Tuesday, August 4, 2015

What is a birthday?

Cake and ice cream...party… candles… celebrating another year of life – or trying to ignore the increasing number of year…  Yep, birthdays!

Yesterday was my birthday.  It is the first time I have spent it in Cameroon; the other years I have been working here, I arranged to be on vacation and to spend it with family and friends in the USA.  It is interesting to me, being in Garoua Bouali this year, to reflect on some differences.

First, it strikes me that the country (the US) that makes the most of birthdays is also the one that most fears, or at least visibly fights against aging! Birthdays count off the years.  They mark us getting older.  But the can also be a lot of fun!

Birthdays are not generally celebrated in Cameroon.  Some people, especially those born in villages, in fact, don’t know the date they were born. 

So, how does someone from a birthday-celebrating culture mark her birthday in a non-celebrating one?  With a mixture of things, of course!

I decided that instead of making a cake, I would make ginger cookies (one of my current favorites). Then, I shared them with friends and colleagues, sometimes mentioning my birthday, sometimes not. 

I also invited the Bible School staff and students who are currently in town (about 40%) to stop by for a beer.  I didn’t mention my birthday at the time of the invitation.  Then, the next day I found out that the current director is being sent to teach in the Bible School in Meng.  So, the get-together became a farewell for him, as well.  When I issued the (verbal) invitations, I was thinking that the third was Tuesday, so these friends are coming today.  Can a party be “late” if it is the one with the birthday got confused on the day??  Yes, I will mention my birthday as I give out cookies… 

I had the material that I was given during the installation of the new president and vice-president of EEL-RCA made into a dress.  Here’s the picture of me in the dress with the woman who made it standing beside me.

Note:  I continue to struggle to find a tailor who can make something to fit.  The last two times I emphasized that I don’t like things to be too tight, so I got tents.  Sigh.  I am convinced that people don’t really learn to tailor; they just get a sewing machine and learn to operate it.  They often know that they need to take measurements, but then don’t know how to translate those into garments that fit.  Ah, well, I am supporting the local economy in having things made – and wide is more comfortable than can’t-breathe tight!

I also called and talked to Mom – she who gave me life!  I got lots of greetings by email and Facebook, too.  My sister Janet even sent me a recording of the birthday song sung by her, her husband Kent, and their son Nate who also played the piano!  I felt like I was standing by the piano in Philadelphia!  (Here’s a picture of Nate dressed up for the prom several months ago. Handsome guy!)  I really appreciated all the contact as the situation in CAR is worse again which is hard for me emotionally.  (I can only imagine how much worse it is for those living with it.) I appreciate the prayers and support from friends and family.  


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  2. Thank you again - thank you for our friendship, as we mellow in age. Yes, fine tailoring, even with a model is where? But, we are supporting - love the outfit. My prayers are continuing for you and CAR - hugs out of Canada

  3. Greetings and Happy belated B-day.
    I commemorated your special Day here in Northfield MN.

    Blessings in your continuing ministry.

    Carl Johnson