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.

Temporary

Everyone wants things that last. People don’t want temporary.

When we first arrived back in the USA the idea of temporary was constantly on my mind. I found myself saying “we don’t need that” to many things. We can get by without because we’ll just need to get rid of it soon.

Even our home is temporary. And tonight is the last time we’ll sleep in our rental house. The temporary is gone, its end is here.

And what begins now is just a new temporary.

We trade one for another.

Unlike some people who live overseas, we never live there permanently. We aren’t there to settle for generations. We aim to live fully in our host country, but the reality of our situation is that we can’t stay forever.

It’s through this lack of complete permanence that we know change is always coming.

When our plane lands and we unpack our bags another countdown clock will begin. Sometimes we know when that clock will reach zero, and sometimes we don’t. But it’s always ticking.

We want to believe we have permanence, but we’re all just aliens and strangers in this world. But one day we will find something permanent.

At Home

Like many people across the world, we have been spending a lot of time at home. I feel like this picture sums up how some days have gone:

Hopefully everyone is enjoying this time at home.

There are many question about what happens next for us, but no more than there are for everyone right now. We wait on the Lord, and know that He has been faithful in the past and will continue to be.

Exploring

Where we live there is a creek that runs through a nearby park. The kids have always wanted a creek in our backyard and this is the next best thing.

Where we live is pretty built up with houses, but there’s still a few places where you can go into the woods and explore.

The latest thing that has caught their interest is the way the creek is producing ice all over it from the flowing water.

It’s easy to forget that there are things to be found just outside our doors.

Merriest Christmas Wish

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!

Partners in the Gospel

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.

Empty

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.

In between you have an empty key ring.