Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Beginnings and Endings

I think I will try my hand at this blogging stuff. There is no doubt who the writer is in our family, and I appreciate so much the job Wes does expressing our feelings and our stories about life here in Cameroon. I wouldn’t want to be here with anyone else but him.

We live next door to the Bastos Clinic. Bastos is the name of our quarter (or neighborhood) and we are thankful to have a medical facility so close when we need it. It’s not like anything you have ever experienced though. The clinic is far from the pristine palaces of medicine that we are used to. But here it is considered quite nice and and the top two floors act as a hospital for those who need overnight care. Their relatives stream in and out as there is no food service in the clinic. I see pots of this and pans of that going in and out of the entrance door. The doors to the rooms open to the outside like a hotel and family members sit on the balcony with the patients to keep them company while they are recovering.

Life begins and ends at the Bastos Clinic. When we still lived in the apartment downstairs, right outside Rachel’s bedroom window was the labor and delivery room for the clinic and every time a baby was born, the Magruders felt as if we should be the godparents. We labored with each contraction, as the mommy couldn’t hold back the pain she no doubt was feeling. She screams and we flinch each time until we hear that unmistakably beautiful sound of a newborn baby’s cry. One night I was in my laundry room, looking into the window of the labor room and I hadn’t been there five minutes when the last labor pain was heard and the new baby was held straight up for me to see. I felt like shouting, “Bienvenue, little baby. We are so glad you are here.” Instead, I just shed the few tears I always do when I see a new born baby and went back to bed.

Life also ends at the Bastos Clinic. Today as I was working at my desk, the wails of sorrow started flooding out of the Clinic. I still hear them now as I am writing. Someone’s father has died. In his case, he has many wives and therefore, many, many children. When someone dies here, the emotions are anything but repressed. People scream and cry and wail, stop for a moment, catch their breath and start again. One wife will go in and she has her moment of grief, comes away and the next wife enters for her turn. Then the children start. It’s so hard to hear them. It doesn’t disturb me except that I know for them, it starts a new era of figuring out just how they will cope without him. Cameroon is a very patriarchal society. The man is the central figure of the family and when he is gone, families often know that their lives may never be the same. How will they eat, will they be ousted from their place of residence, how will they care for all their children?

We can stand in judgment about him having more than one wife, but I think I won’t. Until I have to live the lifestyle that they live here day to day, I think I will consider myself incredibly blessed if I am not judged for the lifestyle that I lead. Pray for our widows and orphans, their grief is deep and sorrow unsurpassed.

LM~The Other Missionary