First Impressions

The guest house looks out over a very urban city. It sits between the old airport and a brewery down a bumpy dirt road. This is the place where most ELCA personnel are greeted if they venture to Yaounde Cameroon. It was my home away from home from Thursday until Tuesday when I moved into a small apartment in the Efoulan section of the city. I am still amazed how people find their way around here with no street signs and nothing that can be mapped on mapquest or a gps device. It reminds me of just how much we, from the west, take for granted.

View from porchMy apartment also has a view of the city from the porch. It is on the back side of the brewery about ten minutes away by taxi. Anne found me a driver name Vincent who will pick me up and take me where I want to go with a few hours notice. He drives a small Toyota and is a very careful driver. I am not quite ready yet to experience the normal mode of transportation in Yaounde, shared taxis. (I’ll write about that another day.) My uncle posted on my Facebook page and warned me to look out for the culture shock. I am way beyond that.

Anne also found me someone to help with learning French and some of the culture shock. Il s’appelle Jean Roger. He is a twenty-five year old Cameroonian who has worked with the Peace Corps here in Yaounde for years. He is smart and very patient. At this writing, I have had fourteen hours of lessons, can introduce myself and recognize some phrases. I have paper taped all over the apartment so I might see, recite and remember some of what Jean Roger is trying to teach me. He is a delightful teacher who also explains the traditions, politics and problems in Cameroon.

I have not only come to Cameroon to learn French but also to serve. My first Sunday here, I visited a Lutheran congregation with visitors from Wisconsin.  There have been a few meetings with members of the Lutheran Church in Cameroon and the Lutheran Church in Central African Republic that I have sat in on. These churches, and the people are the reason I am here; to participate in the work of accompaniment with companion churches is what I have been called to do for Global Mission.Christmas Elf 017

I have also been privileged to meet a member of the EEL-RCA Rev. Dr. Antoinette Yindjara who is the first woman from the Central African Republic to receive a Ph.D in Theology. Meeting her and getting to know her will be one of the highlights of my time in Africa. She has surmounted obstacles and challenges, that we would not believe to obtain this degree. Yet, she does not wear these challenges. The one thing you notice when you meet Dr. Yindjara is that she has a ready smile and an engaging demeanor. I hope to have many conversations with her, me struggling with French and her with English.

These are my first impressions of Yaounde Cameroon and my first impressions of Africa. Pray for me. I am westafricabound.

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Christeen Arthur
    Jan 28, 2013 @ 14:39:49

    Il s’appelle Jean Roger! So glad that you are well and seem to be settling in. Praying daily for your safety and success. Blessings.-CEA


  2. thelordbewithyou
    Jan 28, 2013 @ 14:57:16

    Oh …to be the with you…my rusty French…your beginning French…we might be able to find a coke and a bathroom. Chris


  3. Mary Paulson Ruedisili
    Jan 28, 2013 @ 19:11:38

    What fun to read your jottings, Andrea. I am Anne L’s mother, so I can relate to lots of what you’re doing. Certainly Antoinette is a gift to the global church, and I am glad you are getting to know her. Please greet her from me. She came to a Global Mission Event in Montana one time. Ask her about it! It was very cool. Blessings to you in your life and your work.


  4. James Thomas
    Jan 29, 2013 @ 11:53:11

    Thanks for keeping a record. You are living into, and making history.


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