Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Quickly Coming to an End

Tomorrow is my last day of teaching Katelyn and Lum. Tomorrow is also my last reading class for the neighborhood kids. Throughout the next week we’ll be having different graduation festivities for Karissa, and in three weeks we pick up the summer team coming from Grass Valley. We leave in six weeks.

It is so strange that my time here is quickly coming to an end. It’s difficult to figure out how to find good closure. Do I cram in as much as I can, or slowly transition out of my activities and commitments here? Is it okay to spend time looking forward to the future God has provided for me in California, or should I only focus on what God has given me here in Cameroon? How do I balance the emotions of being both thrilled to get back home and mournful that I’ll have to say goodbye to Cameroon?

Karissa teaching the alphabet to our smallest students

But one thing I know. Even while I am pulled in all these different directions, God is with me through it all, and He never changes. When I am weary of pushing my energy levels and of missing home, He gives me peace and strength. When I dread wishing farewell to all the friends and beauty of Bamenda, He reminds me of the good plans He has for me. When I wonder if I really did anything of importance here, He encourages me that, because of His goodness and power, my labor is not in vain. When I worry about the cultural shift I’ll experience as I get used to living in the U.S. again, He reminds me that He will be with me and will provide for all my needs, even emotional needs.

I also am praising God for His faithfulness to me in regards to the future. He has already abundantly provided for my needs. I will have a full-time teaching job this fall! I’ll be the 6th/7th grade teacher at Grace Classical Academy in Laguna Niguel ( God has also provided me with an apartment; I’ll be living with my good friend Amanda in Fullerton. He’s even provided me with a reliable car for when I get back.

It is also encouraging to see how He is already helping me find some closure here. A couple of weeks ago I got to stay at the missionary rest house in Mbingo (a nearby town) with my friend Elaine and her mom and cousin, who were visiting for a couple weeks. Since Elaine is moving up to the far north of Cameroon soon, I might not get to spend time with her again, so it was so nice to have a few days together, especially in such a relaxing place.

Elaine and her cousin Christina in Mbingo

Last week we had all of our dance friends over for dinner and a movie. We ate jelof rice (a favorite Cameroonian dish) and spaghetti while we watched Hairspray. As soon as the credits started, we pushed the chairs out of the way and started dancing to the music, and kept dancing for another hour! It was such a good time of connecting with those friends in a different way, outside of dance class, especially since we won’t have very many more dance classes before we leave.

I’m also anticipating that with all the graduation festivities I’ll have a chance to spend some extra time with friends, and I’m sure that having the summer team come will provide good closure regarding the ministries and significant people and places here. But today, I’m excited to see Lum and Katelyn perform a scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and I’m looking forward to finishing up school with them tomorrow. I have loved teaching them, and our last day of school together will be very bitter-sweet. I will dreadfully miss being a part of their education, but I am so excited for the good plans God has for all three of us in the future!

Performing the Shakespeare scene

God is good all the time! And all the time, God is good!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Rainy Season Has Come!

It is officially rainy season. No, that doesn’t mean it’s colder (or hotter). The temperature doesn’t do a whole lot of changing at any time of year. But it does mean that there is a thunderstorm almost every day, and we get to enjoy the ramifications of the new moisture! Now, if I go out to the veranda at sunset, instead of seeing the dull, hazy yellow glow of dry season, with faded brown mountains in the distance, I am hit with the visual stimulation of a vibrant, multi-colored, cotton candy-clouded sky, with unobstructed emerald mountains spanning the horizon. When the girls and I go for a jog around the neighborhood, I have a hard time not pulling up to a halt just to look at the jungles and waterfalls that seem to have sprung up overnight (Well, maybe not just to look. I hate running). There’s also the thrill of risk when we plan to do something outdoors in the afternoons, whether it’s shopping, hiking, visiting neighbors, or horseback riding.

Yesterday, Karissa, Katelyn, Katelyn’s friend Anna, and I left around 3:30pm to ride the horses back to the house from a nearby village. Thunder was already booming as Chris drove us to the village, and a few raindrops fell as we mounted the horses. But it didn’t daunt us; we were excited for the adventure!

For the next couple hours, we braved slippery roads, steep hills, rickety bridges, mud puddles, low branches, sore rear ends, a horse that wouldn’t stop, a bucking colt that wouldn’t go, and intervals of pouring rain. But it’s nothing we haven’t encountered before, and we loved every minute of it. There were a couple times that we were laughing so hard from seeing the mud splatters on each other that we had to stop the horses. As we got nearer to home, we ran into something a little more unusual. Thousands of flying insects were surrounding us: with rain comes termites! “Aw, they’re kind of cute! Let’s imagine they’re fairies!” I suggested. But they lost their enchantment when they went in our mouths, noses, and ears as we galloped through the swarms. We finally passed through the multitude and raced up our hill to the house.

“What? You didn’t catch them for us to eat?” Karen asked when we told her about them. “Let’s make sure we serve those as a snack to the summer team!” Unfortunately, Katelyn pointed out that termite season will be over by then. Sorry Cedar Ridge team, I think you’ll have to settle for fried grasshoppers instead.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Women, Plans, and Rams

Happy Easter, everyone! Here are a few updates on some different things that have been happening over here lately:

Young Women’s Bible Study

A couple months ago, my friend Elaine told me that two Cameroonian girls she was living with were very interested in being a part of a Bible study, but didn’t know where to join one. God had been lately leading me to commit to another “formal” ministry in Bamenda, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity! So about a month ago, I started leading a Bible study with Emmanuela, Dezane and a few of their friends (Sorry, I don’t have any pictures of them yet. Coming soon!)

It has been wonderful. They are really enjoying learning different ways to study the Bible, and we are learning a lot from the women of the Bible as we go. I love having the opportunity to get to know these young women better and to speak truth and love into their lives. Even with going to school full-time and caring for all the people in their household, they are committed to learning more about God and His word. It is a joy to see. Praise God for what He is doing in their lives, and pray that He continues to teach them more about Himself!

Future Plans

At this time last year, I was struggling with the decision whether to return to Cameroon or stay in California in the fall. God faithfully guided me in that decision, as He has again faithfully guided me in my decisions for this fall. When I come home in July, I will be coming home to stay. God may have future mission plans for me that I am unaware of, but at this point, I am absolutely confident that His plans for me this fall will be in California. I am currently applying for teaching jobs in southern California, and I would appreciate prayer that God opens the door to the job where he can use me to make a difference for Him, as well as where I can have a chance to transition well back into life in the US.

I am very excited to come back and get reconnected with my California communities, but I also pray that I will live these last three months in Cameroon well. Pray that God continues to give me joy and perseverance in the ministries He has given me here.

Village Visit

Last weekend, Karissa, Lum and I went up into the mountains to visit our Fulani friends. It was such a good weekend. We helped cook mushroom soup in the cookhouse, carried water on our heads from the river, and played “Mommy Wata” with the kids (their version of a sea monster game).

The most meaningful time of that weekend was when they slaughtered a ram for an Inde (their version of a baby shower). The leaders of the compound tied up the ram, held it down, and held palm leaves over the body to cover the slaughter. They said a quiet prayer, and silently made the cut. As I watched the lifeblood drain down the hill, I realized that the ram had never made a sound. It was such a powerful image of what Christ did for us. “Like a lamb to the slaughter... so he did not open his mouth” (Is. 53:7).

This Easter, may we be faithful to remember the Lamb of God, the final sacrifice and atonement for our sins.

“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” (Rev. 5:12).

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Monkeys and Malaria

This edition features samples of my students' work. For this assignment, they each wrote a narrative story of something unique that happened to them in their childhood. Enjoy!

Sweet Revenge

By Katelyn Jackson

Since I grew up in Cameroon, Africa, my family has owned many interesting pets. One of the amazing animals we owned was a putty-nose monkey, and this is her story.

Three weeks of having cute Vicky was enough to know her real personality. She stole chairs, during school she would steal our pencils and erasers and throw them at us and it was always a hassle trying to get her in the cage. When I was little I had the loving nature of torturing animals (to show them who’s the boss). I would lock our cat in a box or tie a rope and to the cat’s neck and take it for a walk (drag it across the hall and back). It was fun and satisfying.

One lovely afternoon, I decided to see what would happen if I swung the monkey by its tail. I knew that Vicky bit, but she had never bitten me before, so I was safe. I picked up the monkey its tail while it was fast asleep, then I yanked it to the middle of the living room so I wouldn’t hit the monkey against something. I went around and around, and soon enough I got dizzy, so I slowed down and let the monkey go. The monkey flew into a chair.

When I finally figured out that I was on solid ground I looked to see where Vicky was: I thought it was fun and I wanted to try again! However, when I saw Vicky angry face I could see that I would have to wait till she fell asleep again. I ran in the hallway to watch for her eyes to close, but Karissa came out and saw that Vicky was walking funny. Vicky didn’t care who she attacked she wanted revenge! Vicky attacked and bit Karissa on her right arm. I was too overwhelmed by my selfish thoughts that I didn’t even bother helping my older sister, who was now on the ground in agony. “Better her than me,” I thought. I chuckled a little, I felt good. However, after my joy warred off, senses came to my head and I went to go get Mom and Dad. “Lets get this monkey out of here!” dad yelled. Unfortunately, before we could, Vicky decided that we were boring and went exploring in the market. We soon found out that someone in the village ate her for dinner.

God the True Healer

By Lum Ngwa

Have you ever been in a situation where you almost die or everyone at least thinks you’re going to die? This story is about the time I almost died of malaria. The story I’m about to tell you is mainly about my mom and me, but my father, godmother and friends will also be introduced.

One day, when I was just six years old playing around in the yard, I suddenly started feeling severe headaches and felt weak as well. I went inside and laid down. When my mom, walked in, she didn’t even have to ask what was wrong. When she felt my forehead, she knew something was wrong and when I started throwing up, something was definitely wrong. My mom was scared. I wouldn’t eat anything or drink anything, so she bathed me with cold water, put some light clothes on me and rushed me to the nearest hospital. After being there for a few days, they said they didn’t know what to do, so my mom took me to a different hospital much further away but better. There I got lab tests and I didn’t even cry because I was so weak. After getting tests, they took me to a ward and put me on an IV. That day I got twelve IVs total and I still didn’t show any signs of getting better. The ward was full of nauseating smells and rows of beds. They kept giving me shots, pills and IVs, but I still didn’t get any better. The doctor said, “Constance we don’t know how to help your daughter.”

“But doctor,” my mom replied, “She could die. You need to find a ways to help her, please.”

“I’m sorry. You need to take her to Mbingo: maybe there you can get better help.” So my mom took me to a different hospital even further away, and much better than the last. There I got agonizing shots and that time I cried and kicked and fought and screamed. My mom cried uncontrollably just watching how much pain I was in. The doctors were sure I wouldn’t live and all they could do after the shots was to give me IVs and wait.

The doctors and nurses had to stay alert just in case something happened and they had to do things fast. Part of this included checking on me constantly to make sure I wasn’t dehydrated from throwing up. I had them watching me twenty-four hours straight. My mom was giving up hope and was running out of money. She called my godmother Caro, (who was in Switzerland at the time) to let her know that I was very sick and that it seemed like I wasn’t going to make it. So many people were scared. Many people were praying. At the moment, that is all they could do.

My father, on the other hand, couldn’t care less. He checked on us a few times, but that was it. He didn’t even want to help pay for the medicine and lab tests. People were upset with him, but he paid no heed to their pleas for help. My mom persevered and didn’t give up hope. She was always by my side making sure I didn’t wake up and panic. The second day in the hospital, the doctors thought I was doing better, but when I woke up I couldn’t even say a word I was so weak, and my fever had risen high again. There were more IVs, medicine and prayers.

After a few weeks, the doctors saw a little improvement. They said they weren’t entirely sure, but it was more likely now that I would have a chance in living. About a week later, I could say full sentences without help, I could lift up my hands and smile. My mom, family and friends were all rejoicing and praising the Lord: it was a miracle! My mom cooked me some chicken once I had a little appetite. All the nurses and doctors were relieved and finally got to sleep without having to worry too much about me. My mom cried, but this time with tears of joy.

This miraculous healing couldn’t have just happened because of good doctors and medicine: God was present all along. He is the true healer.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Road Trip!

Here's a sneak peek into my travel journal from our amazing trip to the far north of Cameroon and back:

Feb. 15 (Bamenda to Allot):

9 hours in the car: 3 hours were spent feeling sleepy from the early morning start, 2 hours laughing (from tiredness and silly faces we made at each other), 3 hours listening to an audio recording of The Shack, and 1 hour singing along to music. We passed many colorful villages, and the roads in this region are lined with round huts. It’s wonderful to have so much time to deepen our relationships with each other in a new setting.

We’re now in Allot, and we’re staying in “guest housing”, which turned out to be three round huts on a compound of a missionary family. So fun! Our parlor is a gazebo, our bedrooms look like round camp cabins, and our bathroom is a smaller hut next door. There is a dry beauty to this village that reminds me of California or Arizona deserts. It’s so different from the rolling hills and lush vegetation of Bamenda!

one of the "bedrooms"

Feb. 16 (Allot to Ngoundere):

Today we made a list of all the unusual things we saw. I have plans to turn it into a travel bingo game for the next crazy family that decides to embark on this trip.

  • donkeys
  • paved roads (but the potholes make them worse than the dirt roads)
  • mud hut “suburbia”
  • gasoline sold in a soda bottle
  • round huts
  • mosques (Katelyn counted over 40 today!)
  • tractor
  • Asian man
  • flaming red trees
  • car accidents (at least 15)
  • plantations
  • road sign (VERY unusual here!)
  • white man
  • solar power plant
  • lime green house
  • chicken crossing road (not so unusual, but funny)

Feb. 17 (Ngoundere to Maroua):

Hippos!!!! A pile of them in the river in Garoua! We went down to the water to look at them and the guy who feeds and tames them said he could call them over for us to see! One huge one (named Africa) came over. We were just thrilled to see one up so close, but then the guy motioned for us to come closer, and told us to feel the hippo ourselves! Not only that, but he told us to pet her! I rubbed a hippo’s nose!

Feb. 18 (Maroua):

We’ve arrived. The potholes were worth it! I really like it here. There are trees everywhere, providing relief from the intense heat. But the heat is great—it’s so dry; it feels like Southern California in September. The air here is nice, too. There aren’t many cars, so there is less exhaust, and many of the trees emit a sweet, fresh fragrance.

Today’s agenda: shopping at the artisana!

in front of the artisana

Feb. 19 (Waza Wildlife Reserve):

I can’t believe it: we raced giraffes today! We got up super early this morning to drive up to Waza and go on a safari. We didn’t expect to see too many animals (it’s not Kenya), but we did hope to see elephants and giraffes, even if just from a distance. As we were getting closer to the entrance to the park and singing along to The Lion King soundtrack, we approached what looked for a moment to be strange-looking trees on the side of the road. We quickly realized that this group of trees was actually a herd of giraffes, trying to cross the road! It was phenomenal! They are so majestic! And “tall” is certainly an understatement. We hung out on the road for a while, watching them, videotaping them, and then chasing them.

Once we got inside the park we saw a few monkeys and warthogs, many gazelles and birds, but no elephants. But we did get to see more giraffes, and not just look at them, but race them with our car! It was exhilarating! Giraffes are now my new favorite land animal.

Feb. 20 (Maroua):

We all attended the Far North Fellowship this morning, where we got to meet all the Wycliffe missionaries that live in this region. It was so exciting to hear about all that they are doing up here, especially since their ministries are so different than ours. There is a much higher Muslim population up here, which drastically changes the focus of ministry. It’s amazing to see how God has called certain people to certain places and cultures to do a unique work for His Kingdom. I’m really excited to spend some time tonight with my friend Karissa Clark, who is a long-term missionary up here.

Feb. 21 (Meskin):

We were planning on going out to see the rock formations at Rumsiki today, but we are all sick of the bad roads. Instead, we did some last minute shopping on Maroua, then visited a family in the nearby village of Meskin. We got to see their home and the work they are doing in a hospital they founded up there. We are all pretty tired today, so after getting back to Maroua, we just rested.

Feb. 22 (village near Garoua):

Goodbye, Maroua, hello marble quarry! We got to see how marble is mined and refined this morning! Marian Hungerford, a missionary in a village near Garoua, showed us where the second-best marble in the world is found and made into tiles! It was really interesting, and we even got to take a small piece with us. After that, just for fun, we drove a mile over to the Cameroon-Chad border and stuck a foot in each country. Amazingly enough, Chad looks just like northern Cameroon! On the way to Marian’s house, we stopped by some cotton fields and, with permission from the harvesters and much to their amusement, climbed into the sea container full of cotton and helped them stamp it down! We make friends everywhere we go. :)

see the white girls in the container?

Feb. 23 (Garoua to Ngoundere):

Although we’re enjoying our trip emensely, we’re getting ready to be home. Tonight Karissa, Katelyn, Lum, Alex and I are going to take the night train to Yaounde, where we’ll meet Chris and Karen in a couple days.

Feb. 24 (Ngoundere):

The train was cancelled last night, due to some problems with another train on the only track in the country, so we just hung out in Ngoundere today, and we’ll try the train again tonight. The girls and I found a place here that gives Henna (temporary) tattoos, so we spent most of the afternoon there. We were done getting our ankles and hands painted after a couple hours, but we were having so much fun getting to know the two sisters that do the Henna art, we ended up staying for longer, especially after they asked if we would stay for a late lunch with them. They served a delicious Chadian dish (they just came over from Chad 9 months ago), and Karissa did a great job using her limited French to help us all get to know each other better. I love how hospitable people are here!

Feb. 25 (Yaounde):

The train last night worked! It was a lot of fun, too, and probably the only time I will be able to afford a sleeper car. We’re now in Yaounde, and waiting for Chris to come so we can all go back to our beloved Bamenda home (especially Karen, who’s not feeling well, and who took the train with us to avoid going on the bad roads). It’s nice to see our friends in Yaounde while we’re here, though.

waiting for the train to leave

Feb. 26 (Yaounde to Bamenda):

Home at last! It was a wonderful trip, but it’s nice to have the cool weather and our own beds again. We came back a day early, because Karen got worse and we needed to get her to a doctor at a hospital in our area. She is at the hospital now to be tested and monitored, and will stay there until the doctors are sure she is better. Please pray for her quick healing and good spirits.

Even with the quick and concerned end of our trip, it was overall a wonderful two weeks. It still feels surreal that we got to see those animals, and I have a deeper appreciation and admiration for the people of Cameroon after seeing different regions and cultures of the country. It was also great to see what God is doing all over Cameroon and to build deeper relationships with the Jacksons. I’m so glad that God works in every part of our lives, even road trips, to do great works among his people.

Mar. 5 (Bamenda):

Update on Karen: she is home and feeling somewhat better, but she still has some painful swelling in her neck. Please continue to pray for healing and encouragement.

I think you can view more pictures on these links even if you're not registered on facebook:

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Dear Journal

“Oh, Susan, there is no such thing as a common day. Every day has something about it no other day has. Haven’t you noticed?” ~Anne of Ingleside by L. M. Montgomery

Inspired by Anne Shirley, I decided to pay close attention to the unique aspects of each for a week and post my journal entries about them. So here is a week in the life of Catherine of Bamenda:

Thursday, Feb. 3

Today was an especially uncommon day. Karissa and I went to the auditorium where we meet for Tuesday dance class, because we were supposed to meet and practice for a dance performance next Thursday. We expected to practice with about six other people in an empty auditorium. However, when we get there, we saw hoards of young people spilling out of the auditorium, with loud music and cheers emanating from inside. We find our fellow dance students in the crowd, and ask where we’re going to practice. They tell us we’ll practice in the auditorium. Confused, we ask, “Oh, is this event almost over?”

“No, we’re going on stage in ½ an hour,” one of them tells us.

“What? We’re going to perform? I though the performance was next week!”

“It is. This is a different one. We told you on Tuesday it would be a performance.”

Oh, language barriers. Whether they actually told us or not, we’ll never know. But Karissa and I did go on stage ½ an hour later with our dance partners and one other couple from our dance class. We performed the salsa in front of about 1,000 people and, needless to say, we were pretty nervous. I kept messing up, but fortunately my dance partner was experienced enough to cover for me. Even with all my mistakes, it was thrilling! I’m so excited for next week!

Friday, Feb. 4

“We’re having practically all the white people who live in Bamenda over to our house tomorrow for pizza and a movie night,” I told a friend over the phone last night.

“So how do you meet these people?” she asked.

“Oh, it’s easy,” I responded. “Whenever we see a young white person downtown, we walk up to them, ask them who they are and invite them over for a Friday pizza and movie night!”

Therein lies the complex method of one of our more informal ministries here in Bamenda. Around 5:00 this evening, our house was transformed into a pizzeria, with assembly lines throughout the kitchen and dining room and the six pizzas we were creating rotating through the two oven racks. It was even as loud as I would imagine an Italian pizzeria would be, with everyone talking over the Nigerian music blaring from the speakers in the kitchen. Once the pizzas were done, the pizzeria transformed into a movie theater, and all seventeen of us settled down to watch the movie of choice for the evening: Tom and Huck. Well, we at least had it on in the background as we were all talking about the places we’ve been to, the movies we’ve seen, the Mount Cameroon climbing trip next week, and so on, and so on.

I love that we can offer a place to gather for a variety of people who often live alone or with host families. It’s so nice to be able to offer them a place to relax, have some amazing pizza, and form friendships with other people in their area.

Saturday, Feb. 5

This afternoon, most of the house went down the road to complete the exciting task of moving the pile of horse manure from where we had been dumping it to the actual dump, since the piles were bothering one of our neighbors. Apparently, watching people shovel poo into a truck is even more exciting than actually doing it, since one neighbor took time out of his Saturday afternoon to walk over and watch us.

After shoveling all of it into the back of a pickup, Katelyn and I sat on top of the manure; Chris, Pa and Alex climbed inside, and we all bounced down a dirt road to the dump. Katelyn and I had a great time, singing at the top of our voices, trying to stay inside the truck, and then shoving the poo onto the piles at the dump (or trying to stay out of the way while the guys shoved it out). Apparently, watching people unload poo from a truck is even more exciting than watching them shovel it into the truck, since three local guys and their dog took time out of their Saturday afternoon to walk over and watch us.

Sunday, Feb. 6

Today we had home church, were we compared and contrasted the story of Noah in the Bible and Koran. Around 1pm we went to dance class, then in the evening I went over to Uncle Fred’s house, where Elaine used to live and is staying for the weekend. It’s her last night in Bamenda, and we were finishing the movie Anne of Avonlea, which we started last night for Emmanuela’s birthday party. Emmanuela is a sweet, responsible twenty-two-year-old that helps run the ten-person household while attending school full-time.

Unfortunately, like most Sundays, the electricity was out. So I used the remaining sunlight of the day to give Elaine a haircut, adeptly using my extensive skills and experience. It was somewhat of a community event, since the house was too dark in which to do anything. The older girls of the house scanned Elaine’s fashion magazines while heating up dinner on an open fire, Fred’s eleven-year-old daughter Laura read aloud a story book, his five-year-old son Dan stomped on ants, and his eight-year-old daughter Abigail teased Dan.

Fortunately, like most Sundays, the electricity returned as it was getting dark. We settled down to watch the movie, and I got to eat fufu and njamajamma, my favorite Cameroonian dish. The movie was delightful, and I found a kindred spirit in Dezane, one of the teenage girls who lives in the house, who was falling all over the couch in grief as Anne rejects Gilbert. We sighed in sorrow together, even though we knew that an hour later we would be sighing in happiness. Which we did. I’m really enjoying getting to know Emmanuela and Dezane better, and I hope to keep building my friendships with them throughout the next several months. Currently I’m praying about starting a bible study with the two of them and a couple other teenage girls in my neighborhood.

Monday, Feb. 7

Katelyn, Lum and I couldn’t stop laughing during our Literature lesson today as we were reading It’s a Jungle Out There, an autobiographical book written by a guy who grew up as a missionary kid in Peru. Each chapter is a different story he remembers from his childhood, and they can relate to a lot of the challenges and excitements of his life. Inspired by this book, I assigned the girls to each write a narrative story about something that happened to them that is unique to Cameroon. Lum is going to write about the time she almost died of malaria, and Katelyn is going to tell the story about when she aggravated her pet monkey so much that it bit her sister on the finger. If they let me, I’ll post their stories when they finish them.

We have a laughing lifestyle here. Today was a good representation of how much we laugh. We laugh at each other’s morning grogginess, we laugh at funny names or events we read about in school, we laugh at mistakes we make, and every time we get into a taxi we laugh so hard we wonder why the taxi driver doesn’t kick us out for disturbing the peace. The girls and I could barely make it up our hill this evening because of doubling over with laughter. Just as we were getting ourselves under control, a string of neighbor toddlers ran towards us chanting, “white man, white man, white man!” and then we all burst out laughing all over again.

Tuesday, Feb. 8

3pm: The Jacksons’ dog Autumn has been tired and shaking and digging and panting for almost two days now: everyone who comes in the house asks, Have the puppies come yet?” Since veterinarians are rare here, we’re all acting like a team of home doctors. Karen looks up information about helping with puppy deliveries on the internet, Lum wakes up in the night to check on her, Katelyn makes sure her temporary “bed” in the empty fireplace is comfortable, and we all take turns rubbing her and loving on her. We’re all wondering why it’s taking so long, but with a house full of “doctors,” I don’t think there will be much of a problem.

7pm: Autumn has one adorable black puppy! The puppy’s name is Toka, which means “ash” in Fulfulde, since he was born in the fireplace.

Wednesday, Feb. 9

Two questions you should never ask here: “What time will it start?” and “How long will it last?” I foolishly tried asking these questions about the practice for our dance performance, and suffered the consequences. “Be here at 3:30,” our choreographer told Karissa and me. Karissa and I rolled our eyes and quietly agreed with each other to get there by four. We arrived at 4:15, and there was no one else there. We looked around, then sat around, and still no one showed up. Finally, around 4:30, two of the other dancers showed up, but we waited until about 5:30 before the other four of them came. We actually started practicing our choreography around 6:00, and had about an hour to nail it down.

Especially since this is not the first time this has happened, you’d think the lesson would have been fresh in my mind by 7:00 that night, but when we were talking about the performance tomorrow, I asked the forbidden questions. They said, “You must be here by 1:00, because we go on at 2:00.” We shall see.

Thursday, Feb. 10 (bonus entry!)

Karissa and I thought we were smart to arrive for the performance at 1:30, but we found out when we arrived that the show hadn’t even started yet, and we were the twenty-seventh dancing group. Will I never learn? After four hours of sitting behind the building, practicing a little, talking a lot, and watching another group do back flips, we performed: it was spectacular!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

12 Days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, our house joyfully gained: a chicken in pesto sauce.

On the second day of Christmas, our house joyfully gained: two Bible dedications (in Mamfe!)...
...and a chicken in pesto sauce.

On the third day of Christmas, our house joyfully gained: three Obama shirts...
...two Bible dedications, and a chicken in pesto sauce.

On the fourth day of Christmas, our house joyfully gained: four car breakdowns...
...three Obama shirts, two Bible dedications, and a chicken in pesto sauce.

On the fifth day of Christmas, our house joyfully gained: FIVE THOUSAND DISHES (to wash)...
...four car breakdowns, three Obama shirts, two Bible dedications, and a chicken in pesto sauce.

On the sixth day of Christmas, our house joyfully gained: six-hundred stocking stuffers...
...FIVE THOUSAND DISHES, four car breakdowns, three Obama shirts, two Bible dedications, and a chicken in pesto sauce.

On the seventh day of Christmas, our house joyfully gained: seventeen overnight guests...
...six-hundred stocking stuffers, FIVE THOUSAND DISHES, four car breakdowns, three Obama shirts, two Bible dedications, and a chicken in pesto sauce.

On the eighth day of Christmas, our house joyfully gained: eight-hundred Christmas cookies (to bake)...
...seventeen overnight guests, six-hundred stocking stuffers, FIVE THOUSAND DISHES, four car breakdowns, three Obama shirts, two Bible dedications, and a chicken in pesto sauce.

On the ninth day of Christmas, our house joyfully gained: nine pageant actors...
...eight-hundred Christmas cookies, seventeen overnight guests, six-hundred stocking stuffers, FIVE THOUSAND DISHES, four car breakdowns, three Obama shirts, two Bible dedications, and a chicken in pesto sauce.

On the tenth day of Christmas, our house joyfully gained: ten cups of sugar (for the cinnamon rolls)...
...nine pageant actors, eight-hundred Christmas cookies, seventeen overnight guests, six-hundred stocking stuffers, FIVE THOUSAND DISHES, four car breakdowns, three Obama shirts, two Bible dedications, and a chicken in pesto sauce.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, our house joyfully gained: eleven slipping kids...
...ten cups of sugar, nine pageant actors, eight-hundred Christmas cookies, seventeen overnight guests, six-hundred stocking stuffers, FIVE THOUSAND DISHES, four car breakdowns, three Obama shirts, two Bible dedications, and a chicken in pesto sauce.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, our house joyfully gained: twelve other Kribi travelers,
...eleven kids on the slip-and-slide, ten cups of sugar, nine pageant actors, eight-hundred Christmas cookies, seventeen overnight guests, six-hundred stocking stuffers, FIVE THOUSAND DISHES, four car breakdowns, three Obama shirts, two Bible dedications, and a chicken in pesto sauce!