Sunday, June 26, 2016

I Never Thought to be Thankful for Ambulances

by Dave

You always hear people saying that you never know what you have until it is gone. This is the real reason why our moms all told us about the starving children in Africa when we are refusing to eat something she prepared. The idea is that, if you were living in a place where you did not have enough food, you would even be thankful for split-pea soup. It is a principle that I have learned is true since moving to rural Cameroon. There are the little things that you miss, and wish you had previously been thankful for, like movie theaters, easily accessible cheese, and microwaves. And then there are ambulances. Have you ever thought to be thankful for ambulances?

The other day my neighbor Patrice came to the house looking concerned. He said that he had just received the news that his brother, Julian, had been in a motorcycle accident. He believed that he had been taken to the hospital in Doumé, a town about 30 minutes away, and wanted to know if I could give him a ride. Around mid-way there we saw the motorcycle, smashed on the side of the road. We stopped to throw it up on top of my vehicle and were told that they actually took him to our town. So, we turned around and headed for the Catholic clinic that is only a 2-minute drive from our house.

When we arrived, things were frantic. People were running around yelling, apparently unable to stop the bleeding. It is a small clinic, and they were not equipped to deal with his injuries. Before I knew it, an unconscious and tattered man was in the back seat of my car, with Patrice trying to keep his younger brother’s head still as we bounced up the road to the nearest hospital. We drove for 45 minutes in near silence, all listening to Julian’s rough breathing. We passed quickly through the police stop as I explained the urgency, and into the bustling world of Bertoua. There was no neck brace, no IV, no paddles in case his heart stopped. He could not even be laying down.

We got to the hospital around 8pm and they put him on a stretcher. I have never been in a hospital here during an emergency situation, and I am not sure that they are all the same, but it was nuts. Before they could even take him to the operating room, I had to go with Patrice to buy sutures, IV fluid bags, and latex gloves. We ran to the pharmacy on the other side of the hospital, we rushed back to find the medical staff just standing and waiting for us. When they finally got him into the OR, we were told that we had to find some sheets to cover him because they had to cut off his clothes. We were far from home, and all the stores were closed, I had no idea what to do. Patrice ended up calling a brother from the Bertoua church and we drove to his house to borrow some sheets.

Arriving back at the hospital we were told they needed more things from the hospital pharmacy so we ran over and bought them. After about two hours, and two more trips to the pharmacy, we were informed that Julian was finally “out of the danger zone.” This led to a brief calm in the storm, which gave me a moment to notice the families of the other patients lying on mats outside the hospital. For those like us that came from the village, they sleep on the sidewalk outside the hospital rooms. I heard at least woman weeping loudly, at what, I can only imagine. In talking with his family during this time, I learned a bit more about Julian’s situation. Turns out that he was actually returning from the hospital in Doumé where he was visiting his mother-in-law, when he skidded after taking a corner too fast. Julian’s wife received a phone call during this conversation, learning that her mother had died.

The doctor came out and said he needed a few more things to complete the surgery. The hospital pharmacy was out of some of the items so we had to drive to another pharmacy in town to get them. Sleepy and flustered, Patrice returned to the hospital and I went home at about 11pm.

Overall, I felt like my debut as an ambulance driver went pretty well and was happy to have been able to help this man. Until the next day, when I got the call that Julian had died. Patrice asked me to return to the hospital so that I could drive his body back to Dimako. A herse is apparently something else I have taken for granted. It did not work out and they ended up sending the body back on a motorcycle. But overall, it has been a tough couple of days. And I wonder, if they did have ambulances that could come down to our town, would he have survived? Should I have tried to stop the bleeding before we drove to Bertoua? I wondered if real ambulance drivers struggle with these feelings when someone dies, too.

So, the last few days have been filled with funeral rituals for Julian. The family sleeps on the ground next to the grave for six nights after he is buried, and spends the daytime talking, or singing and dancing. Our pastor, Boris, went on Friday and shared the Gospel with the 80-100 people, warning them that life is short. Julian leaves behind his wife and six children. He was 31 years old. Just days before his death Boris told me that he talked with Julian about the need to be reconciled with God, but there is no reason to believe he was.

Looking back, I so wish that there had been an ambulance, and trained EMTs. I wish he had been wearing a helmet, and driving more safely. It makes me remember all the times I had to go to the ER as a child, the broken arms gently placed in casts, and the stitches. I am so thankful for the graces I had. I am grateful for this reminder.

But it also makes me realize that you do not have to wait for something to be gone to thank God for it. And so, tonight, I thank God for my brother, Jon, who for now, I can text and tell him I love him. Perhaps you too can take a moment and ask God to open your eyes to see what you may be taking for granted. And thank him, knowing that we worship a God whose blessings are so abundant that we sometimes miss them.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Reign of Death and Dying

by Stacey
On Monday of this week, I walked into a mud hut where the body of a young woman lay. She had an unknown medical problem that had plagued her for some time. I had intended to go visit her that very day to pray for her healing, but apparently I was too late. I walked into the cool, dark room and saw many women sitting around its edges, all looking at the body, weeping. Some were sitting on benches close to the ground, others on sacks, and some on the dirt floor. The deceased’s mother was kneeling by the side of her bed looking hopeless. The young woman was beautifully dressed and lying in a large bed freshly made with colorful sheets. She looked peaceful and beautiful. I noticed she was holding what looked like a staff with bright green leaves coming out of the top of it. When I asked a friend what it was, she said it was used to stop the rain so that the family could all grieve together, sleeping around the grave for a week.

When I arrived, someone was filling cups up with some type of clear alcoholic substance and about 30 minutes later, a different lady started handing out little baggies of alcohol. I saw the mother of the deceased wash down some prescription medication in between gulps of vodka and other ladies started snorting a powdery substance. This entire week, there has been a deep grief that has hung over our village. People smeared themselves with dirt and wailed. The family got together to try to decide what to do with the four kids that she left behind.

I realized this week that funerals are such a big deal here because it is a time to express not just the sorrow over one life lost but also to wail over how many lives are lost here every day. They are a time to cry out that this world is not as it should be. Poverty should not be. Children with bloated bellies should not be. Orphans should not be. Malaria should not be. Death should not be. Grieving rituals seem to be an appropriate outcry against the reign of death and dying that has plagued the world since Adam and Eve first sinned. And for a society that knows so little of Christ, their response is quite appropriate. Weeping, wailing and numbing their sleepless nights with drugs and alcohol are fitting for those that see life as a short painful experience before a certain death. It is no wonder that there is no easy way to communicate the idea of “hope” in the Bakoum language.

One day, I hope to communicate to my neighbors that the grieving does not have to go on forever. Yes, there is deep grief and many insurmountable problems in the world, and yet, one day King Jesus will return and make it all right. He is not a Lord who is aloof to suffering but instead identified so intimately with the problems of humanity that he was labeled a “man of sorrows” and someone who was “acquainted with grief.” He died and rose again, defeating death so that it no longer carries with it a sharp sting for those who believe.


Come Lord Jesus.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

My Neighbors Ate My Dog, and I am Sad


by Dave

I am not a very sentimental person. And to be honest I have felt a little perplexed when I have seen people mourn the loss of a pet. I have had many pets throughout my 33 years of existence. I have given many of them away, some have run away, and a few have died. Just since we have been here in Cameroon we have lost 3 adult cats, 3 kittens, a Western Tree Hyrax, and most recently a tortoise named Jack. I was sad to see them go, especially the ones that died. Sad because I knew that this was the effect of sin in our world. Sad because I knew that my wife would miss them. But at the end of the day, it did not affect my life very much.

But then Friday a Bakoum man came to my door. I did not know him and I was not expecting visitors. He only spoke Bakoum to me, which was hard because I had no idea what topic he has approaching and my Bakoum is still on the “developing” end of things. I understood that he was talking about a dog, and describing where he lived. I already have a dog, I explained. But after a few minutes I understood what he was meaning to say, a dog was hit by a car in front of his house, and he thought it was mine. My first reaction was to deny that it could have been my dog. There are tons of dogs around here and they are often in the road. But he said this one had a brown collar. No dogs have collars here, except mine.

We drove over to his house in my car and there lying under a tarp was my dog, Rachat. Rachat whom I purchased from an abusive owner. Rachat whom I had nursed back to health. Rachat who followed me when I went everywhere. Rachat whom I defended from my neighbors who threatened him with machetes. He was a good dog. He lay there intact, thankfully, but very dead. I figured I would mourn him later and grabbed two paws, asking the man that found me to grab the other two to put him in my car. That was when the yelling began. “What are you going to do with him?” “You are not going to bury him are you?” “You know we eat dogs here, right?” “We came and got you, you should leave him with us.” “At least give us a thigh.” “Don’t you understand Bakoum?” Why are you not responding?”

I did understand and I was ignoring them, though the Finder would not let me go until I assured him he would get his share of the meat if I decided not to bury him. As a disclaimer, not everyone in Cameroon eats dogs. It seems to me that it is mainly a village thing, and it could just be in my region. I do not expect that this represents all of Cameroon, let alone all of Africa. The idea is probably shocking to many of us, but it is normal here. My neighbors think of dogs like farmers think of chickens. They keep them around, care for them, feed them, until it is time to eat them. Did you know they eat horses in France? And they think it is funny that we consider horses to be different from cows. I consider eating dogs to be one of those “not good, not bad, just different” things about Cameroon.

I returned to my neighborhood with Rachat and told the news to my family (sad) and neighbors (much more sympathetic). We weighed our options and decided to give his body to one of our neighbors in exchange for a puppy. Yep, Rachat went from being my beloved friend to dinner in the matter of a few hours. “How could you do that?” some of you are no doubt asking. Not without tears. But there are many factors here. One is that my neighbors do not get enough protein and as a result most of the kids here are suffering from malnutrition. And they do eat dogs, and need the meat. For me to bury Rachat would be a statement that I do not care about them and that I am so rich I can bury valuable necessities. Also, I have heard on more than one occasion that when Westerners have buried their dogs they were dug up at night. Somehow that seemed worse.

But I did not consider this a light matter. And I have been reflecting as to why this has hit me so hard (I literally am taking this six times harder than my kids). I think one reason is that Rachat’s history was very personal. You can read about it HERE. His death is significant to us because the very reason we bought him was to save his life. But I think that the main reason his death hit me is because we are living in Africa. And living here means that we are daily faced with hard realities and hard people. To be honest, I never really feel at ease here. I am always surrounded by a different culture that I do not really understand completely. I am always having to communicate in not-my-heart-language (i.e. French or Bakoum). And it has been so nice to have Rachat at my side. He has been someone who is always happy to see me, that I can speak to in English (he ignores my commands regardless of the language I am speaking), and is just fun. In the midst of an overall difficult life, he has been a little refuge of joy. And, I just miss him.


I write this as a tribute to the life of a good dog. And as a way of saying thank you to a God who blesses us in ways we do not understand until they are gone.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

If Faith Comes by Hearing, How Do We Pray for Bible-less Peoples?

by Stacey

Am I the only one who starts to pray for a Bible-less people group but gets a little stuck?

I start my prayer like this: "May they put their faith in Christ"....but then I realize they do not have a good understanding of who he is. So I try a different approach: Oh God, please change this people…but then I am reminded that without the power of the Spirit, we all remain slaves to sin. It is only those who repent and believe in Christ who receive the Holy Spirit. And then that brings me back to prayer attempt #1: that the people do not have a biblical understand of who Christ is. But how can they have a biblical understanding without the Bible?

So, if you get stuck like I do, here are some concrete ways we can pray for people groups who do not have the Bible.

Pray They Will Respond to the Little Revelation They Have

When God brought Abraham out to look at the stars and then promised him that his offspring would be just as numerous as the stars he saw, Abraham believed and that belief was counted to him as righteousness.

The Bible-less peoples do not have that specific promise from God, however, they do have the same stars. And these stars are God speaking to them. He reveals through his creation that he is there and that he is glorious.

In the words of King David, “There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.” (Psalm 19:3). There are no language groups that are beyond the language of God’s creation. Through the stars, through the lightening bugs, through the exotic monkeys, God is calling out in every language “I am here and I am glorious.”

So let us pray that the Bible-less peoples of the world would be like Abraham and look at the stars and believe that there is an amazing God behind them.

But however great this wordless language of God’s creation may be, we do know that the Bible-less people groups of the world need to hear about Christ to be reconciled to their Creator.

Pray for More Pentecosts

In Acts 2, there were people of many nations present in Jerusalem, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, when the disciples started preaching, everyone could understand what they were saying in his own language. After the crowd listened to a powerful sermon about Christ, there were 3,000 people who repented of their sins and believed in Christ.

It was a miraculous incident and yet, I do not believe, it has to be an isolated event. The same problem of not being able to understand the Gospel exists today, but fortunately the same Holy Spirit is still at work in the world. Why then would we not pray that God would grant people the ability to understand the preacher who is speaking in the trade language as if he were speaking their mother tongue? Let us pray for the Lord to miraculously intervene so that the Gospel could be heard and accepted.

Pray for Literacy in the Language of Wider Communication

While it is true that God is a God of miracles, he is also a God who usually works through ordinary means: such as children going to school to learn to read so that they can read the Bible. Unfortunately there are many problems here that hinder children from learning French, the language of wider communication in our region. There are schools that teach French, but the classrooms are overcrowded (i.e. 100 kids in one classroom), the teachers often do not show up to teach, and many kids need to work in the fields in order to have food to eat. The result is that the number of Bakoum who can read French is minimal and most of the women that I have met speak very little French.

Thus, we can pray for the Bible-less people groups who may have a Bible available in a trade language, that the Lord would make a way for them to learn to understand and read that language.

Pray for More Laborers

There are still over 100 languages in Cameroon alone that do not yet have a Bible. Thus, it goes without saying that we need to faithfully pray that God would send out more Bible translators. I recently received an email from a girl who girl who said that she had been praying for the Bakoum for over 10 years. She received their name from Wycliffe’s Bible-less Peoples Prayer Project and has been faithfully praying they would receive a Bible. Oddly enough, the year that she started praying for them was the year that we signed on with our mission agency World Team. Let us follow her example and check out Wycliffe’s Bible-less people’s prayer project and pray for God to send out laborers to specific people groups.

Pray for Current Laborers

And finally, we can pray for those on the field who are currently pulling their hair out with linguistics and Bible translation issues. Pray that the Lord would grant translator/linguists incredible intellectual capacity to understand the target language, the culture and the Word of God so that it would be translated accurately.



To conclude, the problems that confront the church in the Western world are extremely different than the problems that most missionaries face on the field. And thus, we need to customize our prayers accordingly. I pray that this blog was a good place to start for how we can pray for the Bible-less peoples of the world.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

[Videos] Can We Come to VBS 2016?

by Dave

Like last year, we made some videos for VBS. We made them for a specific church, but I am putting them here on the blog with the hopes that several churches will introduce our ministry to their kids this VBS. There are five videos, one for each day of the week. Check them out!

Video #1: Our Friends



Video #2: What We Do for Fun



Video #3: Church



Video #4: School



Video #5: Our Work



Thanks for including us in your VBS program. This time next year, we will be back in the States for our first home assignment!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Black Sunday: Saying Goodbye to Bonnie



by Stacey

I am calling today “Black Sunday” because tomorrow our home school teacher, sister in Christ, and friend Bonnie Marcum will be flying out to go back home to the US. We are happy for all the opportunities and relationships that await her there, but we are all sad to see her go. Let me share a little bit about the impact that she has made on us this past year…

When Bonnie arrived here, we were all more-or-less dribbling, slobbering babies. Dave and I were barely able to put a sentence together in Bakoum and, on good days, were talking like little children. “I am walking!” “You are sitting!” “He is working!” “I am touching my nose!” “He is touching his tummy!” “Yay!” We had hoped to be further along, but having to home school our children took a lot out of our study time.

And then there were the children. We would hand them a lined sheet of paper and they would just start writing their “letters” everywhere, as if there were no lines at all on the paper. They were learning their letter sounds but their “reading” was nothing impressive. We could not let Elias look at books because he would just tear the pages out of them. And to imagine this group of children being able to work on their own one day would have been absurd. They needed supervision all the time.
And today, I think it is safe to say that all of us have grown up a little bit. While Dave and I still have a long way to go in our language learning, we have made considerable progress to the point that Bakoum is mainly the language I speak and I rarely have to switch to French. This has led to closer relationships between me and the women in the village and I think is helping us win the hearts of the Bakoum little by little.

And the children! The children are reading. Elias, who once just destroyed the books we gave him now sits in his room and reads for hours. Had you asked me if I thought this was possible a year ago, I would have responded, “Not on your life.” But it happened. I have also heard the children read to one another and the other day Kaden sat down started reading the book  of 1 John on the couch…just because. Not only that, but conversations in our home are now about storms on Jupiter and how much 9 + 8 makes. I feel like overnight this group of hyperactive, drooling, kindergartners has turned into serious students with a thirst for knowledge.

And to whom do we attribute these successes? To God. And to Bonnie. Without her, this year would have been Dave and I spinning our wheels working on home school and Bakoum and excelling in neither. We would have been spread way too thin to produce quality work on either front.

And so, it is with great sadness, but mostly great thankfulness, that we accept that this chapter of our lives is coming to a close. The Lord has answered our every prayer for our ministry and for our children in sending Bonnie to us this year.

Thank you Lord and thank you Bonnie.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

VBS Recap

by Stacey
The Vacation Bible School has officially come to a close and all in all, it was … AMAZING. God answered every prayer that we (and you) prayed. He held off the rain during the VBS, the Word was taught, the Lord really helped us communicate clearly, and even our unsaved adult neighbors came to listen to the Bible stories (and color pictures!). We had around 60-80 kids each day and, miracle of miracles, they generally sat quietly and listened attentively during our lessons. And, all around our town, catechisms on the trinity, the ways of Satan, and verses of Scripture are being sung. We are elated.


Our goal when we were planning for VBS was to have every child walk away saying that the Bible teaches that the spirits of the dead do not live among them but instead are sealed forever in either Heaven or Hell. We wanted to do this because much of their religion hinges on the idea that one must spend his life seeking to appease the ghosts of their deceased family members. Grown men have shared with us how anxious they are that their dead mothers might be mad at them. Many people will often “share” their food with these ghosts which means that they take the little food they have off their plates and throw it on the ground. We wanted to set these children free from this bondage.

We are happy to say that even though the biblical perspective may have not been immediately adopted, the children now know that the Bible teaches that there are demons around us but not the spirits of our ancestors. And these demons have the power to tempt us, posses those who are not indwelt with the Holy Spirit, lie to us, and even cause physical disabilities like being blind or deaf.

They also heard story after story of Jesus’ power over the demons. We discussed his ability to conquer Satan in the wilderness with the Word of God. We talked about the promise that if we submit to God and resist the Devil, he will flee from us. We acted out the story of the rich man and Lazarus highlight the fact that neither the rich man nor Lazarus could leave their eternal dwelling place to go back and interact with the living.

The final day, we shared the Gospel explaining that there are two kingdoms: the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light. We are all born into the kingdom of darkness and manifest our allegiance to this kingdom in how we sin. But Jesus came and he showed his power over demonic powers and the power of sin. And whoever believes in him will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. And this Spirit is a good Spirit who dwells inside of us and who gives us love, power, and self control.

Truly, the Word was taught and the children heard the message.

So, So, So Much Work to Do
There were a couple things that really stunned us during this VBS week. First of all, we were struck anew on how the grand majority of these kids literally know absolutely nothing about the Word of God. The task of teaching them who God is and his work in the world as revealed in the Bible is daunting, to say the least.

Another thing that was a bit discouraging was that the kids, although very warm towards us, rarely opened up to tell us what they were thinking. Thus we do not know where they are at spiritually nor how much they are understanding. This may be because we are still foreign in their eyes or it may have more to do with the distance there is between adults and children in this culture. Kids do not open up to adults in general and are not encouraged to ask questions.

Also, there were adults who came, which was great. However, we were praying that the few Christians in our church would develop a love for the children and a heart to teach this up and coming generation the Word of God. We did not see that passion in these adults this week and thus we know we need to keep on praying for the Lord to work in their hearts. In September, we plan to introduce a new children’s curriculum on the book of Luke at our church and train the adults how to use it. We are praying that the Lord would use that to move their hearts to invest in children.

While We Are at It…
So, since we are talking about all the great need there is here, I thought I would put in a plug for a children’s ministry worker to join us on the field. Sadly, there seems to be a lot of neglect of children here and they are not taught as they should be. Our prayer is for someone to come and help churches implement biblical children’s programs, teach Christian parents the importance of teaching their children the Word of God and also teach the children themselves. So if you or anyone you know may be interested, please do let us know.

Anyway, we praise the Lord for his work this week and thank you all for your prayers and love for these kids. We could not be more pleased or excited.











Saturday, May 14, 2016

VBS Next Week: Satan, Demons, the Souls of the Deceased, and the Supremacy of Jesus Over All


by Stacey

Monday launches our annual 5-day Bible club for the local neighborhood kids! If it is anything like last year, we expect there to be 50-100 kids ranging from toddlers to teenagers at our door eagerly waiting for it to start each day. We plan to do games like tug-o-war, sing songs, have a teaching time, and then have them color pictures. To this day, when we go into people’s houses, there, hanging proudly on their walls are the now sun-bleached pictures that their kids colored last year. Needless to say, both we and our local young friends are looking forward to another VBS this year.

The Spirit World

Starting Monday, we will be teaching on Satan, demons, and what happens to people’s souls when they die. We plan to look at the following stories and then draw out what they teach us about the spirit world and about Jesus’ power over these forces of darkness. Here is the break-down of what we plan to teach each day:
  • Jesus heals the Gerasene demoniac (Mark 5:1-21)
  • Jesus heals a boy with a demon (Matt 17:14-23)
  • Jesus casts a demon out of a man who is mute (Matt 12: 22-45)
  • Are there ghosts? What happened to the souls of the rich man and Lazarus? (Luke 16) 
  • Theology of demons, spirits and Jesus’ power based on the previous lessons
Why the Spirit World?

We chose this topic because one of the core beliefs that we keep encountering is that people think that their dead loved ones become (often evil) spirits that dwell among them. Our goal for this VBS is to show children that when a human dies, their soul is sealed either in Heaven or in Hell. We also want to show them that the Bible says that there is spiritual activity all around us, but this spiritual activity is demonic. We are prayerful that these biblical truths will begin to chip away at their fundamental animistic beliefs and practices.

How can you pray?
  • Please pray that we will clearly communicate the teachings of Scripture in Bakoum/French.
  • Pray that we and the other adults present will be able to manage the children and that they will be attentive.
  • We are seeking to train the national believers how the Word of God can be taught to children. Pray that the adults who come to the VBS will become passionate about ministry to children (specifically for Audry and Balbine). 
  • Pray that these children will believe. Pray that their eyes will be opened to see that there is demonic activity around them and that they need to run to Jesus for safety and protection. 
  • Pray that there will be children who reject the teaching that the spirits of their deceased loved ones live among them. 
  • Pray that the Lord would give us incredible wisdom in whatever difficulties we might face this week. 
The Unassuming Kingdom of Heaven

In Matthew 13, Jesus shares the parable of a tiny mustard seed that a man sowed in his field. It was small and unassuming but when it grew up, it became larger than the other plants in the garden. It was so big that the birds even came and made their nests in it.


That is what these children are. They are not the “big men” among the Bakoum but our prayer is that these very children will grow up and become pillars of faith among the Bakoum people. Thank you for joining with us in praying to that end.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Radio Interview and Update on the Little Girl

by Dave

I had the recent opportunity to be interviewed for a radio program called "His People" on the Pilgrim Radio Network (pilgrimradio.com). I was able to talk a bit about our ministry and also the challenges of helping the poor. We reviewed my recent blog "When NOT Helping Hurts" in which I talk about a sick little girl in our neighborhood. Below is the audio from the interview, and even further below is an update on that little girl.



Update:
After the blog, I sent some money to this family in order to pay for them to go get tests done in the nearest capable hospital. There it was determined that she has Sickle Cell Disease. I have been told that this is pretty serious and that there is not much that can be done for her here in Africa. Those with Sickle Cell in the US usually end up getting quite a few blood transfusions, which are much harder to come by here. Further, she will need to take Folic Acid and Malaria Prophylaxis everyday for the rest of her life. This is clearly impossible for our neighbors to do, as it would cost much more than they could ever make. So, it puts us even more into the situation I discussed in the blog. All that to say, we need wisdom to know what to do. Please pray for us as we seek to help this precious little girl.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Is This For Real?

by Stacey


Our lives here in Cameroon are becoming our “new normal” but every once and a while we look at one another and say, “Is this for real?” Here are some funny examples…

Daily Comings and Goings
The other day, I looked out our window and there was a 50-something year old woman with her dress lifted up, squatting in the middle of our lawn relieving herself. We have since posted a sign asking people to not urinate on the lawn…but it strangely disappeared last time we went out of town….
One thing that you would not find in America…fake hair everywhere. It is true-there are balls of fake hair all over the place here.
It is pretty hot here this year and Dave more-or-less sweats through his shirt by breakfast. But, when we have a Cameroonian friend over, Dave has to make sure to ask if he can turn on the fan because our neighbors often complain about being too cold. We often see people bundled up in sweaters and  stocking caps as we are fanning ourselves to keep cool.

At Church
Our church is pretty much made of leaves. We have palm branches for the walls and woven leaves for the roof. Often, in the middle of our services, our dog comes running full speed through one of the walls in the church to find us. It is so embarrassing.
One day a lady sitting behind me laid her head down on my back and fell asleep.
Today in church there was some sort of large (winged?) creature right over my head eating through the roof trying to get in. Would it be rude to look up to see what kind creature is about to fall on my head? Or should I just ignore it?  Luckily the service ended before the creature could get in.
There are tiny biting ants that fall from the ceiling in church and bite all of us during the services.


Critters
The other day Dave was in our kitchen drinking his morning coffee thinking that his life was not that different than his life in the States. The he looked out the window and saw our neighbor cooking up rats over a fire for breakfast. This jolted him back into the reality that, yes, our lives here are very different.
A while ago someone approached Dave in the market and asked if he would like to buy some meat. Still new to the field we were used to our meat being faceless and in nice packages. They man then opened a bag with a living precious little baby antelope inside. Dave looked down at this “meat” and all he could think of was Bambi. He later wondered if he should have bought it and set it free.
In the Bakoum language, there is no distinction between the world “animal” and the word “meat.” All animals, in their eyes, are “meat.” The Bakoum have words for different animals, but if asked for an animal they do not know, they just say “meat.”
Often I go over to women’s houses and sit with them. It is not uncommon for them to be sucking snails out of their shells for dinner while correcting my Bakoum. Or taking a bucket of grasshoppers and pushing the innards out of them so they can cook them up for dinner. I try to convince myself it is no big deal and I am starting to believe myself these days.
Before I brush my teeth, I have to pick biting ants out of my toothbrush. And before I go to bed, I have to sweep them out of my bed…ugh.


Kids and Parenting
We got new tires for our truck and now we keep the old ones outside for the kids to play with. The other day Kaden asked Dave if he could play with the tires and Dave looked at him and said, “You know, I think you are leaning too much on tires for your entertainment. I think you should go learn to be content playing in the mud with sticks.”
Seeing our kids interact with wildlife and the vibrant bug population here is always fun. The other day this large moth (or small bat?) was in the girls’ room. Dave was not home so I was trying to work up the nerve to kill it. Zoey asked to see the flyswatter than proceeded to chase the moth/bat thing around the room swatting it to death while pieces of its wings were flying around the room. In the words of Dave’s dad, “Out of all your kids, I sure would not want Zoey chasing me around with a fly swatter.”
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To those whom we live among these happenings are as normal to them as the air they breathe. To us? These things are becoming more and more normal until we think back to the lives that we left and we realize that A LOT has changed.