Friday, March 6, 2015

When Jesus Wants to Hold Your Baby



We recently visited St. Anthony's Secondary School, a new school nestled in the hills a few miles above the Shisong hospital.  It was interesting to see another school, to see it under construction, talk to the principal about the difficulties faced with a combination day/boarding student body, and to ask the students why they attend school at St. Anthony's and not any other boarding school in the country, such as SAC, or anything closer to their hometowns.

The younger kids couldn't articulate why they went there, some of them because they were Francophone and still learning English.  Basically, they attend St. Anthony's because their parents sent them there. The older students were much more articulate and noted the different curriculum and the fact that there was a business and marketing track, among other things.

Meanwhile, every single girl at the school crowded around Gabriel and wanted to hold him. I am always a little uncomfortable and guarded in these situations with strangers, but Logan is much more open and friendly. After all, she told me, what do you do when Jesus wants to hold your baby?

-Eric 



Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Home



After 36 hours of travel, we finally made it home to Saint Augustine's College in Kumbo. It was a grueling end to a wonderful and strange trip home to America. (I guess that's the funny thing about moving around the world: you start to accumulate more and more places you call “home.”) It has been a while since we posted anything on the blog, so let's catch up a bit.

In October, baby Gabriel was born. Logan was amazing during the birth, and Gabriel is just about the cutest ever. What a sweet blessing he is! Even when he is fussy and keeping me from sleep, I look at his face and just think of what a wonderful blessing the gift of life is. The kids all love him and dote on him. Sally alternates between fawning and jealousy, having been displaced as the youngest, and de facto cutest.

In November, we travelled to Yaounde to visit the United States Embassy, so that we could establish Gabriel's citizenship and obtain a passport. We travelled so soon because we had an upcoming visit to America for my sister's wedding, and it takes some time to get the passport as everything is done in the States. Our friends and co-missionaries Pete and Joy Newburn generously offered to care for our five older children while we went down, so we turned the trip into a little bit of a vacation. Everything went smoothly regarding travel and the application process, so we can thank God for that! And thank God for the Newburns, who constantly teach me about generosity and hospitality.

In December, the first term wrapped up at school, and we got all our marks in before the hullabaloo of recording the marks onto report cards. It was markedly easier this year (pun intended) because we made the transition from recording and calculating by hand, to using computers to keep track of everything. There were a few kinks to work out, but all in all I was very happy I didn't have to manually record and calculate all the marks for 45 kids for their 14 subjects.

Finally, it was all over and it was time to go home for a three week holiday. It was nice to be present in the United States again after an 18 month absence. We have heard stories of other missionaries having culture shock upon returning to their home country. There were some surprises as to what exactly affected us... for instance, we were afraid that after not driving for 18 months, being thrown into the gauntlet of DC area traffic would be a terrifying proposition. Instead, we found that driving in and around DC is a cakewalk compared with riding as a passenger in Cameroon. (An observation that I can confirm after again riding as a passenger in Cameroon.)

Highlights of our trip include Gabriel's baptism on Christmas day, my sister's wedding two days later, too-brief but very joyous reunions with family and friends, a trip to the museums in DC, cousins, cousins, and more cousins, cheeseburgers, snow!, and meat. I can't believe how much meat we eat in America! It was delicious, all of it. 



Just to make the trip a little strange, our kids all got the chicken pox the first day after we arrived in Virginia. You can't really have a family vacation without someone getting sick, right? We will always remember this Christmas/Wedding/Vacation as the Chicken Pox Christmas.
We are grateful for all the love and hospitality people showed us, especially letting these equatorial African residents borrow winter clothes!

After three too-short weeks, I said goodbye to the land of wifi and boarded a plane with the five older kids. Logan is spending three more weeks with family, along with the baby. So, now I get to play the single dad with five kids in Africa! (I joked with our neighbor here in Kumbo that I got to play the role of bachelor for three weeks... she corrected me, and told me I was playing the role of Mother Hen. Well, Cluck cluck cluck, I guess!)

The journey home was loooooong, taking about 36 hours to get from Dulles airport to Kumbo, Cameroon. By the time we pulled up in front of our house, I was ready for bed. A few surprises awaited us at home: Our cat had run away!!! :(  There has apparently been no trace of Theseus since the third day we were gone. Also, it turns out that of the nine chicks we raised that have finally matured, about five or six of them are roosters. We were hoping for the opposite ratio, to have more eggs and fewer chicken dinners.

We are here, we are safe, and we are recovering. Now it is back to work; we are entering the second half of our three year mission. It was good to be back in the US for a short time, and I feel refreshed and ready to get to it again. Our friend Ellen Dailor, who serves off and on at the Shisong Cardiac Center through Mission Doctors, sent me the best advice to consider as I re-enter the mission field: spend time with Jesus in prayer. 

We were so sad to be leaving home, (and so sad we couldn't make it out to our home in NM) but are so glad to be home in Kumbo. These homes are all just stops on our way to our real, true home in Heaven.

-Eric

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Faces In The Neighborhood



I remember being friendly with the workers in the grocery store in Los Alamos. There was even one man who worked in the produce section that was a member of our church, and with whom I would talk theology and philosophy and poetry while looking for ripe avocados. Well, we're friendly with the various store clerks here, and while I haven't really talked about poetry with anybody, the subject of God comes up often!

Here are some of the people we buy from in Junction:

These are the men from the "Muslim store." They are devout Muslims, and close down on Friday afternoons. We buy certain things from them if we don't have to go all the way into town, where there is a better supermarket. Tanimu loves to greet our children, and always calls me Pa James.
Now, if we want to buy wine in Junction, you have to go across the street to Aristide's. He's Catholic, and we see him in Church if we go to the local parish on Sunday.  He also raises chickens for their eggs, and his eggs are usually better than the others you can buy in town. Not as good as the eggs from our own chickens, though.

Once we have worked up an appetite shopping, we buy a few sticks of soya from Idrisu. He is another Muslim, and he only speaks Pidgin or Lamnso' to us. I don't always understand what he says, but it's a good way to learn! He wants us to name the new baby a Lamnso' name, "Nyuydze." He says, "Nyuydze: e mean, God dey." (Nyuydze, it means: God is.)
While community looks different in different cultures, we are blessed to know all these people and live in community with them. We are together, as they say here.

-Eric