Steve Pierson - 2005 Letter

Steve Pierson is now in Kenya and then on to Madagascar.

 

After our week inside the compound in the midst of a tumultuous city, we went to the airport. After standing in a boistrous line where shoving is a way of life and screaming is a rule of good health, we felt like we'd stepped into a vacuum when we finally arrived to the pre-board waiting room. Our night flight took us over the Nigerian coastline. An interesting view by night of what seemed like hundreds of off-shore oil rigs, illuminated with orange light that looked like fire.  We'd been warned to exercise caution and vigilence at all times because of the tendencies in this particular equatorial country. But after leaving the big city of Lagos, somehow Douala seemed like a quaint, quiet, CLEAN little town. It was a welcome sight to see Medard and Silas waiting for us. They had come ahead from Benin to get things in order for the visitors. I have a fresh and deep appreciation for all that is involved in getting things ready for us visitors. And it is all done so gladly and cheerfully.

Upon arrival to Douala, we waited another two hours for the next arrival of visitors coming in from Benin. It really gave Joyce King (from Saint Vincent) and me a nice stretch of time to visit with Silas and Medard in an airport cafe. Those two brothers kept us in stitches . . . they were a bit wound up and they feigned themselves to be two villagers who'd just come in out of the bush and found themselves in the fast pace of a big city airport. Anyway, I think Silas and Medard realized that a little levity, in the right measure, would do us all good.


We did have the nicest visit.  There was a freedom and openess that enabled me to ask something that I've kept somewhat to myself. I would have to admit that I have tended to feel sorry for those who labor in this particular country. Long years have been invested and the response to the gospel has been slow. But Silas and Medard's response was passionate as they began to tell details of the background of many of our friends here. There is no disguising that they feel a strong and close attachment to these folks and they count it a privilege to be among them.  It was half past midnight by the time the others came through customs. We got settled into our rooms in a Catholic mission by 1:15 a.m. Since I was the surplus visitor, I had to accept a room by myself . . . airconditioned! I could hardly go to sleep for just wanting to bask in the luxury of such a quiet, cool setting.


Thursday, September 8, Day 59

In the airport visit last night, I asked Medard and Silas what most of the workers do for their break after Gbetagbo convention. Somehow it was touching to me to hear how they divide up among themselves and disperse to different homes that seem particularly restful. It seems like several find the home of Dennis Ahossi a special haven. Dennis is the former witchdoctor who now has two children in the work. By the time that preps and convention are over, it's not uncommon that from 2 to 4 workers might have a pretty good bout of malaria.  Dennis has really become a true, concerned father to all who come under his roof. All receive the same diligent care that his own son and daughter in the work receive.  I like to think of the change of names that God gave to Abraham; from Abram, "A lofty father"; to Abraham, "Father of a multitude."  Because of God's work in Abraham's life, his borders were enlarged and his fatherly influence reached far beyond his own house.  Quite something to see that same work accomplished in lives today.  It has spoken to me deeply to see that kind of spirit developing in my companion of 15 years ago. I like what Eric Morton said about him, "It seems he has the heart of a shepherd even to those of us in the ministry."  I appreciated his kindness during preps toward a younger brother who was so overwhelmed and exhausted at his first preps that he could hardly process what he was being asked to do.
Medard let him just quietly disappear and sleep away his overload.


Sunday, September 11, Day 62

Wovia special meeting. The setting reminds me somewhat of Hawaii. The home is within hearing and seeing distance of the ocean AND Mt Cameroon.  However you don't see Mt Cameroon very often because of clouds and rain.  I think that Mt Cameroon comes in first or second for heaviest rainfall on earth. Cameroon is one large botanical garden. Exotic, beautiful plants grow wild everywhere. You don't have to travel far to be in dense jungle. Large banana and rubber tree plantations. I love the natural beauty but I don't love the stench of processing rubber that chokes you awake at  pre-dawn.


About thirty of us present in the special meeting. A small flock but priceless.  They are rich in personality, character, thankfulness, and appreciation for what is gradually being accomplished in their lives because of the coming of the gospel.  All of us who spoke were translated into pidgin (or is it pidgeon?) English. A real exercise to concentrate on the message and not the colorful translations.


Monday, September 12, Day 63

Perhaps the highlight of these days was meeting Papa Etule today. He is a 98 year old village chief who responded to the gospel in the 1950s. I have heard about him for years. He was having a nap when we first arrived, so we tended to a few errands and came back at 2 p.m.  He was finishing eating so we waited for him under a cool veranda. There was a mounting feeling of anticipation to meet this old village chief who is still very clear in his mind. I don't know what I really was expecting, but when this very dignified old patriarch came out to receive us, I was totally taken back by his very childlike spirit and his ardent desire that we would share something with him from the Bible. He also begged us not to hold back from giving him any correction that would help him to be prepared for eternity. Pa Etule made me think of John 18:6. When the soldiers came to take Jesus, it says they "went backwards and fell to the ground."  They'd found the king of the Jews but they'd never seen a king who had the spirit of a child and I wonder if it didn't catch them totally off guard. It seems like there is something disarming about a
childlike spirit.


Monday, September 19, Day 70

This weekend took in a Sunday morning meeting in the sisters' field to the north in Yaounde. My final Sunday in West/Central Africa. We parted company with Ed Bax today. It has been so special to have this time with him! My thoughts are already going to the "next place," but I'm aware that these workers AREN'T looking forward to the end of 3 months of hard work and caring for visitors. They seem to be wanting to savor every minute they can have with their company. We received a message this evening that the sisters to the north and their "visitor," Joyce King, want to meet us as early in the day as possible on Wednesday so we can have time to visit and have a little midweek Bible study  in the hotel where we will all stay before going to the airport early Thurs morning. I have glimpsed just a little of the isolation and loneliness of some of these fields. 

Lots of time to reflect today as we traveled from Sangmelima to Yaounde to Douala to Tiko where the brothers' lodging is. An all day trip broken up with 13 changes of vehicles. Lots of interesting sights; but I've had the line of a hymn in my thoughts today that sum it all up for me: "the world, how small and empty, our eyes have looked on Him" - and THAT has been the inspiration of these days.

 
Your brother,

Steve