February 22, 2023
(We are now in Francophone Africa, Cameroon. Having finished our visits to Uganda, Kenya, and Ghana.)
Welcome back to my attempt to share highlights from our ABF trip through Africa! As I mentioned before, these are just shadows of the true experience. Also, let me be clear that these are my observations and do not reflect any official opinion of The Albert Baker Fund, its Trustees, or Staff.
To date, we have visited with and interviewed 27 ABF recent graduates and current students. There has been an overwhelming amount of gratitude shared by each student. Nearly all the ABF students and graduates we have met have found or been introduced to Christian Science during their lifetime. Thus, the vast majority of our ABF students and graduates are not “life-long” Christian Scientists and have their own story of how they came into Christian Science. These stories range from hearing the shortwave radio program sponsored by The Mother Church to an uncle of one of their friend’s sharing a copy of a Christian Science Journal with them to their parents learning of Christian Science and then sharing Christian Science with the family. The many stories I have heard of how each individual came to Christian Science have been truly inspiring. The practice of Christian Science by these individuals is inspiring.
The students in our ABF programs in Africa come from different backgrounds than the students in the United States and Canada. I am still processing what this means and how ABF can best meet the needs of both groups. That said, Monday evening, I finally met with an ABF student who told me she was born into Christian Science and another who was “still young” when her mother found Christian Science, so she was raised in the Sunday School and Christian Science. Hence, the current situation is changing and is also dynamic.
We brought over approximately 210 pounds of Christian Science books (and 30 sets of blue chalk – as requested) to share with local branch churches, societies, and Christian Science schools. So far, we have shared books with the Kampala Christian Science Society; Jinja Christian Science Society; First Church, Nairobi; Second Church, Accra; First Church, Accra; First Church, Yaoundé; Sunrise School (primary school in Kenya); and Three Rivers Academy (secondary school in Kenya). At each of these, we shared a presentation about ABF and answered questions. The presentations and Q&A typically last 1.5 hours. There are many questions! Tonight, we will attend the Wednesday Testimony Meeting at First Church, Douala.
We also brought 100 Albert Baker signature baseball caps to giveaway to our students and graduates. These have been quite well received. When coming through Customs into Uganda at the Kampala airport, the Customs Inspector asked to open my bag containing the hats and wanted to know more about the hats. Given the many and assorted things in our luggage, I was quite surprised that at 1am he would be interested in our hats! I explained they were gifts for our students and graduates, at which point he asked if he could have one. I said, “Of course.” So, should you travel into the Kampala airport, there is a chance you will see a Customs Inspector wearing an Albert Baker signature cap. Although I did not get a picture of him, I will include a few pictures of our graduates enjoying their new baseball caps.
The desire by ABF students, graduates, and ICR’s to meet with us is phenomenal. Two examples: a graduate who we supported in Togo now teaches in Accra. When he heard that ABF was visiting First Church, Accra, he requested permission to be excused from his teaching duties that day so he could meet us and offer his thanks. It gets better. One of our ICR’s, Williams Soulouck from Yaoundé, was married in a traditional marriage ceremony at his wife’s village on Saturday and still met with us on Sunday. Talk about dedication!
There are also numerous examples of Divine Love meeting ours and everyone’s needs. Challenges with VISA’s, Customs (beyond those with the hats), travel, missing luggage, and health have each been handled and overcome. Travel to and within Africa offers the opportunity to grow in one’s flexibility and resiliency and patience. I will be happy to share more examples when we offer a special Zoom meeting about the trip (probably in late April or May). If you doubt the veracity of this statement, please just ask anyone who has traveled in Africa!
Au revoir pour le moment!
(Goodbye for now!)