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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Alyssa's Thoughts On The Missions Trip To Cameroon

My half of the Evergreen team went to Ndu in the northwest province of Cameroon, a solid 2-day drive away from the capital, Yaounde. It was the dry season when we were there, so the roads were dusty and bumpy from the SmartCar-sized potholes in the road. We actually thought that made the trip very entertaining and there is some shaky video footage to testify!
We had 8 full days in Ndu, which Kaley and I lamented from the moment we arrived. The Petersen family, Kaley, Kim Poulsom and I made up our little Ndu family, and as such, we stayed in a house together in the Baptist seminary while we were there. Drew Petersen worked on a cement project which was the entire reason the group went to Ndu in the first place. And while Kim helped the backlogged seminary librarian and Marie acted as “house mama” for the team, Kaley, Ellie and I were assigned to help with the Day Care center…to liven it up and give the staff more ideas for working with children. We were pretty attached at the hip, Kaley, Ellie and I. We had so much fun getting to know each other, getting to know Cameroonians and appreciating Cameroonian culture, and especially appreciating Cameroonian food! Since I lived in Cameroon for two years at another point in my life, I was so excited to eat the street food, and get Kaley excited about it…which resulted in one of us getting a verrrryy ill…no more “feeding the tapeworm” as we referred to our excessive interest in the food!
The three of us ladies got to meet one very special person during our short stay in Ndu. His name was Felix, a Missions student in his final semester of seminary. He came to us the first day at the center, timidly with a trembling lower lip to ask if he could help us with any work in the Day Care center, which we knew meant he was looking for some paid work which is hard to come by for students. We wanted to bless the day care center ladies by painting their white walls and furniture with bright primary colors, and Felix had some experience with the oil-based, super potent, industrial strength paint, so he worked alongside us with the painting, but taught us so much about trusting the Lord and perseverance that it felt like we were hardly the missionaries at all, but the ones receiving the blessing of his kind friendship. He invited us to meet his wife and 1 month old baby, Prince Lee, and the emotions we all felt leaving their home are hard to articulate, but suffice it to say we were all teary from their encouragement and kindness in offering to host us when they had no money, no bathroom, hardly anything material to call their own. We couldn’t even accept their generous invitation to join them for a meal because of our newfound fear of food contamination, so they went and purchased soda and American cookies for us so they could still treat us to some hospitality in their home. My heart was warmed by the entire experience of going there to serve and bless this center with our hard work and small donation of paint and labor, but the work for us ended up being just the means to building relationships and finding out how our friends could show us a fresh perspective…
As sweet as it was to watch God cultivating mission-minded Cameroonians, I watched two younger women grow in their perspective in such a sweet humble way too. Watching Kaley and Ellie accept every opportunity to meet people and learn about Cameroon was the most heart-warming experience of them all really. I watched them pick spiderwebs off furniture, learn the local Limbum language, boldly order and taste the spicy meat from a street vender (it was safe), and seek out the Lord daily through regular quiet times…this was the part of the trip I treasured the most! I didn’t think that a trip back to a country I’d grown to love so much would end up being even better for the Americans I traveled with, but as Cameroonians always refer to loved ones as a member of your family in some way, these two lovely sisters in Christ became like family to me in every sense of the word.
I don’t know how to sum up my thoughts about our time in Ndu, and I won’t even try. I had a conversation with a full-time missionary there in which I told him that I believed this visit to Cameroon was about “tying up the loose ends from my last time there”, and he responded saying, “so you want it to be a neat packaged deal, huh?” I can’t give much of a neat, packaged account of visiting Ndu, but I know we all loved the people, culture and growing in our walks with the Lord together while we were there, and I’d like to thank everyone who sent us there from the bottom of my heart! Who knows, you might have the chance to be a part of the next team to Cameroon.

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