Is This For Real?

Our lives here in Cameroon are becoming our “new normal” but every once and a while we look at one another and say, “Is this for real?” Here are some funny examples…

Daily Comings and Goings
The other day, I looked out our window and there was a 50-something year old woman with her dress lifted up, squatting in the middle of our lawn relieving herself. We have since posted a sign asking people to not urinate on the lawn…but it strangely disappeared last time we went out of town….
One thing that you would not find in America…fake hair everywhere. It is true-there are balls of fake hair all over the place here.
It is pretty hot here this year and Dave more-or-less sweats through his shirt by breakfast. But, when we have a Cameroonian friend over, Dave has to make sure to ask if he can turn on the fan because our neighbors often complain about being too cold. We often see people bundled up in sweaters and  stocking caps as we are fanning ourselves to keep cool.
At Church
Our church is pretty much made of leaves. We have palm branches for the walls and woven leaves for the roof. Often, in the middle of our services, our dog comes running full speed through one of the walls in the church to find us. It is so embarrassing.
One day a lady sitting behind me laid her head down on my back and fell asleep.
Today in church there was some sort of large (winged?) creature right over my head eating through the roof trying to get in. Would it be rude to look up to see what kind creature is about to fall on my head? Or should I just ignore it?  Luckily the service ended before the creature could get in.
There are tiny biting ants that fall from the ceiling in church and bite all of us during the services.


The other day Dave was in our kitchen drinking his morning coffee thinking that his life was not that different than his life in the States. The he looked out the window and saw our neighbor cooking up rats over a fire for breakfast. This jolted him back into the reality that, yes, our lives here are very different.
A while ago someone approached Dave in the market and asked if he would like to buy some meat. Still new to the field we were used to our meat being faceless and in nice packages. They man then opened a bag with a living precious little baby antelope inside. Dave looked down at this “meat” and all he could think of was Bambi. He later wondered if he should have bought it and set it free.
In the Bakoum language, there is no distinction between the world “animal” and the word “meat.” All animals, in their eyes, are “meat.” The Bakoum have words for different animals, but if asked for an animal they do not know, they just say “meat.”
Often I go over to women’s houses and sit with them. It is not uncommon for them to be sucking snails out of their shells for dinner while correcting my Bakoum. Or taking a bucket of grasshoppers and pushing the innards out of them so they can cook them up for dinner. I try to convince myself it is no big deal and I am starting to believe myself these days.
Before I brush my teeth, I have to pick biting ants out of my toothbrush. And before I go to bed, I have to sweep them out of my bed…ugh.


Kids and Parenting
We got new tires for our truck and now we keep the old ones outside for the kids to play with. The other day Kaden asked Dave if he could play with the tires and Dave looked at him and said, “You know, I think you are leaning too much on tires for your entertainment. I think you should go learn to be content playing in the mud with sticks.”
Seeing our kids interact with wildlife and the vibrant bug population here is always fun. The other day this large moth (or small bat?) was in the girls’ room. Dave was not home so I was trying to work up the nerve to kill it. Zoey asked to see the flyswatter then proceeded to chase the moth/bat thing around the room swatting it to death while pieces of its wings were flying around the room. In the words of Dave’s dad, “Out of all your kids, I sure would not want Zoey chasing me around with a fly swatter.”
To those whom we live among these happenings are as normal to them as the air they breathe. To us? These things are becoming more and more normal until we think back to the lives that we left and we realize that A LOT has changed.

Author: Stacey Hare

Stacey is a servant of Jesus Christ as well as a wife, mom, linguist, and Bible translator among the Kwakum people of Cameroon.