Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Reflections

Two months ago I left Cameroon. I was exhausted and could rarely see the good and positive - though I knew it was there.  

Today - here and now - I am on the eve of my flight to return to Cameroon for the last time as a resident.  I am seeing snapshots in my mind - scenes of Cameroon’s lush countryside, of steep and rugged mountains, of sweeping vistas, of the black sand beaches of Limbe and the white sand beaches of Kribi.  I see the winding roads through the jungle.

I smell the scent of the wet jungle, I feel the sand and water between my toes, I hear laughter floating across the breeze.

Memories - times shared - conversations engaged - laughter, insights, dreams, trials, struggles, failures, successes.  Each image a story rich in culture, context, and sub-text.

Life is what happens when you aren't looking - or so they say.  But living and working in Cameroon for nearly five years I have been constantly aware of life in the making - here - and now.

I think of the people with whom we have shared this time: Cameroonians and non-Cameroonians.  People of similar faith and those with very different belief systems.

Images of my favorite places to hangout float through my mind: Arne’s; Capitol Hotel; A1-Complex; Gideon, the Shawarma guy; Bonga Juice; Clerks Quarters; and the Mediterranean.

I see Thanksgivings and Christmases and parties at our home and with friends at theirs.  I see quiet evenings and game nights.  I see failed game nights that turned into beautiful quiet evenings and spontaneous quiet evenings that became game nights.

I see church: fellowship meals, sermons, and energetic discussions.  I see the friends and colleagues who traveled far and near to visit.

I taste the many cooking experiments of our own making and that of our volunteers.  I can taste the oil and pepper in the black beans; the succulent chicken and tomato sauce; 

I remember the very day the first time I smelled the grass, February 14, 2010 after the first rain of the season.  I smell delicious food and the burnt aromas of forgotten popcorn or rice.

I feel the cold dampness of the rains; I feel the warmth of the sun and rejoice in the gentle breeze.  I feel the cool of each evening; 

My thoughts drift to the Health Centre, what was, what it has become, and thinking what it can yet be.  Much of this I am still processing.

Some speak of legacy - this time in Africa.  But it is only a drop in the bucket during a rainstorm in Buea.  The entirety of our life is our legacy: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Each of us is a gift to humanity - a gift of our talents, our time, and our skills.  We gift our interests and efforts.  Sometimes it is appreciated - sometimes not.  The quality of the reception of our gift need not change the gift.  The quality of the gift of ourself is our choice, not the choice of someone external to ourself.  

Let us encourage one another.  Because there are many days of struggle.  

Be courageous! Love with genuine affection.  Love the lovely and the unlovely.  Bless all with the gift of a life lived in and through Love.