Taste the World

When we go grocery shopping here in town, I’m always struck by what seems to be food from all parts of the world. It’s true that most of the packaged food here comes from France, and there are also locally made products on the shelves. However, it does appear to me that, in some way, Cameroon is kind of like an outlet store for the rest of the world’s food.

I’ve found pasta written mostly in Greek, oatmeal from the UAE, breakfast cereal from Germany, Pringles intended for sale in the Middle East (ironically made in the USA). Many of these products are dual labeled in English and Arabic, or another combination of languages.

I don’t know if my assumptions are true, but I do know that finding “Alexandrian Liver” flavored Kellogg’s instant noodles from Egypt, which I’ve never seen before in this same store — and may never see again, makes me wonder how they ended up here.

Close Community

One of the nice things about living overseas is the deep connection that happens with others. We are grateful for the friendships that we have with other fellow “expats” who understand a lot of the struggles and joys that we experience without explanation. We are also grateful for the friendships that we have with “nationals” who share with us the struggles and joys that we experience despite the need for lots of explanation.

Our children attend school with our colleagues’ children. We live next to those that we work with. The church we attend is in the neighborhood and so many of the same people are also part of our local church family. Spending so much time with the people means that we truly live in community. This can be a very good thing and during times of pandemic, it can be a bit of a liability.

One member of the community has tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, we are in a period of two weeks of lockdown and our two schools will be entirely online.

Please pray with us:
– For our community, that the spread of the virus will not go any farther

– For the person who is ill and recovering in isolation

– For our neighborhood, churches, and friends, that they will not be affected by this

– For good communication with health officials and doctors

– That we will make wise decisions

We are trusting the Lord, who is our protector and healer. 

Birthdays and Baking

Eila has started to really enjoy baking and is making all kinds of treats for any and every occasion. With both of the ladies in our home having birthdays within two weeks of each other, we often enjoy lots of good eating at the start of the year. This year has been even better than normal. Here are just two of the recent delicious goodies that have been enjoyed:

With tomorrow being Youth Day in Cameroon, Eila has decided to make fried chicken on her day off of school. Can’t wait!

Teachers Needed

As we look ahead at the coming year, we are wondering what God will do to advance His Kingdom around the world. Maybe you are too. This month, our teens had final exams and started the second semester of the school year. In August, all three of our children plan to attend the same school, Rain Forest International School. RFIS provides a quality 7th-12th grade education that aims to prepare students for the next stage of life, for many that includes attending universities in America, Canada, or Europe. The school serves missionary families as well as Cameroonian students.

RFIS Volleybal

Brian is the current chairperson of the RFIS Board, and it has become increasingly clear that the situation at the school is dire. Due to retirements and other factors, approximately 75% of the current teaching staff will be gone in three years. RFIS desperately needs new teachers and staff to join now. It takes time to apply to a sending agency, to build a team of prayer and financial partners, and to prepare for life in Cameroon. We need people to begin this journey now or in the very near future.

This is why we need you. RFIS is looking for people with a passion to transform lives who possess specific skills and abilities. Secondary teachers in every discipline (including math, science, English, history, art, music, drama, computers, etc.), a finance manager, a librarian, an IT network specialist, a student counselor, an academic counselor, learning support and ELL specialists, and a director of facilities and technical services are all desperately needed. Do you have any of these skills? Please ask God if he wants you to join His work at RFIS. Do you know someone who has one of these skills? Please talk to them about RFIS or share this post with them. And, if you know of elementary teachers or librarians who would like to serve missionary families in Cameroon, please let us know. There are also needs at the Greenhouse for first and second grade, music, art, and PE teachers. Comment for more info or visit rfis.org.

We are trusting God to provide for our children’s educational needs and help us continue to provide IT support for Bible translation and linguistics training and research for minority language groups in Cameroon. Interestingly, God’s plans have always involved God’s people joining him in His work.

What are you trusting God for in 2021? How will you join in God’s work this year?

First Month of Second Term

In the past six weeks, we have had a lot of transition and are now settling back in to our other home. We hope these photos will give you a clearer picture of where we are.

Reality

Sometimes it seems like you can do the same work from a distance. We’ve all been trying it. It appears to be working. We are getting things done and work is moving forward, in all sorts of ways. This is wonderful and a new normal for us all.

Yet, when you are able to be back doing the work in person again, things are different. For me, I am able to see, appreciate, and find missing parts and pieces that I didn’t realize were even missing from a distance.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

This is a little bit what it was like when I went to church in person for the first time after the lockdown. Even though we were spread out and wearing masks, I hadn’t realized what a difference being together made, singing and listening, in the same space.

It is also a bit of what I’ve been experiencing as we are returning to Yaoundé and our work, in person. The reality of the various crisis situations around the country is much harder and more bleak than what I could hear or see from a distance. There are pieces of my life that are being revived, and I hadn’t even realized they had been dormant. I am able to see and appreciate things up close that I wasn’t able to from a distance.

From a distance, sometimes what seems to be is only part of the picture in reality.

The Last Time We…

We just left the season of lasts. Last Times. Or what we would call “the-last-time-we…”. Or, at least, Last Times for a While.

We said it so many times over the past month that I think the kids became tone deaf to the idea, but it’s important to mark those times as they happen and allow everyone to say goodbye in their own way.

We heard it a few times, “I didn’t realize we wouldn’t see Aunt Jen’s house again.” Sometimes you miss it and your opportunity is gone.

Here are some of the last times we noted:

  • The last Chick-Fil-A meal.
  • The last visit to Shannon’s Aunt and Uncle’s.
  • The last time they saw their cousins, and Aunts and Uncles.
  • The last time we saw Grandmas and Grandpa.

And these last times are hard. What’s important is that we get a chance to note it and a chance to say goodbye.

We turn now to “first things”.

What is the first thing you’ll do…

We Have Arrived

Thank you for your prayers! After a long journey from Detroit, we arrived safely in Cameroon late in the evening on Tuesday. We received our negative Covid-19 test results in plenty time to be printed before we left. The trip was smooth and all of our luggage arrived. God went before us each step of the way!

We are also thankful for the warm welcome we received to our quarantine apartment in Cameroon, with transport, groceries, and a meal waiting for us.

We are returning to our work and studies remotely and settling into our new routine. We hope to move into our home in Yaounde in two weeks.

It is a joy to be back on the field and be able to continue to support the life-changing work of Bible translation in Cameroon. We could not have gotten here without you! 

Thank you for being partners with us on this journey.