Sunday, July 19th through Sunday, July 26th the 8th National Youth Bible Camp of EELC (Église Évangélique Lutherienne du Cameroun – the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Cameroon) took place in Garoua Boulai. Between 250 and 300 Lutheran youth from all around Cameroon attended. Ididn’t attend events, but saw parts of what was happening since they met at the Bible School near my house and the Central Lutheran Church.
Where would you lodge all these young people?? Remember GB doesn’t have hotels and motels like most towns this size in the US. There is one hotel and various guest houses, but they are more expensive than the church would want to spend. Church members hosted some; some stayed in the Bible School students’ houses (since they are in their villages for the summer) and some stayed in the Bible School itself with church members lending the mattresses for the last two places.
The theme for the camp was “The youth of EELC and the preservation of peace in Cameroon according to 2 Timothy 2:22-26.” Youth attended conference sessions, worshiped together and went into the community to listen to members or those with difficulties. (They prepared a list so that the catechists and pastors can follow up with these people in the future.)
Two evenings they met on the lawn outside the Bible School for music and some speeches. Thursday evening it went on until about 10 p.m. The sound system was a good one – they could have been in the living room with me! (And, there weren’t a lot of distortions even with it that loud). Saturday night they wanted to sing, dance and pray all night, but (fortunately for me) it rained. They started, took a break for some heavy rain, started again, and had to quit again when more heavy rain fell. They had a bonfire that night, too. Too bad (for them). I wouldn’t have been happy had they gone all night, but having more time together would have been good for them!
Imagine preparing food for so many people for a week! Yes, caterers do it in the USA, too – and 300 is a lot less than the 30,000+ that went to Detroit! But, here the women prepared all the food over wood fires outside. That’s a challenge at any time, but especially in the heart of the rainy season. I found out that the Mayor of GB donated a cow (to be butchered and cooked!) I know that in the US I don’t think about where the meat for so many people comes from. Here, you buy the whole animal – or several of them for lots of people and lots of meals!
The camp ended with the worship service Sunday. Most of the youth attended the French service at the Central Lutheran Church (where I usually attend). A few who live the furthest away – Douala and Yaoundé, for example, left early Sunday, but most participated. What a joyful service. Lots of singing and celebrating. At one point all of the youth who participated went upfront to sing a song. Most of them were wearing the t-shirts they had been given – sort of sounds like Detroit, no?! This picture captures most of the youth, but the ones on the edges were cut off! It was a lot of kids.
Interesting note: The sanctuary has large windows in the front; parts of these are open air so it is not unusual to see small birds flying around near the front. As I tried to take a picture of them Sunday, I ended up getting the beginnings of a wasps nest – and later part of the bird’s nest in the rafters! All God’s creatures got a place in the choir! (or at least in the church.)
It was fun watching from the sidelines. Here’s a picture of a bus some youth rented. I hope that everyone who attended was able to travel safely home with great memories and inspiration as they work for peace in Cameroon.