African outfits

African outfits
Our crazy family

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Amazing Race

Thursday morning we left Ndu and rode for 4 or 5 hours on the dusty bumpy road. It actually went quite well and we arrived in Bamenda with time to visit people. Our friend Steve had finished his mid-terms so we asked him to travel with us, and boy are we glad we did. Steve speaks French and English as well as a couple of other Cameroonian languages so he is quite handy to have around. Our family had rooms booked at the Bro Guest House run by SIL. The main office is easy to find but finding the actual house was another story. One of the SIL workers rode with us in our van and showed us the way. After just a quick stop we loaded back in the van to stop at the bank and get some of our personal money to use for our weekend excursion to the beach. Steve then negotiated a taxi for all of us to take us to the Baptist Conference Center where we had hoped to see Irene (our cook for part of our time in Ndu). Irene is a cook to a Canadian missionary named Elsie. I didn't realize the Baptist Center was so big but Elsie was known by everyone we met and we soon found her. Irene had gone home for the day but Elsie was very kind and welcomed us into her home. It ended up that she had met our friend Steve a few years ago in a class that she had taught. As we were talking, I saw Monie out the window and went running out to greet her. Monie is from Faith Baptist Church in Minneapolis and I had hoped to see her and her husband Jerry in Ndu but the timing was not right. I was thrilled at our unexpected meeting and enjoying our time together catching up. After the Baptist Center we took a taxi to a handicraft place to pick up souvenirs but unfortunately the place was closed and our taxi had already left. We were on a busy street but there were 6 of us and most taxis were not that big, so we just kept walking (or strolling as Steve called it). After walking for a long time, we came to the bus terminal so we checked on the bus schedule to Limbe for the next morning. Once that was taken care of we walked to Steve's aunt's home to see her (since we were in the neighborhood). After hanging out at her house for a while we invited her to Sister Rosa's with us to eat dinner... by this time it was already dark and we were all tired and hungry. The restaurant was a short walk from her home. By the time we arrived it was almost 8pm and we were told the fish would take a half hour... so we waited. The half hour ended up being an hour and we were all so tired it seemed even longer. We ate quickly and hailed a taxi to take us back to the guest house, the one that we had only seen once in the daylight. Steve was able to lead our taxi driver to our house with only a few misturns - we were all so thankful that at least one of us had paid attention to all the bumps and curves to where we were going. I barely remember my head hitting the pillow that night.
The next morning Drew and Steve were out of the house bright and early to book our bus tickets. The hope was to get good seats. (I typed all this up once and it disappeared) The short version is: We were told the bus would leave at 9am sharp - it left at 1108am. We were told it was about a 6 hour drive - we arrived at 830pm. If you had to go to the bathroom you could just yell at the driver and he would stop the bus to let you pee next to the bus for all to see - I chose a dehydration headache over drinking liquid all day. The bus was scheduled to go to Limbe and that is where all the passengers were planning on going but the driver thought he had to go to Doula. This meant we had to unload less than 30 kms from our destination and load another bus instead of going straight on through. Crazy sites along the way... but beautiful scenery too.
I had made reservations for the New Seme Beach Hotel in Limbe online - it was the only hotel I found that took online reservations. I went back and forth a few times through email with them because we didn't seem to be understanding each other but I finally felt like we were clear. Unfortunately, they only had us down for 4 people instead of 6. After looking at a couple of room options we settled on adding another room for Steve and Kyle onto our adjoining rooms. It was frustrating and more so because the man at the front desk seemed to have a chip on his shoulder right from the beginning with us. The other workers were very kind but I can't say that I would recommend this place if someone should ask. The prices here are much higher than in Ndu but right in line with American prices. In fact we asked about the Wildlife Refuge Center nearby and were told that the price to get in is 3000 cfa per person if you are a foreigner and 500 cfa if you are Cameroonian. The Hotel is right on the ocean and has air conditioning as well as a continental breakfast. It feels really weird being here after being in Ndu. I don't feel like I fit in here at all. We ate dinner in after 9pm again last night. For the past 2 months we have been locked in our house pretty much after supper and in bed most nights around 9pm, now in the past 2 nights we haven't even had supper by 9pm.

This morning I woke to the sounds of birds and the ocean. My heart was very thankful for these few days to go over my thoughts of these past 2 months and to relax and enjoy my last memories of Cameroon. We played at the beach for hours and had a very enjoyable day. We are tired but it's not the same as the exhaustion from traveling. We have another day of rest tomorrow. Monday we will try out a bigger bus to Yaounde' - I hear that it even has air conditioning! The flight home is going to seem like luxury to us... especially as we anticipate our arrival home. As we were traveling we started feeling like we had a glimpse of what people must feel like on the show "Amazing Race". Travel can bring out the worst of people but it can also make some of the best memories.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Feeling the Love

This morning was our send off prayer at the CBTS chapel service. We made the kids come to chapel and were expecting a prayer at the end, but honestly were not prepared for the touching send off these dear saints gave us. Our whole family was brought to the front of the church and then ushered into a prayer room in the front while some announcements were made. Mrs. Maasa met us with a bag full of specially made African outfits for the whole family. The boys all threw their shirts on and left Ellie and I to quickly change into our skirt and top...I felt a little like a model having to make such a quick transition. The kids and I were given Certificates of Appreciation for the work done in the library - they were very sweet. There is a mystery gift for Drew that had not made it in time for chapel so we still have that to look forward to. A few of the Pastors on campus came up and prayed for us. Drew was given the mic to make a speech but instead he sang the song "Pleasing To You" by Jared Anderson. After Drew prayed a heartfelt, emotional prayer (after the emotional song), the President of CBTS had a few words to share.

We were so touched by his words and wish we had them video taped because really they were prayers for all of you. He prayed for our son Chris, who is still in the states (he is 24 years old). He prayed for our Pastors, thanking them for the influence they have had on our family's life, that we would be willing to come here to show the love of Christ in practical ways. He prayed for all of you that have contributed financially and in prayer so that it would even be possible for our family to come at all. There is so much to do around this campus from a construction point of view and he prayed earnestly that we would return for years to come. It was so encouraging because he understood and conveyed to everyone there in the chapel that we were only there at all because of a whole team of people. God may have called us to the dusty place of Ndu, but we could never have done it without Him also putting it on peoples hearts to give and to pray and to be our support team all along the way.

Last night we enjoyed dinner with a couple of the Master's program students who have become good friends to our family. They were telling us all the things that we do that are so contrary to their culture. Some examples are that we have conversations with adults and our children are a part of the conversation, we interrupt each other (which isn't a good thing and we will be working on that), we engage in getting deep with people - whether they are eating or whatever is going on, without sending our kids off to another area of the house. They asked if there are other families like ours, and we were able to say YES. We know this because we rub shoulders with them at our co-op and at our church every week. Over the years we have met many families that have influenced our vision for our own family. They asked about our Pastors, because they thought we must have amazing Pastors influence us for God's Kingdom - again they were right. We are so thankful for the leadership in our church and our church family and the impact they have had in our lives.

God has put some amazing people in our life, both at home and here in Africa... and in Canada. We feel so privileged that He would find us worthy to be used by Him and that many of you had faith to trust us and support this adventure God has brought us on. I hope as we return home that we will be able to pass on the gratitude and lessons we have learned from these 2 months in Ndu.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Our Last Weekend

We just ended our last pancake night here in Ndu. Drew made an extra amount of pancakes but we ended up with quite a bit left over since it was a light crowd tonight. There was no electricity so we sat around the table by candle light and enjoyed the company of our friends. There are some doctors here for a month, 2 of which are from Burnsville and go to Bethlehem Baptist, they gave us M&M's as a contribution to the pancakes. Banana and M&M pancakes are pretty amazing. During the conversation we found out that all the noise we had heard last night was not a good thing. We had thought there was some late night sports event or something by all the shouting and cheering. The field Pastor for the area Baptist churches was beaten by Jujus pretty seriously. From what I can understand, a man in the First Baptist church wrote some Christian lyrics to the juju songs (Jujus are basically the witch doctors). He recorded these songs and the jujus are angry, so angry that they want to kill him. Tonight while we were sitting here we heard more noise and one of the missionaries received a call that for safety reasons they were bringing this man on campus for the night. He is staying at the house the Schroths were living in just down the path from us. Tomorrow a meeting is being held and hopefully a solution will be found to satisfy the jujus without shedding blood. Pray for wisdom for all involved and for safety for the Pastor and his family.

Through our time here in Ndu, we have made some wonderful friends. One of the men we have gotten to know is a student in the Master's program - his name is Steve. Tonight we found out more about Steve, including the fact that he is a Master in Martial Arts. I've been trying to iron out the details of our family traveling to Limbe and being tourists for a while before we leave. It seems complicated and we had just decided to hire a taxi to stay with us the whole time, thinking it would be worth the expense. Talking to Steve we found out he finishes his last test before break the very day we are leaving. He is from the area we are going to and speaks both French and English. We asked if he would travel with us and be our "body guard" as well as tour guide. He seemed really excited. Even with paying an extra persons expenses this will be quite a bit less expensive than what we were originally looking at. We will instead take a bus once we arrive in Bamenda, it will be an adventure. It works out well because the Schulzs will be going to Yaounde over the weekend and can bring our extra luggage so we can pack light. God is so good in providing us with this extra help. The other great thing is this will prolong our good-bye with Steve and we will enjoy exploring more of Cameroon with him. I'm feeling quite thankful and relieved by this turn of events. Pray for safety for all of us as we travel. Continue to pray for Levi as he is still not feeling well.