Family News – Reasons to Celebrate!

Eila graduated from RFIS! She was one of the top students in her class throughout high school. We are so proud of her perserevance and thoughtfulness. Even though endings are hard, she had a wonderful final semester with her friends and is ready for the next phase – at Calvin University.

Thaddeus was baptized as a believer in Jesus Christ! He took a big step to proclaim his faith in and desire to follow Jesus. We are so proud of his courage and excited to see what comes next for him. “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” -Galatians 5:25 (NIV)


It’s easy to look around this time of year in Michigan and be reminded of the cycles of the seasons. The birds have reappeared, the flowers are blooming, the trees are budding, and while it is still very cold most days there are hints of warm days coming.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Living in Cameroon, this was always something I missed. While there are seasonal changes and wet/dry changes — the cycle of winter to spring to summer to fall is missing there. And we’ve often mentioned that time seems to stand still in Cameroon, partially for this reason, I believe.

But what a joy it is the see each year.

This time last year some of us relocated back in Michigan, and it was during this springtime that we saw some of these same changes. One year anniversaries often bring back memories, or are good ways to mark progress.

How Do You Create an Alphabet?

It’s more than just picking out letters.

The Swo community in Cameroon is located not too far away from Yaoundé, about 3-4 hours east of the capital where we are based. Half of the trip is on the national highway, and then the rest of the journey is on poor roads, which are sometimes not passable in the rainy season.

Shannon first started working with this language community back in 2018 on her first field visit. Since then, she visited four of the approximately thirty villages where this language is primarily spoken. She assisted in leading workshops aimed at helping the community understand the sounds and structures of their language and how those are different from French (or other languages). She used the information from the workshops and from meetings with community members in Yaoundé to analyze the sounds and recently presented an orthography guide to the language community with recommendations for an alphabet and rules for writing words and sentences in Swo. While there is still much work to be done, getting to this point is the culmination of a lot of work over many years and a significant milestone in the language development journey of the Swo community.

While Shannon was in Yaoundé in January, she was able to meet with several members of the community to discuss this proposed alphabet. They are still working through understanding some of the recommendations and making sure that the everyone is able to read and write consistently. There will be lots of testing still to come in each of the villages and with different sectors of society.

For now, there are a few community members working with literacy specialists to make a transitional workbook for those who can already read and write in French. The next steps for this year include testing, training teachers, creating lots of reading materials (including a writer’s workshop), and then a first textbook (primer) for teaching reading and writing in Swo, which will, of course, be followed up with more testing. Shannon’s main work with this community is completed, and the literacy specialists will be the primary support for the next year or two.

Last week, Swo elites as well as various members of the Swo community worked together to understand the needs and options related to preserving and developing their language and culture. One of the main questions was if they would like to move forward with an oral or a written New Testament or both. Some Swo speakers recently learned a few Bible stories and have been sharing them at local gatherings. This is an exciting time in the Swo community! Please pray for wisdom and unity among the leaders and for all the Swo people to know and worship God.

The black dot represents the Swo community.

God is on the move

There are lots of ways that God is working around the world, and looking at the 2022 annual report from Wycliffe USA highlights some of them. We hope that you will enjoy the video overview or reading through the stories of ways that God did above and beyond in the last year. It makes us excited to think about what He is doing this year as well!

i-DELTA Continues

We posted about i-DELTA recently in our email updates, but i-DELTA continues. The two month program is intensive for both students and teachers.

Here’s a photo of Shannon teaching about the EGIDS scale to the students in her language development course. The EGIDS scale is a way to measure the status of a language in terms of its vitality or endangerment.


The motto of much of our work in Cameroon is “Nous sommes ensemble” which means We are together. This is true in the everyday moments and our work, but also in the big celebrations and difficult struggles of life. Last year, we attended several weddings for our friends and colleagues and it is a big deal. It is important to celebrate together. Even more important is visiting a friend or their family member in the hospital or grieving with them in the loss of a loved one. Funerals can last several days and include many nights of sitting with the family members. We can show that we are together by simply being with others. Being present is a powerful gift – in times of rejoicing and mourning.

Fall tree

This fall, I am reminded of the beauty and difficulty of change and loss. Our family recently went through a group lamenting session to process some of the changes and losses we have experienced. Looking at the Psalms, we see that God welcomes all of our emotions and questions. We also see that we can come to Him always. We don’t know how much time it will take to process all of our feelings and we are all at different places, but we can trust God to be with us no matter what. We are very thankful that we are not alone on our journey, even with ups and downs. We choose to believe that this isn’t the end of the story. With God, there is always hope, new life. Spring will come.