National Youth Day is a long event with a parade of every school in the area from the little adorable preschoolers to the CBTS students. After the parade, there are singing groups and dance groups that perform for the grand stand. Here are a few of the pictures from the day: enjoy!
Saturday, February 11, 2012
Friday, February 10, 2012
Last night was the women's tea for the staff and students here at CBTS. I got there right on time, even though nothing in Africa seems to start on time. When I got the invitation from Ma Massa Angelista, she told me it would begin right at 5pm even if all the people were not there. Ma Massa lived in the United States for a few years so I was convinced it would really start on time. Needless to say, Ma Massa did not even arrive until 515pm. This is only the second such event they have had with the women here and it was not like we have at home. The classroom was big and dusty, there was tea in coolers to keep it warm, the missionaries brought baked goods but nothing was set up "pretty" or even organized. We offered to help but were told we were the guest of honor so we couldn't do that. In the front of the room, there was a long table that they put a plastic table cloth with hamburgers and hot dogs along the edge as decoration. At this long table was seated: Ma Massi, Stella - the student body representative, Helen - Secretary, and a man (whose name I did not get) - dean of men. The tea only started 20 minutes late and moved along pretty well after that. I think they had hoped it would be a celebration with dancing and fun but not one followed through, even when Helen encouraged them to get up and dance. It was new to them and the fact that it was held in a classroom made the women feel like they were in class and should control themselves, I guess. Ma Massi shared a devotion in the beginning about unity. My talk that followed fit right in with unity. I shared some of my testimony and then shared about small prayer groups that I have been involved in over the years. My topic was on Women's ministry in the USA - the first thing that popped into my mind was scrap booking and I was pretty sure that would have no place in this land. I did share how our women's ministry has retreats, socials, Bible studies, teas and other events. At the end there was a woman who stood up and said she thinks they should have retreats. Prayer groups seems like something anyone who wanted to grow in their faith could do. The prayer groups I have been involved in have always fit a purpose in whatever season of life I have been in, and the relationships made through those experiences are rock solid. What surprised me is how emotional I got when I was sharing - I was not expecting to cry for goodness sake. Ellie was there with me and I ended by sharing how Ellie started a prayer group for young ladies when she was only 13. I wanted them to not make excuses but to see that anything is possible. When I finished and sat down, Helen stood up and said, very earnestly "How are you feeling women, after hearing this Ma talk? Do you have a burning in your chest as I do? How are you feeling?" Honestly, as I was writing, I had a burning in my own chest. Even though being committed to a small group of women and praying on a regular basis has been life changing for me in the past, I have not been involved with a specific group of women in a long time. This is one of the things I hope to change when I get home. After our refreshments, Andrea shared on being a Pastor's wife. She asked for a show of hands as to who were pastor's wives or their husbands were going to be pastors when they finished school. I think over half the room raised their hands. Andrea did a great job - even though her husband accidently printed page 1 twice instead of printing her 2nd page of her script, she handled it quite well. What she shared was relevant for any of us but especially Pastor's wives. She spoke on being thankful and encouraging our husbands. I know she touched the hearts of many of the women there. One thing I have noticed is that most of these women are extremely shy. I had assumed in a room that size that most of the women would know each other but that did not seem to be the case. At the end of the tea, the women just quickly left the room - nothing like the gabbing that goes on in America. I did have one woman ask if we could talk. She is working on her thesis and thought some of the things I shared would be fitting for her topic so she wanted to ask more questions. I'm looking forward to meeting with her this coming week. I could tell I had people praying for me because I felt extremely calm and I even talked slower than I ever remember talking. Before I got up, the women all introduced themselves (yes we went around a room of over 50 people). Most of them did not seem to speak English very well and I felt my heart sink. I prayed under my breath for God to open their ears to understand us because it seemed like a waste of time for me to see anything. By the looks on their faces and the nods of heads, I believe God was faithful in answering that prayer. My prayer now will be for these women to follow through and come together in unity and prayer.
Thursday, February 9, 2012
Today we went to see Martha's home. Martha and Ancela were our cooks during the time that our team was in Ndu. Right now Martha is cooking for our friends the Schroth's so we still see her almost daily. Martha's niece Courage lives with her and has recently finished cooking school. Courage is working alongside our cook Irene until the end of next week and then she will be our cook through the end of our stay here in Ndu. Martha and Courage walk about an hour each way to get to CBTS to cook for us, and then walk home at the end of the day. Goodness is Martha's daughter and she walks to school each day with her Mom and Courage. It was a beautiful walk but being this high up in the mountains, I was winded by the time we got home. Martha even took us down into the part of the farm where the sugar cane is grown so that she could hack some off for us. It was interesting because her family lives in this "compound" and have for years. She showed us the houses her brothers owned, step siblings, her late father and then her house. All the houses have separate cook houses where they prepare their meals. She showed us where the women go when they are in mourning - they gather with all the other female relatives and stay in this mud house for 4 or 5 days. The men have a different house where they mourn and they stay there for 3 days and nights. People who come to give their condolences bring food and go to these houses of mourning - the men to the men's hut, the women to the women's hut. What a treat to get to see Martha's world. We even got to see the pigs that we help to fatten up with all our scraps.
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Yesterday my friend Andrea and I went to the "big" market to do some shopping. She is leaving with her family next week so this was the last time she could go to market. It's crazy in the market place and seems to get even crazier when "white" people show up. Everyone is trying to get your attention and have you buy from them. People are standing on tables shouting, some just come and grab our arm and try to persuade us to shop from them. When we walked into the area that has all the used clothes and blankets, a couple of guys just shouted "White Women!" - just to get the frenzy going I guess. We know that any price that is given to us will be at least 3X the price given to a Cameroonian. It's frustrating because I am not very good at bargaining and I know I am getting ripped off. When we shop for our groceries for the week we leave all the shopping up to our cook so that we get the best price. I bought some material from one of the many vendors. I knew I just wanted the least expensive material but he was trying to upgrade me to the most expensive. He said "Come on, Americans are rich." (My friend is actually Canadian but they lump us both together as American.) I started saying that Americans aren't all rich... but stopped myself because in comparison, we really are. Even those of us who have to pinch pennies to make it, are rich. The problem is that it is SO expensive to live in America that we end up feeling poor. If you have a job as a cook for a white family here in Cameroon, you have a good paying job at 40,000 CFA per month (that is about $80). My daughter makes that much money babysitting part time at home. Guys that work in construction make $3 - $5 per day. Fruit bought here, in season, is amazingly cheap for us. Other things, like powdered milk, are considered a luxury. This is the dry season and many people are running out of food and money as they anticipate the rain. It's much like 100 years ago in America, people would plant and harvest food in preparation for the long winter. By the end of winter, many people would starve if they had not planned well or if their crops failed. Dan (Andrea's husband) is reading "The Color Purple", which is written in the 1700's, the description in the beginning of the book could be here in Ndu, today. Life is very difficult here. It's so hard to be discerning with our relationships we are making here. Everyone has their story and they all tug at your heart. Some of the time the stories told to us are in hopes that we will give them money; but other times, it is just because we listen and we care that they share their story with us. A few times men have made sure that Drew is out of my earshot when they talk to him... this is a pretty good sign that they want something and know that Drew is the guy to talk to. Thankfully Drew recognizes that too. I don't want to be suspicious of everyone I talk to - please pray for us in this area: that we will be wise and discerning as well as compassionate and caring. We try to pray with those who have needs. There are so many needs it can be overwhelming - and we know throwing money at most of these needs is not the answer.