Monday, June 13, 2011

Cameroon Mission Trip.......Part 3

Good Morning All,

Believe it or not these updates will come to an end. However, the adventure of taking the Gospel to the Fulbe, the largest nomadic unreached Muslim people group in the world continues on for the glory of our Glorious God and the eternal joy of those Fulbe people who will hear this divinely ordained and empowered Gospel and embrace Jesus Christ as their only Lord and Savior. And what a joy it is to realize that in just a few weeks my family and I will be in Cameroon at work learning how to better minister this God-glorifying, Christ-exalting, Spirit-empowered, life-changing Gospel to this people group who are still unreached and in many cases have yet to be engaged by the Gospel.

The days are indeed going by faster than we anticipated. They are consumed right now with sorting, packing, and more sorting and repacking. We will only take what we can put in the back of our Dodge pickup and a U-haul pull trailer. So, have you ever tried to reduce 25 years of marriage, 7 children, and all that comes with living here in the U.S. down to the back end of a truck and a U-haul trailer? Its challenging but not impossible. In fact, Nancy and I are reminded of Hebrews 12:1 with every piece of furniture, box of nick-knacks, pile of clothes, and trunk of books and toys we leave behind to be given away. None of these things are in and of themselves sinful but they could and would easily become very sinful if we were unwilling to lay them aside in order to move to Cameroon to pursue God's will for us and the Fulbe. Thus, with the words of Hebrews 12:1 ringing in our ears and fueling our passion to make Christ known among the Fulbe people we keep spending our days sorting, packing, and repacking until we compress our version of the American Dream into something far less encumbering and impeding when it comes to really running the race God has set before us.

Well, let's get back to the update shall we?! After enjoying many opportunities to share the Gospel of Christ with Fulbe chiefs, villages, Imams, soldiers, police officers, boys and girls, and anyone else who would listen we left Maroua in the Far North and headed back by truck to our home base in Ngaoundere. The ride was long and truthfully--uncomfortable. Americans and Africans differ in many ways but one of the biggest differences has to do with that of our anatomy. You see, the plain and simple of it is that we Americans just have bigger butts (pardon my French) than our African counterparts. And this becomes painfully and uncomfortably apparent when trying to squeeze two African adults and two full-size Americans into the back seat of a Japanese engineered truck that was meant to carry three small people. Add to that combination six plus hours of bone jarring travel on Cameroonian roads and you can see why I'm not leaving our full-size American made truck behind.

Once back in Ngaoundere, we enjoyed wonderful fellowship with the church there on Sunday. I preached Sunday morning out of Matthew 11 and was thankful that the message was still clear and able to be understood after having been translated from English to French and then to Fulfulde. Later in the afternoon Mark Daniel, John, myself and our guide Clifford boarded the train for Yaounde where we rested, resupplied,and made preparations for the trip to the Grace Tait Orphanage outside of Bamenda. We bought tickets on a public bus that was supposed to leave Yaounde by 10 am for the six hour trip to Bamenda. Being Americans who wanted to get to the station early to make sure we were situated in our seats with plenty of time to spare before departure we arrived at 9 and made our way to our seats. Noticing that the vast majority of the seats were empty we thought we were going to have plenty of room to spread out during this bus ride. When the 10 am departure time came and went with no sign of the seats filling up including the driver's seat we began to wonder if we were on the right bus. Being assured that we were on the right bus we waited and waited and waited until finally somewhere around noon the bus filled up and the driver showed up and the bus slowly lumbered out of the parking lot only to get stuck in a traffic jam for at least another 45 minutes and then stop at the driver's home for him to take care of personal business for what seemed to me to be an hour but in reality was probably only about 20 minutes.

It was about this time that the "ugly American" in me began to emerge as I mumbled under my breath so that anyone within 10 feet of me could hear me complaining about the inconsideration and down right incompetency of Cameroon's public transportation system that makes paying customers wait for well over two hours in a sweltering hot bus before finally departing. Of course, what I didn't know was that in their minds it would be far more inconsiderate to leave the bus station without all the passengers who were running on Cameroon time and therefore late. Thus, once again I was confronted with the fact that there is a reason you don't see many Cameroonians wearing watches. Time simply doesn't matter in Cameroon the way it does in the U.S. So again, I learned that we process things differently and in their way of processing things, to leave the station without all the passengers, just because they were running late, would be considered rude and well--inconsiderate. As I thought about it, I could see the wisdom in this especially when say, trying to make a connecting flight in Newark when your flight from Brussels was delayed. There is definitely a sense of comfort in knowing they would wait for you if you're running late.

With the bus finally on the road and making good time my next opportunity to deal with my sinful flesh came when the African passengers on the bus all began closing their windows due to a very light rain shower that was more mist than it was shower. Now, you need to understand that these buses are not equipped with A.C. so the 90 degree heat with 90% humidity inside an over crowded bus with all the windows closed was really not something we thought we would enjoy. Thus, when the man in the seat in front of us reached over to close Mark Daniel's and my window we protested in our best French. With our french not seeming to get through or make sense to him we tried English which had similar results. Finally, my old police instincts began to arise and, using tactics I can't reveal for obvious reasons, I kept him from closing our window. But after seeing his discomfort when the mist turned to a light rain and after realizing we were here in Cameroon to serve not be served I apologetically motioned for him to close his window. He looked back at us and noticing our discomfort in the heat, humidity, and ripe body odor all around us closed his window but just part way allowing us about 4 inches of fresh air. Well, God was faithful and I didn't melt. I did however find my heart melting as God convicted me of my selfishness in being so willing to stand up for my own comfort.

We finally made it to Bamenda where we were picked up by Julius, one of the staff members from the orphanage. After hearty greetings, we stuffed three large suitcases, a backpack, ministry materials, and 24 large bottles of water as well as the five of us into an unusually small late model,built for Africa, 2-door Toyota sedan for the long bumpy ride to the orphanage--oh, but you have heard this story before.

This will sum it up for today. Tomorrow I will give you the rundown on the orphanage.

For His Praise and Our Humility,


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