Friday, September 7, 2012

From the Missionary Kitchen

Several people have suggested to me that I should write a cookbook. I've thought about it - actually even signed up for one of those "Write-your-own-book" websites (Lulu I think it was?) and tried to design one several years ago. Not that I am some kind of special cook or anything, but I was thinking it would be a great thing to pass down to my daughters. It might also be helpful to new missionaries who will have to learn to cook all over again in a new country. So...maybe I should do it. Someday. :)

People ask me from time to time for a recipe that I have cooked here or there. When our guests visited us in July, I got lots of recipe requests (which I have failed to respond to...sorry!) and so I thought it might be a good idea to do a post from time to time "from my kitchen." I'm not going to be one of those fancy bloggers who posts professional looking pictures for each step. Although...maybe sometime I might give it a try. But, because I am a busy mommy, especially with school in session (how do I keep up with all these daily grades!?!), it will more than likely be the recipe itself with the instructions on how to follow it.

Speaking of school...we are back in full swing, but I want to save that for another full post once I take our school pictures! Hopefully I can do that next week.

Back to food. Today I had a hankerin' for some chips and queso. Well, since I don't live down the street from Taco Bell, or my favorite Mexican restaurant, Amigos, this meant that I needed to get busy in the kitchen. Denise packed me some Velveeta when she visited in July, and I have been hoarding saving it for a special occasion. Today is a special occasion....after all, it is Friday! "There is no better reason to indulge," I told myself. So I dug out my tortilla recipe. Actually, I have this one memorized, so there really was no digging involved.

2 c. all purpose flour
6 TB butter (You can use margarine, but since that stuff is a molecule away from being plastic...I'd avoid it. Ok, that is actually not true...but it really is much worse for you than butter.)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. water

Stir flour and salt together in a mixing bowl. With a pastry blender cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Stir the water in and mix until a smooth dough forms. (I dig my hands in there and mix it up real well. Probably because I like to get messy.) Divide the dough into 8-10 pieces and roll each piece into a ball.

On a floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll each ball of dough into an 8 inch round circle, or as round as you can get it - mine are never perfectly circular. Keep adding flour as needed. It can get very sticky.

Cook your tortilla in an ungreased skillet that has been pre-heated on med.-high heat. Once bubbles begin to form, flip the tortilla and cook for about 30 seconds to one minute on the other side.

Once you have cooked all of your tortillas you will preheat your oven while you prepare your chips. I am not really sure what temperature because I don't have a thermometer on my oven. My oven thermometer is a picture of a small flame...a medium flame...and a large flame. Not exactly precise. I guess I'd start with 350 and see how that works.

Brush each tortilla with some melted butter, sprinkle on some salt, and cut into 8 wedges with a pizza wheel. Place them on an ungreased baking sheet and bake until they are nice and crisp. Not sure on the time either since my oven doesn't have a thermometer. You can tell they are done when they get to be a nice golden brown...or when you touch them they are crispy!

And there you have it - yummy homemade tortilla chips! I didn't cut my tortillas into eighths...only fourths because I was in a hurry. But they will obviously go farther if you cut them into eighths. I enjoyed mine with some melted velveeta queso...but all you need to do is pop the top off a jar of Frito Lay Cheese dip and enjoy!

For some crazy variations, try substituting plain salt with:
Fajita seasoning
Powdered Ranch Dressing Seasoning
Taco Seasoning

Go lite on some of those powdered seasonings as they are very high in sodium, but I've sprinkled McCormick's fajita seasoning on my homemade chips before and they were YUMMY!

Would you like to know another little trick I learned from my field director's wife? If you don't, you can just stop reading here. However, this tip has seriously saved my life. Two little words...Sour Cream. I love sour cream! I don't eat it like soup mind you, but it is such a great ingredient to have for so many things in the kitchen. When we first moved here I was so depressed because Cameroon doesn't sell sour cream. I found a recipe in my Betty Crocker cookbook that said to stir lemon juice into heavy cream. I tried it. It didn't work. I gave up.

When Steve and Martha Anderson visited us the very first time, she told me how to make my own sour cream. I was very skeptical, after having a complete failure with the cream/lemon juice mixture. But, I humored her and put a cup of cream in a glass measuring cup. This time, however, I stirred in 1 Tablespoon of vinegar into the heavy cream. I was stirring and thinking, "Yeah...whatever," when the most amazing thing happened! The cream began to thicken!! I mean really thicken, just like sour cream! And it tasted just like sour cream! My life in our kitchen has never been the same. Thank you Martha. I doubt I have ever said it to you - but you changed my life that day! *grin*

So, if you want to get really adventurous - you can make your own chips and your own sour cream to dip them into! Bon Appetit!
Pin It!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Just had to share

I rushed to church this morning in my usual manner...late (although, here it is referred to as "black man time" ...for real.) I was excited to see what God was going to do on this Lord's day, however. During our family devotions the night before I had specifically prayed that we would see souls saved in Bambili and Bamenda. Much seed has been planted recently, and I was excited to see God give the increase!

I arrived at church and went into the Sunday School room to get my picture cards in order. The song service had already started, and I was so excited to hear Jude leading, "Look and Live" since that was exactly what my story was going to be on! It was almost as if God were orchestrating the events of the morning! (ummm, duh! Of course He was!) :) We have been going through the life of Moses, and today was the lesson on the fiery serpents that God sent because of the Israelite's sin of murmuring, complaining and unbelief. You know the story of course, how God instructed Moses to lift up a brass serpent in the middle of the camp. Anyone who had been bitten by a snake and looked on the brass serpent would live. Of course, we also discussed the passage in John and of Jesus' discussion with Nicodemus and how he referred to this particular story in the Old Testament. (John 3:14) I love this story since it gives way for such a clear presentation of the gospel. The kids were very attentive this morning, as well. I didn't ask for them to bow their heads, or give a show of hands. I simply told them that this was the most important decision they will ever make in their lives. If they were unsure of whether they will spend eternity in heaven or hell, then they needed to come and talk to me. I instructed them that after church was over, I would remain in the children's church room and they could come and talk to me privately. I didn't want to push anyone, but wanted to watch the Spirit work. I could see that a few of the kids were really thinking. We finished our lesson, colored a picture that went along with the story, had a review time and sang a few more songs (Ben was long winded this morning!). Church was finally finished and I dismissed the kids.  I waited...

The room emptied and out, and I waited. Finally one boy (about 8 years old), named Junior, came in and said he wanted to ask me about the lesson. Of course I knew what he meant. I asked him if he knew if he would spend eternity in heaven and he said he didn't know for sure. I asked him if he wanted to know for sure, and he said that he did. So, for the next ten minutes or so, we went through the gospel. The group from Florida that was just here, left a great gospel outline written on the chalk board. It was perfect! We stood in front of the chalk board as I went through each point and read the different scripture verses supporting them. He was ready to accept Christ. The Spirit was obviously at work in his tender heart. So, we sat down, and I prayed for him first. He prayed then. I will admit, when I listen to a prayer I am usually analyzing it. I want to know whether the person I'm counseling truly understood the message of the gospel. A person's prayer is  revealing. Sometimes when someone is finished praying, I'm not always certain they understood everything clearly. But Junior's prayer was the clearest sinner's prayer I have heard! He put his faith and trust in Jesus this morning for his salvation! When he said Amen, I asked him a question. I asked him if he were standing at the gates of heaven, and someone there asked him, "Why should I let you in?" what would he say. His response was, "Because I believe in Jesus!"  It doesn't get much clearer than that!

So, I just had to share. I loved that he had the courage to come back and talk to me. His friends outside the room were waiting for him, but he didn't care. It was so thrilling to see the Spirit at work!
Pin It!

Monday, July 23, 2012

So much to say...

So much has happened in the last few months. Of course, that is what happens when you don't blog for an eternity! I have been kind of dreading sitting down and writing an update, because there is so much to share - and I want to keep it as concise as possible so I don't lose you. I'll do my best! :)

I last left off as we were anticipating our annual family camp up at Tom Needham's home in Sabga, Cameroon. We had an awesome week. Dr. Rick Flanders was our guest speaker and the Lord used him in ways I wouldn't have even imagined. God specifically worked in my heart through the passage of John 15 and I know many other decisions were made that week. It was one of the most memorable family camps I've ever been to. I think because the Spirit was at work in me in a way that I haven't experienced in a while. And while the conviction hurt - I was so thrilled to know the Spirit was working in my life through the Word of God!

Emma is 8 years old!
After Family camp, we struggled to finish up our schooling. We didn't get to the end of all of our subjects. Each of the kids were at different points in their curriculum because of the first semester being in the states. I did my best to squeeze in what I felt was important. I'm anxious to begin this next year fresh and am praying that I can be organized to get everything done. We also had the joy of celebrating Emma's 8th birthday during the month of June! What a joy she is. We had a fun party for her and invited the Needham family down to celebrate with us at the request of Emma. Grilled pizza was on the newest favorite meal! Seriously, you have to try grilling your pizza! It is absolutely DELISH! I found the information on Best Bites website. You have to give it a try this summer!

The next big thing on our radar was the group of 20 people from First Baptist Church of Land O' Lakes, Florida that was due to arrive on July 3rd. We were all excited and anxious for their arrival. We have never hosted a group this big - the biggest group we have ever hosted was a group of 7 adults. 20 adults however...a big percentage of them hungry teenage boys and men! Wow! I was in for a load of kitchen duty! haha! I don't think it really even occurred to me what a work load it would be, but I was ready for them! It was definitely a learning experience on how to prepare enough food for 26 people. The team members were extremely gracious and complimentary of every meal that I made! They made me feel like a cooking rock-star! :)

There is absolutely NO way I can summarize all that happened during their visit. It started out very frustrating for me at first because Murphy's Law had to kick into effect. We have had amazing water since the Anderson's visit in April. The pressure has been perfect, and I was growing accustomed to my morning shower! lol! Then, a few days before our huge group was due to arrive, the water pressure began to decline. I was worried a bit. Finally, it went out the day before they got here, and it didn't take very long at all for our reserve supply to get used up either. With 26 people in the house washing hands, flushing toilets, washing dishes...we went through a LOT of water. I had nowhere else to turn to but the Lord. Anyone who knows me, knows that our water shortages are the biggest frustration for me. To be without water with 20 people here to visit us was just more than I could handle alone...seriously. I couldn't deal with it. But, God promises us that He won't give us more than we can bear. And I found that promise ever true as God gave me the grace to deal with this situation. The Lord provided most of our water through the rain that we collected into trunks, and on days that it didn't rain, we paid Hilary to carry water for us from the nearest clean water source. We were filling toilets with buckets...washing hands with pitchers...washing laundry by filling each rinse cycle pitcher by pitcher. It was a LOT of extra work. I won't try to downplay that, but God truly gave grace to deal with this inconvenience. On one particularly frustrating day, I was on the verge of tears...drowning (can you drown without water?) in my despair! (really?? because of water??? seems so silly now). I turned on some music, the Galkin Evangelistic Team to be exact, and one line of a song really spoke to me. The song is about seeing the world through our Savior's eyes..."Let me rise high above my petty problems, and grieve for men, hell bound eternally..." That was me - I wanted to rise above my petty problem, and remember why this group from Florida was here - to reach lost souls. I absolutely did not want to get in the way of that! Thank the Lord for His grace! We were without water the entire time they were here! They were absolute troopers. I never once heard a complaint from them, and in the wise words of my Mother - "Now they know how to pray for you."  So very true! ;)

The entire time they were here, they blogged. Sometimes they posted several times a day. So, to get a full picture of what they did check out the Destination: Cameroon 2012 blog.

One of the members of the team, Shanna Thompson, was an amazing photographer. I want to share a few of the photos she took. This first one is a photo of Shanna with Faith Ann (Pastor Joey Quilty is in the background). I really love this shot!

Here is another photo of one of the members of the team, Savannah Eller, along with Diane, a member of our church.

Savannah created an amazing video update of this trip that you should really watch. She did an amazing job of summarizing the trip and sharing how God used this visit to Cameroon in her life.

If that video doesn't stir you to missions in Cameroon...nothing will! Savannah did an amazing job putting it together and it gives you a glimpse into our lives here in Cameroon, as well. Here are some more pictures of their time here in Cameroon:

LOTS of kids! A total of 401 kids registered. 320 of them attended on the last day!

Love this picture of Faith Ann and Daddy!

Pictures just don't do it justice, but we live in one of the most beautiful places on earth!

One particularly precious experience for us was the life changing decision our almost 6 year old, Faith Ann, made while the group was here. Every day she was hearing the same gospel message that the Cameroonians kids were hearing, and the Holy Spirit was obviously working in her heart. On the way home from Holiday Bible School one day, she asked her daddy, "Am I going to go to heaven when I die?" Ben promised to talk to her later. That evening Ben and I spoke to her privately and she said that she wanted to put her faith and trust in Jesus and be saved. She knelt by our bedside, between Ben and me and trusted Christ as her Savior.

Two days after her first spiritual birthday, Faith Ann celebrated her 6th physical birthday! What a party she had with 26 people in her house!!

The entire team the morning they left to head back to Florida :(
We were certainly sad to say goodbye. The house was indeed chaotic while they were here, but in a fun way! When we got home from church the Sunday that they left, everything seemed so empty...and quiet. Kate kept crying off an on that entire day - she never does well with goodbyes. Sunday was a blessing though because I had the privilege of leading two ladies to Christ after the morning service. The fact that they attended Faith Baptist Church that morning was a direct result of the parent's program that the team organized that Friday evening before. Mirabel took two ladies out to counsel with them, Derek took a man out for counseling and Cleopas took a handful of children out for counseling. The seeds that were sown during this team's two week trip might not be harvested right away, but I am confident that God's Word that went forth while they were here, will not return void because He promises us in His Word that it won't!

I spent this past week cleaning and doing laundry. We finally got water on Tuesday (two days after the team left) and that was a huge blessing as I had mounds of laundry to do! :)  The next thing on my agenda was to make a wedding cake. This was something I'd never done before. I spent a lot of time on the internet and on youtube watching videos and this is what I came up with for the bride and groom, Eunice and Godlove:

Not too bad for my first wedding cake, but I'm definitely no cake maker that is for sure. It took me ALL day to make this. And the weather wasn't helping. I kept waiting for the frosting to crust...and it just got softer and softer as it sat. I had to improvise some things too - like the stabilizers for inside the cake. I needed dowels from what I read, or the weight of the layers would sink down in to each other. Well, I didn't have any wooden dowels, so I had Kate and Emma go and cut me some bamboo! Worked like a charm. :) Now I want to build up my cake making supplies and try some more stuff! This was fun!

So, what is in the near future? We are going to have a Holiday Bible School here in Bambili within the next couple of weeks. I plan to begin school August 15th if everything goes as planned. Hopefully we will have some more people come out to visit us as well. How about it?? You are invited!!
Pin It!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Highlights from April

Ben has been busy updating our family website. We purchased some time ago, but because we aren't web designers, we have no idea how to upkeep this site (maybe someone can give us a lesson in the future). Originally my brother did this for us and we appreciate ALL the work that he has done to help us in our ministry. From prayer cards, to our furlough presentations, to our website and beyond, he has been such a help to us! He is on deputation for his own mission field of Venezuela and working very hard to raise the final support his family needs to leave for the field in December of this year. His schedule is too busy and we don't want to pester him with website updates. So, we recently asked him to link our dot com, to our blog. That way people can type in either web address and it will take them to the same spot. Perfect solution! So, this week Ben has been busy updating our ministry blog! You can see my nice blog button off to the right there, with an easy little link! So, please click that adorable blog button and check out our refurbished ministry blog! (after you are done reading my blog post of course! heehee!)

We were blessed this past week with a visit from our field director and his wife, Steve and Martha Anderson. Their visit was much too short! We enjoyed every minute with them, and wish it could have been longer for sure! The fellowship was wonderful and as always we enjoyed some great laughs. They arrived on Saturday and Martha spoke for our ladies meeting. We had a wonderful group of women. I couldn't believe how many came actually. We served a meal, and thank the Lord we had plenty of food. This photo was taken before everyone arrived. You can still see what a good group we had though.
Eunice, Emma, and I are helping here to serve the food to all the ladies. I'm so glad we had enough! We had a big cooler of jellof rice and then some ladies brought fufu and njamajama and fish. I also brought banana bread and muffins. Every last bit of food was eaten!
Sunday was a busy day as usual. Brother Steve preached in both of our churches. I failed to plan out our teachers so I missed out on both his messages as I had to do Children's Church in both Bambili and Bamenda. I heard they were great though.
Martha kept my kids in line :)
Then on Monday they treated us to lunch at "The Fancy Place," as my children affectionately call it. haha! The Andersons got a kick out of the menu - specifically:
Evidently fish don't come out of the oceans here in Cameroon - they are fabricated in our fancy restaurants!

Needless to say we had a great visit with them and were sad to see them go. They headed to Douala for several days to visit missionaries there, and then are heading back in the direction of Kenya where they will continue to serve as furlough replacement missionaries until May.  We will see Bro. Steve again in July, however. He will be coming with that huge group of 20 from First Baptist Church of Land O' Lakes. We are looking forward to that visit for sure!

The next big thing on our calendar is our annual family camp. That is Next Week!! It is always a time of refreshment and fellowship with missionary friends that we have come to love dearly. Our family has been working on special music and skits for the week. The kids are excited to get together with friends. I will have a lot to update after that weeks is over I'm sure!
Pin It!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

On Life, Meat, and Kittens

We are adjusting to life back in Cameroon and it is in full swing! The ministry and home life are busy and there is never a dull moment here! I'll recap some of the last several weeks.

First, I'm happy to announce that we are indeed, MOUSE-FREE! Our Rat Zapper is the bomb, and we also have another form of rodent control.
Way cuter than the rat zapper - don't you agree? :)

The kids are absolutely loving our new kitty, which we all agreed to name Charcoal. We call her Coal for short. We debated naming her Claw...and I'm wondering if that would have been more fitting. That little kitty loves to use my legs as her scratching board! Ouch! She really is very sweet and loves attention. She meow's constantly because she just wants someone to play with. The naming process was a fun one, and the kids thought it was great that they could cast a ballot for their favorite name. In the end, Coal was the winner, hands down. I think the kids just thought the whole voting process was fun, and they didn't really care what the final choice was.

Another fun process about our home life is preparing beef. I've done posts in the past about the time consuming task of trimming and grinding the meat. Thankfully it is a process that we only have to do every few weeks. And I'm so thankful for my husband who takes the trimming part. I normally do the grinding and cleaning up. Our last meat venture, Ben made it to the market as soon as the cow was butchered. In fact, he came too early at first, and he had to wait. I'm sure that not too many people get meat as fresh as we get ours. To prove how fresh it is, watch this!

I know, I know - gross. But, hey...that is my life here. :)

One exciting part of our ministry is the recent growth of our church plant in Benakuma. God provided a piece of land through a member in the church. This man donated some of his property and the people in the church got excited about building their own building! They began making mud blocks and as the rainy season drew near, Ben and a group of men from Faith Baptist Church in Bamenda, went out and helped Faith Baptist Church of Benakuma build the walls up.
The whole church got involved from the men right down to the women and children. In fact, I think the women had the hardest job! They carried buckets and buckets of water from the river back and forth to the building site, which according to Ben was a good little hike straight up and down a hill!! And the kids...they were just having fun playing in the mud! lol!

Here is a glimpse of the process. Mud bricks, mud mortar. Ben hard at work - or playing in the mud himself. I'm not too sure which.

And this is as far as they got on the last trip.

Since then, TomMike went out to help install door and window frames and put up the rest of the walls. Our church in Bamenda voted to help provide wood for the rafters and zinc for the roof. The people are SO excited. Actually, the whole village is buzzing about it. It is obvious God is doing this work because the people out there literally have nothing. It will most certainly be God's church!

So that pretty much sums up our most recent events. We had a wonderful Easter Sunday last week. We have been enjoying the arrival of the rainy season. It always seems like it will never come, but Thank God it does! We are anticipating the arrival and visit of our field director, Bro. Steve Anderson and his wife Martha next week. I have a lot of cleaning up to do before they get here. That is one bonus of company - the house gets cleaned! haha!

Some of the next big events on the agenda are our annual family camp the first week of May and then we are anticipating hosting a group of 20 church members from First Baptist Church of Land O' Lakes Florida! That is going to be one exciting time! I can't wait to update that visit!
Pin It!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Pesky Little Critters

When someone says, "Africa" what comes to your mind?

Probably animals - giraffes and the like.

Or maybe you think of all the scary little critters that probably make their abode here. I'm guessing a lot of people think of snakes, and while snakes do live in Africa, I honestly haven't seen that many in over 7 years of living here. I dare say someone who lives out in the western United States has seen way more snakes than we've seen here in rural, Bambili.

I'm sure spiders would probably cross your mind as well. And yes, we do have a lot of spiders. My kids know me well though, they always tell me, "But mom - you like the spiders, don't you!" And I answer, "Yes I do!" Spiders eat all the other critters that I don't want in my house - like roaches for instance. Spiders don't bother me at all.

Of all the little critters that find their home here in Cameroon, however, this is the one I hate the most:
Maybe you just screamed when you saw that picture...I know I stifled a squeal when I saw them on my parlor floor! It was actually Faith Ann who found them first. Kate and I were working in the kitchen one Sunday night, and Faith came in and said, "Mommy! There is a mouse on the floor." I was like...huh? Really? She seemed a little too calm for her to be saying that. I mean, if I'd just seen a mouse, I'd be screaming in the parlor...not running in the kitchen to tell someone first. So, Kate and I were a little doubtful, but walked to the parlor to see what she was talking about. Lo and behold, there was this tiny, hairless creature scooting it's way blindly across the floor. Yep...a mouse had just had babies. Ewww!!! Fortunately for us, I guessed that we had killed Mama mouse the night before and that is why baby mice were on the move. They were probably hungry and looking for their next meal. (Kinda sad when I put it like that.)

So, I disposed of the babies in the trash can outside. It was a little sad, but I kept reminding myself that little baby mice grow up to be big mice, and big mice can do a LOT of damage.

For example, here is one of the girl's quilts that their Grandma made for them:
It was almost as if this mouse methodically chewed each thread to take out all those seams. Most of the seams look like a seam ripper was taken to them. Wierd!

I'm not sure if it was this same mouse, or another mouse, but one of them had a fetish with plastic toys. At first I found them on the floor of the parlor with body parts chewed off (Eeyore lost his face). Then, on the night we found the baby mice (one of them was actually still inside the fire place trying to crawl out) I discovered these guys:
Yeah, one of these crazy mice actually dragged Prince Charming and a Littlest Pet Shop into the fireplace! Craziness! So far I've only rescued Prince Charming. He was near the front and I'm happy to report, he is in tact. I'm sure Cinderella will be happy that her love isn't maimed in any way. I've yet to discover how Faith Ann's little ostrich is faring.

So, as you can see, mice are destructive. Very destructive! They not only ruined one of Grandma's quilt, they also ruined one of Great Nana's quilts. They ruined many of the kids toys and just caused an overall big mess with mouse droppings everywhere. The first week here was spent trying to eradicate our mouse problem and cleaning up after the messy things!

The first part of the week, I put down those mouse glue pads. They usually work quite well, and so I figured if I laid enough around, I'd surely catch these mice. The first night we did in fact catch one. After that, however, they kept avoiding those pads...or escaping from them. One night I knew one of the mice had been stuck, because he left behind the end of his tail! That is when I decided to get serious.

Many years ago (probably 5 or 6) I'd purchased a product to kill mice - The Rat Zapper. I will shamelessly put in a plug for this amazing product.

When I first bought it, I set it up outside and just knew I'd catch a ton of mice! After a few nights of no kills, I was extremely disappointed in the product and it sat on the floor, at the back of my pantry for literally years. Well, at this point I am desperate to get rid of these mice, so I put batteries in my zapper and tested it with a metal screwdriver to see if it still worked and we set it in the kitchen that night and baited it with pancakes. Imagine my excitement the next morning when the red light was blinking on the top of the device, indicating a kill! Yippee!!! However, this mouse still had its tail intact. I knew there was another. We set it up again the next night, baiting it the same way. WooHoo!! Two for two! And this one was missing part of his tail!! And then finally, the same Sunday night that we caught the baby mice, I walked through the parlor late - at 11 p.m. - and saw a mouse scurry across the parlor floor and into the fire place. I went and grabbed my zapper and set it right outside the fireplace, this time baiting it with pizza dough. Sure enough - first thing in the morning the red light was blinking again. 3 for 3!! I'm not sure why I didn't catch any mice with it when I first bought it. Maybe I put it in an area where there was no mouse traffic. But even after it had been sitting through major climate changes for about 6 years - the electronics in it still worked like a charm!

So, I'm happy to report that as far as I know - we are mouse free. :) I discovered the hole that the mice had chewed in one of the door frames that was allowing them free entrance into our home. Ben filled that with cement and I think we are good to go. I am not worried however, since I know my Rat Zapper does the trick...and on top of that, we should be getting a new kitty within a week or so which we are all (especially the kids) excited about!
Pin It!

Friday, February 17, 2012

We're Back!

How does one sum up an entire 7 months in just one blog post. I'm not sure! But, I'm going to try and at least give the highlights.

My last post from my old blog was just days away from our furlough. It highlighted our amazing netcaster's seminar. It was definitely a busy time - I was attempting to pack up the house while Ben was working so hard in Bamenda, but we got everything ready and were able to leave for Douala on July 7. We actually traveled with a group from the Netcaster's team, which was a lot of fun.

Just getting out of the airport was an answer to prayer. Days before we left, we applied for our 10 year residence cards. We were told that the kids didn't need anything, but when we got to the airport and tried to go through security, they went round and round with us about not having exit visas for the kids (just another way for them to make money). We went to the police commissioner's office located in the airport and the kids and I stood outside and prayed...HARD! The Lord answered and that man let us fly that night even though we should have purchased an exit visa for each of our 4 kiddos. In the future, we will buy one whether we need it or not! I was never so happy to get on a plane! It was late and Faith and Emma crashed as soon as we got on. I had no idea that our flight had a quick one hour hop to another African country until we got on there, but it did! We landed somewhere in Africa (I can't even remember now) and the entire flight crew changed over! I'd never seen that happen. A whole cleaning crew got on the plane and vacuumed and cleaned seats and bathrooms. I was frustrated b/c I didn't want Emma and Faith to wake up with all the commotion. Can you believe they slept through all of that! Most of the plane reboarded with new passengers and a new flight crew and we were off to Brussels. The flights were crazy long, but we finally made it to Chicago. We had a long enough layover to meet Ben's parents at McDonalds in the O'Hare airport before hopping on our last leg to Atlanta.

My Dad and brother, Jason, picked us up in two van's. Jay emptied all the seats out of his van for our luggage and the kids and I piled into my Dad's van for the ride home. Most of the kids were asleep before we even left the parking garage! haha! Two hours later we arrived home - Home was a beautiful house that God provided for us for our furlough. I've never lived in a house that nice in the states before! A family in our church moved onto a new ministry in Florida and put their house up on the market. They came to my mom about us living there during our furlough. God ALWAYS provides for us and it is always so exciting to see how he does it! We walked into an adorable home that my mom and dear friend, Beth, worked so hard to decorate and furnish for us. Many of our friends let us borrow furniture so that we had a home to live in! It was wonderful! And so our furlough began!

Much of our furlough was devoted to traveling. This furlough Ben made many of the trips alone. I visited most of our churches last furlough and we were also offered an opportunity to put our kids in school. So to avoid too many absent days, I stayed home more than normal. We still did travel though and I was able to see so many of our wonderful supporters. We were also in about 7 new churches trying to raise additional support, so it was nice to meet new people as well. When all was said and done, our family traveled about 30,000 miles! Again, a lot of that Ben did alone and part of that mileage was a trip to Washington state for a missions conference! God provided a van through a ministry in Missouri, BMTM. We paid a monthly lease and they took care of everything else. It is a great ministry and we had the most amazing van! It had a built in TV that folded down from the roof. What was so awesome about it was it was hooked up to a VCR in the console between two of the passenger seats!! haha! It was dated, yes, but it worked like a charm. Ben's mom collects VHS tapes from yard sales, so we had no shortage of movies to watch while traveling! God provided some new support from some individuals and a few of our supporters increased the support they were already giving! We are at about 92% support right now, and still lack that 8%, but we know that God will provide what is still needed in His time! If you are interested in seeing our update presentation, feel free to watch it below. My blog has narrow margins, so if you want to see it in the full screen format, you can just click the link and it will take you directly to youtube.

Our kids had the awesome opportunity of going to real school! :) Not that homeschool isn't real school - but you know what I mean! haha! They got on their cute little uniforms and got up at the crack of dawn only to bring home loads and loads of homework every day. Suffice it to say, they are so happy to be back with mom as their teacher! lol! I'm being funny really, because the truth is they loved school. Emma and Faith especially. They all miss their teachers and their classmates. It was a wonderful learning time for all of us. I was able to see some things that I need to change. For took Drew weeks to learn to put his name on his paper. I don't make him put his name on his paper of course! I only have one 5th grader in my school so I know what papers are his! But, I see now it is an important skill to learn. They were overwhelmed with remembering what subjects were for homework and how to keep track of projects, but by the end of the first semester we were actually getting the hang of things. I wouldn't trade the experience for the world. They made friends, went on fun field trips, learned life-long lessons and just plain had fun. Not to mention - I loved days where I was by myself! It was wonderful! lol!

We loved spending time with family - the biggest highlight of our furlough. We lived about 5 minutes down the road from my Mom, which was wonderful. We were about 5 minutes away from my Grandmother, and about 10 minutes away from my brother and his family. We enjoyed all the special times of getting together. The cousins are old enough now that they play so well together. It was fun when Drew, Sam and Lukey got together with their Nintendo DS games. They'd link up and play one another. I enjoyed getting to know my nephews and niece better as well and especially fell in love with little Jude. He was just a baby the last time we were home, and he is such a stinkin' ham! I love him! And sweet Ellie as well, who was born while we were on the field this last term. I just loved getting to know all of them. I absolutely have to share this video my brother did of his kids. It is all his kids (they are all the fair skinned ones) and the Arce's kids quoting John 3:16. You will get a kick out of the ending. I could watch it a hundred times over - it just doesn't get old!
Now seriously...isn't that adorable??

A visit to the states isn't complete without some good vacations! Ben and I enjoyed a week getaway at a gorgeous cabin in the mountains. It was so nice, but I kept saying throughout the week, "Oh, the kids would just love this." Next time we want to take them with us!

In December we went to Florida with my parents and had a blast at Disney World. My Dad went with us, which was a rare opportunity, and the kids loved having him share all the special memories with them! The weather couldn't have been more perfect and the crowd levels were low. It was a great week. I even got my kids on a bunch of roller coasters! They are all hooked now!

So now we are back and there are some adjustments in our ministry. While we were on furlough we received a call from our co-workers that they were planning to come off the field. They actually left one week before our return here. So, there is a big hole in the ministry that we are praying will be filled with some of these men in our churches. It will be a very busy term for us however, as we carry the load of two families on only one set of shoulders. While we are looking forward to the Cameroonians to fill in the gaps, I also feel that team missions is a wonderful concept and having another American family to work with and fellowship with is a big help. I'm praying that God will give us another like-minded family that can work along side us!

We are getting settled again, and while our house is livable, it still has some work that needs to be done. The first week was spent cleaning every nook and cranny. I had to wash every single dish, cup, plate, fork etc... in the kitchen before we could even us it. We had to vacuum out all the cabinets and wipe down all the shelves. Everything was so dirty and mice had free run of our home as well and they did a lot of damage. It was difficult the first week because we didn't have water. That has since been taken care of and now my kitchen is functional, and I have just about washed everything there is to wash - minus a few curtains. We found the mouse's entrance and Ben cemented that and I think we are ready to go again. School starts back on Monday and whether I'm ready or not, I need to get back in the routine. We are ready for a 2 1/2 year term and excited to see what God is going to do! He is the strength in our weakness and He will get all the glory for what happens here in Bambili and Bamenda!

So, I hope that you will continue to follow me as I give updates! I appreciate my readers more than I can say! I love your comments and look forward to reading them!
Pin It!