I am learning that when making plans, especially ones that rely on others for transportation, I not only have to determine what time to meet, but also what time I will be arriving home. I expected the Mass and Youth Ministry event last Sunday to keep me away until around 12:30 or 1 PM at the latest. When 1 PM rolled around, we were sitting in the presbytery, waiting for lunch to be prepared, and Fr. Paul informed me that we were to attend a first communion celebration afterward. It would be at least three more hours until we got back to St. Augustine's. Oh well!
It was a very nice lunch with the Priests of St. Michael Church in Meluf. The priests and others gathered were very personable. I am starting to understand Cameroonian humor more... it's very understated, but not exactly dry like British humor. While waiting for lunch, the host (Fr. James) came into the room and said, "this room is too dry. I don't like the look of it." Then he went out and returned with a bottle of wine. Then after a time, he came in again and said, "Let's go see what the other part of the house looks like," and led us into the dining room where lunch was hot and ready: fufu jamma jamma: yum!
When we got to the First Communion Celebration in Tobin, I was also served fufu jamma jamma. Two full meals in less than two hours! It was good to be invited into a stranger’s home to celebrate this important milestone with them. The family is very close to Fr. Paul. The young man, Bless, behaved just like any other young man in the States: he looked awkward in his suit, and he was shy around the guests he didn't know. The occasion was joyful, and they asked me to pop the champagne.
There was another "kimbang" in our little group. Xavier is from the Philippines, but lives in the UK where he works in a diocesan youth ministry office. He met Fr. Paul in the UK, and is visiting for 6 weeks. It was good to have another pair of western eyes to help process some of what we encountered. Sometimes it is very baffling...
For instance, after Mass that day, Fr. Paul saw that I was eating a banana and some cookies (for energy before the talk... I didn't expect food after Mass, so I brought my own breakfast) and so he postponed the start of my talk, and whisked Xavier and me away to the presbytery for coffee. The cook was lighting the fire as we walked in, and we waited, and waited. Then we were shown into the dining room for coffee and bread and imitation Nutella. Then he insisted we take our time and finish... I was anxious because I didn't want to keep everyone waiting! For me, the schedule was important. For Fr. Paul, hospitality was equally important.
In any case, Xavier and I compared some notes. I have learned not to show my surprise, or disapproval, at the things that disturb me. It is good, too, to have a few "Coaches" to guide us through these events. So, Fr. Paul let me know what was happening, the significance of various things, what I was expected to do, etc.
After two full meals of fufu corn in two hours, and plenty mimbu, I finally arrived home (about 45 minutes after the projected arrival time) where Logan had a delicious dinner waiting for me.
Da chop be plenty, da chop be sweet baaaad, and ah be over chop!