Here’s an overview of April in photos:
In the tropics, there’s really only two seasons: rainy and dry. It’s hot all year long, but it’s either hot and rainy (where’s it’s not quite as hot) or hot and dry (where it’s really hot). Here in Cameroon you might be able to also say there are four: the big and little rainy season and the big and little dry season.
I, as an expat and import, often still think about the “regular” seasons of back home in Michigan even though here it bears no resemblance to what is happening across an ocean. I still say things like “Next Summer”, or “This Winter” even though it’s 85 degrees out.
The other day I was talking to one of my Cameroonian colleagues about something that we’d do in the future and I said, “We can’t do that now, but we’ll take care of that in the Spring”. She said, “Oh ok.” seeming to understand — but then added, “When’s Spring?”.
One morning, a few weeks ago, we went outside and sat at our new picnic table. At that time, it was under a tree. It was a nice location since the tree provided shade against the tropical sun.
However, that morning we noticed a number of caterpillars (chenilles) all over the table. We brushed them off and sat down at the table. Then a caterpillar fell from the tree and landed near Eila. Hrm. And these just weren’t any little caterpillars, these were large (2-3 inch) black ones with yellow spikes.
We started to move them into a bucket we had around. Remembering that I’ve seen similar caterpillars live in the open air markets here in Cameroon, I brought the few we had collected to the guard at our compound and asked if he would want them. “Well, yes, but there’d have to be more”, he said to us (in French) — but he would stop by at the end of his shift and pick up what we had.
So we went back and noticed that more had fallen from the tree above. We scooped those up into the bucket. Soon, every time we went by there were more caterpillars to be collected and by the end of the morning, we had quite a number writhing in the bottom of our bucket.
At the end of the day, the guard stopped by and we gave what we had in the bucket to the guard in a baggie.
The next day we asked him how they were , and he said they were very delicious. His son knew how to prepare them, and they are them with tomato, garlic, and lots and lots of piment (hot sauce).
We’re glad someone could use them.
We don’t have pictures of fall, because there’s no autumn here! However, here’s some pictures to show what we’ve been doing over the last few months:
As you might already know, we need teachers in Cameroon. For us and for nearly all the expatriate families that are serving in Cameroon, the schooling options are a huge part of how and why we are here. This is true for those working with us in Bible translation, literacy and Scripture engagement as well for those from all sorts of different ministries – church planting, discipleship and mentoring, training of pastors and leaders, orphan care, youth outreach and so many others. The ability for us to continue to work depends in a very large part on the ability of our kids to go to school. For next year, the 2019-2020 school year, there are huge needs at nearly every level from administration and support to all varieties of ages/grades and subjects. If you know any teachers who might like to make a difference in the world and who are interested in living in one of the best climates, let me know!
- Preschool Teacher
- Kindergarten teacher
- Grade 1/2 teacher
- Grade 3/4 teacher
There’s a Cameroonian at the place where I work who used to work in the Computer Department. We grab lunch with every now and then. It’s nice to have someone else to connect with and he teaches me about Cameroonian culture and I get some additional French practice.
A few weeks ago, he asked me to help him improve his English — so we’ve been working through a little English learning book. In this book is a story about a market. We talked about the story and he would ask me what certain words meant. One that was confusing to him was “hawker”.
“What’s a hawker?” he asked (we had this conversation in French)
“Someone who sells in a market and calls out to you ‘Come! I have things here’.”
“Oh! Like a buy-em sell-em”.
Then I had to stop him and ask him about these “Buy-em Sell-ems”.
He said, “They are the ladies who sit by the site of the road and lay out a mat with their goods. A buy-em sell-em”.
It turns out the French word here in Cameroon is “les Bayam-Sellam”.
A couple days later Shannon was reading a news site and found that word “les Bayam-Sellam”. She didn’t understand what it was referring to until she read it phonetically.
Shannon recently returned from another trip to the village where she helped with a verb workshop. In Bantu languages, generally, verbs are known to be able to add suffixes or prefixes or even infixes for different tenses as well as for many other uses. So, this verb workshop was an attempt to start the process of learning how verbs act and how they can change in this language. We were able to learn a lot through the participatory workshop and the participants seemed to really grasp the richness and diversity of their language. It was a productive workshop that also had to be very efficient, as it was cut short by one day due to the funeral of one of the main leaders of the community. This sad situation was also an occasion for learning, as Shannon attended the wake and burial service.
Grieving is often a deeply personal experience in American culture, but in Cameroon, the entire community wails and weeps together. They stay up throughout the night together; sitting, talking, and even dancing and music are prominent among the activities. Of course, there is a lot of food too.
I was really struck by the normalcy and injustice of death throughout this trip. Death is both so wrong, especially when it takes a young person and so normal, in that everyone experiences it. I appreciated the expressions of grief and the community striving together to make sense of what doesn’t make sense. And even more, I’m grateful for the eternal life and hope that belong to all who believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and the chance to share that hope with others.
I Corinthians 15:50-57 NIV
50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Over the past few months, I’ve had the privilege of being able to teach computers to the 3/4 and 5/6 grades at our boys’ school. We used the curriculum from “Hour of Code” (code.org) where the kids have to solve a series of puzzles by putting “blocks” that represent computer instructions in the correct order to make shapes, instruct a farmer how to harvest crops, or even navigate around in Minecraft.
It’s a fun program and the kids seemed to enjoy it a lot. At the end of the class they were able to design a little project that they worked on over the course of a few sessions and then demonstrated their work to the other groups.
Here’s one photo of the kids in action:
Cinco de mayo was no time for siesta, but time to fiesta. We planned a fun little party to celebrate the defeat of the French forces in Pueblo and also to eat lots of good Mexican food with a wide variety of international families (but unfortunately not even one hispanic person in the mix.) The boys made signs to let folks know about the fun to come. Eila made a piñata. We all worked to make food and some decorations. There was lots of music and dancing, and, of course, football (soccer).
Then, on the occasion of the royal wedding (Prince Harry and Meghan Markle), our British neighbor and friend, hosted a lovely garden party. It was a royal afternoon tea party to which the ladies wore hats and the gents sported bowties. Again, of course, there was music and food and even a little badminton. This was also the date we celebrated Brian’s birth and so it was extra special.
Thaddeus has once said he wanted to be a ‘tophographer’. That was many years ago, but recently he has enjoyed taking the camera around our compound, or on a walk in the neighborhood, and taking pictures.
Recently we took a walk around the neighborhood (quartier) and Thaddeus brought along the camera. Here are pictures of the walk as he saw them:
And why are there two pictures of chickens? Well, there are a lot of chickens. I mean a lot. So if there were going to be two pictures of something, it would be chickens.