Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Bus Travel 
I got to take my first bus ride in Cameroon!  I arrived at the airport in Yaoundé on Sunday evening and left on an 8 a.m. bus the next morning.  Because I wanted a ticket for the VIP bus, we had to arrange for someone to buy it in advance.  The VIP buses are express ones that make very few stops – well worth the couple of extra dollars for the ticket; they are generally sold out early.  So, I took one going to Bamenda and coming back – different experiences.  (Sorry, I didn't think to take any pictures!)  The other option is the regular bus, which is similar/the same as the one I took to Bamenda, but it is the “milk route” – stopping many places and taking much longer.  

View from Cabtel 
(Bamenda is a town in Anglophone West Cameroon which is the capital of the province.  It is fairly large although I saw little of it.  Our seminar was held at the Cabtel (Cameroonian Bible translation organization) training center which is several miles from the center of town.)

Going to Bamenda, I was traveling alone since the training started Monday and others from Yaoundé traveled Sunday.  I had arranged with a taxi driver to get me to the bus station and someone connected to the seminar got my ticket early.  The bus was mid-size with windows that slide open.  On one side were three seats and on the other side of the aisle, two.  I have to say, though, that the seats were narrow.  Three adults across would leave little room to move (or breath, I think).  Fortunately, I was by the window and a man with his child (about 8 or 9) sat in the other two seats.  We were fairly comfortable.

The trip took about 7 ½ hours.  The road is paved and good for much of the distance.  Still, this is not paved superhighways like in the US.  They are two lane roads that go through towns.  There aren't the traffic lights that a comparable road in the US would have, but traffic, pedestrians, and speed bumps do require reduced speed through towns.

After about three hours we stopped in Makanene.  This seems to be the place where most buses stop.  There is a public bathroom and market.  One pays about $0.20 to use the toilet and gets toilet paper.  The toilets don’t seem to flush but the places was pretty clean.  Lots of snacks are available at the market: soya (grilled meat), oranges, bananas, vegetables, cookies, etc.  It is the town’s market which has some added stands catering to travelers. 

The worst of the road was around Bamenda – more pot holes.  A light rain had also started.  Still, it was an uneventful trip.

Leaving Bamenda, there were seven of us, all participants or leaders of the seminar.  One person got the tickets the day before.  This time it was a big bus with two seats on each side of the aisle.  More seat and leg room too.  These windows did not open, but there were two sun roofs which were opened; air circulated well when we were moving.  This trip took about 15 minutes less time, but that was because we stopped for 15 minutes less in Makanene.  The seats were definitely more comfortable.  Also an uneventful trip.  J

Trauma Healing Seminar
There is so much trauma in the world – grief, displacement, domestic violence, war, rape, suicide (trauma for the person before the act and for those close to the person afterwards).  We need information and ways to help those facing trauma to heal.  This seminar developed by SIL and now organized/managed by Bible Societies (such as the American Bible Society) is a wonderful resource. 

We attended the “Equipping” seminar which is designed for people who may, in the future, teach others the process.  At the same time, we experienced the lessons and learned how to lead a Healing Group.  Now that we have finished this part, we are each to run at least one healing group in our community.  Next summer we will get together again for the Advanced Seminar at which time we can be certified to train others. 

The course has 11 lessons (although new ones are being added for topics such as domestic violence and suicide).  Five are core lessons and required; the others are optional and are chosen according to the needs of the participants.  The method of teaching includes a lot of small group participation as people tell their stories and consider different aspects of trauma and its consequences.  This includes learning to listen, finding ways to pray, and talking about forgiveness of those who cause the trauma.  

Each lesson lasts about 90 minutes.  We were also given basic instructions for organizing and running a healing group.  This process enabled healing to start for participants of this seminar and also equipped us to teach the basic course.  Participants included pastors, those who work with widows and/or orphans, and teachers, about 30 in all including the 6 presenters (who also participated – one per small group).

Each day we were provided breakfast (dry bread, coffee, and tea), lunch, two breaks, and dinner.  The meals were African food often with greens and ground nut or squash seed sauces, lots of plantains, some rice, and fruit – watermelon and bananas.  I enjoyed it. (Well, to be honest, the not-high quality bread with nothing on it for breakfast got old, but it did break the fast and give energy for the morning!)  

Patience, roommate

Dormitory Building
Laura, roommate

We stayed in dormitory rooms, very small by US standards.  There was a double bed, two bunk beds, two small tables (with one desk lamp) and one chair.  With this furniture there was little extra floor space to move around and no easy place to put a suitcase.  There was a small bathroom off the bedrooms – two bedrooms share one bathroom with a door to each.  I was glad to have running water for a sink, toilet, and shower just off the room.  (Other dorm rooms have at least the toilet in the hall outside the rooms.)  There is a button that is supposed to turn on the hot water, but it didn't.  Even with a shower, I find it more comfortable to take a bucket bath with cold water…  Still, we could be clean.

Bamenda is in the hills of western Cameroon.  That means that the temperatures are cooler than Yaoundé and the south and warmer than places (like Ndop) that are higher in the hills.  Temperatures were probably in the 60s although when the sun shone it was probably in the 70s.  A light jacket or sweater was appropriate for the mornings – and some wore them all day.  We used a blanket at night.

I am looking forward to organizing and leading a Healing Group when I get back to Garoua Boulai.  I am sure there is need, especially with the number of Central African refugees in town.  We also hope to train Central Africans in the process so that trauma healing can begin in that country still torn by killing, looting, and extortion.  Five EEL-RCA members were to attend this seminar, but could not get visas in time.  Fortunately, SIL is organizing another Trauma Healing Seminar in Bangui in November.  It will be in French, even better for church members.  And, maybe we can have more people participate.  The need is great.

Please continue to pray for peace in CAR.  It would be great if you could add Healing Groups and those facing trauma to your prayers.  We all need support in this process. 

Good News Update!

The Village School Program’s yearly teacher training starts today!  Despite continued insecurity and difficulties in the country, the church’s work continues.  It is our plan that the village schools start on time.  Pray for safe travel and open minds for the teachers and presenters during their two week training period.


  1. It sounds like a really worthwhile experience. I'm glad you were able to participate. I'm glad to hear about the Village Schools!

  2. I'm glad you could attend that conference. I have a friend who works in Niger (Linda Watt) who attended as well. I taught her daughter and son when we lived in Niger from 2007 to 2009.