It’s Saturday, a week and 2 days since my arrival in Yaoundé. I went through my (short) orientation, and worked Wed-Fri afternoons at the office. I start work full-time Monday. I won’t speak much about the other missionaries in this post, so I’ll have to cover that later.
Work is challenging, as I expected, but incredibly interesting. There are so many standards, with French and English equivalents, that we aim to follow. The best-practices that we define are the starting point for many translation teams, so consistency is key. In addition to all the specialized linguistic programs we are all in the process of migrating from Microsoft Office to OpenOffice, so new and old users need training, and we need to determine workflows and solutions that will work in OpenOffice. Linguistic work pushes the limits of these programs. (How do you build a multi-hundred page dictionary with images and captions, so that you can easily replace the text with the neighboring language (that’s being typed for the first time this year) and not lose all your formatting? Is it possible to do the same thing in Microsoft and OpenOffice?) I’m already learning a lot, and I’ve been able to offer other help, though it’ll be quite a while before I’m anywhere near my partner’s level. I’m currently working on translating some training materials into French so that we can use them in the extreme north in August.
Everything takes time here…but thankfully the hours saunter by slowly.
- Most of the food comes from the market, so fruits and veggies have to be bleached.
- If you want warm (filtered) water for cooking, that requires the stove, a match, and a saucepan.
- I wrote in my last post that I had hot water, but then the heater was broken for a week.
After some pretty in-depth repairs, I had my first good hot shower this morning.
- Traveling across town requires a taxi (up to 5 passengers in a tiny car) and taxi change is a challenge to reliably find.
- No Dryers, so Laundry’s a multi-day process in this humid climate.
- It’s a never-ending battle against the ants and mosquitos.
Most of you know my family’s habit of eating out most of our meals. In Switzerland, all of my meals were prepared by my host mother before I got home from school. So, cooking is more foreign to me than Africa. I’ve never had to plan out meals in advance, and meats, dairy, and processed foods are quite expensive, so this has been a challenge. Thankfully, fresh foods are cheap, and yes, that could include live chickens (if I were so inclined).
As I said, things take longer here. Grocery shopping could be an all-day affair, and it gets dark at 6. Single life is even harder, as you have no one to share the burdens with. Working singles and often families have house help. It’s well looked-upon, inexpensive, and gives jobs. I currently have a Cameroonian girl named Rebecca who comes 3 times a week, to cook a meal, do some market shopping, and clean or do laundry. Once I’m working full-time (this Monday), this will take some of the stress off as I don’t always have to be on guard whether I have enough food or enough time for basic needs. More about Rebecca later.
Please pray for my energy level. I am not sick, actually my digestive system is handling the transition quite well. I’m just weaker than I should be.
Backstory: in 2004, I went on a week’s backpacking trip with my college Bible study. I tended to eat a lot before, but otherwise, was the picture of health. Over that week’s time, I ate up my portion, and as much of the leftovers as possible, and just kept getting weaker and weaker. On Thursday of this trip, we stopped hiking to fast and pray overnight. By the morning, I was deathly pale and nearly too weak to get up. Any nutrients left in my body after these tough days had been washed out through drinking lots of water. They fed me, and I trudged through the last part of the trip….but I’ve never felt the same since. Coming back from the trip, I passed out in the college dining hall one morning out of sheer exhaustion. I got some blood tests, wondering if I was hypoglycemic, but they said I was just too thin and didn’t have enough reserves (so my goal over the last 5 years, has to gain back the 5 pounds of reserve I lost in Missouri.) No matter what I eat, or how much of it, I can’t gain any more weight. Back at college, I ate what I craved, a lot of chicken and peanut-butter crackers. I burned the candle at both ends with my late nights, requiring more food and putting more stress on my body, but in general, I felt fine.
I found in Switzerland that even when eating a well-balanced diet (thanks Nicole), I needed more protein than most Europeans, and I found a supplement that gave me just the energy boost I needed. I suppose my body got used to lots of chicken and peanut butter in the States, and wants it now. I brought that supplement with me, but I know that even here, I shouldn’t HAVE to need it if I eat right. I know that God can and will heal me, so please pray with me for my health, so that I can be most effective and leave that supplement behind.
Outside these gates, there is the endless hustle and bustle of the 2nd largest city of Cameroon. Taxis by the dozens pass by crammed full of people. Often there are 4-5 lanes of traffic where there are only two marked on the road, while pedestrians and motorcycles weave their way through the mayhem. The market is a constant barrage of calls in French, English, or their languages, to buy this or that, to help port your bags, or to argue a price. Few things can be settled with a simple “oui” or “non”, it’s a social culture. Stores, while there are some, are quiet, generally vacant, and don’t offer the excitement of discussion that roars outside.
The Cameroonian people are often poor, but they have much to rejoice about. Cameroon is one of the most stable African countries with a lot of natural resources. Cameroon produces a wide variety of food, if you can pay for it, nd fresh fruit and veggies are abundant and cheap. They have desert, rainforest, and savannah. They don’t have to fear the soldiers that walk the streets, (unless they’re doing something wrong).
A couple of days after arrival, I attended a Cameroonian church with Mandi and Rachel. The bilingual (French/English) service was full of passion and truth, on a scale seldom seen stateside. The women played skits and gave testimonies to show how God works in their lives. Praise songs and hymns were sung and danced, and the pastor gave a moving sermon on what it is to be a son of God, and not just a worker. A worker may often do the things of God, but often get wrapped up in his own goals. As sons and daughters of God, or friends of God, we are moved by the spirit to action, and our hearts ache for what God wants. We are welcome into the family, and part of the family business, as it were. Passive faith is useless here. To get through the days, Cameroonians need an active God, a conqueror. If they only thought about God every Sunday, as some Christians back home do, they wouldn’t make it through the days. As one missionary said, it is not part of the culture to plan ahead. The believers here trust God to clothe them and fed them each day and trust that hard times will pass. Matthew 6:26. I was told to find a local pastor, because western pastors don’t always know how to pray for the spiritual warfare that takes place out in the open here.
Encouragement and a Miracle:
Here’s something I’m excited to share, but is hard to explain.
Last Tuesday, I was having a very rough day. Orientation was already over, I was dealing with a personal situation, and fear and exhaustion hit me as all my emotions went haywire. I was so high-strung that I couldn’t sleep Tuesday night, so I spent 12 sleepless hours praying for peace and comfort. In the morning, all the fears of long-term life here that I’d pushed back came back to haunt me. I prayed to hear the audible word of God…let me rephrase that, I begged to hear the audible word of God. Having spent nearly 20 hours by myself, I decided to start work earlier than I had to, and went in to the office for the afternoon. I hung out with a friend after work, watched a funny movie, and headed home to bed. I slept well, and Thursday morning came. At 8am, Rebecca arrived (see Adjustments). She started preparing a meal, and I worked on doing some final unpacking. I showed her photos of my family, talked about the protein (See Health) and in about a sentence, mentioned how emotionally down I’d been the last couple of days. I asked a little about her life, whether she’d been able to find a phone, and went back to my room for a bit.
A little while later, she was finishing up, and she told me she wanted to show me something. She had her Bible open to Numbers and she asked me if I spoke in tongues. Being Presbyterian, I was wary, but what followed was amazing. The spirit spoke through Rebecca for nearly an hour. She prayed for my heart and spirit, for boldness and courage, prayed for her country to benefit from my presence. She rebuked my timidity, my weakness, my fear, my weariness, trusting in my own understanding, and even my dependance on the protein. She spoke of David, Joshua, Samuel, Hannah, Moses, Aaron, Daniel, Nathan, Jeremiah, Matthew, and Paul. She referenced salt and light, conquerors, mustard seeds, flowers, responsibility, effectiveness, seeking, voices in the night, dreams, purity, prophecy, milk, and solid food, each in their Biblical context. She reminded me that if Christ is Lord of lords and King of kings, that makes us kings and lords of his kingdom, with the power to move mountains and cast out demons in his name. The power of prayer. We were both shaking, and the Spirit moved her lips in between intelligible phrases, overflowing from a heart of worship. This was an astonishing and humbling role-reversal from the outside. Employee-to-employer, female-to-male, national-to-missioanary. She was bold, speaking as a sister in Christ to a brother in Christ. I’ve never heard prayer like that in my life, much less directed at me. She was speaking far beyond her 5 years of Christian wisdom, verses just rolled from her lips, targeted directly at my heart. She didn’t know the whole situation, my past, or how I would react. The Spirit directed her to move, to speak, and she did. Though not at all what I expected, I heard the word of God, audibly, from her lips. My prayer was answered. (You can click below on “View Full Article” to see some of the passages I dug out later from this conversation.)
It’s bedtime for me.
1 The Lord said to Abram: Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, I will curse those who treat you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.
26 Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron: 27 “How long ⌊must I endure⌋ this evil community that keeps complaining about Me? I have heard the Israelites’ complaints that they make against Me. 28 Tell them: As surely as I live, declares the Lord, I will do to you exactly as I heard you say. 29 Your corpses will fall in this wilderness—all of you who were registered ⌊in the census⌋, the entire number of you 20 years old or more—because you have complained about Me. 30 I swear that none of you will enter the land I promised to settle you in, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. 31 I will bring your children whom you said would become plunder into the land you rejected, and they will enjoy it. 32 But as for you, your corpses will fall in this wilderness. 33 Your children will be shepherds in the wilderness for 40 years and bear the penalty for your acts of unfaithfulness until all your corpses lie ⌊scattered⌋ in the wilderness. 34 You will bear the consequences of …
1 “Now if you faithfully obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow all His commands I am giving you today, the Lord your God will put you far above all the nations of the earth. 2 All these blessings will come and overtake you, because you obey the Lord your God: 3 You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. 4 Your descendants will be blessed, and your soil’s produce, and the offspring of your livestock, including the young of your herds and the newborn of your flocks. 5 Your basket and kneading bowl will be blessed. 6 You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out. 7 “The Lord will cause the enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you. They will march out against you from one direction but flee from you in seven directions. 8 The Lord will grant you a blessing on your storehouses and on everything you do; He will bless you in the land the Lord your God is giving you. 9 The Lord will establish …
1 Samuel 1:12–18
12 While she was praying in the Lord’s presence, Eli watched her lips. 13 Hannah was speaking to herself, and although her lips were moving, her voice could not be heard. Eli thought she was drunk 14 and scolded her, “How long are you going to be drunk? Get rid of your wine!” 15 “No, my lord,” Hannah replied. “I am a woman with a broken heart. I haven’t had any wine or beer; I’ve been pouring out my heart before the Lord. 16 Don’t think of me as a wicked woman; I’ve been praying from the depth of my anguish and resentment.” 17 Eli responded, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant the petition you’ve requested from Him.” 18 “May your servant find favor with you,” she replied. Then Hannah went on her way; she ate and no longer appeared downcast.
1 Samuel 13:14
but now your reign will not endure. The Lord has found a man loyal to Him,and the Lord has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not done what the Lord commanded.”
2 Samuel 12:1–15
1 So the Lord sent Nathan to David. When he arrived, he said to him: There were two men in a certain city, one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had a large number of sheep and cattle, 3 but the poor man had nothing except one small ewe lamb that he had bought. It lived and grew up with him and his children. It shared his meager food and drank from his cup; it slept in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. 4 Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man could not bring himself to take one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for his guest. 5 David was infuriated with the man and said to Nathan: “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this deserves to die! 6 Because he has done this thing and shown no pity, he must pay four lambs for that lamb.” 7 Nathan replied to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord God of Israel …
3 Commit your activities to the Lord and your plans will be achieved. 4 The Lord has prepared everything for His purpose— even the wicked for the day of disaster.
16 The one who controls her controls the wind and grasps oil with his right hand. 17 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
4 The word of the Lord came to me: 5 I chose you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart before you were born. I appointed you a prophet to the nations. 6 But I protested, “Oh no, Lord God! Look, I don’t know how to speak since I am ⌊only⌋ a youth.” 7 Then the Lord said to me: Do not say: I am ⌊only⌋ a youth, for you will go to everyone I send you to and speak whatever I tell you. 8 Do not be afraid of anyone, for I will be with you to deliver you. ⌊This is⌋ the Lord’s declaration.
19 The mystery was then revealed to Daniel in a vision at night, and Daniel praised the God of heaven 20 and declared: May the name of God be praised forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him. 21 He changes the times and seasons; He removes kings and establishes kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. 22 He reveals the deep and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him. 23 I offer thanks and praise to You, God of my fathers, because You have given me wisdom and power. And now You have let me know what we asked of You, for You have let us know the king’s mystery.
37 Your Majesty, you are king of kings. The God of heaven has given you sovereignty, power, strength, and glory. 38 Wherever people live—or wild animals, or birds of the air—He has handed them over to you and made you ruler over them all. You are the head of gold.
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by men. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
14 When they reached the crowd, a man approached and knelt down before Him. 15 “Lord,” he said, “have mercy on my son, because he has seizures and suffers severely. He often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16 I brought him to Your disciples, but they couldn’t heal him.” 17 Jesus replied, “You unbelieving and rebellious generation! How long will I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.” 18 Then Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and from that moment the boy was healed. 19 Then the disciples approached Jesus privately and said, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” 20 “Because of your little faith,” He told them. “For I assure you: If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. [21 However, this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting.]”
44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came down on all those who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they heard them speaking in ⌊other⌋ languages and declaring the greatness of God. Then Peter responded, 47 “Can anyone withhold water and prevent these from being baptized, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay for a few days.
1 While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior regions and came to Ephesus. He found some disciples 2 and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” “No,” they told him, “we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 “Then with what ⌊baptism⌋ were you baptized?” he asked them. “With John’s baptism,” they replied. 4 Paul said, “John baptized with a baptism of repentance, telling the people that they should believe in the One who would come after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began to speak with ⌊other⌋ languages and to prophesy. 7 Now there were about 12 men in all.
1 Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, 2 because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 What the law could not do since it was limited by the flesh, God did. He condemned sin in the flesh by sending His own Son in flesh like ours under sin’s domain, and as a sin offering, 4 in order that the law’s requirement would be accomplished in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those whose lives are according to the flesh think about the things of the flesh, but those whose lives are according to the Spirit, about the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God’s law, for it is unable to do so. 8 Those whose lives are in the flesh are unable to please …
28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified.
1 Corinthians 3:1–3
1 Brothers, I was not able to speak to you as spiritual people but as people of the flesh, as babies in Christ. 2 I fed you milk, not solid food, because you were not yet able to receive it. In fact, you are still not able, 3 because you are still fleshly. For since there is envy and strife among you, are you not fleshly and living like ordinary people?
1 Corinthians 14:1–25
1 Pursue love and desire spiritual gifts, and above all that you may prophesy. 2 For the person who speaks in ⌊another⌋ language is not speaking to men but to God, since no one understands him; however, he speaks mysteries in the Spirit. 3 But the person who prophesies speaks to people for edification, encouragement, and consolation. 4 The person who speaks in ⌊another⌋ language builds himself up, but he who prophesies builds up the church. 5 I wish all of you spoke in other languages, but even more that you prophesied. The person who prophesies is greater than the person who speaks in languages, unless he interprets so that the church may be built up. 6 But now, brothers, if I come to you speaking in ⌊other⌋ languages, how will I benefit you unless I speak to you with a revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? 7 Even inanimate things producing sounds—whether flute or harp—if they don’t make a distinction in the notes, how will what is played …
2 Corinthians 1:3–7
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so our comfort overflows through Christ. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is experienced in the endurance of the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that as you share in the sufferings, so you will share in the comfort.
2 Corinthians 4:4
Regarding them: the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
11 We have a great deal to say about this, and it’s difficult to explain, since you have become slow to understand. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of God’s revelation. You need milk, not solid food. 13 Now everyone who lives on milk is inexperienced with the message about righteousness, because he is an infant. 14 But solid food is for the mature—for those whose senses have been trained to distinguish between good and evil.
11 We have a great deal to say about this, and it’s difficult to explain, since you have become slow to understand. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of God’s revelation. You need milk, not solid food.
Therefore, leaving the elementary message about the Messiah, let us go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, faith in God,