African outfits

African outfits
Our crazy family

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Dinner Date

Drew and I went out with our friends Dan and Andrea Schroth last night. We were given a phone number to call ahead for reservations for the chicken dinner at the Summit Hotel Restaurant. The first day Drew tried to call, no one answered either phone number. Finally he got through and told them we would be there at 5pm, 4 of us for the chicken dinner. It was important to have early reservations since it gets dark quickly around here and we have been advised not to be out after dark. It was also important to give them a "heads up" that we were coming so that the killing and preparations of the chicken would have been done before we arrived. This also gave them time to do any shopping for the side items. It was a lovely walk up the dusty road to the "Summit". We had actually seen this hill with a hut for weeks and wondered what it was - so now we know, it's the hotel and lookout. Once we got there, we walked in the door to what seemed like a small hotel lobby with a bunch of Cameroonian people sitting all around and a small bar at the end. There were some men sitting at a table with books open in front of them doing some kind of business. We assumed they worked there and asked which way to the restaurant. They pointed us straight back so off we went. .

. Well, this was the kitchen,and the kitchen ladies all started squawking that we were in the wrong place so we quickly went back to the lobby. In moments the men had vacated the table and all the people from that side of the room went to the other side and sat down. Chairs were put around the table and a table cloth and we were seated... and then we sat and waited, and waited. It was really awkward because we didn't know if this was a temporary spot and they were going to bring us to the dining area or if the right people even knew we were here - although being the only white people there we did stand out a bit. Drew decided to call the number we had made the reservation with and sure enough the man who kept walking through the lobby; his phone rang just feet from us. We cracked up as Drew said "We are the party of 4 for a chicken dinner" and the man stepped into the hall and just looked at us. Finally, plates were brought and our food. Apparently the lobby was the restaurant. The food was pretty good, chicken was a little tough. The "Waiter" barely looked at us but towards the end we flagged him down to get something to drink. Coke never tasted so good. There was a TV by the bar with a soccer game playing - I haven't seen a TV in weeks. It was a lovely evening! Once we got our bill and left a good sized tip - the waiter guy was REALLY friendly!

Random pictures of life in Ndu

This is a sample of our life: Sunday night pancakes and praise with our friends. The Post Office where we mail our letters from - A picture of Marie gluing a stamp on (with rubber cement). Abi and Ellie in Ellie's room. Doing laundry.

Ndu Post Office

/Abi and Ellie

Doing laundry in our back yard - hanging laundry in our front yard (for all to see)

Friday, February 3, 2012

More concrete pictures


Our friend Dan Schroth is teaching a class on Jeremiah. In the chapel last night, he showed the movie "Jeremiah" starring Patrick Dempsey. It was a pretty good movie but boy was Jeremiah's life depressing. If you haven't read the book of Jeremiah in the Bible, it is an interesting read about a prophet called by God to warn the people of their sins. He definitely wasn't "politically correct" or popular, but he chose to obey God. It was interesting, the chapel was full of CBTS students, during parts of the movie that I didn't think were funny at all, the whole chapel would erupt in laughter. I think it had to do with the fact that they could relate to life being hard, and also to Jeremiah's reaction of NOT wanting to do what God was asking him to do. These students have given up quite a bit to pursue the life of ministry that God has called them to. Even after being "entertained" with an example of living for God, which was not a life of comfort for Jeremiah, I still didn't "get it". We got back to our house after the movie to find a mouse in our living room, then I woke to a mouse in my bedroom. After watching all that Jeremiah had to endure, a little mouse about put me over the edge.

Bible Poverty

Yesterday our family was invited to meet and pray with some of the students in the Bible translation program here at CBTS. Some of these students really struggled last semester because of the tough workload and needed encouragement to continue on. As introductions were made and each student shared why they were here, I was touched by their passion to see the Word of God translated into their own language. Over 8 different languages were represented in that one room. The past 3 weeks we have gone to 3 different churches and to be honest I have barely understood any of them, even though there was an "English" translation. In the villages where these students are from, people think that God does not speak their language because His Word has not yet been translated. Most don't understand that the original Word of God was not in English either. Even when people do come to know Jesus and commit their life to him, it is very difficult to grow in their faith if they do not have the Bible in a language that they understand. It is eye opening and life changing for these people groups when they see and hear God's Word in their own language. I was humbled as I thought of all the Bible's I have at home gathering dust, I don't think I come anywhere close to valuing God's Word the way I should and the way these students do. They call the lack of God's Word - "Bible poverty"- people want it but it is just not available no matter how badly they want it or how much they are willing to pay. The celebrations and rejoicing that happens when a translation is completed in one of these languages is quite amazing from what I have heard. I would love to see it for myself. There are still 89 languages here in Cameroon, that have not even started the process of translating any part of the Bible into their language. These students can't wait to finish their training so that they can be a part of making history and seeing lives changed in their own villages. Pray for them to persevere and continue to what God has called them.
Psalm 19:7-11 "The instruction of the Lord is perfect, renewing ones life; the testimony of the Lord is trustworthy, making the inexperienced wise. The precepts of the Lord are right, making the heart glad; the command of the Lord is radiant, making the eyes light up. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of the Lord are reliable and altogether righteous. They are more desirable than gold - than an abundance of pure gold; and sweeter than honey, which comes from the honeycomb. In addition, Your servant is warned by them; there is great reward in keeping them.
Pray for these students as they struggle financially and with their studies, the job is difficult, that they will continue on with the vision and hope God has given them.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Life is short

I went to chapel with Drew this morning. One thing I noticed right away that is different than church or what I remember from my college chapel days, people here sit very close together. As people come in they walk to the furthest pew in the front and fill in until the pew is packed, then the next pew fills up, and on and on to the back of the church. Back home we sit randomly and put our things next to us so that no one sits too close. After chapel there were announcements and prayer requests. One of the student's mother had passed away during the night and her burial is today. Wow, that just seems so fast. My mom died on a Monday, we had her funeral on that Thursday and I remember thinking that was too fast. Drew came home this morning after only being at work for a short while. Alias, one of the guys he has been working with;his 2 sisters died since yesterday afternoon of malaria. Alias showed up to work this morning because he had no way to pay the 3000 cfa ($6) for the bus ride home to be there for the burial. He planned to just work but Drew couldn't imagine not being there for a family funeral and gave him the money for the bus. Think of it, that wouldn't even buy us both our favorite coffee at Starbucks. Life seems so fragile here - but is it really? In America, we have this false sense of security but even there our days are numbered.
Pray today for Alias and his family as they bury his 2 sisters, and for the family that has lost their mother. Pray also that we would live in the moment and make each day count for God's glory. Reading this morning in Exodus 16 - the Israelite s are complaining and wishing they were back in Egypt... kind of struck a note with me. For months we prayed that God would provide a way for us to get to Africa... and now that I am here, I find myself longing for Minnesota. Pray that I will embrace this culture and live for today with my eyes wide open to see what God has for me. Thank you friends!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Thoughts on the people

I've been giving some thought to the people here in Cameroon. The people here are as complex as you will find anywhere I guess. Since we are on a Christian campus, most of the people we have met and interacted with are believers trying to live according to the Bible and it's teachings. As with anyone, our belief is tainted by our upbringing and our experiences leading up to accepting Christ as our Savior. For example, if you have a harsh father or maybe an absent father, your view of God and his love for you may be hard to believe or truly accept. You may be stuck believing that God is a harsh taskmaster and that you can never meet His approval or be worthy of His love. On the other hand, if you have had a father who loves and adores you, it is not that hard to realize the love your heavenly Father has for you. So even though this is a Christian campus, it is made up of several different tribal groups, many of them rivals. Over the years this has been a huge hurdle to overcome,and effects who they believe they are in Christ. In the past few years, there was even one Baptist pastor who killed another Baptist pastor from the same conference. The code of revenge that many of these tribes have lived under for centuries is hard to break. As students come to this seminary, the natural thing for them to do is stay with people of their own tribes and not interact with those that they view as "beneath them". From what I understand, this is something that the current President of CBTS is trying hard to address. He has been teaching and preaching against division and encouraging the students and staff to live as brothers and sisters in Christ. With this teaching there is a cost - the President has received death threats because of the stance he has taken. Many of the different tribal beliefs also get mixed in with the beliefs of the Bible, much like some of the "new age" teachings where you pick and choose what you like best. Some of the challenges are strictly cultural differences. Men in this culture generally do not do much of the labor that is required to live from day to day: women and children collect water, cook, clean etc. Our friend Pastor Dan was teaching a class on Ephesians and there is much in Ephesians that is "new" teaching to this culture: Be angry and do not sin, love your wife etc. The Christians in his class could barely grasp the concept of serving their wives or how to love them. When Dan and Drew went with Andrea and I to the market, they were like our pack mules carrying all our finds. Here in Cameroon, you will see women with a baby strapped to their back, a bucket on their head and both hands full... and if the man were with them, the mans arms would be empty. What Jesus taught was against the culture even then - he saw value in women and children in a land that did not value them. In many ways Africa is still stuck in the mindset that women and children do not have value. The Bible tells us as women to respect our husbands, and husbands to love their wife. The women here struggle to respect their husbands and let them lead their families because many times the women are more educated and knowledgeable then the men. The schools in Ndu have lots of children in one room and a teacher in the front. People all learn in different ways but the schools here really only teach to one way of learning, unfortunately it is mostly the girls that are focused enough to be learning to get to the next level of school. The men that Drew works with work hard for not a lot of money, most of them do not even know how to read. One boy that works with them is 14 years old (but the size of Levi who is 12), he makes 50 cfa an hour (10 cents). A few of these men have wives that are in the Seminary program, it's hard for these men to grasp the concept of being leaders in their families when they feel so far behind in their knowledge. To them, it is only Pastors or teachers who "lead" their family and pursue a relationship with Christ. Drew is trying hard to show them, by going to chapel before work and leading them by example, that all men can lead their families if they choose. Drew is trying to show them that even though he makes a living working with his hands, he still loves the Lord and loves his wife. I asked Drew if he thought the men here were as hard of workers as men in MN. He said they definitely work at a slower pace then he would be willing to deal with at home, but on the other hand they only make $3 - $5 a day so how hard would anyone work for that amount of pay. I've noticed too that there is definitely a hierarchy in the what you do. People who clean or work with their hands are not as "worthy" and don't even look in the eyes of people of higher status. I have hired students to help clean and do our laundry (most of the students need work). I enjoy telling the girls while they are cleaning that Ellie and I cleaned houses to raise money to come to Africa. They look at me in disbelief, because they think white people are rich and would never clean for someone else (or for themselves). It's fun to change their perception. These are just some of my thoughts, and this is just of the Christians we have met on campus. It would be a whole different blog of what we see outside these walls. Pray for these dear Christians as they strive to understand the Bible and live for the Lord Jesus. Pray that they will break down the walls of tribalism and seek to live as one body of Christ.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Jon Sybrant

Many of you know our friends Jon and Julie Sybrant, they co-lead the team that went to Cameroon with us. Our team of 16 ended up splitting into 2 teams, with Jon and Julie leading one in Yaounde' and Drew and I leading one in Ndu. Jon and Julie went home this past Saturday. This is an email we received from Jon - I loved it because it is classic Africa. I asked if I could share it and got the okay before passing this on. If you know Jon you will appreciate it all the more :)
Hey we’re back. I hope you don’t feel even more isolated than ever because everyone has abandoned you. We are still thinking about you and praying for you. Friday night as we were headed for the airport I was thinking that I am not ready to leave this place. As dirty and unattractive as this place is I have really developed some wonderful relationships with some outstanding people. Immediately you would think that it was the people we came here with or the other volunteers that are working in Cameroon but this last week I really got close to some Cameroonian people that I worked with. Do you know that in Cameroon as in Kenya two men who respect each other and are close hold hands. This is unheard of in our culture. Well on Friday when we were taking pictures of the guys I worked with the young man that I thought resented me being there and taking his work away told me that I had taught him many things when I was there and held my hand while Julie took our picture. I have to admit that I was uncomfortable but overlaying that was a thankfulness to God that we were that close. I have been praying to God this year for greater openness and for boldness. I am a rather reserved guy but I have come to the conclusion that God doesn’t want me that way. So it is my new year’s resolution to be bold and to go outside of my comfort zone. Evidently this includes holding hands with men. God is great and maybe has a sense of humor. Jon

Monday, January 30, 2012


Just in case you can't comprehend the dust around here, I feel this photo says it all. Reading my Bible this morning where Moses throws his staff down before Pharaoh and all the DUST becomes GNATS! That has never grossed me out as much as it did today.

Providence Store

I had a question about where we shop. Market is our main source of shopping and that rotates every 8 days. In between market days we go to the Providence store to pick up any items we might need. This is where we buy our eggs: In the picture with Drew, the small bag he is holding in his left hand is full of eggs. This is also the last stop we make after market to get all the items that weren't available. Yvette is the pretty lady in the orange dress walking out of the store, and also the one in the suit waiting on my friend Andrea in another picture. Obviously these are taken on different days. This store is just a short walk from our home and across the street from the main entrance to the Seminary where we are staying.

Interview of the kids

I got feedback that hearing from the kids perspective would be a good topic. I asked questions but maybe I should have waited until they were all in a more talkative mood. Here is some of their thoughts in random order: Levi: I've enjoyed playing with all my friends, with the Canadians, the Rundus's and the Cameroonian kids. I especially like playing swords,handball,ashka and climbing trees. When I work in the library, I dust shelves and help check out books to the students. It's annoying that the power goes off so much and we don't always have water. The pineapples are really good. Sugar Cane is delicious. It's rustic here - well actually it's DUSTIC. Ellie: I enjoy playing with the kids in the Child Care Center and trying to be someone they can look up to. It's interesting to see differences but hard to connect with girls my own age because they speak Pigeon English and do not understand me/or me them. I miss my friends and the internet is extremely slow so that is annoying. It's a challenge to find ways to interact with the Cameroonians; the boys just go play football, soccer or climb a tree and they have friends. I don't do that because it's all boys, so it's hard to meet people. The light in my room takes up to an hour to turn on so I wear my headlamp when I go to bed. Kyle: I think the people here are friendlier than at home. The dust is everywhere. It's challenging trying to figure out what the Pastors are saying in church. I think the fruit is better here. In the library I dust books, shelves and sometimes move shelves and desks. When I work with Dad I move rocks, help mix cement and dust. One of the best parts of this trip is not having school work. I like the pace her: they work hard but not too fast. They are very underpaid. I think there should be more handball in America because it is very entertaining and fast paced (better than soccer). It was fun teaching the local Cameroonian kids to play Ninja, Swords and Flamingo - especially Flamingo, it was chaotic with about 30 kids playing. Flamingo is a game where you stand on one foot and try to knock people over. The last one left standing wins the game.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pictures from church

Here are a few pictures from the First Baptist Church of Ndu: The BRIGHT chair in the front if for the Pastor (and it's not a joke).

The drum set was once Lance Rundus's - he got this when he was about 13. I guess the youth leader asked to use it for a youth event some time ago. The next Sunday after the event the Pastor of the church made a special announcement of appreciation for the gift that Lance had given to the church. The youth leader tried telling the Pastor that they were just on loan but the damage was already done and it is now a permanent part of the church. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow.

The church sits at the highest point of Ndu and it is a beautiful view. One thing about being at such a high altitude, you feel winded when you walk most anywhere. I thought it was just because I'm getting old and out of shape but one of the kids said they feel winded too.

Here is our family with some friends:


Today we visited the First Baptist Church of Ndu... this is our 3rd Sunday and our 3rd Baptist church so far. The practice of most of these churches is to invite any newcomers to a room to be greeted. We tried getting out of it today since we wanted to get to market but being the only white people in the place it was hard to slip out. Once in the room they will ask for prayer requests. Today there was a man from Nigeria asking for prayer for his family. Before coming to Cameroon I had noticed in the media that Christian churches in Nigeria had been bombed, and there is growing unrest with the Muslims. This was of interest to me since Cameroon borders Nigeria. This man told of many Christians dying at the hand of these Muslim groups. Apparently the President of Nigeria is a Christian and the Muslims would like to have this country under a Muslim authority. This man told how Muslim children sit in front of Christian churches selling oranges. This is not unusual for people to sell food near or in front of the church. These Muslim children have poison laced in their oranges and have been successful in killing many Christians. Obviously this makes it difficult for people who are just selling fruit to provide for their families. Children seem so innocent but they are just doing what they have been told. According to this man, another strategy to win the country for the Muslims is to win favor with the young Christian women and marry them into their families. If they do not convert to Islam then they will kill them - and this is okay under the laws of the Koran. We have seen a number of Muslim men in this area (one of them proposed to my daughter), and we have heard their call to prayer. None of the people I have come in contact with seem "radical" and some of the local people I talked to say that most of the Muslims in this area are not that devoted. Pray for Christians living in this area of the world. They would love to live peacefully doing what they have always done, instead many of them are fleeing for their lives or burying their dead.