Bringing the Gospel to Yaounde, Cameroon

Friday, July 5, 2013

And life moves on

After 35 hours of traveling, I finally made it back home safe and sound. It's hard to believe that I am already here. The last week in the field all my stuff was packed and I knew that I would be going home, but it just didn't feel like it. It felt like I was just getting ready for a big transfer. But, now I find myself over here in Mesa, Arizona soaking in all the dry heat and shriveling up. No more humidity. I did go for a run today, though, and it started to pour so I got soaked, but I'm already used to that feeling. 

My last day in the field was just like a typical day. I had planned on teaching a little bit my last day there and I fixed this big last rendez-vous with one of the people that I have come closest to over my 12 weeks in Bastos. We planned on meeting at the church at 12:00 and we were going to share a nice light lunch and have a nice lesson. Well, when we left the apartment it was raining and I was drenched very quickly because I don't have an umbrella. Thankfully, I had little plastic bags that I could put my books and what not into. We finally made it to the church and waited for a very long time and this certain individual wasn't coming. So we gave him a call and asked him where he was and this was his response, "What do you expect me to do? It's raining! I can't get wet!" I just wanted to slap my hand to my forehead and tell the guy, "Oh don't give me that!! I'm drenched!" I didn't though. So that was my last teaching opportunity in Africa... a ratez-vous, or in other words, we were bailed on.

The best part of my last day was going out with the Whitesides and the two other leaving elders to a very nice restaurant that sold amazing steak with mushroom and pepper sauce. I have come to really love the Whitesides, and I am so grateful for all that they have done. They have sacrificed so much so that our lives can be that much easier out there in Africa. We would be a bunch of lost boys living in chaos without the senior couples. It was nice just sitting down and talking with them and getting advice and counsel from them. I love  my friends, the Whitesides.

McGrath, Addington, Hoiland, Graham, Me, Davis, Greenie

Hatch, Johnston, Me, Rambeloson, Gélinas, Massé

Addington, Whitesides, Me, Hoiland


Flying into Washington and stepping onto American soil was incredible. Being in Africa for almost two years has really helped me come to understand how great we have it over here. I wish I could have understood better how I was feeling because I feel like I was in a daze my whole trip home. I tried writing it all in my journal but I felt like those entries were pretty pathetic. It was sweet drinking from a drinking fountain for the first time in 22 months. It was difficult for me as well to not say "bonjour" to an African. I'm in an all English country now. That will take some getting used to. 

My emotions were high when flying into Phoenix. I was excited beyond belief to be once again reunited with my family and loved ones. It was neat knowing that they were now no more than 2 minutes away. Of course, I went to my mom first and gave her a great big hug and then hugged my dad and continued to do so for quite a while. There were a lot of family members there and I was so grateful for their support. 

Everyone anxiously awaiting!

Group shot

The family all together after two years :)

Oldest and Youngest
I was officially released as a missionary around 10:00 PM over at the stake center by my stake president. The hardest part was when he told me that I could remove the two badges that were on my suit and shirt. I have come very close to those badges. They have guided me, supported me, encouraged me, lifted me, taught me, and much more. Having the name of the Savior in front of my heart almost 24/7 was life changing. I am grateful for the Spirit that came from the "missionary mantle". It has helped me become who I am today and I know that today I am much closer to my Heavenly Father and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

These past two years were incredible, but I know that they will not be the best two years of my life. But they were the best two years that I could have done for my life at this time. I have come back a new man... or as the prophets of old would say, a new creature in Christ. The work of the Lord is a redeeming work. Not only for those who receive the Gospel but for those who preach it as well. The Lord promised that multiple times in Doctrine & Covenants. I am a witness to that. No, I do not have salvation today, but I know that I am closer than I have ever been before. I still have a ways to go, but I am going in the right direction. That direction came because of my mission. My mission has been a miracle in my life. The best years are yet to come I believe and those will involve marriage and a family. The last two years will serve as a foundation for the rest of my life. I have learned many things that can and should be remembered and put into practice throughout the rest of my mortal life and even eternal life. No education from Duke or Harvard can give me the experience that I have gained while serving the Lord with all my heart, might, mind, and strength for the past 24 months. 

It's sad that it has come to an end, but I know that I am where I need to be. I echo the words of Paul... I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. For me, though, I also say that I have found the faith... and kept that which I found. The end was inevitable. I didn't let it distract me or annoy me. I worked as hard as I could until the very end.

I know with all my heart that Jesus is the Christ. I know that He really did come here to Earth under the direction of a loving Heavenly Father to perform an infinite atonement. I know that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ we can be reconciled once again with our Heavenly Father and enter into his presence to never leave it again. I know that salvation is real. I have tasted of it personally and I have seen many others begin to grasp the understanding of exaltation and that understanding has lead to faithful works which have helped them progress eternally. I know that I have participated in the work of Almighty. And I know that He loves you and I perfectly. His arms are open and He calls to us.

Thanks for following,
Christiaan Schmid

Fun gifts brought home from Cameroon

Saturday, June 29, 2013

We are so excited for Elder Schmid to return.  He leaves Cameroon at our 3:20 pm, Friday.  He will not land in Arizona until 8:58 pm, Saturday.  Close to seventeen of those hours will be spent in the air.  We have been working hard cleaning the home, making signs and preparing room for him.  Our emotions have been all over, but mostly excited!  We hope all goes well for him and that he is able to get a little rest because once we meet it will be a long night of catching up :)  We love you Elder Schmid and we are soooo excited to have you back home with us!
Dear Mom,
Holy cow…, this is the last email that you will get from me while I am out here on the mission! I am blown away by how fast time has gone by. It seems like it was just a few weeks ago that I was meeting Elder Johnston for the first time and now I will be saying goodbye. It’'s surreal. It’'s weird that it is my turn. It'’s bittersweet. I just can’t believe that it is already here.
This past week flew by. I am officially done getting stuff for everyone back home. I was stressing big time about that because I wanted to get good things, but I think I really succeeded. I am excited to see how you all react when you all get your little ‘goodies’.
When you are involved in the training program you have an extra hour to do study as a companionship so that means that you have one less hour out in the field. Well, Elder Johnston and I worked it out this week so that we could have more time in the field and it paid off. We were able to have many lessons but more importantly we were able to go out and help more people throughout the week and let them know that we care about them. We always teach more lessons with inactives than we do with our own investigators, but I am totally okay with that. Some of my greatest joys I have had on the mission were with inactives who once again found the light that they once had.
We have been working with Ebenezer ever since I got here. He was baptized back when I was in Ekounou… October 2011. He was strong, but work began to really interfere with his weekly church attendance. So we went over to his place and let him know that we care for him and want what is best for him. He first started to change because he knew that he could trust us and he know that we loved him. Love is crucial for the progress of all things eternal. God is love. So once we established that progression followed and it has been neat to see how far he has come along. We have been going over the after-baptism lessons and we talked about the priesthood. He has the Melchizedek Priesthood and so our goal was to help him understand at a deeper level the power and authority that he holds. We had an awesome lesson but the best part was what happened afterwards in his personal study. We had him read D&C 121. The next day we planned on following up on that section and then moving on to temples and genealogy, but instead he taught us for about 30 minutes about what he had learned as he read that section. It was incredible. It was so evident that his testimony had grown. He even told us himself… he said, “I learned something yesterday… the priesthood is real.” It was such a simple testimony but yet so powerful. He no longer knows that it is real because the branch leaders tell him or because the missionaries tell him, but he knows because the Lord told him through the spirit. I wish that could happen in every single lesson we have. The world would be a Mormon world in no time.
In my life I have heard returned missionaries say many times, “the mission is the best two years of your life.” Though well intended, I don'’t agree. DJ and I talked about it a bit before I left on my mission and I really appreciate the counsel that he gave me. My whole mission I went out and worked, but not with the attitude that these would be the best years of my life,… instead I worked as hard as I could because I knew that these two years would be the perfect training for what the Lord has in store for me. My best years are yet to come, but I know with all my heart that they will be better because of what my mission has done to me. I have truly found who I am over these past 24 months and I have come closer to my Heavenly Father and Savior, Jesus Christ. I know with every fiber of my being that they are real and that they love us unconditionally and are waiting for us to come back home. All is set, the way is there, and they are beckoning to us… their arms are open. I have recognized that on my mission. I have changed my life… no, the Lord has changed my life because I was willing. I can'’t wait for you all to see that. My mission has been a miracle and it is sad that it is coming to an end, but I know that whatever comes in the future I will now be better prepared to accomplish the will of the Lord. The journey was long and I definitely had thorns and briar's along the way, but I know that my testimony that I have received has brought me up to higher places, spiritually speaking. I am converted. My mission was a success.
See you in a few!
Elder Schmid

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Hey Mom,
OK, for the info that you wanted me to post. I tried but Facebook is so foreign to me I didn’t know what to do. So I emailed the info to Tyler and he will post it on Facebook for me. So if you want him to edit anything, or put anything else, go through him. All my friends are his friends so that will work out. Also, have Caelan do it.
I think I have my shopping almost done. That is a huge weight off of my shoulders. I got some sweet stuff for you guys. I’m excited to show you all. I am pretty sure you will all be stoked. Today we went to marche central and this wood marche and I drove the people mad. I have gotten pretty good with bartering and the guys I buy from don’t like that. They see my skin and they have money signs in their pupils, but then I start talking with them and they realize that I know how to play the game. I took some money out of my account. Twice as much as what I originally told you. So that should last me the rest of my mission.
On Saturday I completed my 21st year here in this mortal probation. That’s weird. It will be cool having a horizontal license! Not much happened on my birthday. I got a snickers from the Whitesides the day before, and I got a hug from Sister Whitesides the day after on behalf of you. That was my favorite part :) It will be nice to hug you in real life here in 12 days. I got a couple of happy birthday’s and that was it. Birthdays are pretty low key over here. Too bad they don’t have a Red Robin over here… mmm shirley temple!
Sissy little Arizona boy over here got a little too much sun this week and got dehydrated. I was pretty weak and so I stayed home on Friday. With that time, I rested and drank tons of water. I was also able to finish my study in the Pearl of Great Price and write all the kids a letter that I’ll send off soon. I just have to write one for you and Dad. Even with a day off we were able to get a lot done and I am pleased with the outcome of the week. Elder Johnston is an awesome missionary. I am so proud of him. He has come a long way already. I can’t believe that we are getting transfer info this Saturday. New missionaries come next week on Tuesday. I'll be able to see one of them before I go. “Hey bud, I have less days than you have years!” hehehe.
Not too many people know that I am leaving over here and I think I’m going to leave it that way. That’s what I did in Congo and that made leaving so much easier. Of course, I told the people that were very close to me and that’s what I’ll do here. That will help me stay focused up until the end. I plan on teaching lessons the same day I leave. I gotta go strong until the very end.
That’s about it for the week. I’m sorry these emails are getting short but it’s all good. I’ll be able to talk to you about what goes down here in under two weeks! Have a great week! Oh yeah! I just bought a ton of earrings, so I guess Ashlyn can have a pair :)
Je t’aime,
Elder Schmid
Finally found a Boy Scout!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Dear Mom,
“So, the investigator that you were hoping to baptize on your birthday, she is married to a man with multiple wives? How old is this girl, because you mention that she is fitting in with the Young Women? How exactly is she apart of polygamy?” So, I am going to respond to this little confusion. Aimée is the investigator that we were planning on baptizing on June 15th, but due to lack of conversion and other little things we are going to postpone the date to July 20th. We have a little over 700 members of the Church over here in Yaoundé and only 53% are active. So we don’t want to add to that already pretty low number. A lot of missionaries in the past only had one thing on their mind “BAPTIZE! BAPTIZE! BAPTIZE!” and because of that we are now working with a ton of inactive members. At this moment we see Aimée becoming one of those “inactives” and we don’t want that to happen. That does nothing for the struggling church here. She always tells us that she is ready, but as missionaries we are blessed with the gift of discernment and it is obvious to us that she is not quite ready. It was a bummer because that would have been my last baptism, but this isn’t my work. It’s the Lord’s and we try our best to do it His way.
Now, Lydie is another investigator who is 17 years old. Her mother is involved in an unofficial polygamist relationship. I say unofficial because she is not technically married to the man. In fact, he isn’t married to any of the four women. We still put it under the category of polygamy because it is so close to the line. The only thing that says it’s not polygamy is that the marriage certificate is not there. But, on the other hand, he pays for all the houses that the women live in. He frequently visits them and does his thing. He pays for the children and their schooling. He is recognized as the father of all the children even though he isn’t Lydie’s birth father. I could go on and on. I talked to President Jameson about it because, like I said, it technically isn’t polygamy due to the lack of an official marriage certificate, but Elder Johnston and I were just not sure as to what to do. President Jameson even went to his leader down in South Africa, who is in the 70, and he gave the final decision, which I completely agree with. Lydie cannot be baptized because she is living in a household where polygamy is practiced. It was sad telling her that, and her mom got upset and I quickly turned to her mom and let her know why she couldn’t get baptized and called her to repentance. The mother understands that what she is doing is wrong. She has told us that many times, but then she always says after that, “but life is hard!” So we are kind of at a standstill with Lydie. I hope that clears things up a little bit. I just dropped a lot of info.
The other day we were at Aimée’s house and it started to rain. Here in Cameroon during the month of June, when it rains it will rain strait for hours… no joke. Well, we had a pretty packed schedule for the day, and so we went out and walked in the rain for about 45 minutes. We don’t have umbrellas. I don’t know why… we were in the quartier, as well, so there was mud all over the place and everyone was slipping and sliding. I almost walked all the way without getting any mud on my pants, but then, towards the end, somehow I splashed it up. Once that happens I just throw my care out the window and just walk. You get so dirty over here. We were drenched but it felt good. It gets pretty warm over here. Later on that day, we were at an inactives house and there is this pretty steep hill right by her house and we were watching people try to walk up the hill and it was very amusing because it was very muddy and people were falling and slipping all over. There was one guy that was carrying about 50 lbs. of water on his head and he eventually lost his sandals and was barefoot sliding down the hill while balancing all that water on his head. It was pretty impressive. In the end, water splashed over the edge twice, but it was probably no more than a cup. I wanted to applaud when he finally got up but then I realized that I was still in a lesson.
I want to thank you so much for sending me “As A Man Thinketh.” I was so surprised to get it. I had no clue that it was coming. I read it in one day and I’m reading it again right now. James Allen has incredible insight. Knowing what I have gone through over the past two years of my life I can testify that things truly do start in the mind and once you can master what takes place in your mind, it is at that moment when change and self mastery come. I want to go out into the jungle and have my study journal and that book and my scriptures and just ponder on that stuff all day and write down my thoughts.
We had our last zone conference with President Jameson and I also had my exit interview with him. Normally, missionaries have that the night before they leave, but we don’t have that blessing over here because he is over in Kinshasa. That interview was probably one of the most monumental moments of my mission. I would write about it but I would rather talk to you about it. I have a new temple recommend and it is good for three months. It was a powerful moment for me… testifying of my worthiness. I’m grateful for what the Lord has helped me become over the past two years. I am definitely a better person.
Saying good bye to President and Sister Jameson. 
They entered the mission and will leavethe mission the same time as Elder Schmid.

Last zone dinner with the Jamesons.

Missionaries of Yaounde
 A few weeks back I ordered 14 pairs of garments that I will bring home with me. Why 14 pairs? Because they are very cheap over here. Church materials are sold at a smaller price here in Africa. I got all 14 pairs for under $10. Awww yeah. We had no water for a few days and all my white shirts were dirty, as well as my garments, so I opened up a new pair of garments and it felt so good putting them on. I have gone two years with the same garments and they are pretty worn out.
Well, that’s about it for this week. It sounds like you had a great birthday! On June 23rd I will be exactly as old as you were when you gave birth to me. Now, THAT is weird!! I did the math for dad as well and I won’t be hitting that mark until September 2019. I was doing numbers last night and I figured out that when I see Tyler on the 29th I will not have seen him for 1,144 days… a little over 163 weeks. That’s nuts. I miss that kid. I miss you all and I can’t wait to see you here in just a few short weeks!
Je t’aime maman,
Elder Schmid

Monday, June 3, 2013

Dear Mom,
I always love to hear from you :) Thank you for always sending love my way. I'm going to miss these emails when I am home, but that will be okay because I will be with you! I loved hearing from Aiden and Ashlyn. I'll try my best to find what they would like. I think I'll be able to find everything. On va voir.
I can't believe that another week has come and gone. It is still hard for me to believe that I am finally at this point in my mission. Just thinking about it is a little overwhelming. To be honest, I’'m getting a little emotional about it right now just thinking about it. I think what gets me most is that I'’ll be reunited with my eternal family and will be meeting a brother that I have never known in mortality. It just makes me happy.
As a zone, we all went up to Mt. Febe where Elder Holland came four years ago to dedicate the country of Cameroon. We have access to the dedicatory prayer and Elder Whitesides read it as we stood there on the very rock that Elder Holland was on, and then afterwards, we all sang "“High On A Mountain Top"” and it was such a powerful moment. We may not have the best voices, but for me personally, that was one of the most beautiful renditions of that song I have ever heard, let alone sung. It was a beautiful moment. I wish you all could know what Elder Holland pronounced upon this beautiful country.
Johnston and I on Mt. Febe where Elder Holland stood
and dedicated the country of Cameroon.

We had 12 people in an 8 man vehicle. 3 up front, 5 in the middle and 4 in the back.
When you are on a mission I feel like you are constantly on a roller coaster and every week you are going up and going down. This week was a tough week for our inactives and even for one of our investigators. Our “best” investigator can no longer be baptized due to living conditions involving unofficial polygamy. Her mother's bad choices now are preventing this girls eternal progression. This girl is only 17 but has such a strong testimony and reads every week and loves being at church and is already at home in the young women's class. I was really hoping we could baptize her on my birthday, but even though the polygamy isn't officially recognized by the state because there are no marriage certificates, it is too close of a line for the church. The final call was made by the member of the 70 in South Africa. I accept what the leader counseled and agree 100%. It's just hard…
It's been weird… finishing up the mission. Don't worry, I'm not getting trunky or anything, but these past few days I have had the opportunity to really reflect on how far I have come over these past 23 months and I am constantly overwhelmed by the love of God that has been poured upon me. My life has been changed and I can't wait for you all to see that for yourselves when I get home. I look forward to having those little testimony meetings with the family again and reading with you all in the scriptures at nine in the morning :) I love you all so much and I hope you have a great week!
Elder Schmid
Me and some random African kids that walked by us as we were chilling
 after walking a ton just to find our investigator not at their house.
Lame. The kids were cool though.
Dear Mom,
What the heck?!?! Kurt is engaged?! Tell that fool to write me! I haven't heard anything from him ever since he got back home to everyday p-day land. He has no excuses! As for me, I have many. This week’s emails were full of surprises... Oma’s surgery, Kurt's eternal progression, Jackson and Talia back in 61st, Amazing Delia leaving to serve the Lord, etc. I am very happy right now. Thanks for all the good news! Except for Oma's surgery.  I hope she gets better!
I have been thinking of Caelan a lot lately. I am so proud of her and I still can't believe that she has graduated from high school and that she'll be attending the fall semester at BYU. Natascha sent me some of her graduation photos and she looked stunning. I am still blown away by how much everyone is changing. There was one picture of Darian and she looked so beautiful! But she always has :) It will be neat to see what happens in Caelan’s life over the next couple of years.
This week was a pretty good one. We have had some intense rain storms come through Yaoundé. One came in the middle of the night last night, and we were all awoken by slamming doors because we have all the windows open so we can get a nice cool breeze while we sleep. Well, that little breeze turned into a little tornado. I don’t think I have ever witnessed rain fall as hard as it fell last night. I had to quickly jump out of bed to close the windows and there were already big puddles on our floors. It was nuts. For a while I just sat there, on my top bunk, looking out the window and our road that turned into a raging river. I wish you all could experience a rainstorm over here in Africa. A couple of days before that we were with one of our inactive members and it started to pour. When it stopped we left and found that there was water everywhere. We had to have good hops and good balance to stay dry and not get mud on our clothes. I succeeded :)
We have an investigator named Aimée. She reminds me a lot of Kendi. It is really fun to teach her because she is just a fun person… and a drama queen. She has been with the missionaries for a while and actually when I first got here we almost dropped her because she wasn’t progressing at all and not coming to church. Well now she has been to church the last five Sunday’s. She likes to feed us and it always looks like something that came out of a horses rear end… I’ll try sending you a picture of it this week. It isn’t good, but it isn’t bad either.
We have been working with a man named Ebenezer. I think I have told you about him already. He is an inactive member, but soon that will change. He has made it to church the last two Sundays and it has been incredible to see his spirituality change over the past couple of weeks. He is doing great.  We promised him that the Lord would bless him with big blessings and direction in his life if he recommitted to come to church and renew his covenants with the Lord. Well, just a few days after attending sacrament meeting his wife gave birth to a beautiful little girl with a full head of hair. We were talking to him the day after and made sure to make him aware that the Lord placed this blessing at this time in his life because of his faithfulness. He got emotional as we were talking with him about his responsibility to make sure that this little girl grows up knowing what a true priesthood holder of the Lord is and how a man should treat a woman. He is stepping it up and I hope and pray that he can stay strong and endure to the end.
We have two inactive men in the branch that we have been working with ever since I have been here, and both of them this Sunday advanced in the priesthood! One was ordained a priest and the other one received the Melchizedek priesthood and was ordained an elder. That was exciting news. Now when I write I say ‘inactive’ but they are definitely active now… they’ve changed, but now our goal is to help them continue with this change and progress towards the ultimate blessing.
Here is something funny that happened on Sunday. There were the two priesthood ordinations and for one they called up his older brother to do the ordination. This older brother had never done something like that before so he was completely lost. Our branch president was there right at his side telling him word for word what he needed to say. Then it came where he needed to give a blessing. President Luc told him what to say… “And now we would like to give you a blessing…” and then he backed away. The guy said it and then sat there not knowing what to do and then simply said, “and we give you this blessing in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.” It was pretty funny. President Luc couldn’t help but smile and pat the kid on his back.
Well, that’s about it for this week. My asthma is still going. I have it everyday and even with the new inhaler it comes. I have been sleeping better, but last night I woke up with tight lungs. The Lord is blessing me with patience, though, so I know that I will be able to last and then we’ll see what’s up when I get home. I’ll take your advice and get a blessing this week. I love you all so much and I hope you have a great week!
Je t’aime maman,
Elder Schmid

Marina, Odette, Elder Johnston, and I.
They are inactive members that we are working with.
We are trying to teach Odette how to read and write.

Me and one of my eternal investigators in Douala.
We became really good friends during those 7 months.

The Gailey's and Me

A guy in our branch wears these wherever he goes.