We went to Philippines’ top-rated game show! There were beautiful dancers, performers and silly games. Even though most of it was in Tagalong, it was a fantastic time! I did the giling giling (a dance) and was chosen to play Hip hip horay! Sadly, I only made it to the top 6 or so. But I got some free whitening products! Haha. Isiak sang DURING the actualy show, with the host Willie. Willie had seen Isiak’s video on richieartwork on youtube, and that’s how we got in actually. It was really cool. He did an amazing job. Now we can’t leave the house without someone recognizing the big, black guy who sings Tagalong on Wowowee!
We’ve touched down on Manila, where we are staying with Tita Jenny and Tito Fernando, and their daughter Audrey. They live in a beautiful two story house, that’s not huge but doesn’t feel small iether, fenced in within a gate, yet again gated as the community of Green Park village. If that doesn’t keep us safe, the 8 dogs will! I realize how unshocked I will be of things for the rest of my life- I’m disappointed on some level.. the crazy driving, cheap food, hand-holding, cold showers, big avacados, and the way people walk across traffic without a care in the world. But there are a few differences, ofcourse there are- like the polite way that nationals ask for things, their shy-ness.
“When the people tell you something, this is a message of God. And what they say you are, God says you are.”
-Priest Michel, Founder of Kentaja Association
Before I completed my service, I was able to finish my last project, along with the great team of people that did it with me. After meeting the wonderful Priest Michel Djaba, I could feel how much he cared for every orphan within Kentaja Association, the one he founded to house abandoned children in three different centers in Cameroon. It was this feeling that motivated me to help his association whatever way I could, and soon enough, I was fundraising for a water well in Bandzuidjong. I fell upon all the right people from that point on, from Aladji Feukep who installed the well, to Angel who is an excellent project coordinator, down to the generous contributions from strangers that otherwise would have made the completion of the well possible.
The ceremony was amazing (see the photos a few blog posts back). I have never had so much fun drinking water, nor have I ever felt that someone was more joyous and thankful about anything. My Bangou family even came in numbers to support me. And because the people of Bandzuidjong honored me so much for helping them with the well, they gave me a title – Mefeu Napseu (“Queen that Arranges Things”). I got to wear everything traditionally bamileke: a top, a skirt made of traditional Bamileke fabric, a hat that only notables can wear, and an especially unique bag made with magistrate monkey hair. The chief’s representative (the actual chief is 15 and was probably still in school when we were inaugurating the well) let me sit in his chair and take photos with him, which is a big honor. I was given several peace trees (which symbolize peace), some peanuts to share with my village (sharing the peanuts are symbolic too), and a chicken (chickens are expensive and given to important, respected people). I even was given a special cup that I could now drink out of along-side my notable friends. Ofcourse, there was then dancing, great food, and drinking. I already knew that I had made a difference, but to be initiated into this village as a queen was honorable. Most of all, what I really took away from this ceremony was a benediction that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. One Bandzuidjong told me, “We are very poor, so there is not much we can give you. But you will always have the prayers of this village.” This is much more than I could ask for, and more gratifying that I ever thought it could be. I want to arrange more things!!!
I feel as if a fast-forward button on my life was pushed, and now I find myself in this crazy, new, fast-paced and lovely world called the USA. I could tell you all about my last few weeks, sad goodbyes, the fear of leaving and surviving without piment pepper for a year, and my breakdown in the plane that so much resembled the the one I had leaving Texas just 2 years ago, but I don’t know what I can say other than it was all bittersweet and surreal. I tried my best not to complicate but instead enjoy my last moments there…and I think I did an okay job at it. But as Angel said, a small piece of us will stay in Cameroon, and a part of me is definitely still there. Being back to this place that hasn’t changed much with the exception of technology taking over more people’s lives, I feel like a different person stepping into a new chapter. My life perspective has changed completely, and so have I. I proudly completed my two years’ of doing the absolute best work that I was capable of, I became a mother, a project coordinator, a firm believer in faith, and I became a difference in someone else’s life. I’m only scared that the next chapter won’t be able to compete with that, but at least I know more about who I am and I know what my priorities are. I want to continue to make a difference!
Should I continue this blog? I thought about it, wondering if it would really be all that interesting to continue describing a life that everyone knows about. So maybe it won’t be as interesting as it was before… no more stories about becoming a queen or killing chickens. I will probably write less. But I want to invite you to the next chapter, in my continuation of working toward that same idea of peace. I do have a few ideas about how I’m going to do that… 🙂