Monday, December 10, 2007

After the dedication

After the dedication ceremony was a feast to top all feasts! What a treat!My dad is clearly excited about his plateAnd here's my plate - it may look different to you, but it was very good. (Bibiane was in charge of cooking - how could it not be?)After the feast, we had just enough time to run down to the Likini and back. The Likini is a stream with a set of beautiful waterfalls that we used to hike down (2 miles) to with picnic lunch, a hammock, and swimsuits. So many fun memories. My dad and I hightailed it down with two Vute friends, and got back just before dark.The grass is so tall you have to walk with your arms in front of your face for protection. Yes, this is the path.My dad and I sitting on a log beside the falls. Absolutely beautiful, eh? And the water is so fresh and cold!That night, dinner was at the mayor's house, and was very fancy. The man my parents are talking to is the new director of the jail, and the head of the district of Yoko and his wife are in the upper right hand corner of the picture.You might wonder where so many foreigners stayed in a small village. There are two little "auberges", like hostels, that are pretty good, and we stayed in a private house, owned by a Madame Mbiatta, whose husband was very high up in the president's political party before he died. The house is quite nice!We left to go back to Yaounde early on Monday, but had to stop by and say goodbye to Bibiane again.Yoko looks much the same as it did when I saw it as a 10 year old in 1985, as a 20 year old in 1996, and as a 32 year old in 2007. I hope I get back to see it again before I'm 40!

The dedication ceremony

We all assembled early Sunday morning to be in our places, but as usual, there were some last minute preparations. :) This included trucking the benches over from the church for the spectators. The grandstand, which was built by hand the previous week!The mixed Catholic and Protestant choir marching in My parents sitting in their places - I'm so proud of them!!
Me sitting in my place, with some of the other members of Wycliffe that came for the dedication.I must really have been enjoying something!The dedication ceremony lasted 5 hours, with many speakers, and the choir performed many songs.
Pastor Songsare expounding - and speaking out against corruption and lack of leadership.My dad and Jim Maxey both gave short speeches in Vute, and the people absolutely loved it!!
Jim Maxey and the two Vute men who worked most closely with him on the translation.The translation was a huge team effort - my family, the Maxeys, Pere Michel, and numerous Vute people who worked on it with them all. Everyone involved in the translation was presented with a certificate and a New Testament. Here my parents receive their certificate...
...and their New Testaments!I bought mine in the "auction" to help the Bible Society raise money. This guy was one of my classmates in the village preschool. Bibiane helped by mom cook, clean, and take care of us, and considers me one of her own kids. She's an amazing woman!Aline is Bibiane's daughter - we grew up playing together, so I guess that makes her my sister. The little girl is Aline's other sister's daughter. :)

Welcoming the New Testaments on Saturday night

At sundown, the truck carrying all the Vute New Testaments drove into the village.

We had all assembled at to process into town with it. All our vehicles lined up behind it, and hundreds of people accompanied it into the center of the village singing, drumming, and dancing.
The procession at the town center, driving past the market place.
The truck and the crowd arrived at the church, which is just off the town center, where all the chiefs were waiting. The Vute pastor (Songsare) who had invited my parents to come work in Yoko did the traditional spear dance and made a presentation to the chiefs, saying that God's Word had now come to the Vute. Then each chief got up and danced with the spear around the cloths that the women had spread on the ground in front of them, as sort of a red carpet. (A couple of them hasd lain themselves down as well!)
A good sized crew helped unload the boxes of New Testaments into the Vute Literature Center, which is across from the church.Here's a stack!
After that, the women got to dancing and singing again.
Pam Maxey, my mom and I joined in.
Lovin' it, red eyes and all! That night was dinner at the chapel of the high school. My parents were seated up front with the bigwigs and director of SIL in Cameroon... ....while I got to sit in the back with my buddy Scott Clark (he goes with Ruthie). He's wearing the t-shirt that was made for the occasion.After dinner, there was a concert. All over Cameroon, if someone is giving a very good performance, people dance up and stick coins on their sweaty foreheads. This gal has quite a collection

Arriving in Yoko

The family that finished the translation, the Maxeys, lived in this house, owned by Mr. Taaly, who welcomed all their rowdy Americans guests in for a couple days. :) Here we've taken over the living room. There was a small contigent both from my parents' organization and from their church.
Mr. Taaly and Pere Michel, the French Catholic priest who spent 27 years serving in Yoko and is a good friend of my family, comparing tummies.

Yoko is built along hill ridges (very defensible in old days), and the surrounding country is beautiful.
The house we lived in when I was little!
I stopped by the district hospital and met with the health officer there for awhile. He was very nice, answered my questions, and even printed(!) the last three months worth of statistics they send in every month - population, cases of malaria, hospitalised cases of malaria, etc. - which I found very interesting!!
Here is the Lutheran church - which we went to. It was the only Protestant church.My dad and a man they taught to type in the 1970s - he since got a government job, served 19 years, and is happy to have a pension now that he's retired!The Norwegian mission house we used to stay in at Christmas - a little worse for the wear. All of my dream houses incorporate some element of this architecture.The Saturday noon meal for all the invited guests, Cameroonian and otherwise, took place at the Catholic mission. Yummy Cameroonian food!!In the afternoon, we stopped by the highschool where the women were cooking the evening meal, and brought them 2.5 gallons of cooking oil. :) Many had known me well, and posed for a picture with them. When I was little, the Vute figured out that I had been conceived in Yoko, and nicknamed me Yoko. I enjoyed being called by my old nickname. It's incredibly meaningful to me

The Road to Yoko

The village I lived in as a little girl is about 180 miles north of Yaounde, but that takes all day, sometimes more than 12 hours. A couple days after I got to Cameroon, we set off for Yoko.
Driving through the forest in beautiful, and there's a fair amount of good pavement for the first 1/3 of the journey.
Soon, you come to the Sanaga, which we used to cross by ferry. It's a large, majestic river, and a Tarzan film from the 70s was filmed in the forests along it. The bridge across it is not so majestic, but seems to be sort of holding its own. :)
Everyone has to get where they're going somehow, but I doubt this was what this goat had in mind for the day. :)
This giant tree had fallen across the road. Fortunately it had been cut and cleared before we got there. When I was little, we once had a tree close this size across the road that we had to deal with!
We traveled in a caravan with other folks who had come for the dedication - here we are stopped for lunch along the road. Seven herds of zebu were driven by while we were stopped.
Puddles of this size are fairly easily dealt with. Ones like this - not so much! This one was made over the course of the rainy season by many logging trucks all getting stuck and spinning their wheels, and is now deep enough to swallow a Corolla. Fortunately, they had bulldozed a way around several days earlier.Unfortunately, a logging truck had already gotten stuck in the detour!
The clue that we're getting closer to Yoko - but the district of Yoko is so huge that this sign is actually still close to 100 miles away from Yoko!Mt. Fui, an inselberg (like Stone Mountain, GA), is about 30 km from Yoko. It's sacred to the people of this village, but with permission, they'll let you climb it.The last few kilometers before Yoko is a spectacularly beautiful teak forest - when you see the teaks, you know you're almost there!And on the way into Yoko, the banner advertising the dedication - the slogan was "A work of unity among Christians. A unique event for the Vute people" - not that the unity is unique, but Yoko has been blessed by very fruitful collaboration between the Catholics and the Protestants, who worked together on the translation.