Wednesday, March 16, 2011

We aren't at DCA any more~Owe School

This is grade 5 & 6. Notice the hanging ceiling.

Last week Drew and I had the privilege of traveling about 45 minutes north west with Pastor Eco and Joshua, the bus driver, to visit Owe's church school. Drew had visited the church a few weeks ago but it was my first visit. The drive was beautiful. The last 15 minutes of the trip involved us turning onto a bumpy dirt road. The van stopped in front of a small building in need of paint, we had arrived at the church. We were greeted by a couple of teachers and led around to the back. Here there was a small courtyard with the landlords laundry hanging on lines between the buildings. We were allowed to greet the classes. K1,K2, and Grades1&2 consisted of 18 children. They were crammed into a small 8' X 8' room. The only way for the far ones to get in and out of the class was to crawl across their desks/a small bench in front of them.
The second room held grades 3rd & 4th, same conditions. The last room housed the 5th & 6th grades. That class has only 8 students but the room was in the worst condition, notice the cardboard hanging from the ceiling to try to keep the rain off of them. One of my first thoughts about the conditions were that they could manage now in the dry season but what would they do in the fast approaching rainy season. The rooms have no electric lights, they leave the door and window open for lighting.
Now let me say with conditions as appalling as they were to me the attitude and orderliness of the students and teachers made a huge impression on me. They need a lot of help, they don't even have textbooks or paces for the students the teacher has one set of paces and rewrites it all on the blackboard for them. With all their needs and difficulties there are 4 teachers who stay to work there, come pay or no pay, to help teach these children. As we left there I felt strangely encouraged and in good spirits. It had been a very needed and good visit to meet the teachers and see what the needs were and how we could help them. Our goals are that the schools and churches be self supporting but this school first needs to be equipped with the proper materials. We are looking into getting more ACE paces and other textbooks to them as soon as possible. There are many other needs and I am asking if there is anyone out there who would feel a burden to financial bless the good efforts that are being poured into this school. For $150 dollars we could have paces shipped here for the Owe school. There needs also include school furniture, food to feed a small lunch to the children there in that very poor community, basic school equipment and better rooming conditions.
As I mentioned before we are working toward self-supporting ministries here but these teachers have shown they are willing to stick with it and sacrifice so we would love to help equip them to do their job to the best of their ability. So how about it? Is their anyone who could take on this project of equipping a Christian school in Owe? May God bless you as you prayerfully consider it. If you cannot give the Owe church and school would really appreciate your prayers. They are going through a transition time with their pastor just resigning. We believe God has a plan for this ministry and through prayer and support we get to have a small part of His plan, how exciting and blessed we are.

The Chocolate Tree

Money may not grow on trees but I found something almost as good.

While visiting the Owe school I was introduced to a delicious sight and smell, it was a chocolate/coco tree. As I stepped under the tree to take a picture of the coco "fruit" I could smell chocolate, the whole tree smelled like chocolate. I felt like I had stumbled into Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory where everything you see is edible. I know I am ignorant about far too many things but just in case others have never shared the experience of walking under a coco tree I will explain. The coco tree produces "fruit" or pods that grow little coco seeds or beans in them. When the pod turns yellow it is ready to harvest. They cut the pod open and extract the "chocolate" and the rest is yummy history. I have never seen a land were things can grow so abundantly. Every tree that grows here seems to produce something that can be eaten or useful. This is an amazing land.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Baby Jerry

A couple of weeks ago we heard about a little 4 month old baby who was needing a home. Everyone scurried around to clean and prepare but the social services didn't come. Upon inquiry we were informed that the baby had been thrown away in the bushes and later found by a lady passing by. The police were investigating and trying to find out who the mother was and who had thrown the baby away before putting it in a home, so in the mean time the social services were taking care of him. If the police do find the responsible person they can be put in jail.
On Thursday, March 10th Mrs. Chamberlin and Bro. Peter took a taxi to the social service office and met the worker and baby for the first time. The baby had not been named yet so they were given the privilege of naming him. After several suggestions of long Biblical names Mrs. Chamberlin suggested Jerry, for Jeremiah, they all liked that and Jerry had a name. After some medical attention he arrived home, here at the orphanage, and was warmly greeted by Auntie Agnes and over 23 children.
Kent hasn't really gotten too involved in the orphanage but when he heard there was a baby boy he ran down as quickly as he could and introduced himself to little Jerry. He was feeling that three little toddling girls was enough and it was about time we got to have a baby boy. Jerry preferred to suck on Kent's fingers rather than shake hands but Kent didn't mind being drooled on at all.
As things stand for little Jerry right now we are being called a temporary placement because the lady that found him would love to adopt him. She will need to go through background checks and paperwork before that would be possible, but it is a possibility. We are loving having the little guy around, but if it is the Lord's will that he find a good home that is ok too. We are thanking God again for the privilege of being available for the homeless and cast aways. God is so Good.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Family Day was a Little WILD!

Cameroonian Pizza and Fruit Slushies

A mother and her baby Gorilla

A Suni, a small African Antelope

An African Antelope

The most colorful African Baboon

With Drew preparing to head off on a 4 day ministry trip to our sister church located about 6 hours away, we decided to do a family day with the kids. There is a Wildlife Center located right here in Limbe that is a refuge for monkeys and other animals that have fallen prey to "bush meat" hunters or illegal owners. It isn't a huge zoo or anything but it was nice. It held all the different types of monkeys one could find in Cameroon, which are a lot. It also held 2 types of African crocodiles, a python, a 116 year old tortoise, and two kinds of African antelope including one that was the size of a large cat. It was full grown but so small. The guide was very informative and interesting. They used to have low fences but the chimps would throw big rocks at peoples heads with great accuracy for their entertainment so the zoo doubled the fence height. After touring the zoo we treated ourselves to lunch at the zoo cafe which served pizza and fruit smoothies, um um. They were so yummy! The pizza was not quite like home but it was still good. we have learned that everything is at least a little different here so you go with the flow and enjoy. The smoothies were a real treat. Drew had strawberry and banana, Kent and I had strawberry, and Katie had chocolate. Once we all shared sips, Katie was lucky to keep hers, chocolate won the prize. It was a very nice day to enjoy each other and some new things. The cafe was right beside a Gorilla playground so we had entertainment along with dinner. The final surprise of the day was meeting a young man in the Peace Corp from Grand Rapids, MI. We enjoyed talking with him for awhile. What a small world and what a great day!

Cameroon Home Economics Class

Katie came running in the house all
excited one day saying, "Mom, they are cooking on the playground!" She snatched the camera to share the experience. Sure enough they had several little fires going and the children were learning how to cook different dishes including noodles, boiled plaintan with palm oil and fish, and several sauces. It was very interesting and though the kitchen is not usually in the playground this is very much how they are used to cooking in most homes. The "kitchen" is outside sometimes under an overhang from the roof. The kids had fun.
Bon Appetit!

The Funeral

Pa Taku passed away leaving a void in the church here in Limbe but also his dying request left a big statement on the community here. Pa Taku reached a point in his life long ago were he turned from the "Traditions" of his tribe, meaning witchcraft and juju, and chose to totally surrender to God. His life and the lives of his children were forever changed by that decision. He refused to take his children back to the village for induction ceremonies that included witchcraft and a cutting on their face to show they belonged but instead handed his youngest boy over to the Chamberlins as their boy, this was Terrance. He raised his children in the church and stood quietly for the way of the cross.
At his death he reminded them that he had left the old ways and didn't want a traditional funeral but a Christian funeral. This might seem like a simple thing to the reader but it was quite complicated. The family from the village refused to help with the finances when they were told it would be a Christian funeral and that they would not be allowed to do their dancing and drum playing to summon the spirits, neither would they be allowed to add their juju and idols into the casket. This lack of support was a burden for the family but the church and Christian friends stepped in to help.
The week of the funeral there were 3 smaller gatherings outside his house to have scripture reading, songs, a message, and prayers with the family, during this time his body remained in the mortuary. Then on Friday morning the family and church went to the mortuary to claim his body and carry it in his coffin to the house. The church held service until 11pm that night then it was handed over to the family. The village families had come and there was much drinking, dancing, and loud music through the night for his wake, as is custom.
In the morning the men go out to the graveyard to dig his grave (also custom). There was concern that the family was going to still try to force their traditions so when the pastor and church leaders went to escort the casket from the house they first sealed it so it could not be reopened. The casket was then carried to the church for the final service. It went very well and was well attended by the community.
Following the service the casket was loaded into a van and driven down the hill just a bit to the cemetery. The family and friends walked. At the graveyard Pastor Eco committed his body to the ground and then told everyone they were not to move while the casket was lowered into the ground by the men (this was the moment of greatest concern because at Pa Taku's sons funeral several years before his family had held him back while they opened the casket and put in their juju and idols against the fathers wishes). Bro. Peter began to lead in some songs and, with one man in the hole and the others lowering it to him, the casket was finally settled in place. The men then began to cover the casket and fill in the grave. After the dirt came large stones to protect it. They also placed 4 tall sticks at each corner to mark its place. With one final word of warning by Bro. Eco against anyone disturbing the grave, it was finished. The pastor and church had held a very lovely service for this man and it was a wonderful example to the family and community that old things are past away, Pa Taku was made new and followed Christ even to the grave.