News and Notes
Minnesota Viking in Cameroon
Karna Sjoberg from Bethlehem Covenant Church in Minneapolis is teaching in Cameroon, Africa as a Short Term Covenant Missionary. Cameroon (pop. 15,800,000) is on the west coast of Africa. Yaoundé (about 800,000) is the capital and second largest city. Cameroon depends significantly upon missionary schools to provide education. Here are excerpts from Karna's first report courtesy the Bethlehem Star:
Greetings from Africa. It hardly seems possible that I have been here for two weeks. Life has been very busy getting ready for and completing the first week of classes.
Rain Forest International School (RFIS) is a Christian school founded in 1991 to serve the needs of the missionary community in Cameroon and Western Africa. There are 70- to 80 kids in grades 7 to 12. Currently, I have 11 seventh-grade students and five eighth-graders. The classroom building does not have room for many more students but I could have 2-3 more eighth graders in the next week or two.
Classes are going well. I am teaching math and science and cover some study hall periods. The schedule is very hectic at the moment because the person who will be teaching English, Bible, and Social Studies will not arrive until mid-September. Many people have stepped forward to cover her classes but the consistency is not there. On top of that, we are all getting used to a six-day cycle which means that Mondays are not the some as the week before. One benefit is that the same classes do not get cut short on Chapel days.
Yaoundé, where I am living and working, is the capital of Cameroon. It is a large city with lots of beautiful hills. One thing I find frustrating is that there are no street signs. If you don't know where you are going, you must use major landmarks to get around town. Downtown, where there are many stores and many different things to shop for, is not far from my apartment. There are many things here that you can find in the States but I have discovered that the M&Ms taste very different. I may have to dip into my stash.
I am living in an apartment with Mary Samuelson, another Covenant Short Term Missionary. The apartment is much bigger than we expected. We have our own bedrooms with private bathrooms attached, the kitchen and living/dining rooms are both good size, and we have two storage rooms, one which we are using for laundry. We hope to find some things to hang on the walls so that it will look more like a home. Karna Sjoberg, Yaoundé, Cameroon.
Georgia Bulldog in Africa
Adam Peterson, a young man from Marrietta, Georgia, is on a two-year teaching assignment at Oshigambo High School in Oshigamo, Namibia, a school founded and operated by Lutherans from Germany. Set between South Africa and Angola, Namibia has a population of 1,797,677. A German colony, it was subsequently administered by South Africa until 1990. Adam is a Lutheran in whom there is no guile, one in whom the editor has detected strains of Waldenström. Excepts from a recent letter:
I've been on vacation from school since August 9. My brother Derek is here and we've been checking out South Africa and Namibia. Currently we're in Swakopmund—a coastal town in Namibia that is more German than Germany. Those are definitely the words to describe it. My term begins again on September 4, so we're on our way back to Oshigambo.
School goes well and I am busy. I'm teaching four classes of Physical Science and an English class. The English class is, thankfully, an honors grade 11 that focuses entirely on literature. You really don't realize how little you know about your native grammar until you're faced with the possibility of teaching it.
You'll be glad to know I'm coaching a basketball team here. Our current hurdles include the lack of a basketball hoop and a ball that will stay inflated but the enthusiasm is definitely there. A couple of my players spent some time in the states (their fathers attended seminary at Luther Northwestern in St. Paul) so they are surprisingly good. We have a tournament the first few weeks of the next term so I'll let you know the results.
I'm playing on a club team as well—the Ongwediva Leopards. We're undefeated and pretty good. I'm the only white guy in the league. I think the team is a little depressed when I tell them I'm a below-average player in the states. The majority of the missionary-peace corps types that make it here seem to give the impression that they're the second coming of Larry Bird (just waylaid for the moment in Northern Namibia).
The teaching faculty is split between native Namibians and teachers from other countries in Africa. It seems to be fairly common for a teacher to leave their families in Zimbabwe, Zambia, etc. and live where the job is. The village I live in—Oshigambo—is pretty small. There are some fairly large towns—Ondangwa and Oshikati—within an hour drive. Namibia is a weird mix of developed and undeveloped, wealth and poverty, unpopulated desert and growing cities, black and white, etc. The high AIDS rate (something above 25%) is a big factor. They sell coffins at the hardware store and you can make funeral arrangements at the Post Office.
Hope things are well in Minnesota. I get a lot of comments when I wear my Pietisten shirt. Adam Peterson, Oshigambo, Namibia.