg.

A modern car dealership near the airport was totally ransacked and destroyed. Across the street, a gas distribution center had six big tank trucks all burned out. Nearly all the gas stations in the area immediately east of Douala were destroyed. On the west side, the damage was less, but here is a Texaco station where everything was broken, looted and the pumps pushed over.

As we drove through the streets of Douala, you could see the melted pavement where either cars or piles of tires were set on fire. Thanks to the missionaries and the Coles and Hanks for their faith, courage and to all the parents for their prayers.

The damage from this disturbance in Cameroon was relatively minor, compared to the damage that you see in the Republic of Congo and the DRC from the civil wars in these countries. The major conflict in the DRC has taken place on the eastern side of the country, and the toll is not in physical damage, but in roughly 4 - 5 million lives that have been lost through either the conflict or its terrible consequences on the civilian population.

Brazzaville and the Republic of Congo, across the river from the DRC, had several terrible civil wars 10 - 12 years ago. The remnants and reminders of this conflict are everywhere. Here in a residential neighborhood of very humble circumstances sits a rusty veteran. We looked at a prospective missionary apartment for sister missionaries about two blocks from here.

Here is what is left of a very modern office building after the civil war in Brazzaville. Totally destroyed, either by the war or the subsequent looting, etc.
There is a very large 30 story highrise office building right along the river in Kinshasa, where we walk at night. The street is where the embassies or ambassadorial residences of most major nations are located. The building has some windows shot out, and we have never seen an occupant in it. The garage space on the main level is occupied by some tanks and armored personnel carriers -- every so often, they fire up one and run it down the street and back. There are sandbagged machine gun posts and APC's standing guard at locations along the street.

We hope there is peace here in these countries. In II Chronicles 7:14, it states, "If my people, who are called by my name, shall numlbe themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." We pray each night that the people will turn from their sins, seek the Lord and humble themselves, and we know that He will heal their lands.On the main street in Brazzaville, here's what remains of a relatively modern supermarket, after their civil wars. Although it has been years since the war, there is no effort to rebuild -- no insurance money, and perhaps a lack of faith that it wouldn't happen again. The general public are the losers. Obviously this building took a lot of abuse.
In North America, we have never seen the physical consequences of conflict for 145 years, since the Civil War. Truly Heavenly Father has blessed our land in so many ways. Our hope and prayer is that people will remember God, so He will continue to bless our lands with peace. What a wonderful blessing that has been. And how we ought to thank those who had the courage and loyalty to serve in the great armed conflicts, and in the armed services even up to today. They help preserve the peace, not only for America, but for the world. We see UN soldiers here from many nations, at great personal sacrifice, helping to preserve the peace here. Our hope is that they will succeed, and the people will learn that only through peace and co-operation with each other can their country progress. When it does, there will be hundreds of congregations, tens of stakes, and a temple of the Lord. What a great blessing that will be!!
Love to all -- Don and Marsha


darcie said...
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darcie said...

Hi Uncle Don and Aunt Marsha! I just wanted to let you know how much I love to read your blog and hear about all your adventures and missionaries! I love to see all the pictures and the happy smiles on everyone there.

You are doing amazing work out there in Africa and our we remember you in our family prayers everyday! You are such great examples to me and my family, thanks for touching our lives and for all your missionary work!