Postlude

I am now in Paris and doing well.  It is raining here, but I do not really care.  After over 2 days with no sleep, I slept for the better part of the day.  It felt so good!  I took time to exchange some money and get my phone updated, but that is all I have done.

As I look back, I thought I would take a few minutes to answer some of the questions you have asked me.

What is your favorite thing about Cameroon? Well I think I would have to answer that my favorite part is the people.  They are very warm, open, and loving.  They welcome you on  the street with big smiles, even though it was quite obvious that I am a foreigner.  Second to that is the fruit.  Fresh fruit is everywhere, from bananas to papayas to pineapples to plantains.  There are carrots and yams and peanuts (ground nuts) in abundance.  In short, there is so much food in Cameroon that they feed the 5 neighboring countries.  It was really quite amazing.  Another thing I loved was the attitude of the church about theological education.  If accepted as a ministerial candidate, the church then took over putting you through seminary and seeing to your probationary period and finally, ordination.

What surprised you? Well, here I have to be a bit delicate.  But I would have to say it was the lack of public rest rooms.  Installation of more would definitely help improve sanitary conditions.

What is the weather like? This question is kind of like asking what the weather was like in Texas.  In the northwest, and in higher elevations such as Buea,  it was really quite cool and nice.  In the areas closer to the coast, I found it quite hot and sticky.  I could not believe how much I perspired, despite growing up in Houston.  In all areas, it rained every day, but this, I am told, is seasonal, and will soon stop.

What is the hardest thing to deal with? This one is a bit harder to explain and must be experienced, but I would say that it is the Cameroonian endless patience.  I know it is a virtue, and I know that I have a lot to learn in that respect.  But, they are very willing to wait on things Americans would not.  By this I mean that in the northwest, the roads are terrible.  It is a shame and quite a drain to the national economy that products cannot get to market.  Electricity and water in some parts are sporadic.  Most church buildings had unfinished parts.  Whenever I asked about it, I got the answer, “We are still working on it.”    People got houses barely livable and then moved into them.  It took many years to finish them, but they do not go into debt.  I see the virtue in that, but I realize how American I am, and how little patience I have.  And I am wondering if sometimes patience might not be a vice instead of a virtue.  In conversations about this, I was told that Cameroonians realize that the only alternative to patience is war, such as is common in their neighbors.  These are a peace loving people, even if it sometimes comes at great personal cost.

How does Cameroon compare with Malawi? This question was asked to me quite often.  In some ways they are quite alike.  I have noticed that in Africa, in general, the people love to get together and talk at great lengths about politics and local situations and ongoing problems.  They have a level of personal discussion and interaction we have lost in America.  At first glance, the many of the towns and villages look very similar.  They both share the same sense that their own government is quite corrupt, and this is quite difficult.  They also share a love of music and tremendous singing.   However the differences are quite vast.  Cameroon is much more prosperous.  In Malawi, I was aware that every meal I had meant that someone else would not eat at that meal.  They considered it a great honor to offer it and to reject it would have been a great insult.  In Cameroon, food was abundant and the people were plump and for all the stresses they have, finding food was not the chief one.  The attitude towards alcohol was also quite different.  In Malawi, it was rarely even seen, and especially not in church.  It was a luxury that was just not available even if it was considered acceptable behavior.  In Cameroon, alcohol was quite abundant, even by American standards.  We were never welcomed in a home without being offered it.  Having beer and/or wine was simply an expected part of life.  I think it is because the country has a very significant German influence.  There was also a lot more infrastructure in Cameroon, even if its operation was sometimes questionable.  Cameroonian churches, while certainly more basic according to American standards,  were a lot more ornate than Malawian churches.  The PCC, while still needing help, had a much better supply of  clergy than the CCAP did.

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