Last Sunday, I traveled to Yaoundé – about 8 uneventful hours. I came to help facilitate a workshop about healing the wounds of trauma. This is the same seminar I attended in Bamenda (western, Anglophone Cameroon) in August. It was in English then.
This is also the same course that I taught at the Bible School in Garoua Boulai. In both GB and this time it was taught in French. As one of the facilitators, I got certified for the next level – I can now teach my own “Equipping Seminars.”
How does all this work? The purpose of the trauma healing groups is to accompany those who have faced trauma so that they can begin to heal. A large part of the process is learning to listen to them – without judgment or advice. Participants in the group find a safe place to share their stories and to help each other begin healing– as they also get more information about the process they are going through.
Leaders who want to organized healing groups attend an “Equipping Seminar,” which helps them better understand the lessons, the process used, and to get a little practice teaching others. After this first seminar and the experience of leading at least one group, a person can return to help teach the seminar in order to be able to lead one (independently or with others). There is an Advanced Seminar which gives further information about various topics covered and spends even more time refining teaching techniques. I have not yet taken that final step, but may have that opportunity in the summer.
I am very impressed with this Trauma Healing Course, written originally in Africa by SIL leaders and now run internationally by the Bible Society (including the American Bible Society). It is biblically based and also grounded in solid counselling/psychology practices. I have, in my limited time with the program, seen healing begin. And, of course, the need is intense in this part of the world. If all goes as planned, I will one of two facilitators for leaders of the Central African Evangelical Lutheran Church at the beginning of April. Obviously, their need is also great.
The workshop this week was sponsored by Open Doors International, an organization that supports Christians who are persecuted. The 27 participants were all part of a Christian denomination, CMCI (the French initials for the Christian Missionary Community International). These people are all based in Yaoundé and are anxious to start healing groups here in town.
One lesson we taught explored ways leaders can take care of themselves, especially when surrounded by trauma and when working with people whose lives are full of wounds caused by trauma. As you might imagine, one way is to relax, take some time off to get distance, and to interact with others socially. So, I did some of that, too, this week!
First, every day I went for a walk. The calmest and prettiest were around the compound of CTC/SIL where I was staying and where the workshop was held. I also walked along the main road sometimes (but no pictures of the exhaust fumes and scads of taxis, cars, and trucks).
Next, the Rain Forest International School (RFIS) staged their high school play this weekend and I had the chance to go Friday. This is the school where Christa Troester (daughter of my former next-door neighbors in Baboua, CAR) is currently a senior. In fact, she was the assistant director of “Barbequing Hamlet.” It turned out that another facilitator of the workshop, Ann, has sons who were part of the stage crew. When Ann mentioned the play during a coffee break, I jump at the chance to go – and basically invited myself along with her family. (She graciously accepted.) It has been a long timesince I was in high school (sigh), but I have been to many school plays over the years and love going. This one was well worth the effort! The tenth graders prepared dinner which was served in classrooms – ample food that was delicious. Then we watched the comedy about a community theatre that stages Hamlet – with advertisements added including a western setting with barbeque. The actors were great and the play totally enjoyable. Congratulations to the actors, directors, stage crew, set designers, cooks and everyone else who was involved. It is so good to laugh!
This morning I went to church (mostly in Gbaya) led by Pastor Ngimbe Nestor. I worked with him last year in GB when he was the director of the Bible School. He is now the parish pastor. Another pastor who teaches at the Bible School was staying at his house. I also got to see Pastor Ndende Ange, pastor from Baboua who is currently studying in Yaounde. And, I am now staying for a couple of days with the Langdjis. More time to visit and relax.
Tomorrow I have errands to run and then I head back to GB Tuesday. It has been a full schedule but productive and helpful. I am, however, looking forward to going back to less humidity – still hot, and the rains have restarted, but GB seems to be less humid and has more cooling breezes. (I won’t miss Yaoundé traffic either.)
May you find someone who listens, really listens, when you need healing of a heart wound. And, may you also provide the listening ear when someone around you has need.