15 May 2009


LOVE: a strong feeling of affection, loyalty, and concern for someone –My NCV Dictionary

1 John 4:7 Dear friends, we should love each other because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has become God’s child and knows God.

I’d like to think of myself as a very loving person. But nothing can compare to the love I’ve seen in my short time in Cameroon. Love of the staff for us, for our well being, for our health. Love, sweet unconditional love, of the children for us.

You haven’t lived until you’ve heard the sweet children in the orphanage singing praises to God. The love that the father lavishes upon them is instantly turned around and given back to him. It is hard to imagine true, unconditional love until you have been instantly loved by a child who can barely understand you. Or been prayed for by millions of people you have just met.

The trip to get here was hard. I’ll be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever had to rely on God so much. Anyone who has traveled overseas might have a good picture of what it was like. We left on a Sunday afternoon. I had NO IDEA what to expect. We flew for a long time….

It felt like forever….

When we finally got off a plane, it was 8:30 am Paris time. I think that is about equivalent to 2:30 am Houston time. Then we went traveled on a bus through the Paris airport. I thought I was going to slip and smack my head on the bus.

We were packed into it like sardines.

The floor was wet.

My shoes had almost no traction.

The bus kept stopping and starting again. Quickly!

It was all I could do to stand up. Thankfully, we got off the bus...only to board another one. I was more stable in the second bus, but only because there were so many people that it was impossible to fall over. Or even lean over, really.

We made our way back through security, and I was SO thankful that the person at security spoke both French and English. Then we had about 30 minutes before boarding the next plane, so I walked through some of the airport shops that sold neat fashionable things like purses and perfume. The bathroom was painted very colorfully and had a neat thing that dried hands super fast. That was the hilight of my time in Paris.

We got on another plane around 10:30 am Paris time. In Paris, you walk out to the plane (or ride a bus out) and then get on. This plane was a little smaller, but not by much. We traveled another 8 hours to Douala, which is the “economic,” but not political, capital of Cameroon.

We tried to sleep on the plane, but it was difficult. We were exhausted but unable to get comfortable enough to actually fall asleep.

The plane ride was long. But we got fed. They had tea!! And yummy hazelnut muffins for desert!! Air France definitely knows how to feed people. We FINALLY arrived in Douala. I think it was around 5 pm local time. We made our way through the airport and had our yellow fever shot records checked (they won’t even let you into the country without the shot!) and our passports stamped. Then we made our way to get our bags.

Now, imagine mayhem.

That doesn’t even begin to describe it! Baggage claims are difficult enough without people trying to take your bags from you (in attempt to get tipped by taking them to your car)

Now imagine that you don’t speak their language. (They speak French as the official language)

Now try to get your two 50 pound bags in addition to your carry on bag and backpack. Not happening.

At this point, I was terrified. I had no idea how we were even going to grab our bags, let alone carry them through customs to the car. Thankfully, Justin is connected. His friend’s dad, Mr. Simo, is a powerful man in Douala. He made his way in to help us. He walked us straight through customs without even having to stop and get our bags checked. Emmanuel, a man who works at the orphanage, also met us at the airport. The four of us and ALL of our bags rode to Mr. Simo’s house. At this point I was exhausted and a little bit overwhelmed by being in such a new place with so many people who didn’t speak my language. I cried a little bit. But Justin reassured me. ☺ I was thankful that we were with friends now and I didn’t have to ride any more planes.

Mr. Simo and his wife fed us. It was SUCH a good meal! Coke and wine and chicken and rice and mangos. Very nice!!

Then we left to travel to the orphanage. I had no idea what I was about to experience at this point. See, it was about 8 pm local time, we hadn’t slept in a while, and we were about to get on a bus.

Don’t actually picture a bus in your head at this point. Picture a 15 person van.

No picture that van a lot closer to the ground.

Now make it about a yard skinnier.

Now pack 21 people into it. Yes, it is possible. Trust me.

Thankfully, we got the whole back seat to ourselves. (Which means that we were able to sit comfortably without sitting on one another.)

We started towards Fundong, where the orphanage is. Around midnight local time, we stopped at a market for an hour to let another “bus” catch up with us so that we could travel more safely together. Justin, Emmanuel, and I talked at the stop. I tried grapefruit juice. Emmanuel said that I would always have to think of two countries now when I thought about things. I didn’t understand him then, but I’m beginning to understand that now. I’ll explain more later.

We started traveling again around 1 am. They were playing an African radio station. The songs were interesting. Good interesting most of the time. Imagine a soft rock station in the US, but some of the songs lyrics have been changed. I liked it.

We traveled but it was almost impossible to fall asleep even though we were so tired. Every 2 or 3 minutes there was a speed bump.

The driver would slow down and take it at an angle, which was polite.

But he would accelerate before the entire bus was over the bump.

Meaning the back of the bus hit the bump with more speed.

Which is where we were sitting.

When I was little, sitting in the back of a bus was fun when it went over bumps because you flew.

The bus was just like that, but not as fun.

Because flying every 2 or 3 minutes when you don’t exactly have a soft seat to land on isn’t much fun. Not to mention the fact that we were trying to sleep. Trying.

But I’m thankful for the bus ride. Never before have I been so upset and hot and exhausted but so close to God. He is the only thing that got me through the ride.

We arrived at the orphanage a little bit after sun up to a parade of smiling, screaming, happy orphans greeting us. They remembered Justin and were SO SO SO excited to see him!!

They went to school and we went to bed.

When we woke up, we hung out with the kids who were home from school. I was shy and nervous. But that didn’t stop anything. Justin introduced me and the kids immediately were so friendly. I held hands and just sat around with some of the kids. I had a hard time understanding them because they all speak English but their native language is Kom. Within a matter of minutes we were friends. One of the girls, Shina, did my hair in corn rows while another hung on to my arm and another sat on my lap.

Since then, I’ve fallen in love. With the kids, with the staff, with this place. It is so beautiful and welcoming! It will definitely be hard to leave.

I’ll talk more about my relationship with the kids, the health checks we’ve done, and more details later. I’ve said enough for now.

Follow Justin’s blog for more info. He is great at expressing feelings and emotions in his blog. He also is able to upload a lot of pictures ☺ his site is www.lifeofawanderer.com


  1. "When I was little, sitting in the back of a bus was fun when it went over bumps because you flew. The bus was just like that, but not as fun."
    My dear, you are hilarious. :) I am so, so thankful that the trip is stretching you as it is. Could you ever have imagined what you would experience there? I love you, and continually, I am praying for you!

  2. P.S. I'm sorry you've been sick. (Funny) coincidence: I caught a bug from the babies and woke up last night momentarily sick as a dog. I don't claim that mine was/is as bad as yours', but I kinda like the fact that at least we were/are sick together. :) I hope and pray you feel better, friend!