Family Update: Light and Not-So-Light Things

by Stacey

 
 

 
In celebrating Thanksgiving this week, I sat down and asked myself what I was thankful for here in Cameroon. Although there are many things to praise God for, I think one thing that I most appreciate about my life is that everything is new and very different. We thought we would share a couple such experiences…
 
 
On the lighter side of things…
Snakes. When you think of Africa, you think of snakes right? Well, if not, you should. We are currently living in the middle of a rain forest and have seen a green mamba, yellow mamba and even a had-to-have-been 6 foot cobra (with a hood and everything). Fortunately, we were driving when we saw each of these snakes slithering across the path. Unfortunately, they slithered away before we could hit them. And you may think that the “natives” here are just used to this kind of thing, but in reality they hate them as much as we do. In fact, they even hate chameleons. A couple of our neighbors brought us chameleon hanging at the end of a stick the other day and when we picked it up they started screaming, running around in circles, and gasping for air. I thought we were the ones who were supposed to have this type of reaction. Another interesting fact is that we often have people trying to sell us snake skin, chameleon eggs, or other critters. I am not sure what about being an American communicates that we want to buy killer reptiles.
If life was not exciting enough…we always have Zoey!
The white-man incompetence. The other day, all the parents of our kids’ school were asked to come to the school to pull weeds. Me, being a parent, showed up and did my share of the work. After raking weeds for about 30 minutes, the director took the rake from me and said that I had worked too hard. I then left the school only to be chased down by another mother who went on-and-on about how white people are incapable of “working” and how she could not believe that I helped clear the field. I explained to her that our work in the US is different (i.e. we usually go to the office as opposed to work in the field) but that we are capable of learning their way of life as they are capable of learning ours. She could not stop laughing. As we were walking down the road, I saw some of my friends passing by and I shouted to them that this woman said that white people cannot learn how to work in the field. They begin to roar with laughter (because they apparently thought the same thing). I still cannot figure out what people thought was so funny.
Kyra blowing bubbles for the village kids
Bad French used for good. Like we mentioned in our last blog post, we witnessed a man violently beating his dog a few weeks ago. We asked him to stop and then bought the dog from him. I saw this same man the other day and I intended to ask him why he does not go to the church that our missionary friends planted among his people group. He responded “yes.” I accepted the fact that either my bad French or his bad French was getting in the way of what I was trying to say. Later in the week, I realized that he thought I was inviting him to our church (which is in a different people group) and that he had accepted my “invitation.” So, today, he showed up at our car at 9am all dressed up and brought his whole family to our church. I did not mean to invite him, but the Lord used our bad French for the good of this man. Please pray for him, his name is Pajero and although he has lived across the street from our missionary friends for years, he rejects the Gospel.
 
The not-so-light side of things…
Sickness and Death. Another thing you may think of when you think of Africa is diseases and dying. It is with great sorrow that I admit that this is the reality here. Among the people group we are currently staying with (until our house is finished), there is a 50% infant mortality rate. Often I see the kids here chewing on trash and playing with knives.
And this week an extremely ill woman was brought to our camp to see the missionary nurse. My nurse friend said she thought the woman was dying, probably of AIDS. I took this woman and her adult daughter back to their village and I was extremely burdened by the sorrow that weighed heavily in the air during our drive. The daughter told me that her father had already died and she was silent with worry about her mother, choking back the tears. I was struck by the fact that I was in the presence of an individual who would be locked into their eternal state in possibly a matter of minutes. I tried to talk to the daughter about what her and her mother believed, but due to my limited French and due to the fact that she did not want to talk much we did not get very far. When I arrived at their village, men came and carried the mother out of the car and a few days later I heard that she had died. It is too late for this woman to be saved now. Maybe she did know Christ, maybe she did not. Maybe she heard the Gospel, maybe she did not. Had anyone ever prayed for this woman’s soul? Had anyone explained to her how to be saved? These were the questions I was asking myself on my drive home. I realized afresh that life is short and even shorter here and that there is urgency to the message of Christ.
Sharing the Gospel. A few weeks back I was a bit discouraged because, although I wanted to share the Gospel with people, I felt like there was too much of a language barrier to do so. So I prayed about it and a missionary college of mine just encouraged me to dive in and share the Gospel in bad French. Since that time, the Lord has given a few opportunities to share his Word with others. One thing that I do is play the audio Bible in French in my car. Being that we have one of the 3 cars in the village, we are giving  people rides all the time. One man was listening to the temptation of Jesus and gasped in response to what he heard. It is both amazing, staggering, and tragic to be around people who do not know simple Bible stories that were taught to me before I could even talk.
The Sad State of the Church. Dave and I are trying to go all the churches in the area so that we can get the leaders “on board” with the translation project we will be starting. All that to say, we are experiencing a lot. At one church in particular, we witnessed 3 hours worth of chanting, people having what looked like seizures on the floor in front of their scared weeping children, and one woman even “died” only to be “resurrected” by the church leaders. There was no sermon, no Scripture, only chaos. We had a communal “vomiting” time to vomit up any food that we ate that week that was not eaten “in faith.” We also witnessed the leaders calling out for the “Holy Spirit to come down and burn their genitals.” Women were aggressively rubbing other women’s stomachs to increase fertility. Elias was to the point of tears saying “this is not good, this is bad” and Zoey asked if people were bowing down to idols. The overall message of the church was “What can I get from God?” There did not seem to be love or adoration of the Lord, just chants shouted out in order to manipulate him to give them good health and fertility. To top that off, they asked Dave to come up to the front in order to join the group of shouting people who were casting out demons. He politely declined.
What is our response to this? Our prayer is reform. Our prayer is the very pastors of churches like this will join the translation project that we hope to start and will be transformed by the Word of God and will in turn teach it in their churches.
Dave adjusting to Africa (we didn’t have ice, so that is a sack of frozen flour).

Growing in Patience. So our house is still not finished and it is sad to say that the workers are actually breaking the things that they already did as they construct new things…and I don’t get the impression that they are going to fix them. Nonetheless, progress is slowly being made and we think that one day we will actually move in. We were praying for November 11th, but now we are just praying that we could move in one day. However, we trust that the Lord has us in this holding pattern for a reason…and we are guessing it is to teach us patience. As one of my friends told me, “you and Dave are doing well during this time of waiting, seeing that you are not exactly given to patience.” I think she was trying to be encouraging, but I walked away realizing that this was an area that I need to grow in. Perhaps that is God’s good intention behind all the delays. May he teach us what he wants us to learn through whatever he means he chooses.

So, in sum, our days seem to be a mixture of “is this really happening?” moments, grief over lostness and death, prayers asking God to make us useful in this place, and building shelving for our house. And yet, as always, the Lord has been our rock and our hope during this time of extreme change.

 

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. – Romans 12:12  
 

 

 

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Author: Stacey Hare

Stacey is a wife, mom, linguist, and Bible translator. Right now she is working on the writing system for the Kwakum including how to mark tone. Literacy among the Kwakum is already beginning and translation is scheduled to begin in September 2019!

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