President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated the Aba Nigeria Temple on Sunday, August 7, 2005. Two weeks later a courageous group of Saints from Cameroon boarded two mini-buses and headed to the temple. The two branches of the Church in Cameroon are Douala and Yaounde. Members from both branches were included in this trip. As the crow flies, Aba is only about 175 miles west of Douala. Douala is 125 miles west of Yaounde. The roads from Douala to Aba are not direct, nor are they paved.
These Saints, accompanied by Elder and Sister Badger, set off on a real life adventure. The Badgers captured the journey on their digital camera and have graciously allowed us to use their story and some pictures. Many thanks to these valiant missionaries.
The Trip to Aba
The group with Elder and Sister Badger (rear center) preparing to leave Yaounde
with some friends and young missionaries wishing them well.
West of Duoala, past paved roads, initially
there were pretty good graded roads.
But remember it is the rainy season and
soon the roads became more challenging.
|The men shoveled...
|The passengers walked.
|And the drivers did their best.
Traveling through tiny villages
were roadside vendors.
|What is this mysterious amber liquid?
It's diesel fuel, by the gallon!
After 36 hours on the road
they arrived at the Nigerian border.
The Cameroonians were allowed through,
but not the two Americans.
Tired and Disappointed
The Cameroonians and camera continued
while the Badgers made friends in Ekok
village for 5 days.
After two and a half days
on the road...
...they arrived at the beautiful
Aba Nigeria Temple.
|The happy travelers...
...were greeted by President Bushman
of the Temple Presidency.
Checking in at patron housing
in the ancillary building
Checking out the wonderful
kitchen and dining facilities
Excited about a refrigerator/freezer
(Note the bunch of plantains on left)...
...and a microwave oven and sink
with running hot and cold water
|Repacking the mini-buses...
|...after life-changing experiences
Arrangements were made for a four-
wheel drive vehicle to accompany
the mini-buses on the return journey.
Towing straps made passage through
the deep mud holes much easier.
|Well, it was better, but not easy.
The caravan strapped together
with towing straps
Elder and Sister Badger with
the driver of the pull truck
|A happy group at a rest stop
|It was a long trip,...
|a very long trip.
Back at the starting point
|Happy to be Home
Elder Badger's Story
After Moses had wandered 40 years in the wilderness, the Lord said unto him, “This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither.” (Deut. 34:4) Sister Badger and I had a similar experience. After riding in a crowded bus for over 36 hours we arrived at the little village of Ekok on the border between Cameroon and Nigeria. We had all the papers that we were told to bring, but it was not enough. Seven hours later, after much pleading and appeals to the top officials, the Nigerian Police remained firm on their decision: the two Americans could not go on. No visa, no entry. The Cameroon citizens were permitted entry on the strength of the Letter of Invitation, but the Americans had to remain in Cameroon. Tears were shed and a meeting was held with all of the members. Cameroonian Francs were exchanged for Nigerian Nira and 40 of our Cameroonian brothers, sisters and children set off in two small buses on what was supposed to be an easy 8-hour trip to Aba.
Little did anyone realize the difficulty a bus with Cameroonian license plates would have traveling the roads in Nigeria. It was 18 hours later when our exhausted travelers finally arrived at the Aba Temple. All totaled it was just over 64 hours of travel time. Everyone said it was worth the effort. Endowments were received, families were sealed and baptisms were performed.
While the members continued on to Aba, we made arrangements to stay in a little African hotel named the Bruce Hotel. It was only 2,000 cfc per day ($4.00). This included breakfast. Water was carried up to our second floor room in large pails on the head of our host, Evaristus. He explained this was necessary because water does not flow up hill. The generator kicked on at 6:00 p.m., the Sonel power (Public utility) took over at 8:00 and continued to midnight. Breakfast was always an egg omelet with thick slices of bread with no butter, jam, or honey. It was prepared below in the kitchen and carried up to the day room. One morning there were African oranges picked fresh from the tree in the yard. For supper we walked down the muddy street to a nice little café for some very tasty African dishes. Two full-course meals of fish, noodles, rice, potatoes and a bottle of purified water came to about 3,200 cfa ($6.40). After our first visit to the café, we sent Evaristus down to the café with our order about one hour before meal time in order to avoid the wait for the preparation. Our order would be something like “please prepare exactly what we had last evening, except without the fish." It was exciting to arrive for supper to see what had been prepared. It was always a totally different meal! This was not surprising because even in high class restaurants the orders are mixed up 9 times out of 10.
It was indeed a true African vacation. I suppose there would be some who would pay much money to experience a genuine African “Trend West” time share vacation at the Bruce Hotel. Personally, I enjoy running water, electricity, towels and sheets. Africa is a noisy place. Sound proofing is not part of the building codes. Windows are open. Walls are thin. Roosters start to crow long before daylight. Children are up early playing simple games of tag, football, or just teasing one another. For over five days, we were the village celebrities. When we walked the streets there was a chorus of children calling out “whites, whites.”
One afternoon I asked Evaristus if he or any of his friends would like to see a movie that would tell a little of why we were in Africa. That evening we showed the DVD “Restoration” and some other clips to about 10 or 12 villagers. There was not much interest but we did witness the fulfillment of a promise given to the Prophet Joseph Smith. In the introduction to the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith was told that “his name would be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, tongues and peoples.” Surely no one in the small village of Ekok had ever heard the name “Joseph Smith.” It is about as far away from civilization as you could get. Yet, after the movie, a young man started talking with Sister Badger and introduced himself as Brother Oku. He had joined the church in Calabar, Nigeria, and was visiting his folks in Ekok. The next day he returned with two of his sisters who were also members. We had a wonderful time visiting with them. As we talked, a handsome young man in his late 30s joined in our conversation. He appeared very knowledgeable about the Bible. I invited him to join us and tell us a little more about himself. He agreed and after we introduced ourselves, he said he was Pastor Waingoh Sylvester of the Full Gospel Mission. He was a graduate of the divinity college.
Four hours later, some of our members straggled in from Nigeria, so I had to bring our discussion to a close in order to see to their needs. He promised to do some research on Paul’s teachings in 1st Corinthians, Chapter 15 regarding baptism for the dead and our premortal existence as mentioned in Jeremiah Chapter 1. He was very interested and had other questions that had not been covered in divinity school. He came back again Sunday as we were preparing to leave to bid us bon voyage. We had nothing to leave for him to read but I think the Spirit has moved him to the point that the time will come when he will have the opportunity to find out more about the Church.
Want to thank the Badgers for sharing this inspiring story and the photographs?
Click the button below to email them in Cameroon
Come,Come Ye Saints
Over 150 years ago, as the early Mormon pioneers were slogging through axle deep mud in southern Iowa, Willian Clayton penned the words to the beloved hymn, "Come, Come, Ye Saints". His words are fitting captions.
|Come, Come, Ye Saints,
|no toil or labor fear;
|But with joy
|wend your way.
|Though hard to you
|this journey may appear,
|Grace shall be
|as your day.
|'Tis better far
|for us to strive
|Our useless cares
|from us to drive;
|Do this, and joy
|your hearts will swell--
|All is well!
|All is well!
Thank you Brother Clayton and Elder and Sister Badger
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