Friday, March 8, 2013

International Women's Day, Storytelling, and Retreat

Today is International Women's Day.  It was created to promote equality for women and men.  Here in Cameroon a special material is created each year to commemorate the occasion.  In the picture are one woman wearing one types of this special cloth made into a dress of her own design.  My dress is African, but not from that material. 

(This is a group of participants from our Biblical Storytelling Seminar.  Deborah Troester is in the back row – with a dress made from International Women’s Day material, but you can’t see it here.)

Some places here people organize meetings or seminars to look at problems women face to try to improve the situations. 

What is happening in your town???

We are currently in Mutengené for a seminar organized by the Network of Biblical Storytellers (NBS).  About 25 people attended this three-day institute including three of us from CAR: Rev. Deborah Troester who teaches at the Lutheran Theological School in Baboua, Rev. Jackie Griffin who works with the women’s group in Bouar, and me; three from Cameroon: Dr. Joely Rakotoarivelo from Madagascar who works at the hospital in Garaou Boulai, Dr. Elisabeth Johnson who is studying French in N’gaoundéré to be able to teach at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Meiganga, and Gashuhun Nemonsa from Ethiopia who studied French in N’gaoundéré and who will be going to Mali to work in August.

So, we read or hear scriptures read in church each Sunday, but have you ever thought about hearing the word in Biblical times?  Most people couldn’t read or write – those abilities were for the scribes.  Even when Hebrew texts were “read” in the synagogue, the reader had to be well prepared because written texts included no vowels or spaces between words.  The texts were a guide to help readers remember the stories, but the stories were told.  Do you remember that the Bible as we know it was not written down in Jesus’ life time?  People passed the stories along by word of mouth.  Some people were good at it and became storytellers.

NBS is revising the telling of biblical stories in many places and ways.  For example, a pastor might tell the story of the gospel lesson instead of reading it.  One leader here (from Chicago) has been doing that for nine years.  Others use them for Sunday school, meeting, groups of friends, etc.  It involves studying the texts and learning them by heart; then practicing and finally performing them for an audience (or 3). 
We have learned some techniques, talked about why it is important to do, discussed ways to incorporate storytelling in church activities, and learned some stories ourselves.  We now have a certificate to show that we have completed the seminar.  It is too bad that capturing storytelling with a still camera is so difficult. It has been fun and instructive to be a part of this group. And, we got a certificate for three days' participation.

Weaver birds have made MANY nests in a few trees near the cafeteria.  Some are a beautiful yellow color (males) and others are black (females).  Males weave these nests to attract a female, but if she doesn’t like it, he tears it apart and starts again!  I made her picture bigger than his because it is International Women’s Day after all…  (And, you can see the nests in the picture with the male.)
Falls near Kribi

Retreat session
Lizards of Kribi - colorful!
On the way here ELCA missionaries had a three-day retreat (including travel) at Kribi.  This is a town on the Atlantic Coast so we were on the beach!  It is much more humid both there and in Mutengené.  We were able to get to each other better, discuss some policy questions, reflect on our lives and work, and swim in the ocean!  Enjoyable. 

Tomorrow the six of us at the Storytelling Conference are going to Limbé, another coastal town 17 km. from Mutengené.  They have dark sand from past volcanic eruptions.  Should be fun. 

Sunday we head back to Yaoundé. Some people will head north Monday and some Tuesday or Wednesday.  All of us who work in CAR are headed back there.  Hurray!

No comments:

Post a Comment