A one day visit to Oku

John Hamilton in Ndop, NW Cameroon

A One day Visit to Oku

How long would you sit in packed taxis on very bumpy roads for the sake of a
one hour twenty minute meeting with someone you haven’t seen in six years?
Answers on a postcard to kouya.net.

On Saturday past colleagues Dan and Jon had to drive to Ndu for a meeting at
the Baptist seminary there. Their route passed through Banso from where, I
was reliably informed, it was a mere one hour taxi ride to Oku. Six years
ago I visited the Oku Bible Translation and Literacy project – a CABTAL
project under the leadership of Pastor Peter Ngum. That’s when I took a
group of N. Irish ministers whose churches were supporting the Oku project.
Last summer Wycliffe UK organised a joint summer team with the Presbyterian
Church in Ireland (PCI) to make a two week visit to Oku.

OK, I thought, this is too good an opportunity to miss. I’d just love to
visit Oku again, catch up with Peter and talk to him about a second Wycliffe
/ PCI team this coming July. I’ll invite Lance for company and Dan and Jon
can drop us off at Banso and pick us up again on the way back. No problem!

A relatively smooth drive from Ndop brought us to Banso by 9.30am in one and
a half hours. A pick-up truck taxi was waiting for a few more passengers and
off we would go. Lance and I waited two and a half hours in the dry season
dustbowl that is Kumbo Taxi Park. Eventually we were on our way: the driver,
the man beside him whose legs straddled the gear stick, Lance and me – all
in the front – plus a small boy jammed in between my legs. Behind in the
double cab rear seat were two men, three women and a baby. Outside there
were maybe six more passengers sharing the truck bed with an assortment of
baggage and a load of roofing tin. Ah yes, the
ever-slipping-from-it’s-moorings roofing tin, which along with very rough
and rocky dirt roads, meant a journey time not of one hour – but two hours
and ten minutes.

Peter Ngum and a few of his team were patiently waiting to welcome us
outside the Oku Project office in Elak village. We caught up on the news –
and this is what made it worthwhile! We saw photos of the dedication last
spring of the Gospel of Luke the first Bible book published in Oku. We saw
photos on the wall from our 2003 visit. Daniel enthusiastically showed us
the Oku literacy logbook. When I visited in 2003, around 400 people had
completed literacy classes and earned examination certificates. The number
now stands at approximately 1100 – and the literacy supervisors are
currently marking 300 more exam papers. The whole New Testament in Oku is in
final draft and the team are community testing it for comprehension and
readability. They are hopeful of completion in 2010 and maybe a dedication
in 2011. Will that be my next trip to Oku? Peter was also very enthusiastic
about the contribution the PCI Team had made last July and was looking
forward to another team coming.

Peter had wisely suggested as soon as we arrived that someone should go off
to the Elak taxi park and book us two seats on the next – and probably
last – vehicle leaving that day for Banso. We were taking a walk through the
village in the hope of a rather late lunch, when Daniel appeared in the taxi
which was ready to leave at once. Peter bought us some bananas and peanuts
and off we bumped in an equally well filled pick-up but with less
comfortable rear seats and rather more adventurous young driver.

Was it worth it? Yes, definitely yes. OK, it was uncomfortable. OK, the time
spent with Peter, Daniel, Nelson, Julius and Eunice was all too short. But I
had renewed face to face contacts with brothers and sisters in Christ who
share the same passion that I do for people to receive God’s written Word in
their mother tongue.

Reunited with Dan and Jon, we set off on the journey home. Dan’s comment
echoed my thoughts… I had just had first hand experience of what it’s been
like for the Oku team over the past ten years and more as they travelled on
rough dirt roads to Bamenda for translation workshops. I wouldn’t want to do
it too often – but I can even say that I enjoyed it!

John Hamilton in NW Cameroon

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