Monday, July 29, 2013

So This Is Dawn of Another Day?

The title of my post is the translation for the local greeting for good morning. Isn't that pretty? 
Eric and I have finally begun our language training! When we arrived, many folks here at St Augustine's were on holiday so it was slow work hunting down somebody capable of teaching us the local dialect (Lamnso', which means language of Nso') and pidgin. Finally somebody suggested we ask at the Bible translation center in Bamkika'ay, the next neighborhood over from us. That turned out to be the magic suggestion and we have employed a Mister Emmanuel, linguist extraordinaire, to teach us Lamnso'. 

I am so happy to be learning this language though I have forgotten how difficult languages are for me and how much discipline they require! It's so worth it though. Every single person who learns of our desire to speak their native language is so delighted. And people truly light up and chuckle encouragingly if we even try to speak a simple greeting in the dialect. I know that pidgin is supposed to be helpful since everyone speaks it but I really am much happier to learn some Lamnso' first since it is so close to people's hearts here. 

Did I mention though how crazy it is!? It's tonal! There are whacked out consonant combinations AND glottal stops galore. Try to say Nga, nge, ngi, ngo, ngu, each as one syllable, nine times fast. I am sad though, no clicks. :(

The other thing that is really crazy about this adventure is our classroom--we were told to meet at a local government primary school. This has been the most shocking thing for me so far. (well almost... but that's a story for another post.) The classroom, though, it is unbelievably dilapidated. I mean we've seen some shabby buildings, definitely some shacks, but this is a public building and I feel I'm sitting in place that has been  condemned. There are gaping holes in the walls and the ceilings are caving in, it's covered in filth, and rows and rows of hard benches are crammed together. The only light comes through wood slats covering the holes in the walls, I mean windows. I just can't believe little children come to school in that sad, sad building every day. The first day when we met our teacher there I thought we must have come to the wrong place. No such luck.  
 Yet how funny we can still learn wherever we are. We sit on a hard bench and the surroundings fade away as we concentrate on new sounds and words. Our minds broaden. Knowledge is such a very funny gift. It's good to feel appreciative and to remember-- this gift. Who can give, who has not first received? 


Food 2

In some mission locations, fresh milk is abundant, and probably better and closer to the source than you can get in the states. Here in Cameroon, while there are cows and goats aplenty, drinking the milk is just not done. There is a dairy nearby which produces only yogurt. We eat it. Butter is available... imported, at a high price. But it's Saturday, and we're hungry for a treat and in the mood for some baking. No butter? No milk? No problem!

Groundnut Cookies:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup ground-up ground nuts
1 1/2 or 2 teaspoons of baking soda (look for sodium bicarbonate on the shelves)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 eggs + 2 egg whites (you could probably just use three eggs, but we happened to have two egg whites left over from lunch: a yummy fritata that was devoured and gone before the camera could be fetched)
3 tablespoons of groundnut oil

preheat your oven to whatever temp it goes to.
mix the cookie dough like you would any other cookie.
get creative with your "baking sheets;"  in our case we used two cake pans, stacked on top of each other to fit into the oven. one of our cake pans is heart-shaped, for some reason. Be sure to switch the stacking position halfway through baking, or one half of your cookies will be a bit burnt on the bottom!
bake them for however long it takes them to be done. cool on... a wire rack? or a cutting board, in our case. eat two before dinner, because you just can't resist, and then keep your children away because you have a double standard.
Full credit for the recipe goes to Logan. She's the brains of our kitchen operation.
These cookies would go perfectly with a glass of milk. I'll just use my imagination, and be thankful we have cooking gas!


Friday, July 26, 2013

The Face of Christ

We went to the bank. It was to be a quick trip.  We grabbed lunch at the local McDonalds. Actually it was just a pit in the ground that had meat roasting over it: Soya. mmm... 

It was just Isabelle, Max, Eric and me--we'd left the others at home with Faustine, a young woman we hired to help us with housework.  We made it to the bank in good time and then we sat, and sat, and sat. 
 Three hours later I mentioned we needed to get back because it was time for Faustine to go, however; we still had not completed our transaction so Eric asked me to go by myself in a cab with Isabelle and Max who were reasonably quite restless. The kids and I walked up to the taxi stand and I asked every driver to take us to SAC (St Augustine's College).  No one would drive that far out of the way for any price (it's not even that far, merely off the taxi route), but one agreed to take me to another taxi stand closer to campus to see if someone would be heading that way. When we got to that stand no one would take us home either. So I decided to walk a ways towards our house and see if we could hail a cab since I was feeling pressed for time at this point. This is when the wind picked up and thunder rumbled off in the distance and that was when I realized Eric still had our bag with our rain jackets we had so smartly packed. 


Well we were able to hail a cab a quarter mile on just as it started to rain hard.  The cab was packed and there were ten people in a car only slightly bigger than a geo metro.  Isabelle and Max up to this point had been pretty excellent and were even compliant with sitting on the laps of strangers in the taxi. I was still hopeful that we could get a ride from the next stop for the last mile to our house but when we arrived we were unable to turn anyone's hearts to help us out even though I pleaded for the man to drive just a little farther on. It was hard not to feel a little bitter as I grabbed Isabelle and Max's poor wet hands and turned onto the road to walk home. And that's when it started to rain really hard-- and oh how the sky opened. Isabelle at this point reached her breaking point and just started sobbing, while Max just kept asking "why are we walking in the rain?" There were no shelters at all on this stretch of road. I knew we just had to keep on though it was terrible and cold and wet and windy. My heart was sinking when I thought how far the kids had to go like this and Izzy was acting like I'd have to drag her to get her to walk another step. I couldn't carry her because my arms were full with several loaves of bread. It is difficult to express the misery of walking on that road with two four year old children in flash-flood weather.

It seemed like we would never make it home when a woman suddenly came running from behind us floating her wide open umbrella in front of her. She came right up to us and hurried us all under the shelter. I have never been so thankful for any small action in my life. She smiled and hurried us forward encouraging the little guys with the word ashya, which means courage. She laughed at Isabelle's whimpers, and Max's squeals of delight at the drops falling off the umbrella and somehow we all inched together on for what seemed an eternity to the last stretch of drive before our house and then the rain trickled off and she sped us on our way.  I had no idea who she was and I haven't seen her since but at that moment she was the face of Christ to me and I told her so. She laughed as she turned to go. 

We knocked on our door to be let in, and after all of that, who was it that sheepishly opened the door? Eric.

- Logan

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Children's Updates

Updates from the children, in their own words, as transcribed by their parents:

I lost a tooth. The tooth fairy came and gave me 100 francs. She came at church time. I buyed my own soya stick! I'm going to lose another tooth.
I am having fun in our little tree house. Our friends come here and we play together in the tree house. They bring special things, like one swing and two tires. My favorite friends are the two Percys. That's all.

My favorite friends are all of the girls.

I was climbing the tree yesterday.

go store.

Helena again, later:
I climbed a papaya tree and got a papaya for James whose tummy hurt. 
(parental note: it's that tall skinny tree in our courtyard. she's a good climber!)


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Everything Is Different, But the Same...

We love warm covers on our bed, but in the States we never would have dreamed of getting a faux velvet blanket with a cheetah on it.  It was in our house when we got here, and you know? We like it!
The kids love sharing their toys with the neighbors, and they love when their neighbors share their toys with them.
Smiles are a sign pointing to the universal nature of the Church.  Or something theological like that.
*See Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventures