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.

Houseless

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.

Yet.

But we will.

It’s been hard to never get a chance to settle, or feel that sure about what’s to come.

But I think that’s the lesson here.

We aren’t at home here. We are aliens.

Someday we will find a lasting home.

Maps and Directions

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.

New street sign

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 coming. On est en route…

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.

Sometimes things take a little longer than expected, even when you are “en route”!

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.

Under Construction

One of the things that we see a lot in the developing world is development. Someone explained that if they have money, they will be obliged to spend it on their family and friends to provide for their needs and wants and all the money will get used up, but if they spend all their cash on building, they can honestly say that they don’t have any money. So, we see a lot of houses and buildings at various stages of construction. When someone has money to build a wall or two, they do it. And then the project will sit and wait until the funds for the next part are available, which can take years.

Cathedral at Mt Febe, under construction
Cathedral at Mt Febe, under construction

Shannon was recently able to take a weekend by herself to go to a monastery and one of the places that she went to pray during that weekend, was next to the partially constructed cathedral. During the many hours spent in that location, she was really struck by the “under construction” nature of people as well. We are all in various stages of being built and while some of us are looking pretty good from the outside, but there is still a lot of work to do inside. But for all of us, God is not finished with us yet.