On December 18 and 19th, I had the opportunity to attend two New Testament dedication celebrations in south-east Cameroon. The Kenyang and Denya-speaking people, people groups of at least 75,000 people in and around Mamfe, now know that God speaks their heart language. They celebrated the scriptures in song, dance, and prayer. Leaders and lay-people now have a foundation for their faith, a new reference for their questions, and now can be less dependent on awkward English or French translations. Finally, they can begin to read God’s word for themselves.
At 6AM, we loaded into Dan’s truck to go to Mamfe.
This was a 5-6 hour trip to Bamenda along paved roads…and then the 140 km on dirt roeads to Mamfe.
Needless to say…it was bumpy. Larry managed to hit his head on the window several times. (More on this road later.)
I think we arrived around 4 in Mamfe, a town lovingly described my a previous inhabitant as a Turkish bath, with just enough time to check into our hotel and take a dip in the river before dinner.
A bunch of us young(er) ones jumped in (or on) Karen’s SUV for a slippery 4-wheeling trip down to the river. Let’s just say it was steep, and several locals warned us that we weren’t gonna make it back out. We made it with all passengers down to the sandy bank of the river for a swim in the Cross river, a warm body of water that flows into Nigeria.
Next stop, heading to the home of one of the local officials for a big dinner. They served a big buffet with almost every “Cameroonian” dish I’ve seen…quite impressive. I sat with Allison, Maralee, Megan, and Teresa, and we enjoyed our meal and the game of trying to avoid the REALLY spicy stuff.
We split up into our housing…some had the deluxe rooms at the Data Club and some had the cheaper ones at the Data Hotel. Teresa and Maralee had a room at the Data Club with Air Conditioning, a dresser, and a desk. Hmm…shame I don’t have a photo of my room at the Data Hotel. Some of the high points:
- Just enough water pressure to wash my kneecaps in the shower.
- A toilet that couldn’t even flush manually, and had the added bonus of mosquito larvae in both the bowl and back.
- No toilet seat.
- No dresser, no desk.
- A sink that turned around every time you turned the knob.
- Torn window nets.
- Broken light fixture hanging from it’s wires.
- String for a curtainrod.
- A double bed with no mosquito net.
- A swarm of midnight roaches.
- A wedding party downstairs (with DJ) both nights.
- Only one pillow (story below).
Ok…so when I was shown my room, I knew that I’d be sharing with Alex. There was one pillow on the bed, and she said she’d get another…but I assured her that I’ve given up using pillows. I set to work soon at constructing the mosquito net (no easy task with almost no furniture in the room). I put in earplugs [see bullet 8] to sleep and went off to dreamland in moments. When I woke the next morning…Alex was already gone, and the pillow was across the room on the floor. Apparently, Alex woke up in the middle of the night with bugs crawling all over him…bedbugs from the pillow. He threw the pillow across the room and ran into the bathroom for a shower [also not an easy task, see bullet 1] to get the bugs off. I slept right through the whole event…but I would have payed $10 to see the freakout moment.
Now for the meat of the story…the why-I-was-there part. In the morning, we all headed off to the Bishop’s house across town for breakfast. Lining the walls of the large room were around 50 of us who had come for the dedications. Omelettes, steamed milk…reminded me of the meal from the train to Ngaoundere.
I had offered to help with the video, since one of the guys had stayed home…so after breakfast, the film crew hopped into the vehicle and sped off to set up.
Well…that was the intention…but in a mixup with our convoy, a dirty windshield, and our escort…we ended up last in line…so we had to pass the convoy along the way to the village. We did arrive just in time to set up and get the entrance.
We filmed the unloading of the Bibles, and all the little bits leading up to the event…though being careful as we only had 2 batteries for our 2 cameras.
Here are some photos, I’ll try to describe more of it later.
(1) The Ceremony (2) One of the Elders dances up to the tent (3) The children of the village. With literacy work, these children may be the first to read the Denya New Testament. (4) The Bibles Arrive at the ceremony (5) The Bilingual Cake (6) The reception
There’s a whole ‘nother dedication to show you… You’ll have to wait to see what we see..
To be continued….