Greentech

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:

International Fun

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).

Eila and the middle schoolers, especially her friend, Kate, helped to make decorations and activities for the party.

La Macarena, anyone?

 

 

Josiah tested out some of the props he worked on.

We had a little help at the photo booth.

Breaking open the cactus piñata, made by Eila and friends

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

From the Eye of Thaddeus

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.

Chinese Face

It’s interesting to me that I get noticed as being Chinese much more in Yaoundé than in the US. Well, maybe it’s really just that people here in Cameroon will point out the observation while in the US people won’t say anything. I will from time to time hear someone yell “Nihao” or “Chinois!” (Chinese person!) out of a car window, or as I walk by.

(As an aside, I suppose it’s no different than hearing “Les Blanc” (white person) on the street.)

I had a funny encounter the the other day, as I was buying a sandwich in a little shop by the side of the road. Two Cameroonians walked in while I was waiting and one said (the conversation was originally in French), “Oh, Nihao”. I said, “Well, I am American”. This didn’t compute initially so the friend said, “He said he’s American”. Then the first person said, “Oh, well you have a Chinese face”.

I guess I have a Chinese face.

Nouns Done

I (Shannon) just returned from my second village trip to work with the same community on nouns.  Just as French, Italian and Spanish have some similarities as they are related languages, this language also has similarities with related languages.  This is extremely helpful in having an idea of how the grammar of the language might work.  However, even closely related languages are not the same and sometimes there are interesting surprises and variations in the way each language is structured and used.

Participants in the Noun Workshop Part 2

During this workshop, the community make big steps forward in understanding and using their new orthography (alphabet).  They are helping and correcting each other in their writing and seem to fully understand why and how to use the various letters, which are very different from the French system that they have been used to.  They also made  a preliminary decision on the marking of tones.  This language uses tones to distinguish meaning and also for various grammatical functions (ex. a mark of association, like a tree in the forest is denoted only by a high tone), so it is an important part of the language and of the writing system.  Our data at this point shows a fairly even distribution of the high vs low tone across all parts of the language and the community seemed to favor marking the low tone.  Up to this point, we’ve been marking all tones and this step of marking only one tone will help to simplify the writing and reading for the future.

Working on minimal pairs with vowel length and tone

In addition, the noun phrase system was explored and much data gathered for further analysis.  At the end of the week, the participants made charts summarizing all of the information that was gathered about their noun system and the way in which nouns work in their language.  It was good review for everyone and they corrected a few errors which shows that they are really understanding it now.

One part of the noun phrase summary chart

After finalizing the alphabet chart, groups worked on making sentences for each letter which can be made into a primer for literacy classes in the future.  We were also able to collect a few fairytales and many proverbs from the older men in the community.  They were eager to share and this information is extremely helpful in making sure that future translation works are clear, natural, and accurate.

Creating sentences for each letter of the alpahbet

 

 

A Ride In the Helicopter

With the arrival of the new R66 helicopter here in Cameroon, there have been reasons to celebrate.  And over Easter weekend, there was a celebration at the aviation hangar with a BBQ, a presentation and dedication of the helicopter, and of course, helicopter rides.

Brian, Eila, Josiah, and Thaddeus went on the ride.  Shannon stayed on the ground, like she prefers.

Here we are just after our ride.

The helicopter ride gave us a chance to see Yaoundé from the air.  It’s a big, sprawling city.  Unfortunately the air was very hazy while we were flying, so visibility was poor, but we could see much of the city right below us.

Yaoundé stretching off to the horizon.

Brian also assisted with the BBQ portion of the event, which involved an entire pig and an entire sheep.  They were slowly roasted overnight underground wrapped in banana leaves and foil.  Another one of the dads here orchestrated the whole pig roast.  It was fun to be able to help out.

It was a memorable day.

April Update from the Yees

We hope you had a happy Easter celebration.

We just want to send a very quick update and give thanks to you for your prayers and to God for His great power!

Shannon has been pain free for almost two weeks now. She experienced immediate relief and full healing as a small group prayed over her. Praise God.

Schedules returned to normal this week after spring break. Also, Shannon is away this week at the village to continue with the next linguistics workshop with the same language community.

Our Easter family portrait for 2018.

Please pray for Shannon’s workshop in the village this week to go well and also for continued good health for the whole family.

We were able to take a ride in the new R66 helicopter. It was a great experience.

March Update from the Yees

It has been a little while since our last update, and maybe you are wondering how Shannon’s village trip went.  The short answer is: wonderfully!  You can read more details and see a few pictures here.

Shannon working on nouns with a small group at the participatory workshop in February.

One of the downsides to life in a tropical climate is the large insect population, mosquitos especially.  While Shannon was in the village, she got quite a few bug bites, one of which likely resulted in a virus called chikungunya (similar to dengue fever or the zika virus). Shortly after returning from her travels, she got a high fever, itchy rash, headache, etc. that lasted about a week.  Then, the second stage of the virus set in with severe arthritis pain in her joints.  She is doing better each day and is easing back into resuming her regular workload, but still from home.

Brian and the kids enjoyed a Valentine’s Day banquet at Eila’s school while Shannon rested at home.

Brian continues to work on the final details of the new payroll system, as well as preparing a new website for the Cameroon branch. The computer services department is very busy, and Brian is glad to have great colleagues. He and the kids have been playing soccer in their free time as well as doing some extra cooking and cleaning.

We really want to thank you for partnering with us in this work; we are so encouraged when we think about the people that are participating with us in Bible translation here in Cameroon!

Please thank God for:

  • protecting and caring for us each day,
  • deepening friendships (Shannon’s sickness has opened the door for others to come alongside and love on us.)
  • safety in travel and the productive noun workshop in February.

Thank you for praying. We would appreciate your prayers for:

  • good health: in addition to Shannon’s virus, stomach troubles and bug bites are a common problem for all of us, and Eila has been having some bad headaches lately;
  • continued development of friendships and adjustments to cultural differences.

With love,
The Yees

Rainy Season is Back

Or is it?

Rainy season returned with lots of storms about a week ago, and the strangest part is that it arrived about one month (or more like 6 weeks) early.  Everyone is confused.  We’re confused because everyone told us that that rainy season would start at the end of March.  Cameroonians are equally confused.  Maybe we’re still in for another month of dryness, no one really knows.  One thing is for certain — the past week has been very wet.

It even hailed the other day.  With Michigan having a lot of snow this year, both Michigan and Cameroon have frozen water falling from the sky — just in slightly different ways.

Large pea sized hail here in Cameroon

One big change is the temperature.  Dry season is hot.  The return of the rains also brings the return of more comfortable temperatures that is very welcome.  The mud on the other hand…less so.

 

Back from the Bush

The main village road

Not too long ago, it was required for all expatriate missionaries in our branch to attend what they called “Africa Orientation Course,” which included a 3-week village stay with a family.  With more and more people coming and staying in the city, it didn’t make as much sense.  So, my first visit to the village was to work, and I’m so thankful that it went really well.

I won’t lie.  I was extremely nervous before I left, mostly because I just didn’t know what to expect.  I had been told to bring all our water and that the conditions were “rough” and this from a woman who lives with a Cameroonian family currently and is quite at home in African villages.  Also, I’m terrified (completely and irrationally so, and only a little ashamed to admit it) of cockroaches, which live quite comfortably and abundantly here in the tropics.

Our host family in front of the kitchen

What I found was a welcoming and joyful family and community excited to host us and eager to learn.  They had no running water or electricity or good internet connection, but they had a very clean and warm home where they served us delicious food twice a day (with at least two meat options and a hearty starch as well).  They showed us various parts of their culture and daily life and were excited to teach us a bit about themselves.

Working on adding the plural to noun cards that were collected at the first workshop

I was in this small village a few hours east of Yaoundé with two other linguists to do the second in a series of workshops to help a language community learn about their language and prepare the ground work for literacy and translation work in the future.  We spent most of our time collecting data about nouns and tones, while the participants in the workshop are beginning to grasp that their patois is a real language with a grammar that is very different from the French that they learned in school.  This language has 8 noun classes and some of the markers differ only by tone.  The plural is formed differently for each type of noun and understanding the grammar of their language (which all speakers know intuitively) helps them to appreciate it and also be able to do translation work later.  They are also learning to read and write their heart language as we work on their language together, which they are really excited about.

One evening after dinner, I heard someone teaching two of the women who had been cooking what they learned that day!

I’m so thankful for the way God answered all the prayers prayed on my behalf and that of the workshop.  It was a huge success.

Next time, I’ll be sure to have pants and long-sleeves to avoid the bug bites. 🙂