This post is coming much later than I hoped…Since I first wrote this, much has happened – I hope to get it to our blog soon!
Our friend, Pastor Timothee Sodea, is the pastor of seven congregations near Meiganga. Three Sundays ago now we visited two of his congregations. The village of Butu is the childhood home of Pastor Tim’s mother; Garga, the other village, is the home of his father. Pastor Tim’s uncle is the chief in Garga – we met him briefly before going on to the church.
We traveled with Reverend Doctor Elisabeth Johnson, an ELCA missionary stationed in Meiganga, who is teaching at the seminary here (you can find her blog here). When we arrived in Butu, our first stop, the whole congregation was at the main road to greet us, shouting, dancing, singing, waving. We slowed down and veered halfway off the two-lane road, driving behind a walking/dancing Pastor Tim, who was waving a little branch, and in front of the congregation, until we arrived at a spot in the road where we were to park.
Stepping out, we were greeted with cheers and handshakes and instructions to go to the evangelist’s house, where we received an unexpected breakfast of macaroni, fried eggs, and coffee. We were given some eggs as gifts. Then it was off to the church service, all in Gbaya (pronounced “Bye-uh”). There was singing, dancing, an offering, baptisms, Communion, announcements, introductions, and greetings from Katie, Elisabeth, and me. Katie preached the sermon with Pastor Tim translating. Pastor Tim told the congregation that this was Katie’s church, now, too.
We streamed out of the building after the service finished and greeted everyone as they exited. Then it was picture time! People crowded around us for a few shots before all dispersed and we continued on our way to Garga and the second service. Here we were greeted along the dirt road as people walked to church. We ducked into the evangelist’s mud-brick house quickly before engaging the service in the church building just next door.
We entered to singing and dancing before taking our seats up in the front of the church, facing the congregation. Again, Katie preached – a wonderful message on adoption into the family of God. She also received a raucous response when she greeted the people with “Wormo” (roughly “hello”). Pastor Tim told this congregation that it was my church – that both he and I were pastors there.
At the end of the service we left, again shaking everyone’s hands and then taking pictures. I was nearly bowled over by one person we wanted a picture with me.
Making our way to the evangelist’s house again, we were invited to rinse our hands and partake in lunch of cassava, beef, and tomato broth. Cassava, if you haven’t the pleasure, is also known as yucca. In Cameroon, the root is peeled, like a potato, cut up into small pieces, and dried in the hot African sun. These white pieces are then crushed and put together with water, turning it into a gelatinous substance. “This is our bread”, Pastor Tim told us. It is served in a large bowl. Reach in, take hold of a chunk, and squeeze it off in a ball. We’ve had it a few times – the cassava we had at this evangelist’s house was the best so far.
People were so excited to see us – and to come to church in general! It is amazing to see people so pumped to go to church. After about six hours of church and travel and eating, we arrived back at home, quite tired from the day.