Learning French: An All-Day Process
What do fixing bicycles, sewing machines, kitchen appliances, and motorcycles, plus sewing plushies, visiting friends, weeding gardens, vending clothing and cloth at the market, studying in class five days a week, getting shoes fixed by a mobile cobbler, answering the door to greet the next visitor, visiting orphanages, and going to church all have in common? It is all French learning! John and Kat Troyer are getting the best possible French classes and culture immersion at the same time! Their day-to-day routine is very busy with “normal” life, sprinkled throughout with a healthy dose of French class and practical application of all the vocabulary and grammar they can possibly handle.
John went with a friend to sell fabric and dresses in the market. His friend sells these for his aunt in exchange for taxi money for school. Please pray for this friend; he is searching and is constantly asking John profound questions of the Bible.
John and Kat have been blessed to be able to help out a local orphanage with mattresses. The orphanage has 12 boys who were taken off the street to be given care and a chance at life based on biblical principles. The 12 boys were sharing six twin-size beds, making sleeping quarters very tight! They are blessed to have the means to pay it forward!
Katie, a friend from Ohio, moved to Cameroon to help with the kids while John and Kat are in language classes. She has been a huge blessing in many ways. John and Katie have helped repair many bikes for local folks.
Kat, Gabriella and Katie had the privilege of attending a “bringing home the bride” ceremony which is a part of traditional weddings. Pray for this new bride; in this particular community they don’t get to choose whom they marry and are often married at a young age. She will not be allowed to leave her courtyard or see her mom for the next year of her life so that she may become well-established with her new family.
John, Abel and a guard-friend rode the “moto” to a river where they came upon a dugout canoe.
Kat’s ability to communicate in French was very important one Sunday when she wanted to help a mom and her daughter, who had a serious burn injury. As Kat was starting with supper, one of the regular vendors arrived at the door apologizing for not bringing bananas the day before as she had promised. She explained that she had been occupied with her daughter’s burn. She removed the scarf which was loosely tied around Angel’s waist and revealed massive blisters on her thigh, bottom and back. Her sister had spilled a large pot of hot water while removing it from the open fire which they cooked on, and it splashed on Angel. Kat asked why she didn’t take her to the hospital, and she continued with, “Madame, you don’t understand. I don’t have enough money to take her.”
Now Kat faced three decisions: do nothing and send the mom away, which her heart could not do; give her money, which would probably not be sufficient since the burns needed to be redressed every day; or take care of it herself. Kat asked the mom if she would be OK with treating the burn with some natural burn salve that Kat had brought from America. The mom was delighted, and Kat began with the cleaning and bandaging process. After the bandages were put on, Angel happily sat down for the first time since it had happened 24 hours before.
Four hours later, after a bumpy ride through the rain to the mom’s house, Kat sat down to eat her cold fries contemplating how hard it would be if she could not afford to take her kids to the doctor.
The mom continued to bring Angel every day for the next week and a half so Kat could redress the burn. During one of those visits she asked, “Why are you being so kind? Why are you helping me?” To which Kat replied, “We are to be like Jesus.” Their conversation continued on biblical matters. Praise the Lord that the burn healed nicely, and Angel is back to her normal self. We never know how our past experiences will come to help us here!
We never know how our past experiences will come to help us. God has been teaching John and Kat to trust and lean on him for every situation that arises, especially in cross-cultural contexts. They feel truly blessed to have a rich cultural experience here in Cameroon. John and Kat have been to numerous people’s houses, always with a warm welcome. It was impressed on them recently that when the Holy Spirit came to the early church at Pentecost the disciples were able to be heard in the unique language of everyone present. This means that God does not prefer any one culture over another; it also means that he desires to be proclaimed in every language! So, they press on toward the goal set before them.