Sunday, February 19, 2012
Breaking Down Walls of Assumption
It's the beginning of a new week and we are going on a "field trip" to Kumbo...I'm sure I will have a post about that when we return. Yesterday was a good day, after church we hung out talking to people we have met. A student named Steve came and talked to us, he plays the bass guitar and wanted to talk music. He is saving up to get a guitar from Nigeria so we invited him over to play on Kyle's guitar and talk some more music. Wow, this man is very talented. He played some African songs for us, it was very beautiful, classical type guitar. Kyle started showing him how to read chord charts and Steve's eyes lit up as he caught on to a new way to read music, I think he played everything by ear. We had so much fun hanging out and asking him a million questions, the afternoon flew by and he had to leave for a meeting. We invited him back for our Sunday Pancake Supper. A few hours later, and when most of our other guests were leaving, Steve and his friend Morris (Yomsi) showed up. We showed them how to eat pancakes (they wanted to make sure and do it right) and took up where we had left off with our previous conversation. At first Morris seemed a little reserved but suddenly he smiled and said "You people are different". We know that, but asked what he meant by that. He told us that he usually avoided white people (even missionaries), because they "all" think that the Cameroonians are just out to get something from them/not to be trusted. He said that he at first refused to come with Steve when he invited him to our home, but that Steve insisted that he sensed the Holy Spirit when he was in our home. They both said that white people just don't invite black people into their homes...hmmm, we missed that memo. I was so happy that he said this out loud because it gave us a chance to talk about it. Funny how often people make assumptions but never voice them out loud and change never happens. We had been "warned" when we came about a few people that may pull us aside and want money (in some subtle and not so subtle ways). The truth is, this happened to us and it was ugly and creepy feeling. However, the majority of the Cameroonian people we have met have been extremely generous with us, this leads me to wonder if they are trying hard to overcome the stereotype they think we have of them. These men both love the Lord and have a calling on their lives to serve in Cameroon - they weren't asking for handouts or a ticket to America. They were curious about us and what we eat and what we do, just like we were about them. There was a wonderful connection with these 2 young men and we hope to continue that friendship. Steve actually lived in this house we are living in with his Uncle and his family. Steve's Uncle recently left his position as Vice President of CBTS to finish his Doctorate in Souix Falls, South Dakato. I met his wife Patience yesterday, who is still at CBTS with their 4 children. How lonely this man must be away from his family - I wished I lived in Souix Falls just so we could get to know him and show him some hospitality while he is so far from home. One of the professors here went to Bethel College and then to Fort Wayne, IN and finished his degree a few years back. He also left his family in Cameroon to further his education. While in the States, he couldn't get a work visa for his 2nd year and had no money to send back to help his family. A church nearby had a missions conference and somehow it came up that there was a need with this student. A man attending the conference invited this Cameroonian student to come live at his home - their children were all grown and they had extra room in their house. When they found out the man's family was still in Cameroon, their church took an offering and bought tickets for his family to join them (wife and 1 son). This American family hosted this Cameroonian family for 5 years! They treated the young son as their own. When the man graduated he came back here to CBTS and is teaching (for very little money). It makes me wonder how many other men like this there are just in MN, who are far from home, trying to get an education so they can make a difference in their own country. What a mission field we could all have if we would just reach out to people in our community. I know I have "assumptions" of my own I need to overcome. I want to take the time and get to know individuals and see them as God sees them, just as I enjoy the blessings when someone else is willing to do that with ME.