Here I Am, Lord

by Sister Victoria

Just recently we made the long journey from Kuvlu to Bafut to attend the consecration service for three of the Emmanuel sisters. What an event that was! It was a whole day affair, beginning with the service at 9:30 in the morning followed by a meal for all and then drumming, singing and dancing well into the night.

It is an event for all the families, who were distinguished by wearing outfits of the same flamboyant fabric, many neighboring villagers and friends, other religious including 20 clergy, and no doubt some walk-ups. All in all, there had to be no fewer than about 500 guests.

We were blessed to experience another slice of African life in this event, very much like a large wedding where the families “gave” their daughters away to be brides of Christ.

 

O Lord, Open My Lips!

by Sister Victoria

Now that I have left the Cistercian Monastery after participating for three weeks in their daily offices of prayer, we are back in the remote village of Kuvlu and music classes are well underway! In our classes we are learning the different chant modes and starting to use them with the Psalms in English. At times it can be a challenge to convey what I am trying to teach and yet rewarding when they catch on to a concept.

It is such a joy to see the delight on their faces when they realize that they are learning music, a very rare experience in Cameroon.

Bend My Heart

by Sister Victoria

For the past couple of weeks, I have been at Our Lady of Bamenda Monastery studying how they sing their daily office. I will then begin the task to teach it to the aspirants of a beginning Community, the Sisters of Bethany, who are currently in our care here in Cameroon.

Although a cloistered Cistercian Community of about 30 monks, I have had the rare privilege of being invited to join them in the choir for their offices. As I sit among these men, there is something that stirs me. While listening to their rough voices, I think what I sense is their humility. Why do we avoid humility in ourselves yet can be blessed by and even admire the humility in others? That is something I am asking myself.

I believe it is no accident that this week I have come across several times the verse in Psalm 119, “Bend my heart to your will and not to love of gain”. Bending is an act of humility and that is becoming my “go to” prayer, that it may someday become real in my life.

 

Giving Thanks

by Sister Victoria

Yesterday I spent most of the day travelling on a rather stifling bus from Bamenda to Yaounde, Cameroon’s capitol. After a good nine hours, I arrived around 5:30 pm, the dirt and dust having settled visibly on me.

I was greeted at the bus stop by the niece of my Pastor friend with whom I would be staying, telling me, “We’re going to Church.” What?! Really?! I say to myself, glancing down at my disheveled habit. What I thought I needed was supper, washing up, and an early night.

The service was well underway by the time we arrived, complete with a lively band and choir. It was a great time of praising God and I didn’t even check my watch!

What I needed and what I got, was a great chance to give back to God my thanks for the ways I have seen Him personally watch out for me. I felt less tired than when we began.

Sr. Victoria from the Community of Jesus tells about a service of prayer and praise in Cameroon

No Gift Too Small

By Sister Victoria

This past Sunday morning I went to the sisters chapel early for some time before the Eucharist service. While I was sitting there, a young man walked in and headed straight for the altar. With a bag in hand, he knelt there to pray silently. After a time, he got up and left, leaving behind his bag in front of the altar which I could then see held a bewildered looking hen, clucking at her strange environment. The only words spoken were between him and God.

I thought about it for quite some time, thinking that for this young man, this was certainly a sacrifice and perhaps all he could give.

A gift given from the heart is not too small for God.

Certainly that young man went away blessed.

A gift placed at the altar in Cameroon, told by Sister Victoria of the Community of Jesus

A Dream Come True

by Sister Victoria

This past Saturday marked a special occasion in the village of Bafut, Cameroon. Although school began in September, Good Shepherd Academy, a boarding school, was at last officially opened — a dream now realized after much prayer, and hard work of fundraising and construction!

It was a festive affair, attended by many dignitaries of Cameroon, and guests from America, representing the American architectural firm employed for the task, and those who were instrumental in raising the funds.

We enjoyed various songs and cultural dances performed by the students, as well as inspirational speeches, promising a top notch education and a brighter future for children of Cameroon.

In preparation for this event and to honor the American guests, I had the pleasure of teaching the students “America the Beautiful.”

What a joy to share with such enthusiastic young people!

Sr. Victoria teaches the students of the Good Shepherd Academy in Bafut, Cameroon, "America the Beautiful"

“I Am Free”

by Sister Victoria

Yesterday was All Saints but also the first Tuesday of the month, which is when the Emmanuel sisters gather regularly for an evening of prayer and praise in their chapel. Often families in the surrounding area attend with their young children.

We began with a meditation and discussion on a passage of scripture, followed by a time of intercessory prayer, voicing our individual concerns, and then a good hour or so of PRAISE!

At this point, the young kids are alert (they had been dozing)…this is what they came for!
We all began to dance to the drums and move about the sanctuary, some with such energy they were almost winded! There is never a trace of self-consciousness.
One of the last songs we sang is, “I am free, my debt is settled.” Yes, we are!

From Sr. Victoria and the Emmanuel Sisters; a service of prayer and praise in Cameroon

A Life of Joy

by Sr. Victoria

alifeofjoy2I have been sharing in the life of the Emmanuel sisterhood in Cameroon, Africa for almost six months now.  What continues to amaze me about these sisters is their life of joy. There are many things they don’t have that we as Americans would not do well without, yet they are blessed.

alifeofjoy1

Every Sunday Eucharist, there is still a part of the service that never fails to move me.  At the time of the offering, the sisters strike up a lively song accompanied by drums and other percussive instruments while we begin to dance, two lines in unified movement converging towards each other and then making our way forward to the offering basket.  They have little to offer in the way of money, but they consider it a time to offer themselves anew to God — with joy!

Lord, may it be so in my life!