Sunday, June 5, 2016

Life in the Fish Bowl

This past year, we've had a great time living in Cameroon, on assignment to serve with SIL Cameroon.  Steve has continued to serve the Gabon work as program manager, but has added the same responsibility with the SIL program, here in the city of Yaounde.  

We've been living in a second-story apartment, with Sam, that everyone refers to as "the fishbowl" since it is the most visible living area on the compound where many expats live.

At night, when we're at the dinner table in the front room with the light on and curtains open, all those passing on the road have a very nice view into our world.  Most of the traffic on the road is foot traffic and, with a very large church down the street, there are times when it is VERY busy.

Another aspect to being right along the busy road is the dust that is RELENTLESS in finding its way into our apartment, settling onto and into everything.  It's at its worst during dry season at the height of Harmattan.  When the winds sweep through the neighborhood, a vortex of sorts moves down this street and, as you can see in the picture, comes to the bend in the road, above which sits our window.  I'm sure some of the wind bends around the corner, but it SEEMS like all of it swishes up and over the fence and into our apartment.  I've actually been sitting at the table and witnessed a wall of dust shoot across the room before I could get to the window and shut it.

There are really good parts to life in the fishbowl.  Most all of our visitors look out of our window and remark how you can really see well and know what's going on around.  Also, we get treated to the cool winds (dust free!) during the non-dry season.  Our friends living on the ground floor, which is most of our compounds residents, don't feel these nice breezes so much.

We also have a nice view looking into the compound on the other side.  A small balcony overlooks a portion of the property and, as you see in the picture, we have some friends who really appreciate that view too.  Sometimes I like to come out to the balcony and address my people below.  I have to say, I don't always feel the respect coming back my direction!

This morning, at our church, International Christian Church of Yaounde, our preacher spoke from Matthew 5:13-16...
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.
Simply put, our preacher said, it should be "See me; Praise Him".  We've been in the "fishbowl" apartment this year and it has gone very quickly.  As our family likes to pray, we endeavor that the blessings God has graciously allowed us to experience are channeled through us and continue to bless those around us.  This is our version of "See me; Praise Him"- the blessings that we are able to impart from God to others are part of the evidence this world is desperately looking for... a connection to the love of our Creator God through Jesus; the dignity that brings and the response of a redeemed heart to have purpose in every breath, every thought, every word, every action.

So, in reality, we are all in a fishbowl, unless you are holed up in some closet somewhere.  No doubt, your life is intersecting with others on a daily basis and they may be catching glimpses into your world.  

As you read some of our stories shared in these blogs, I hope you are encouraged on your journey and we are all in the "See me; Praise Him" flow of life.

Ps. If you're interested in a bit more info on life in Cameroon, our two friends, Laura and Emily, who live on our compound with their young families, have put together a series of very entertaining videos called "Bama Meets Britain".  Here is one of them.  Enjoy!

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