Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Tuesday Aug 1 - Day 7

Today is our last full day of camp as we leave for Yaounde tomorrow afternoon. We've told our team repeatedly to not squander our time here and to continue pouring into their new friends as much as they can. They are doing a great job of just that. This morning, EllyK and TriciaB talk about their spiritual disciples - how they journal, read the Bible and spend time with God. A basic goal of the camp is that some of these students understand a little bit better on how to have some base spiritual disciplines. Of course, EllyK and TriciaB do a great job. They naturally tell their stories and the other students listen intently. EllyK's blond hair helps. Two to watch in the future.

I'm a bit under the weather today - feeling groggy all day long. On most trips I run, I get into a rut around this time - day 6 or 7. I spend most of the afternoon trying to sleep it off. By the early evening, I'm running a slight temperature. Camp goes on fabulously without me. I've been smart though - I chose some fabulous leaders that go on without me. I have zero concerns about their ability to serve and lead. The evening has the camp doing a talent show with all of the teams performing some kind of skit or music. From all accounts, it was a great time.

Typical breakfast is some kind of baguette with peanut butter or chocolate spread. This culture is one that is not stressed out about time. In fact, time is more or less a suggestion. It is more important to make an appearance than to actually be punctual. I wrote before about the handshake between men. Women are greeted by two or three kisses to the cheek, alternating sides. So, a kiss on the left cheek, than right, than left again. It's cool. There is an underlying religious element to Cameroonians, many go to church but are not serious about Jesus. They may know the Bible very well, but may not be very serious about it. Kids don't have inherent value in the culture - that's why there really isn't much for them to do. Every story in Cameroonian fashion must have a moral to it. The idea of Seinfeld - a show about nothing - makes no sense. Music is huge, Cameroonians love to sing. Cameroon is the 2nd most corrupt nation in the world. It is also the 2nd most stable country in Africa. Many non-government organizations - charity and relief and development organizations - have their African headquarters here in Cameroon.

One question that must be asked is whether this trip has been worth the expense. Our overall costs were roughly $30,000 - the bulk of that due to airfare. With a team of twelve and spending 11 days in-country, that works out to a burn rate of about $200 per day per person. Granted the longer you stay, since the costs in-country are so low, the better your value. Is running this kind of camp, building these relationships and encouraging our missionary family worth $200 a day? Missions is not untouchable - it is unrealistic to say that as long as it is missions, it is inherently good and valid. Each trip needs to be critically assessed to make sure that the investment is wise. One of the best ways to do hedge our bets regarding our investment is to work with missionaries that we know and trust - ones that also know us. Another great way is to put the experience together in partnership - knowing what talents and gifts each party or team bring to the experience. Finally, we make sure that our hosts know at the beginning of the conversation that they can decline to host a team if it doesn't work for their ministry in the significant context or time.

Was this trip worth it? Was it wise and a good investment of our time and resources and not just a token missions trip? We get our answer later this week.

Photos: EllyK, TriciaB and G talking from up front, the human knot game, playing on the beach at sunset at Kribi.

20060726Cameroon photoset

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