Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A few of my favorite things...Cameroon life

I have jokingly referred to this year of being dorm parents in Cameroon as THE trip Steve has taken me on to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary.  And this year is definitely a trip!  As well as truly being a gift.  I want to share just a few of my favorite things about being in Cameroon.  We have come to love the kids at UBAC.  Just last night I was helping some students with their homework when I shocked Sharis.  She had been holding her laptop when I walked by and brushed past her and felt a gentle electrical buzz coming off that brief contact.  So, of course, I convinced her to hold her laptop again to see if a shock could be induced.  By this time Steve had come up and was making contact with me to see if he could feel any current.  In that moment I glanced up and noticed Megan and Amy (studying nearby) watching us quizically, a human chain of weirdos connected to an unbelieving Sharis tentatively holding her laptop.  She was zapped on her ear, at our point of contact.  She shrieked and dove to the side to get away from me.  Steve had let go laughing at the realization of the ridiculousness of the moment.  I love the spontaneous silly moments that crop up at any given moment.  *No persons or their laptops were harmed during this random silliness episode.

One of the other gifts of being here in Cameroon this year is getting to be around all kinds of other international workers/missionaries.  Currently I am in a small group women's Bible study.  We meet once a week to study the book of Daniel.  It is a Beth Moore series complete with a dvd and workbooks.  Having never done a Beth Moore series I wasn't sure what to expect.  The 3rd session of our study we encountered the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace.  It is a story I was first exposed to in Sunday school class with felt-board characters being thrown into a felt-board fiery furnace and not burning with all their two-demensional splendor.  Of course the best part of the story was when felt-board Jesus showed up in the felt furnace with the three felt heroic hebrew boys.  This Beth Moore session had no felt in sight, just the Word itself.  What an amazing story to delve into!  My adult self loved the part when the boys came out not even smelling of smoke!

A question was posed, "In your opinion, what is most amazing about the event in Daniel 3:24-30?"  I responded saying that Shad, Mech, and Abed were not alone in the fire... that the only things that burned away were the bounds they had been tied up in and they didn't even smell of smoke when they were called out!  It lead to a great time of sharing about times of feeling like we were thrown into a furnace.  However I admitted I often smell of fire, that smell being bitterness or fear or any number of other things that seem to linger and cloud about hard times.  What blossomed in my head was this brilliant notion that I could go thru the fire without smelling of smoke, that I could let go of my bitterness and fear and other cloying, malodorous clouds of smoke by the power of God.  It was inspiring and this study continues to inspire as we are well into the prophecies part of Daniel.  It is complicated and deep but broken up into bite sized pieces.  Getting the chance to participate in studying Daniel and getting to know others on a deeper level is another great gift of this year.

Menu planning and shopping for our large UBAC family is challenging at times. We shop once a week with our next door neighbors, Denise and Gord, who run a hostel/dorm house as well.  Becoming great friends with Denise and Gord, as we live life side-by-side is another of my favorite things.  This is the third year Denise and Gord have been hostel parents and we benefit from their experience greatly.  When we shop it takes hours of fighting traffic and shopping in stores that might have power fluxes and indifferent employees of said stores as well as street vendors crying out for business, perhaps military convoys moving through traffic with enormous guns mounted with soldiers stationed alongside and let's not forget the taxis and motos playing a constant video game of near-misses within chaotic lane-less traffic and pedestrians walking without even the slightest bit of caution alongside.  Steve and Gord take turns driving so as to spread out the stress evenly.  What a gift to not have to drive EVERY week!  Also we are able to joke away huge chunks of frustration and stress as we go.

This week we picked up frozen chicken in cardboard boxes.  It was the first stop of many and within moments the van was filled with the smell of rot.  Streams of thawing blood were slowly running down the floor of the van towards Denise and I in the front bench of the van.  The heat of the day combined with my pounding headache with the added treat of smelling death all competed to try and induce vomiting.  Steve and Gord were the heros of the day when at our next stop they bought cleaners and large plastic bags to quadruple wrap the soggy boxes of thawing chicken.  They cleaned up the blood as best as they could without water and the end result was remarkable.  The odor was nearly gone as was the urge to purge our stomach contents!  I have really learned to celebrate the small things!  

One of the best parts is when we have enough time to stop for a street food lunch at a roadside "restaurant" built into the side of the next building with open-air seating.  We sit in faded pink plastic chairs on uneven concrete floors pulled up to a simple wooden table covered in a filthy tacky plastic tablecloth (we sometimes wipe it down with a wet wipe).  Electric wires hang precariously from ceilings and walls and music blares from distorted speakers.  Smoke from the grill blows across the restaurant depending on the wind direction.   Here there is a seasoning put on chicken and beef called Soya.  My kids would talk about having soya with friends when they would come home on breaks.  We finally get to share in the deliciousness that is Soya!  We place a drink order with one person and our food order directly at the grill.  We are pleasantly surprised when our drinks are cold and thrilled when the food quickly arrives on two metal platters.  The beef filets are chopped up and piled high with onions and plantains with maggi sauce (Maggi is like an African soy sauce, liquid salt) drizzled all over on one platter is my favorite!  The dry spices are piled on the side, red being super hot and sand colored being mild.  Also on the side is a green paste made up of spices that makes a great plantain dip. The second platter of chicken is prepared in the same manor, piled high with onions and plantains drizzled with maggi and dry seasoning on the side.   Our utensils are the toothpicks stabbed randomly into bits of plantain and meat.   It's cheap and quick and oh so good.  And we've never gotten desperately ill (minor stomach issues are deemed worth it)!

These are just a few of my favorite things about living in Cameroon this year.  I will continue in another blog with other favorites!  This blog is dedicated to my wonderful, loving, heroic husband whom I love!!!!  Thanks for inspiring me to live life on purpose!



Steve said...

Wait… I thought you were going to work in my genius comment… "If 'breakfast' combined with 'lunch' is called 'brunch', then why does 'blue' and 'yellow' make 'green' and not 'blellow' or 'yellue'?" Either way, I'm ECSTATIC that you are writing again!!!

Anna said...

How shocking! LOL I love the analogy of the smell of bitterness not clinging like smoke after a fire. I need to remember this. Thanks for sharing.

K TenClay said...

Thank you for sharing! This makes me so anxious to be back!!!! See you in a few weeks :)