There’s no doubt that being away from family during the holidays is hard. It was great to spend Christmas and Thanksgiving with new friends, things just weren’t the same.
During the holidays there’s always something that makes Thanksgiving your family’s Thanksgiving, or that makes Christmas your family’s Christmas. For us, that was usually food.
And in Cameroon we would attempt to recreate these recipes.
Usually they were close. However, no matter how closely a recipe is followed, or how carefully the ingredients are selected, making it yourself — especially in a different country — just isn’t the same.
And the holidays don’t feel right.
So we were glad to be able to visit with our family’s Christmas and Thanksgiving this year and be part of the familiar again.
For a lighthearted update and a little fun… a Christmas poem for our friends and family to enjoy!
Twas the week before Christmas and all through the house The children were sleeping and so was my spouse. So, I pause to think of Jesus and the gift God gave, And I want you to know it is Him that you crave. Our family has had another year of transitions, Which makes it more special to share in traditions, Like going to the lake at Au Gres with our cousins And camping at Hocking Hills, walking miles by the dozens. We loved the early big snow and beautiful colors this fall, But enjoying time with our family and friends is the best of all! We are so glad to share the holidays with extended family: Making cookies, playing games and maintaining our sanity. The first half of this year we were still living in Cameroon, Dancing and singing to a slightly different tune. At the end of the school year, we’ll return to Yaounde; It’s become our other home, where we work as well as play. Both in Africa and the US, Brian plays soccer to stay fit; Of course, so do the kids, but I (Shannon) run a little bit. I’m working on my MA in Linguistics at Wayne State. Brian’s able to do a lot of work remotely, which is great. Josiah is now a hungry 13-year-old middle schooler. Thaddeus is having fun in 5th grade, everyday a whole lot cooler. Joe’s grown taller than Eila, of which he is proud. And both boys play as much Minecraft as they’re allowed. We can hardly believe that Eila, our daughter, Is now attending her parents’’s high school alma mater. After trying cheerleading, she’s back competing in gymnastics, Even all the time on TikTok and K-pop don’t hurt her scholastics! Now, we hope that this winter in Michigan we won’t freeze And we hope that you have enjoyed this update from the Yees. May you experience God’s love for you in a new way this year! Our one extra wish is truly warm and sincere: Merry Christmas to you and a Happy New Year!
I have been reminded many times lately of how all Christians are working for the same thing and have been for a really long time. Even going back to the apostles. Not too long ago, I read a post about the need for missionary care which mentioned how Paul thanked the Philippians for their partnership, specific their support through: “encouragement, prayer, logistics, communication, finance and reentry… And every missionary today needs care in those six areas.” (Neal Pirolo Interview)
It is so true. Everyone needs care. Missionaries might have a few particular areas of need that differ from others. Yet, if we are partners in living out and sharing the good news about Jesus, then we can and should care for one another. The practical ways that we care are evidence of our love and therefore part of our witness.
Like Paul, I am so grateful for the partners we have all over the world. One of our partners in the Gospel is a national linguistics worker who is now working to find financial partners to help cover expenses for his family and also for the work of several language programs in an area of Cameroon where, as foreigners, we cannot currently work. If you’d like to give financially or want to know more about how to partner with this other missionary, please let me know.
We are grateful recipients of lots of care and hopefully also generous givers of similar care.
Well, it has been busy. With the start of school, we have been busy. The kids are playing soccer and cheerleading. Eila also attended the homecoming dance. We visited with family at Old Man’s Cave in Ohio, and have been returning to local favorites like cider mills.
And, the weather is getting cold. We all need extra layers.
When we left Michigan for France I brought this empty key ring with me. I figured I would need something to keep my keys on, so when I took the last key off the ring, I put it in my pocket. This was the night before we boarded our plane in December 2016.
And, as expected, I put keys on it. The key to our apartment, and the key to the garage where we kept our bikes. It was full for a while, but then it came time to leave France after we finished language school. It was empty again.
During our arrival in Cameroon, it filled again. Keys to our house, to my office. Periodically I would attach a car key to this ring.
But, as we were leaving Cameroon about a month ago, I stared down at this key ring again.
It was empty.
It was waiting for what was next.
I didn’t realize it when I left, but I was bringing with me a very tangible representation of transition.
Loved ones are removed, new friends are added.
Emptied and filled.
You can’t live overseas without a terrible hole in your heart from having to leave those you love behind. At the same time you also know that loved ones are waiting on the other side, family, old friends, or even those you haven’t met yet.
One of the things that recently caught my mind was the fact that since we sold our house in Michigan we’ve never really known where we were going to live. We’ve never been homeless. But at times we’ve felt houseless.
Soon after that we were leaving for France to study and learn language skills. We had a rough idea of where we were living — but then a week before we departed we found out there was an off-campus apartment that had become available. It was less expensive and might be a good fit for our family.
That’s all we knew. We said yes.
When we were ready to arrive in Cameroon, we were told we would be living in #3. I didn’t realize immediately, but we ended up in #22. #22 was another family’s place — so whenever they returned we would have to move.
Their return was always “soon”. So we expected to have to leave at any time. We waited, but they continued to be delayed.
Now we’re heading back to Michigan and don’t have an idea of where we’ll be living long term.
God has been faithful so far and we will find a place.
Once we return to Cameroon, we don’t have a place.
But we will.
It’s been hard to never get a chance to settle, or feel that sure about what’s to come.
Sometimes it is hard to find what I’m looking for, even when I have a map. But it is especially hard for me when it is someplace new and there is no address to enter into Google. When we first arrived in Yaounde, we wondered how anyone knew where they were, as there were no visible streets signs. But it turns out those street signs, though shiny and clearly visible now, are not how we get around. Mostly, it seems navigation is by neighborhood or intersection and common landmarks. It may be that the common landmark is no longer in the place it once was and that can be tricky for newcomers. But, not to worry, people are happy to help point you in the general direction.
I came across an article recently which resonated with me as this practice of drawing your address is typical in Cameroon as well. Drawing a simple map is also very common on death/funeral announcements, except that those maps generally cover huge areas and specify only one intersection in the village and the direction of the major city. It seems like the best practice is to ask for directions, in which case, the answer will surely be a helpful hand pointing “It’s just right over there.”
I’m on my way. This is what we hear often from those who are expected to be somewhere but are not there yet. They are certainly coming and are on their way. They may have already left and might actually be on the road very close. Or, they might still be at their previous location, thinking about heading out soon, but not really planning to arrive for a while. Either way, they are coming and will make it to the destination eventually. There is no need to worry, but just to be ready and be patient.
I was recently reminded that I could see the return of Jesus with this same mentality. Jesus is certainly coming and will eventually arrive, but only God knows when. We should be ready for His arrival at any time, but not be too put off it if is taking longer than we expect.
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