The day was a rich culmination of simple experiences with no photos. I do not take photos often because I am not a tourist. Do you have a special black and white snap of your older, late relatives? I have one of Grandma Elizabeth and Grandpa Knox McCalla on their wedding day. That picture taken in the front yard of the house I and my dad grew up in means more than a thousand color photos of them. I desperately have to cling to the details of it to recall the image. The flowering bush behind them is white and not because the photo is black and white. Common around Iowa. Fragrant, like honeysuckle with simple little white flowers in clusters. I used them to make crowns when I played pretend princess. I did not realize how tall my grandmother was until I saw that photo, or how much dad looks exactly like grandpa whom I never had the pleasure to know. They look content with the world. They were modest, lovely and had just laughed at something.
In special moments here, I want to put them in a bottle to share with everyone at home. A photo would be an injustice. Words are the best I can do without you coming to see for yourself (which you should)!
At church they announced the official engagement of Brother Godlove who diligently cares for our church in Bamenda by living on the compound. A fantastic guy who found a sidekick who loves him! They are later in life with children. Not sure of the story but I wanted to join the ornately dressed church women as they danced behind his fiance to the front of the church for the announcement. They danced, shouted, sang and hailed her as a queen and everyone joined in. Happy people are good medicine. Especially in Cameroon.
After church we took the Children’s Home kids to see progress on the new land. Since ground was moved we can clearly imagine where structures will go; their future home. The sun was hot and it was a bit dusty as we edge the beginning of dry season but the day was perfect. A year ago last week the team from First Baptist Church and Harvest Fellowship in Clarinda (and abroad) who came to Bamenda trekked the potential land in Bambui to pray over it. Today we own it and are building. God has provided abundantly despite serious obstacles! Over 40 HHCH kids, staff, Schilinskis and friends held hands to pray and thank God for what he has given us! Then we explored…
I begged the older girls to go down to the mountain stream at the bottom of the land. Once we fought our way through tall grass and steep, slippery banks we got to the water’s edge. It was too deep to enter safely and I was unsure if a waterfall was near- a force to be reckoned with. We moved upstream to shallow water. I wore a dress and Keens which became amphibious attire. I tried to stay dry by tying up my skirt but conceded by sitting in the creek to give swimming lessons. (Sidenote: few Cameroonians know how to swim. Either they hold beliefs water should be revered, left unhindered or simply are not near “swim-able” water to learn.) The girls squealed at me for standing in the water. Then curiosity overtook them and they joined. Soon we were up to our knees! Some of the small boys came upon our oasis and watched until they joined! One of the youngest asked from the dry bank “Auntie may I take my clothes off and come in?” I said “do you have pants (underwear) on?” He smiled his ornery, toothy 7-year old grin and started shedding. Suddenly I was surrounded by many more non-swimming children splashing around in their undies. I got to sit while they held on to my arms to practice kicking against the current. It was strong so I held tight to their ice-cold hands. Despite teeth-chattering there was no getting them out of the water until the bus threatened to leave.
At a point of reprieve from impromptu swimming lessons I took a mental picture never to forget. I was sitting in the creek as the current pulled my dress like a kite in a strong wind. Securely wedged into an underwater, stone chair I would not get swept away. I looked toward the direction of the creek path and saw a massive mountainside. Thick tropical foliage boasted a giant wall to where I imagined the creek to run, above horizon level: thick vines, palm trees, giant-leafed plants, boulders and no ground to be seen. It felt like an Indiana Jones movie. The snapshot was interrupted as I got dog-piled by the kids now impatient waiting for more swimming lessons. We continued enjoying the cold, clear, rushing water somewhere in a mountain stream on a piece of land God gave us in Africa. While my future and purpose in Cameroon are unclear, I thank God for the here and now. These moments make the uncertainty totally worth it.