Courage Brothers!

by Sister Victoria

Two weeks of intense music lessons for the postulants in Kuvlu, Cameroon has proven both fun and fruitful. They have practiced hard and last Sunday we sang “Courage Brothers” in Church, accompanied by one of the girls. Just a few weeks ago some of them had never before set eyes on a piano, let alone imagined playing one. They were thrilled! These girls are very bright and the joy they feel learning something so unusual in Cameroon is giving them the impetus to learn!

Kuvlu is actually known to be a place steeped in dark arts and religious practices and it seems evident to us that God has specifically chosen this place for the new Convent to flourish and bring light to this village. Already we sense that God is at work through music and especially in the chanting of the Psalms.

Birthday cake in Cameroon

by Sister Hannah

Can you make a cake? Sister Jane asked, and I said we could try. I had made bread in a make-shift double boiler here so the same might work for a cake. This was to celebrate Ben’s 13th birthday. Ben and God’s Plan are two boys from the orphanage who have been helping cook and do chores here at the convent for a couple of months.

We gathered ingredients (no recipe) buttered the pot and launched in. No mixing bowl, no beater — a fork works — and no measuring cups or spoons, but a lot of trust in the Lord.

All dry ingredients stirred together.  Now a lesson on separating eggs, three whites to whip and fold in last, so Bee started beating with a fork. We added  oil, eggs, water, orange juice and grated rind and mixed it all. The whites soon formed beautiful peaks and got folded in.

The batter looked great and the girls said it tasted good. We took it to the outside kitchen and lowered the cake into the larger pot of boiling water over an open wood fire. Sometime later I tested for doneness, on the concrete floor — done!

Eager to celebrate, we didn’t wait til the cake was cool. We quickly adorned it with a little marmalade and lots of toasted coconut. Yum! We sang, clapped and prayed for this special young man. Ben was the first baby to come to the orphanage and has grown up with Sister Jane as Mama Jane.

He Who Sings, Prays Twice -St. Augustine

by Sister Victoria

Yesterday was a special and blessed day for our postulants of the Benedictine Sisters of Bethany here in the village of Kuvlu. These beautiful girls have taken the step from aspirants to postulants and with that step have received their new habits.

For the past couple of months, Sr Hannah and I have been busy putting together a new psalter with antiphons so that this new Community can begin singing the psalms.
Also, this past week began a rather intense two-week “music camp”. The girls have had beginning piano lessons with a visiting instructor, and I have been teaching them to chant the psalms. Meanwhile Sr Hannah has worked on alterations to their new habits, giving them their final pressing with a charcoal iron!

At church I sat behind them and admit, my eyes welled up a little thinking of the privilege and joy it is to be a part of their lives; young women wishing to serve God.

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.