Tuesday, March 12, 2019

By means of this announcement Mama Alice, the grandmother from Darkest Africa, is temporarily suspending her blog.  Suspending, NOT ending.  

"Why?" you may ask.  Good question.  

Vague answer:  We are passing through some deep waters out here on the Dark Side of the Moon.  Waters we are not at liberty to discuss.  The situation is consuming all our spare moments.  Something has to give.  The Old Grandmother simply cannot do everything.  And the only thing that can "give" is this blog.  Thus the temporary suspension.

While this is as clear as mud to you, Dear Blog Readers, it comes with The Old Grandmother's promise to resume Blogging ASAP.

And how will you know that we are entering The Resumption of Blogging Phase?  An announcement will be made via our Prayer Letter.   

Questions?  Comments?  Suggestions?  Helpful Hints?  Send them all to our email address.  We promise to reply to the maximum extent of our ability to divulge things.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Life is speeding by at record breaking rates out here in "Never A Dull Moment" life on the Dark Side of the Moon.  

We give you exhibit A:  
A Nigerian doctor of psychology was to have flown from Nigeria to Cameroon on our one and only Cameroonian airline yesterday.  But shortly before flight time the airline opted to cancel the entire flight.  No delays, no rescheduling, just an out and out cancellation. This set into motion a chain of events that touched our lives here at Shiloh, as well as uncounted other unknown individuals and events.  You see, reservations had been made to house the good doctor here at Shiloh during his eleven day stay in Cameroon.  He was being flown in by Rain Forest International School (RFIS) to do psychological testing of students with potential learning disabilities.  A frantic phone call from RFIS mid-morning yesterday put the doctor's reservation on hold for the moment.  Probably a month ago when the reservation had originally been made, we were asked to feed him breakfast each morning.  The school would feed him lunch.  Parents, faculty, and staff would sign up to take care of the evening meals for the good doctor.  No problem.  We were good to go.  Until mid-day today.  Another frantic phone call from RFIS informed us that the doctor would be in tonight, arriving on a different airline, AND we would be the one feeding him all his evening meals, starting with tonight.  (It seems that some unnamed individual forgot to put out a sign up sheet for the doctor's evening meals!)  We politely but firmly informed the school that we would begin serving him breakfast and dinner each day, starting tomorrow morning.  And we at Shiloh went into an emergency meeting.  A quick inventory of our pantry, refrigerator, and upright freezer acquainted us with what the immediate menu possibilities were.  Next we rolled up our collective sleeves and discussed menu options.  We racked our brains to come up with nine mouth watering options for the nine evening meals we will serve our guest.  And then we compiled two shopping lists for the missing ingredients.  Soon our cook was walking out to buy everything that could be purchased a short walk from Shiloh.  And Mama Alice phoned our favorite taxi driver to make arrangements to be picked up in the morning to go to the big outdoor market and buy the rest of the missing ingredients.  

Meanwhile, we were in the beginning stages of Spring Housecleaning here at Shiloh when today's phone call came from RFIS. That's right, the Long Dry Season is officially over, and it's time to tear Shiloh apart, cleaning up massive amounts of dust and dirt that has seeped into every conceivable corner of the house.  Today we were humming away in the library, removing all books, shelf by shelf, cleaning both the shelves and each of the books.  With 2,000 books in our library, it's a Big Job to put it mildly!  This is also the time of the year we discover just how many books we have lost this time around.  Historically we loose between 12 - 15 books per year, though a year ago we hit an all-time low of only 6  books.  Multiply that times the 13 years we have been running Shiloh, the spiritual retreat center, and you have some idea of the magnitude of our loss.  But I digress.

The library was quickly put back in order and all Spring Housekeeping plans have been put on hold until March 16th at the earliest.  The dust, dirt, and grime is not going anywhere.  It will patiently wait for us to get back to this major annual event.

We could go on to exhibits B - Z of  Life Speeding By At Record Breaking Speeds, but you would die of boredom, so we will refrain.  Suffice it to say, Blogging sometimes becomes a distant memory.  We don't even have time to feel guilty about neglecting you, our Dear Blog Readers.  So now you have some idea of why there are gaps in Blog posts.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Can you hear that?  That lovely deafening noise is RAIN!!!  That's right, the rains are coming back and we are thrilled!  This is the second big rain.  One more just like this one and we will officially declare the long dry season to be over!  And it's only February 27th!  Last year the long dry season drug on into mid-March. We thought we were going to die.  But now we may be fully into the long rainy season very, very soon.

Of course once we make our official declaration regarding which season we are in, we roll up our sleeves and tear the house apart, doing intense Spring housecleaning. You cannot imagine how much dust and dirt seeps into cupboards and drawers.  Everything is taken out and washed, and all cabinets are washed clean, before putting everything back again.  We even brush the dirt off all walls and everywhere else.  Spring housecleaning is a major job.  Especially since we do all this cleaning around the edges of ministry, when we have a quiet moment.  We can't unload the hutches in our dining room for example, setting everything all over the dining room tables, when we are feeding a meal to guests.  So it's a challenge.  But we are experts with many years experience under our belts.  Besides, we are so delighted to have the rains come back that we can't bring ourselves to grumble over all the work it brings us.  And we haven't even talked about all the mud that gets dragged into Shiloh!


Friday, February 22, 2019

Dear Friends wrote and told us about their latest snow storm and we replied:
"That is so amazing that you are having more snow.  We're trying not to be green with envy as we lay in our bed sweating away.  The fans are on 24-7 now days.  It's useless to take showers to cool off.  It feels good for a brief moment, but then we are sticky hot again and wonder why we bothered.  This is truly the only nasty time of the year.  As we near the end of the season we are longing for the rains to come back.  We are longing for the end of "dirty season" where we shovel dirt in contrast to Americans shoveling snow.  We are dreaming of those wonderful torrential rains that we are so famous for.  It does not rain cats and dogs out here.  The rain comes down in sheets.  We know that Harmattan will not go on forever.  We know that there is an end out there somewhere.  Maybe the end of this month.  Maybe this will go on into March.  But somewhere out there the rains WILL come back.  We try not to think about it too much.  We try to live one day at a time.  We try to remind ourselves that this too will pass.  It always has in the past.  This will not go on forever, no matter what it feels like!  It takes three big rain storms to wash all the dirt out of the sky, all of the dirt off our lush tropical vegetation.  And when that third big  rain comes, we shout GLORY HALLELUJAH! as we roll up our sleeves and and joyfully jump into our annual Spring Housecleaning.  Every cupboard, every closet, every nook and cranny is covered with dirt.  We tear the house apart one room at a time, and slowly but surely our lovely Spiritual Retreat Center re-emerges.  And we live happily ever after."

Sunday, February 17, 2019

He's from Benin, but he lives in Cameroon.  In the Far North Region.  And he was on his way to Yaounde to teach at FATEB, the seminary that is walking distance from Shiloh.  The school administrator had made reservations for him to stay with us.  Had assured us that their professor would definitely arrive at Shiloh prior to 8 p.m. on Saturday night.  Which is why we were on standby alert last night, waiting for his arrival.  We wanted to give him that warm Shiloh welcome which we are so famous for.  We wanted to give him the grand tour of the house.  And we wanted to make sure that he was settled into his room before we went off to our room for the night.  8 p.m. came and went.  9 p.m. rolled around.  Soon it was 10 p.m. and this old couple could no longer stay up waiting for our new guest.  Joseph knew to call us whenever the professor should arrive.  At 1 a.m. I awoke and realized that our sleep had not been interrupted.  Quickly phoning Joseph I discovered that the man had not yet arrived.  Thankfully I was able to fall back to sleep without any difficulty.  Until 2:30 a.m.  That's right, our guest arrived at 2:30 a.m. on Sunday.  A mere six and a half hours late.  But we live in Cameroon.  So this is not an unheard of event.  At 2:30 a.m. we sat in the parlor with our guest and listened to his story.  It seems that he and his fellow passengers boarded their plane and prepared for take off.  The plane taxied out onto the runway.  And then the announcement came that the flight would be delayed due to weather.  So they patiently waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Finally the plane turned around and taxied back to the terminal.  The announcement came that all passengers were to board a bus which would drive them to the next airport.  The weather conditions were not clearing up.  There was nothing else to do.  So off the plane they came, and collecting their luggage, headed towards the bus.  After a long bus ride, they finally arrived at the next airport, boarded the waiting plane, and finally were airborne, heading towards Yaounde.  Where they safely arrived.  Six and a half hours late.  Not to worry.  This is Cameroon.  We are used to delays and things not happening when, how, and why they should be  happening.  And the weather issues?  No, it does not snow here in Cameroon.  They were having a serious Harmattan dust storm.  That's the winds that blow off the Sahara dessert and darken the sky until visibility is reduced to a dangerous level.  Thankfully our guest had all day Sunday to recover from his adventure filled trip.  Tomorrow he begins teaching his students.  And the older couple?  We also enjoyed getting to sleep in and recuperate from the abbreviated night.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Dorothy, who is the first to know everything here at Shiloh, tells us that we have an invasion of rats.  RATS??!!! How did this happen?  So we went to our long time expert on such things and asked Night Guard Joseph for his opinion.  He said that these are big mice. So big in fact, that many people think they have to be rats.  But they are really mice.  Big or small, rats or mice, they have NO PLACE AT SHILOH!  Period.  There is NO ROOM AT THIS INN for mice/rats.  And that's all there is to it.  No discussion.  No arguments.  Papa Jim jumped into the conversation and decided that we need more of the heavy duty rat/mice traps.  So we commissioned Eric, our favorite taxi driver, to pick some up for us while he is in town.  He knows right where they sell them.  And he knows the price.  These mice/rats critters invaded his house recently, so he's a new expert on the topic.  Good!  We need lots of expert help here at Shiloh.  It is our deepest hope that Eric will deliver six rat/mice traps sometime before nightfall tomorrow.  That's right...Papa Jim has ordered SIX of them!  He wants Joseph to place them all over the property and see how many he can trap out in the first night.  And how many more on night number two.  Hopefully before long, this will be a fading memory.  One more chapter in the exciting missionary novel we are too busy to write.  It would have to be a novel cuz nobody would believe that our stories are true!  But they are.  We've lived them all.  And now we are living the rat/mice story.  Which will have a happily ever after ending to it.  Please.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

There are eight people at Shiloh tonight.  Two are down with a cold.  It's the unintended consequences of group living.  It started with a guest who came to Shiloh direct from the airport.  Those long international flights are a great place to pick up all sorts of colds and flues and what-not.  It hit our guest in the middle of the night, night before last.  Then it was my turn in the middle of the night last night.  You have to wonder who will succumb in the middle of the night tonight.  Thankfully I have a milder version of our guest's cold.  So far I'm not coughing, sneezing, or dealing with a runny nose.  But I am being very careful.  Doing everything I know to do to keep this cold corralled at the entry level. I'm gargling with salt water, taking Tylenol,  drinking lots of water, juice, and hot tea, and I took two naps today. I would be taking vitamin C but we have run out and are not sure where to buy more.  Now I'm heading for bed early.  The last thing I need, want, or can use is a full blown cold.  Thankfully my symptoms seem to be dissipating.  And maybe there will be no more sickies in the morning.  We can always hope.