Friday, March 23, 2012
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 time...it 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
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!