Lassin 2011

A calling to serve the Lord by helping a village to rebuild their church building and minister to the children.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tomorrow we head to Lassin.Because of the treacherous roads we'll be taking smaller cars. Our water supply will be limited to limit weight of cars.Please pray.

Relaxing at Bamenda, Cameroon Baptist Convention HQ. Arrived after 8 hr drive. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Safely at the residence in Douala with all our bags. Praise God!
Paris: Here for two hours. Then off to Douala, Cameroon. Spirits are good but a bit tired after 10 hr flight. Next flight is about 5-6 hours.

Monday, March 28, 2011

On plane in salt lake. Hoping our luggage will also make the transfer.

The Adventure Has Begun

Met the team yesterday. What a great bunch of joy-filled believers. Ever notice how anxiety begets anxiety? The same is true with joy.

Added a link to the team blog. Please check there for updates.

Our original flight to Paris via Atlanta was cancelled. We'll now go via Salt Lake with only 55 min between flights. Pray that the team's 18 suitcases make the transfer. The adventure has begun.
"These pains and troubles here are like the type that printers set. When we look at them, we see them backwards, and they seem to make no sense and have no meaning. But up there, when the Lord God prints out our life to come, we will find they make splendid reading." --Martin Luther

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sending via text. If this works, I may be able to send updates from Cameroon.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Travel Time (6 Days to go)

We got the flight itinerary from Darrell, our group leader, yesterday.  We leave from Sacramento at about 11 AM on Monday, 3/28, and arrive in Douala, Cameroon at about 7 PM Local Time on Tuesday, 3/29.  Since Cameroon is 8 hours ahead, the means total travel time is just about 24 hours (19 hours in the air).  I'll be well prepared with good companionship and good books.  In addition, Peg and I twice survived 16+ hour trips back from China with kids in tow. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

God Doesn't Need Me (7 Days)

"The vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. ...In God you come up against something which is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself.  Unless you know God as that -- and, therefore, know yourself as nothing in comparison -- you do not know God at all. ...A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you."  (Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis)

I struggle with pride.  It seems a paradox to me that the very talents that God gives us could tempt us to becoming overly proud.  The cure for pride is humility.  By that, I don't mean superficially redirecting compliments.  True humility can only exist when we believe that we're not good enough.  Believe a stereotypically, 'pragmatic' man who wants to fix every problem, it's a hard pill to swallow.

I read a story told by L.B. Cowman today.  She tells of helping a moth escape its coccoon by cutting the narrow opening.  What she failed to realize was that the pressure exerted on a moth's wings when escaping from the narrow opening pushes blood to the wings, thereby helping the wings develop.  "I thought I was wiser and more compassionate than its Maker, so I resolved to give it a helping hand.  ("Streams in the Desert") 

This trip is a stark reminder that God doesn't need me.  I have no special talents for this trip.  Any evidence of my construction skills can be seen in the crooked treehouse at our old house.  I don't speak the language and have no special talents to connect with kids.  On this trip, I go because He called.  I follow where He and the team lead me.  There can be no doubt that credit for any good that comes of this trip go to Him.

Lassin (actually Kumbo) Weather

It's near enough now that I can find out the forecasted weather for when we arrive in Lassin.  Below is the URL for the weather in Kumbo, which is 10-15 miles from Lassin.  It looks like a high of 68 and clear...

We'll be driving from Douala to Lassin.  Based on the significant rain between now and when we arrive, the roads may be a bit "adventurous".

Sunday, March 20, 2011

"New" Church

On the same day Gary called us with the invitation to Cameroon, we attended Valley Christian for the first time.  That church and particularly the lead pastor has welcomed us with open arms.  He has not only prayed with us as I struggled with the decision but has been encouraging every step of the way.  Many at Valley Christian are well familiar with mission trips to Africa as the church maintains an active ministry in Kenya.  Today, we attended the last service before I leave.  Pastor Mike invited us to the front so the entire church could bless and pray over us.  It's no coincidence that we found our new church home the same day this journey began.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Suffering (9 Days to go)

As the day approaches, the reality is dawning on the whole family.  The hardest part of this adventure is being apart from my family for three weeks.  I realize that the trip will be uncomfortable, to say the least, but thoughts of that suffering doesn't deter me.  If this was meant to be a pleasant experience, then it wouldn't be much of a sacrifice and it wouldn't show much faith to obey.  No, the greater the discomfort, the greater the opportunity to demonstrate my conviction.

"For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him." (Phil 1:29)

"We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did." (1 John 2:3-6)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Countdown Begins (10 Days)

Ten days from now, we'll be boarding the plane for Cameroon (via Paris).  We're pretty close to ready with the packing.  Everything has been laid out.  We need to apply some mosquito repellent before the final packing.  Through the love and generosity shown by everyone, all of the funds have been covered.

Peg and I have been reading a Bible Study for short-term missions.  One of subtexts, "The easy part is packing your bag.  The challenge is to prepare your heart."

Today's reading was on humility. 

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.  (Phil 2:3-4)

Even in service to others, we act with haughtiness and exude superiority.  I pray for true humility in actions and thought.  May all glory be to God, whom I serve.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Packing Dry Run

We did our first packing dry-run over the weekend.  The suitcase with everything except clothes and towels came in at 43 lbs.  In case you're wondering what else I could possibly be taking if not clothes and towels: Tools, Snacks, Soccer Balls, Blanket, Medicine, More Medicine, Clothes Drying Line, Electrical Adapter, Mosquito Net/Tent, More Snacks, Yet More Snacks....

We'll probably need to cut out a few things to come in under 50 lbs.  Guess I'll have to cut out some beef jerky.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Personal Testimony

In preparation for the upcoming trip, we're asked to write out our Personal Testimony describing our walk with Christ.  Your faith isn't quite crystallized in your mind until you're forced to articulate it on paper.  Here's what I wrote:

I was brought up as a Buddhist.  Like many Chinese, our practice included traces of Taoism and ancestor worship.  I know this because, in college, I sought to better understand what I truly believed.  Through self-study, I read what I could on various forms of Buddhism along with other religions.  The more I read, the more I hungered.  I never felt quite content with what I’d learned.  But teachings on shunning this material world always appealed to me.

Many years later, at my first full-time job, I met the woman whom I’d marry.  She carried herself with grace and kindness.  More than all of her beauty, what attracted me most was her peace.  Over time, I learned that the source her strength and comfort was her faith – knowing Jesus and knowing that He’s always there to sustain her.  I listened with an open mind and even attended church services with her.  By then, she knew that I had to find my own way without any external pressures.

One day, while vacationing, I was introduced to C.S. Lewis.  While better known for his Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis had chronicled through many books and essays his journey to and as a Christian.  For many years, he’d been agnostic.  For years, he’d resisted and questioned only to find that the truths taught by Jesus were undeniable.  However, like a teenager coming of age, I wouldn’t take his word for it.  I searched on my own.  I found others who’d gone through similar journeys.  Josh McDowell was an agnostic in college and planned to write a paper challenging the historical authenticity of Christianity.  By the end of the term, he’d become a Christian himself.  Lee Strobel had been an atheist legal journalist.  In his book, “The Case for Christ,” he documents his interviews of scholars eventually arriving at the conclusion that, “it would require more faith for [him] to maintain [his] atheism than to embrace Jesus as being God's unique Son!”  Through these writings and through my wife’s example, I came to accept that Jesus is God’s son, that He came to die for our sins, and that by accepting Him I would come to find joy and peace.

I still search.  Whereas before, my search had no destination in mind, I now search with my heart and mind pointed to God.  When you love someone, you want to spend more time with them and know everything about them.  With Jesus, it’s no different.  When you love someone, you want to do everything you can to please him.  With Jesus, it’s no different.  When you love someone, you want everyone around you to know.  With Jesus, it’s no different.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

God's Calling (Revisited)

Earlier, I'd noted how Christians talk about following God's will and how God, through the Holy Spirit, "speaks" to us.  Let me give you an example.  When I made the decision, I knew with certainty that I'm meant to make this trip.  I knew the reason but have struggled to articulate it.  In my readings, it became clear,
"This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!" (2 Cor 9:12-15)

I obey out of love.  May any good that I do be credited to Him whom I love.

Food in Cameroon

I don't like rodents.  One of the questions I've saved for our maker is, "Surely, rodents became corrupted after You made them, right?"  Thinking about those bitty red eyes, fangs and claws gives me the willies.  So, I'm reading up on Cameroon and guess what I find about the cuisine, "bush meat (e.g. ...various rodents) is widely consumed."  And, of course, a common missionary's prayer goes, "Where you lead me, I will follow; what you feed me, I will swallow!"  Gary's advice for us is we're served soup/stew, which is likely, don't dip the ladle to the bottom.  Sounds like good advice to me.

Part of this experience is learning to appreciate God's work by seeing the world through His eyes and the eyes of His creation.  In the U.S., people have sued for "emotional damage" when inadvertently served with rodents.  But in Cameroon (and I'm sure elsewhere), 'bush meat' is a necessary part of the diet.  Not only must I accept the food, but I must do so joyfully and thankfully (1 Thess 5:16-18)