Remembering my “Aunt” with Joy
This, in the photo, is my “Aunt” Marabelle Taylor. A very close family friend and colleague of my parents in Cameroun, when I was 19 I bumped in her truck down interminable red dust roads by her side, spending part of a summer learning from her in the context of a small internship for one of my university classes.
Aunt Marabelle was a cross-cultural worker with a huge God-given, life-long love for and commitment to underprivileged children and teenagers and their relatives. She saved hundreds, maybe thousands of orphans from the Babimbi Hills region of French Cameroun during the Basa terrorist uprisings of 1960 – 1965 and their long and horrible-for-children aftermath. Originally from the U.S., she was a nurse and invented high-protein baby and child “physical salvation” formulas out of local, easily-available ingredients like canned sardines and powdered milk and pulverized Australian spinach, to bring the war-starved orphans back from the brink of death. She became well-known in the nation in the sixties decade for being able to work her benificent “magic”, bringing a fragile infant back to health when nobody else could, and Camerounians in the aftermath of that war brought her orphan babies from all over the region and beyond. She spent 40 or 50 years serving in Cameroun, eventually retired and returned to America, lived to an extremely ripe old age and is now “graduated” to Jesus’ presence, joyful and problem-free for eternity with Him. What I remember most about my Aunt Marabelle is her love for me and her love for Jesus.
The other thing that most impresses me about her is the way she always seemed “charmed” and safe, no matter what happened to her and in spite of what many might term an overly adventurous and spartan life. I will never forget waking up each morning before the crack of dawn, from a hard borrowed bed, in one of her friends’ little flea and mosquito-ridden mud huts with a thatched roof, to the scrape of her placing the water kettle over the gas burner to make us each a hot cup of stale Nescafe! Meals seemed to consist mostly of canned sardines and crackers bought by the side of the road. She went through her days cheery and singing, traveling a tremendous amount, helping care for each of the beloved orphan babies, their extended families, small kids and “adopted” Camerounian high-school-aged “daughters”. Never choosing to marry, Aunt Marabelle had the biggest and most loving (to her!) extended family – from what I could see at the time it seemed to consist of the majority of the population of southern French-speaking Cameroun – of anyone I have ever known. One time, when I was 19, her Camerounian driver, Ibogo dozed off at the wheel and wrecked her vehicle – that’s what the photo shows. Aside from scrapes and bruises, both of them escaped unharmed. Thank God.
My Aunt Marabelle quietly, unassumingly, unsentimentally pointed every person she came in contact with to Jesus, trusting only Jesus hourly, daily, weekly, monthly and yearly to take CARE of her AND HER WORK, in His love plan for all the peoples of the world. This mindset allowed her to live with peace and joy.
She did talk of Jesus, softly, a lot. And she was silent sometimes too…….