Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Summer Busyness!

Whew, the last several weeks have been very busy ones. I feel like I can finally sit and relax. Here are all the things we have been up to!

Emma celebrated her birthday near the end of June (the 23rd).  When Ben visited the states in February, I had him bring back some gifts for my girl's birthday.  Missionaries have to really plan ahead like that.  Emma is a horse lover!  So, I planned all things horsey for her birthday. :)  The big, wow gift was the American girl size horse that my mom got her!  She was over-the-moon!

She also got some other horse gifts.  Her birthday fell on a Sunday, so we celebrated after church as a family.  I worked all day Saturday so that we would be ready to just come home and have a party. It actually made that day very relaxing for me since I'd already completed the work!

After Emma's birthday, Faith Ann began the countdown for hers, knowing that it was just a few weeks away. We made a paper chain for her to keep track of how many days she had left until the big day.

While counting down, we managed to keep her busy by hosting our summer Vacation Bible School...referred to as Holiday Bible School here in Cameroon.

The first week we held our HBS in Bamenda. The school where we hosted it last year wasn't an option this year. The big field we used to play all of our games is now occupied by an "up-story" building - as it is referred to here. We didn't plan enough in advance to find another location, so we held it at our church and just played games in the small church yard. The kids didn't seem to mind at all. We had a high of 72 kids on one day. The other days averaged slightly smaller.  It was a great week though.
We rounded it up with a parent's program, but that was a bust unfortunately.  It was raining cats and dogs and while the kids managed to make it out, the parent's didn't want to brave the rain. We had only four parents come. While no parents made any salvation decisions on that night, we did have several kids trust Christ through our program during the week!

During that week of HBS, the Needham family (missionaries that live near us) had a church group of 22 people visiting. After hosting a large group last year, I knew how much work cooking for a group that size actually is, so I offered to prepare a couple of meals for Barb. On Monday of that week, I brought up a huge taco-inspired meal, with a taco casserole, homemade chips, and a huge bowl of cookies. Barb prepared some carrot sticks.  Then on Thursday of that same week, I invited the group down here on the fourth of July and prepared pizza on the grill! Whew - with the visiting group, our family and the Needham family I fed around 35 people.  I was SO tired.  I actually missed our HBS on this day since so much work went into preparing the meal. We had sausage pizza, a salad bar, and brownies and ice cream! Yummy!

One more interesting thing happened this particular week (to add to the already crazy stuff taking place!). Our neighbor, Bless, who is about Drew's age, came up to our gate with a friend. I came out and greeted him and asked him if I could help him with anything. He showed me a bucket that he had in his hands and he told me that he brought me something. I looked down in that bucket and squealed. I quickly ran inside the house and told Drew, "You've got to come outside and see this!"  He was pretty pumped to find the bucket crawling with 6 little, bright-green chameleons!

As of right now, we have 5 of those little chameleons in a cage that we had built.  One escaped out of the bucket and we never did find him. The rest are thriving. We have the neighbor kids help us hunt for grasshoppers to feed them! 

So, after that fun filled week we hosted our next HBS here in Bambili. This was a bit more relaxed as we live in walking distance from our church. We had a good group of kids, with just over 50 being our high on the last day. We also hosted a parent's program again.  Ben and I had already discussed that if this parent's program was a bust again, we just wouldn't do them in the future.  I expected that no parents would attend. O me of little faith!! We had 7 parents come, and it was the first time for 6 of them to enter the doors of our church. Ben presented the gospel at the end of the program, and three people raised their hands. He explained to them right before we dismissed, that if they were serious about accepting Christ they should come and talk to him or me and we could show them from the Bible how to know for sure that heaven is their home. Honestly, I wasn't expecting anyone to speak to us. However, one lady approached me immediately and said, "I was one that raised my hand. I want to know how I can have eternal life."  I sat down with Carine, and showed her from the Bible how she could be saved. She put her faith and trust in Christ alone that night, as did the man Ben was able to meet with.  I walked away from that meeting on cloud nine. I was so sure that nobody would show up...and it was so wonderful to see God prove me wrong!  We decided that from now on, we are doing parent's programs. If only one person hears and understands the gospel, it will be worth it. 

HBS ended on Friday, and on Saturday I spent much of my day preparing for Sunday, because we had another birthday in the family. Faith Ann turned 7 on Sun. the 14th of July. Like Emma's special day, Faith's birthday landed on a Sunday and in order to be prepared I needed to work ahead. I made her cake and made up the pizza dough (she requested Pizza for her birthday). The cake took longer than I'd anticipated, so I didn't get as much accomplished as I would have liked to.  It all worked out in the end. Sunday we came home and I worked on the pizza, while the kids cleaned up the parlor.  We ate our lunch and afterwards we brought out the presents and cake.  

A former Cameroon missionary posted on my facebook post regarding Faith Ann's picture, saying that in Cameroon we don't always have access to a lot of gifts for birthdays, and the cake is part of the gift.  It really is. I have always tried to make my kid's birthdays very special. One of the big parts of our birthday is the cake reveal. They can't wait to see what theme I've picked and what it will look like. Pinterest has given me a lot of great ideas, but for this year fellow missionary and friend, Rachel Barilla, helped out by letting me borrow some of her Wilton cake pans! :) I thought this would definitely streamline the cake making, but honestly these pans are very time consuming!  The form and shape are very helpful in decorating, but all those frosting stars! Whew!

So, that pretty much brings us to the present.  With HBS behind me and the summer beginning to dwindle down, my thoughts are now focusing on school.  I'm anxious to get organized and plan out my school year.  The kids...not so much! haha!

Our next countdown is for our visit with Mimi. She has plans to visit us with the Whitely's some time in October. We can't wait! She is going to be a world traveler this year. My brother and his family are in Costa Rica for language training in preparation to move to Venezuela for full-time missions.  Mom and Dad are visiting them in August.  I doubt I'll ever get my dad out here to see us, though I wish I could. But, after conquering her fears on her first trip here, my Mom makes plans to visit us every term.  If she doesn't come soon, Drew might be taller than her the next time she sees him!

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