Chris & Alicia Johnson
ASSIGNMENT:Nurse (Chris)/Teacher (Alicia)
SITE:Diocesan Clinics and Shisong Hospital/St. Augustine Secondary School
The Johnson family served in the Diocese of Kumbo, Cameroon. During the first half of their assignment, Chris’s job was to travel to the different diocesan health centers to assist the staff and to structure a set of protocol for the clinics. In the second half of his service, he worked at the new Cardiac Center of Shisong Hospital. Alicia taught English at St. Augustine Secondary School. In addition to teaching, she helped form a student newspaper and ran a mobile library during the summer months. Their sons, Keaton and Quinn attended the school as well.
IN OWN WORDS:
"From the time I (Alicia) was 18 years old, I kept feeling this nagging call that never went away and kept driving me toward the prospect of working in overseas missions. I felt excited when I would read about people doing mission work in Africa. Little did we know that my husband, Chris, would travel in a tiny jeep on some of the worst roads imaginable to reach village health centers and teach new nurses how to improve their skills. How fun to be a part of a community in a land with different customs, music and food. And for the time that our family served in Cameroon, it was incredibly fun and also incredibly difficult. The amazement of working 'in Africa' never wore off while we were there but also we experienced the daily struggles of limited electricity, scarce water, and the constant poverty in the community in which we lived. I was humbled; we were humbled. And at the same time, God used our very human weaknesses as a way to touch the lives of the people we were meant to serve.
Often, Chris and I were in the 'teaching' role in our community but it wasn’t until we humbled ourselves enough to listen to others that they respected us enough to listen to us. We had a small farm by our house and both of us attempted to plant and cultivate the local crops: beans, potatoes, and maize. We were quite terrible farmers and every time we were working outside, a constant stream of neighbors would walk down the road and inevitably, each would stop to offer advice on what we were doing wrong and how we could improve. They were amused and sometimes laughed out loud at our incompetence. At the same time, this experience made us more 'real' to them and definitely more approachable. As a result, we developed deeper relationships and were able to make more progress in our mission assignment than we could have otherwise.
Reflecting back on our mission experience, Chris and I feel so blessed that we were able to do this work. The material sacrifices pale in comparison to the sense of peace of doing something that God wanted us to do. We also feel grateful to Lay Mission Helpers for supporting us on this mission and we would say to anyone who is considering this kind of work, 'Go in peace.'"