Sunday, August 10, 2014

Welcome to Cameroon and Welcome to Culture Shock

By Stacey

Imagine delving into a science fiction novel where the author takes great strides to imagine an alternate universe. He creates “sing-songy” languages between his characters that are outside of his readers’ imagination. Then he describes the narrator’s response to these languages: a mixture between bewilderment, intrigue, and a general uneasiness. This main character also thinks back to his life on Earth where venders would sell their merchandise from a structured network of individual stores in an air-conditioned mall. In his new world, a multitude of products seem to be piled up on top of people’s heads as they walk up and down streets looking for buyers. There are also new animals that are not found in any children’s encyclopedia back on his home planet. No, these are animals that make other-worldly sounds in the jungles at night. Sounds that are impossible to describe and sounds that leave the narrator wondering if he just heard a rare species of monkey, or some type of frog, or even some type of three headed, multi-eyed creature out of the book of Revelation. On this new planet there are all sorts of insects, some that are invisible and only can be detected by the red bumps they leave all over people’s skin. Others seem more familiar, such as clouds of 12 different kinds of exotically colored butterflies that swarm over the mud-puddles in the middle of the dirt roads. The governing power is the vegetation and the humans are guests within their dense, foresty habitat. The characters in this novel live in tiny clearings in the midst of a world of vines, oddly shaped trees, unearthly types of fruits and plants, some of which even produce bubbles that fascinate young children. It is a land where bananas taste like potatoes and through some type of magic the leaves of indigenous plants are cooked in such a way that even toddlers willingly eat them. Deep in the heart of this leafy wilderness there is an ongoing war between the humans and the swarming insect population as to who are the rightful owners of what the humans call “home.”
The writer then propels his main character out of his shocked-observer-mode and into the hustle-bustle of the surrounding society that has fixed rules that the he must learn in order to survive. This fearful explorer looks around at everyone buying and selling, laughing and dancing, and conversing with ease and he finally realizes that he is the alien on this new planet. Having once thought that the accepted norms on his planet were universal, he is slowly becoming aware of the fact that these customs are just one of many very different ways to live. He feels in many ways like a child discovering everything for the first time and who cannot help but to ask “why?” several hundred times a day. His daily questioning leaves him both fascinated with his new world and wondering if he is just too different to ever be a part of it…
Intrigued? Welcome to our lives!
When we crossed the Atlantic in our move from America to France, we entered into a different country. When we flew over the Mediterranean in our journey from France to Cameroon, we actually flew into a different world. I do not even know how to begin describing the differences between Cameroon and America because there are just so few commonalities between the two countries. 
Fortunately, the same God who created our former universe called “America” also sits enthroned above the new world of Cameroon. This God has taken care of Dave and I as we travel around Cameroon and learn this new culture. I do not know how many times a day I say “Wow, this place is not like France at all” or “Wow, that’s different” but all in all things are going very well.
And, oddly enough, our kids who are also guests in this foreign place are doing just fine! Today at church Makyra had to use the restroom, so she went behind a thatch-wall-type-thing, squatted over a hole that was surrounded by you-know-what, went to the bathroom and talked about how fun that was and how she wanted to do it again. The kids (who are always the most energetic children in whatever country we live in) greet people in villages, chase chickens through trash heaps, and pick up machetes with excitement and awe (only to be told to put them down). They practice carrying stuff on their heads and once we settle down in the village that we are going to live in, I can see them really developing lots of close relationships with the village kids. They are, as always, a lot of work, but also bring so much joy as they seem to accept the changes without question.
We have officially left Planet France and now find ourselves surrounded by a wonderfully noisy world that we will one day (Lord willing) call home. Thank you for your prayers and please continue!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Leaving today for Cameroon!

by Stacey

Today we will be driving to Geneva, Switzerland with our four kids and 12 pieces of luggage to board a plane headed to Cameroon, Africa. Although our minds are currently filled with the details of our trip, in the seldom quite moments, we are reminded and encouraged that there is no "foreign land" that is out of the reach of our Lord's presence in our lives...

  1. "Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?  
  2. If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! 
  3. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 
  4. even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me." 
  5. Psalm 139:7-10

We are ready for whatever joys, trials, challenges, disappointments, and adventures that the Lord has planned for us only because we know that he will be with us and that he will give us grace for every season that he walks us through. 

For the month of August, we will be with another missionary family and will be doing a lot of traveling, learning to cook, going to markets, learning to drive, and learning whatever else they think is important. Starting in September, we do not exactly know where we will be living and it is very likely that we will be "roughing it" until our container (Lord willing) arrives around November. Dave and I joke that he and the boys are going to go into the jungle with a saw and try to make a house for us. We are hoping it won't be quite "that bad." All this to say, we would love prayers during this time of transition: that we would be gracious to one another in the midst of craziness, and that we could find a house quickly to then be able to start language learning. We do not know when we will have access to the Internet, so do not be surprised if we do not post anything for quite some time.

"Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!"  
- Psalm 67:3 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Day of Prayer #14: Pray for the Lord to be Glorified

“Missions is not the ultimate goal of the Church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever.” 
John Piper

  • Pray that the Lord would be glorified by giving two weak, culturally awkward people wisdom in knowing how to love well in a new culture. 
  • Pray God would be glorified in being our strength when we want to give up. 
  • Pray God would be glorified in us as we seek to extend patience and grace to our children even when they resist us.
  • Pray God would be glorified in ex-pat Christians and national Christians working together for the advancement of the Kingdom. 
  • Pray God would be glorified by saving sinners. 
  • Pray God would be glorified in seeing that his Revealed Word would be translated among the peoples of Cameroon. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Day of Prayer #13: Pray for our Children Individually

Pray for the Lord to save all four of them and...

Pray for Elias that he would be characterized by self-control, thankfulness, and perseverance to work hard. Please pray that he would stop screaming, and that he would be diligent to use the restroom. 

Pray for Kaden that he would be characterized as a servant and seek to serve instead of be served. Pray that he would be like Ezra the scribe who reads God’s word, does it and teaches it.

Pray for Makyra that she would love the truth and seek to govern her emotions and perceptions by the Word and not by how she feels. Pray that she would have a passion for the truth of God’s word and a passion to speak the truth in love.

Pray for Zoey that she would be wise of heart and receive commandments and that she would not be a babbling fool that will come to ruin. Pray that she would learn to obey her parents specifically in the area of laying quietly in her bed and in her eating. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Day of Prayer # 12: Pray for us as Parents

"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, 
and it will be given him." 
James 1:5

  • Pray that we would know how to help our kids navigate through a new culture even as will be learning it ourselves.
  • Pray that we would truly be channels of wisdom to our children and that we would represent the character of God to them in how we live. 
  • Pray that we would be patient and gentle towards our children even during stressful times.
  • Pray for God to give us grace in home-schooling and that we would know how to best integrate French into their education.
  • Pray that we would both practice and teach biblical conflict resolution. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Day of Prayer #11: Pray for Logistics

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you."  
1 Peter 5:6-7

  • Pray that all of our luggage would arrive at the airport. 
  • Pray that we would learn to drive in Cameroon. 
  • Pray that we would learn to navigate through the markets and walk away with food for dinner. 
  • Pray that we would “get the swing of things” in Africa. 
  • Pray that we would find housing sooner rather than later. 
  • Pray that our children would remember not to drink the water and sleep well under their mosquito nets. 
  • Pray that container that is being shipped from America would arrive SOON. 
  • Pray that we would have internet access. 
  • Pray that we would adjust to the heat. 
  • Pray that our children would not mind too much wearing long sleeves and long pants all the time. 
  • Pray that we would learn and remember the appropriate cultural greetings. 
  • Pray that our French would improve.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Day of Prayer #10: Pray for Personal Holiness

"'Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.'  Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable.  Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.  So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart." 
2 Timothy 2:19-22

  • Pray that we would be in the habit of continual confession, repentance and restoration in our home.
  • Pray that Dave and I would take every thought captive to Christ. 
  • Pray that we would flee from iniquity. 
  • Pray that we would continually cleanse ourselves from what is dishonorable so that we will be set apart as holy and useful to the Lord, ready for every good work. 
  • Pray that we would pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Day of Prayer #9: Pray for the Lord’s Protection

 "I will say to the LORD, 'My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'  For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.  He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.  You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday." 
Psalm 91:2-6 

  • Pray that the Lord would protect us while driving in Cameroon.
  • Pray that the Lord would protect us from malaria, falaria, dengue fever and other diseases carried by biting insects. 
  • Pray that our kids would not break any bones, need stitches, etc. 
  • Pray that the Lord would protect us from thieves. 
  • Pray that the Lord would allow us to remain healthy so that we can do the work of Bible translation.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Day of Prayer #8: Pray Against the Boko Haram

"Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer; call his wickedness to account till you find none."  
Psalm 10:15  

The terrorist group of Nigeria, the Boko Haram, has also entered the north of Cameroon and kidnapped westerners. Thus many missionaries who once lived in the North were evacuated. We will be living in the South and thus are not considered to be in the danger zone.

  • Pray that the Lord would render the Boko Haram impotent and unable to carry out their terrorist activity. 
  • Pray that there would be divisions within themselves which would thus render their group powerless to "accomplish" anything.
  • Pray that we would be able to freely work in the South for decades and not have to leave due to terrorism or any other sort of threat.
  • Pray for those held hostage by the Boko Haram, that they would be freed.
  • Pray that we (and other Christians in Nigeria and Cameroon) would not "be afraid of those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul" (Matt 10: 28).
  • Pray that the fear of God would fall over this terrorist group and they would bow the knee "to the one who can destroy both body and soul in Hell" (Matt 10:28).

Monday, July 21, 2014

Day of Prayer #7: Pray for Biblical Discernment

"Test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil." 
1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 

  • Pray that Dave and I would test what we experience in this new culture according to Scripture rather than according to American culture. 
  • Pray that we would not renounce something because it is uncomfortable or different from our home culture, but that that we would rather abstain the things that God considers to be evil. 
  • Pray that we would be wise in with whom we partner (or choose not to partner) in our ministry.