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: