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.
In the tropics, there’s really only two seasons: rainy and dry. It’s hot all year long, but it’s either hot and rainy (where’s it’s not quite as hot) or hot and dry (where it’s really hot). Here in Cameroon you might be able to also say there are four: the big and little rainy season and the big and little dry season.
I, as an expat and import, often still think about the “regular” seasons of back home in Michigan even though here it bears no resemblance to what is happening across an ocean. I still say things like “Next Summer”, or “This Winter” even though it’s 85 degrees out.
The other day I was talking to one of my Cameroonian colleagues about something that we’d do in the future and I said, “We can’t do that now, but we’ll take care of that in the Spring”. She said, “Oh ok.” seeming to understand — but then added, “When’s Spring?”.
One morning, a few weeks ago, we went outside and sat at our new picnic table. At that time, it was under a tree. It was a nice location since the tree provided shade against the tropical sun.
However, that morning we noticed a number of caterpillars (chenilles) all over the table. We brushed them off and sat down at the table. Then a caterpillar fell from the tree and landed near Eila. Hrm. And these just weren’t any little caterpillars, these were large (2-3 inch) black ones with yellow spikes.
We started to move them into a bucket we had around. Remembering that I’ve seen similar caterpillars live in the open air markets here in Cameroon, I brought the few we had collected to the guard at our compound and asked if he would want them. “Well, yes, but there’d have to be more”, he said to us (in French) — but he would stop by at the end of his shift and pick up what we had.
So we went back and noticed that more had fallen from the tree above. We scooped those up into the bucket. Soon, every time we went by there were more caterpillars to be collected and by the end of the morning, we had quite a number writhing in the bottom of our bucket.
We ended up with more than this.
At the end of the day, the guard stopped by and we gave what we had in the bucket to the guard in a baggie.
The next day we asked him how they were , and he said they were very delicious. His son knew how to prepare them, and they are them with tomato, garlic, and lots and lots of piment (hot sauce).
As you might already know, we need teachers in Cameroon. For us and for nearly all the expatriate families that are serving in Cameroon, the schooling options are a huge part of how and why we are here. This is true for those working with us in Bible translation, literacy and Scripture engagement as well for those from all sorts of different ministries – church planting, discipleship and mentoring, training of pastors and leaders, orphan care, youth outreach and so many others. The ability for us to continue to work depends in a very large part on the ability of our kids to go to school. For next year, the 2019-2020 school year, there are huge needs at nearly every level from administration and support to all varieties of ages/grades and subjects. If you know any teachers who might like to make a difference in the world and who are interested in living in one of the best climates, let me know!
For The Greenhouse Learning Center (or Field Education System – FES), we need:
Grade 1/2 teacher
Grade 3/4 teacher
For Rain Forest International School, we could use qualified teachers for 7th-12th grade in nearly every subject as well as an administrator!
There’s a Cameroonian at the place where I work who used to work in the Computer Department. We grab lunch with every now and then. It’s nice to have someone else to connect with and he teaches me about Cameroonian culture and I get some additional French practice.
A few weeks ago, he asked me to help him improve his English — so we’ve been working through a little English learning book. In this book is a story about a market. We talked about the story and he would ask me what certain words meant. One that was confusing to him was “hawker”.
“What’s a hawker?” he asked (we had this conversation in French)
“Someone who sells in a market and calls out to you ‘Come! I have things here’.”
“Oh! Like a buy-em sell-em”.
Then I had to stop him and ask him about these “Buy-em Sell-ems”.
He said, “They are the ladies who sit by the site of the road and lay out a mat with their goods. A buy-em sell-em”.
It turns out the French word here in Cameroon is “les Bayam-Sellam”.
A couple days later Shannon was reading a news site and found that word “les Bayam-Sellam”. She didn’t understand what it was referring to until she read it phonetically.
Shannon recently returned from another trip to the village where she helped with a verb workshop. In Bantu languages, generally, verbs are known to be able to add suffixes or prefixes or even infixes for different tenses as well as for many other uses. So, this verb workshop was an attempt to start the process of learning how verbs act and how they can change in this language. We were able to learn a lot through the participatory workshop and the participants seemed to really grasp the richness and diversity of their language. It was a productive workshop that also had to be very efficient, as it was cut short by one day due to the funeral of one of the main leaders of the community. This sad situation was also an occasion for learning, as Shannon attended the wake and burial service.
Final preparations underway, the display and reception area are set up.
Grieving is often a deeply personal experience in American culture, but in Cameroon, the entire community wails and weeps together. They stay up throughout the night together; sitting, talking, and even dancing and music are prominent among the activities. Of course, there is a lot of food too.
Singing and weeping and comforting each other
Laid to rest
I was really struck by the normalcy and injustice of death throughout this trip. Death is both so wrong, especially when it takes a young person and so normal, in that everyone experiences it. I appreciated the expressions of grief and the community striving together to make sense of what doesn’t make sense. And even more, I’m grateful for the eternal life and hope that belong to all who believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and the chance to share that hope with others.
I Corinthians 15:50-57 NIV
50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
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