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!
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  1. Glad you are back (to blogging). We will be praying for another family to come help. Glad your family was also able to have a great, memorable furlough.
    Just to remind you who I am.. I went to NBBC a little after you guys i am married to Mike Bennett and my sister Holly was over in Cameroon living with Ellen Doyle for 2 years. I loved being able to come see here there for about 2 weeks, unfortunately we weren't able to come to the area you are in.

  2. I was super happy to see you posting again! I'm also happy to see how the Lord blessed & provided for your furlough. He is so good to us, isn't He? I will definitely be praying that the Lord will help you fill the gaps in your ministry. It will be a great opportunity for the Cameroonians to step up but I agree that another American family would be such a tremendous encouragement.
    Keep us posted! :-)

  3. I'm glad to see you blogging again too, Beautiful. I know it takes a lot of time and effort, but it is a ministry and blessing to many people. Love ya, -Ben

  4. OK - so glad I can get my Sinclair "fix" again!!! I have been checking your other blog - and soooo glad when we got the email today and a new blog address!! YIPPY - is what I thought - I might have even said it out loud! We think and pray for you often. Nick will be THRILLED to see pictures of the kids again - he talks of them often!

    1. Ann - my kids still talk about Nick. In fact they asked about him the other day. You will have to send an updated picture so they can see him as well!! Hope you all are doing well!