Here is a photo from my living room. I thought it was interesting enough to post.
Here is a photo from my living room. I thought it was interesting enough to post.
Many of you know I wasn’t much of a reader growing up. I read phoenetically, thus slowly. I start books and either lose interest or run out of free time. Taking a novel from beginning to end is a huge investment, and few books get that undivided attention.
Anyways, unlike so many of the other missionaries here, I didn’t grow up reading stories of great missionaries, nor did I thirst for Africa. I only learned about Cameron Townsend (Wycliffe’s founder} after starting to pursue Wycliffe. Nate Saint, George Muller, and others were just names to me.
My friend David was telling me about a little book he’d just read about a missionary to Burma (next to India). After finding a couple of Kindle books that I’d wanted to finish in paper form, but failed to bring along with me, I found the book David mentioned: Adonairam Judson, published by Youth With A Mission.
Last night, I got a couple of chapters in, but today, I finished it. Page after digital page, I read the story of the first american foreign missionary. I read a story similar to Paul’s, of long journeys over water, prison sentences, and speaking to local officials. Compared to Judson, Paul had it easy. Adonairam Judson buried 3 wives, most of his children, and almost all of his friends. He lived in a time where going into missions meant you would most likely die there, days when “medevac” meant a 7-month sea voyage.
Death had only touched me once, well actually twice, since leaving. Once with here with Shawn’s passing, and once before that when the boyfriend of one of my best friends died in the hospital. I admit that I’m not much good at relating to grieving people, I’m more of the get-things-done type, and that’s nearly impossible to express long-distance. As I look toward returning home before linguistics school, I believe I will have the grace to return to find all of my family thriving.
Replacing this isolation in Burma experienced by Judson and his familes, there is a new and opposing struggle for missionaries of the digital age. The struggle is a spread of responsibilities. My duty is to serve God, through my life even more than through my work, and my commitment is to share this world with my partners. Beyond that is another level, we work FOR the Cameroonians and are often tempted to leave cross-cultural relationships struggling when pressing duties rise. Many of our extraverts seek out Cameroonians on tough days, but I usually retreat into the quiet. For the many wonderful things Cameroonians can be, loving, enthusiastic, persistent…quiet doesn’t describe any public gathering.
I don’t know if I have expressed it here, but I find it interesting that each missionary here felt a call strong enough to put aside, at least for a time, friend and family obligations for the sake of the Cameroonian people. We’re here trying to relate to a people whose lives are directed by family obligations, and can’t (or at least wouldn’t dare) to step outside these obligations for even a couple of hours.
Thank you Yah for being bigger than me, bigger than Cameroon, and for your Son’s example of being the perfect cross-cultural missionary, even to death. Fill me again with your Spirit. Help each of your ambassadors to be continually filled by your peace that passes understanding, and comfort those left behind, who continue to see a person-shaped hole in their lives. Fill that hole with warmth, compassion, and encouragement…and bring both Cameroonians and Americans into the fold and closer to You because I reflect Your light and Spirit. Amen
Thanks to the grace of God and generosity of my partners, I was able to order a new computer to replace my dead one. Please pray that it will arrive in Orlando before Wed. afternoon, so my colleague can bring it here without problem.
The whole branch (and CABTAL) got together yesterday for a day of praise. We heard praise reports from the regions of cameroon, our represented countries, and our international organization. I want to share with you some of yesterday’s praise points.
Please continue to praise for:
-Ongoing translatio in more countries, media, and languages than ever before.
-Gifted workers that continue to flow in.
-The 40 People who are in the Pipeline to come to Cameroon.
-Personal and corporate partners.
-Reinvention of the organization to adapt to a changing world.
As I prepared for church this morning, I noticed a dark sky in the direction of the church. Monique announced that it wouldn’t rain until I got to church,but not to stone her if she was wrong. As I retrieved a shirt from the line, I joked that burning at the stake would be more appropriate for the offense. Bible and umbrella in hand, I left the gate and plodded churchward. I met up with Megan and Ellen at the street, and we quickened our pace into the shadow, hoping to reach the sanctuary before the bottom dropped out. At the midpoint of our journey, we met the rain we’d been chasing. After a couple hundred feet with useless umbrellas keeping only our hair dry, we ducked into a “snackbar”, which is a cross between a bar and general store…and doesn’t serve any actual prepared food.
We and a dozen Cameroonians served our little stint in purgatory for having left 5 minutes too late for church. After buying a bottle of water, there was little left to do but stare out the concrete opening. We watched as the dirt turned to mud, the low spots into rivulets, the rivulets into streams, and the streams into rushing rivers. Ellen imagined herself on a little island in the middle of the road, only to be wisked away as a vehicle forded the intersection. As if to add insult to injury, a motorcycle splashed through a spot just downstream. “OUCH!”, we both said.
So we watched as God watered the corn outside the Church, settled the dust, topped off water barrels in the neighborhood, and washed the litter off the streets.
In the conversation, I let someone else’s secret slip…the second secret about this person to the same listener, and they commented that they’d better not tell me any secrets. This hurt, but she was right in calling me out. Usually, I’m a vault, acting appropriately on the priveleged information I know without letting on, but twice in a row I’d been a gossip about the same person, a person that had confided in me. I apologized, still wondering if I should apologize to the other person. I whispered a quiet prayer giving my tongue and mouth back to God (see Isaiah 6:6-7 and James 3), the noise of my prayer being drowned by the thunderous pounding on the tin roof.
Later, in the service, the pastor prayed for those still en route, and declared these sorts of days a test of our faith. He also congratulated the congregation for their triumph. This reminded me of the opposite sentiment from Brad Paisley: “There ain’t nothin’ that’ll test your faith like a long sermon on a pretty Sunday” …and for the umpteenth time this morning, I giggled.
The sermon was about stewardship, and Pastor Jean-Jacques did his best not to make the whole sermon about money. He deftly avoided Malachi 3:8 and used 1 Chronicles 29:10-14. (I found an interesting article on tithing that’s worth considering: http://bible-truths.com/tithing.html )
10 Then David praised the Lord in the sight of all the assembly. David said,
May You be praised, Lord God of our father Israel, from eternity to eternity. 11 Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the splendor and the majesty, for everything in the heavens and on earth belongs to You. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom, and You are exalted as head over all. 12 Riches and honor come from You, and You are the ruler of everything. Power and might are in Your hand, and it is in Your hand to make great and to give strength to all. 13 Now therefore, our God, we give You thanks and praise Your glorious name.
14 But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? For everything comes from You, and we have given You only what comes from Your own hand.
~ 1Ch 29:10-14 HCSB
In 1 Chronicles, David prayerfully reminds himself that EVERYTHING is already God’s, and we should seek to be as generous with our blessings as He has been to us.
As you know, sometimes I have been the French-English Translator at church. I don’t count myself among the public speakers of this world, but I’m comfortable translating if I don’t have to worry about blashphemy. Knowing that our Former pastor, Pastor Herve, was a godly man and that his sermons were guided by the wisdom of the Spirit, I’d asked God first to let any false words fade away, then to attach me to the pastor’s spirit for that time so that I could translate both the words and sentiment. I don’t know if this request was scripturally sound, but God has a habit of granting some of my most foolish requests, and I believe that God has blessed me and the congregation through it. Nowadays, we have a new, younger pastor, and I’ve been reluctant to translate until I have an idea what to expect from him. Apart from that, he tends to give a paragraph to the translator, and you end up scrambling and revising rather than translating.
Today, I was called up to the pulpit by surprise to pray for the offering. During the service, I’d already realized the folly of my request, that the words bubble up from the Spirit and not the pastor. I’d instead asked the Spirit to attach me to and bring me ever closer to Himself. I’m usually not all that comfortable composing prayers in front of a crowd (my dad was always the designated pray-er in a group) , but this time I felt that the words I spoke came from much deeper than my heart and mind…deeper than ever before. I’ve always imagined that the Spirit took our mangled and humble words and took them up to heaven, telling the Father in a vaguely apologetic tone: “Ok, so here’s what he meant to say…”. I’m not saying that I expresed anything groundbreaking or new, but this was a different flow, where the intercession came between my heart and my lips, rather thn after.
I’ve been guided by the Spirit here to Africa, but I hope that this new depth is a new level of moment-to-moment growth and maturity in my relationship with God.
After church today, I was reading today’s Morning and Evening devotion by Spurgeon. It reminded me of the downpour of the morning and the confession of David. Here are some excerpts:
“I will pour water upon him that is thirsty.”
— Isaiah 44:3
All the riches of divine grace you shall receive in plenty; you shall be as it were drenched with it: and as sometimes the meadows become flooded by
the bursting rivers, and the fields are turned into pools, so shall you be—the thirsty land shall be springs of water.
Well,as you know from my newsletter, Lord-willing, I’m going to be going to linguistics school next year. My work has already taught me a lot about language and linguisics.
Through African languages, I’ve had introductions to tone, phonetics, grammar, class, morphology, a little semantics. I look for complex patterns in texts to clean or repair them.
In the meantime, I’ve taken time to learn, or more often just learn about, several languages and scripts.
A year in French school of course to get a reasonable level in French. Basic greeings in Swiss german and Italian. I’ve worked with some texts in Arabic script, though Coca Cola is about the only phrase I can reliably recognize at this point. We all play with Cameroonian pidgin when we’re in a goofy mood. I even took some time in Israel to learn to pronounce the Hebrew alphabet.
They recommend that anyone involved with language work try to learn at least one African language. Since I don’t work with a specific language team and I live in the city, I’m taking the opportunity to learn Ewondo. Ewondo is the language of the tribe that inhabits Yaounde, and a local trade language related closely to the other languages of the area.
We’ve gotten through the basic greetings and obligatory questions. “How did you sleep?”, “Where are you going?”, “How is your wife, children, aunt, uncle, chickens..” (They’re always fine at this point in the conversation, but you may find out differently later in the conversation.) We’re getting into some complex expressions, and I’ve not had as much time to study outside of my 3 hours a week in class.
I went downtown to the market yesterday, and for the first time, I understood a large percentage of what was yelled at me in the market, which is at the same time unsettling and amusing. Of course, I’m used to the French and English (A man described my imposing friend as a cartoon character, Obelix, and I got quite a giggle as the man was quite right about the resemblance.) A Cameroonian was talking about a woman mixing French, English, and Beti, and I was able to follow the phrase without problem.
Anyways…this is one more step into Cameroonian culture…stepping out of the “colonial” languages and into something a little more personal. If I could go to the market and function in Ewondo and Fulfulde, in addition to my French and English, I would be able to communicate with virtualy anyone except those in the deepest villages.