Monday, December 31, 2012

You Have Come to Flash Our Eyes

"My Sister, how long will be staying?" my friend Doris asked.
"I am leaving the day after tomorrow."
"Waay, so you have come just to flash our eyes?"

Doris at the LAP Center.  Don't let the t-shirt confuse you, she is one of the kindest people I know.
Indeed, I was in Cameroon over the Christmas holiday to "flash" my Cameroonian friend's eyes.  And it was wonderful.  I had no intention on spending my Christmas break in Cameroon.  My original plan was to visit Cameroon in May or June when the weather there is absolutely perfect, but what has been a recurring scenario during the last five years, I've returned to Cameroon sooner then I expected.  I was going to spend the Christmas break visiting a friend in Malawi, but the flight schedule kept changing and finally just became too ridiculous to even attempt traveling across the continent.  My housemate convinced me that I needed to get out of Niger for the holiday and brought me to an airline ticket office where I bought a roundtrip ticket to Cameroon, departing four days later.  And it all worked out, not exactly the way I thought it would, but it did, just like it always does in Cameroon.  Like arriving at the bus station in Douala to find out there were no available buses departing from Bamenda and thus forced  to catch a ride with some random stranger or planning to take Peter and the kids swimming, but instead attending a death celebration complete with cultural dancing.

Ju-ju dancing at the Death Celebration

Although unexpected, the day was a good opportunity to spend time with Eunice's children and hold little Kate once more.

Little Kate and Sister Kate

Babila and my "cool" sunglasses

All of that dancing makes us very tired

On Christmas Eve day I took Peter and the kids shopping to buy "shiny clothes" for the following day. 

New "shiny" clothes for Christmas

I spend Christmas day with my friend Elsie, from Canada, and a few other missionaries.  Elsie is the kind of friend who you can call the day before and say you are coming and she will immediately open her home to you.  It was a wonderful day of good food and fellowship.

But that of course was not the only day I ate good food.  Many Cameroonians asked me what I was eating in Niger and tried to describe to them how little can grow in the desert.  They immediately said to  me, that means Cameroon is very blessed.  We have so much food!  I couldn't have agreed more.
For my arrival in Kumbo Emmanuella prepared my favorite Cameroonian food!

After my days in Bamenda I traveled to Kumbo to visit friends and see my new namesake. 

Franklin, Baby Carol, Kate, Baby Kate

As was expected, I was warmly greeted and enjoyed feeling cold and reminded of the beauty in the highlands of Cameroon.

My welcome sign at the Little Stone Lodge

Lake Oku
When I was on the plane from Niger to Cameroon, I met a man who works for a Maritime Security Company.  He asked me about my work and life and where I consider "home."  I told him that I don't really know.  Before he got off the plane in Lagos he gave me a toothbrush and told me to leave the toothbrush in the place that I feel most at home.  The morning I left the "Little Stone Lodge" in Kumbo,  I left this toothbrush in a drawer.  As has been the case in the past, I may be reclaiming that toothbrush earlier then I planned.

Home is, of course, not simply a physical place.  It is a sense of belonging, of remembering, and being remembered, put back together again when our journeys into the world have fractured and fragmented our sense of self.