April Update from the Yees

We hope you had a happy Easter celebration.

We just want to send a very quick update and give thanks to you for your prayers and to God for His great power!

Shannon has been pain free for almost two weeks now. She experienced immediate relief and full healing as a small group prayed over her. Praise God.

Schedules returned to normal this week after spring break. Also, Shannon is away this week at the village to continue with the next linguistics workshop with the same language community.

Our Easter family portrait for 2018.

Please pray for Shannon’s workshop in the village this week to go well and also for continued good health for the whole family.

We were able to take a ride in the new R66 helicopter. It was a great experience.

March Update from the Yees

It has been a little while since our last update, and maybe you are wondering how Shannon’s village trip went.  The short answer is: wonderfully!  You can read more details and see a few pictures here.

Shannon working on nouns with a small group at the participatory workshop in February.

One of the downsides to life in a tropical climate is the large insect population, mosquitos especially.  While Shannon was in the village, she got quite a few bug bites, one of which likely resulted in a virus called chikungunya (similar to dengue fever or the zika virus). Shortly after returning from her travels, she got a high fever, itchy rash, headache, etc. that lasted about a week.  Then, the second stage of the virus set in with severe arthritis pain in her joints.  She is doing better each day and is easing back into resuming her regular workload, but still from home.

Brian and the kids enjoyed a Valentine’s Day banquet at Eila’s school while Shannon rested at home.

Brian continues to work on the final details of the new payroll system, as well as preparing a new website for the Cameroon branch. The computer services department is very busy, and Brian is glad to have great colleagues. He and the kids have been playing soccer in their free time as well as doing some extra cooking and cleaning.

We really want to thank you for partnering with us in this work; we are so encouraged when we think about the people that are participating with us in Bible translation here in Cameroon!

Please thank God for:

  • protecting and caring for us each day,
  • deepening friendships (Shannon’s sickness has opened the door for others to come alongside and love on us.)
  • safety in travel and the productive noun workshop in February.

Thank you for praying. We would appreciate your prayers for:

  • good health: in addition to Shannon’s virus, stomach troubles and bug bites are a common problem for all of us, and Eila has been having some bad headaches lately;
  • continued development of friendships and adjustments to cultural differences.

With love,
The Yees

Soccer Season

Cameroon loves soccer, so Brian and the kids have been playing a lot of soccer since we’ve arrived.  Brian plays Friday nights at the compound where we live which has a small soccer field.  I’ve posted about the kids soccer club the boys enjoy going to.  Eila has joined the soccer team at her school and really enjoys playing.  This is her second sport (after volleyball) that she’s joined at the school and she’s had a lot of fun playing both.  Here’s a few photos of her playing.

Rainy Season is Back

Or is it?

Rainy season returned with lots of storms about a week ago, and the strangest part is that it arrived about one month (or more like 6 weeks) early.  Everyone is confused.  We’re confused because everyone told us that that rainy season would start at the end of March.  Cameroonians are equally confused.  Maybe we’re still in for another month of dryness, no one really knows.  One thing is for certain — the past week has been very wet.

It even hailed the other day.  With Michigan having a lot of snow this year, both Michigan and Cameroon have frozen water falling from the sky — just in slightly different ways.

Large pea sized hail here in Cameroon

One big change is the temperature.  Dry season is hot.  The return of the rains also brings the return of more comfortable temperatures that is very welcome.  The mud on the other hand…less so.

 

Back from the Bush

The main village road

Not too long ago, it was required for all expatriate missionaries in our branch to attend what they called “Africa Orientation Course,” which included a 3-week village stay with a family.  With more and more people coming and staying in the city, it didn’t make as much sense.  So, my first visit to the village was to work, and I’m so thankful that it went really well.

I won’t lie.  I was extremely nervous before I left, mostly because I just didn’t know what to expect.  I had been told to bring all our water and that the conditions were “rough” and this from a woman who lives with a Cameroonian family currently and is quite at home in African villages.  Also, I’m terrified (completely and irrationally so, and only a little ashamed to admit it) of cockroaches, which live quite comfortably and abundantly here in the tropics.

Our host family in front of the kitchen

What I found was a welcoming and joyful family and community excited to host us and eager to learn.  They had no running water or electricity or good internet connection, but they had a very clean and warm home where they served us delicious food twice a day (with at least two meat options and a hearty starch as well).  They showed us various parts of their culture and daily life and were excited to teach us a bit about themselves.

Working on adding the plural to noun cards that were collected at the first workshop

I was in this small village a few hours east of Yaoundé with two other linguists to do the second in a series of workshops to help a language community learn about their language and prepare the ground work for literacy and translation work in the future.  We spent most of our time collecting data about nouns and tones, while the participants in the workshop are beginning to grasp that their patois is a real language with a grammar that is very different from the French that they learned in school.  This language has 8 noun classes and some of the markers differ only by tone.  The plural is formed differently for each type of noun and understanding the grammar of their language (which all speakers know intuitively) helps them to appreciate it and also be able to do translation work later.  They are also learning to read and write their heart language as we work on their language together, which they are really excited about.

One evening after dinner, I heard someone teaching two of the women who had been cooking what they learned that day!

I’m so thankful for the way God answered all the prayers prayed on my behalf and that of the workshop.  It was a huge success.

Next time, I’ll be sure to have pants and long-sleeves to avoid the bug bites. 🙂

Bonne Année !

Bible translation in Cameroon enjoyed a big boost as we began this new year.  SIL-Cameroon, the center where we work in Yaoundé, hosted the first ever National Symposium on Cameroonian Languages.  Shannon was co-coordinating the logistics of this 2-day academic conference with the University of Yaoundé and is thrilled that it was a huge success.  There were over 150 linguists from around the country who raved about how much they learned and were excited to go back to their respective institutions and communities with their insights.  We made it look so easy that it was decided that they’d repeat it annually, rotating to the various major universities around the country.

Today marks 6 months since we arrived in Cameroon! We are amazed at all that we have been a part of in such a short time.  And, we are so grateful for God’s faithfulness to us and to bringing His Word to the world.  Thanks for partnering in the work of Bible translation!

Attendees are welcomed to the first ever Cameroonian linguistics conference.

Shannon, pictured here with our neighbors, worked at the information table throughout the conference.

We can thank God for:

  • sustaining us through a year of huge transitions
  • encouraging results from the first linguistics conference
  • giving us interesting things to work on
  • 6 months of living in Cameroon!!

We appreciate your prayers for:

  • protection and health (for the whole family) as Shannon travels to a remote village for a language workshop
  • encouragement in continued cultural adjustments
  • deeper relationships

The Aroma of Dry Season

I have always loved the smell of fall in Michigan.  And the scent of spring after a long and cold winter is a gift.  So, I’ve sort of known that seasons have their own smell, but I didn’t realize how distinctive they can be.

Yaoundé has two seasons: dry and rainy, which some might choose to label as the dusty or muddy seasons instead.  At the end of the rainy season someone mentioned that although dry season was coming soon, it wasn’t here yet.  They could tell by the smell.  It didn’t smell like dry season, so it hadn’t yet arrived.   I was surprised that the smell of the season would be so distinct and suddenly change the season, but just a few days later, I understood.

We are now in dry season and there is dust everywhere.  Harmattan is what I kept hearing people refer to, and the haze of dust that fills the air and settles on everything is here with it’s very distinct taste and aroma.  I’m not exactly sure how to describe it other than dry with a bit dustiness.  Those who have experienced this season before think of the smell as familiar, but for me it’s new and distinct.

A plant during dry season

I don’t know which season I prefer yet.  There are nice things about the dry season, like how quickly clothes dry in the sun and the various flora and fauna that appear at this time of year.  As for which season creates more mess from the boys playing outside in it, there is no clear winner here either.  I honestly don’t think it matters; our kids can get exceptionally dirty in any and every season.  And, they can track their mess into the house anytime of year!

Someone washed just one foot so we could compare.

Venturing Out

We took a brief vacation to the beach between Christmas and New Year’s Day.  It was our first time outside the city limits to explore a bit of this amazing country where we live.

Our view for the 4-hour drive

The rainforest was beautiful and immense.  And, it went right up to the coastline.  God answered our prayers and we had a super smooth trip.  We were surprised by the humidity difference and really appreciate the elevation that we live at in Yaoundé.  Some other surprises included the power of the tide and the warmth of the ocean water, which Eila described as bathwater.  We only lost a few toys (and no glasses!) to the current.

Sea Turtle Returning to the Sea

While we spent most of the time in the water, we also played some games, read books and did a few puzzles.  We did a little touristy excursion as well and visited one of only three fresh water waterfalls in the world to fall directly into the ocean.  It was a gorgeous place and we were able to walk in the falls a little, but it was super slippery and some of us did a little swimming accidentally as well.  Fortunately, no one was swept away.

Josiah at the waterfalls (Les Chutes de la Lobé)

We all enjoyed seeing a wide variety of sea life thanks to the hard-working fishermen.  Thad was very sad to see a crab stuck in a net, but he did not seem to mind too much when we ate lots shrimp and fish for dinner each night.

Petting A Sea Anemone

Thad learning about Fiddler Crabs (les crabes violonistes)

Swimming in December

One of the activities planned at the boys’ school during the month of December was the gym class going swimming.  Since December through March is the hottest time of the year here (well, it’s hot all year, just extra hot during those months) it’s the perfect time for the classes to have swimming lessons.

The elementary kids were put into classes of varying level and sent to local pools around town with parents helping to teach the strokes and the skills.  It was fun for the boys, even if it made the days tiring.

Here are a few pictures:

Lift Your Bottoms to the Lord

The dialects of French and English that are spoken in Yaoundé are very different than the versions of those languages that I speak and understand most easily.  In fact, it is easier for me to communicate with locals here in French than in English.  But, most conversations are navigated very freely and the language employed depends on both parties and their comfort and ability.

Our work environment uses a wide mixture of English and French as well as translators for both.  There are Americans, Canadians, British, and Australians who are all native speakers of different English dialects.  In addition to the many Africans, there are also Koreans, Dutch, Germans, Swiss, Hungarians, and Swedes who speak English as a second language.  And of course there are native French speakers from Canada, France, Switzerland and various African countries.  Then, there are all those who speak French as a second or third language.  The potential of miscommunication abounds as does the need to be flexible.

The MCs for the branch Christmas baquet included an Anglophone (English-speaking) Cameroonian woman and an American man.  The American was the French MC for the evening while  another Francophone (French-speaking) Cameroonian woman translated other English-speakers words into French during the event.  Unfortunately or fortunately for the translator, most of the crowd is fluent in both of these languages and corrected every mistake she made and helped her out when she struggled.

At one point during the Christmas banquet, the English MC said that we should lift our burdens to the Lord and praise Him. She repeated this several times, encouraging us to worship God and lay our burdens before Him because He is able to carry them and He wants us to trust Him with everything because He cares for us.  Unfortunately, I misunderstood her. To me, the word “burden” in Cameroonian English sounds a lot like “bottom.”  I kept wondering why she wanted us to “Lift our bottoms to the Lord.”