Lassin 2011

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

Monday, June 6, 2011

"Won't you be My Love"

For most of my childhood, I lacked a father figure.  For one brief period, my aunt and uncle visited.  Together, our families drove across the country.  I remember wanting to please my uncle.  He was a smoker (back when it was normal to smoke in the car).  I chose to sit in front so I could pull out the ashtray as soon as he started searching for his pack.  At that young age, it felt terribly important to do something that would please him.

Perhaps that desire to please is ingrained in us...or at least in me.  Our Lassin adventure was all about pleasing our heavenly Father.  I can't think of any greater satisfaction than knowing that God is pleased with my actions.  I take that back.

Each night, as the kids head to bed, we share a song.  Tonight's song was from MercyMe.  Imagine the Creator of the universe who is all powerful allowing us to participate in bringing grace to His creation...asking us:
Won't you be My voice calling
Won't you be My hands healing
Won't you be My feet walking into a broken world
Won't you be My chain-breaker
Won't you be My peacemaker
Won't you be My hope and joy
Won't you be My Love

Monday, May 23, 2011

Called to Service

Peg and I have spent a lot of time figuring out "What next?"  As Peg put it, she doesn't want Cameroon to be a "once in a lifetime experience."  Rather, we want it to be the start of a pattern of service.  We don't know whether we'll be called for longer term mission work, but in the meantime, we're looking forward to shorter trips with our children.  Through some research, we've found some great organizations that help to match volunteers with needs throughout the world.  We pray that we will take one of these trips as a family at least once a year.  Our two main objectives are to serve and glorify God and to teach our children to have selfless, servant's hearts.
Anyone interested in joining us?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Expression of Love: Obey

We start early in life trying to express our love.  It may be a hug and a kiss or a bouquet or a poem.  Entire industries have been built on helping people to express love.

As kids, we already had it figured out: Jesus said, "If you love me, you will obey what I command." (John 14:15)  This isn't strict legal test where if you don't obey then you must not love.  Rather, it's a truth known deep in our hearts.  If we love someone, don't we wish to please him/her?

What I miss most about the trip was knowing every minute of every day that I was expressing that love.  I woke up in a foreign bed expressing that love.  I ate strange (to me) foods expressing that love. 

Back in this world, actions and thoughts with the purest intentions still leave room for doubt.  How I miss the simplicity of those days...

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Who's wealthy?

The typical Cameroonian has little material wealth.  Most farm and depend on the little income they get at market from their farmed goods for subsistence. 

Judged by their homes and outward appearances, Cameroonians appear impoverished.  But spiritually, riches abound.  They take great pride in their labors and farms.  What they have was eagerly shared with us.  Our lunches came straight from their fields.  After a day of farming, they came to sing and dance with us to lift OUR spirits.  On the last day we were in Lassin, to express their thanks, they gave us more food than we could carry on our car and van. We were outfitted with shirts and dresses out of fine cloth.  These are the same people who may not have EVER purchased anything beyond food and material required for the farm.
Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything-all she had to live on."  (Mark 12:43-44) 
Lest you think I came back and gave away all of our possession and took to wearing sackcloth and eating locusts and honey....  Don't worry.  My appetite is still plenty healthy for much more.  What I did bring back, however, is a more acute sense of what's important.  Like any gift from God, riches can be a blessing.  We're not called to be poor, but we are warned to not cling to material wealth.  
  • Matt 6:19-21: Store treasures in heaven
  • Matt 13:22: Parable of the Seeds, "fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it"
  • 1 Tim 6:9-10: "love of money is the root of all kinds of evil" is well known

Monday, May 2, 2011

Africa: 2 Weeks Later

We've now been back for weeks, which is just enough time for some of the feelings to sink in and for words to form but not so long that memory has faded.

When people have asked, "How was it?" my simple, yet honest, response has been, "AWESOME!"  I don't mean that it was 'cool' or fine.  I mean we got to serve God.  It wasn't just a theoretical experience.  The Creator of the universe knocked and we answered.  How else can I describe that but AWESOME!

And in case I had any lingering doubts whether He called me there, He answered prayers as often as I prayed.  At 2 AM on a warm night with no electricity and slat digging in your back, there's not much else to do but pray.  After our first day of work, arms, face and neck were bright red from the sun (and my foolishness for failing to put on suncreen and wear a hat).  I prayed.  Though the sunburn was evident, I felt no pain that night or any other time.  In Cameroon, my regular aches and pains disappeared.  Now, after two weeks back on a memory-foam bed, the aches are back.

Cameroonians are joyful.  Smiles come easily and are often unprovoked. When you greet someone, there's no doubt that it will be reciprocated.  (It was a hard habit to shed at the airport.  But a couple of cold stares were quick 'cures'.)

One week, we worshipped outdoors because the church was roofless and filled with scaffolding.  The next Sunday, we worshipped under a roof, which hadn't happened at that church for 3 years.  So we rejoiced (which, in that part of the world, meant a lot of singing and dancing!).

I miss the simplicity of having heeding God's assignment for us.  Hammer some nails and bring joy and hope to the nationals (and anyone we came across).  Back home, it's just not clear.  How firm should I be with my son (Prov 22:6 vs. Eph 6:4)?  Every major decision seems to be either a calling or a test... 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"Road" to Lassin

3/31: 6 PM Local Time

It took us about 7 uncomfortable hours to travel 70 miles from Bamenda to Lassin.  To call it a road would be generous.  For the most part, it's unpaved and cratered with holes.  Though wide enough to accommodate two cars, the craters forced the drivers to weave left-and-right to avoid getting stuck or damage to their cars.  Some stretched involved steep grades which can be tricky when you have a fully-loaded 15 passenger van  and no asphalt.  We had to climb out of the van twice and meet the driver at the top of the hill.  To challenge the driver further, we often had to share the road with various animals.

Seats with little padding, covered in red dust, bumping along left-right/up-down/front-back, and with no air conditioning, the ride was say the least.  Just as I was about to voice my complaints, I saw, on the road in front of a us, a boy pushing a 'truck' filled with about 500 lbs of concrete blocks.  Up and down that truck went through the holes in the road.  I was humbled into silence.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Rest Houses

3/30: 8 PM Local Time

From the airport last night, we drove about 5 minutes to a rest house managed by a European Baptist organization.  

We left that rest house and drove to the Cameroon Baptist Convention offices in Bamenda and stayed at the rest house.  Along the way, we were stopped several times (speed bumps and/or police checkpoints).  At most of those stops, vendors aggressively shoved their wares/food into our open windows.

For missionaries weary of travel, these facilities certain live up to their names.  Though nothing fancy, comfortable beds, electric lights, and plumbing are welcomed respites.

Douala International Airport: Introduction to "Motivation"

3/29: 7 PM Local Time

Our plane landed at about 7 PM local time.  Humidity was immediately apparently in the terminal, which was not fully enclosed.  Ongoing construction meant the walls opened to the outdoors, hallways were dimly lit (if lit at all), and the floor was untiled with long stretches of uneven concrete.

We had to be careful to stay together as we made it through the immigration lines.  Chaos grew with each checkpoint.  At the baggage carousel, many "helpful" men insisted on helping with our luggage and pushing our baggage carts.  As we went outside, the number of porters grew as each wanted a share of the expected tip.  We had to firmly refuse several. Apparently, it's not uncommon for fights to break out as these porters vie for Western groups such as ours.  At any time, there may be over 100 of these young men around the airport trying to earn some money.

Tragically, Cameroon is renowned for corruption (Google "Cameroon corruption" if you don't believe me.).  As we were leaving the airport, the officials insisted that we open one of our boxes.  From past experience, Darrell and others knew that this was the start of an attempt to collect 'duty'.  The amount would depend largely on the value of the items in the box.  They happened to choose the box with "Creation booklets" made by a group from FBCEG so we made it out the airport relatively unscathed.  However, as our luggage was being loaded onto our bus, an official looking gentleman walked up and secured one of the tires with a boot.  He demanded "motivation money" before allowing us to leave.  "Welcome to Cameroon," I thought.

As we drove out of the airport, the grass field around the parking lot was dotted with many young men.

"What're they doing there," I asked.

Darrell replied, "They're probably university students here to study.  This is one of the few public places with lights."