African outfits

African outfits
Our crazy family

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The road to Ntaba

It's our last weekend in Ndu and we are feeling mixed emotions about leaving. For the most part, I am ready to get home to our family and friends but at the same time, I know I will miss this place. Today we took a taxi with Henry (the librarian) to a place called Ntaba. Henry has been telling me how beautiful this place is since I first started working in the library. The car was a little crowded with 7 of us crammed in a small Toyota (like a Tercel). I got to share the front bucket seat with Drew. The scenery was quite stunning and the winding mountain road was exhilarating. On the other side of the mountain range was the savanna area - beautiful. I was hoping that we would get to see some other topography before leaving Cameroon. We will also be traveling to the beach before leaving so that will offer us some more interesting sights to see as well. It's fun to still have new things to look forward to, even as we are experiencing many "lasts" on our journey.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Cameroon's National Women's Day

Happy Women's Day! "Happy Happy" (that is the proper response). Today women all over Cameroon celebrate this national holiday. Ndu had a celebration much like other towns and villages across the country. Fabric was made months ago for women to have special dresses made just for the day. Since we wanted to experience as much of the Cameroonian culture as possible, Ellie and I had dresses made in Ellie's favorite color -PINK! The other option was a bluish/green with the same picture on it. The women's march was scheduled to begin at the grand stand in town at 8am this morning (March 8, 2012). Knowing that nothing starts on time around here we waited until 840am to walk across campus and through the main gate (that has brand new cement). We felt like our own little parade as we walked on the rim road towards the grand stand with shouts of "Happy Women's Day!" thrown our way. It felt a little awkward as we realized we were the only people around with our bright pink fabric on. Circling around we went to our favorite store (Providence) to find out what we could about the festivities for the day. Both the women that worked there laughed when we asked why it hadn't started yet - "Black people here don't follow any type of time schedule" was the reply these 2 black women gave us. We continued our little parade of 2 right back to our little house to wait it out. Finally just before 10am we headed back up to the grand stand and discovered many different women's groups lining up to begin the march. Again, we felt really out of place because the groups were being divided by subdivisions and we didn't have a group that we belonged in. Finally, one of the ladies shoved us into the line, close to the front where we joined other women in pink, marching and singing "Oh When The Saints Go Marching In". I just kept thinking "It's all part of the experience". Ellie and I then went and took our seats in the grand stand to watch some of the women's groups perform their dances and sing. One of the groups was from the CTE (tea plantation we had toured early on in Cameroon). They sang the song "Shine the light of Jesus Christ" but changed the words to "Shine the light of CTE"... it kind of bugged me. Everything I have heard about the man who bought this place just 4 or 5 years ago is that he doesn't treat his workers very fair. Who knows what the truth is? We listened as several speakers shared on different topics (through a bad sound system): Women's rights, education, cancer (cervical and prostate), Agriculture and a male doctor talked in detail about person hygiene. The main theme of the day was ending hunger and poverty... finally, I could stand it no longer - I had to go to the bathroom and I was hungry. So Ellie and I did our part to end hunger (even if it was just our own) and we headed home to eat... and use a flush toilet. A few hours later Drew and I headed up to the MoneyGram place (for the 3rd time without success) and we could see that the Women's Day performances were still going on. No offense, I love being a woman, but to me this was Women's suffering!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

More of my observations

Some things here in Cameroon are just so different it makes me laugh. Just this morning I made a phone call to the man in charge of a taxi service here in Ndu. We need to arrange a ride to Bamenda next week and I have been trying to get in touch with him but I was getting only a busy signal. This morning I finally got an answer but barely into my call when my phone went dead. I went to plug it in and we had no power, so I figured I would try again later. Meanwhile, Levi and I headed down the hill to go to the health center. As we were walking, a car came down the road we had just past honking his horn and flashing the lights - strange behavior even for Ndu. I stopped to see what it was all about and a man jumped out and greeted me, it was the taxi guy. He had tried calling me back but got a busy signal, the only information I had given him was that I was at CBTS. Wow, what service. I was able to tell him when we needed a ride and he agreed to meet with Drew and I together a few days before we leave to get the details worked out. Nice to have that off my list, especially since we still do not have electricity. Can you imagine in America if your conversation was cut short with a dead battery and moments later the person showed up at your door to finish the conversation?

Levi was tested for malaria this morning and it did come back negative - Yeah! We got some medicine for parasites so hopefully he will be feeling better soon. While waiting for 3 hours between our registration, consultation, lab work, more consultation and then the pharmacy, I had a lot of opportunity to observe the people around me. One thing I have noticed since arriving here is that women seem to embrace their chin hairs and today I noticed several women with actual go-tees growing. Many of the women wear a wrappa around their skirts and this is very useful for waiting - they just throw the outer wrappa on the grass and use it for a blanket (I will have to remember that next time we go to the health center). Another thing I noticed is that "Minnesota Nice" does not work well when you are waiting in Africa - people do not usually take turns but push to get waited on as soon as possible. You really need to stand your ground or you could spend the whole day waiting and never get service. Yesterday I went to the Moneygram place in Ndu to get some money my brother had wired me. There were probably 20 people waiting and when I arrived the security guy ushered me to the front of the line. I wasn't sure what was happening at first but once I realized I felt very awkward. I did not have the right information though and was unable to get my money, therefore I felt very relieved that I had not waited hours to find that out. I'm going back today but plan to wait my turn.

One thing that I will miss that just doesn't happen at home, is the greetings that happen everywhere you go... and it's not just that we are white, everyone greets everyone. It takes longer to get from place to place because people say "Good morning Madame", "Good Afternoon" or the kids shout "Hello, how are you?" (over and over). People shake your hand and sometimes hold their arm when they do this as a sign of respect. As our time is coming to an end we have had numerous invitations to have supper (fufu and jamajama most likely). The Africans we have met have taught me so much about being hospitable and making people feel welcome. As you enter their homes they often say "You are welcome".

Monday, March 5, 2012

Looking Towards the Goal

Just 2 months have gone by since we walked out the door of our home in Minnesota starting our adventure. I would like to think that we are all changed and transformed people, and I'm sure we are to some degree. The reality is that I have discovered more of my selfishness and my sinful heart than I would have by staying in my busy lifestyle at home in the middle of my comfort. I wouldn't have had to face the fact that I really don't like to be uncomfortable or outside of my control. I could just go on joking about how much I like to have my way, instead of seeing how ugly that really is. I don't know why I was born in a country and own a home that is huge by these standards. I'm not a more valuable person because I live in a land of comfort. I hope that I will appreciate even the smallest comfort once I go home, but honestly I doubt it will take long before I settle back into my life of expectations. What do I do with the fact that I live with plenty, when others live in want? People that I have met and walked with, if even for a short time, will continue in their struggles and I will go home to my easy life. I have no answers, it doesn't change their lives if I should sell everything I own, even if I gave it all to them. It wouldn't give them better plumbing or an endless supply of food, they would still have dust on everything. Both here and there we would be tempted to fill our time with things that do not satisfy. Which leads me to the fact that it is all pointless. If all our life is about our accumulation of "stuff" and we forget that we are made to bring God glory with our lives, than we're missing out. I've seen some wonderful examples of people who understand that here in Africa, with the full time missionaries and many students who have committed their lives to serving Christ. I want to bring home a little of that zeal and that purpose as I too fix my eyes on the goal before me.

Philippians 3:13-16 (The Message
"Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward - to JESUS. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back.
So let's keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision - you'll see it yet! Now that we're on the right track, let's stay on it.

Pray for us as we end our time in Ndu, Cameroon and prepare to reenter our life in Minnesota and the mission God has for us there.