This morning is a light one with not much responsibility for us. All of our team meets with our hosts at a local vocational/tech school for a quick tour and for G to meet the principal and introduce us to him. Our visit serves for G to follow up on a potential lead with this school for a possible partnership in the future - something like running an English camp with the students of the school and maybe paving the way for hosting future visiting teams to make that happen.
The tour of the school also gives our team more insight into what it means to be a Cameroonian student. This school teaches plumbing, concrete and masonry, woodworking and English and two of the Nav youthworker team have jobs here. They give us tours of their classrooms. The rooms are the size of an average American high school classroom, with just a chalk board in the front. They have rows of combination seat and desk furniture made out of wood. Other than that, that's it. No posters, no computers, no teacher's desk. Additionally, there are 150 students per room. Another stark aspect of how good we have it in America - one that makes an impact on our team. We also see the woodworking, masonry, plumbing and areas.
After the tour, we take a walk down the road to a little cafe where all of us eat lunch - a rotisserie chicken with fried plantains and sodas. This particular meal tastes a lot like an American meal - something right out of Boston Market.
Our plans for the afternoon will give us a really good feel for the actual quantitative success of the camp. Our team splits into three groups and we travel separately to the three homes that host the first small group follow up with the camp kids. Seeing how many camp kids show up to the first small group - and which ones - will really determine the quality of the camp and set a course for the next few months.
ESunde, BB, TriciaB and I travel with Cmfort via taxi. BB and ESunde have never ridden in a taxi before, ever. It's a fun ride, with two of us plus the driver in the front and three of them in the back - all in a Toyota Corolla.
Our small group meets at Karlls house - also the host home for NLind and LF. Karll is one of the many Nav youthworkers to watch - she loves Jesus and loves students and has a hugely warm and inviting disposition to her. Our small group goes well, with seven students showing up. Our time includes sharing verses or passages that have spoken to us recently, an extended time of prayer and talking a little bit about what future gatherings will include and look like. All in all, our small group had a great turnout. Hearing from the other groups, sounds like they had good turnout too.
Right after the small groups, all of us meet at the Nav center. For my group, it's a short walk from Karlls. All of the Nav team is also there and we have a little send off/thank you party to close our week here. The whole Nav team is there, even some people that are not based here in Yaounde.
It's an amazing time of singing, praying and listening to our team share. What most astounds me is how giving the Cameroonians are. They give each of us an incredibly detailed woven straw bag with intricate patterns, stitching, handles. To top it off, they present me for a gift for GCC - a wooden carving of the country of Cameroon that stands about three feet tall, with detailed outlines of each province, animals and a dedication plaque [see the Metapost for detailed images.] The initial thought that keeps running through my head is, "What an incredible, incredible gift!" When that thought finally wears away, I think, "Customs should be fun with this."
After our time there, ADress, CHayes and I go to Ptrs house, along with BB and GM, for dinner. BB and GM have lived there all week and have invited us so we can get a sense for a real Cameroonian home and meal. Dinner is potatoes, rice, beets, cole slaw and rooster. After dinner, we spend a little time with the extended family and their kids singing various praise songs and watching the kids dance. Apparently, every night is family night like this.
Family and community is an ongoing theme that impacts our team and tonight is one of the examples why. The sense of family and community is strong in Cameroon. You care about your neighbors in a sacrificial, engaged manner. Your extended family is family - in the strongest sense of the term - they are part of your social, spiritual and financial responsibility. As visitors, we are treated, well, like family. What would it mean for me, and my family, to extend this concept of community to those that we live around and to our real family? And how does this idea interact with the principle that "Cause Creates Community?"
Photos: ESunde, GM and AW in one of the classrooms and the votech school; the whole team at the Nav center; Mrtin, EllyK, LB, TriciaB and Rachel.