Idunn, min kjære nasara, husker du da vi var spente og uerfarne og lurte på hva det var vi kom til å møte da vi kom til Kamerun? At vi var så sykt gira, og vi var overbevist om at vi var det beste teamet i hele verden, selv om vi ikke ante hvordan teamarbeidet vårt i Kamerun egentlig kom til å se ut?
Vi møtte jammen uventede ting, selv om det som overrasket kanskje ikke var det samme som det vi trodde vi kom til å reagere på. Men jeg syns vi gjorde det bra. Jeg har satt stor pris på våre lattermilde øyeblikk, og til tross for våre relativt store forskjeller, så syns jeg vi har samarbeidet bra. Helt fra våre første to timer på kamerunsk jord, der hvem som helst kunne revet seg i håret og tenkt "OI-OI-OI! -Hvordan skal dette gå?"(Yes! Jeg fikk den med! Hihi).
Du har krydret min hverdag, fargelagt mine opplevelser og gitt tilværelsen gode nyanser. Det har vært gøy å erfare Kamerun med deg, du har vært en så bra teammate at det er ikke vits engang. Ditt søte smil, dine gode ord og tanker, ditt positive og sosiale vesen - og ikke minst din herlige latter når du ser på Friends med ørepropper - er noe jeg vil huske og verdsette lenge.
Nå vet vi hva vi kom til, og vi vet hvordan teamarbeidet ble. Hadde bare lyst til å gi deg en liten hyllest sån i all offentlighet :) Jeg er fortsatt overbevist om at jeg ikke kunne hatt noe bedre team enn deg.
Making friends when you come to a new culture is not always easy. First of all, there is the language: conversations do not flow freely when you feel your communication skills are comparable with a three-year-old (luckily they have improved along with the length of my stay).
Secondly, you have to figure out the social and cultural codes: what do they talk about, what do they do? How are their lives, and how can you relate to them? And even more deeply; what does the world look like in their eyes?
Many times during my five months here in Cameroon, I have asked myself if I will be able to look back on my stay here and remember faces, names and friends. Often I have been discouraged, thinking that the answer would be no. Most of my relations are utterly shallow and superficial.
Thinking further, I find that maybe I have to redefine my conception of friendship a little. All friendships start with small steps. To grow closer takes time, and half a year is not so long after all. If I turn from how well I know certain people, and look upon how many people I have actually gotten in touch with during my stay, I find that I have many friends; names and faces that stop and ask how I am doing when we meet at work, choir rehearsal, volleyball or on the street. We actually have a relation.
Sometimes that is all it takes. That is how well you actually need to know people before you can go one step further. Tonight almost my whole choir came to our house to sing, pray, dance, laugh, play and eat "poff-corn", beignets and makala (different kinds of doughnuts) together. We had the most wonderful time, and I could really feel that these are my friends. My being part of that group makes a difference. They notice if I am gone, and care about my well-being.
I belong a little to them, and they will always stay somewhere in my thoughts and memories and e-mail adress list when I return to Norway. We are friends. Nous sommes ensemble.
Bargaining is not one of my favourite things. How low should I go to get the price I want? Is it not rude to go too low? Really, I do not need to bargain, but then again, would it be rude not to? In Cameroon everyone bargains on everything. So to fit in, should not I too bargain?
Slightly uncomfortable, I suggest my price in a low voice. He whispers back, offers a new price, still more than I am willing to give. We discuss a little while, I smile and he laughs. Finally it closes in, and our suggestions differ only with a thousand francs (13 NOK). -Let's meet at the five hundred in between, I say, and he laughs, -You really know Africa well, don't you?
Thursday we set out for Meiganga, a village about four hours west of Ngaoundéré, together with Benjamin the contactperson and four Canadians. Their mission was to learn about evangelisation, as the Canadian church (together with many other Western countries) no longer seems to reach out to people in their own country.
The Cameroonian church is growing, while many of the countries that once brought the Good News to Africa now need to learn anew how to evangelize. In Meiganga we were attending a week of seminars, to hear and see how the church (EELC) empowers its evangelists.
We attended some of the seminars, visited the seminary of Meiganga, spoke with its students and visited them in their homes, and joined small groups of evangelists when they were having outreach Saturday. We went from door to door, visited those who were interested, talked about God with them and prayed together. Idunn and I also worked as interpreters, as our Canadian friends did not understand French. Amazing how much French we actually are able to understand and speak after some months here!
Students at the seminary of Meiganga studying in the library
The students' wives' class
Talking with David the theology student about evangelization
Visiting Philomene, the only female theology student at the seminary
The Canadians handing out gifts to the evangelists, as a sign of gratefulness for being invited to the seminar
"Filmez-moi! Filmez-moi, madame!" (If you have a camera, you have no choice:) )
Thursday last week we celebrated Fête de la Jeunesse with our girls at Centre Socio Menager. So it was that we were dressed up in orange and yellow dresses of the latest fashion-model, and marched in front of loads of people. I even got the honorable assignment to carry the flag - something that did not pass by unseen: I was actually to be seen on national television on the evening news...
"The bus leaves at 06.30, and if you are not present by then, you are not going at all." The board of my choir, Gospel Singers, do not seem to appreciate the term "African time", but no matter how hard they seem to fight it, African time always gets its way. So by 09.15, we were actually on our way to the village Wak (we thought).
We also thought we were going in the Gospel Singers' bus,
but all of a sudden it went away full of other people, so we ended up sitting 21 persons in this shabby car with 15 seats:
Photo: Samuel Fomgbami
The lack of space, the hard seats or the loose door did not spoil the joyous mood. Nor finding out that we were not going to Wak after all. Someone important had decided that we were headed for a small place with possibilities to take a swim near the student village Dang (12 km from Ngaoundéré) instead.
Photo: Samuel Fomgbami
For some, the fact that we had to walk for 45 minutes to get there seemed a bit overwhelming at first, but as we got there, the walk was already forgotten. After we had crossed the river,
we reached a place that resembled any Norwegian beach a random summer day (except that there were no beach): a lot of young people where enjoying a Saturday with friends, food, a bonfire, guitar playing and swimming in the COLD water.
Some hours later, after having crossed the river on our way back, we spent a few moments in prayer and worship together with another choir that also was there,
before we went happy, tired, laughing and singing back to Dang to find taxis going to Ngaoundéré.
In other words: a wonderful Saturday spent with wonderful people!
Vi er to eventyrlystne studenter som har lagt bryllupsreisa vår til Iran, med det litt uvanlige fremkomstmiddelet sykkel. Veien er målet, som de sier, men det hadde vært innmari gøy om vi kom helt til Teheran...