Without the cold weather, the lights, and the commercials Advent feels different in Cameroon than in the States. Cameroonians who work with the Cameroon Baptist Convention mark the season by having a song and dance competition each morning the week before Christmas. I thought the songs and dances on the last day were the best, which also happened to be the last morning I was in Cameroon. I was able to capture one of the songs on video. It is from South Africa and the words translate to "He Walked With Us".
I reflected on those words and my experiences in Cameroon during the seven hour car trip from Bamenda to Douala. I thought about what those words, "He Walked With Us" mean to Cameroonians who walk so many places.
I pondered why in my list of Cameroonian contacts the names "Emmanuel" and "Emmanuella" meaning "God with us" are the most prevalent. I recalled the conversations I had with many Cameroonians during the past two weeks; many filled with challenges such as unexpected deaths, necessary surgeries, lack of job prospects, and few educational opportunities, but also hope. As one of friend said after our conversation about her current financial hardship, "I know God will provide. He hasn't failed us yet." And I remembered the words I shared earlier in the morning when I said goodbye to my colleagues after hearing the song. Now I don't recall exactly what I said but I remember thanking them for sharing their joy with me and thanking them for the work they are doing for their country. That I know the obstacles and challenges are many many, but what they are doing is making a difference and improving the health of many people.
Advent is different in Cameroon than in the States, but the message is the same, Jesus walked and walks with us. In the midst of our challenges and providing hope.
May the God of hope go with us everyday, filling our lives with love and joy and peace. May the God of justice speed us on our way, bringing light and hope to every land and race. Praying let us work for peace; singing share our joy with all; working for a world that's new; faithful when we hear God's call.
Argentine folk melody