African outfits

African outfits
Our crazy family

Thursday, April 25, 2013


The next adventure is in the works!  While Kyle and Drew were in Cameroon doing construction, Ellie and I started praying for an opportunity to go on a mission trip to an orphanage...or at least something with children.  We didn't have to wait long.  Faith Baptist (where the kids have gone to AWANA and I have volunteered) is going to Su Refugio in Paraguay this summer.  We decided to step out and take the first steps to see if this was a possibility.  We both wanted it SO bad!  Su Refugio is a community of believers that has an orphanage, school and a church.  We will be helping tutor kids and doing whatever we can to serve.  This is right up our alley.  I have wanted to go on a mission trip of this kind since I was 12 years old.  The cool thing was how fast God provided all that we needed to go - it was very affirming.  Then when our funds were in - they stopped.  That has been our experience every time we have stepped out in faith to serve in missions, God provides just what is needed without excess.  I love that!

We leave Minnesota on June 23, 2013 and will return July 7, 2013 - my hope is to blog about our experiences at some point.  I'm looking forward to seeing some new friends that I haven't met yet.... the bond of Christ is amazing.  Pray for us and the whole team.  What a joy to serve with my daughter.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Follow-up to Cameroon

I had forgotten about this blog, but signed on so I could comment on a friends blog. I was shocked to see how many people have looked at these blogs in the past year. Last month over 200 people looked at my old blog - from all over the world! When I first started writing, my purpose was to keep my friends and family informed about our trip to Cameroon and fill in all the fun details of living there. I loved watching the stats and getting feedback from my friends, especially during some of the lonelier days. It seems very amusing to me that anyone else would find any of this interesting.

Since we have returned home, life has gone on at the same crazy speed as ever. One difference that shows me that we will never be the same from our experience we shared as a family- a day does not go by that one of us does not reference a memory from Africa. I love that we will always have these amazing memories. We are constantly comparing our days in Minnesota to what they were like in Cameroon. We all share the longing we have to see our friends that will always have a place in our hearts. Another change that I see is that our prayer life is a little richer - oh how I would love to have the depth of prayer that some of our African friends have. The missionaries that we have met along the way (especially those who were our neighbors), are prayed for as if they were family. I have so much respect and admiration for the missionaries that are working side by side with our brothers and sisters in Cameroon bringing God's Word to the ends of Cameroon (and beyond). I honestly cannot think of any other 3 month time of my life that had a greater impact on me or my family. My faith deepened, my eyes were opened to what the "true" missionaries do on a day to day basis and all that they give up for the Kingdom of God. I am stirred to be discontent with who I am and settling for living a "comfortable" life. I'm constantly praying and asking God what he wants to do through my life here in Minnesota. Asking and waiting for clear answers but seeing my family as my main ministry. I see my job of discipling my kids as an even greater calling. My children have been changed in ways I never could have imagined - I am excited to see all that will mean as they spread their wings and explore the path that God will take them on as young adults.

It has been over a year since our whole family returned from our great adventure.  This past January (exactly one year from the date we went last year) - Kyle and Drew returned to Cameroon to work on a concrete project in Bamenda.  This was not in our plan but when the opportunity came they just could not refuse.    The time they spent there was quite different than our time in Ndu and there were not the daily blog of all that they did.  Two other men from our church joined them for 2 of the weeks that they were there.  Kyle and Drew added a 3rd week and headed up to see our friends in Ndu again.  It was encouraging for them to connect again with many of the people that had imprinted themselves on our lives.  They also made new friends in Bamenda.  Drew told me of a family that had them over a few times for pizza and fellowship - missionaries from the states who have been in Cameroon for 20 years or so.  He said I would love meeting the wife - and that we would certainly be good friends.  Sadly, Karen Jackson died recently  - leaving her husband and daughters (and the whole Jackson Village) mourning their loss.  Even though I had never met her, I found myself mourning with them and looking forward to that day when I shall meet her.  Her death has challenged me.   I read of the joy that all those who knew of her talk about, of the dedication she had towards her family and her extended "village", of her deep love for her Savior and how that love drove her to show Christ to those around her.  She lived her life to the fullest and there will be a large whole left in this world.   She was only a few years older than I - and I am reminded that life is short.  Her life and their blog have challenged me to want to be a brighter light and to take more risks as I live a life fully sold out for our Lord Jesus.  As I see all the people from all over the world searching for something new to read.... I hope that they will come across one of my blogs and find encouragement and hope.

My family often talks of how we long to return to Cameroon... but actually, I believe we are longing for our home in Heaven.  Cameroon showed us a glimpse of the fellowship we can share with believers from all areas of the world.... Heaven will be that and so much more.  I can't wait for that ADVENTURE!!!!

Friday, March 23, 2012

My Cup Overflows.

Once we got back to Yaounde' and knew we were flying home, it was hard to contain ourselves. Saying "Good-bye" to our friend Steve was difficult but much harder for him then it was for us. Not that we won't miss him but there were so many people we were already missing that we would soon be reunited with. Our flight left Yaounde' at 1245am... I usually go to bed around 9pm so this was hard keeping myself awake to board the plane. There were several families traveling with small children and by the time we got on they were already sound asleep in their seats. I thought I would sleep right away but was surprised when 20 minutes into our flight the crew start serving SUPPER. I was not in the mood to eat beef or fish but I still managed to eat the food put in front of me. It was all very strange. Finally I slept, though the plane seats were not very comfortable so it wasn't a sound sleep. In the morning we arrived at Brussels Airport and saw our first Starbucks in a long was lovely. The flight from Brussels to Washington Dulles airport was a 8.5 hours long but "flew" by. They served us food and beverages all day and we each had our own entertainment at our seat. I watched the movie "The Help", which was very interesting as well as depressing after having "help" in my house in Cameroon. Our family loved being able to watch whatever we wanted without having to pick something everyone would want to see. Ellie watched "Courageous", which she has wanted to see for quite a while. She wondered at her choice though when she was bawling during the sad parts but loved the movie otherwise. Drew got his action movies, Levi played games and watched Myth busters, Kyle watched some fascinating documentary. I was almost sad to see our flight end. Just as we were landing at Dulles airport, Drew's cell phone finally had service and immediately he had a text from his boss... back to reality. Only one short flight home to Minneapolis and our journey would be over. Unfortunately, the last flight was delayed because they had no crew. 2 hours later we were finally heading home. The crew got everyone on the flight quite rapidly and took off in no time, with a tail wind we made it to Minneapolis before our ride arrived. It's funny, the whole time in Africa I expected to wait and I chose to be flexible. We arrived in the states and immediately I felt irritated that we should have to wait longer than we had originally expected. So much for "flexibility being my middle name". I know it was the end of almost 30 hours of travel but I was still disappointed in myself that I had not become a more patient person. Arriving at our home was amazing, we live in a palace. I didn't even go downstairs the whole first night - it was enough to take in just our main level. It was a little crazy when we arrived home: Al and Brett had both come to the airport so they were here, Chris came over with his dog, Denise stopped by and Kaley was here. We all wanted to talk at once and everything got dumped in the middle of my clean living room. It was so good to hug my son and see for myself that he was doing okay. It was a bit overwhelming but boy did it feel good to be home. Once the extra people left, Kaley and Al sat and talked about how different our home was without us in it. We laughed together - the "group home" was complete again. I ended up staying up until 1130pm, looking at mail. Sleep came quickly, I remember thinking how soft my bed was as I drifted off to sleep. I woke at 6am ready for the day. As I walked into my kitchen and took everything in I felt completely overcome with emotions. In all the excitement of coming home I had not noticed all the notes and gifts left for my family. Our church family had filled our cupboards, pantry, frig, and 2 freezers with meals for the next 2 weeks, there were gift certificates for Caribou and for Papa Murphy's Pizza, a basket full of apples, coffee, chocolate and flowers, tulips, fruit and huge sign from our kids Sunday School class, as well as many kind words on the cards set out for us. I felt completely undeserving of all the attention and love. Some items were from neighbors, most from our church family, all of them from people we had missed and that had joined us on our journey through prayer and support. I found out a group even came to my house and cleaned! I'm so thankful I'm not living my life alone. We have so many encouraging relationships, both here and in Africa. As I have been unpacking suitcases and doing laundry, my mind has been elsewhere. So much has happened inside of me these past 2 months. I've also seen changes in my children, including Chris who was left here in Minnesota. All the things I worried about before we ever left for Africa just didn't seem to be a problem to God. Most winters we are down to the last of our savings just waiting for Drew to go back to work. This year we have done something more outrageous then we ever have and yet our savings accounts still have money in them and we are in a stronger financial place then we have been in years. I can see that God has truly poured out his blessing beyond over flowing. This isn't because we are anything special, it really has nothing to do with us. The truth is God is the one who is worthy of praise and sometimes he uses ordinary people like us to bring Him glory. Ordinary people like my church family who wanted to bless us as a way to show God's love. Ordinary people like those that prayed for our journey so that God's character would be revealed through us. Ordinary people like the students we met in Cameroon that have a heart to share God's Word to people in their own language. Ordinary people who gave financially so that we could serve the people of Cameroon in practical ways and encourage the Christians to remember their cause. Ordinary people who serve an Extra-ordinary God! I'm privileged to serve with all of you. To God be the Glory!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Travel is not all fun

This morning I woke up early to the sound of the ocean and felt so excited to get back to Yaounde' so we could repack before heading home. I went to the front desk of the Hotel to settle up our bill, only to find that the Capital One credit card I had planned on using wouldn't go through. This really frustrated me since I had checked with my credit cards before leaving to make sure they knew I would be out of country. I was assured it was no problem. I really wanted to use my American Express card so I could get 3% rebate back but they did not accept that card. My brother had mentioned in an email that Capital One has been calling our home line quite a bit lately so I hope that there is a good reason my card did not go through (I suppose if there is a reason, that would actually be BAD, but good that Capital One is doing their job). I will wait until I have more information before I make a judgement. The strange thing is the hotel accepted our Visa debit card from our bank...and the account it came from we know does not enough funds in it - whatever. We will transfer money and it will be fine. I just don't do well put on the spot like that knowing we have to hurry up and get to the bus station. Our bus was scheduled to leave at 9am and actually left at 930am - that is not bad. I was thrilled, we were in a bigger bus that had comfy seats. When Steve asked about air conditioning, the answer was the bus HAD air conditioning AND it works!!! The question we forgot to ask was "Do you use it?" The answer would have been NO! As we were waiting to leave the station, a man got on the bus selling cloths to wipe the sweat off your brow, as well as fans, that should have been a big hint as to what was to come. The 5 hour bus ride was about 6 + hours with no windows to open, but it did have the vents on the top of the bus open. Every time the bus would slow down even a bit our bodies would instantly be sweaty (and not just ours, the whole bus), then as the air started moving through the upper vent and the sweat evaporated we experienced God's natural air conditioning. We were happy Steve chose to join us to Yaounde' because most of what was said was in French. At some of the towns, people would jump on and sell things - pop, crackers, fruit, fried things etc. About an hour out of Yaounde' a man got on and talked non-stop the whole rest of the trip - all in French (and Steve was sleeping). I could make out some of the information by his gestures but much of it went right over my head. From what I could tell, at first he was educating us about deforestation problems, bush killing and things like that. Then he brought out some items to sell - I could understand the lotion and the toothpaste. Some items I'm glad we couldn't understand by the gestures and tone of his voice. Then he was selling antibiotics - this is when Steve woke up so I could ask him what was being sold. It was all very strange and the man smelled so bad that it chocked me up every time he stood by my seat. I was sort of hoping he would sell deodorant and I could buy him some to use as a sample. It was such a relief when we pulled into the bus station and hailed a taxi. We are not ready to say our good-byes to Steve yet - that can wait until tomorrow!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Amazing Race

Thursday morning we left Ndu and rode for 4 or 5 hours on the dusty bumpy road. It actually went quite well and we arrived in Bamenda with time to visit people. Our friend Steve had finished his mid-terms so we asked him to travel with us, and boy are we glad we did. Steve speaks French and English as well as a couple of other Cameroonian languages so he is quite handy to have around. Our family had rooms booked at the Bro Guest House run by SIL. The main office is easy to find but finding the actual house was another story. One of the SIL workers rode with us in our van and showed us the way. After just a quick stop we loaded back in the van to stop at the bank and get some of our personal money to use for our weekend excursion to the beach. Steve then negotiated a taxi for all of us to take us to the Baptist Conference Center where we had hoped to see Irene (our cook for part of our time in Ndu). Irene is a cook to a Canadian missionary named Elsie. I didn't realize the Baptist Center was so big but Elsie was known by everyone we met and we soon found her. Irene had gone home for the day but Elsie was very kind and welcomed us into her home. It ended up that she had met our friend Steve a few years ago in a class that she had taught. As we were talking, I saw Monie out the window and went running out to greet her. Monie is from Faith Baptist Church in Minneapolis and I had hoped to see her and her husband Jerry in Ndu but the timing was not right. I was thrilled at our unexpected meeting and enjoying our time together catching up. After the Baptist Center we took a taxi to a handicraft place to pick up souvenirs but unfortunately the place was closed and our taxi had already left. We were on a busy street but there were 6 of us and most taxis were not that big, so we just kept walking (or strolling as Steve called it). After walking for a long time, we came to the bus terminal so we checked on the bus schedule to Limbe for the next morning. Once that was taken care of we walked to Steve's aunt's home to see her (since we were in the neighborhood). After hanging out at her house for a while we invited her to Sister Rosa's with us to eat dinner... by this time it was already dark and we were all tired and hungry. The restaurant was a short walk from her home. By the time we arrived it was almost 8pm and we were told the fish would take a half hour... so we waited. The half hour ended up being an hour and we were all so tired it seemed even longer. We ate quickly and hailed a taxi to take us back to the guest house, the one that we had only seen once in the daylight. Steve was able to lead our taxi driver to our house with only a few misturns - we were all so thankful that at least one of us had paid attention to all the bumps and curves to where we were going. I barely remember my head hitting the pillow that night.
The next morning Drew and Steve were out of the house bright and early to book our bus tickets. The hope was to get good seats. (I typed all this up once and it disappeared) The short version is: We were told the bus would leave at 9am sharp - it left at 1108am. We were told it was about a 6 hour drive - we arrived at 830pm. If you had to go to the bathroom you could just yell at the driver and he would stop the bus to let you pee next to the bus for all to see - I chose a dehydration headache over drinking liquid all day. The bus was scheduled to go to Limbe and that is where all the passengers were planning on going but the driver thought he had to go to Doula. This meant we had to unload less than 30 kms from our destination and load another bus instead of going straight on through. Crazy sites along the way... but beautiful scenery too.
I had made reservations for the New Seme Beach Hotel in Limbe online - it was the only hotel I found that took online reservations. I went back and forth a few times through email with them because we didn't seem to be understanding each other but I finally felt like we were clear. Unfortunately, they only had us down for 4 people instead of 6. After looking at a couple of room options we settled on adding another room for Steve and Kyle onto our adjoining rooms. It was frustrating and more so because the man at the front desk seemed to have a chip on his shoulder right from the beginning with us. The other workers were very kind but I can't say that I would recommend this place if someone should ask. The prices here are much higher than in Ndu but right in line with American prices. In fact we asked about the Wildlife Refuge Center nearby and were told that the price to get in is 3000 cfa per person if you are a foreigner and 500 cfa if you are Cameroonian. The Hotel is right on the ocean and has air conditioning as well as a continental breakfast. It feels really weird being here after being in Ndu. I don't feel like I fit in here at all. We ate dinner in after 9pm again last night. For the past 2 months we have been locked in our house pretty much after supper and in bed most nights around 9pm, now in the past 2 nights we haven't even had supper by 9pm.

This morning I woke to the sounds of birds and the ocean. My heart was very thankful for these few days to go over my thoughts of these past 2 months and to relax and enjoy my last memories of Cameroon. We played at the beach for hours and had a very enjoyable day. We are tired but it's not the same as the exhaustion from traveling. We have another day of rest tomorrow. Monday we will try out a bigger bus to Yaounde' - I hear that it even has air conditioning! The flight home is going to seem like luxury to us... especially as we anticipate our arrival home. As we were traveling we started feeling like we had a glimpse of what people must feel like on the show "Amazing Race". Travel can bring out the worst of people but it can also make some of the best memories.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Feeling the Love

This morning was our send off prayer at the CBTS chapel service. We made the kids come to chapel and were expecting a prayer at the end, but honestly were not prepared for the touching send off these dear saints gave us. Our whole family was brought to the front of the church and then ushered into a prayer room in the front while some announcements were made. Mrs. Maasa met us with a bag full of specially made African outfits for the whole family. The boys all threw their shirts on and left Ellie and I to quickly change into our skirt and top...I felt a little like a model having to make such a quick transition. The kids and I were given Certificates of Appreciation for the work done in the library - they were very sweet. There is a mystery gift for Drew that had not made it in time for chapel so we still have that to look forward to. A few of the Pastors on campus came up and prayed for us. Drew was given the mic to make a speech but instead he sang the song "Pleasing To You" by Jared Anderson. After Drew prayed a heartfelt, emotional prayer (after the emotional song), the President of CBTS had a few words to share.

We were so touched by his words and wish we had them video taped because really they were prayers for all of you. He prayed for our son Chris, who is still in the states (he is 24 years old). He prayed for our Pastors, thanking them for the influence they have had on our family's life, that we would be willing to come here to show the love of Christ in practical ways. He prayed for all of you that have contributed financially and in prayer so that it would even be possible for our family to come at all. There is so much to do around this campus from a construction point of view and he prayed earnestly that we would return for years to come. It was so encouraging because he understood and conveyed to everyone there in the chapel that we were only there at all because of a whole team of people. God may have called us to the dusty place of Ndu, but we could never have done it without Him also putting it on peoples hearts to give and to pray and to be our support team all along the way.

Last night we enjoyed dinner with a couple of the Master's program students who have become good friends to our family. They were telling us all the things that we do that are so contrary to their culture. Some examples are that we have conversations with adults and our children are a part of the conversation, we interrupt each other (which isn't a good thing and we will be working on that), we engage in getting deep with people - whether they are eating or whatever is going on, without sending our kids off to another area of the house. They asked if there are other families like ours, and we were able to say YES. We know this because we rub shoulders with them at our co-op and at our church every week. Over the years we have met many families that have influenced our vision for our own family. They asked about our Pastors, because they thought we must have amazing Pastors influence us for God's Kingdom - again they were right. We are so thankful for the leadership in our church and our church family and the impact they have had in our lives.

God has put some amazing people in our life, both at home and here in Africa... and in Canada. We feel so privileged that He would find us worthy to be used by Him and that many of you had faith to trust us and support this adventure God has brought us on. I hope as we return home that we will be able to pass on the gratitude and lessons we have learned from these 2 months in Ndu.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Our Last Weekend

We just ended our last pancake night here in Ndu. Drew made an extra amount of pancakes but we ended up with quite a bit left over since it was a light crowd tonight. There was no electricity so we sat around the table by candle light and enjoyed the company of our friends. There are some doctors here for a month, 2 of which are from Burnsville and go to Bethlehem Baptist, they gave us M&M's as a contribution to the pancakes. Banana and M&M pancakes are pretty amazing. During the conversation we found out that all the noise we had heard last night was not a good thing. We had thought there was some late night sports event or something by all the shouting and cheering. The field Pastor for the area Baptist churches was beaten by Jujus pretty seriously. From what I can understand, a man in the First Baptist church wrote some Christian lyrics to the juju songs (Jujus are basically the witch doctors). He recorded these songs and the jujus are angry, so angry that they want to kill him. Tonight while we were sitting here we heard more noise and one of the missionaries received a call that for safety reasons they were bringing this man on campus for the night. He is staying at the house the Schroths were living in just down the path from us. Tomorrow a meeting is being held and hopefully a solution will be found to satisfy the jujus without shedding blood. Pray for wisdom for all involved and for safety for the Pastor and his family.

Through our time here in Ndu, we have made some wonderful friends. One of the men we have gotten to know is a student in the Master's program - his name is Steve. Tonight we found out more about Steve, including the fact that he is a Master in Martial Arts. I've been trying to iron out the details of our family traveling to Limbe and being tourists for a while before we leave. It seems complicated and we had just decided to hire a taxi to stay with us the whole time, thinking it would be worth the expense. Talking to Steve we found out he finishes his last test before break the very day we are leaving. He is from the area we are going to and speaks both French and English. We asked if he would travel with us and be our "body guard" as well as tour guide. He seemed really excited. Even with paying an extra persons expenses this will be quite a bit less expensive than what we were originally looking at. We will instead take a bus once we arrive in Bamenda, it will be an adventure. It works out well because the Schulzs will be going to Yaounde over the weekend and can bring our extra luggage so we can pack light. God is so good in providing us with this extra help. The other great thing is this will prolong our good-bye with Steve and we will enjoy exploring more of Cameroon with him. I'm feeling quite thankful and relieved by this turn of events. Pray for safety for all of us as we travel. Continue to pray for Levi as he is still not feeling well.