Friday, November 13, 2009

A "Typical" Day in the Jackson Village

6:45 I wake up to the sound of my alarm, as well as the roosters and babies next door. I roll out of bed, shake the ants out of my clothes, and get ready for the day.

7:10 I stumble into the kitchen, groping for the coffee, while avoiding opening up any drawers that the mouse likes to jump out of.

7:15 Breakfast. We watch as Chris mercilessly pesters Lum in an attempt to see if she is awake. 80% chance he gets her to smile.

8:00 Doorbell rings. It’s Lillian and Pa, our Cameroonian househelp (it’s culturally very common to have Cameroonians work for people in their home. It’s actually a very respected position). Lillian and Pa are amazing—Pa is friendly in a shy way, and he can get anything spotlessly clean! Lillian is sweet, a master seamstress, and an amazing cook. I love helping her in the kitchen.

8:15 School starts. I turn on the energy to keep Katelyn and Lum engaged. I often resort to wild antics like acting out vocabulary words, performing “stick figure dramatizations” on the whiteboard for history lessons, giving poetry-writing assignments about monkeys saving the world, and using numerous “Gilmore Girl” references to help explain concepts in any subject. I really enjoy teaching the girls. They are enthusiastic, quick learners, and we have a great time together.

9:00 Doorbell rings. Usually it’s someone who comes to work with Chris or Karen.

10:15 Break time. We spend most of our break playing with the new kitty.

11:45 Doorbell rings. We often have visitors come for lunch.

12:00 Cameroonian lunch on the veranda! Time to get excited about almost anything Lillian cooks. The peanut stew and curry rice are my favorite. But I am still getting used to eru, a bitter leaf that looks like grass, and achu, which, honestly, makes me gag.

12:30 We go back to the dining room to finish school, and then I finish prepping for the next day while Katelyn and Lum do homework.

3:30 Doorbell rings. Fadi’s home from school.

3:45 Doorbell rings. The person/people waiting at the gate depends on the day:

Monday: Nothing’s planned for this afternoon, so sometimes a friend of Katelyn, Lum, and Fadi comes over, or Katelyn and I go for a horse ride to some waterfalls. Dreams really do come true!

Tuesday: Elizabeth, a neighborhood high school girl I tutor, is the doorbell-ringer.

Wednesday: Every other week, hoards of neighborhood kids are at the gate, jumping up and down in excitement for Bible Club. The other weeks, a group of ten to fourteen-year-olds comes over for Bible Study. Those two activities need a blog post all of its own. More to come soon…

Thursday: Two sets of neighborhood kids come over for the reading classes I just started. I’m teaching the alphabet to kids as young as six and as old as nine, and I’m teaching word-decoding skills to kids between the ages of eleven and sixteen. I just finished my second week of teaching them, and I love it, but seeing their lack of reading skills breaks my heart at the same time. More on that to come, as well.

Friday: Nothing on the schedule, so we can usually expect the girls’ friends to come over, or Katelyn and I go for a horse ride, or we just watch a movie to wind down from the week.

5:30 All the kids leave, and we start evening chores and dinner prep. Usually one or more of the girls in our house is belting out Taylor Swift or Mandy Moore songs. But this is not just confined to the evenings. The lyrics of “You Belong With Me” or “Only Yours” float through the house at any given time of day. J

6:00 Doorbell rings. Caroline and Sherry, our neighbors who also work with Wycliffe, come over for dinner.

6:30 Dinner. Last week, we had a Japanese-Cameroonian meal to go with our unit on Japan. Horray for sushi with baked fish, rolled in cabbage! Regardless of the meal, we're usually rolling our eyes at Chris’ bad puns. Example: “Tomorrow I’m going to Bafut. But I can’t get there by foot. Ahahaha!” Our dinners are frequently filled with just as much laughing as eating.

7:30 We clean up dinner, wash the dishes, and set the mouse trap—again. I’m convinced that our kitchen mouse has a higher IQ than most. He’s evaded capture way too many times to be a normal mouse.

8:00 I help Fadi with her homework while Chris and Karen read aloud to Katelyn and Lum, then Caroline and Sherry hike back to their house.

9:00 All the Jacksons go to bed, and I start entertaining myself with e-mail, Facebook, and any book I can lay my hands on. I think I’ve read a couple thousand pages since getting here. I love it! My late evenings are filled with adventures of the Scarlet Pimpernel, drama from the English town of Middlemarch, intrigue with Amelia Peabody in the pyramids of Egypt, and the tragic family dynamics of the Karamazov family.

10:30 Lights out. During the rainy season I get to fall asleep to the sound of rain on our tin roof, and now, during the newly begun dry season, I am lulled to sleep by the croaks of frogs and the chirps of crickets.


--School with the girls is going really well

--We’re finally getting settled in our weekly ministries, and I’m really excited about the privilege of partnering with God in the Bible Club, Bible Study, and Reading Class ministries!

Prayer Requests:

--Continued wisdom as I teach Katelyn and Lum and lead the Bible Club and Reading Classes.

--That God would constantly remind me that He is sufficient, and He has equipped me for everything He is calling me to do, even when I get discouraged by the huge needs of this community.

--That God would bless the families of both Cameroonian girls who live with us.


  1. You forgot the part where I come to visit. and the brain wall.

  2. Sorry, Brain.
    Here you go:

    4:00 Doorbell rings. Sometimes our friend Brian (or Brain, as he is affectionately known around here), who is an American helping out the Navigator ministry in Bamenda, shows up at our house to stay for a few nights. He is a lot of fun, he plays cards with me after the Jacksons go to bed, and we think he is such a fun guy that Katelyn and Lum named their writing wall, where they post their writing masterpieces, "The Brain," in honor of him. :)

  3. Hi Catherine, Went to dinner tonight and heard your dad play while visiting with Jean, John, Bethany, and Bill and Peggy McQ. Your mom told me about your blog so here I am. Love this post telling me what your routine is. Enjoy your adventures.
    Blessings, Jo Miller
    home on a 6 month furlough in Grass Valley