So, did you hear the good news? The Central African government officials and the rebels signed an agreement Friday. There is a cease-fire and a plan to form a coalition government. The Prime Minister and cabinet were decommissioned (fired) Saturday and as early as today the opposition will name the new Prime Minister! All good news.
I will not be going back to CAR until some time has passed to be sure that the agreement holds and peace has truly returned to the country, but I am encouraged and hopeful. Meanwhile, I will be moving to Garoua Boulai Wednesday. This is a Cameroonian town just on the border with CAR. The directors of the programs I work with will be able to travel (by motorcycle) the 50 km. between the two towns so we can have planning meetings and advance our work. We will work that way until the national Lutheran churches in CAR and the US agree that it is safe for us to return to Baboua.
In the meantime, I am still in N’gaoundéré. I have had 3 lessons in the Gbaya language. Although Sango (that I am already studying) is the national African language in CAR, the ethnic group in the area around Baboua is the Gbaya and I want to be able to understand some of what they say. I will only get a start here, but am glad for that because Gbaya is a tonal and often nasal language and my ear doesn’t easily hear the difference among the vowel sounds! This will take time.
I am also collecting and reading materials that have been developed for Sunday school lessons. CAR pastors have expressed a need to have lessons in Sango that suit different age levels instead of 1 size fits all (that they now have). I have been talking to the man in charge of Christian education in Cameroon and a Norwegian missionary who has some materials we may be able to adapt. The Christian Education program director, some pastors, and I will look at these materials (and others they have collected) to develop a plan for the Lutheran Church in CAR.
Even with these activities, I have a lot of free time! I had a tailor make me a dress with material I bought at the market here.
Sunday, I went with June and Phil Nelson to visit the Bénoué National Game Park. It is about 1 hr. 45 min. from N’gaoundéré – 110 km. We left at 5 a.m. and were back at 7:30 p.m. Once we got to the park, we drove several km. to the reception, cabins, and restaurant area. Visitor must pay an entry fee there (3,000 cfa per person) and a fee to take pictures (2,000 cfa per camera) for a total that is about $10 each. We also picked up a guide who went with us. Workers are currently grading and improving the roads, so some where level and smooth. Others haven’t been touched yet. Of those, some are rough, but passable, and others cars can’t yet use.
We drove to an area where the hippopotamuses live and saw about 20 sunning themselves on the sand as it was relatively early and cool. On the road to and from that site we saw baboons, some other monkeys, warthogs (at a distance), birds, lots of kob antelope, a few hartebeests, and a few other small animals. Notice in the picture, the female kob are in a field that was burned recently – you can see the black ash, but you can also see the green grass that quickly begins to grow again. (Did you know? The antelopes belong to the Bovidae, the same horned family as the cow, the sheep, and the goat. The Bovidae are a family of ruminants, those cud chewing animals which swallow their food in haste into a storage stomach, from which it is returned later to the mouth a little at a time to be thoroughly chewed. Info from http://jerileewei.hubpages.com/hub/Antelopes-Giraffes-And-Okapis)
Although they live in the park, we saw no lions, leopards, or buffalo. Maybe next time or when I visit, Bouba-Ndjida, a larger game park further north in Cameroon.
After a delicious lunch prepared at the restaurant and a walk down to nearby (small) waterfalls and stream, we (including the guide) drove back to the place where the hippos live. They were all submerged in the water because it was hot! Interesting to see them with only nostrils visible. (The picture some with heads showing because just noses with lots of water are not an interesting picture!) Also, on the same strip of sand, we saw a couple of crocodiles.
It was a long, but wonderful day. Now I am back to studying Gbaya, talking about Sunday school materials, and packing to move to Garoua Boulai.