Posted by: macahajo | August 15, 2014

Impressions of Yaounde

This week, we participated in SIL’s Cameroon Branch Orientation.  We are so thankful to SIL; that even though we are not a part of their organization, they have warmly welcomed us into their community, helped us in many ways, and invited us to their week-long orientation to learn more about Cameroon and how to do life here! The Cameroon Branch is SIL’s second largest branch in the world, second to that of Papua New Guinea.

During the sessions this week, we reviewed several topics, like Spiritual Disciplines and Culture Shock, that we learned about many, many years ago at Moody Bible Institute and more recently at ReachGlobal’s pre-field training.

We also learned brand new things specific to Cameroon, like what kind of water filters are best in Yaounde, where water has a high content of bacteria and mud. We learned about various insect bites and illnesses that we could potentially get due to the environment we live in, and how to treat them.  We learned about dress in Cameroon, which is highly valued here.  And we learned about the history of Christianity in Cameroon.

The first question they asked us on Monday was, “What are your impressions of Cameroon?”  Here are the top basic observations and impressions that came to my mind (specifically regarding Yaounde, Cameroon’s capital):

* There are many kind people, who are also patient as I learn French 🙂 And there are others in this big, busy city of Yaounde who we need to be careful of; we can’t trust everyone. We need the Lord’s discernment.  We don’t greet everyone on the streets of Chicago, and we don’t do that here either! Otherwise, they may ask us, “Do you know me?”!!

* There are many hard-working entrepreneurs.  People sell candy bars and tissue at the busy intersections. People walk around selling things that they make.  People have little boutiques, or shacks, where they sell all sorts of things.  Usually each week, when they come to our door, we buy from Papa John “the bread man” and Patrick “the apple man”.  We also buy from “the tortilla lady”. We are glad to support these Cameroonian brothers and sisters in their small businesses that provide an income for themselves and for their families!

* If there is an event, Cameroonians might play their music very loud, and it might last literally all thru the night! Yawn!

* There are many different kinds of beautiful flowers, shrubs, and trees.

* We often see men who relieve themselves on the side of the street.

* There is a lot of litter on the roads, and in the water ways.

* There are stray dogs on the roads.  Not only do we need to be cautious of stray dogs because there is a possibility that they could have rabies, we also need to watch where we’re walking, so that we don’t accidentally step on one of their messes.

* The roads are very bumpy and busy.  Sometimes, it takes us almost an hour to get into the center of down-town Yaounde. Other times, when traffic isn’t bad, it might take us twenty minutes!

* People don’t follow the same rules of the road that we do in the United States. A few interesting insights that were shared with us during the orientation helped me understand the Cameroonian’s driving perspective…  When asked which side of the road do you drive on, a Cameroon might reply, “The best side!”  In Cameroon, lane divisions are determined by speed and amount of traffic. And cutting off people is a strategy, not a sign of rudeness.

These are some of my early impressions of Yaounde, Cameroon.  We are thankful for several people who the Lord has brought into our lives to serve as cultural insiders… Cameroonians who teach us about their country and culture, and answer questions that we have.   We are observing more and more each day, and we are learning more and more each day about this diverse, beautiful country and people!  We are reminded of words that professors at Moody told us about experiencing different cultures; they would say, “It’s not bad, it’s just different.”  Some of the above impressions and observations have understandably caused frustration or other negative emotions, but we do try to hold our tongue and our judgements, because it’s not always bad, it’s just different! 😉

Thanks for praying for us as we continue to adjust to life in Africa,

Cathy Lynn





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