Well, we haven’t posted for a while- been in the throes of actually MOVING here to Cameroon.  So here we are!!  Seems like it is my (Sonya’s) turn to start blogging. I tend to write about the mundane things about life, so here we go…

Our house here on CBTS campus is equipped with a nice wood burning stove in the parlor (Cameroon speak for living room) which is also our dining room. It was put in to replace the original fireplace which never  vented properly and tended to make the house smoky. Apparently it is the envy of the neighborhood, because it heats the main room efficiently and nicely.

Heat, you say? In Africa? Yes, heat. Ndu is probably the highest village in Cameroon, situated at about 7000 feet above sea level, so for Africa, it is really quite cold. People walk around here with winter jackets, toques (or whatever they call them here) scarves, etc, especially in the morning, and when it is cloudy. Which, in the rainy season, is a lot of the time. I haven’t figured out temperatures, but for all you prairie people who are like me and pooh-pooh anything above -20, it’s a damp cold, so even though it is well above freezing, it is very chilly.

In addition, houses are built of brick, stone or cement, are not well sealed or insulated, have no central heating, and have at best, single pane glass for windows. So whatever the temperature is outside….it’s about 3 degrees warmer inside, if you don’t have any heat source.  Sunday was an in between day for weather. Light cloud in the morning, a bit it of sun by noon. An hour or more of rain in the afternoon (rainy season has stubbornly not quite let go here yet) and I am guessing a low of 10, and a high of maybe 20 Celsius for the short time the sun was out.  Tonight as I get ready for bed, I am estimating it is around 12-15 degrees Celsius….and 15-18 in my house. Which, while very nice by Canadian outdoor standards, means a sweater on all day, and shoes or slippers on the cold cement and tile floors at all times, and one or two blankets on the bed. (In all fairness, having not brought an outdoor thermometer with me, these estimates are all based on my internal thermometer, which I suspect is slightly out of whack.)

So, back to the wood stove.  I pride myself on being able to start a fire, with all my camping background,  and Jeff is pretty good at it too, but so far, we are failing miserably here.  Cal got us a grand load of eucalyptus wood, which is conveniently stored in our huge laundry-drying room, but …
a) It is currently all too long to fit in the stove
b) it is rather damp, being the end of the rainy season, and I don’t’ know how to tell what is cured/dried, but this is apparently not.
c) Even when we borrowed a machete (no axes), Jeff easily(?) managed to make starter kindling, but we have no idea how to make  the mid size pieces with it, and still keep all our fingers.
d) the person’s son who we were told could cut it up for us ‘has not yet come’.
e) I don’t even have any ‘Scout water’  (kerosene or Naphta fuel) on hand to help me out here

So although Dinah had a nice fire crackling in the fireplace when we arrived on Wednesday, we have yet to successfully do the same.  I hope we figure this out soon.  Apparently days get hotter in the dry season, but nights get colder. Seems our location in the Sahel (the belt  in Western Africa below the Sahara) means we get the same winds that make the desert so cold at night.  Cari, I should have brought my down vest after all.

I’m going to crawl under my two blankets for now. We went to church, took a nap, and actually got on the internet today. I wrote a blog, checked out facebook  a little,  did email. I tried to set up an office space, figured out how to reset the breakers when I did an electrical ‘oops’, and made chicken and rice soup by LED lantern when the power inconveniently went out around dinner time. Firewood is a challenge for another day.



  1. This is great newsy Letter! I can see what you are doing and hear the sounds of Africa and smell the air there! Having worked in the Belgian Congo for three years I will never forget how beautiful it Is! The Lord Bless and keep you Warm! Gale


  2. Believe me, the firewood will never become dry. Keep all the papers you can get, all the left overs from used matches, and with a lot of kerosine it will function. However, never put kerosine on a smoking but not burning fire, it would be very dangerous. This is our experience in Cameroon (Acha Tugi).
    And….. Never,never,never give up! With love, Marleen


  3. Having worked in the library at Ndu for three weeks (long ago) in 1999, I am curious which mission house is yours. The Burgess were in the one at what I would call the far corner (Its back to the ring road), my friend and I were in the next house (a bit smaller) closer to the entrance, and then there were houses closer to the center and entrance. And I feel your cold. I went the equator and wore sweaters because we were up at Ndu! But there were no mosquito and no snakes so Hallelujah! I was happy to put on a sweater! Blessings and prayers for you.


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