Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Word from our Sponser...

Ben went to Benakuma this last weekend. This trip was quite a bit easier than the last, and he didn't have any exciting labor and delivery stories to share, but they had a great weekend and saw souls saved and believers encouraged. As always, he came back bursting with Benakuma news. He shared a neat little nugget that I could never put into the proper words. So, I asked him to write it down. I know it will be an encouragement to you:

I know this is weird. The same day Becca changes her banner to read, “Missions from a Mom’s Perspective” she asks me to write a post on her blog. I am not sure what that means, but here goes. :D

This past weekend Tommike and I went out to minister in Benade and Benakuma. We saw at least six professions of faith and we were greatly blessed by the tremendous growth of Faith Baptist Church of Benade. This church is not even four months old and the small room they are meeting in is already packed! The church in Benakuma is talking about buying their own plot of land to build a church house, and next time we hope to have a good group baptized who have been recently saved. Praise God! The ministry in these two villages is very challenging both physically and spiritually. It is physically challenging because some weekends we must trek for hours and miles up and down rough terrain to reach these villages. It is spiritually challenging because we have entered a region that has been dominated by Satan and his dark realm for generations. He is seriously at work on the individuals and families who have come to know Christ in these remote villages.

On Sunday morning I was singing a congregational hymn with the people of Faith Baptist Church in Benakuma. The church house is constructed of mud blocks, six trusses and a corrugated aluminum roof. The floor is dirt and the “pews” are rough hewn wooden benches. The church has three small wooden shutters that open and allow a little air and light in for the service (this village has no electricity or running water). During the week, the one door and the three shutters are closed tight and the church house is completely dark except for Wednesday night prayer meeting, Saturday evening Bible study and Sunday Morning worship service. That is why I was very surprised on Sunday morning to look to my right and notice a small Banga shoot (palm nut tree) poking up through the dirtfloor of the right aisle in the church! My first thought was, “How in the world did that seedling get water and light to germinate and begin growing inside a room that is completely locked in darkness all week?” During the next congregational song, I discovered the answer. I pulled my camera from my pocket and took this picture
You see, the metal roof contains several nail holes. These holes apparently allowed just enough sun and rain to fall and to bring forth life in this room almost entirely concealed in darkness day after day. My heart was moved as I considered the comparisons between myself and the nail hole above this seedling. Benakuma and Benade have been strongholds of darkness since they were established generations ago. The god of this world has blinded the minds of these people since birth (2 Cor. 4:4). All of the sudden, the I AM led a couple of missionaries to punch a hole in the darkness of this region. God has used these small “nail holes” to bring a few drops of water (John 7:38) and enough light (Matt. 5:14) into this realm of darkness - and life has sprung forth! This Banga plant is young and fragile, just as the young believers of Benakuma and Benade. Please pray for God’s daily grace and strength for these precious people, and please pray the Lord of the Harvest that he would send more laborers to Cameroon who would be willing to be nothing more than “nail holes” for Jesus.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Extended Stay

Well, it has been just over two weeks since we returned from taking the Yeiters to the airport in Douala, and I have to share our exciting experience. Life in Africa is always an adventure and you never quite know what is going to happen. You have to take one day at a time. Although - that is really life in general. It's just that when a trip like ours takes place in the states, you have triple A to call and a taco bell and a Wal-mart next door to make it a bit less stressful. :D

The trip started out with, "How much longer til we get there" 's from all the kids before we even really left Bamenda! haha! We were packed in pretty good between all of us and the Yeiters luggage and it was an unusually hot day. So, it wasn't the most comfortable ride, but we told the kids to enjoy each other's company and have fun. Easier said than done I can assure you - but all in all, they were pretty good for the duration of the trip. Especially considering the trouble we ran into close to Douala.
You can kind of see Trinity in the back of the van, snuggled between all the luggage. She fell asleep that way lol! Too cute.

Well, everything was going along just great until we were about 30 to 45 minutes outside of Douala. The van started to overheat (deja-vu from my Mom's visit). We obviously pulled over...cooled it down. Whew! The van was steamy!! and we were all so sweaty. Well, it cooled down and we continued on our way for a very brief time. It started heating again and again the guys tried to cool it down. This time some local men helped to carry some water. Off we go again...but then the van started making this terrible grinding noise. Yikes. So, Ben just had no idea what it was and was too afraid to go any further. Especially after we'd just paid to have the engine rebuilt! God orchestrated every bit of it though. We broke down in front of Jonathan's house. This man lives and works in Douala, but he is from the village of Babanki! He was from our province. Ben told him, "I was just in Babanki this morning!" So instantly we had a connection. He allowed us to pull our van into his little yard. He also offered to find a friend who could carry us to the airport. And he said it was no problem to park the van there for the night. He had a big security light and a nightwatchman, so the van would be safe. Wow! God worked it all out!

Well, We had to wait quite a little bit of time until his friend arrived with the van, and keeping the kids entertained was a feat. I'd brought a book with me that I tried to read to them. Susan took over and sang some songs with them. Jonathan was so thoughtful and brought out chairs for all of us to sit in. Finally that little van arrived. There were 12 of us...and Yeiters had their 12 peices of luggage plus their carry-ons - and we had a carry-on size suitcase with our stuff in it. This van was a 9 passenger. Hmmmmmmmm. Well, in Cameroon fashion, we all (including luggage of course) made it into that van! Unreal!! Susan and I were in the front passenger seat with 3 kids, and Matt and Ben were in the back with 5 kids. Because of how everything worked out, we weren't able to go with Yeiters to the airport. We had Jonathan's friend take us to the Mediterranean restaurant so we could eat and we said our goodbyes while the Yeiters continued on to the airport to find something to eat there.

We went to the Mediterranean twice while we were there and would you believe I forgot to take a picture both times! I'm so mad at myself. Well, we were exhausted, but hadn't eaten a real meal all day, so we ordered some pizzas. After we ate we hailed a cab and went to the Baptist guest house to crash for the night. I took a shower...Ahhh! I haven't had a real shower in weeks! It was such a treat.

The mechanic met Ben at 8 the next morning and they took a taxi out to the van. The kids and I got up and ate breakfast outside. They served tea, so we had fun having omelets, bread and a tea party. We went back into our room to wait for Ben b/c it was so hot. When you are really bored...even french cartoons will entertain you! haha! In the mean time - Ben dropped the mechanic off and put him to work. He headed back to the guest house, so we could spend the day as a family. Ben learned right away, that the mechanic would need to work on it all night, so we were spending an extra night in Douala. The kids were excited!

We decided to go shopping, so we left the guest house and walked until an empty taxi pulled up, and we hired him for the day. His name was Gaston...the kids loved that. ha! We went to all the fun stores that we only get to go to a couple times a term. I bought some stuff - not too much, but we enjoyed looking. Each time, Gaston would park outside and wait for us. We finally finished around lunch time and had him drop us off at the ice cream restaurant we always go to. We paid him and decided to walk back from there. We enjoyed burgers/fries and ice cream!!!

We had the whole afternoon ahead of us and nothing to do but wait, so Ben suggested we go swimming. Well, there was no Wal-Mart next door, so we had to improvise. Kate wore her jammie pants, and her shirt from the day before...Emma wore my tank top and Drew's shorts. Drew wore his clothes from the day before. All in all it worked out, and they swam ALL afternoon! I went and made Faith take a nap. She finally fell asleep and when she woke up, we got ready and walked to the pizza restaurant. We sat down and enjoyed pizza with feta cheese...Yumm! The kids were so wasted though, that they didn't eat as well as they had the night before. That pool wore them out! When we finished we got a taxi and headed back for bed! We went to bed early b/c everyone was so tired.

The mechanic finally came with our repaired van at 11 the next morning. Thankfully the problem was a lot milder than it sounded when we were driving it. The alternator housing came loose, causing the fan to slow down, causing the engine to overheat. We hit the road and had no problems the remainder of the trip. Another treat we enjoyed was rain our second night in Douala. I woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of it pouring on the roof. We also ran into rain a few times on the drive home, which made the trip home 100 times cooler than the trip there. In some places, almost too cool for the windows to be open. Since then we have had several days of rain, including yesterday. It thundered and threatened all afternoon and evening. It never did actually just dump on us, but rain fell a little bit and I'm hopeful and excited about the rainy season coming!

Rain eventually means water. Though, I'm not sure we will feel the effects of it before we leave for furlough the beginning of July, but I'll enjoy the rain whether we have water or not. The water situation has become frustrating, but it is a fact of life I'm learning to deal with. Ben finally sat down and talked to the water chairman and the plumber on Monday, and told him that he needs to ration the water, so that everyone can get a little. We are supposed to now get water Mon-Wed-Fri nights. That will keep our tank full, and the laundry caught up. So while I won't necessarily get a shower, I'll still be able to flush my toilets at will and wash my clothes!

I'll be back in the next few days to update on normal life and Ben's recent trip to Benakuma!