As 2016 starts, I am reflecting on how much I appreciate those around me who have opened their homes and families to me when I could not be with my own. For many holidays in Pittsburgh, I did not travel to be with my parents or siblings. A couple of good friends regularly invited me to celebrate with them. This year in Garoua Boulai the same thing happened on New Year’s Eve. Gbabiri David had a family reunion that day/evening but still opened his house to a couple of us who were away from family. I am very grateful to David and his family – and I had a great evening!
In Cameroon, the President, Paul Biya, makes a speech on New Year’s Eve. (I can’t imagine a US president doing that – people are too intent on partying Dec. 31 and watching football Jan. 1 – hence our state of the union address later in January…) It was shown at 8 p.m. followed by a round table of people discussing the content and interviewing people from around the country. At the end of that program, his message was broadcast again. We didn’t see his speech (either time) but did see part of the analysis, including a message from the mayor of Garoua Boulai. The mayor is Lutheran and often attends the same French service that I do. When I saw her yesterday, she commented on my not having been in church New Year’s Day. (I admit it; after having gotten home at 2 a.m., I slept in and then got off to a slow start on Jan. 1!) I agreed that I had not been present, but that I had seen her on television Dec. 31. She said, “Well, then, you are really Cameroonian!”
|Bible School students at my house (with me)|
I decided that during this holiday season, I would reach out to more people in Garoua Boulai, so on different days these people came to my house for a meal: Elisabeth, the wife of a doctor at the hospital here who is currently completing a training program in Mbingo; Marie Chantal, a doctor who has been at the hospital in GB for about a year (whose husband is studying in Ottawa); and Solofo and Joely, the two Malagasy doctors in town (who also invited me to their house Jan. 1). The Bible School students who didn’t go to their home districts also came for a drink and meal (that they prepared) on Jan. 1. They brought music, too! (I took few pictures this holiday season; instead I spent more time enjoying the company I was with.)
This weekend, I am hobnobbing with the “elite.” Yesterday, the regional bishop and his wife went to dinner with me. While at the restaurant we saw the mayor who invited us to dine at her house today! I can’t imagine being in the same “crowd” in Pittsburgh, but GB is a smaller town – and the bishop lives across the street from me, so I see him often.
I found out during this holiday that the Cameroonian brewery has developed a new beer called Tango that is a mixture of Beaufort (a lager they already made/make) and grenadine. Had they told me in advance what it was, I might not have tried it. I can definitely say that mixing beer with a fruit drink does not work for me! But, I can now say I have had one. We have to be open to trying new things, right??
I leave you with a picture of part of the Christmas decorations from church. They make arches of tall palms and then add hibiscus flowers and ribbons. There were arches outside the front door, on the pillars near the front of the pews, and on the wall behind the altar. (They also had a small, artificial (dare I say tacky?) Christmas tree with lights and decorations at the side of the altar. Needless to say, I prefer the natural decorations. Aren’t the flowers gorgeous? Not traditional for Christmas in Pennsylvania, but then, I live in the tropics!
May 2016 bring you opportunities to grow and stretch. May all of our actions contribute to more peace in the world this year than last.
Oh, and, happy 9th Day of Christmas!