Haircut: The thing about haircuts is that they have to be repeated! I have been cutting my own hair, but getting the back part even is hard as is cutting while looking in the mirror since everything is reversed. I decided to try to find someone to do it. It’s only hair, after all, and grows back. So, here’s the result. It is definitely shorter. Not bad. Not exactly even, but probably more even than the times
I have cut it. I took my own hair scissors and comb not being sure that Tutu would have them even though she a hair stylist. She didn’t know what to charge me. She said that styling and trimming a wig was 1,500 cfa ($3), but for natural hair??? (Especially hair that is so different from Cameroonian hair…) She wouldn’t name a price and said to give her what I thought was best. It only took about 15 minutes with me giving some basic instructions; I gave her 1,000 cfa ($2). I can always trim stray pieces of hair myself – as I have been doing when I was my own barber. The first picture is me sitting at my dining room/office table. (I cropped it so that you can’t see all the dust that showed up well in the picture!) The second was taken this morning shortly after the service of imposition of ashes for Ash Wednesday. A contemplative look – mostly what I get when I take selfies!
Quilt: I have been working on a project for a number of months – a quilt. It is almost done. A Facebook friend periodically posts things about quilting and I decided to use materiel from dresses, etc. to create one of my own. Don’t look too closely since there are lots of imperfections – which make it even more valuable to me. I am doing all the work by hand. My goal is to finish the binding this week. Will I do another? Not this large (double bed size). It is too hard once I have to attach the backing and binding. I understand now why people have quilt frames so they can get to both sides while holding the material in place…
Primary elections: I am very tired (already/still) of hearing about the primary elections in the USA and only two states have voted. People in the US are obsessed with them and polarization and nastiness seem worse each day. I mention them because people in Garoua Boulai often ask me about the candidates and elections; they want to talk about them. One could argue that Cameroonians should be interested in what happens in the “most powerful country” and that it is normal that people in that powerful country don’t pay attention to elections and leaders worldwide, but I say that is arrogance. They are interested because they will be affected, directly and/or indirectly. We in the US should be interested in what happens worldwide because we are also affected, directly or indirectly. We need to learn to listen to people from their perspective – without our preconceived notions of what they are saying or “ought to be” saying. Good leaders listen. Good leaders give a voice to everyone. Good leaders know that helping everyone get better and advance means that the whole country (region) advances in better ways and more quickly. Is the US a good leader? For its own people? For the world?
Commemorative cloth: You may remember that Pope Francis visited Bangui in November. As is the custom here, commemorative fabric was made. Anne Langdji gave me a piece that she got from a friend in Bangui. Here it is hanging from the mantle in my living room. It says, “Gango ti Tobwa Francois na Be Africa” (Welcome Pope Francis to Central African Republic.”) Be in Sango means Cameroon’s commemorative cloth for International Women’s Day (March 8) is now available. It comes in a choice of two colors – violet and orange. I bought the former as the one I got from 2015 was orange (about $16 for 6 yards) but can’t show you yet since I dropped it off with my tailor so he can make a dress. He asked if he couldn’t make a head scarf, too, and I agreed. I am not much for wearing things on my head, but will wear one at least for March 8! (Maybe if I wore a headscarf all the time I wouldn’t have to think about haircuts…)heart so CAR is the Heart of Africa.
More elections: Central African elections are still scheduled for February 14. This is the second round for the presidential vote and will become the first round for delegates to the legislature. (Those didn’t go well in December, mostly because ballots didn’t arrive in time in some places, so they were annulled.) Continue to pray for peace and wisdom in the choice of new Central African leaders.
Hostages: I don’t mention it often, but please also continue to pray for the mayor and sous-prefet of Baboua who are still being held hostage. It has been seven months. I have heard the rumor that they will be released after the elections. May it be true. Certainly the Central African government has not had (or been willing use) money to pay a ransom. There are probably 20 or so others who are also being held hostage. I think of them often and pray for them and their families. Please add your prayers for all hostages. No one should be held against his/her will. No one should be able to profit or think they can gain power by stealing people.
More security: My back porch is now enclosed! We decided to do this instead of just making a stronger screen door was we did for the front. I can now recharge my solar lamp without having to think about having it taken. There are still a few glitches that need to be fixed, but I have a I have found a place in town where I can buy a plastic table and chairs to use out there. I just need to drive into town one day soon (instead of walking) so I can pick them up (and negotiate a price). This makes my back door and house more secure. In addition, I can feel safe leaving the door open for ventilation – important as the dry season continues and daytime temperatures are hotter.screened-in porch.
Expectations: An interesting story about the car. I went yesterday to buy diesel fuel and the gas station had none. They said it would arrive later in the day. We don’t have that problem in the US, do we? When we go to buy something like gasoline, the gas station has it. Of course, we are also very used to having electricity, water, and even internet 24/7. Electricity here is Garoua Boulai is still going out almost daily for two to ten hours a day. I/we adjust and work around not having what is expected.
May Lent provide you the time for reflection and meditation. May you find ways to better follow Jesus’ command to love our neighbors as ourselves.