Deadly mosquitoes and lush vegetation; mango flies that lay eggs in your skin and juicy mangoes; warm embraces and stealing; poverty and joy in the Spirit…Just a few of the contrasts I’ve noticed in Cameroon. The pain in one’s life can produce an abundance of true joy by the power of God. I’ve seen that here. In church, many people are struggling financially. Our church is not in the nicest part of town. We are situated on a bumpy dirt road that has wild chickens walking on it. Some children don’t have a male figure in their life. There are always health problems and business problems that need to be prayed for…Something to agonize over, to sweat over. And yet, there is the presence of real joy on their faces as they worship their God. It is something that has broken me and made me in awe of my God. One of my favorite things is to join in the worship with our church here. It reminds me of why we are in Cameroon. It is real, unashamed. Prayer becomes a battle for the hurting, and we engage in this battle together. In worship, suddenly it doesn’t matter what color of skin we have, what culture we’re from, how much money we have.
This week I was reminded of contrasts of living here in a big way. A team of men that repair and move things for our mission was here in the yard that we share. They brought a cabinet for our place, which we’re about to leave, and expected that I let them exchange it with another on the spot. This meant that I let them come into the house without warning and that I drop everything to move all the utensils to the other cabinet. I tried to express my displeasure with the timing and lack of notice, but it didn’t seem to be communicated well. Later, they decided that they didn’t need to take the old cabinet after all, and soon I heard them climbing up the avocado tree to help themselves. It was a discouraging day because I felt like I didn’t have a place of my own to retreat to, and I wished that I wasn’t so irritated about the event. I was reminded that this place is not my home and that the culture is different. However, the following day, I talked to Marie Noelle, my house help, about the event. She was also bothered about what happened, and felt that they had no right to behave like that. She and her two kids came with us to the pool and we ate lunch together. It was a wonderful day. The kids played together like old friends and Titus ended the day by saying that he has some new friends. At lunch, Marie Noelle thanked God that He had already made us like a family. I was touched by this and was given a glimpse into the larger plan of God. Even though life looks different for us here, He has brought us some precious relationships that will last. I think we’re going to like it here.
We have so much to be thankful for in America – apple pie, football, embarrassing wealth, relative safety, religious freedom… These are good things and it is right for us to thank God for them. But is it only in America that we have so much to be thankful for? What about our brothers and sisters in Christ who live in Haiti or China or Nigeria or Syria? Has God blessed them less than He has us?
“Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”
Apple pie is good and it is good and necessary for us to give thanks for our apple pie to “God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy,” (1 Timothy 6:17). But as we give thanks for God’s lesser gifts, let’s be sure we don’t neglect His greater gifts. Let’s count our blessings like Paul does in Ephesians 1:
- Chosen by God
- A Holy and Blameless future
- Adopted by God
- Lavished with Grace
- Redemption through Jesus’ Blood
- Forgiveness of our trespasses
- Knowing the mystery of His will
- Unity with Christ
- Inheritance in the Kingdom
- Hearing the Word of Truth
- The Holy Spirit
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love, he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us in all wisdom and insight, making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”
Scripture quoted from the ESV.
So, if you didn’t know already, our family just completed a little road trip. We left our home in Connecticut on September 1st, and pulled in Waxhaw, NC on September 28th. In between those, we visited friends, family and churches in Indiana, Montana, Washington (yes the state), Nebraska, Georgia and South Carolina. It was quite an undertaking, but God was with us every step of the way. The kids traveled great, the car kept working, and we were blessed by so many people all along the way.
Among those blessings us were the kind people on the Wycliffe Associates Hospitality Roster. These are people who, at some point, said they would be willing to open their home if there should happen to be a Wycliffe missionary passing through. As we were planning our trip, we requested the hospitality roster for the states we were passing through. We called people along our route and found a place to stay for every night of the trip. We made new friends in Grove City PA, Rochester MN, Glendive MT, Missoula MT and Belle Fourche SD. Everyone we stayed with was wonderfully hospitable and made us feel at home after long days of driving. They gave us a bed, cooked for us, listened to our story, told us theirs, prayed with us, let us take a picture and sent us on our way. We got a school bus ride in MT, a mason jar with sourdough starter in SD, and a packed lunch in MN that possibly saved us from salmonella! In short, they were very good to us, and we thank God for the difference they made in our trip and in our lives.
Our hosts in Minnesota
If you would like to be a part of this totally awesome and (I can say) much appreciated ministry, sign up for the Wycliffe Associates Hospitality Roster.
Boys hanging out in Titus’ new tent
Visiting Great-Grandma Snider – Chelsea and Lucy traveled to Nebraska for Great-Grandpa Snider’s funeral.
Titus enjoyed sleeping in his tent in Grandad’s living room
Chelsea got a new camera for her birthday – Titus and I had fun with it!
We got the tent set up…
…and tested it.
Taste of Cameroon – We hosted a little get-together at our house to enjoy some Cameroonian food and to pray for the work of Bible translation in that country
Cityserve NYC – We went down to NYC to see Luis Palau, Matt Redmond, Chris Tomlin and others in Central Park
Son! What in the world are you doing in the baby’s carseat!?
Titus had fun playing…
…in the dirt…
…with lots of kids.
Learning to ride
Grammy and Grandad
Shopping for clothes
We’re getting really close to the end of our time in Connecticut. At the end of August, I will be out of the Navy and we’re planning to hit the road to visit churches, friends and family across the country. We’ve been blessed with many opportunities to share our vision of working with Wycliffe Bible Translators so far, and we’re looking forward to several more. We’ll be in my hometown of Ball Ground, GA the second weekend in August visiting my parents’ church. The week leading up to that, we’ll be helping out with Groton Bible Chapel’s Vacation Bible School, and in September, we’re working on plans to visit a couple churches in Washington and California. It’s been wonderful to see God’s provision through our brothers and sisters in Christ as we already have more than 60 prayer partners and 64% of our monthly budget. Our goal is to be fully funded by October so we can start our French training on time in January. If you live anywhere between Connecticut, California and North Carolina – give us a shout and we’ll let you know what our travel plans are as soon as we know!
Interested in joining our team? Sign up for email updates, join our prayer team or partner financially at Wycliffe.org.