(Thanks to Amy Hansen and Max Buchholz for sharing the pictures they took during the youth gathering last week – some of which appeared in the last blog and some in this one.)
We talk about being flexible, but what does that mean? And, how easy is it to live with a frequent need to be flexible?
I thought I’d give you some recent examples. As you know from the last blog, I usually live by myself in the guest house in Garoua Boulai with the twin house next door empty. For four days last week there were 11 of us! We didn’t all share one bathroom (there were 2), but we ate meals at my house and had many of our meetings there. That calls for adjustment and flexibility!
Monday I drove to Yaoundé so that the three US visitors could catch a flight home. At first I planned to return the next day so I could attend a Church Workers’ retreat that started Wed. That plan didn’t work out, so I decided to stay a day in Yaoundé to be able to meet with Langdjis (regional representatives). So the plan was to leave Wed.
Then, we decided that there was too much to talk about so I would leave Thurs. Then we decided that since there was some maintenance work that needed to be done on the car and the mechanic could work on it Thurs., I would wait another day. Then Anne Langdji’s plans changed (see her flexibility example below), so I am now returning to GB with Drs. Solofo and Joely (who live in GB and are also currently in Yaoundé) on Saturday.
So! My overnight trip turned into 6 days! I thought to bring a week’s worth of malaria and other medicines and I brought some spare cash, in case. Clothes have been limited, but who will notice?!?
Because I have been here longer, I was able to go to the Bible Society Store in town to buy some Gbaya Bibles, got a couple of chargers for computers without them, bought a few non-essential items at the grocery store, met with some new people, and worked on a variety of projects – including the last blog entry and this one! I have also had the pleasure spending more time with Anne, Willie, their son Micah, and the others of their household.
Another area that is demanding flexibility are meetings scheduled for the end of November. Five representatives from South Dakota are coming for various activities in N’gaoundéré, Garoua Boulai, and other area towns. They will also attend the rededication of the hospital in GB (after renovations – see an early blog entry) to be held on Nov. 29. Others from the Cameroonian church will also attend the ceremony. At the same time, the CAR partners (from the US and Europe and a dozen church officials) are coming for their yearly consultation – to be held in GB because of the insecurity in CAR. Lots of people! Full guest houses, social center, meeting rooms, etc.!
Anne Langdji and Rev. Andrea Walker (who arrives from the US Nov. 16) were planning to take the train to N’gaoundéré. Then, Anne decided to take the train part way and get someone to meet them so they could visit a couple towns on the way. Then, she decided to drive (hence my leaving the car in Yaoundé), leaving Nov. 22. Then, she found out about meetings she needs to attend in N’gaoundéré Nov. 21-23. The final decision (as of today, of course), is that Anne and Andrea will drive to GB Nov. 20 and on to N’gaoundéré Nov. 21.
No sense getting set in one way of doing things! Of course, there are other areas of life that demand flexibility and patience – like sharing the road with cattle, goats, dogs, and occasional chickens!
Cars and trucks also share the road with motorcycles (many with drivers that are crazy – or at least non-licensed and ignorant of rules of the road). Many of these are loaded to the gills (do motorcycles have gills???) with people and merchandise. Even walkers have to be flexible – like the time I was walking against traffic (as is always recommended) and a motorcycle came up behind me going the wrong way! (And, the driver acted like I was in the wrong because I was in his way…)
Speaking of cars, I am often flexible about which one I am driving. In GB I often walk, but have also been driving a Toyota Land Cruiser with Central African license plates. To take this trip to Yaoundé I drove a newer Land Cruiser with Cameroonian plates. When I get back to GB, I will be driving a Toyota pick-up since Pr. Jackie took the one I normally drive to N’gaoundéré. I can say that while the vehicles change, they all have diesel engines and are BIG (as compared to what I have driven in the US).
We also have to be flexible about when we use the internet and how we access it. For 4 days before coming to Yaoundé my Camtel internet connection was down. (I sure hope it is fixed when I get back or I will be going back to the slower Orange Flash connection.) Here in Yaoundé Langdjis have a fast connection, but it was down for 24 hours Wed. It often goes out for short periods, but this was longer than usual. Just after Anne paid for time on her Orange Flash connection, the regular internet came back on. (I am actually writing this blog entry today because I can’t be sure my internet will be working when I get to GB. Better to do it while this connection is working!)
One final example: before we attended church last Sunday (with the youth), I checked with the pastor about the lessons we would read in English. He said they would be as noted in the official church list. When we got to the church, different lessons were posted (on the board behind the pastor in the picture) for the Old and New Testament lessons although the Gospel lesson was the same. And, although he had said he would read the Psalm in English, that day he asked that one of us do it. We can prepare, but…
I think I am being flexible, but can one judge about oneself? What challenges in your life have demanded extra flexibility lately?