Saturday, January 28, 2012

Another year older...

Extra Extra!!  Hear all about it!!  Guess who has a Birthday today!

Love you so much! Hope you have a wonderful day! <3

Thursday, January 19, 2012

"Road Trip!"

Ahh, we are off on an adventure!  With some quick, very last minute planning we're hitting the road bright and early tomorrow morning!  We're heading to Yaounde, Cameroon's capital city in the morning, spending the night there and church the next day.  Then we'll catch an all night train (14-16 hours!) Saturday night and then continue with buses and mottos until we reach Koza where Spencer is volunteering this year.  Once we meet up with him we plan to do some sight-seeing which includes a Cameroonian safari if all goes as planned!!  Thanks for all your prayers and I'd esspecially appreciate them throughout this next week.  I'm saying goodbye to internet and all of you for the next week, I'll be thinking of you and taking plenty of pictures to fill you in when we get back!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Happy (BELATED) Birthday Lea!

Lea's Birthday was actually in December!  We were planing to do this for her all along, but because her birthday fell right in the middle of campmeeting and just before Christmas it was a pretty swamped time to find an empty evening and extra baking time.  So, now, almost a month late we finally got around to celebrating her birthday!
We had such a good time, and such a legit celebration I think we even had Lea convinced that it was really her birthday!
We supplied the sweet stuff (like cake!) and Christian made a traditional meal :)
"Mashed" potatoes and black beans!! Other than the palm oil involved it's quite a nutritious meal.
Cutting the cake! :)
Before we ate they gave us some photo albums to look at, I just had to take a picture of this picture of Christian and her twin sister!  So cute! <3
We ate cake first, then fruit, then the potatoes and beans, and THEN, we introduced them to S'mores!  They had never seen marshmallows before, and though slightly confused by the whole thing, I think it was love after first bite!  Richard however, still can't like things as sweet as we do... and made us take his chocolate... what good friend we are! ;)  A few days ago Brandon saw the bag of marshmallows and asked what they were, I was going to give him a real treat by letting him have one but as soon as he eagerly bit into it his face turned to a horrible "WHAT IS THIS!?!?" look and he promptly spit it out!  He turned around and said, "I'm a village boy! I don't eat that stuff!"

Monday, January 16, 2012

Saving a Life

We've been trying to donate blood for a couple of weeks, but coordinating schedules has taken awhile.  Today we did it though!  Wasn't quite the same as the blood drives and donating facilities we're used to, but essentially the same thing.  :)  We were told that our blood will be used in the pediatric unit, so some precious little kid will benefit from our donation!  The staff was surprised and pleased by our voluntary donation, donating blood is very uncommon, almost tabooed here... definitely not promoted like it is at home.  If a patient needs a transfusion they have to personally find someone to donate; and as you can imagine, that's not very convenient or quick in the case of an emergency.
The needle was huge, I'm serious, I'm not new to donating blood and I've never seen such a gigantic needle go in my arm before, but it sure pumped fast!
Kudos to Sarah for having the idea, getting us on board, facing her fears like a trooper, and donating for the first time!  You're my hero! 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sights and Sounds

Here's another little video I put together to TRY to capture some of the common sights and sounds around here. The song throughout most of the video is one that plays (nice and loud) across the street every day, multiple times a day!!  The kids are from school and church and then some snapshots of our friends and fun so far!  Enjoy! :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Counting ↓ & ↑

As of today the official countdown of "Days 'till 'home'" equals the number of "Days in Cameroon." (that's the hard way of saying we're half way!)

One specific October day, after none of the kids had showed up for my class, I remember walking 'home' from school with tears in my eyes, when I got to our room I crawled into bed and set a countdown on my ipod of "Days 'till 'home.'"

Here's what I wrote and how I was feeling that day:
 (a direct quote from my diary October 11, 2011.)
On my walk home from Clark’s quarters I started to sing the “somebody’s praying” song and when I got to the 'many miles from home' part I just basically started crying.  After skyping with mom for a few minutes and then crawling into bed I was in a real dark mood and I didn’t want to do ANYTHING I thought about how it would be a good time to update this [my diary]… but I didn’t want to move! I started to dink around with my ipod and checked my “days until CAMEROON” countdown which has now turned into a days since CAMEROON count up… we’re on day 21… so, this is how bad it was, I downloaded another app, and set the countdown for home… 203. I don’t know what my problem was but I didn’t want to look at anything, do anything, or see anyone… I devoured one bag of bread, practically two small loafs and when I head Bill’s car drive up I flattened out in bed knowing that the door was locked and I could pretend to not be home if anyone knocked… I pulled the covers up over my face for protection from an obnoxious fly and to shut out some daylight…
I am happy to inform you that praise the Lord that was the darkest day in my Cameroonian experience and even so, it ended with making koki with Lea and a very much enjoyed evening;  really not a very bad day at all for being the one that stands out in my mind as the worst.  Ever since I set the countdown that day I have checked them both periodically and then notify all of you of little mile stones like 50, and 100 days in Cameroon.  I've noticed something though;  the first day when the count was 21/203 I felt almost sick, but each time I check and the numbers continue to shift, my mindset does as well.  Now that the count is 112/112 I find it rather bittersweet.  So I stopped to think about it, what has changed?  I missed my family and friends horribly in October, but that has definitely not changed, I miss them as much and more than ever, so what's the difference?  I figured it out... it's our friends.
One night when we had just gotten here Mary and I made a list of our Cameroonian friends.  We listed anyone we could think of, the only criteria needed to make our friends list was if we could remember their name.  We wrote their name, where we met them and a couple things about them including at least one physical characteristic so that we could remember who they were.  However, very soon we were making real friends and when we did, our list was forgotten and unneeded.  We rediscovered it a couple nights ago and just had to laugh at our early descriptions and first impressions of the people who are now truly our friends.

Here's another quote from my dairy from December 12 to illustrate my point and show how my mindset has shifted:
[Tonight] we played dutch blitz and had a great time! I just sat there and was so sad watching Lea and Christaine, I was just overcome with how much I’m going to miss them!! and it’s still months until we leave! I go so back and forth though, I am “homesick” and I can’t wait to see my family, but I will miss this place and PEOPLE like CRAZY!
In conclusion: On October 11 I saw a depressing number of 203 days until I could go home and be reunited with the ones I love and care about.  Today, I realize that in 112 days I will have to say goodbye, likely forever, to a group of people here that love and care about.  Yet another reason to live each day to the fullest, thank God for every moment, and claim the precious promise that this world is not our home!  We have the blessed hope to be reunited with our friends and loved ones from EVERYWHERE on that glorious day when Christ returns!

"Twin A" ;)
Te'Claire, Sarah, me, and Christian

Can you see why I'm dreading goodbyes??

Friday, January 6, 2012

How the Garden Grows!

Brandon stopped by today for a visit and ended up helping us with some Friday work :).  Earlier this morning I did a couple more hours of work in the garden, even got more blisters from using my machete!  I got everything watered and cleared more space for some special green beans that Trixy had and are suppose to grow 5'-6' tall! with beans up to 3' long!  I can't wait to see that!  The way things grow here though, I wouldn't be surprised!  The rest of the garden is growing by leaps and bounds!  Keep in mind that the first life I saw was on Monday, they poked their heads out...
... and today, Friday, 5 days later the beans look like this!
The peas also are growing BEAUTIFULLY...
... and the Corn also is very impressive for being only ONE WEEK from when the seeds were placed in the ground!  I think if I sat and watched them I could see them grow!
Last night Mercy brought me some plants from her garden!! It was so sweet, along with a bunch of other produce for us to eat she gave us 3 pepper plants for the garden!  I have been so blessed by this garden already, and it's only been a week! I will be sure to keep you all updated as the progress continues! 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Cameroonian Food

 Here's a couple of pictures from Christmas time relating to food here in Cameroon! :)
Potluck at church on Christmas Eve
Our potluck food! :) Several yummy Cameroonian dishes including fufu plus beans and rice, yum!
One of the pharmacists that the clinic gets drugs from invited us over for a Christmas meal because she felt sorry for all of us not being able to be with our families for Christmas.  They gave us an incredible meal! it's hard to see each thing on the plate, but there were several different kinds of veggie dishes and one almost like a stew, then plantains, corn koki, cabbage salad, and delicious rice with pepá.
This is gari fufu and okra soup with agoosy, SO GOOD. 
... and this is not really cameroonian, because it was made by me :) but it's made with Cameroonian koki beans and tomatoes, seasoned up with some some yummy mexican seasoning from home and pepá.. it was also pretty good!! Mmmmm

Monday, January 2, 2012

White Man Farming

The past week or so here during Christmas break I've been keeping my spare time busy in "the garden."  Mom sent me some seeds from home and I was shown "the garden" spot here in the compound...  It didn't look much like a garden at first, when Trixy said, "here it is" I though, "where??"  But I set to work and have thoroughly enjoyed the sweet familiar feel of farm/garden work!  It's dry season and although it's still much more humid than I'm used to, it really is dry.  The ground is very dry and all the water is carried by hand :) it's good for me!  The Cameroonians who have heard of my garden and come to visit are more than surprised to see a "white man farming" some of them can't believe it at all.  One church member told me basically that the people of his village wouldn't believe it till they saw it!  I just smile and tell them this is what I love, I live on a farm at home and I can't wait to share the produce with them!
Before, you couldn't see the dirt....
Now, it looks more like a garden :)
Caleb came to help me one day, the multi-purpose farming/gardening tool around here is a machete! (yes, I have one)  The day I bought mine in the market and was carrying it home a guy yelled out to me, "white man why you need a machete!? you a farmer!?" (making fun and fully confidant that I was not) but I was very pleased to be able to reply with a smile, "yes, I am!" 

Caleb and I got to talking while we were working, here's a thought, the first job ever given to man was gardening...
The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. Genesis 2:15
Also, what "work" will we be doing in heaven?
"...they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit" Isaiah 65:21
From The beginning of man kind, through eternity... there will be farmers! :) I personally feel there's few greater joys than planting a seed and caring for it as God makes it grow!

After there still being nothing up yesterday...
Zucchini!  After no evidence of life yesterday these guys popped out and GREW today! I was so excited when I found them tonight!
Yellow beans :) I'm excited to introduce my Cameroonian friends to yellow beans, there's lots of green beans here, but they've never heard of yellow beans!  The corn is up too! I'm so excited! today was nice and warm so the sun must have just pulled it all up! I'm just thrilled to have a garden just getting started with the new year!
P.S. Despite mom's fear that, "those ND seeds might not know which direction is 'up' in Cameroon!" it looks like they figured it out! ;)