Here’s a little something special and different. This is part one of a story from Teresa, a friend who came to visit me here in Cameroon for two weeks. Enjoy!
Mamfe, Dedications, and Travel
After a 24 hour plane adventure, arriving with no luggage, and sleeping for 5 hours, I woke up ready to travel again. I was headed to South East region Cameroon for the dedication ceremonies of the New Testament for the Kenyang and Denya-speaking people. I really had no idea what I had gotten myself into, but I was ready for an adventure.
I squished into the backseat of Dan’s truck, between Matthew and Larry, to begin our travels. It was exciting to see Yaoundé in the daylight. Larry was an excellent travel guide telling me neat facts about the city as we were leaving. The Chinese Sports Complex, the beer refinery, the Hilton hotel and the Presidential Palace were among some of the things he pointed out. I was amazed with the people and traffic, but more about those later. I rested some as we traveled and then Matthew and I played scrabble on our DS’s and watched an episode of Castle on his laptop until I got a little car sick. At this point we had made it to Bamenda were we were meeting up with some other people. I was so happy to be able to get out and stretch my legs after riding for 5+ hours.
After about a 30 minute break we loaded back into Dan’s truck and began the rest of the travel to Mamfe. This was the bumpiest road I have ever been on. Part of this road was pretty much “one lane” other parts of the road were under construction and many parts of the road had ruts and potholes that had formed during rainy season. The views were beautiful however and we passed only a few villages along the way. I however was very glad when we arrived in Mamfe because I wasn’t too sure how much more bouncing around my body could take.
Once we arrived we put our stuff in our rooms and then headed down to the river. I assumed at first that we would walk – but nope, our transportation was a SUV – some people rode inside (myself) and others sat on the roof or hung onto the back of the SUV. The road getting to the river was so steep the locals (who were walking) didn’t think we would make it. Even riding on the inside of the vehicle it felt like I was at the top of the hill of a rollercoaster that was going to drop 30 feet. We all made it and many enjoyed taking a dip in the river to cool off, I however stayed dry.
I was excited about dinner this night because it would be the first night I would get to eat a “Cameroonian” meal. I really had no idea what to expect so I relied on Matthew and his friends (Allison, Maralee, and Megan) to tell me what I was eating! I enjoyed everything I ate.
That night Maralee and I sat up our bug net in our room at the Data Club. This is a must-do in Cameroon so that it will hopefully prevent you from getting malaria. Matthew gave us the bug net and some string. We then proceeded to tie it off to our light switches and a nail in the wall that was hanging a picture. This worked except it would be drooping in our faces, so we found some metal clothes hanger and we stuck one in the ceiling and then hung the other one from it and tied off the bug net and it worked perfect. I slept so well that night!
After a yummy breakfast at the Bishop’s house of omelets, hard boiled eggs, and toast with butter we were off to the dedication of the Denya New Testament. When we arrived I walked with another lady down to the river where some Cameroonian women were washing clothes. They greeted us and then continued with their work.
It felt like a privilege to be able to attend a Dedication service. While we were getting ready for the service to start I realized that for the first time, because of the hard work of many different individuals and God laying it on their hearts to come and serve in these villages and learn this language that the Denya speaking people would be able to hear the Word of God in their language. What a blessing it was for me to be able to attend and be a part of this.
Two of my favorite parts of the dedication included:
– Watching them bring in the New Testaments. They danced and clapped and sang for joy. It was joyous moment to see them rejoicing and praising.
– The area that we were in was “English” speaking so I was able to understand a good bit of what was said. There were many different speakers and people recognized, but one speaker in particular was speaking about how we should not hide our faith under a bush but let it shine (Matthew 5:14-16). And that we should do the same with our Bibles – we shouldn’t let them sit around and gather dust, but read them and live and share God’s word. I pray that the Pastors of the Denya Language use the Bibles to spread the word of God and that those who purchased a Bible will read the good news and share it and not “let it gather dust”.
After the service was over we enjoyed a lovely meal prepared for us; another Cameroonian meal including some salad, rice, plantains, and red and green sauce. Oh and we had popcorn!
While we were waiting and getting ready to head back to Mamfe we enjoyed taking some pictures of the local children. We started out taking a picture of 2 or 3 and then the next thing we know there are about 20 children standing together excited to have their picture taken! The hardest part was trying to tell them we were done.
Once back to Mamfe a group of us decided to head down to the river again. This time I found a pair of shorts and a t-shirt to swim in (since my bathing suit was in my luggage that didn’t make it). We jumped “in” and “on” the SUV again. The water felt cool at first but once in it was very refreshing. Since we didn’t have any running water at the Data Club we brought shampoo and soap with us and bathed in the river. We played around in the water until it was time to head back up the “hill” for dinner. This time I rode on the back of the SUV. You put your feet on the bumper, your hands on the bar at the top and you hang on. We only lost 1 person and 1 wrap as we traveled back up the hill.
Although approaching dark, Matthew and I decided to walk down to a bridge that he had seen from his Data Hotel window. This bridge was awesome. It was a swinging wooden rope bridge at that crossed over a river! I was scared at firs t to cross it, but once I started it was a lot of fun. We had to run back to the hotel because of the bugs and it was getting dark, plus it was time for a chicken and potato dinner.
The next day we attended another New Testament Dedication – this time for the Kenyang speaking people. There were more people who attended this dedication – it was in Mamfe and Kenyang is a much larger language group.
A couple of my favorite parts of this ceremony included:
– I enjoyed listening to the pastor speak. I couldn’t understand what he was saying. But I could tell that he was very enthusiastic and I could tell he was speaking of God.
– There was a gospel choir that sang and worshiped. There was also a group of people that performed a “Sketch”.
– It was also exciting to see the presentation of the Bible. They brought the Bibles in during a special arrival. And then the pastors all went up to lay their hands on the Bible. I was rewarding to see them for the first time receive God’s word in their language.
We left to travel back to Bamenda where we would be spending the night. This also meant traveling the “bumpy” road again. Matthew was asked to drive another vehicle back but I decided to ride back in Dan’s vehicle so that I could ride with the girls. I enjoyed talking with Megan and Allison about the work that they do in Cameroon. It was a great distraction from the bumpy road conditions. Because of road work we had to stop every so often to wait. My favorite time to wait was when we were on the “one lane” section of the mountain part of the road and we met the excavator who was filling holes. We had to go in reverse for a little while until there was enough room for the excavator to move off the side of the road.
We spent the night in Bamenda at the guest house with a group of people and then met up with Dan the next day. We did a little bit of shopping and walking around before getting back into the truck for the drive back to Yaoundé. On our travels back Dan stropped at Makanene to grab lunch. This consisted of Matthew and me walking along the vendors who were selling different things to eat. They had a variety of different meats and lots of plantains. Matthew and I decided on roasted fish and plantains. The fish even included the head. It was a quick lunch and we were back on the road again. Dan needed to stop at the “market” to get some vegetables. As we approached the market on the side of the road, Dan just pulled the truck over and women begun to swarm the truck with baskets of different types of vegetables. Dan got out and bargained with the women for the vegetables that he wanted. While I sat in the truck women would come up and try to sell me things. I would just shake my head no. Before we left a little boy approached begging for money. He was very persuasive.
Every so often we would have to go through a “toll stop” and at these stops people always have different fruits or vegetables they are selling. We were approaching one of these toll stops and Dan said that he was going to be pasting me back 4 pineapples. We pulled over to the side of the road and women came running with baskets full of pineapple towards the truck. Dan rolled down the window and started passing the pineapples back to me. He ended up buying 8 pineapples instead of 4. I wonder if he ate all 8 pineapples himself.
We arrived back in Yaoundé safely. Look for more about the city and the trip to the beach coming soon.